27 September 2019
Seventy-fourth Session, 9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)

Territorial Disputes, Weaponizing of Trade, Banking System Dominate Discussion by World Leaders, as General Assembly Continues Debate

Sanctions ‘Preferred Weapon of Domination’ in Twenty-First Century, Says Venezuela

World leaders today spotlighted the importance of multilateralism and the responsibility of the United Nations to bring countries together, address persisting injustices, and promote a level playing field where all can develop and prosper, as the General Assembly continued its annual high-level debate.

Heads of State and Government emphasized the interconnectedness of countries while underscoring simmering bilateral tensions exemplified by territorial and border disputes.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, shone a spotlight on the right to self-determination of the people of the disputed territory of Kashmir.  He underscored that India has defied multiple Security Council resolutions and its own Constitution, sending 900,000 troops to the region and placing 8 million people under curfew.  Referring to reports that Indian soldiers have entered Kashmiri homes and raped their inhabitants, he asked delegates to imagine how they would respond to such atrocities.  “I would pick up a gun,” he said.

Speaking of the responsibility of the United Nations to respond to the Kashmiri crisis, he said that it had a choice:  placate a market of 1.2 billion people or stand up for justice and humanity.  Both India and Pakistan are armed with nuclear capabilities, he said, and as such their conflict will have consequences far beyond their borders.  “This is a test for the United Nations”, he said.  “You guaranteed Kashmir the right to self-determination.”

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, speaking of the transboundary nature of terrorism, underscored that “a fragmented world is in the interests of no one.  We do not have the option to confine ourselves within our boundaries.”  He highlighted the key role of the Organization in bringing nations together to fight such seemingly intractable crises effectively, emphasizing that “We must give new direction to multilateralism and the United Nations.”

In a similar vein, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong applauded the multilateral institutions that comprise the current world order.  As a small nation, Singapore depends upon this order for its very survival and is a “staunch advocate” of the United Nations.  The interconnectedness of countries, despite their differences and frictions, means that a multilateral rather than an isolationist approach is the only way to end poverty, halt pandemics and reverse the effects of climate change.

The Acting President of Mauritius, Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, also speaking of the role of the United Nations as a global force in bringing nations together, drew the Assembly’s attention to its vital work in addressing decolonization.  This work continues, he noted, outlining the “unlawful excision” of the Chagos Archipelago in 1968 by the United Kingdom.  In light of both the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and the recent General Assembly resolution, he said he looked forward to the United Kingdom’s imminent withdrawal.

Many speakers voiced alarm over the use of unilateral action, hegemonic interventionism and the imposition of illegal economic blockades.  Small countries, including many island States in the Caribbean, expressed dismay over the current international financial system and trade structure which continues to hinder their development.

Gaston Alphonso Browne Prime Minister Gaston Browne said underdevelopment and financial vulnerability were created by centuries of exploitation in slavery and bound-labour for which no compensation was made.  Relevant European nations should provide reparations “to compensate for their development on the backs of our people”.  He urged the removal of the per capita criterion, which precludes vulnerable small island States from accessing concessional funding.  “Small nations are not beggars,” he stressed, underscoring that they must have access to cheap funding much like wealthy countries.

Ralph E. Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that the weaponizing of trade and the banking system must also be condemned by all those keen to uphold rules-based trade and financial systems as fundamental to peace, security and prosperity.  He called on the General Assembly to stand against the thinly-veiled war being waged against small island developing States under the guise of combating tax secrecy and reducing illicit financial flows.  This campaign against legitimate commercial activity in the Caribbean by the European Union is based on old stereotypes and paternalism.  The Caribbean is experiencing a political assault masquerading as bureaucratic regulation that aims to collapse its financial sector under the weight of these requirements.

Delcy Eloína Rodríguez Gómez, Vice-President of Venezuela, said that sanctions have become the “preferred weapon of domination in the twenty-first century”, because they are “less costly, in neo-colonial terms”.  Having adopted over 350 unilateral actions against Venezuela since 2015, the United States uses this “new kind of terrorism” which, “with the press of single digital button”, can wipe out the income of a sovereign State.  This indiscriminately punishes innocent people and uses their suffering to bolster the world hegemonic power of the United States.  She urged the United Nations to investigate the United States heinous violations and its “crimes against humanity, against Venezuela and the entire world”.  The United States is an oligarchy — not a democracy — judging and targeting nations trying to build a multi-polar world.

The Russian Federation’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergey V. Lavrov, sounding a note of caution, said that the international community was in the process of fragmentation, even though solutions to global challenges could only be addressed on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations and the interest of all States.  This is the fault of the West, which has substituted international law for what it calls the “rules-based order”.  In other words, it is substituting new rules for the norms of international law, based on self-serving schemes and political expediency.

China’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, also warned of the threats that unilateralism and protectionism posed to the international order.  “Erecting walls will not resolve global challenges and blaming others for one’s own problems does not work,” he stressed.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government as well as ministers of Indonesia, Lesotho, Slovenia, Greece, Jamaica, Tajikistan, Norway, Barbados, Albania, Bahamas, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Algeria, Solomon Islands, Tunisia, Cabo Verde, Malaysia, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Vanuatu, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago, Sudan, Paraguay, Iceland, Nepal, United Republic of Tanzania, Papua New Guinea and Equatorial Guinea.

Exercising the right of reply were the representatives of Serbia, Iran, India, Albania and Saudi Arabia.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Saturday, 28 September, to conclude its general debate.


PARAMASIVUM PILLAY VYAPOORY, Acting President of Mauritius, observed that this is “a critical year” for climate action and sustainable development, with slowing economic growth, disruptive climate change, inadequate education access, and declining humanitarian aid, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States.  These challenges are exacerbated by conflicts between major global Powers, extremism and the refugee crisis.

No one is immune to the devastation wrought by climate change, as demonstrated by recent hurricanes, extreme heat events and melting ice caps, he continued.  He called for stepping up financial commitments and living up to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, outlining Mauritius’ efforts in this regard, including the development of low‑carbon emission transport and a plan to double the percentage of renewable energy use by 2030. 

Meanwhile, the midterm review of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway (also known as the Samoa Pathway) showed that it required more funding and targeted partnerships to overcome implementation hurdles.  Middle‑income countries like Mauritius face an uneven playing field and “arbitrary classifications” when trying to diversify the economy. 

Touching on threats to the ocean, including overfishing and acidification, he outlined measures taken by Mauritius such as a plastics ban and sustainable fishing policy.  Piracy, drug smuggling, marine pollution and pillage of marine resources are issues of concern in part of the Indian Ocean.  Mauritius has worked to address these challenges, as Chair of the Indian Ocean Commission for the past two years, and by hosting this year’s meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. 

Global security and sustainable development are inextricably linked, he added, expressing concern about rising tensions on economic trade issues worldwide.  He highlighted Africa’s efforts to foster peace on the continent through the recent launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area.  Stressing the need for a peaceful solution to the “agonizingly stalled” Israeli‑Palestinian peace process, he welcomed the reform of the Security Council to make it more representative and reflect “the realities of our time”. 

The United Nations General Assembly plays a central role in addressing decolonization, including in helping colonies achieve independence.  Yet the work is not complete, regrettably, with the “unlawful excision” of the Chagos Archipelago in 1968 remaining unaddressed.  The United Kingdom’s administration of the territory is “an unlawful act of a continuing character and should be brought to an end as rapidly as possible”.  In light of General Assembly resolution 73/295 and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, he looked forward to the unconditional withdrawal of the United Kingdom’s colonial administration by 22 November and called for the resettlement of Mauritian nationals who have been forcibly removed from the region.  He also hoped for the early resolution of the dispute with France over Tromelin Island.

MUHAMMAD JUSUF KALLA, Vice‑President of Indonesia, underlined the importance of multilateralism which has saved humankind from a world war for more than seven decades, delivered economic prosperity and unprecedented technological advances and fostered protection of human rights.  Quoting the United Nations Charter Preamble, he said war and conflict have always brought about misery, destroyed years of development, and disrupted economies, education and health care, in short:  destroyed the hope of achieving all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Peace in the Middle East will be impossible if the Palestine question is not resolved, he said, urging the international community to unite and find a solution in the form of “a united Palestine”.  Recalling Indonesia’s commitment to peacekeeping, he expressed support for women’s involvement in those operations.

Underscoring the importance of sustainable regionalism, he said that for more than five decades, Indonesia, along with other Southeast Asian countries, has cultivated a culture of dialogue, cooperation and peaceful dispute settlement.  He highlighted the importance of attaining the Goals by 2030, noting that in 2018 — for the first time in Indonesia’s history — poverty figures dropped to one digit, while 223 million Indonesians had the possibility of accessing health insurance and 18.7 million children facing poverty received student assistance.  Indonesia is committed to strengthening its partnerships, both in the Pacific region and Africa, he said, recalling that the country hosted the Indonesia‑Africa Forum in 2018.  More broadly, he urged respect for countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, underscoring Indonesia’s commitment to human rights through dialogue and cooperation, and recalling its candidacy to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2020‑2022 period.

THOMAS MOTSOAHAE THABANE, Prime Minister of Lesotho, said today’s international political landscape is marked by the re-emergence of hegemonic positions and unipolarity; climate change threatens populations around the world; and the problems of refugees and migration, armed conflict and violence, lack of respect for human rights and terrorism all transcend national borders.  Emphasizing that the ideas exchanged during the many meetings convened this week should propel Member States to adopt and implement policies “that are responsive to the needs of our people”, he said domesticating the SDGs is a top priority.

In Lesotho, he said a national development plan guides the pursuit for inclusive economic growth, the creation of decent jobs and poverty reduction.  The Government recently launched a Job and Investment Summit aimed at creating opportunities for more than 30,000 people, with a special focus on youth, women and persons with disabilities.  The country also submitted its voluntary national review of SDGs implementation to the United Nations High‑Level Political Forum and is taking steps to raise the quality of its basic education system.

“We must nevertheless underscore the fact that achievement of the [SDGs] will elude us if due assistance to the least developed countries is not rendered,” he stressed.  Commitments made must be fulfilled.  Spotlighting Lesotho’s vulnerability to climate change — due largely to its location, size and topography — he said the Government is working to build resilience and reduce emissions by 10 per cent using internal resources, and by 25 per cent with external resources by 2030.  Calling for additional international assistance in its adaptation efforts, in line with commitments made under the Paris Agreement, he called on all Member States to ratify that accord and fulfil their related obligations.

Reiterating the need for many countries to reform “archaic” laws and constitutions, he said those inherited from former colonial masters “are far removed from the realities of the twenty‑first century and must be done away with”.  He outlined some of Lesotho’s own structural reforms, while expressing gratitude to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Peacebuilding Fund and the European Union for their support.  He also advocated reform of the Security Council, in line with the Common African Position as enshrined in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, as “the only way the historical injustice done to Africa will be reversed”.

NARENDRA MODI, Prime Minister of India, noting that he speaks today on behalf of 1.3 billion Indians, said that in the world’s largest democracy, the highest ever number of votes brought the Government into power for a second term in 2019 with an even stronger mandate.  The message that this mandate conveys has a wide and inspiring significance.  When a developing country successfully implements the world’s biggest sanitation campaign with the Clean India Mission — building more than 110 million toilets in just five years — all its achievements are an inspiration to the world.  When a developing country successfully runs the world’s biggest health assurance scheme, giving 500 million people 500,000 rupees annually for free treatment, the gains from that scheme show the world a new path.

And when a developing country launches for its citizens the world’s largest digital identification program — giving them a biometric identity and saving more than $20 billion by checking corruption — the modern systems that result from this project give the world new hope.  By 2022, when India celebrates its seventy‑fifth Independence Day, it plans to build 20 million houses for the poor, he said.  It will also work to eradicate tuberculosis by 2025.  Such rapid changes are taking place in India because India is a great culture that is thousands of years old, one with its own vibrant traditions and which encompasses universal dreams.  The core of India’s approach is public welfare through public participation.

Viewed from a historic and per capita emission perspective, India’s contribution to global warming is very low, he said.  Yet, the country is a leader in addressing this issue.  Among the effects of global warming is the increasing number and severity of natural disasters.  As such, India has initiated a “Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure” to build infrastructure that withstands natural disasters.  India has given the world Buddha’s message of peace, not war.  Its voice against terrorism rings with seriousness and outrage, alerting the world about this evil.  Terrorism is one of the biggest threats to the world and all humanity.  “It is absolutely imperative that the world unites against terrorism,” he said.  With technology bringing about sweeping change to social, personal and economic life, as well as to security and international relations, “a fragmented world is in the interests of no one.  We do not have the option to confine ourselves within our boundaries,” he said.  “We must give new direction to multilateralism and the United Nations.”

LEE HSIEN LOONG, Prime Minister of Singapore, praised the current world order based on multilateral institutions and international law, which has been critical for the survival of small nations such as his own.  Singapore is a “staunch advocate” of the United Nations, he said, warning that nationalist, isolationist and protectionist sentiments will only lead to a more polarized, fragmented and unstable world.  Despite frictions, countries are so interconnected that a multilateral approach is required to end poverty, pandemics and climate change.

Over seven decades, developed and developing countries have opened to trade and benefited from access to resources and markets, he said, citing China’s 2011 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a milestone that not only helped to lift 850 million people from poverty, but charted a path for others to follow, including India and Singapore.  He urged developed countries to keep trade and markets open in order to avoid a fragmented world with less prosperity, fewer jobs and dimmer prospects.

At the same time, he said some multilateral institutions are showing signs of weaknesses.  The WTO, which struggles to reach consensus among its 164 members, needs new and better rules, particularly for digital services and intellectual property.  The solution is not to bypass the institution, but rather, to reform it.  He praised the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Chiang Mai Initiative, underscoring the importance of infrastructure funding by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.  It is essential to keep such agreements open and inclusive as to avoid “rival economic blocs or a bifurcated global economy”, he said.

As for climate change, he hailed the millions of students around the world who called for action.  “We owe them a responsibility to act and they deserve full support”, he said, adding that in Singapore, a low‑lying island State vulnerable to sea level rise, takes this issue seriously.  Singapore contributes 0.11 per cent of global CO2 emissions, and is committed to the Paris Agreement.  More broadly, Singapore is working with the United Nations and its neighbours to understand the impact of climate change, notably through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Specialized Meteorological Centre, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  Indeed, a new mindset must take hold, one acknowledging that each person has a duty to live sustainably and in harmony with the environment.

MARJAN ŠAREC, Prime Minister of Slovenia, declared:  “Clearly, the world is in transition and international organizations are trying to follow accordingly.”  In adjusting to shifting paradigms, it would be a grave mistake to do away with the fundamental principles that have guided the international community for nearly a century:  sovereign equality, collective security, the progressive development of international law and fulfilment of obligations in good faith, peaceful dispute resolution, friendly cooperation and respect for human rights.

“Respecting these fundamental principles under the umbrella of the United Nations prevents us from sliding into a world chaos and global war,” he stressed, noting that in today’s interlinked world, everyone has a stake in the success of others.  While nationalism and populism produce catchy formulas with easy appeal, genuine solutions are more complex and difficult, requiring a broader consensus.  Once again, this week, the vast majority of Member States reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism.  Joining Slovenia’s voice to that support, he pressed all States to abide by and defend the rules‑based order embodied in the United Nations Charter.  Such respect is not a matter of opportunism or political will, but rather, a legal obligation.

Hailing progress in human rights protection over the past seven decades, he said such strides should never be taken for granted.  “We have to resist all attempts to weaken existing human rights protection,” he said.  Advocating greater opportunity for youth and older persons, he expressed concern about the shrinking space for human rights activists and underscored the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights as the “cornerstones of gender equality”.  Noting that gross violations tend to be early indicators of conflict, he said a swift and strong response to them is vital in order to prevent crises.  Urging the Security Council to uphold the proposed Code of Conduct to refrain from veto use when addressing atrocity crimes, he outlined Slovenia’s commitment to conflict prevention and mediation and pledged its continued support to the Western Balkan region.  Addressing climate change and transitioning to green economy are other strategic priorities, he said.

IMRAN KHAN, Prime Minister of Pakistan, described a world in which billions of dollars leave poor countries for rich ones, siphoned off by ruling elites who send them to offshore accounts, tax havens and properties in Western capitals — all to devastating effect in the developing world.  By the time he took office a year ago, Pakistan’s debt had grown four times over the 10 preceding years.  He asked how a country of 200 million can care for its people when half its money goes to debt service.

He went on to stress that Islamophobia has grown at an alarming rate since 11 September 2001, with certain Western leaders equating terrorism with Islam and branding it “radical Islam”.  However, there is only one Islam.  “Terrorism has nothing to do with any religion,” he stressed.  He referred to other instances of Islamophobia, notably a book published in 1989 that maligned, insulted and ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad.  There was a reaction in the Muslim world but the West could not understand the problem.  He recalled an English comedy film on Jesus Christ that was unthinkable to Muslims.  Freedom of speech should not be used to cause pain by insulting the holy Prophet of Muslims, he cautioned.

He underscored that India contravened 11 Security Council resolutions stating that Kashmir is a disputed territory and that its people have the right to self-determination.  India also contravened its own Constitution, revoking article 370, which gives Kashmir special status.  It sent extra troops to Kashmir, bringing the total to 900,000, and placed 8 million people under curfew.  He highlighted that India’s President Narenda Modi is a life member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization inspired by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, which believes in racial purity, racial superiority and the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from India.  Recalling the anti-Muslim pogrom Mr. Modi conducted in Gujarat in 2002, “what sort of a mindset would lay siege to 8 million people with 900,000 troops,” locked today in Kashmir like animals.  “These are human beings.”

He questioned whether President Modi thought that the people of Kashmir would quietly accept the status quo once the curfew was lifted.  What will happen is a bloodbath, he responded, with Kashmiris becoming radicalized.  Again, Pakistan will be blamed.  On claims that Indian soldiers forcibly entered Kashmiri homes and committed rape, he asked delegates to imagine their own response, or that of the 1.3 billion Muslims watching events unfold.  “I would pick up a gun,” he said, stressing that people are being forced into radicalization.

To be sure, these two nuclear-armed countries will come face to face, he said.  But before that happens, the United Nations has a responsibility.  The United Nations came into being in 1945 and was supposed to stop this from happening.  He asked the United Nations to make a choice:  appease a market of 1.2 billion people or to stand up for justice and humanity.  If a conventional war starts, anything could happen.  When a country seven times smaller than its neighbour is faced with the choice of whether to surrender or fight until death, Pakistan will fight.  And when a nuclear armed-country fights, it will have consequences far beyond its borders:  it will impact world.  It is not a threat, it is a fair worry.  “This is a test for the United Nations,” he said. “You guaranteed Kashmir the right to self-determination.”  He called on India to end this inhuman curfew and free all political prisoners, and on the world to allow the people of Kashmir the right to self-determination.

KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, Prime Minister of Greece, said his country has suffered a series of misfortunes over the last decade, however a new chapter in the Greek saga unfolded last July with voters in national elections giving his New Democracy Party their support to form majority Government and a mandate to chart a new course forward.  He underscored support for the Secretary-General’s reform efforts, and stressed the importance of peacekeeping before outlining actions Greece is taking to address climate change through its National Strategy for Energy, Environment and Climate, which is scheduled to be adopted by year-end.  Greece will ban single-usage plastics in 2021 and close all lignite power plants by 2028, while other projects will protect cultural heritage from adverse climate conditions.

Situated on Europe’s borders, Greece continues to confront the biggest migrant and refugee flows to the continent since the Second World War, he said, stressing that it ranks in the top four European Union members in asylum applications and has one of the highest ratios of asylum seekers per capita.  Despite the disproportionate burden and resulting pressures on reception and asylum systems, Greece has saved thousands of lives at sea.  He stressed that entry countries cannot — and should not — bear the burden of the migratory pressures on their own.  Greece is reaching the limits of its ability to address this problem.  He called for a comprehensive approach based on fair sharing of responsibility, urging respect for the agreement between the European Union and Turkey, and pressing Europe to continue its financial support to that country.

Expressing concern over the crisis in Syria, and support for an inclusive political dialogue in Geneva that will produce a framework agreement based on resolution 2254 (2015), allowing for the return of Syrian refugees, he further pointed to Greece’s support for the United Nations Action Plan for Libya as well as the recently announced triple Action Plan.  Regarding the Cyprus question, he denounced Turkey’s illegal drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone and territorial waters, as a violation of international law.  These activities undermine efforts to restart the Cyprus negotiations, he said, and only escalate tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.  He also condemned Turkey’s recent actions and statements concerning the opening of Varosha under Turkish-Cypriot administration.

ANDREW HOLNESS, Prime Minister (Jamaica) praised the United Nations as critical to building a world of peace, security and development, hallmarks of multilateralism.  However, yet he warned against unprecedented risks stemming from conflict, trade tensions, terrorist attacks, religious intolerance, xenophobia, the devastating effects of climate change and fears of a global recession.  Internally, Jamaica is pursuing a more cohesive society through sustainable growth, economic opportunities, social harmony and citizen security.

To reduce poverty, he said Jamaica has increased spending and since 2017 pursued its National Poverty Reduction Programme with the goal of bringing the rate below 10 per cent by 2030.  In education, Jamaica has advanced universal enrolment through secondary school, with special emphasis on science, innovation and technology.  Other economic indicators point to record-low 7.8 per cent unemployment, 18 consecutive months of growth and a reduction of the debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio from 147 per cent to 95 per cent.  “The successes are not solely dependent on a strengthened domestic fiscal responsibility framework, but also on an enabling global economic and financial environment,” he said.

Crime is one of the most serious challenges, with significant effects on development, he said.  Jamaica cannot stem the flow by itself.  Organized crime, the illegal drug trade and small arms trafficking are all linked and require collective action.  He called for mobilizing public and private capital to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  As a highly indebted middle-income country, Jamaica is “seriously constrained by having to choose between high external debt repayment and catalytic growth spending”.  Current policies do not allow Jamaica to access affordable long-term financing to invest in the Goals.

On climate change, he explained that starting in 2019, Jamaica banned single-use plastic bags.  He also announced an initiative to plant over 3 million trees in three years, “one tree for each Jamaican”, and expressed a commitment to protect watersheds, coastal ecosystems and marine environments.  To guard against hurricanes and other extreme weather, Jamaica adopted several policies to reduce its vulnerability, making contingency funding available.  He demanded more action at the global level.

Highlighting the 25-year anniversary of both the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the International Seabed Authority — headquartered in Jamaica and committed to developing a “Constitution of the Ocean” — he went on to support efforts by the Special Envoys for Western Sahara, Syria and Myanmar, and towards rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula.  He called for an end to the embargo on Cuba and paid tribute to United Nations personnel killed in conflict, among them, Jamaican national Clive Peck, who recently died in Benghazi, Libya. 

QOHIR RASULZODA, Prime Minister of Tajikistan, said terrorism and extremism — alongside transnational organized crime and illicit drug trafficking — undermine international peace and security, aggravate conflicts and destabilize entire regions.  They also hamper efforts to achieve sustainable development and protect human rights, he said, outlining Tajikistan’s initiatives aimed at preventing and combating those phenomena.  For example, it hosted a conference titled “International and Regional Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Its Financing Through Illicit Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime” in Dushanbe in May — the first of several regional initiatives to be convened under the follow‑up framework to the 2018 United Nations High‑Level Conference of Heads of Counter‑Terrorism Agencies of Member States. 

As the current Chair of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence‑building Measures in Asia, he said, Tajikistan considers that counter‑terrorism efforts should focus primarily on dismantling military infrastructure of international terror groups while denying them any political, military or financial support.  Also needed are efforts to fight misuse of the Internet for radicalization purposes, as well as for recruitment and propaganda of extremism and violence.  Describing illicit drug trafficking among the primary sources of terrorism financing, he said Tajikistan is on the front lines of that struggle and had made great strides.

Indeed, he recalled that in 1999 Tajikistan established its National Drug Enforcement Agency, with United Nations support, and adopted a National Counter‑Narcotics Strategy in 2013.  The Government now plans to form a special group of law enforcement agency representatives from countries of the so‑called “Northern Route” to research the issue of drug trafficking, with United Nations support.  Drawing attention to the link between Afghanistan’s security situation and that of the wider Central Asian region, he outlined Tajikistan’s support for its neighbour, including by creating an “energy bridge” to provide Afghans with electric power and essential commodities, and by training specialists.

Voicing support for the Secretary‑General’s calls to act urgently and purposefully towards the timely and successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he outlined Tajikistan’s National Development Strategy and its Medium‑Term Development Programme (2016‑2020).  However, the country faces a range of new challenges, including the impacts of climate change.  Noting that the average annual air temperature in Tajikistan has increased by 1 degree Celsius over the past 60 years, he also cited increasing incidents of hydro‑meteorological phenomena and underlined the importance of developing a sustainable global economy underpinned by “green energy”.  Hydroelectric plants, which generate about 98 per cent of electricity, currently form the basis of Tajikistan’s energy sector.

ERNA SOLBERG, Prime Minister of Norway, emphasized her country’s support for a rules-based multilateral world order, and called for strengthening the United Nations to respond to challenges such as terrorism and climate change.  As a non-permanent candidate of the Security Council for 2021-22, Norway is ready to serve, and supports financial reform and expansion of permanent and non-permanent seats for Africa.

“Instability affects us all,” she continued, as threats move beyond real and virtual borders.  As a country that has experienced the threat of online radicalization, Norway supports the Christchurch Call.  Mediation and conflict resolution are cornerstones of its foreign policy, which is why it takes the political risk of engaging early and persisting in peace efforts, including in Colombia and the Middle East.  It is committed to a more inclusive peace process in Afghanistan, and to negotiating a two-State solution.  “Norway is impartial, but not value-neutral,” she stressed, adding that it will take this conflict resolution approach to the Security Council, if elected.

Turning to peacekeeping, she touched on Norway’s contributions to United Nations operations in South Sudan, the Middle East, and soon in Yemen, which include military aircraft and camp facilities.  There is a need for a better strategic partnership with the African Union, she said.  The scale of sexual and gender-based violence is totally unacceptable and must be stopped.  Spotlighting Norway’s humanitarian efforts, including as President of the Mine Ban Convention, she noted that the humanitarian budget has been enhanced by more than 65 per cent since 2013.

Stressing that peacekeeping is vital to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, she went on to note encouraging progress in access to education and clean energy but more must be done to make development more inclusive.  Norway is committed to doing its part, as current president of the Economic and Social Council, and by constantly meeting the United Nations funding target for least developed countries, which it plans to enhance.

On oceans, she said she supported the full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Addressing this issue is a matter of global urgency.  She outlined Norway’s development aid program to combat marine litter, and a high-level panel at the 2020 United Nations Ocean Conference.  Norway is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 2020, she added, pointing to its carbon tax — which it will increase — as well as a push to reduce shipping emissions and offshore wind developments.  She expressed support for the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Climate and Security, and for Bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) in Disaster Prevention.  As the lowest carbon emitters, small island developing States like Tuvalu and Seychelles should not shoulder the burden of climate-change related calamities alone.  “Much has changed since our previous term [in the Security Council] in 2001-02, but our commitment to solving problems hasn’t changed,” she concluded.  “We hope to serve again, and hope for all your support.”

MIA AMOR MOTTLEY, Prime Minister of Barbados, said that denying the existence of climate change does not diminish its reality, manifested in hurricanes and floods but also in drought, wildfire, sargassum and the ability to provide food and drinking water.  Young people understand that our planet is at risk.  Never in history has one generation had such responsibility to protect the planet.  The Caribbean and the Pacific are on the frontlines of this battle.  Spotlighting other challenges in the region — blacklisting, correspondent banking, illicit weapons flows and non-communicable disease — he pointed to the achievements of the 14 Caribbean Community countries, which been leaders of “international import”.  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, for example, is the smallest nation ever to be elected to the Security Council.

On the situation in Venezuela, he emphasized that people must be allowed to decide their own future in accordance with the United Nations Charter principles of non-intervention, non-interference, refrain from the threat or use of force, respect for the rule of law, human rights and democracy.  Expressing concern that other multilateral organizations have not followed their own charters, he said Barbados has agreed to host talks between the Venezuelan parties.

Indeed, he said the foreign policy of Barbados is premised on the principle of “friends of all, satellites of none”, and with pride calls Cuba a treasured friend.  The long-standing embargo against that country is a cause for serious concern and he strongly objected to that unilateral action as an unacceptable attempt to stop Cuba from living in basic human dignity.  He reiterated Barbados’ commitment to multilateralism, highlighting the critical importance of a multilateral trading system and economic order that respond to the need of all nations, even the smallest.  It is for this reason that Barbados seeks to host the fifteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in October 2020.

EDI RAMA, Prime Minister of Albania, said that it matters little whether globalism is endorsed or criticized in the General Assembly.  “What matters is that it exists,” he stressed, pointing out that while the world faces a serious climate crisis, its impacts are too often met with either public cynicism or inadequate action.  Meanwhile, social inequalities and ethnic divisions are on the rise; illegal migration, radicalization and extremism are increasing; and organized crime and human smuggling continues.  “Unfortunately, nowadays politics is often perceived as a zero‑sum game, middle ground has become difficult to find and common sense has become the least common of senses,” he said.

Recalling that he was forced to cancel his flight to New York last week due to a powerful earthquake that struck Albania, he said it was followed by a storm and torrential rains that exacerbated the situation for the most vulnerable people.  Unlike an earthquake, climate change repercussions are not unpredictable and can be mitigated in several ways.  Temperatures in Albania have swung wildly in recent years between extremely cold spans and scorching hot summers.  In response, the Government is working hard to achieve the United Nations global goals to reduce emissions by 45 per cent in the next decade and to net‑zero by 2050.

Albania is the first and only country in the Western Balkans to have developed a consolidated climate change strategy, he continued, citing its new energy efficiency standards in construction, a ban on non‑biodegradable plastic bags and a moratorium on hunting and logging.  “Albania might be a small country from a global perspective, yet it is aware of its global responsibility,” he said.  A decade into its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), it has deployed troops to Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Latvia, Mali and Afghanistan.  Calling on Member States to remain vigilant against threats posed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in the course of that group’s “post‑caliphate metamorphosis”, he expressed concern about Iran’s destabilizing behaviour and illicit activities.

He said that in 2020 Albania will chair the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), with a focus on ending protracted conflicts in the region and combating discrimination — first and foremost, anti‑Semitism.  On a bilateral level, Albania continues to build stronger ties with Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo.  Noting that the latter was able to build a vibrant democracy and prove itself a reliable partner in just a decade, he declared:  “The time has come that all countries of this Assembly, including our Serb friends, recognize the independence of Kosovo.”  He went on to spotlight Albania’s commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda as part of its efforts to join the European Union.  He also cited milestone actions against discrimination, efforts to bolster education and its unprecedented recent justice sector reforms.

HUBERT ALEXANDER MINNIS, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, said he speaks today on behalf of people from all vulnerable States, stressing that the global climate emergency is affecting all of humanity, especially the poorest.  Thanking the Secretary‑General and the Under‑Secretary‑General for their visits to the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, “one of the most destructive hurricanes the Atlantic has ever generated”, he said the calamity was no less than “a generational tragedy for the Bahamas”.

Recalling the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s remark that from space, “Bahamas was the most beautiful place on Earth”, he said that its beauty — and very existence as a country — are threatened by rising seas and increasingly lethal hurricanes.  Climate change, he said, “is a threat which we did not cause. It is a threat which we cannot survive on our own.”  When Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas this September, ocean waters warmed by carbon emissions became “instruments of death and destruction”, devastating towns and communities and officially claiming 56 lives.  Considerably more lives have been lost because 600 are still missing, carried away by the rising and then receding waves.  Describing the damage to such towns as Marsh Harbour on Abaco, which was reduced to heaps of rubble, he characterized the disaster as “a physical apocalypse” for some communities.

“Our hearts still ache as I address you here this morning,” he continued.  Thanking all those who supported the Bahamas after the disaster, including the United States Coast Guard, security personnel from other Caribbean countries, and the Royal Netherlands Navy, he said the Bahamas has formed a new ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction.  The world’s small island countries are at risk of being “swallowed by an abyss, created initially by human activity and increasingly by inaction”, he said, adding that climate change is impacting resilience through land erosion and destruction of mangroves.  “When one storm can obliterate an island State or a number of States in one hurricane season, how will we survive, how can we develop, how will we continue to exist?” he asked.

Expressing full support for the Secretary‑General’s strategy to address the climate emergency, he underscored his plea to international financial institutions to provide concessionary financing to affected countries.  For many years, the Bahamas has recommended an alternative to per capital gross national income as the sole indicator of a country’s level of development and eligibility for concessionary financing.  In addition, he called on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to extend its support to the Bahamas.

He went on to invite potential travellers from throughout the world to visit the 14 islands not affected by the tragedy, as income from tourism will play a vital role in reconstruction.  Affected regions will be designated Special Economic Recovery Zones for three years, to offer tax breaks and incentivize investment.  Referring to an iconic nineteenth century lighthouse in Hope Town, which survived the hurricane, as a symbol of the country’s resilience, he expressed the hope that the rest of the world will be “willing to summon the courage and imagination to act with justice and urgency to save our shared home”.

TIMOTHY S. HARRIS, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said the Assembly’s annual gathering will only be useful if countries come prepared not only to speak but also to listen.  It is through multilateralism at the United Nations that the voices of smaller States can be heard, he said, pointing out that while they stand committed to meeting sustainable development targets, they often suffer from insufficient resources to do so.  Calling for a more coherent, system‑wide approach to sustainable development, he spotlighted the special vulnerability of small, developing nations to the threats posed by climate change.  “Let us be absolutely clear — climate change is a product of developed nations’ push for economic growth and industrialization,” he stressed, adding that for too long rich countries have been allowed to emit greenhouse gasses unimpeded.

Still, he said the brunt of climate change is felt by developing States.  “We need and are owed support, solidarity and greater assistance,” he said, noting that leaders from Caribbean and small island developing States have been decrying the dangers of climate change with growing vociferousness.  Drawing attention to the many Caribbean leaders who have addressed the Assembly in recent years even as their nations were being devastated by hurricanes — including the Prime Minster of Bahamas, who is slated to speak today — he appealed for assistance for affected populations and pledged the continued support of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Calling on the international community to take control of its own destiny, he said more efforts are needed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  “It is a matter of our collective survival,” he stressed.  Turning to the unfair practice of categorizing countries based on their gross domestic product (GDP) and denying them access to concessionary funding based on such categories, he warned that it continues to pose a major challenge to the achievement of sustainable development in many nations.  He went on to call for the implementation of a blue economy strategy to protect the world’s fragile oceans and an accelerated push towards universal health coverage.

On the issue of international support, he decried the European Union’s unfair blacklisting practice, from which small island developing States must be freed.  Equally harmful is the de‑risking policy of correspondent banks, which poses an existential threat to the economies of such small States.  Outlining Saint Kitts and Nevis’ response to regional challenges, he said it continues to closely monitor the situation in Nicaragua and Venezuela and supports Caribbean Community (CARICOM) common positions.  On the latter, he welcomed the talks recently facilitated by Norway and urged all parties to continue their dialogue.

WANG YI, State Counsellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said in the past 70 years his country has brought an end to a period in which it was torn apart and trampled upon.  “China has turned itself from a closed, backward and poor country with a weak foundation into a country that is open, and on the move,” he said, having blazed a new path to modernization for developing countries around the globe.  Citing China’s unified leadership and adherence to a development path suited to its national conditions as drivers of such success, he said the country has become a leading engine for global development and an anchor of stability, including as the second largest funder of United Nations peacekeepers and one of the largest troop contributors.

On the diplomatic front, he said China’s foreign policy is guided by the principles of independence and peace.  “We will neither subordinate ourselves to others nor coerce others into submission,” he asserted.  China stands firmly against the abuse of power and will never pursue hegemony and or seek expansion.  Spotlighting its strong belief in the equality of nations — regardless of their size — he expressed support for the right of developing nations to safeguard their common interests, including the right to development.  “A zero-sum mentality and beggar-thy-neighbour policy are recipes for failure,” he stressed, pointing out that in today’s world countries rise and fall together.

Against that backdrop, he said unilateralism and protectionism pose major threats to the international order at a time when the world’s future is at stake.  “Erecting walls will not resolve global challenges and blaming others for one’s own problems does not work,” he stressed.  Warning nations not to forget the lessons of the Great Depression, he said tariffs and trade provocations only upset global industrial and supply chains and undermine the multilateral trading regime.  China is committed to resolving trade disputes in a calm, rational and cooperative manner and to demonstrating the utmost patience and goodwill.  However, should one side act in bad faith or fail to respect negotiation rules or the principle of equal status, it will be forced to undertake necessary responses to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.

Among other concerns, he said the many scientific and technological advances made in recent years should not be monopolized by any single country.  China also stands against unilateral sanctions or attempts to exercise “long-arm jurisdiction” over other countries.  Noting that unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty will result in multiple negative impacts, he objected to the deployment of any land-based intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region and announced China’s intention to join the Arms Trade Treaty.  Turning to other hotspot issues, he said all parties should ensure that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is upheld and the Palestinian issue remains at the top of the global agenda.

In addition, he urged the international community not to miss the opportunity to find a political settlement of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, given the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s willingness to promote dialogue.  Expressing hope that the United States will meet Pyongyang halfway, he also urged the Security Council to consider invoking the rollback terms of the sanctions imposed against that country.  Describing development as the master key to solving all global problems, he spotlighted China’s Belt and Road Initiative as one effort to pursue high-quality development that is open, green, clean and people-centred.  On climate change, he pledged that China will “deliver what we have signed up to” and take real actions to pursue a cleaner and more beautiful world.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said fragmentation in the international community is only increasing, due to the unwillingness of countries declaring themselves winners of the cold war to reckon with the legitimate interests of all other States.  It is difficult for the West to tolerate its weakening centuries‑long dominance in world affairs.  New centres of economic growth and political influence have emerged.  Without them, it will be impossible to find sustainable solutions to global challenges, which can only be addressed on the basis of the United Nations Charter and the balance of interests among all States.

Leading Western countries are trying to recover their privileged positions and impose standards of conduct that are based on narrow Western interpretations of liberalism, he said.  The West is less frequently recalling international law and instead dwelling on the “rules‑based order”.  It is revising international legal norms that no longer suit it, substituting them for “rules” adjusted to self‑serving schemes for reasons of political expediency.  Rather than collective efforts, approaches agreed upon behind closed doors by a narrow group are then declared to be multilateral agreements.

He said the United States set a tough course for abolishing United Nations resolutions on the international legal framework for the Middle East settlement.  It recommends waiting for some “deal of the century” while it meanwhile makes unilateral decisions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  A two‑State solution to the Palestinian issue is under threat.  When NATO members bombed Libya — in violation of the Security Council resolution — they were likewise guided by the logic of the “rules‑based order”, resulting in the destruction of Libya’s statehood.  The West also has its own rules for the Balkans, where it pursues an open course for undermining Security Council resolutions.  Attempts are now being made to add Venezuela to the list of countries whose statehood is destroyed through aggression or coups inspired from abroad, he warned.

The Asia‑Pacific region needs a reliable, open architecture, and he cautioned against the dangerous temptation to divide it into conflicting blocs.  Such a move would contradict efforts to unify the actions of all countries in the region to resolve challenges by exclusively peaceful means, notably a range of issues on the Korean Peninsula.  Actions taken by the United States following its withdrawal from the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Limitation of Anti‑Ballistic Missile Systems destroyed the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the support of NATO members, causing huge damage to the decades‑old global system of strategic stability.  Now, the United States is questioning the future of the the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as the New START Treaty, refusing to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty.  As a result, the United States is looking to transform cyberspace and outer space into arenas for military confrontation. 

To prevent tensions from escalating further, President Vladimir Putin announced the decision not to deploy land‑based intermediate‑range and shorter‑range missiles in Europe or other regions as long as the United States also refrains from such action.  The Russian Federation has also suggested to Washington D.C. that negotiations begin on prolonging the New START Treaty.  Along with China, his country supports the harmonization of a legally binding document on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.  However, the reaction of the United States and its allies has not been encouraging.  “We are alarmed by the lack of answer to our proposal,” he said, made a year ago, for a high‑level joint statement on the unacceptability and inadmissibility of nuclear war, which by definition, cannot have a winner.

SABRI BOUKADOUM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, called for renewed efforts to combat poverty, especially in developing countries.  Asking whether today’s world is fairer and safer than in the past, he urged States to focus on the founding United Nations principles.  Pledging to work through the lens of multilateralism, especially in a difficult region, he said the countless benefits of technology and innovation are “nothing but figures” because more than 740 million people still live on less than $2 a day.  The fight against poverty is not charity but rather, an issue of social justice, peace and stability around the world.

Underlining the importance of sustainable development — which employs wise and rational economic systems, while considering environmental protection — he said the Sahel region is among those regions most affected by climate change.  It has suffered severe desertification and drought, despite its small contribution climate change.  The divergence between developed and developing countries on that critical issue must end.  Each State should be able to take action that corresponds with its abilities.  Safeguarding multilateralism can only be achieved when based on fairness, justice and balanced actions.

On United Nations reform, he said the Organization’s composition is no longer effective in addressing current challenges.  In recent years, the policies of impunity and double standards have had major consequences for its credibility, revealing the pressing need for change. “Its modernization and revitalization cannot be postponed because it has a direct effect on peace and security in the world”, he asserted, calling for democratization of the Security Council.  Moreover, Africa must play a stronger role in United Nations leadership and he pledged Algeria’s engagement in that process.  More broadly, he said the international community has failed to take appropriate action to resolve conflicts in the Arab region, leading to a rise in violent extremism.

In that context, he said the issue of Palestine remains a central question closely linked to many other crises across the globe.  Binding Council resolutions have not been implemented on the ground, pushing peaceful resolution further away.  Noting that most of the world recognizes Palestinians’ right to their homeland, he rejected recent attempts to alter the character of parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem.  Voicing regret over continued conflict in Western Sahara and the recent resignation of the Special Envoy, he expressed hope that the Sahrawi people will be able to realize their right to self‑determination in line with the United Nations Charter.

Turning to Libya, he said the crisis there can only be settled by the Libyan people and the introduction of weapons is not appropriate.  Progress must also be made on peace and reconciliation in Syria, allowing all its people to return home.  In Yemen, he expressed hoped the fight against terrorism will continue and that peace will prevail, also calling for implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, noting that the poverty and lack of security in the Sahel region only feeds the destructive capacity of terrorist groups.  He outlined Algeria’s policies to combat terrorism and organized crime; warned that a misinterpretation of Islam has fed Islamophobia and urged a more balanced response to migration, which has turned the Mediterranean Sea into an “enormous watery grave”.  The region must be respected as a true space for solidarity.

JEREMIAH MANELE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands, said the United Nations was established for all and that it must not be undermined by the unilateral actions of a few.  Noting that Solomon Islands’ relationship with the United Nations has been managed from the Organization’s office in Fiji for the past 41 years, he said it is time that it has its own country office.  The Secretary-General’s recent visit to the Pacific highlighted the well-documented gravity of the climate challenge for small island States.  He said his country experiences the impact of climate change at three times the global average, losing islands due to rising sea levels, while the resettlement of internally displaced populations is the new normal.

“There is no room for cynicism and complacency,” he said, calling for urgent and collective action as the world heads towards an increase of 3 degrees Celsius in global average temperatures.  Policies and actions must be guided by science, which is clear and non-negotiable.  He underscored the commitment of the Solomon Islands to strengthen the management, use and conservation of its ocean waters — which provide more than 60 per cent of the world’s tuna — and called on distant fishing nations to eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.  He also noted Solomon Island’s commitment to work with others to conclude negotiations in 2020 on a fair, equitable and inclusive treaty on biodiversity in ocean areas outside national jurisdiction.

More broadly, he said the Solomon Islands, despite its challenges, is proud to have contributed 12 police officers to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), and stands ready to deploy more personnel to other peacekeeping missions.  He called for the creation of a non-permanent seat for small island developing States in a reformed Security Council.  With the Solomon Islands scheduled to graduate from the category of least developed countries in 2024, its Government has developed its transport infrastructure to connect the entire population of its 10 provinces within 15 years.  With the fastest population growth in the Pacific, it is also reforming its educational system.  He expressed concern at the insufficient attention being paid to fighting non-communicable diseases, which in the Solomon Islands is responsible for 7 of every 10 deaths.  He also noted the support his country receives from traditional and non-traditional development partners as it prepares to host the 2023 Pacific Games.

KHEMAIS JHINAOUI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, said that his country since 2011 has taken an irreversible democratic path based on the rule of law, State institutions and rights and freedoms.  Tunisia has witnessed a smooth political transformation in the wake of the passing of its late President.  Pointing to the next round of elections on 6 October, he expressed hope for significant representation of women and youth reflecting the maturity of Tunisia’s Government and society.  The many social and environmental challenges facing the world reaffirm the need for further multilateral cooperation and mobilization to end poverty and marginalization, provide better education and fight climate change, with Member States committing to those causes through the 2030 Agenda.  His Government has adopted all those noble objectives in its five‑year plan.

In the wake of its economic transformation and social change, his country has continued to implement a major structural reform programme, attracting internal and external investment, promoting the tourism sector despite regional instability.  In view of the African dimension of its foreign policy, his Government is developing partnerships in that zone and aiming to achieve further economic integration under the aegis of the African Union and Agenda 2063.  He noted the primacy of empowering youth and protecting them from falling prey to terrorist groups.  With violent extremism and terrorism on the rise worldwide, terrorist take advantage of crises and threaten the stability of nations and their societies.  Despite successes in the fight, terrorist groups remain a threat and combatting them requires greater mobilization and cooperation, especially for those States on the frontlines.

He said the Arab region continues to witness unprecedented instability undermining regional and international peace and security, with Libya witnessing extremely serious developments culminating in military violence.  Noting the special historic ties between the two countries, he renewed a call to Libya’s people to put an end to military operations, expressing a commitment through partnerships with Algeria, Egypt and the international community to help Tripoli overcome the crisis.  Turning to the Palestinian issue, he said a just settlement would serve peace in the region, calling for an independent State within 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.  He also called for a political solution to crises in Syria and Yemen to end the suffering of their people, and welcomed the recent Sudan agreement, stating that sanctions on it must end.  He noted that on 1 January 2020, Tunisia will take its place as a non‑permanent member of the Security Council.

DELCY ELOÍNA RODRÍGUEZ GÓMEZ, Vice‑President of Venezuela, said that her country will never bow to imperial Powers.  Her country Venezuela is at peace, and 120 delegations participated in a summit of the non‑aligned nations, in Caracas, despite attempts to destroy Venezuela.  The world’s mass media says nothing about Venezuela’s social protections that cover 19 million women and men.  The country’s model of inclusion, justice and social protection is a target because it is a threat to the United States “model of capitalist supremacy”, she said.

Between 2015 and 2019, the United States adopted over 350 unilateral actions against Venezuela, she continued.  These included the “illicit appropriation of assets and wealth outside” her country, and a “total financial blockade” that affects health, education and nutrition.  The last three United States Presidents progressively increased their use of illegal bombings, violating the Charter of the United Nations.  President Donald J. Trump has broken records by dropping an average of 121 bombs per day since taking office.  There is also a “new kind of terrorism”, she said, that no longer uses bombs but is instead conducted by insurance companies “with the press of a single digital button”.  The United States Treasury Department is an “economic Pentagon”, she added.  It has caused a “ninefold” drop in Venezuelan income between 2015‑2018.  This is “shameless robbery”.

President Trump has also waged economic war against Cuba, and Nicaragua is next, she said.  The United States judges these countries, despite being an oligarchy, not a democracy.  She stressed the special “narcotic relationship” between Columbia and the United States, the “first producer” and “first consumer” of cocaine, respectively.  Colombia has killed and disappeared people in Venezuela, she said.  She read out what she said were the geographical coordinators of camps in Colombia and around Central America where people are being trained to attack Venezuela.

The United States and its regional satellites are preparing to attack Venezuela, she said.  The Organization of American States has taken “group unilateralism” against Venezuela, even though the organization is obsolete, the “walking dead”.  Venezuela rejects the use of sanctions against 30 countries, including those against Iran, the Russian Federation and others.  Tomorrow these sanctions could reach other countries, she said.  They are targeted because they are trying to build a multipolar world.  Sanctions have become the “preferred weapon of domination in twenty‑first century”, because it is “less costly, in neocolonial terms”.  According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, one third of humanity is now suffering collective punishment because of sanctions.  This “new economic terrorism” uses the suffering of innocent people to bolster the world hegemonic power of the United States building the new world.  Venezuela calls for an “investigation of heinous violations of the United Nations Charter by the United States”.  It has committed “crimes against humanity, against Venezuela and the entire world”, she concluded.

JOSÉ ULISSES CORREIA E SILVA, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, said that his country has always had a difficult yet passionate relationship with nature.  He noted that the sea that Cabo Verde’s musicians sang about as the path to emigration has become an asset for the blue economy and tourism.  The wind and the sun, which used to signal droughts, now produce renewable energy.

Cabo Verde faces the same economic, social and environmental challenges as all small island developing States, he said.  Its main challenges are related to weather events and its condition as a volcanic archipelago.  It also faces the development challenges of a small island developing State that has graduated to middle‑income status.  Its goal is not to grow out of less‑advanced country status and remain as a middle‑income country under more penalizing financing and cooperation conditions.  Rather, its goal is to achieve development and high‑income status.

There are global issues that require local responses in a framework of global solidarity, as they have implications for global security in the broadest sense, he said.  Cabo Verde is implementing its Strategic Sustainable Development Plan, which is fully harmonized with the 2030 Agenda.  It has also adopted the cross‑cutting gender equality and equity approach in its planning system, State budget and public policies.  It also guarantees the right to education for all, providing free access to and attendance in basic and secondary education, and responding to special education needs.

Cabo Verde has also demonstrated its alignment, commitment and credibility with respect to the broader ideals of the United Nations, he said.  It wishes to be positioned as a useful interlocutor in promoting dialogue, peace and tolerance among nations and as a credible ally for cooperative security against transnational crimes such as drug trafficking, trafficking in persons and terrorism.

MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD, Prime Minister of Malaysia, noted that the five nations who won the Second World War gave themselves “veto power over the world” which is against all the principles of human rights, of which they claim to be the champions.  All solutions to all conflicts can be negated by any one of them, negating the wishes of almost 200 other members, which is “absolutely undemocratic”.  He stated this has resulted in an arms race, with those five relying on military might to retain their power.  The “privileged five” render the United Nations incapable of its principle mission, to prevent war within and between countries.  He observed that European countries have not fought themselves but have caused wars to break out elsewhere.

He said the first action of the United Nations was the creation of the State of Israel, seizing Arab land and expelling 90 per cent of the Arab population.  The result was terrorism when there was none before, or not on the present scale.  He acknowledged that Malaysia accepts Israel as a fait accompli but cannot accept settlements or occupation of Jerusalem.  Muslims are accused of terror even if they did nothing, their States destabilized by regime change.  He said there were no massive migrations in the past, but now wars and regime change force people to flee their countries.  Noting that democracy is not the easiest form of government to operate, especially when it is adopted overnight, he called for time for gradual change.  Otherwise the result is violence, civil wars or new more harsh regimes.  Turning to the fate of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, he noted many colonies in the West had expelled natives from their countries, but never as brutally as in Myanmar.  The Rohingya dare not return to Myanmar because they cannot trust its military, with the helplessness of the world in stopping atrocities having reduced respect for United Nations resolutions.  He stated the Jammu and Kashmir problem must be solved peacefully, with India working with Pakistan.

On trade, he said all countries wish to prosper, but cannot expect much from their former colonial masters.  Free trade always comes with new regulations to the detriment of poor countries, made by the rich, often secretly.  Offering criticism of the Trans‑Pacific Partnership, he also said the ban on import of palm oil proposed by European countries is due to their inability to sustain their own edible oils.  Malaysia produces palm oil but will not clear more forests to do so.  “We are as concerned about our environment as the Europeans are about theirs,” he said.  His country aimed to preserve 50 per cent of land under forest cover and has reached 55.3 per cent.

Turning to climate change, he noted Malaysia is hotter than ever before and getting hotter still.  Powerful typhoons and hurricanes destroy whole towns and kill thousands, flood waters inundate, followed by wildfires, earthquakes are more frequent, and melting snow in the Arctic and Antarctic raises sea levels.  He said people must learn to mitigate these disasters, build shelters and grow food without sunlight.  “Every disaster is a world disaster,” he said.  Calling for access to world markets, he said “trade wars are wasteful”, as are sanctions, which appear to be the privilege of the rich and powerful.  Malaysia and others lost a market under Iran sanctions.  “I believe in capitalism, but capitalism has gone mad,” he said.  Returning to the Security Council, he said the time has come to modify veto power if not do away with it completely.

ALLEN MICHAEL CHASTANET, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, welcomed the Secretary‑General’s support for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) debt‑for‑climate‑adaptation swap proposal for small island developing States, an initiative that will go far to free up domestic financial space while also establishing a resilience fund to finance adaptation projects.  Saint Lucia looks forward to engaging with international financial institutions and other partners to implement the initiative.

He said that in his capacity as Chairman of CARICOM, he witnessed first‑hand the devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, where people have found themselves voiceless once the initial reflex of empathy and emergency assistance had passed.  “We need to let them know by our actions that we hear them, we see them and we will not forget them,” he said.  Too often, world leaders are failing to act with urgency, opting instead to paper over the real and existential threat to lives and livelihoods.  It is also clear that the international financial architecture is too slow to respond to this new normal for small island developing States such as Saint Lucia.  He recommended that a special purpose vehicle dedicated to such States be established that can mobilize financing for resilience.

He went on to say that, as they strive for sustainable development and self‑sufficiency, small island developing States must grapple with the consequences of rules and restrictions that are imposed on them in the absence of credible evidence of wrongdoing.  Blacklisting is causing irreversible damage to their reputations and their ability to participate in the financial services sector, an area in which they have a comparative advantage.  He went on to discuss the country financing road map that Saint Lucia is implementing in partnership with the World Economic Forum that will enable a transformative shift from funding to financing.  He also touched upon the situation in Venezuela, saying that continued instability is a threat to the entire hemisphere.  Military action is not the answer, nor can the crisis be overlooked or swept under the table, he said, emphasizing the need for dialogue and a peaceful resolution.

TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, stated that his main concern today — as it has been for the past 21 years — is climate change.  This crisis embodies Samoa’s realities and aspirations and is its present and future primary policy concern.  “Science has spoken,” he continued, and its message is loud and clear — climate change is real, here and represents a security risk far greater than many are willing to admit.  Indeed, it could lead to the demise of some States consisting of low‑lying atolls and small islands.  Refuting, however, the misguided notion that climate change concerns only small island developing States, he said that this crisis does not discriminate by size or economic status.  It is a global problem requiring a decisive response from the world community, and he called for a shift in focus in the international community’s approach from one of “donor‑victim” to one of partnership.

Highlighting Samoa’s status as a small island developing State with no defence force and an unarmed police service, he said that his country’s membership in the United Nations is grounded on the promise of peace, rule of law, equality and justice that the Organization offers every Member State.  Only through cooperation and multilateral joint effort — for which the United Nations is uniquely suited — can the world hope to guarantee human rights, achieve peace and security and pursue sustainable development.  The United Nations Secretariat and agencies are key partners for the Blue Pacific continent, he continued, in addressing regional priorities like climate change, resilience, oceans, fisheries, gender equality, human rights and the sustainable development agenda.

In addition, he said, the Pacific Resilience Facility is a “game‑changing” regional initiative for the Blue Pacific and its peoples that will provide predictable, sustainable, accessible and accountable grant funding for disaster risk preparedness.  This initiative fills a critical financing gap in the Pacific, and there is room for support from the international community.  Further, he welcomed the recommended establishment of a multi‑country office in the Northern Pacific, but urged the United Nations to deliver both in rhetoric and practice to avoid duplication of responsibilities and clearly define roles against diminishing resources.

On continued conflicts and growing tensions worldwide, he stated that no country can win the war against terrorism alone, and only by pooling resources and working collaboratively can the world defeat this “senseless menace”.  Highlighting Samoa’s peacekeepers deployed to Sudan and South Sudan and his country’s active engagement in the disarmament agenda, he said that Samoa continues to advocate for respect of the rule of law.  Samoa recently co‑hosted the Women, Peace and Security Summit for the Pacific and a round table on international humanitarian law, and endeavours to meet its commitment to ratify all nine core human rights conventions before the country’s next universal periodic review.  In the meantime, it will continue to advocate for the importance of Samoan culture and the role of churches in promoting human rights for all in Samoa.

CHARLOT SALWAI TABIMASMAS, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, said multiple complicated challenges are rising as multilateralism is threatened.  However, as the world becomes more interconnected, those challenges cannot be resolved by a single country.  He stated that unilateralism leads to insecurity, as occurred in Europe through the outbreak of two world wars.  He noted that in its 39 years of existence, Vanuatu has maintained an open economy, bolstered by robust macroeconomic activity and stability.

However, he stated that Vanuatu is extremely vulnerable to natural hazards and external shocks.  The United Nations has classified it as one of the most vulnerable nations, and the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that ocean temperatures have risen by 3°C, a direct threat to Vanuatu on many fronts, thereby imperilling achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  That vulnerability means his country depends on the multilateral system all the more.  Although Vanuatu is not a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the health of oceans is threatened by irresponsible human behaviour.  By contrast, in 2017 his Government adopted an oceans policy that will regulate and protect marine space, has prohibited single use plastics and is developing other measures.

In financial terms, he said the international community must ensure vulnerable nations receive subsidized financing, to develop innovative tools for natural hazard risks.  He also called for better management of risk reduction measures developed by international banks, as those measures inhibit growth and access.  Vanuatu needs the support of development partners in cooperation with multilateral bodies.  He called on the Secretary-General to be unstinting in reforming the Organization, and for the establishment of a United Nations office in the north Pacific to extend services to small island developing States.

With 60 per cent of its population under 15, Vanuatu is poised to benefit from their meaningful contribution to its economy, he continued.  In services, Government policy guarantees access to education, but as an archipelago, offering affordable health care to all is costly, especially in the face of an uptick in noncommunicable diseases.  He said the country must train personnel and improve medical infrastructure.

He said that in the region of the Pacific, some colonial hegemony still persists, despite the primacy of the right to self-determination.  He condemned violations of the human rights of the indigenous people of Western Papua and called on the United Nations to find solutions.  He further insisted on the importance of lifting the embargo on Cuba.  Observing that small countries have neither armies nor nuclear weapons, he said “the international community may mock us”, and not view them as equal partners, “but our concerns are those of humanity”.

SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said that despite turbulence in the rule-based international order and apprehensions of gradual economic slowdown, her country has continued to prosper over the last 10 years.  “Poverty eradication, sustainable growth, protection of the environment and human-resources development are some of the key features of our development strategy,” she added.  Over the past 10 years, Bangladesh has adopted progressive and timely policies.  Its exports grew three times from 2005 to 2018.  Bangladesh has achieved one of the fastest poverty reduction rates in the world with the poverty rate dropping from 41.5 per cent in 2006 to 21.4 per cent in 2018.  Bangladesh is addressing inequality through social security, decent work and financial inclusion.

“We are investing in human capital to create an inclusive society through equal access to technology,” she continued, noting the countrywide 5,800 digital centres taking 600 e-public services to people’s doorsteps.  The Government is building its first ever nuclear power plant in Rooppur.  Bangladesh has long advocated for addressing the special challenges and vulnerabilities of countries.  In that regard, it has adopted transformative and innovative climate resilient technologies and crops for reducing disaster risks.

As the second largest troop- and police-contributing country, Bangladesh continues to respond to the appeal for participation of troops for peacekeeping operations under the United Nations, she continued.  Bangladesh is keen on promoting a culture of peace and stands firmly against extremism, terrorism, drug trafficking and corruption.  It promotes safe, orderly and regular migration, she emphasized, adding that irregular migration and human trafficking are global menaces rooted in complex nets of criminal networks.

Turning to the Rohingya crisis, she underscored that Bangladesh is host to 1.1 million Rohingya refugees who were forced to leave Myanmar.  Calling on the international community to “understand the un-tenability of the situation”, she stressed that the voluntary return of the Rohingyas to their homes in the Rakhine State is the only solution to the crisis.  Myanmar must manifest clear political will for the sustainable return of Rohingyas to Myanmar and must discard its discriminatory laws and practices.  “The international community must ensure that the root causes of the Rohingya problem are addressed and the violation of human rights and other atrocity crimes against the Rohingyas are accounted for,” she added.

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, recalled how his country two years ago suffered the damaging consequences of Hurricane Irma.  “The consequences of climate change have become our annual Hiroshima — the effects are as horrific as any battle ground and as devastating and long lasting as an atomic bomb,” he added.  The economies of the Caribbean small island States are rooted in tourism and agriculture, which are highly dependent on stable climate conditions.  “We fear that the necessary action to halt greenhouse gas emissions might only come when a few countries and coastal communities are entirely washed away and eliminated from the face of the global map,” he continued.

Turning to the rights of children, he noted the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and cautioned that the prospects for the world’s children are being impaired.  Children are being robbed of a bright and prosperous future.  He welcomed the activism of Greta Thunberg and other young people who are urging Governments to take bold action.  The protection of fossil fuel economic interests at the expense of climate justice is unfair, unjust and unconscionable.  The Government of Antigua and Barbuda proposes that Member States agree that the matter of climate refugees must be taken up in all appropriate committees.  There is no Planet B and Antigua and Barbuda is doing its part, including by banning the importation of single use plastic bags.  It is also transitioning to alternate energy that will make the country carbon neutral by 2040.

“Our small nations are not beggars,” he continued, also adding:  “Whereas most countries have access to cheap funding on the capital markets, needy small island States have had to borrow at commercial rates to fund their development.”  Underdevelopment and financial vulnerability were created by centuries of exploitation in slavery and bound-labour for which no compensation was made.  Relevant European nations should provide reparations “to compensate for their development on the backs of our people”.  He urged the removal of the per capita criterion, which precludes vulnerable small island States from accessing concessional funding.  Corresponding banking is a public global good, a fundamental human right and must be available to all countries.  Turning to Antigua and Barbuda’s trade dispute with the United States, he urged that country to respect the decision of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and come to the table to settle its obligations.  “Trade wars invariably push-up cost of living for peoples across the world, especially the poor and vulnerable,” he added, urging the lifting of the debilitating sanctions against Cuba.

KEITH ROWLEY, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said his country’s citizens are central to its development and its greatest asset.  Building an inclusive society requires food security and elimination of poverty, discrimination and disease.  His Government has adopted an integrated national poverty reduction strategy.  Consolidation of economic stability and remaining integrated with global financial and trade architecture are a priority and he called for support of an enabling international economic environment.  As financial services are important to economic growth, he expressed concern over the unilateral insertion of some CARICOM States, including Trinidad and Tobago, on a list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, which may inflict irreparable harm to the economies of small island developing States.  Similarly, he expressed deep concern over the progressive decline of international correspondent banking services and renewed a call for new multidimensional parameters to determine access to concessionary financing.

Turning to climate change, he stated the marine environment and its resources are critical to the livelihood of his country’s people, its cultural and social identity, and sustainable development.  He expressed hope for adoption of a legally binding instrument under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction areas.

With Caribbean growth and development hinging on peace and security, he addressed the worrisome development as Venezuela — just seven miles from Trinidad — became the epicentre of a global standoff.  The threat of force by foreign nations led his Government and other CARICOM Member States to push for de-escalation and a negotiated solution.  In order for the region to remain a zone of peace, his Government fully supports the Montevideo mechanism for peaceful resolution.  He urged external forces to avoid further unilateral intrusions regarding Venezuela, which would cause more hardship for its people.  His country’s sustainable development requires management of irregular migration, as it has been affected by an influx from Venezuela.  His Government has implemented a migratory registration framework for both documented and undocumented migrants, and despite limited resources, has welcomed over 16,000 Venezuelans.  Turning to Cuba, he stated the economic, commercial and economic embargo imposed for six decades undermines the country’s potential and called for it to be lifted.

He offered strong support for the mandate of the International Criminal Court to end impunity for perpetrators of the most heinous crimes and urged those countries yet to submit to its jurisdiction to do so.  Saying the use of nuclear weapons would constitute a crime against humanity, he lamented recent elimination of restraints on them at the bilateral and multilateral levels.  On Security Council reform, he called for representation and inclusion of small island developing States, with a dedicated seat rotating across all regions, and noted that in 2019, CARICOM nation Saint Vincent and the Grenadines became the smallest country ever to secure a seat on the Council.

RALPH E. GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that the rapid acceleration of climate change is a “menacing manifestation of a failed multilateralism”, and that many suffer and die needlessly while urgent global action is thwarted by “selfish short-termists and convenient climate deniers”.  Recently showcased by Hurricane Dorian’s devastation of the Bahamas, the floods, land degradation, droughts, landslides, coastal erosions and unreliable weather patterns across the globe place daily obstacles on life, living and production in vulnerable nations, particularly small island developing States.  The Secretary-General’s climate action summit confirmed three tests of commitment to climate action:  enforcement of binding emissions targets, investments in clean air and renewable energy and provision of adaptation financing that prioritizes the most vulnerable nations.

Criticizing major emitters’ failure to set and honour mitigation pledges as an “act of hostility” against the very existence of small island developing States, he also stated that the “hegemonic imperial hand” is visible and that the “metaphoric eagle threatens to unleash war and disorder in unilateralist vainglory”.  Pointing to extensive foreign interference in the sovereign affairs of Venezuela, he urged that principle and international law cannot be applied selectively.  The solution to the conflict in Venezuela is the facilitation of peaceful dialogue, the cessation of outside interference or threats thereof and firm adherence to Charter principles, including respect for sovereignty.  The weaponizing of trade and the banking system must also be condemned by all those keen to uphold rules-based trade and financial systems as fundamental to peace, security and prosperity.

On this, he called on the General Assembly to stand against the thinly-veiled war being waged against small island developing States under the guise of combating tax secrecy and reducing illicit financial flows.  This campaign against legitimate commercial activity in the Caribbean by the European Union is based on old stereotypes and paternalism that reject the concept of a Caribbean banker.  The Caribbean is experiencing a political assault masquerading as bureaucratic regulation that aims to collapse its financial sector under the weight of these requirements.  He expressed his desire to formally place the issues of de-risking and loss of correspondent banking relations on the agenda of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.  Otherwise, the prohibitive expense of banking operations in small island locales threatens to disconnect these States from international trade and commerce, with disastrous developmental consequences.

Pointing to his country’s election as a non-permanent member of the Security Council as an acknowledgement of the right and ability of small States to participate meaningfully in the weightiest matters, he expressed a hope for reform of that organ’s membership and methodology to reflect global realities and the invaluable perspective of small island developing States.  He also called on the international community to “right the historic wrong” of excluding Africa and others from permanent membership.  Small islands must now form part of the new foundation for international cooperation, he concluded, and their voices — long humoured but unheard — must be listened to as consistent advocates on behalf of people, progress, partnership and principle.

ABDALLA HAMDOK, Prime Minister of Sudan, said that the great revolution in his country has succeeded.  Sudan’s people fought bravely for more than three months against a brutal and repressive regime.  He thanked the Security Council, the General Assembly, the African Union and other international partners for their support.

Sudan will transform its foreign policy from the one that’s prevailed the last three decades.  In this new approach, Khartoum will reach out to its regional neighbours and all other countries worldwide, with a true spirit of friendship, guided by its genuine belief in human values and the heritage of Sudanese wisdom, he said.  Sudan pledges to uphold international law, human rights, and efforts to end discrimination, exploitation, injustice and inequality.  “We remain committed to maintaining international peace and security,” he said.

The revolution aims to end Sudan’s international and regional isolation, he continued.  The country has inherited international sanctions, and it is on the list of State sponsors of terrorism.  However, “it was the former regime that supported terrorism”, he said, not Sudan’s people.  The sanctions have wreaked havoc on its population.  “We call on the United States of America to remove Sudan from the list of” State sponsors of terrorism and cease punishing the population for acts committed by the previous regime.

He said that Sudan is determined to address the root causes of its civil wars:  economic marginalization, and ethnic, cultural and religious discrimination.  Social cohesion must be restored and supported with a culture based on peaceful coexistence and tolerance.  The country will address the situation of refugees and displaced people, “while compensating them for the damages incurred” by war, he said.  An additional challenge is the accumulated foreign debt inherited from the previous regime, and Sudan looks forward to the generosity of the international community.

ANTONIO RIVAS PALACIOS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, said landlocked developing countries are confronted with very specific challenges that deserve special attention.  Reiterating that the right to development is inherent to all people and needs to be extended to the most vulnerable in society, he said Paraguay is guided by a spirit of solidarity.  One outcome of its efforts is the recent trade agreement reached between the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the European Union, he said, stressing the need to remove trade barriers and boost the competitiveness of Paraguay’s economy.  “Social well-being must cover all people without distinction,” he continued.  Paraguay is fully committed to the 2030 Agenda, seeing it as the swiftest way to achieve its development goals.  “In Paraguay, our responsibility is to leave no one behind,” he continued.

On South-South cooperation, he said Paraguay humbly offers its best practices and knowledge to its neighbors.  “We will not let up in our efforts to protect, respect and promote indigenous languages,” he continued.  Democracy is not a mere matter of the ballot box.  It is an organized system by which men and women can be elected and citizens can participate in the fruits of progress.  Democracy is not a matter of interpretation.  Democracy stands on the empowerment of the individual.  The international community has played a vital role assisting Paraguay in upholding the democratic order.

Venezuela is going through a tragic moment in its history, he said, underscoring the “grim reality” facing that country’s people who continue to suffer at the hands of a regime that openly disdains human rights and democracy.  “We must come together to restore democracy in Venezuela,” and reverse the tide of despair that is forcing so many to flee hunger, misery and oppression.  He called for migrants to be treated with dignity.  On climate change, he said that recently fires destroyed a significant portion of a forest in Paraguay and expressed gratitude to the nations who contributed to fighting the fires.  Urging the international community to avoid action that stokes tensions, he stressed the need to recommit to dialogue, diplomacy and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  Paraguay will continue to contribute peacekeepers to United Nations missions, and will remain steadfast in its support to the Secretary-General’s proposed reforms as well as reform of the Security Council.

GUDLAUGUR THÓR THÓRDARSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, said that open, fair and free trade is the single most important driver for economic growth and stability.  “We need to build bridges, not boundaries, if we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.  Climate change affects global security, sustainable development, the health of the environment and, ultimately, human civilization.  “In the Arctic, including in my country, we are witnessing glaciers melting and vanishing, and our seas and marine life are rapidly changing,” he stressed.  These developments in the world’s northernmost region have global repercussions.  “What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic,” he said.  Expressing commitment to reaching the Paris Agreement goals by 2030, he said Iceland has done quite well, transitioning almost 100 per cent of its electricity and heating to renewables.  “But we can do even better and therefore we are aiming to reach full carbon neutrality by 2040,” he added, noting the critical role of the Convention on the Law of the Sea in ensuring the conservation of the marine environment.

The Security Council needs to take a more active role in preventing and resolving crises caused by climate change, he continued, also stressing the need to hold to account those responsible for breaking international law.  Turning to the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, he said that regional powerbrokers, which fuel tensions and fund the warring parties, need to step back in support of a peaceful political process.  He expressed concern over the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia, the continued fighting in Libya and the unresolved issue in Western Sahara.  In Venezuela, the appalling humanitarian situation continues to be of great concern, and in Myanmar, the plight of the Rohingya population cannot be forgotten.  These, and other protracted conflicts, call for greater international community commitment and more resources.

PRADEEP KUMAR GYAWALI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, stated that the challenges the world faces today — such as increasing inequality, trade tensions and climate change — create insecurity and disorder that hurts least-developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States the most. Despite the negligible emissions of these States, they will face disproportionate, unjust and undue existential consequences.  A report by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development reveals that one third of glaciers in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya ranges will melt by the end of this century, even if the world meets its 1.5°C commitment.  To address this, Nepal will convene a global dialogue on climate change in April 2020 to deliberate on issues of contemporary importance.

He went on to say that heightened geopolitical complexities, defunct disarmament architecture and the absence of order in cyber and outer space endanger international peace and stability.  Growing mistrust and increasing armament among major players is symptomatic of a new form of division, and a strong and effective United Nations must promote trust and cooperation.  He stated that Nepal supports complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction, as it is concerned by the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an “important party’s” decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the stalemate at the Conference on Disarmament.  Additionally, outer space must not be subjected to an arms race.

Referencing the violent conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen, he condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and called for effective implementation of existing conventions and resolutions.  Problems created by conflict — including human-rights violations, forced migration and the exodus of refugees — have global ramifications, but the underutilized tool of mediation may result in agreeable solutions to these challenges.  He also supported a two-State solution for Israel and Palestine and welcomed the dialogue between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Praising the efforts of Nepal’s peacekeepers, he emphasized the importance of the safety, security and dignity of these individuals.  Nepal’s commitment to universal human rights is total, he concluded, and the country’s foreign policy remains that of “amity with all, enmity with none”.

PALAMAGAMBA KABUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania, highlighted his country’s achievements in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals through its efforts to enhance revenue collection and increase its development budget allocation.  As a result, it has implemented strategic economic infrastructure projects and has improved education, health, water, sanitation and utility services for its citizens.  Since December 2015, the Government has sought to provide free education in primary and secondary schools; as a result, enrolment has increased by 35.2 per cent in primary schools and now children from poor households and those living with disabilities have access to basic education.

Another priority, he said, is addressing climate change and promoting environmental conservation.  For its part, the United Republic of Tanzania has designated 38.12 per cent of its total land as protected, recently banned the use of plastic bags, reduced the use of fuel oil and diesel-propelled electricity to 5.6 per cent and is investing in renewable energy.  Pointing out the high cost of this technology, however, he urged the international community to collaborate to make it more accessible and affordable.

Reflecting on the increasing global trend towards unilateralism, he reiterated his country’s commitment to multilateralism and called upon Member States to embrace this system to eradicate poverty, improve the quality of education, combat climate change, achieve inclusion and maintain international peace and security.  In August 2019, his country assumed chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community, which will work to address the inequity of a continent rich in land, resources, people and ecosystems but “compelled to be poor”.  Africa produces what it does not consume and consumes what it does not produce, and this must change.  He urged that Africa pursue industrialization and appealed to the international community to provide the continent’s countries with fair and better trade terms.  Additionally, he also called for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and expressed that support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo should be genuinely aimed at addressing the challenges facing the country comprehensively and holistically.

SOROI EOE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Papua New Guinea, said his country is focused on harnessing the productivity of its rural communities, which constitute 80 per cent of the country.  It intends to do so by empowering and enabling women and girls to join the workforce.  “We are committed to downstream processing of our natural resources to add value and build human resources and manufacturing capacities and capabilities to industrialize our economy,” he continued.  Papua New Guinea is also embarking on reviewing and reforming its legislative infrastructure on renewable and non-renewable resources.  This is aimed at finding the right balance that fairly and equitably accounts for all stakeholders’ interests.  The Government is also focused on enhancing rule of law and remains committed to strengthening governance, particularly in combating corruption.

Through its 2016-2025 National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender Based Violence, Papua New Guinea is working on enacting programmes and initiatives that empower women and girls, he said.  Turning to his country’s peace agreement reached on the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, he said a referendum will be conducted on 23 November to decide the future status of the Autonomous Region subject to the final decision of the National Parliament.

He said fighting climate change is a moral responsibility.  “It is utterly unfair and unjust for the least contributors of the greenhouse gas emissions to pay the highest price,” he added, pledging to strengthen implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  He called on World Trade Organization negotiations on fisheries subsidies to successfully conclude, urging the need to halt any malpractice in this sector.  “We also share stewardship of our ocean with our Pacific Islands Forum neighbours under our regional architecture,” he said, reiterating the importance of ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of oceans.

SIMEÓN OYONO ESONO ANGUE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Equatorial Guinea, said that the United Nations remains the most valuable instrument to seek solutions to challenges facing humanity.  The institution needs to be reformed to foster more inclusive decision-making, however.  There needs to be “root and branch changes” to the United Nations archaic institutions, he said.  The Security Council must be reformed to be more representative.  He said Africa’s absence on the Council is a “historic injustice” that must be rectified.  In addition to Security Council reform, ambitious reforms of peacekeeping structures must be undertaken.  The goal should be to reduce fragmentation and to ensure better, more coherent, agile and effective operations.

Climate change is a clear threat to the security and preservation of the human species, he said, particularly to Africa.  Rising temperatures can seriously affect agriculture in Africa, potentially leading to food crises, increased sea levels and reduction in water supplies, among other problems.

Despite Equatorial Guinea being a great lover of peace, the country continues to be the target of threats and attempts to destabilize it, he said.  These are motivated by the attempts to control natural resources which belong solely to Equatorial Guinea.

Right of Reply

The representative of Serbia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said Albania Prime Minister Edi Rama misled the United Nations by claiming Kosovo is an independent State.  She said it is not, and not a member of the United Nations.  Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) states it is an autonomous province within Serbia under administration of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).  Unilateral moves by Pristina have stalled dialogue.  Albania’s Prime Minister mentioned the “genocide” of Kosovo Albanians, an abuse of the term.  She said 200,000 Kosovo Serbs remain displaced, and that the Kosovo declaration of independence was unilateral.

The representative of Iran said the regime of Saudi Arabia had once again concealed its doomed adventurism during a speech on 26 September in the General Assembly.  He reminded that Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars to spread hate worldwide, provided billions of dollars of weapons to ISIL, and that 15 out of 18 terrorists who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks hailed from there.  She also cited the full-fledged war against its poorest neighbour, Yemen.  Saudi Arabia continues to behead peaceful political opponents.  While Iran assisted Iraq against terrorists, Saudi Arabia financially nurtured them.  He said the corrupt House of Saud has brought nothing but disgrace to the birthplace of Islam.

The representative of India said Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan had provided a callous binary portrayal of the world, abusing an opportunity to reflect.  The use of “pogrom” and “bloodbath” reflect a medieval mindset.  His threat of unleashing nuclear devastation amounted to brinkmanship, not statesmanship.  Now that Mr. Khan has invited in United Nations representatives, she asked if he would confirm the presence there of 130 United Nations-designated terrorists and being the world’s only Government providing pensions to individuals identified as part of Al-Qaida and other terror groups.  Citing India’s states of Jammu and Kashmir, she said her country is mainstreaming development there.

The representative of Albania responded to Serbia’s representative that there is no room to call into question the status of Kosovo, “an independent and sovereign State” recognized by 116 United Nations Member States.  It is a reliable partner in the region and has built a vibrant democracy, with a clear protection of all minorities, fully engaged in implementing international law.  She strongly supported dialogue with Serbia.

The representative of Saudi Arabia responded to Iran’s representative, deploring and categorically rejecting that statement.  He said Iran is involved with terrorism and seeks to destabilize the region.  He called on the international community to work to end Iran’s nuclear and ballistic programmes.  Peace and security require Iran be stopped in its expansive policies.  Iran is supporting the Houthis in Yemen.  Iran also attacked Saudi oil facilities, halving oil production, a serious violation of international law, peace and security.  He said Iran was behind the violence in Mecca in 1987, perpetrated against pilgrims.  There can be no doubt that Iran is a terrorist country.

The representative of Iran said those accusations were baseless, and that Saudi Arabia was collaborating with Israel against his country.  The Saudi regime suppresses democratic movements in the region and supports all major terrorist groups in the world. 

The representative of Saudi Arabia responded that Tehran is attempting to destroy regional and international peace and that strangely Iran is the only country not targeted by Al-Qaida.  His Government will not allow Iran to infiltrate it.

For information media. Not an official record.