Plight of Small Island Countries, Iran’s Behaviour in Middle East Also Spotlighted
The world needs stronger multilateralism to tackle its toughest challenges, from climate change and poverty eradication to abuses of human rights and arms proliferation, but its efforts cannot be at the expense of respect for national sovereignty, a bedrock principle of the Charter of the United Nations, speakers emphasized today as the General Assembly continued its annual general debate.
Prak Sokhonn, Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the emergence of a multipolar world should pave the way to peaceful coexistence. But some powers, under the pretext of universal values, are fomenting a new form of global division that recalls the worst moments of the cold war. Using humanitarian reasons as a pretext to interfere in domestic affairs or to provoke regime change is deceptive and deceitful, he said, adding that increasingly serious threats to global security and the planet’s future are a direct consequence of weakening multilateralism.
In a similar vein, Teodoro Locsin, Jr., Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said predictions of the demise of multilateralism are driven by the election of strong, tough-talking Governments. “Firm is good and severity is justified; but all within the law,” he said. While some claim that States erode multilateralism by asserting their excessive sovereignty, they are bound to protect their populations by any means necessary. Multilateralism is threatened by its own vain attempts to usurp State functions and return the world to the anarchy of the pre-war period preceding the United Nations, he added.
Walid Al-Moualem, Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister, said terrorism remains a major threat to all States. “History will forever remember the heroism of Syrians in their war against terrorism,” he said, calling on the international community to show genuine political will to extinguish a “global nightmare”. On the conflict in his country, he said that, with some countries seeking to impose their own insidious agendas, relevant Security Council resolutions are dead letters. Such countries are denying Syria’s right to defend itself against terrorists which they consider to be “freedom fighters” or the “Syrian armed opposition”, he said.
Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuba’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, declared: “The behaviour of the current United States Administration and its strategy of military and nuclear domination are a threat to international peace and security.” By preventing Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Communist Party, from obtaining a visa to attend the Assembly, Washington was throwing “vote-catching crumbs” to the Cuban-American extreme right, he asserted, emphasizing that Cuba will continue to resist shameless threats and blackmail, and that the United States “will not extract a single concession from us”.
Also addressing interference, Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar, stated that despite attacks by the Arakhan Rohingya Salvation Army which triggered the current humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state, he rejected pressure to set up a safe zone in the country as neither warranted nor workable. The International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction over Myanmar, he added, also rejecting establishment of the United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar to bring the country to tribunals. He asked Member States to differentiate between a genuine will to protect human rights and hijacking the issue for political purposes.
Speakers also put a spotlight on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals, in line with the theme of this year’s general debate: "Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion”.
Minute Alapati Taupo, Deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu, recalled that Cyclone Pam “wiped out 60 per cent of our gross domestic product” in 2015, noting that rising sea levels are a direct existential threat to the island country. With its water resources contaminated, and agriculture hampered, rising temperatures are damaging reefs and fisheries. He cited a United Nations report that sea-level rise could reach 30 to 60 centimetres by 2100, effectively rendering small island countries submerged and uninhabitable. Prime Minister of Madagascar Christian Ntsay pointed out that the States most vulnerable to climate change are least responsible for it, with his own country generating less than 1 per cent of the world’s greenhouse‑gas emissions but suffering intensifying cyclones and droughts. In response, his Government has launched an ambitious reforestation programme, declaring: “We will plant 20 million trees every year so that we can become the green isle we once were.”
Wilfred P. Elrington, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belize, noted that category 5 storms, once an anomaly, are the new norm. He called on the international community to halve global emissions from 2010 levels by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, saying: “The solutions lie within our grasp”. Climate change has closed the window of opportunity for small island developing States to achieve their sustainable development objectives, he stressed, demanding that the international community and United Nations allow these countries to access grant and concessionary finance from which “incredibly we are completely shut out”.
Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering said the kingdom — well-known for its philosophy of “gross national happiness” — is committed to “being an early achiever” in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Setting out its progress in improving the environment, he said its contributions towards a healthier Earth are being made futile by the choices of others. “If we do not intervene, we will have an incurable, diseased planet,” he said.
Turning to human rights concerns, Ann Christin Linde, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said: “Every day, in many parts of the world, women’s and girl’s rights are still being violated.” Emphasizing that sexual and reproductive health and rights — including the right to safe and legal abortion — are fundamental human rights, she said her country will remain a strong voice for LGBT rights.
Several speakers criticized Iran for its destabilizing behaviour in the Middle East region. Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, said attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities threaten regional security and the stability of the global economy. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action should have addressed all aspects of Iran’s behaviour, including interfering in the internal affairs of other States, developing a ballistic missile programme and providing arms to terrorist groups. “We are speaking here about a country that seeks to export its revolution,” he stressed.
Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said the Iranian regime and its terrorist Revolutionary Guard have a bleak record of violating international rules, creating and supporting terrorist militias and repeatedly interfering in the internal affairs of countries across the region, including his own. He affirmed Bahrain’s commitment to Gulf Cooperation Council efforts to salvage Yemen in the face of threats posed by the Iran-supported Houthi militia.
Mohammed Abdullah Al-Hadhrami, Yemen’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said Iran’s expansionist agenda, under which it exploits the resources of its people to wage proxy war using militias capable of the most heinous forms of destruction and sabotage, constitutes a coup d’état against Yemen. These militias, with their attacks and theft, have destroyed the dream of the Yemeni people. Grateful for the support of Saudi Arabia in containing the untold violence in his country, he said that its heroic armed forces are working to restore the Government and its institutions.
Several speakers endorsed the Secretary-General’s reform agenda, which aims to make the Organization more focused on people and less bureaucratic. Uganda’s Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, however, said it is time to address the long-standing injustice of Africa lacking a permanent seat on the Security Council, given that the continent is home to more than 1 billion people and accounts for 70 per cent of the Council’s agenda. Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, suggested two permanent and five non-permanent seats for Africa.
Pham Binh Minh, Viet Nam’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that as a prospective non-permanent Council member in 2020‑2021, and as the 2020 Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), his country will do its level best to work with Member States towards sustainable peace and development. He stressed, however, that the entire international community must revitalize multilateralism, strengthen the United Nations, respect international law and reaffirm the Charter of the United Nations.
Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, cited Pope Francis, saying the value of multilateralism rests on lifting millions out of poverty, resolving conflicts, fighting epidemics and protecting migrants and refugees. Expressing alarm at the worldwide proliferation of arms, he called for greater multilateral cooperation to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Also speaking today were Heads of Government as well as ministers representing Madagascar, Kyrgyzstan, San Marino, Mexico, Botswana, Grenada, Marshall Islands, Guinea-Bissau, Oman, Turkmenistan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Mozambique, Guyana, Nicaragua, Haiti and Congo.
Representatives of Guatemala, Indonesia, Armenia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Monday, 30 September to conclude its general debate.
LOTAY TSHERING, Prime Minister of Bhutan, said that his campaign commitment to “narrowing the gap” was consonant with the 2030 Agenda’s pledge to leave no one behind. Noting that free health care and education are constitutionally mandated for all citizens, he said that, despite being a resource-constrained country, Bhutan prioritizes the social sector. Teachers are now the highest paid civil servants, and the Government plans to launch many maternal health initiatives, including one intended to provide prenatal and antenatal care, he said, pointing out that this is in addition to the totally free secondary and tertiary health‑care system. Bhutan will achieve universal health coverage well ahead of 2030, he added.
Highlighting his country’s carbon-negative status, for which he thanked its “visionary monarchs”, he credited the national philosophy of “development with values” for Bhutan’s extensive forest cover, which stands at 72 per cent. He went on to touch on the Government’s environment-friendly construction policies, its use of renewable energy sources and its initiatives to replace fossil fuels with clean energy. “Ironically, these contributions are rendered futile by the choices of others,” he said, noting that those who can are not doing enough. “If we do not intervene, we will have an incurable, diseased planet,” he warned.
Concerning the 2030 Agenda, he said Bhutan is committed to “being an early achiever”, recalling that the Government presented its voluntary national review last July and will present another in 2020. He went on to state that, as part of its planned graduation from least developed country status in 2023, Bhutan has identified critical sectors upon which to focus in this regard, including sustainable water, waste management and organic agriculture. He recalled that, during two previous reviews, Bhutan was found eligible for graduation on the basis of social and income indices, but did not meet the Economic Vulnerability Index. Challenges that remain to be addressed include ensuring that climate change and natural disasters do not impoverish vulnerable populations, he said, while noting that inadequate resources are a hurdle.
He went on to underline that, whereas Bhutan has “unwavering faith” in the United Nations, the Organization, particularly the Security Council, must evolve and keep up with changing realities. Wider reforms are needed to ensure that the United Nations remains legitimate, effective and credible, he said, emphasizing that Bhutan supports the Council’s expansion, with Africa “appropriately represented”. Touching on his country’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping since 2014, and its signing of the Rapid Deployment Level Agreement, he said its contingent is “ready to be deployed to serve unconditionally”.
RUHAKANA RUGUNDA, Prime Minister of Uganda, said Kampala will host the South Summit in April 2020. Noting that his country’s mainstreaming implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals accords priority to eradicating poverty and providing quality education, he said inadequate financing to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development remains the biggest challenge. Although Uganda is striving to mobilize domestic resources through exports, tourism and the promotion of integrated national financing mechanisms, development partners should fulfil their commitments and extend timely support. Concerning the effects of climate change, he said they include flooding, drought and the melting ice cap on Mount Rwenzori. The Government is taking steps to reduce carbon emissions, he added, urging developed countries to scale up financial support for climate action.
Uganda supports a proposal that the 2020 Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity take bold steps towards ensuring a sustainable planet, including by setting aside at least 30 per cent of its land as protected areas, he said. Concerning his Government’s efforts to introduce universal health-care coverage, he pointed out that diseases such as Ebola know no borders, while stressing Uganda’s readiness to strengthen international collaboration in combating epidemics. He went on to underline the need for the United Nations to maintain its support for conflict-prevention and resolution initiatives undertaken by the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on the basis of division of labour and burden-sharing. Tireless efforts by regional and subregional organizations in Sudan have clearly demonstrated the value of seeking African solutions to African problems, he said, going on to urge the international community to support the positive momentum now under way in South Sudan.
It should also address the gap between the commitment to generate Somali national security forces and the drawdown of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), he continued. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s reform agenda, he said Uganda is proud to host the United Nations Regional Service Centre at Entebbe, pointing out that it has established a track record of efficiency and cost-savings over the years. As the current General Assembly session prepares to debate the Global Service Delivery Model, Uganda looks forward to Member States supporting Entebbe as the location of a Global Shared Service Centre, he said. With Africa lacking a permanent seat on the Security Council, despite being home to more than 1 billion people and accounting for 70 per cent of the Council’s agenda, it is time to address that long-standing injustice, he stressed.
He went on to point out that Uganda hosts more than 1.3 million refugees, a larger number than any other African country. The Government cares for them in the pan-Africanist spirit, seeing them as brothers and sisters fleeing conflict and distress while seeking peace and security. However, their prolonged stay is having an adverse impact on the environment, he said, noting, for example, that they are stripping an estimated 15,000 hectares of forest and savannah woodland for building materials, firewood and fodder. Emphasizing that solidarity is not a one-way street, he called for more equitable burden-sharing and support for refugees, in accordance with international commitments.
CHRISTIAN NTSAY, Prime Minister of Madagascar, said that, in a world torn apart by crisis, countries must redouble efforts to eradicate poverty and provide inclusive development. Member States must breathe life into multilateralism in order to see themselves reflected in the values of the United Nations, he added. As an emerging economy, Madagascar is committed to catching up with its development delay, he emphasized, noting that the Government has launched far‑reaching reforms that will strengthen democracy and national unity. It will also promote and respect individual freedoms and foster a dynamic civil society in which young people and women are active participants, he pledged. Guaranteeing human rights is a priority, he emphasized.
He went on to state that Madagascar will undertake coordinated efforts to reform its prison and judicial systems and to strengthen the social safety net. Concerning the security situation in the country, he expressed concern over the “unacceptable and deadly practices” of the Dahalo, cattle rustlers who rape women and kill men to fuel their network of trafficking in the Zebu breed. This must end, he said, stressing that the security forces are committed to protecting people exposed to their depredations. Measures to strengthen security include the construction of new local bases and prisons, as well as the introduction of a bovine microchip programme and a ban on the export of Zebu cattle.
On social sector priorities, he said Madagascar is committed to improving and expanding access to education and providing universal health coverage, noting that the Government has built new schools in addition to recruiting and training teachers. Noting that emerging economies face the challenge of making development more inclusive, he emphasized his Government’s commitment to tackling poverty, instability and “unprecedented” inequality. He also outlined various developmental measures, such as doubling electricity production, diversifying industrialization and improving food security. Madagascar has real ambitions to attain the Sustainable Development Goals through efficient use of resources, but counts on international support to do so, he said.
Turning to the environment, he observed that the success of the Paris Agreement in achieving its goals hinged on nationally determined contributions, which are presently inadequate. “I invite signatory countries to shoulder their responsibility to counter the current trends,” he said, pointing out that the countries most vulnerable to climate change are least responsible for it. Madagascar contributes less than 1 per cent of the world’s greenhouse‑gas emissions, but is increasingly beset by intensifying cyclones, droughts and upheavals in its agricultural calendar, he noted, underlining his country’s commitment to preserving its natural resources. The Government has undertaken an ambitious reforestation programme, he added, declaring: “We will plant 20 million trees every year so that we can become the green isle we once were.”
PIETRO CARDINAL PAROLIN, Secretary of State of the Holy See, said that Pope Francis urges every actor on the international stage to promote dialogue, emphasizing that the value of multilateralism rests on lifting millions out of poverty, resolving conflicts, fighting epidemics and protecting migrants and refugees. Expressing concern over the situation in the Middle East, he said the conflicts in Syria and Yemen demand effective cooperation leading to peace and reconstruction. In addition, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process uncovers the risks of unilateral measures and solutions, he noted, calling for a collaborative response instead. Other areas of pressing concern are the situations in Venezuela and Nicaragua, he added, stressing the need to alleviate the suffering of both populations. He cited Colombia’s peace process as an inspiring example reflecting effective multilateralism.
Recalling the Holy See’s dedication to protecting women and children against widespread sexual violence during armed conflict, he stressed that the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war is unacceptable and must be stopped. The proliferation of weapons is particularly alarming as it exacerbates violence, conflict and war, he added, calling for greater multilateral cooperation for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty are important for realizing a nuclear-weapon-free world, he noted. One of the recent triumphs of multilateralism has been the global mobilization to lift people out of extreme poverty, he said, recalling that implementation of the Millennium Development Goals did precisely that for nearly a billion people.
Concerning multilateralism in the provision of quality education, he noted that Pope Francis recently launched the “Educational Alliance”, wherein he renewed his invitation to dialogue on how to shape the planet’s future. The Pope also emphasized the need to employ the talents of all, since all change requires an educational process aimed at developing a new universal solidarity, he added. Regarding climate change, he stressed the need for more effective multilateral cooperation between the developed and developing worlds, with special attention to the Amazon. On 6 October, he noted, Pope Francis will gather a Synod of Bishops from all over the world for the Amazonia region. Advocating for access to fundamental human rights, he said they are often denied in situations of conflict and widespread violence. Pointing out the increase in the number of attacks against religious believers, he expressed the Holy See’s support for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
PHAM BINH MINH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said that multilateralism — with the United Nations at its heart — has become indispensable in enabling States to establish common approaches to all aspects of global governance while also generating ideas to address security challenges and improve the quality of live. “We can pride ourselves in a world of peace, cooperation and development,” he said, pointing to the success of peace efforts in Mali, Liberia, South Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire while welcoming the dialogue between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Other significant achievements in global development include reduced maternal and child mortality rates and expanded access to primary education, he added.
However, in a time of increasingly complex challenges such as climate change, pandemic diseases and protracted conflicts, multilateralism faces acute challenges, he cautioned, expressing alarm that narrowly interpreted national interests, big-Power politics, coercion, competition and confrontation are overtaking cooperation, dialogue and respect for international law. Global military spending is at its highest and — in the Secretary-General’s words — the world is on the verge of a new cold war. Multilateral cooperation has a special place in Viet Nam’s foreign policy, he said, underlining the way in which the United Nations and other international organizations helped his country rebuild after decades of war. Viet Nam is strongly committed to the 2030 Agenda, as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change, he added, pledging that his Government is taking concrete steps to ban single-use plastics by 2025.
As a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2020‑2021, Viet Nam will do its level best to work with Member States towards sustainable peace and development, he continued. However, it is critical that the entire international community work to revitalize multilateralism and strengthen the United Nations, emphasizing in that regard the fundamental importance of international law and the need for all to reaffirm the Charter of the United Nations. Urging relevant parties in the South China Sea to respect international law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he further urged the relevant State to demonstrate self-restraint and refrain from unilateral actions that might complicate or escalate tensions. Disputes should be settled peacefully, in accordance with international law, including the Convention, he stressed.
He went on to state that, during his country’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2020, Viet Nam will endeavour to enhance cooperation between the Security Council and regional organizations, particularly in the areas of conflict prevention and sustainable peace. It will seek to advance the United Nations agendas on women, peace and stability, as well as on children and armed conflict, while also supporting post-conflict reconstruction, particularly mine action. While welcoming efforts to reform the United Nations development system and the Council’s working methods so as to enhance transparency, democracy and effectiveness, he emphasized that the United Nations and the multilateral system can only be empowered if every State commits to the greater good of the international community rather than to narrowly defined national interests. Only then can a new and brighter chapter in the history of humankind begin, he said.
PRAK SOKHONN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said his country has the sad record of being among the most bombed in the history of humankind “while it was at war with no one”. The emergence of a multipolar world should allow for peaceful coexistence, but some Powers, under the pretext of universal values, are fomenting a new form of global division that recalls the worst moments of the cold war, he said. It is deceptive and deceitful to use humanitarian reasons as a pretext to interfere in domestic affairs or to provoke regime change, he emphasized. The result is that the world is full of uncertainties, he added, citing geopolitical rivalry, armed conflict, terrorism, protectionism, climate change and a renewed arms race.
He went on to state that increasingly serious threats to global security and the planet’s future are a direct consequence of weakening multilateralism, underlining that protectionism and self-isolation will lead nowhere. Inclusive development requires dialogue and partnership, not confrontation and aggression, he said, adding that the world has taken its natural resources for granted for too long. “We have been unkind to them and now they are unkind to us.” Urging countries large and small to join hands and engineer innovative financing for promoting green growth and building resilience, he said doing so can sustain implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Reviewing developments in Cambodia, he attributed its rising living standards and average annual growth rate of more than 7 per cent over 20 years to multilateralism and an open economy. Cambodia has achieved most of its 2030 Agenda targets ahead of time while incorporating the principle of leaving no one behind into national policies and actions, he said. Once the beneficiary of United Nations peacekeeping, the country has deployed more than 6,300 Blue Helmets to eight of the Organization’s peacekeeping missions in Africa and the Middle East, he noted. The Government, meanwhile, is according priority to the fundamental rights of Cambodia’s people, including the right to food, health, education, housing and mobility.
However, the country is facing grave challenges, he cautioned, noting that the opposition has gained popularity through demagoguery, racism and xenophobia. Its President has told his followers that he receives funds and technical assistance from a foreign Power with the aim of overthrowing the Government, he said. In response, the Government has enforced legislation no different from that in the West when a political party places itself outside the law. He noted that Cambodia is being reproached for this, justifying, for some, the imposition of sanctions. Cambodians, like other peoples, only want the freedom to be themselves, make their own choices and peacefully defend their national interests and sovereignty, he said, emphasizing that his country desires genuine cooperation with all States, but will never accept interference under any circumstance, nor compromise its sovereignty in return for any form of assistance or preference.
WALID AL-MOUALEM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria, said the world stands at a crossroads, with conflicts and threats to peace and security on the rise, the fate of a balanced global economy uncertain and violations of international law having become the norm. Noting that terrorism remains a major threat to all, including Syria, he said that his country has suffered more than eight years under the scourge of terrorist groups who have slaughtered innocent people and caused a massive humanitarian crisis. “History will forever remember the heroism of Syrians in their war against terrorism,” he said, recalling their efforts to combat extremism and the ideology of hatred and death espoused by such groups as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Nusra as well as their sponsors and supporters.
Pledging to continue that struggle until the last terrorist is rooted out, he called upon all parties to exercise genuine political will to end this “global nightmare”. Noting that the relevant Security Council resolutions remain a dead letter, he said some countries actually invest in terrorism, using it as a tool with which to impose their insidious agendas on other Governments and peoples. Those countries deny Syria the right to defend itself against terrorists they consider “freedom fighters” or the “Syrian armed opposition”, he noted, warning that supporting such factions will only lead terrorism to re-emerge stronger than ever before. Pointing out that Idlib Governorate hosts the world’s largest gathering of foreign terrorist fighters, he said the Government of Syria has suspended military operations and engaged in political initiatives aimed at resolving that situation, including under the Sochi Agreement. However, the Turkish regime has failed to fulfil its own commitments in Idlib and has provided support and weapons to the terrorists, he added.
Pointing out that Turkey and the United States maintain an illegal military presence in northern Syria, he said they arrogantly plan their policies there without consulting the Syrian Government, in contravention of international law. All those occupying forces must withdraw immediately, he said, stressing that Syria has the right to take any and all counter-measures if they refuse. He went on to decry “terrorist, criminal and oppressive practices” by secessionist militias of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces in Hasaka, Raqqa, Deir-ez-Zor and Aleppo with support from the United States, and demanded that Turkey abide by the Astana agreements. Syria continues to engage closely with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy and has agreed with him the terms of reference and rules of procedure for the new Constitutional Committee, he said, adding that Syria is undertaking tremendous efforts to improve the dire humanitarian situation.
Syria’s progress continues despite the illegal, inhumane economic blockade imposed by some countries, he said, noting that sanctions have restricted access to medicine, oil products needed for electricity, household gas and heating fuel. Calling on all peace-loving nations to adopt effective measures to counter those measures, he said they are imposed not only on Syria but also on many other countries. Israel, for its part, has launched yet another phase of its regional escalation, not only occupying Arab territories such as the Syrian Golan, but also attacking Syria and neighbouring countries under false pretexts, he said. Spotlighting “blind support” for Israel on the part of certain countries, he emphasized that the decision by the United States to recognize that country’s false sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void. Israel must be compelled to allow the Palestinian people to establish their own sovereign State, he stressed, while expressing support for Iran in the face of irresponsible measures by the United States, including its withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
MINUTE ALAPATI TAUPO, Deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu, expressed thanks for the Secretary-General’s visit to his island nation last May to see first-hand the extreme vulnerabilities the country faces from rising sea levels due to climate change. Recalling that a cyclone “wiped out 60 per cent of our gross domestic product” in 2015, he said rising sea levels are a direct existential threat because Tuvalu is no more than three metres above sea level. Its water resources have been contaminated, agriculture is more difficult, rising temperatures are damaging reefs and fisheries, and food and water security is severely compromised. “A life of fear and uncertainty is becoming our way of life,” he said, citing a United Nations report that says sea-level rise could reach 30 to 60 centimetres by 2100, effectively rendering small island countries submerged and uninhabitable.
He went on to recall that young people from Tuvalu attended the United Nations Youth Climate Summit in order to tell their stories about living in such a vulnerable place, and to deliver the strong message that “they want to preserve their cultural identity and traditional knowledge”. A report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur established that the very cultural survival of Tuvalu’s people is at risk, he said, stressing that the target 1.5°C increase in global temperature is not enough to save countries such as his own. He demanded that the voices of Tuvaluans be heard “loud and clear”, citing the Secretary-General’s words: “The world must save Tuvalu to avoid the world drowning with Tuvalu.”
Among the measures taken to tackle prevailing challenges, Tuvalu is committed to generating 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, he said, adding that the Government has created a climate change survival public fund to provide immediate relief and assistance when natural disasters strike. Demanding financial and technological resources from developed nations, he declared: “We have what we need to save the planet, all we lack is political commitment, especially from those who are well sourced and better equipped to help.” He applauded efforts by some members to place climate change on the Security Council’s agenda and expressed hope that the organ will adopt it as a permanent item.
He went on to underline that ensuring the security of Tuvalu’s exclusive economic zone is a national priority, saying that international law should be developed further in order to ensure that once maritime zones are delineated, they cannot be challenged or reduced as a result of rising sea levels. “Our sovereignty cannot be compromised by climate change,” he reiterated. On another note, he lamented the exclusion of Taiwan, a “durable and genuine partner”, from the United Nations systems and affirmed Tuvalu’s support for its “readmission into the UN as a founding member”. He also deplored the economic embargo imposed on Cuba, explaining that it constricts that country’s development and neglects the human rights and spirit of cooperation encapsulated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
CHINGIZ AIDARBEKOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, recalled his country’s achievements in developing parliamentary democracy and strengthening the civil sector. The Government takes steps to optimize the work of State institutions, including reforming legal and fiscal bodies on the basis of transparency and responsibility, he added. Kyrgyzstan continues to address socioeconomic problems affecting unemployment, education, health care and infrastructure, among other sectors, he said. Concerning implementation of the concept of transformation for digital Kyrgyzstan 2019-2023, he said substantial measures are being employed to digitize the country on all levels, from kindergartens to university. Kyrgyzstan also introduced an Ombudsman for business and created a liberal investment and tax regime. He went on to say that, as a member of the Group of Friends of Mountainous Countries, Kyrgyzstan focuses on the issue of development in such countries and welcomes all efforts initiating environmental rehabilitation.
During the 2019 General Assembly, Kyrgyzstan held a high-level event on the risks of uranium mining in Central Asia, he said, citing in that context the 2018 General Assembly resolution on “Strengthening regional and international cooperation to ensure peace, stability and sustainable development in the Central Asian region”. Today, Central Asian countries face the issue of water and energy resources, which are vital for preserving the entire global balance. He stressed the importance of green energy and access to safe drinking water, citing Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics that show Kyrgyzstan has the lowest access to drinking water per capita. Around 40 per cent of the rural population lack access to clean drinking water, he added, explaining that the Government is currently implementing project “Clean Water” to serve villages.
Current global events show that no State can counter modern challenges alone due to threats of international terrorism and extremism, trafficking in arms and drugs as well as conflict and cross-border crime, he said, stressing the need for constructive cooperation and comprehensive measures to fight such challenges. Reaffirming Kyrgyzstan’s commitment to the United Nations Global Counter-terrorism Strategy, he called upon the international community to coordinate counter-terror measures in accordance with resolution 2178 (2014), which addressed the growing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters. He went on to state that Kyrgyzstan applied to be a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the period 2027-2028, and recalled his country’s ratification of nine international treaties on human rights, underlining its commitment to protecting human rights and supporting peacebuilding operations.
BRUNO EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, denounced the recent application by the Government of the United States of criminal, non-conventional measures to prevent the supply of fuel to Cuba by threatening third party States. Cuba stands prepared to defend itself against that country’s escalating aggression, including its persecution of Cuban banking with the rest of the world and imposition of severe travel restrictions. Recalling the history of the six-decades-old embargo, he said it is intended to cause hunger, desperation and the Government’s overthrow, describing the illegal Helms-Burton Act of 1996 as a stark attempt to prevent his country from governing itself, and to illegally impose the jurisdiction of United States courts over Cuba’s economic, commercial and financial activities.
Every year, he continued, Washington, D.C., maintains its policies of political subversion and its attempts to weaken the unity of the Cuban people. Just days ago, it prevented Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Communist Party, from obtaining a visa to attend the General Assembly, he recalled. “This is nothing but vote-catching crumbs that are being tossed to the Cuban-American extreme right,” he said, rejecting such actions as a reflection of the baseness and rottenness of the United States Administration, “which is drowning in a sea of corruption, lies and immorality”. He recalled that during his address to the Assembly, President Donald Trump blamed Cuba for the failed plan to overthrow the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela, a script then repeated by the President of Brazil. He pointed out that both countries also attack the international medical cooperation programmes that Cuba shares with many other developing countries, which are designed to help the neediest communities.
Underlining his country’s determination to continue its resistance to such shameless threats and blackmail, he declared that they “will not extract a single concession from us”. Bilateral relations between Cuba and Venezuela are based on mutual respect and solidarity, he said, adding that Cuba continues to support the legitimate Government, headed by President Nicolás Maduro. Condemning the encouragement of coups d’état, assassinations and economic warfare by the United States, he called for greater awareness around the world of the need to end unilateral coercive measures. Noting that the United States regularly attacks socialism with clear electoral aims — as witnessed during the President’s speech on 24 September — he said it ignores the responsibility of neoliberal capitalism for exacerbating social and economic inequality, fostering corruption, increasing crime and engendering racial intolerance and xenophobia.
Rejecting Washington’s persecution of political leaders — including former president Luis Ignacio “Lula” da Silva of Brazil — he decried its attempts to destabilize the Government of Nicaragua and expressed his commitment to the free self-determination and independence of the people of Puerto Rico. “The behaviour of the current United States Administration and its strategy of military and nuclear domination are a threat to international peace and security,” he said, adding that its recent withdrawal from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Nuclear Missiles (INF Treaty) is intended to launch a new arms race.
He went on to reiterate Cuba’s support for the creation of a sovereign and independent Palestinian State as part of a two-State solution; its unwavering solidarity with the Saharan people; its solidarity with Iran in the face of aggressive escalations by the United States; and its support of dialogue between the parties on the Korean Peninsula. He also warned that expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the borders of the Russian Federation creates grave dangers. On climate change, he welcomed the recent student marches around the globe, emphasizing that the issue is a matter of survival, particularly for small island developing States. “The special and differentiated treatment of the countries of the [global] South in international economic relations can no longer be overlooked,” he said, while rejecting politicization, selectivity, punitive approaches and double standards in addressing global human rights questions. He called on countries to develop new ways to counter hegemonic thinking and to take decisive political action both in the streets and at the ballot.
NICOLA RENZI, Minister for Foreign and Political Affairs with Functions of Prime Minister of San Marino, said recent global political developments have put the future of development and multilateralism at risk. “The challenges posed today by protectionism and isolationism must and can be countered by the rules of international law, which have guided Member States for decades,” she said, pledging San Marino’s commitment to those principles. However, multilateralism cannot be a mere statement of collective intentions, but must instead translate into concrete action, she emphasized. Spotlighting her country’s successes to date in implementing the 2030 Agenda, she said San Marino recently joined the “SDG 25+5 Cities Project”, managed by the United Nations Global Sustainability Index Institute and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which will help to transform San Marino into a project hub, including in the area of sustainable agriculture.
Calling for broad acceleration in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, she said gaps in that process exist not only between but also within countries, noting the most vulnerable continue to lag behind. Without effective action, global warming will only amplify existing adaptation challenges and increase the sense of vulnerability among large segments of the world’s population. Outlining San Marino’s efforts to intensify its commitment to environmental sustainability, she said it now ranks among the top countries in the world in the production of photovoltaic energy per capita. Turning to the challenge of persistent global poverty — including extreme poverty, often exacerbated by violent conflict or natural disasters — she said the principle of “leaving no one behind” necessitates specific measures to support people in vulnerable situations.
Children in particular pay the highest price in terms of conflict and human rights violations, he said. Many lose their lives, are kidnapped or raped, used as human shields or recruited as soldiers. As a member of the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflict, San Marino has ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning their involvement in armed conflict, he said. He also called attention to the critical role of women in building sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies, pledging to continue to pursue gender equality and to invest in women. In that regard, he noted that San Marino has signed on to the initiative known as “Invest in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth”. It also supports the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the proposed code of conduct requiring Security Council members to refrain from using veto power in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, he said.
ANN CHRISTIN LINDE, Foreign Minister of Sweden, noted that the seventy-fifth anniversary of the creation of the United Nations is just a year away, yet the Organization’s significant achievements and those of other multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organization are increasingly questioned, a trend that can weaken international cooperation. Yet climate change is the defining crisis of modern times, she said, applauding the massive demonstrations by young people around the world. “We cannot let them down, we must not let them down,” she emphasized, expressing hope that the challenge posed by climate change can be turned into an opportunity. With the goal of becoming the world’s first fossil-free welfare nation in mind, Sweden launched the Leadership Group for Industry Transition, in collaboration with India and the World Economic Forum, an initiative that will speed up industrial transition to meet Paris Agreement requirements and the 2030 Agenda.
She went on to warn that democracy may be losing ground, while demanding that more be done to counter growing inequalities, nationalistic narratives and corruption. Similarly, human rights around the world “are under attack”, she said, affirming that “Sweden will continue to be a strong voice for LGBT rights”. She said her country considers any persecution of religious and other minorities unacceptable and affirmed Sweden’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. Sweden will protest attacks against freedom of expression, the silencing of journalists and media actors as well as the harassment of human rights defenders. While expressing pride in her position as Foreign Minister in Sweden’s feminist Government, she noted: “Every day, in many parts of the world, women’s and girl’s rights are still being violated,” emphasizing that every woman and girl must have the right to make her own decisions about her body and her life. “This is a basic human right,” she insisted. “Sexual and reproductive health and rights are fundamental human rights, including the right to safe and legal abortion.”
Pledging that Sweden will continue to devote 1 per cent of its gross national income (GNI) to official development assistance (ODA), she said trade is an important instrument for economic development and for reducing poverty, but it must be based on a “strong, rules-based and transparent multilateral trading system”. On security and international conflicts, she affirmed her country’s commitment to preventing conflict, early action and respect for international law. She went on to demand an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the implementation of a two-State solution, while also denouncing the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, demanding the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
She went on to warn against threats to use nuclear weapons, and praised the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty) as successful in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. As for the Korean Peninsula, she demanded “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization and peace and reconciliation, through diplomatic means”. She also called for full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany, and proposed dialogue to restore trust. Concerning poverty, she pointed out that more than 140 million people need life-saving humanitarian assistance, noting that Sweden is one of the largest contributors.
MARCELO EBRARD CASAUBÓN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said the newly elected administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is embarking on the fourth major transformation in his country’s history. Among other priorities, it seeks to end corruption, separate economic power from political power, reduce inequality, increase growth and shape a safer and more peaceful society. “Mexico has recovered its self-confidence,” he said, emphasizing its ambition to deepen its contribution to multilateralism in the face of today’s difficult times. For that reason, Mexico has put forward its candidacy to serve as a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2021, he said.
He went on to note that his country’s foreign policy is guided by the principles of non-intervention, self-determination and the peaceful resolution of disputes, and he rejected the long-standing blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba as well as the imposition of sanctions more broadly. On climate change, he warned that there can be no excuses for failing to act. Noting that Latin America has one of the world’s largest migratory flows, he expressed support for the new United Nations-supported Comprehensive Development Plan aimed at overcoming challenges in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Migration should be an option, never forced on people as a result of development or security concerns, he stressed, pointing out that the proposed initiative aims to create more than 60,000 jobs in the region in one year.
Mexico considers itself a feminist nation and seeks gender equity as the very basis of an equal society, he said, adding that it also staunchly defends the rights and freedoms of individuals, including those relating to sexual preference, he added. Pointing out that many Mexican citizens were among the victims of the white- supremacism-driven attack in the United States border city of El Paso last month, he said it was modelled after the attack that targeted Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. “We need a war of rationality to combat these ideas that jeopardize the very basis of our coexistence, not only in nations but around the world,” he emphasized, calling for the strengthening of multilateralism and the containment of unilateral tendencies “that are springing up everywhere”. To achieve those ends, the United Nations — the home of the best causes in the world — must be strengthened urgently, he stressed.
UNITY DOW, Minister for International Affairs and Cooperation of Botswana, emphasized the need to redouble global efforts to effectively tackle poverty and inequality, which remain endemic in developing countries, including middle-income ones. Recalling Botswana’s presentation of its voluntary national review to the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2017, she said the country continues its efforts to combat poverty and inequality, directing significant resources towards inclusive development and economic growth. Among other priorities, it is addressing youth unemployment, rising social and economic inequality, climate change and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, she said, adding that Botswana’s voluntary national review also spotlighted the significant financing gap undermining implementation.
Calling attention to the role of public-private partnerships in bridging such resource gaps, she went on to call for an enabling environment that would ensure the ability of all countries to participate in a fair and rules-based global trading system. Stressing Botswana’s attention to improving quality education, she outlined national efforts to combat the cross-cutting threat of climate change, which has led to desertification, heatwaves and recurrent droughts across much of Africa. Botswana and some of its neighbours have declared 2019 a drought year, she said, pointing out that Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe all endured the catastrophic effects of Cyclone Idai. Against that backdrop, she noted Botswana’s commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement and its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 15 per cent by 2030.
She went on to call attention to Botswana’s outstanding wildlife-preservation record but noted that contact between humans and wildlife — in particular, the proliferation of an unmanageable elephant population — has become an urgent challenge. The Government is working with neighbouring States under the auspices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to find sustainable solutions. It proposed a one-off sale of ivory, which was regrettably rejected, she said, adding that attempts to extend the scope of the Convention in a way that would infringe on sovereignty were equally disheartening. Calling more broadly for greater attention to the challenges and needs of least developed countries and those in special situations, she also expressed support for such multilateral processes as the Arms Trade Treaty, the Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact and the Kimberley process for conflict-free diamond certification.
NALEDI PANDOR, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, recalled that the issue of Apartheid South Africa’s discriminatory policies was included as an agenda item in the first session of the General Assembly in 1946. She went on to note the importance of multilateralism in dealing with the prevailing challenges in a globalizing world. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 requires partnership with the private sector and civil society organizations, she said. Expressing concern that her country exhibits some of the worst forms of violence against women, she stressed that intolerance is the biggest obstacle to building a world free from poverty and equality.
Strongly condemning the violence in the provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, she outlined South Africa’s efforts to fight crime and lawlessness while ensuring that arrested criminals face justice. She also emphasized her country’s commitment to curbing illegal immigration and ensuring that migrants and asylum-seekers are documented and safe. South Africa has enjoyed democracy for 25 years, she noted, reminding delegates of the Assembly’s struggle against apartheid and its support for the liberation movements, while condemning all forms of racism and xenophobia. She went on to stress that the threat of poverty demands a transformation of the global economy’s current structure, which perpetuates divisions between the global North and the global South. While a few enjoy the benefits of globalization, most of the world’s people have not reaped its benefits, she added.
While pledging that South Africa will use its tenure on the Security Council to promote the maintenance of international peace and security by advocating for the peaceful settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue, she nevertheless criticized the “undemocratic and anachronistic” nature of the United Nations, calling for Security Council reform and demanding two permanent and five non-permanent seats for Africa. She went on to predict that the adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement will unleash the continent’s economic potential. Stressing the need for a coordinated response to climate change, she urged all States to help stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations. She further called for nuclear disarmament and irreversible dismantlement of nuclear weapons. Calling attention to Israel’s illegal settlement activity and the insecurity for both Israelis and Palestinians, she called for a negotiated settlement, while condemning unilateral sanctions against Cuba.
C. PETER DAVID, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Labour of Grenada, expressed his country’s commitment to the United Nations and its principles, outlined in the Charter of the United Nations on the basis of peace, equality, justice, human rights and multilateralism. Today’s challenges can only be solved through multilateral efforts, he said, while emphasizing that climate change is the biggest one for small island developing States like Grenada. The Bahamas experience contains many lessons and imperatives for adaptation and reconstruction for small vulnerable States, he added, while lamenting the limited access to, and ever-increasing competition for, financing for climate action and development. In that regard, he announced the creation of a small island developing States Foundation with the goal of mobilizing the funding and resources required to finance adaptation in a manner that does not create fiscal stress on the economy.
Pointing out the “strong relationship between climate change and poverty”, he said the most vulnerable countries are the ones most negatively impacted”. As for Grenada’s internal economy, he said that it grew by 5.2 per cent in 2018, attributing that growth to a structural adjustment programme and a national strategy for the elimination of poverty. He went on to explain that advances in education, including the establishment of skills-training centres and entrepreneurship programmes, helped to bridge the gap between education and employment. As for finance, he declared that the unilateral and premature graduation of many small island developing States to middle-income status without considering the region’s vulnerabilities has resulted in significant budgetary shortfalls that adversely affect economic and social development.
He went on to criticize the withdrawal of correspondent banking services to member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as “an economic assault that would destabilize the financial sector of our already vulnerable economies”, he said. CARICOM members must also deal with the blacklisting of some of their banking institutions as money launderers and their countries as tax havens, he added. He went on to call for an end to the embargo against Cuba and to express concern over events in Venezuela, urging meaningful dialogue among that country’s citizens and a peaceful solution.
JOHN M. SILK, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Marshall Islands, said the concerns of the world’s most vulnerable people and countries risk being overlooked at the United Nations in a time of inward-looking global politics. “The Marshallese people know this from our experience,” he said, recalling that the United Nations twice disregarded his country’s petitions against resolutions authorizing nuclear detonations, in 1954 and 1956. “As a UN Human Rights Council Rapporteur affirmed in 2012, this is not just a gravely difficult legacy, but a contemporary reality which continues to impact our human rights,” he said, pointing out that inaction by Member States on climate change is another illustration of how the human rights concerns of those most in need are overlooked.
He went on to emphasize that, as an atoll and small island developing State only one metre above sea level, the Marshall Islands have been forced to discontinue nation-building so as to focus on “nation-saving”, he said. “This is not academic,” he emphasized. “It is real. It is now. And it imperils our future, our security and our core human rights.” On fishing and the oceans, he said his country looks forward to negotiating a treaty on biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction under the Convention on the Law of the Sea, while expressing deep concern about the encroachment of foreign vessels in Marshall Islands waters. “As my President told the Group of Seven (G7) last year, illegal fishing is not only an economic menace, but a threat to sovereignty.”
Underlining the Pacific Islands Forum’s support for the Boe Declaration as the defining regional security framework, he deplored a recent resolution involving that regional intergovernmental organization at the General Assembly as “a sad moment for both the Pacific region and the United Nations”. He went on to touch on public health concerns, welcoming the World Health Organization’s support for the development of “island-tailored strategies” to tackle communicable and non-communicable diseases, as well as UNICEF’s help in addressing childhood stunting. Concerning the Sustainable Development Goals, he requested targeted United Nations assistance, noting that his country’s Government is simply overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the global indicator framework. He went on to stress the importance of the Secretary-General’s proposed establishment of a United Nations multi-country office in the North Pacific, while calling for Taiwan’s “meaningful participation” in the United Nation system.
SUZI CARLA BARBOSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Communities of Guinea-Bissau, declared: “There can be no national or special interest group that come before the interests of preserving our planet and combating organized crime.” Guinea-Bissau’s ambitious governance programmes emphasize reducing poverty, promoting quality education, youth entrepreneurship, empowering women and creating a more just and inclusive society, she said. Expressing full support for the Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage adopted on 23 September, she recalled that Guinea-Bissau exempted all pregnant women and children under five from paying for health services beginning in 2014. However, the unequivocal and urgent support of regional and international partners will be needed to make such measures last.
Outlining efforts to consolidate political stability following Guinea-Bissau’s legislative elections in March, while also reforming and strengthening State institutions, she said absolute gender parity has already been achieved in politics. However, “these hopeful signs do not hide our condition as an institutionally fragile post-conflict State with sparse financial resources”, she said, describing the complex political situation and the persisting external and internal threats. Calling upon the international community to play a central stabilizing role, she pledged Guinea-Bissau’s commitment to multilateralism and to the pursuit of a shared global peace. However, organized crime networks continue to pose a grave threat, she said, citing attempts to use Guinea-Bissau’s territory as a transit hub for illegal drugs, as evidenced by the record recent seizures by the national police. “This is certainly not a national phenomenon,” she stressed, citing the exploitation of Guinea-Bissau’s fragility and calling for the strengthening of mechanisms used to monitor its political process.
Adding her voice to the many calls for reforming the Security Council and making the organ better reflect today’s geopolitical realities, she echoed the African Union’s common position in support of two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats for the continent. Spotlighting the current situation in the Sahel region as the perfect illustration of the devastating danger terrorism poses to the world, she appealed to the international community to provide the necessary financing to ensure the operational readiness of the Group of Five (G5) Sahel Multi-National Joint Task Force tasked with combating that challenge. “More than a regional threat, it affects the whole continent and may adversely impact world peace,” she warned. Meanwhile, national implementation of the 2030 Agenda must be rooted in people’s specific cultures, she emphasized, explaining that Guinea-Bissau, a coastal archipelago vulnerable to climate change, is betting on green, inclusive growth with a focus on preserving its biodiversity.
KHALID BIN AHMED AL-KHALIFA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, outlined his country’s many initiatives undertaken in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, notably the signing of a first-of-its-kind framework partnership agreement with United Nations agencies. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently awarded Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, with the first-ever Global Leaders Healthcare Award, he recalled. Meanwhile, Bahraini women have registered successive achievements over the past decades, with the first female Speaker of Parliament elected recently, he said. Spotlighting his country’s strong focus on education, he said it also works to protect human rights and freedoms, including by combating human trafficking. As for other priorities, especially securing peace and eliminating terrorism, he said events in such countries as Syria, Yemen and Libya “affect us all”.
He went on to say that the instability caused by the collapse of State institutions has aggravated the global problem of migrants and refugee flows, providing a fertile environment for the emergence of terrorist groups. Collective action is needed if peace and stability are to prevail, he stressed, calling for all such efforts to be guided by the United Nations Charter principles of good-neighbourliness, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of States. Calling attention to the question of Palestine, he said it must be considered and dealt with as a political matter. The global community must shoulder its responsibility by compelling Israel to abide by its international obligations, he stressed. As for threats posed by terrorism perpetuated by Iran, he said the Iranian regime and its terrorist Revolutionary Guard have a bleak record of violating international rules while creating and supporting terrorist militias.
They also attempt repeatedly to incite anarchy and sedition or to interfere in the internal affairs of countries across the region, including Bahrain, and have continued their unlawful occupation of three Emirati islands, he continued. He went on to emphasize Bahrain’s commitment to Gulf Cooperation Council efforts to salvage Yemen in the face of threats posed by the Iran-supported Houthi militia. He also asked States not to overlook the dangerous role played by the terrorist Hizbullah group in spreading extremism and terrorism, inciting hatred and furthering the Iranian agenda across the region. He went on to hail the joint communiqué issued by the United Kingdom, France and Germany, assigning responsibility for recent attacks against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities to Iran and outlining the need to review the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on that country’s nuclear programme.
ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, citing his country’s participation in regional and international efforts to reach political solutions to the crises in the Middle East, said that strengthening multilateralism is the most effective approach to address transnational challenges. This approach, however, has not succeeded in resolving existing crises or preventing new ones, and therefore, the international community must examine why international efforts have stalled. The world now witnesses a normalization of interference in States’ internal affairs, and a growing presence of extremist and terrorist groups have developed their capabilities with support from rogue States seeking to destabilize the region. Attacks such as those on Saudi Arabian oil facilities threaten regional security and the stability of the global economy, he said, emphasizing the need to restore reason, protect maritime navigation and energy supplies, and find sustainable solutions based on respect for sovereignty.
Further weakening the efforts of multilateralism, he continued, is the inadequate enforcement of international law and Security Council resolutions and a disregard for the role played by regional organizations in supporting political solutions. He stated that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, for example, should have taken regional views into consideration and should have addressed all aspects of Iran’s behaviour, including its interference in the internal affairs of other States, its development of a ballistic missile programme and its provision of arms to terrorist groups. “We are speaking here,” he stressed, “about a country that seeks to export its revolution.”
To achieve sustainable solutions that serve the interest of the region, he stated that the international community should strengthen the implementation of international law and the United Nations Charter. On this, he reiterated his country’s legitimate sovereignty over the islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa and demanded that Iran return them. He also called for enhancing the effectiveness of political action to ease tensions and resolve crises, and commended Morocco’s efforts to find a political solution to the question of the Moroccan Sahara. The Palestinian cause will remain the central issue of the Arab world, and he called for a solution that enables Palestinians to establish an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital. With hard work and unified global efforts, he concluded, the international community can achieve regional stability.
YOUSUF BIN ALAWI BIN ABDALLAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Oman, said that his country will always support initiatives that help achieve peace, security and stability in the Middle East. “It’s high time for putting out fires in the region,” he said. The continuation of such raging fires threatens international peace and security, creates enormous economic, social and security challenges in the region and spurs violence, extremism, terrorism and a continued wave of displacement and migration. The United Nations and the international community should take serious action to end such instability. All disputing parties should rise above their differences and adopt approaches that maintain unity, cohesion, dignity and decent livelihoods for all. In this regard, he welcomed the peaceful political compromises reached in Sudan and the signing of documents on the transitional civilian authority, and applauded regional mediation efforts.
Oman is concerned about the maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, which borders the country. Oman calls on all States to respect the navigational separation zones, in accordance with articles 37, 38 and 39 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. All parties should resolve differences through diplomatic means, which would spare the region any negative repercussions on the freedom of navigation, international trade and the world economy. States with interests in using the Strait should strive for “peaceful compromises as the ideal means to maintain the stability and safety of maritime navigation”.
Oman supports all efforts to reach a political solution in Yemen, particularly efforts undertaken by the United Nations, he continued. The emphasis should be on ending the war in Yemen and maintaining the security and stability of that country. Due to its geographic proximity and deep historical, social and cultural ties to Yemen, Oman will continue humanitarian aid to the brotherly country. He called on the international community and all parties concerned to follow suit by providing unfettered access to aid, without exception, through all ports, airports and points of entry and exit. The establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, alongside Israel is also needed to achieve regional peace, security and stability. “Failure to establish a Palestinian State would result in continuing violence and terror,” he said.
RASHID MEREDOV, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, said the balance between national interests and those of the international community are crucial to resolving challenges. Establishing and confirming trust and predictability are key to constructive relations in the global sphere. His Government understands its responsibility in building peace and put forward a resolution declaring 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Trust, which was adopted by the United Nations. This requires preventive diplomacy, and he cited the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia as key in tackling issues such as eradicating terrorism, organized crime and management of water resources.
He noted that Turkmenistan declared its neutrality on 12 December 1995, a date now adopted by the United Nations as the International Day of Neutrality. Practical application of that principle would entail holding United Nations mediation in the territories of neutral countries. He called for broad multilateral dialogue on applying that principle to settling international issues.
Stating that partnership on the issue of transportation is a priority for his country, he said that international cooperation in that domain should focus on roads and railways linking countries and continents. His Government is keenly focused on the environment, especially preserving the Caspian Sea as a unique environmental area and extending those initiatives to preserving the Aral Sea basin. The international community must step up its efforts and uphold commitments regarding climate change, he said, noting that, during the recent Climate Summit, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow approved a new national strategy on the issue. Managing water resources is an obvious priority, including on the political and social side, requiring a pooling of States’ efforts. To that end, subsidiary interests must give way to a global perspective. Fair and equal access to water resources is a fundamental human right, and water matters must be governed by mutual respect, consent and the interests of all States. Turkmenistan is against the building of new hydroelectric facilities on river waterways.
SALEUMXAY KOMMASITH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said his country has experienced unexpected heavy rainfalls as a result of tropical storm Podul. Recognizing the importance of combating climate change, the Government is focusing on implementing the Paris Agreement and integrating climate change and natural disaster risk reduction into its national socio-economic development plan. At the regional level, it is joining common efforts to address the impact of climate change. He called on developed countries and all development partners to honour their commitment to contribute $100 billion annually to support developing countries’ mitigation and adaption needs.
Stressing the importance of multilateralism and regional and international cooperation, he welcomed repositioning the United Nations development system so it can respond effectively to Member States’ development needs and priorities. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has enjoyed long-lasting peace, security and stability — a favourable condition for the socio-economic development of all the bloc’s members. On the question of Palestine, he reiterated his Government’s hope that the long overdue Israel-Palestinian conflict will be resolved peacefully and in accordance with Security Council resolutions.
Unilateral sanctions hamper the development of countries, he continued, calling for the lifting of the embargo on Cuba “so that this sovereign country and its people can enjoy freedom to participate in economic and trade relations”. The 2030 Agenda is vital in the development of all countries, but progress remains slow as a result of capacity limitation and funding constraints. Enhancing market access for agricultural produce is critical, as is the mobilization of domestic resources, he said.
WILFRED P. ELRINGTON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belize, said there was a time when category 5 storms were an anomaly; now they are the new norm. It is crucial that the international community seeks to halve global emissions from 2010 levels by 2030, phases out the use of coal and achieves net-zero emissions by 2050. “The solutions lie within our grasp,” he emphasized, noting that Belize’s electricity is derived from renewable sources. Measures are also being undertaken which will result in large-scale reforestation. “We believe that Governments must lead the way with the highest possible ambition in line with the Paris goals,” he emphasized. The science is clear and compelling. The world is in a state of emergency. The failure of those with historic responsibility to act has already resulted in lost opportunities for the most vulnerable.
While small island developing States are far behind in achieving their sustainable development objectives, climate change has shut the window of opportunity for all, he stressed. A swift response is needed from the international community and the United Nations system to enable these States to access grant and concessionary finance from which “incredibly we are completely shut out”, he said. Small island developing States require a specific resilience fund and the endorsement of debt-for-nature swaps to channel investments into much needed adaptation initiatives. Belize will remain committed to supporting efforts to protect 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030, and to finalize an agreement in 2020 for marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
“Multilateralism itself is under threat,” he said, emphasizing that the United Nations development system needs to be better aligned with the sustainable development priorities of the countries it services. Its priority should focus on enhancing the delivery of development gains for people on the ground. The deliberate policies and actions of countries which give rise to armed conflict or which result in the imposition of sanctions, economic embargos and blockades invariably result in the strangulation and destruction of the economics of the targeted countries and stymie their development. These draconian measures affect not only countries, but entire regions, leading to humanitarian crises, mass irregular migration and human exploitation. He expressed solidarity with the Palestinian, Cuban and Venezuelan people, as well as those of Western Sahara. Turning to Guatemala’s territorial claim to his country, he noted the decision to submit the claims on Belize to the International Court of Justice.
TEODORO LOCSIN, JR., Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said that the demise of multilateralism is being predicted because strong Governments have been elected that talk tough and brush aside United Nations demands. But strong Government is better -it can get things done, if it remains constitutional. “Firm is good and severity is justified; but all within the law,” he said. The trend towards strong Governments does not change the democratic character of those Governments. The world might dislike these electoral results, but the people back home are happy with their choices, and they are the ones who choose their Government, not the United Nations. It is said that States erode multilateralism by asserting excessive individual sovereignty, but States must protect their populations by any means necessary. The United Nations is not free to interfere with States protecting their citizens and stamping out threats. “The nations herein united should not let this platform be used to threaten others with accountability for taking a tough approach to crime,” he said.
In fact, the threat to multilateralism comes from its own vain attempts to usurp State functions, he continued, and return the world to the anarchy of the pre-war period preceding the United Nations. The Philippines knows that talking doesn’t hurt. The country is negotiating with China over the South China Sea, which is swarming with Chinese ships. No country in the region wants war, and all, including China, are signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The United Nations can stay relevant and be effective only by reflecting the realities of the times, however. In an increasingly complex global security situation, the Security Council must be reformed and expanded to be representative, “even as the risk of stasis”, he said. It must be democratic and act promptly. The United Nations must also reform itself financially to uphold accountability, transparency and sustainability.
In the Philippines, poverty fell 6 per cent from 2015 to 2018, he said. Moreover, this year, more than 27 million Filipinos received basic education, with over 600,000 out-of-school youth and adult learners benefiting from an alternative learning system. In addition, the Government has fought terrorism fiercely. It battled to retake the city of Marawi, “which left it looking like Swiss cheese”, because a leader of an Islamic jihadist group needed to be served with his arrest warrant for drug trafficking.
Elmar Maharram oglu Mammadyarov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, pointed out the international community’s common duty to promote and support a reformed, reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system. However, a peaceful, just and prosperous world is not possible if universally accepted fundamental values, norms and principles are disregarded “so as to whitewash aggressions and other illegal actions”. Ignoring binding Security Council resolutions cannot be an accepted practice and all must uphold the uniform application of the purposes and principles of the Organization. He highlighted the multilateral efforts of the Non-Aligned Movement and its adherence to the Bandung Principles. Azerbaijan will host its next summit in October, he said, stressing that his country’s chairmanship will provide impetus for advancing the Movement’s founding principles.
Turning to the 2030 Agenda, he said States must regularly test themselves to identify the extent to which they are delivering on their commitments. As Azerbaijan recently became a member of the “Group of 77” developing countries, it stands ready to contribute to sustainable development through the promotion of economic cooperation. For its part, his country has implemented economic development programmes over the last 15 years and increased its gross domestic product (GDP) by a factor of 3.3. The Government has also adopted a social package covering more than 4 million people, reducing poverty and unemployment. Azerbaijan attaches particular importance to cultural diversity, and has hosted several major global events in recent years to strengthen dialogue and mutual understanding, such as the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue. Addressing the needs of vulnerable segments of society continues to be at the core of Azerbaijan’s inclusive social policy.
Pointing out that Armenian aggression has resulted in the occupation of almost one fifth of Azerbaijani territory and the expulsion of more than 1 million of his people from their homes, he said that this conflict continues to undermine international and regional peace and security. Despite direct contact, the apparent lack of genuine interest by Armenian leadership impedes the conflict-resolution process and leaves no doubt as to Yerevan’s annexationist intentions. Rather, Armenia defends the unacceptable status-quo created through the unlawful use of force and resulting occupation, accompanied by war crimes and acts of genocide committed against the Azerbaijani civilian population and total ethnic cleansing of all non-Armenians from the occupied territories. The Security Council’s confirmation of Nagorno-Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan and the Council’s demand for withdrawal of occupying forces from occupied territories remain unimplemented, but Azerbaijan remains committed to the earliest political settlement of the conflict. Negotiations cannot last forever, however, and Armenia must comply with its international obligations.
KYAW TINT SWE, Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar, said eradicating poverty in all its forms is the greatest global challenge, and his Government has cut it in half domestically, from 48.2 per cent in 2005 to 24.8 per cent in 2017. Myanmar is also one of its region’s fastest-growing economies with an annual growth rate of 6.8 per cent in 2018‑2019.
While the United Nations is at the heart of multilateralism, he said, it must avoid the mistake of unilaterally extending its powers without corresponding due diligence. Multilateral institutions should never be used as a tool targeting Member States. Such institutions should uphold the sovereignty of nations and no nation should feel its value in the United Nations depends on its material wealth or political influence. He noted Myanmar is undergoing a process of democratization, embracing political dialogue to solve internal conflicts peacefully. Ten armed ethnic groups have already signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement, although non-signatories remain. He said he shared the international community’s concern about the violence in Rakhine state, stating that attacks by the Arakhan Rohingya Salvation Army had triggered the current humanitarian crisis there. His Government prioritizes repatriation and is cooperating with Bangladesh, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and ASEAN to that end.
He noted that the displaced persons in Cox’s Bazaar have a different legal status, but the Government is willing to repatriate them under a bilateral agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh. However, he rejected pressure to set up a safe zone in the country as neither warranted nor workable. He called on Bangladesh to allow repatriation of those seeking to return, including 400 people of the Hindu faith. While not opposed to accountability for wrongdoing related to the outflow of displaced persons to Bangladesh, he said a proposed investigation by the International Criminal Court excludes alleged crimes by the Arakhan Rohingya Salvation Army and mischaracterizes the Myanmar criminal justice system. The International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction over Myanmar, he said. He dismissed the Darusman and Rosenthal reports as biased and flawed and rejected establishment of the United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar to bring the country to tribunals. He asked Member States of the United Nations to differentiate between a genuine will to protect human rights and hijacking the issue for political purposes.
Tsogtbaatar Damdin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, said that although mounting challenges to multilateralism conjure a feeling of the pre-1990s world, the Cold War era is long past and countries today pursue growth, progress and prosperity for their own people within their own jurisdiction through international cooperation. Human beings believe that their reason is unshakeable and unlikely to yield to irrational urges. He cautioned, however, that this may be an erroneous overconfidence and that the international community should not forget that humans are social animals for whom “aggression and anger trigger counter-aggression and angry response”. Further, the world has yet to fully understand the social changes inherent to this technological era and faces the risk of the anger of a few exploding into mass irritation via social media. Rather than taking global peace for granted, we should not overestimate the strength of our reason and underestimate the risk posed by our animal instincts.
Turning to climate change, he pointed out that, while Mongolia — like many other developing countries — has contributed the least to global warming, annual mean temperature in his country has increased by 2.26ºC over the last 80 years. As a result, 77 per cent of its territory has been affected by desertification and land degradation; additionally, permafrost has decreased and more than 800 lakes have dried out. For its part, Mongolia is fulfilling its nationally determined contribution to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 14 per cent and has introduced domestic feed-in tariffs for wind, solar and hydropower energy.
Mongolia will contribute not only to energy security, he continued, but also to peace and security in North-East Asia. As Mongolia is the only country in the region without unresolved issues with any other State, it aims to provide a neutral ground for constructive dialogue and engagement. He noted that the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on North-East Asia has expanded its agenda to cover not only traditional security issues, but also those related to energy, infrastructure, green growth, investment and humanitarian cooperation. The security situation in the region remains complex, and Mongolia stands for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. The world’s collective efforts must be redoubled, he concluded, to uphold and strengthen multilateralism and ensure that no one and no country is left behind.
JOSÉ CONDUNGUA ANTÓNIO PACHECO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mozambique, said sub-Saharan Africa, where his country is located, is a region with the largest number of disadvantaged people afflicted by multidimensional deprivations, including low income and reduced levels of access to education, health, food, water and sanitation. He reiterated that the spirit of the United Nations Charter states that the Organization’s main mission is to help put an end to prolonged insecurity and economic instability. Fundamentalism and violent extremism, as well as arms proliferation and trading of weapons, remains of great concern for Mozambique.
He called for the peaceful resolution of the dispute in Western Sahara through a referendum on the self-determination of its people, also expressing concern for the socioeconomic conditions facing the Palestinian people. He reiterated Mozambique’s appeal for a negotiated lasting resolution of the Palestinian issue through dialogue. Further, he appealed for the normalization of political, diplomatic and economic relations between Cuba and the United States. “The economic blockade against Cuba has no justification,” he said, also urging the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Mozambique has incorporated the 2030 Agenda into its national programmes, he continued. It also has adopted an approach focused on protecting and respecting human rights, promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls. Extremely vulnerable to climate change, Mozambique experienced two very severe tropical cyclones earlier in the year, causing 689 deaths and the destruction of the economic and social fabric of parts of the country. Mozambique will remain committed to strengthening resilience to such disasters, under the terms of the Paris Agreement, as it also makes efforts to preserve its biodiversity and conserve a large swath of its national territory. On 6 August, Mozambique signed the Maputo Peace and National Reconciliation Agreement, he said, noting that its full implementation will allow the country to strengthen democracy and hold elections in October.
KAREN CUMMINGS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guyana, said her country is pursuing transformative action to secure itself as a modern, cohesive and prosperous State, implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Guyana’s national road map to become a green State emphasizes environmental protection, prosperity and social cohesion and prepares the basis for every citizen’s involvement in sustaining a low-carbon trajectory of economic growth, she continued. As a low-lying coastal state, Guyana is particularly vulnerable to climate fluctuations. “We see daily evidence of the damage to the coastal zone, frequency of flooding in hinterland, and extreme meteorological events,” she said. In addition to being affected by climate change, Guyana has long been committed to leading to help mitigate the global menace, by signing the Paris Agreement and taking ambitious national action, particularly in partnership with Norway, which includes creating a greenhouse gas inventory and integrating climate change into the academic curricula, among other projects.
Guyana has had among the highest consistent economic growth in its region for several years, and much progress has been made in consolidating democratic norms and the rule of law, she said. Guyana has also responded generously to refugees fleeing Venezuela and to neighbouring CARICOM States devasted by natural disasters. In July, Guyana presented its inaugural voluntary national review to the High-Level Political Forum. The report demonstrated significant progress, particularly on several goals, and reaffirmed Guyana’s commitment to greater focus on quality education as a key entry point to develop synergies across the 2030 Agenda. The country stands on the verge of becoming a new oil-producing nation “with its attendant significant opportunities and challenges”. President Granger has declared a Decade of Development for All Guyanese, focused on enhanced educational outcomes at all levels and promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Guyana welcomes the ongoing negotiations on Security Council reform to ensure greater effectiveness, representation and legitimacy, she continued. The United Nations is united on the principles of the sovereign equality of all States, respect for the territorial integrity of every State, and the peaceful resolution of disputes between States. However, Venezuela continues to disregard international law in its dispute with Guyana, which still hopes for justice from the International Court of Justice. She expressed disappointment at the limited progress towards a two-State solution, with people of Palestine living in dignity in their own State, alongside Israel. She deplored the events in Myanmar that have led to the displacement and suffering of the Rohingya population, calling on the international community to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the affected populations. She also called for the removal of the trade and economic embargo against Cuba.
DENIS RONALDO MONCADA COLINDRES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, said that his country and others in Central America are among the most vulnerable on the planet, suffering the serious consequences of climate change. In this regard, he urged the international community to adopt measures that curb global warming. Based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, Nicaragua has taken steps to ensure its own contribution to the well-being of the planet. UNICEF has recognized his Government for its achievements in economic and social policies. UNICEF has also recognized Nicaragua’s broad legal framework that protects the human rights of children and adolescents. Since 2009, Nicaragua has reduced poverty by 17.6 per cent and extreme poverty by 7.7 per cent, he added.
Transformation of the United Nations is indispensable, he continued, also underscoring that the Organization’s Headquarters should be transferred from New York to the African continent. The recent expulsion by the United States of two representatives of Cuba are yet another example that the United Nations needs a profound transformation so that it can meet its global obligations without limitations set by other Member States. “We express our rejection and condemnation for the expulsion of two Cuban diplomats from the United Nations Headquarters in New York,” he reiterated, calling the act a clear violation of international law.
Condemning the United States blockade of Cuba, he said Nicaragua rejected all coercive economic measures that seek to break the will and spirit of people and Governments around the world. He reiterated “militant solidarity” with Venezuela and the constitutional and legitimate Government of President Maduro. He said the Inter-American Reciprocal Assistance Treaty is obsolete and an instrument designed by the United States to threaten countries. Nicaragua stands in solidarity with the Palestinians, the people of the Western Sahara, Puerto Rico and with the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)*, which belong to Argentina. He defended the principles of independence and sovereignty, reiterating calls to end all policies of interference.
Mohammed Abdullah Al-Hadhrami, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Yemen, said his heart is full of sorrow about the circumstances currently plaguing his country. Yemen — a prosperous, proud country — is today gravely wounded by Houthi militias supported by Iran, the “main sponsor of terrorism throughout the world”. Iran’s expansionist agenda under which it exploits the resources of its people to wage proxy war using militias capable of the most heinous forms of destruction and sabotage constitutes a coup d’état against Yemen. These militias attack Yemen’s people and steal its resources, stifle all forms of dissent, plant landmines in violation of international law and have destroyed the dream of his country’s people.
Grateful for the support of Saudi Arabia in containing the untold violence in his country, he stated that the heroic Yemeni armed forces work to restore the Government and its institutions. In this, they face myriad, direct military attacks by Emirati air assets in violation of international law — attacks which undermine Yemen’s stability. Iran and its Houthi militias represent a grave threat to international security, and he stated that Iran is a rogue State which fails to respect international law and honour its obligations as a Member State of the United Nations. Iran has wrought havoc on the Arab Peninsula and has armed and trained the Houthi militias who perpetrate abuse and torture. He condemned the attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities and called for the perpetrators of this attack against the international economy to be held accountable.
Yemen does not call for war, he stressed, but rather for stability. While Yemen supports the United Nations process and the efforts of the Special Envoy for Yemen and has contributed to all efforts to achieve peace, the militias have remained intransigent. The world must prompt the militias to honour their obligations, and the Houthis must withdraw from Al-Hudaydah and its port, release their prisoners and lift the blockade against the city of Taiz. Condemning Israeli colonialist activities, he said that Palestinians have a right to an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital and supported the efforts of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to deliver assistance to Palestinian refugees.
BOCCHIT EDMOND, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Haiti, said the future of humanity hinges on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. “If we fail to respect the many commitments that we freely undertook, we may never see the world we — the people — have been calling for” since the creation of the United Nations. He urged all Member States to reboot and mobilize around the principles of the Charter. This session’s General Assembly has been characterized by calls for multilateralism. These discussions are a reminder to the Organization and all Member States of the path towards sustainable development and global peace. Spotlighting the alarming increase in the number and scale of forest fires, he cautioned that “everyone’s welfare and the preservation of our planet” are at stake. He expressed solidarity with the Bahamas, noting that his Government is doing its best to aid those affected by the recent hurricane that hit that country.
In this connection, special attention must be paid to small island developing States who do not have the resources to deal with the many challenges facing them. Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere is crucial, he stressed, noting that efforts made globally to do so are far from what is needed. “We will never reverse this trend” without huge financial and resource mobilization, he stressed. “It is through education more than anything else that we can tangibly guarantee economic and social progress for all,” he said. Young people are the ones who will build the future. More attention must also be focused on tackling the various forms of inequality, which “widen the gap between us”. Haiti’s pressing need for recovery and long-term development is still huge and requires massive investments in infrastructure, education, heath, reforestation and agriculture production.
Haiti has for several months been grappled with a complex political reality, he continued. “The President is aware of his heavy responsibility and has therefore extended a hand to all stakeholders in the nation with the view of safeguarding our democratic gains,” he said. The President is holding consultations with national institutions to facilitate dialogue between the executive branch and social and economic sectors. Several United Nations missions on the ground recently took stock of the enormous challenges facing Haiti, he said, noting the mandate of the new United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, which will advise the Government on good governance. Turning to the cholera epidemic in his country which caused the death of tens of thousands of people, he said that swift United Nations action could have saved many lives. More resources are needed to effectively tackle the epidemic, she stressed.
Jean-Claude Gakosso, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Congo, reflected on the alarming international context of today, including the emergence of obsolete ideologies that fly in the face of humanism, mounting intolerance, the glorification of identity-based isolationism, the normalization of hate speech and the spectre of a new arms race. These issues create a risk of real armed conflict that Member States must not continue to sweep under the rug. To be on the right side of history, he urged, the international community must respect diversity, embrace mutual understanding, welcome peace and friendship, stand up for reciprocal tolerance and stand a great distance from egotism, fanaticism, contempt and hatred.
Turning to the 2030 Agenda, he detailed Congo’s fight against poverty and the Government’s national development plan. He stressed the importance of universal access to health care, pointing to major health dangers that threaten to decimate entire populations in Africa and the region. Of these, the overriding danger is Ebola, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a world health emergency. This disease ravages the region, and he called on the international community to mobilize as never before to deliver adequate support to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as both financial and human means are critical for a robust and effective response. He also decried the counterfeit medicine being “showered upon the wretched of the Earth” and called on the world to hold manufacturers accountable for their “sordid agenda of mass poisoning”.
The world must close ranks to fight climate change head on, and he called for the international community to support the Congo Basin Blue Fund. This fund must be operational, he urged, to protect the second green lung of the planet and because it represents a benchmark for global policies that purport to protect ecosystems. Congo also welcomes positive political developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that peace is on the agenda in the Central African Republic. He condemned the fighting in Tripoli and urged the international community to take action aimed at immediately ending the violence, resuming dialogue and initiating national reconciliation. He also called on “those with whom responsibility lies” to end the anachronistic embargo on Cuba. The United Nations should be rejuvenated, he concluded, and a deft restructuring is necessary — particularly of the Security Council — so that the Organization is better-tailored to reflect the requirements of our time.
Right of Reply
The representative of Guatemala rejected the assertion made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belize over a territorial dispute with his country. Out of respect for the Member States in the room who have convened to discuss important and relevant issues, “it is improper that Belize seeks us to look into issues which are not within the purview of this Assembly”, he said. There is no need to raise this issue in the Assembly as it has already been referred to the International Court of Justice. He called on Belize to refrain from undermining this process.
The representative of Indonesia, responding to the speaker for Vanuatu’s statement, said that the country continues to question Papua and its place in Indonesia. He asked Vanuatu if it has bothered to have a deeper looker into Papua’s status. “If not, I suggest you read all the historical files,” he added. Correct and legal understanding of the facts are crucial so that Vanuatu does not repeat the same mistake again. Since the declaration of Indonesian independence, Papua has been a part of Indonesia. “It is a done deal,” he stressed, recalling the Assembly resolution that settled this matter. Vanuatu wants to give the impression that it is concerned with human rights issues. But its real motive is supporting a separatist agenda. Vanuatu’s provocation has caused the destruction of infrastructure, homes, and, worst of all, it has caused lives to perish. Indonesia will respect the differences and local wisdom of each group in the country.
The representative of Armenia said that Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister today tried to justify his country’s destructive position on Nagorno-Karabakh. This hostile rhetoric should serve as an early warning sign to the international community. If not properly addressed, this inflammatory statement could encourage Azerbaijan to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh continue to face existential threat. For three decades, they have resisted coercive policy and the use of force. There is no alternative to a peaceful, negotiated settlement. Armenia will not allow yet another genocide of the Armenian people on its territory. One cannot constantly insist on manipulating the wording of Security Council resolutions. The principle of equal rights and self-determination and the decision on the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh is essential to the peace process. The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan made an unsuccessful attempt to portray his Government as a multicultural country, he said, expressing concern about Azerbaijan’s open promulgation of hate against Armenians. The anti-Armenian propaganda has led to the radicalization of youth. In Azerbaijan, human rights are violated, and free media are non-existent.
The representative of Pakistan, responding to the speaker for India’s statement, said that India has a “sketchy understanding of history”, spotlighting the hardships and discrimination faced by non-Hindus in India. India is far from being a so-called vibrant democracy. Those who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi are now busy killing the idea of a secular India. When Pakistan’s Prime Minister spoke on Friday, he put a spotlight on India’s egregious treatment of minorities. “What we heard in response was an attempt to divert from the reality,” he said, adding that it is strange that a country which has been engaged in State terrorism has the gall to accuse others of terrorism. Repression of people under occupation is the gravest example of terrorism. India should seek answers from its own terrorists and masterminds of pogroms. The Indian representative did not mention the dire plight of the Kashmiris who have lived in total darkness for 53 days. He asked: Why does the Indian State not allow the Kashmiri people to speak out? The reality is that the Kashmiris are living through a dire humanitarian situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates said that her country has always called for a de-escalation of the situation in Yemen and for dialogue to diffuse the tensions there. She reaffirmed the importance of dialogue under the aegis of Saudi Arabia and stressed that her country’s objective to support the Yemeni Government against the Houthis and to fight terrorism broadly speaking remain unchanged. The United Arab Emirates has the right to defend itself and will take the measures necessary to protect the forces of the Arab coalition and to ensure that terrorist groups like Al-Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) cannot continue to conduct attacks in Yemen.
The representative of Azerbaijan said that the fact that new Armenian authorities blame their predecessors for authoritarian rule and for suppression of human rights confirms what Azerbaijan has said from the beginning. He stressed that this new Government should not be seen differently from previous Armenian regimes because of its persistent denial of war crimes and genocide perpetrated against Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh region has always been and will remain an integral part of Azerbaijan. Armenia’s promotion of self-determination for that region is unlawful under international law as the Security Council confirmed that the region is an integral part of Azerbaijan and demanded withdrawal of occupying forces from the occupied territories. The regime Armenia set up in Nagorno-Karabakh is under Yerevan’s direction and control and is therefore nothing more than a product of aggression, racial discrimination, ethnic cleansing and the unlawful use of force. Armenia abuses the peace process, he concluded, to pursue its colonialist and annexationist practices.
The representative of Armenia said that Azerbaijan whitewashes the dire human rights situation in that country, and that Azerbaijan’s alternative history of the world denies the people of Nagorno-Karabakh the right to life. When assessing a State’s commitment to human rights, he stressed, it is not the number of national minorities that matter, but instead how the State protects their rights. Referring to a large-scale offensive in April 2016, he stated that Azerbaijan perpetrated “ISIL-style” executions, including decapitation and body mutilation. The only remaining part of Armenian cultural heritage in Baku, he stressed, is a church that the Government tolerates for its photogenic value.
The representative of Azerbaijan said that the successive Governments of Armenia have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity and have raised territorial claims against its neighbours. Allegations of discrimination and dissemination of hate propaganda are beneath criticism. Armenia has expelled all non-Armenians from its territory. Against this background, Armenia’s accusations are evidence of a false sense of reality. Hence, any statement by Armenia on democracy and the peaceful settlement of the conflict are preposterous.
* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).