Speakers Call for Collective Action to Build on Past Gains in Peacekeeping, Sustainable Development, Following Hour-Long Commemoration of United Nations Day
The General Assembly today concluded its high-level meeting to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, with several Member States remembering how the Organization’s peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts lifted them out of conflict and put them back on the path to a better future.
The resumed plenary meeting — featuring pre-recorded statements from Ministers for Foreign Affairs due to the Assembly’s restrictions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — took place in tandem with an hour-long commemoration of United Nations Day that paid special tribute to the Organization’s staff members throughout the world.
Echoing the “Declaration on the commemoration of the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations,” adopted by the Assembly on 21 September (see Press Release GA/12267), speakers reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to the Charter of the United Nations. Many pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as proof that the world requires strong multilateralism, now more than ever.
Adaljíza Albertina Xavier Reis Magno, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, said that her young country — which has hosted five United Nations peacekeeping and political missions — is a proud example of what the United Nations can achieve when it combines a common sense of purpose and action to ensure the fundamental right of peoples to self-determination. She stressed the need to build upon the Organization’s past gains and agreements, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, while also tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ally Coulibaly, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire, credited the cooperation of the entire United Nations system for helping his country to find its way back onto the path of peace and stability. He conveyed the deep appreciation of the Government and people of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Nations and hailed the memory of those civilian and military members of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) who paid the ultimate price.
Alpha Barry, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Burkina Faso, in the same vein, thanked the Organization and the international community for supporting his country’s efforts to fight terrorism and curb the spread of COVID‑19. He called for strengthening multilateralism and the role of the United Nations in tackling tough problems — such as poverty and terrorism — that are hampering States’ ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ahmad Nasser al-Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, said that his country’s faith in the importance of the United Nations — and in the collaborative efforts of its Member States — has increased amid COVID-19. He recalled that the United Nations supported Kuwait in regaining its freedom and sovereignty in 1991 following its invasion by Iraq, adding, however, that the Palestinian question remains a “bleeding wound in the side of the Arab nation”.
Namibia’s representative recalled how the United Nations accompanied that country on its path to independence, with the Organization assuming direct responsibility for its affairs after the General Assembly, through resolution 2145, declared in 1966 that South African had no further right to administer what was then South West Africa. Like several speakers from African nations, he said that it is unacceptable for Africa not to have a permanent seat in the Security Council, given today’s global geopolitical formations and security threats.
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, said that his people have placed their hope and aspirations for freedom in the United Nations hands. “It is paradoxical that at the time that this Organization was elaborating its Charter […] the Palestinian people were being deprived of the very rights enshrined in these instruments,” he said, wondering if Israel will abide by the Charter and by Security Council resolutions that it has consistently violated for seven decades.
Israel’s representative, remembering his relatives who were sent to Auschwitz during the Holocaust, said that the United Nations, once a force for good, has been steered away from its primary purpose to promote peace, security and human rights. Iran is the biggest threat to those values, he said, adding that allowing human rights violators to serve on the Human Rights Council calls into question the Organization’s continued relevance for another 75 years.
Tomáš Petříček, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, said that for the United Nations to deliver lasting solutions, it must have political support, efficient tools and necessary funds. Emphasizing the need to involve young people, he expressed hope that on its birthday the United Nations regains the youthful energy of its early days “while preserving the acquired wisdom of a 75-year-old”.
Several intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations also took the floor, including the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, whose speaker urged cooperation between the United Nations and Member States to find a permanent solution for the Rohingya minority in Myanmar as reflected in the related case presented before the International Court of Justice. He stressed that there must be accountability and justice for grave violations of the rights of the Rohingya and called on Myanmar to implement the Court’s decision.
Prior to the resumed plenary meeting, the Assembly commemorated United Nations Day, which every 24 October marks the day in 1945 when the Charter of the United Nations entered into force upon its ratification by 50 of the Organization’s founding members.
In opening remarks, Volkan Bozkir (Turkey), President of the Assembly, and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, joined the representative of the Russian Federation, President of the Security Council for October, and the representative of Botswana, speaking as Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, in paying tribute to United Nations staff around the world for turning the Charter’s words — and its promise to save succeeding generations from war and to promote human rights, social progress and better living standards for all — into tangible action on the ground.
The segment included an interactive panel discussion featuring long-serving United Nations staff members reflecting on the Organization’s work and future; the presentation of a poster signed by the Secretary-General, the President of the Assembly and Permanent Representatives of Member States recommitting to the Charter; and the recitation of a poem, “Inheritance,” by Eleanor Wikstrom, 2019 Vice Youth Poet Laureate of Oakland, California, filmed at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, where the Charter was signed on 26 June 1945.
Also participating in the high-level meeting through virtual statements were Ministers and Vice Ministers of Brazil, Iran, El Salvador, Mauritania, Slovakia, Sudan, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Congo, Estonia, Suriname, Rwanda, Trinidad and Tobago, Montenegro, Morocco, Paraguay, Madagascar, United Kingdom, Japan, Nicaragua, Bahrain, Chad, Guatemala, Uzbekistan, Angola, Yemen, Jamaica, Lithuania, Algeria, Cameroon, Libya and Mongolia.
Speaking in person were representatives of Syria, Hungary, Eritrea, New Zealand, Mali, Turkmenistan, Argentina, Iraq, Bahamas, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Togo, Zimbabwe and the United Republic of Tanzania.
A representative of the Holy See also spoke.
Representatives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, League of Arab States, Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Commonwealth, International Criminal Court, International Development Law Organization, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) also spoke.
Representatives of Pakistan and Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will reconvene on Thursday, 29 October 2020 at 10 a.m. to take up the report of the Human Rights Council and a report on the Secretary-General’s trust fund to assist States in the settlement of disputes through the International Court of Justice.
United Nations Day Commemorative Event
VOLKAN BOZKIR, President of the General Assembly, opened the United Nations Day commemorative event, saying that today is a special day to recognize the Organization’s incredible value and, most importantly, its people. Around the world, tens of thousands of United Nations personnel are serving humanity, from refugee camps to peacekeeping operations. For every staff member on the front lines, there is a team behind them, he added. Thanking all United Nations personnel for their dedication, vision and perseverance, and remembering those who have lost their lives, he said that it is no coincidence that the United Nations, its specialized agencies, funds and programmes have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a dozen times — because the United Nations is making a difference on the ground for people in need. Underscoring the Organization’s role in helping Member States confront the COVID‑19 pandemic, he said that the world expects the United Nations to stand up to challenges in times of need and, in that regard, its personnel stand ready and willing to respond.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that at its birth, the United Nations was a symbol of global unity. “Today, it is the epicentre [and] our mission is more important than ever,” he said, emphasizing that international cooperation is the only way to defeat the COVID‑19 pandemic, the climate emergency, rising inequality and spreading hatred. Welcoming the Assembly’s declaration of commitment to reinvigorated multilateralism, he said he looks forward to an inclusive and insightful effort to strengthen global governance and the way that the world responds to current and future challenges. He went on to say that he is inspired every day by the talent and dedication of United Nations personnel at Headquarters and in the field. Their spirit of service for the common good has fuelled the Organization for 75 years and it will guide it through the pandemic and beyond. “We will never, ever give up in our work to fulfil the enduring vision of the Charter,” he stated.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), President of the Security Council for October, spoke on behalf of the 15‑member organ, saying that no other global organization has the legitimacy, the convening power and normative impact of the United Nations. Nor is there one that gives hope to so many people for a better world. “We should be proud of all those who have contributed to the UN’s success, and we should remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.” However, with the world facing a myriad of challenges, there is still a long distance to go before the vision set out in the Charter of the United Nations becomes reality. “We have early reason to celebrate all that we have accomplished as a community of nations over the past 75 years. We also need to build on our collective achievements and learn from our shortcomings in order to live up to the promises of the founders of the United Nations.” Reaffirming the Security Council’s commitment to the Charter, he said that all States and international and regional organizations must respect the Charter, increase its legitimacy and move closer towards a world based on peace, justice and prosperity that the Organization’s founders envisioned 75 years ago.
COLLEN VIXEN KELAPILE (Botswana), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said the COVID‑19 pandemic is the greatest challenge facing the international community since the creation of the United Nations, and it demonstrates how intimately connected the community is now. The international community needs solidarity guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Council is a Charter organization that serves as a central platform for the international community as it enters a decade of action and delivery. The high-level political forum now meets under the auspices of the Council and serves as a guide for the international community as the world recovers from the pandemic and works to avoid a climate crisis and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Emphasizing that the Council is more indispensable than ever, he said that as the international community renews its commitment to the Charter, it needs to agree that the United Nations should not be starved of resources. A re-commitment to the Charter can put the international community back on track, he observed, emphasizing that the Council is an essential pillar of multilateralism.
Interactive Panel Segment
The Assembly then held an interactive panel segment titled “reflecting on perspectives of the United Nations work and future of the Organization, featuring ‘insider voices’”. Moderated by Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, it featured presentations by: Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division, Department of Global Communications; Edem Wosornu, Chief of the Strategic Planning, Evaluation and Guidance Section, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; Moise Ballo, External Partnerships Officer, World Food Programme; and Yoka Brandt, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the United Nations.
Ms. WICKRAMANAYAKE, referencing a recent tweet from a fellow staff member in commemoration of United Nations Day, said that the concept of the United Nations is most often associated with the buildings in New York, Geneva and Nairobi. But the Organization’s biggest asset is its staff, risking their lives on the front lines to serve the most vulnerable in the community. She then opened the discussion by asking the panelists about their motivations to join the United Nations.
Mr. NASSER recalled his experience growing up and attending a school for Palestinian refugees. The United Nations flag flew above the school and adorned the pencils he used in class each day. He said that school and system shaped him, and he went on to join the local staff of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in 1987. Observing what the Organization does in the field to create a better future for all has kept him going for his 33 years in public service, he emphasized.
Ms. WOSORNU said her motivation to join the United Nations started after the 11 September attack in 2001 while she worked at a law firm in London. After witnessing these events, she wanted to join efforts to implement the Charter of the United Nations. She recalled that in 2005, United Nations staff stayed in tents in Muzaffarabad and guest houses in eastern Sudan after an earthquake there, because people in those areas were also going through difficult circumstances. The perseverance and dignity that people demonstrate in the face of conflict, natural disaster and war keeps her going, she said.
Mr. BALLO said that, like the other panelists, he did not explicitly plan to work for the United Nations. After completing his studies, he joined a Government institution involved in food assistance and monitoring poverty-reduction efforts in urban settings. He was then contacted by the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide expert services. He said that his frustration at the limited resources available to tackle human suffering motivated him to work in this field, satisfied with being in a situation to save human lives.
Ms. BRANDT said that the United Nations is fundamentally about teamwork. Detailing her work with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), she recalled efforts to raise funds for a water supply for the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan in 2014. She said that being able to secure the necessary resources for this endeavour underscored that work on the ground impacts the lives of many.
The floor was then opened for questions.
Mr. NASSER, asked about how to make people aware of the Organization’s successes when the media often focuses on its mistakes, said that the United Nations is not just a building in New York — rather, the way the world currently takes for granted concepts like the universality of human rights and sustainable development is because of the United Nations. He urged the Organization to use storytelling to detail its work, as numbers, figures and tables are good for statisticians, but the average person wants to hear a story with which he or she can connect.
Ms. WOSORNU, responding to a question about what it is like to coordinate a humanitarian response in an ongoing situation like a natural disaster, said that most of the disasters that the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination teams respond to are hydrological in nature. These teams arrive at the affected area 12 to 24 hours after the emergency and comprise Government, expert and United Nations personnel — representing a collective partnership and effort. She said that it was fascinating to watch the mobilization in 2005 in Muzaffarabad 20 days after the earthquake hit that area, noting that, by the time the team arrived, local first responders were already there. This must be remembered, she stressed.
Mr. BALLO, asked how he felt about WFP recently being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, said that it was satisfying to see the hard work of humanitarian workers in very different circumstances being recognized. He emphasized that this recognition also extends to and honours the work of national partners, non-government organizations and community organizers. It is a strong message to all actors that hunger and peace are still critical issues, as there cannot be peace without ending hunger and hunger cannot be ended where there is conflict. He stated that conflict is a major driver of food insecurity.
On how best to communicate the work of the United Nations to the public, Ms. BRANDT said that whatever work is done in meetings and working groups, however technical, must keep in mind the intent of the community of nations to make life better for people on the ground, to effect positive change for those who really need it. This must be explained to the public at home as well, and it falls upon Member States to communicate the Organization’s work to domestic audiences and taxpayers.
On how the United Nations can best position itself to respond to future challenges, Mr. BALLO said that it is important for the Organization to work with other key actors to end conflict and continue its prevention agenda. Further, it is critical for the Organization to improve its relevance with national Governments, to improve internal integration and to collaborate with external stakeholders to become more efficient.
Asked about his vision for the future of the United Nations, Mr. NASSER said that when the international community draws on the principles of human rights and sustainable development, it can lead action to overcome the climate crisis, COVID‑19 pandemic and rising inequality. The Organization’s role in this regard is to bring together Member States and a coalition of other stakeholders like civil society and the private sector. Likewise, Ms. BRANDT said that the United Nations can demonstrate the power it has to bring people and parties together in fighting the COVID‑19 pandemic. Leveraging this unique power, the international community must partner to fight the pandemic, along with the issues it has highlighted such as inequality and polarization. In addition, the Organization must increase its outreach, especially to young people.
Regarding advice for young people seeking to contribute to the Organization, Ms. WOSORNU said that passion is important, and urged such individuals to go to the field and be with the people “in the middle of it all”. She also emphasized the importance of listening to communities, saying that every single mother she has met has said that education is the thing they want most for their children. She further told those seeking to contribute to read the Charter of the United Nations.
Ms. WICKRAMANAYAKE closed the panel’s discussion by highlighting the dedication, commitment and passion of Organization staff, saying that they implement on the ground what Member States negotiate in the halls of the United Nations.
Continuation of High-Level Meeting Commemorating United Nations Seventy-Fifth Anniversary
ERNESTO HENRIQUE FRAGA ARAÚJO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, said the United Nations was built not only on the concept of peace and sovereign equality of nations, but also on the principle of freedom for every human being. However, along the decades, the purpose of promoting freedom for all has been neglected, deviating from the original design of the Charter of the United Nations, which must be urgently corrected. In facing the tremendous challenge of COVID‑19, it is often said the world’s response should be more multilateralism. Stressing that the world certainly needs better multilateral institutions, he said the United Nations must follow its original mandate and be a center for harmonizing the action of nations. It must fulfil its original commitment of pursuing freedom, which cannot be manipulated by ideologies. Adding that the post‑COVID world needs more freedom, he said the United Nations is called on to gather the efforts of all nations in the attainment of this objective.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said that 37 million people have been displaced since 2001 as a result of conflicts created by the United States under the auspices of the war on terror, which has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. The international community should be asking whether the world is more or less secure than it was in 1945 and how it can counter the current disdain for international law. The United States has brought on almost 120 economic wars it deceptively calls sanctions. Adding that no one wins in war, he said complacency is the oxygen the United Sates needs to continue its unlawful actions against others. The United Nations at 75 years, he stressed, must stand united against unilateralism and war.
JUANA ALEXANDRA HILL TINOCO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, said that the multilateral system is still being tested, but it remains the best available tool to address ever-changing global challenges. She emphasized the need for democracy, solidarity and international cooperation, including equal access to a COVID‑19 vaccine. These are not promising times, but combating poverty and hunger, and improving the welfare of the vulnerable, must be ensured. She called on the international community to embrace new initiatives and for the United Nations to embrace new technology to become more nimble.
TOMÁŠ PETŘÍČEK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, said that time and again, the international community has witnessed breaches of the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including blatant violations of human rights, of State sovereignty and territorial integrity, and even use of chemical weapons. “Undermining the rules-based international order has far-reaching repercussions for all,” he said, emphasizing the need for accountability and fighting impunity. He added that the COVID‑19 pandemic jeopardizes efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and risks deepening other existing problems. In an increasingly interconnected world, effective actions — “that our citizens have every right to expect” — require multilateral solutions. For the United Nations to deliver lasting solutions, it must have political support, efficient tools and necessary funds. Emphasizing the need to involve young people, he wished the United Nations on its birthday that it regains the youthful energy of its early days “while preserving the acquired wisdom of a 75-year-old”.
ISMAEL OULD CHEIKH AHMED, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mauritania, said the United Nations was celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary as the world is facing a crisis — the COVID‑19 pandemic — unprecedented around the world, which is having a huge impact on the global health system. The economic and health crisis created by the pandemic tests existing mechanisms to deal with it, demonstrating the urgent need for a multilateral system like the United Nations.
IVAN KORČOK, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, said the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations is a unique opportunity to bring the Organization closer to its Member States and citizens. The United Nations has made the world a better place over the past 75 years, he said, adding that global challenges require that the Organization serve as a platform for joint action and multilateral solutions. Underscoring that all nations are affected by the climate emergency and taking unprecedented actions to beat the COVID‑19 pandemic, he said a strong United Nations is needed in addressing these crises.
OMAR GAMAR ALDIN ISMAIL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, paying tribute to the United Nations, said it has supported his nation in forming a transitional Government and dropped its name from the list of countries sponsoring terrorists. Emphasizing that it has worked to prevent another world war, he said cross-border threats require solidarity and multilateralism. However, he also noted the importance of reforming the Organization, strengthening democracy in its main bodies and promoting socioeconomic development. Sudan is following its path to the future as a friend to all peoples, entering a new chapter where human rights will prevail.
LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, said that it is unthinkable that the world spends 30 times more on nuclear weapons than what is needed for global health. Today’s global crises go beyond the objective of the United Nations founders, which was to end war, and they cannot be solved without the consensus and support of all. The seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations is an opportunity to find pathways to overcome not only war, but also poverty and hunger, and to achieve a more balanced world in which human rights are respected.
FAISAL BIN FARHAN AL-SAUD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, noting that his country was among the Organization’s founding nations, said that Saudi Arabia has spared no effort to extend a helping hand to devastated countries or to ward off evil and restore peace in the Middle East. He underscored Saudi Arabia’s constructive participation in United Nations initiatives, including the Sustainable Development Goals and combating terrorism, and its efforts at the helm of the Group of 20 this year. “My country’s message is peace,” he said, noting that the Palestinian people are still languishing under the yoke of occupation while Muslims in Myanmar are confronting ethnic cleansing.
ADALJÍZA ALBERTINA XAVIER REIS MAGNO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, said that her country is a proud example of what the United Nations can achieve when it combines a common sense of purpose and action to ensure the fundamental right of peoples to self-determination. Reaffirming Timor-Leste’s commitment to multilateralism and the Charter, she said that the United Nations needs to be reformed to best respond to today’s challenges. That includes reforming the Security Council to more fairly reflect the changes that have taken place since the Organization’s founding. She went on to stress the need to build upon past gains and agreements, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, while also tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
ALEJANDRO GUILLERMO FERRER LÓPEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Panama, said the United Nations is helping to achieve social progress in the world, which is united by solidarity. The constant stream of events over the past 75 years has tested the ability of multilateralism. The pandemic has tried the institutions of the United Nations. The Organization is at a turning point and must adjust. A new United Nations architecture is needed. The world has changed and will never be the same. Multilateralism has a unique capacity to solve problems at the global level and can promote cooperation. The international community must renew its commitment to global progress.
JEAN-CLAUDE GAKOSSO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Congo, said the United Nations needs a renewed commitment and must work to fully play its role in global governance. It must adhere to its pillars of peace and security, socioeconomic development and human rights. In the face of today’s rampant unilateralism, the Congo reaffirms its commitment to multilateralism. Yet multilateralism can only prosper within a fair and equitable system that keeps pace with the realities of the times. There remains a need to reform the Organization’s main beacon, the Security Council. Africa maintains a common position and reaffirms that one or two of its States should sit as permanent members of the Council.
URMAS REINSALU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said the United Nations was created to save future generations from endless suffering and wars. Global cooperation is essential to meet this goal. The various agencies, funds and programmes that make up the United Nations family have achieved many goals and helped countless people. This includes helping people face many health challenges, such as eliminating smallpox and the fight against HIV/AIDS. The international community is now living through turbulent times. There are violations of sovereignty and civilian populations are being harmed by armed groups. The pandemic continues to ravage the world and has had a devastating impact on poverty and education. Estimates show that the international community will see the first increase in poverty since 1998. Ongoing reforms are needed to maintain a vital Organization. Estonia is committed to standing for international law.
ALPHA BARRY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, called for more work aimed at strengthening multilateralism and the United Nations role in finding shared solutions to problems — such as poverty and terrorism — that are hampering States’ ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. He thanked the Organization and the international community for their support of domestic efforts to fight terrorism and allow the Government to limit the spread of COVID-19. Considering new challenges posed by a constantly changing world, the United Nations must be proactive and effective in adapting its methods and means. He expressed hope that the United Nations will continue to support Member States in finding solutions to major challenges and be a useful tool in global governance, adding: “Long live friendship and cooperation among peoples.”
AHMAD NASSER AL-MOHAMMED AL-AHMED AL-JABER AL-SABAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, said that his country’s faith in the importance of the United Nations — and in the collaborative efforts of its Member States — has increased amid COVID‑19. “Such close cooperation as we have witnessed during the COVID‑19 pandemic is only the fruit of the efforts the Organization undertook during the past 75 years,” he said, describing it as the result of decades of collective effort. Recalling that the United Nations supported Kuwait in regaining its freedom and sovereignty in 1991 following a brutal Iraqi invasion, he underlined the Organization’s important commitment to safeguarding international peace and security “through crystal clear positions” and decisive resolutions. Today, States are called upon to recommit to the purposes and principles of the Charter and reject violence and division, as they face the crises and conflicts that still afflict many countries. In the Middle East, the Palestinian question is foremost among those crises, he said, describing it as a “bleeding wound in the side of the Arab nation”.
ALBERT RAMDIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Suriname, stressed that now is the time to ensure that the youngest generations are active participants in the creation of our future, and to listen to “what the leaders of tomorrow expect from the leaders of today”. The challenges the world faces because of the COVID‑19 pandemic compel the international community to embrace multilateralism to jointly address the economic, social and health consequences of the pandemic. Noting the economic and financial shocks associated with the disease, such as disrupted industrial production and falling commodity prices, he stressed the importance of financing for sustainable development, including a viable solution on debt for developing countries. He asked for special attention to be paid to the small and vulnerable nations of the world, saying that the international community must strive to leave no one behind.
VINCENT BIRUTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Rwanda, said that the world needs a strong United Nations and effective collaboration to meet global challenges, especially those highlighted by the COVID‑19 pandemic. Stressing the need for cooperation towards good global governance for present and future generations, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s reforms to make the Organization more efficient in its action, more transparent in its management and more responsive to crises. Multilateralism must include a strong African voice, he added, so the world can work together to solve challenges even during uncertain times.
AMERY BROWNE, Minister for Foreign and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, congratulated the entire United Nations family on its seventy-fifth anniversary and the significant milestone it has reached. However, he stressed that the Organization was duty-bound to proceed beyond the current commemoration in delivering on the 2030 Agenda. While his country applauds United Nations achievements, the Organization must strive to build on these in reaching a point the world has never seen. Expressing hope that collective action in combating the COVID‑19 pandemic can reignite a spirit of global partnership, he reaffirmed Trinidad and Tobago’s unwavering commitment to the United Nations and multilateralism.
SRĐAN DARMANOVIĆ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, said that the United Nations, “the largest peace project in history”, must remain at the centre of international order in the twenty-first century. “Only a strong United Nations which is efficient, inclusive and transparent can respond to modern challenges in a timely and complete manner and contribute to the realization of the vision of a better future,” he said. Today’s world is different from the one in which the Organization was created, requiring new approaches and new alliances with civil society and the private sector. He expressed gratitude to the United Nations system for its unreserved support to Montenegro in all its reform efforts, stating that his country is a factor for peace and stability in the Western Balkans.
NASSER BOURITA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, said the United Nations is at a difficult juncture as it celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary, tackling a pandemic that has stricken as well as impoverished millions and is having severe repercussions on health systems. The COVID-19 pandemic is also posing challenges to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, threatening progress that has already been made. The international community must improve its approach in providing sustainable human development, redoubling its efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda and other goals. It must develop further plans to combat climate change and reform United Nations structures, allowing it to tackle international challenges and strengthen universal values. The international community needs a global effort with the United Nations at its centre, rather than selective multilateralism based on coalitions, in building an Organization capable of managing the post-COVID era.
FEDERICO GONZÁLEZ FRANCO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, underscored his country’s participation in peacekeeping operations over the last few decades. The Organization is not perfect, he noted, but is able to erect a structure capable of addressing tension, conflict and misunderstandings using people-centred solutions. In facing persistent and increasing challenges, however, it must make changes to update the organic and structural basis of the Organization. It is impossible to imagine a world without the United Nations in tackling shared challenges, climate change, biodiversity and global pandemics.
ALLY COULIBALY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire, paying tribute to the selfless efforts of United Nations staff, said that his country remains an eloquent witness of the Organization’s successful contribution to restoring and consolidating peace. Thanks to the exemplary cooperation of the entire United Nations system, Côte d’Ivoire has been able to find its way back onto the path of peace and stability. He conveyed the deep appreciation of the Government and people of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Nations and hailed the memory of those civilian and military members of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) who paid the ultimate price. He added that the COVID‑19 crisis has revealed the fragility of the international system, making it more necessary to shore up the current multilateral framework and to devise innovative solutions to the pandemic’s effects. He went on to say that reforming the United Nations to bring it closer to the people can only be possible through inclusive, constructive and equal dialogue with respect for differences.
DJACOBA LIVA TEHINDRAZANARIVELO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Madagascar, said that new global threats, including the pandemic, have called multilateralism into question. However, there remains unfinished work at the United Nations, including challenges relating to social and economic inequality that the world must confront. Underscoring the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination, he said that the process of decolonization remains incomplete. That is the case for Madagascar with regards to the Glorioso Islands and the islands of Juan de Nova, Europa and Bassas da India. He went on to urge Member States to rally around the values of justice, solidarity and mutual respect and to reject unilateralism and the law of the strong.
DOMINIC RAAB, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom, said that the United Nations has achieved many things since the General Assembly and the Security Council first convened in London 75 years ago. Much remains to be done, however. He emphasized that the international community has a moral duty to support those hit hardest by the COVID‑19 pandemic, alongside the opportunity to forge a greener and more sustainable future. “We know that when we pull together, we can overcome the toughest challenges and achieve the most amazing things,” he said. Nowhere is the need for cooperation greater than in tackling climate change, he said, noting that the United Kingdom will host the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow next year.
MOTEGI TOSHIMITSU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said the crucial role of the United Nations to unite the international community has never been more necessary, and Member States cannot be complacent with the status quo. Serious steps must be taken to reform the Organization for the post‑COVID‑19 era. For a stronger United Nations, Security Council reform cannot wait any longer. Member States with the capacity and willingness to take on major responsibilities should hold seats on an expanded Council for it to be revived as an effective and representative organ. Japan is fully prepared to fulfil such responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council and contribute to ensuring peace and stability in the world, he said, calling on all Member States to launch text-based negotiations. This year also marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Recalling that the United Nations was founded to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, Japan spares no effort to achieve this goal into the future.
DENIS RONALDO MONCADA COLINDRES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, said that the pandemic shows the need to create a new international economic order, one in which resources destined for war are redirected towards life and peace. He rejected the politicization of the United Nations, promoted notably by the United States, and its Security Council, whose false reports and unilateral resolutions lack objectivity. He expressed solidarity with Cuba’s leadership and the legacy of Fidel Castro, condemned the embargo against that country, and demanded the immediate end of unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela and Nicaragua. He added that Taiwan [Province of China] has a right to participate in United Nations programmes. Only together can poverty, hunger, climate change — the result of savage capitalism — and safe, orderly and regular migration be addressed.
ABDULLATIF BIN RASHID ALZAYANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said he appreciates the sincere efforts being made by the United Nations and the role played by its many agencies, funds and programmes to support countries as they carry out development initiatives. Bahrain is working constructively to achieve the objectives of the Organization and uphold the Charter’s principles. It is committed to working collaboratively with the United Nations and participate in various programmes. Bahrain is committed to the Charter and its noble principles. It is committed to raising living standards, ensuring social and economic progress for all and sustainable development. Bahrain recognizes the technical support provided by United Nations agencies, funds and programmes and has great hope for the Organization’s ability to help resolve all the issues facing the international community.
AMINE ABBA SIDICK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chad, said the diplomacy of the Organization, created to prevent future generations from the scourge of war, has helped prevent the ravages of a global war. It has also fostered progress in human rights, gender equality, the environment, combating diseases and other areas. Yet, the United Nations is far from achieving the goals of its Charter. Developing countries remain vulnerable and millions of people have suffered from the ills the United Nations was designed to prevent, such as poverty and armed conflict. The international community needs to make an unwavering and renewed commitment to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement. It is urgent to ensure that its development programmes are met and no one is left behind. Reforms are necessary. The partnership between the United Nations and the African Union has helped save lives and concentrate resources where they are most needed. A commitment to the Charter and multilateralism is necessary.
PEDRO BROLO VILA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said his State was a founding member of the United Nations, which provides a central forum for dialogue among countries. The pandemic is the most significant crisis faced by the international community, yet it also provides an opportunity to reaffirm the Organization’s goals. It is necessary to direct the available resources to where they are most needed, not in administrative offices. Guatemala has contributed to the pillars of the Organization, for example, by supporting peacekeeping missions and advancing development by working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It is important not to lose sight of the universality of human rights, which are fundamental to all people. The United Nations plays a crucial role in the world, and Guatemala remains committed to multilateralism.
ABDULAZIZ KAMILOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, highlighting the Organization’s leadership in combating COVID‑19 and its consequences, said that multilateralism is needed to overcome common problems. He detailed Government efforts aimed at national development, including successful foreign policy and measures designed to strengthen political trust and mutual understanding in Central Asia. He pointed out the opportunity for peaceful recovery in neighbouring Afghanistan and called for continued implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
TÉTE ANTÓNIO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, said that many countries are still plagued by poverty, hunger and economic inequality. These factors contribute to increased armed conflict, extremism and the forced displacement of entire communities, especially in the poorest and least-developed countries. He called for the Organization to implement significant structural changes, especially the long-awaited reform of the Security Council. To this end, Africa must have two permanent seats on the Council, along with five non-permanent seats enjoying full rights and privileges. He also urged support for United Nations efforts to combat climate change, stressing that if the world continues to deplete natural resources, future conflicts based on climate challenges — such as drought, desertification, forest fires and shortages of food and water — will displace communities around the world.
MOHAMMAD ABDULLAH AL-HADHRAMI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Yemen, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that the United Nations and multilateral diplomacy “are no longer a choice but, rather, an absolute necessity”. He praised the Organization for its front-line role in the peace process in Yemen and expressed support for a lasting solution to bring an end to the Houthi coup. The Yemeni people have accepted the outcome of the global dialogue to develop a new constitution built on the principles of justice, good governance and peace. This process, however, has been taken hostage by the Houthi militia supported by Iran. This humanitarian crisis has sapped Yemeni dreams of peace, stability and a decent life, and he committed to all efforts aimed at ensuring lasting peace in his country.
KAMINA JOHNSON SMITH, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, noted that the United Nations Charter envisioned inclusive sustainable development alongside international peace and security in achieving a better world after the Second World War. Adding that most nations aspire to this world, she said Member States can only achieve development goals through international dialogue and increased assistance. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has further compromised development, especially for small island developing States like Jamaica. She applauded the contributions the United Nations has already made to development, adding that her country supports its work and efforts to make the Organization more coherent.
LINAS LINKEVIČIUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said the Organization’s seventy-fifth anniversary is about celebrating the Organization’s great achievements while also recognizing the gaps between a desired future and reality. Much work is needed to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, end protracted conflicts around the world, protect human rights and meet new public health challenges. Lithuania is one of the very few full-fledged members of the League of Nations that disappeared from the world map after the Second World War. It was not able to become a founding member of the United Nations and signatory to the Charter. Instead, the country experienced lawlessness, disregard of international law and aggression. Lithuania’s history obliges it to counter attempts to distort historical facts and whitewash crimes by totalitarian regimes. Next year, Lithuania will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of its United Nations membership, she said, adding that the country’s past has made the preservation of liberty, freedom and democracy a national priority.
SABRI BOUKADOUM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria said commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations is an opportunity to renew the global commitment to multilateralism, as well as to review successes and challenges facing the international community. All countries have committed themselves to work towards peaceful and just settlements of obstacles to preventing wars that could cost many human lives. But the global community must expedite United Nations reform so the Organization can face today´s challenges, including sustainable development, decolonization and combating climate change.
LEJEUNE MBELLA MBELLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cameroon, stressed that the United Nations must appropriately administer itself to achieve successful outcomes to current challenges. The seventy-fifth anniversary presents an opportunity for Cameroon to underscore the rich cooperation it has enjoyed with the Organization. Noting that his country is eligible for financing from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, he said it also signed a financing agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2020 to assist with launching a development plan for Cameroon’s northeast and southeast regions. Adding that the world is currently facing a global threat, he called for an international response, particularly in halting the COVID‑19 pandemic.
MOHAMED T. H. SIALA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Libya, dubbing the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations a great occasion, expressed respect and appreciation for the Organization’s founding fathers. It is clear, he noted, that the United Nations is now facing challenges that are different to those it faced when it was established. Such challenges are complicated by the COVID‑19 pandemic, which has resulted in daily human losses and halted economic development in many sectors. He stressed that differences among peoples and borders should not deter the fight against the pandemic; all must work in solidarity to keep it at bay. Libya joins all nations aspiring to a more efficient United Nations in responding to various challenges, including maintaining multilateralism and reforming the Organization, especially the Security Council, which currently fails to represent the African continent.
MUNKHJIN BATSUMBER, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, said the United Nations remains the world’s prevailing instrument of international law. “The mere existence of the United Nations augments the sense of stability in this volatile world,” he said. Spotlighting the many economic and social impacts of COVID‑19 — which has engulfed both advanced and developing economies — he said the pandemic poses a serious threat to global efforts to eradicate global poverty and hunger. Among other major challenges, he cited the climate emergency, strategic rivalries, the ongoing nuclear menace, terrorism, violent extremism, spiralling conflicts, cybercrime and the retreat of multilateralism, each of which has added to the multidimensional complexity of today’s world. “Cooperation, compassion and solidarity are the only way forward to overcome the pandemic and ease its lingering social and economic impact,” he said, outlining Mongolia’s national efforts to prevent the spread of COVID‑19 and minimize its negative socioeconomic impacts.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said that the United Nations was supposed to give hope to humanity through the framework of multilateral diplomacy. However, it has failed to build the means to stop the eruption of conflicts and war or to terminate occupation, colonialism and aggression. In many cases, the Organization has surrendered to the will of some States that seek hegemony in the world. The more prevalent pattern in international relations today is for one powerful country and its allies to occupy the land of another country without fear, in violation of the principles of the United Nations. Actions will judge Member States’ commitment to the slogan “We the peoples of the United Nations,” he said, adding that otherwise the Organization risks the same fate as the League of Nations by the time it reaches its centenary.
KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary) said the United Nations has shown over the decades that it is persistent, responsible and sensitive to suffering. Multilateralism is like gardening as it requires planting, waiting and the sowing of seeds. It involves investing in networking and building trust and a reliable base. Member States will always be first responders to crises, yet States need the help of global institutions during global challenges. The United Nations is a cornerstone of the world order and it should be supported. Hungary is a proud supporter of multilateralism and Budapest has become an expanding regional hub for United Nations offices. The United Nations needs reforms, but that is secondary to the Organization’s principles and intentions. Global cooperation and collective responsibility are essential to fight the COVID‑19 pandemic and improve the world.
SOPHIA TESFAMARIAM (Eritrea) said that unfortunately, not all States have enjoyed the rights and privileges envisioned in the Charter. Eritrea, which joined the United Nations in 1993, spent the better part of the past 75 years appealing to the Organization for justice and respect for its Charter-enshrined rights. The lives and opportunities lost in Eritrea’s quest for peace are incalculable. All States must work together and redouble their efforts to mitigate the setbacks caused by COVID‑19 and to fully realize the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. She went on to say that, 25 years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, women still bear the brunt of most calamities “and with COVID‑19, it is no different”.
CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand) said that “The Future We Want” and “The UN We Need” are both a call and a question: A call demanding that all step up to lead in shaping a collective future and a question to see how the United Nations can be reimagined to best serve the world today. The UN75 Global Dialogue has offered the chance to hear the voices of people around the world, particularly youth. The common themes of improved basic services, addressing inequality, and meeting the challenge of climate change are evident. The United Nations is not the same as when it was founded in 1945. The Organization must continue to adapt and remain relevant as the world changes at an ever-faster rate. The tools are available to address shared challenges. “We just need the collective will to use them,” he said.
KANISSON COULIBALY (Mali) said that, despite legitimate questions as to the efficacy of the United Nations, the Organization continues to embody multilateralism and international cooperation. All nations — powerful or less powerful, in peace or in crisis, developing or in development — can participate in decisions on the major international issues of the moment. Mali is a strong advocate of multilateralism through the United Nations framework and deploys peacekeepers around the world. Further, it benefits from the presence of personnel from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union and the G5 Sahel, who work to re-establish peace and lasting security in Mali, the Sahel region and beyond.
AKSOLTAN ATAEVA (Turkmenistan) said the main task of the United Nations has been to preserve peace, and it has carried out that mandate, also embracing initiatives including the 2030 Agenda, poverty eradication, gender and child issues. Over the years, the Organization has reformed itself, and that process needs to continue. With the world at a crossroads and facing new challenges including the pandemic threat to the entire planet, the United Nations is the only universal organization equal to the task.
GILAD MENASHE ERDAN (Israel) said his grandfather’s family was sent to Auschwitz during the Holocaust, with women torn from men and many murdered by the Nazis. Today, he is a member of Israel’s Knesset, speaking as a representative of that country. The United Nations was once a force for good, he said, but has been steered away from its primary purpose to promote peace, security and human rights. Iran is the biggest threat to those standards, but the Security Council has allowed the world’s top State sponsor of terrorism to purchase weapons. Permitting human rights violators to serve on the Human Rights Council calls into question the Organization’s continued relevance for another 75 years, he said.
FELIPE CARLOS SOLÁ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, said the pandemic confirms the unsustainability of current growth and accumulation models, requiring greater responsibility and solidarity from the international community, as the world must question how those models leave some States and people behind. The crisis has skewed the world’s direction away from the Sustainable Development Goals; however, the challenges of the future are financing for development and modernization, which must be as homogenous as possible. He said his Government remains committed to strengthening multilateralism and climate change mechanisms.
MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, highlighted the Organization’s important role in eradicating colonialism and granting independence, freedom and dignity to millions of people around the world. Despite feelings of pessimism in a world where the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined many developmental achievements, he expressed optimism in light of the United Nations fieldwork, confrontation of the pandemic and implementation of the 2030 Agenda. He spotlighted the negative role terrorism plays in undermining policies and plans for States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and called for Member States to cooperate to mobilize resources to implement the Goals. He stressed the need to reform and strengthen the Organization’s main organs, including the Security Council, and urged a revitalized debate on water resources and cybersecurity.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia) recalled how the United Nations accompanied his country on its path to independence. In 1960, Ethiopia and Liberia instituted proceedings against Apartheid South Africa at the International Court of Justice regarding the interpretation and application of the country’s mandate over Namibia, then South West Africa. On 18 July 1966, the Court dismissed the case. In the same year, the General Assembly passed resolution 2145, declaring that South Africa had no further right to administer Namibia. Then, the United Nations assumed direct responsibility for Namibia. In 1990, it joined the Organization. The commemoration of this seventy-fifth anniversary is therefore a great day for Namibia. However, it is unacceptable that Africa remains excluded from the Security Council, given the current global geopolitical formations and security threats.
SHEILA GWENETH CAREY (Bahamas), recalling that the most severe hurricane in its recorded history hit the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the country’s north in 2019, said that the security implications of climate-linked disasters like the systemic devastation caused by more frequent and more powerful storms must be addressed at the multilateral level. The resulting shocks threaten the health system, marine resources, coastal management and access to decent work. If consumption rates and greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced immediately, existing threats to its citizens will be worsened, and new and unprecedented risks will continue to emerge. The Bahamas remains dedicated to furthering the mission of the United Nations, while recognizing the complexities of the many tasks ahead. The relevance of this Organization was reaffirmed with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic as it helped lead the fight against this disease and its aftermath.
PAUL LOSOKO EFAMBE EMPOLE (Democratic Republic of the Congo) praised the United Nations ability to “federate the world” along with its contributions towards relegating colonialism and apartheid to the status of “sad memories”. He thanked the Organization for its tireless efforts to seek peace and stability so that his country can smoothly achieve reconstruction and development. These achievements, however, must not veil other, persistent challenges like terrorism, violent extremism, climate change, flagrant inequality, armed conflict and disease. The COVID-19 pandemic still holds sway, “sowing death and desolation throughout the world”, and has laid bare the vulnerabilities of the international health system. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts for reform, stressing that Africa should not continue to be the only continent without a permanent seat in the Security Council.
KOKOU KPAYEDO (Togo) said that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the vulnerabilities of States and of interdependence. While the United Nations is the only global organization that has the necessary legitimacy to “manage the affairs of the world”, multilateralism is under threat as nations are tempted to retreat from the world stage and engage in unilateralism. The United Nations achievements, however, are undeniable. It has accelerated the process of decolonization and the liberation of peoples from foreign domination and has saved many lives through humanitarian action. It has contributed to the universal promotion of human rights and has ensured high-quality education for millions of children. He also stressed the importance of continuing reform within the United Nations, especially the Security Council, where Africa must play its full role.
FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe) said challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic amplify efforts needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, urging all countries to work together in combating the coronavirus. Zimbabwe believes in a fair and just community of nations without the spectre of mounting national and unilateral actions. He expressed concern over illegal, unilateral draconian measures against States, which subvert efforts to achieve development and the ability to fully participate in the global economy. The world needs a fair economic order benefiting all States, large and small, that benefits development of the poorest countries.
MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, said the United Nations seventy-fifth anniversary comes against the backdrop of increasing attacks by Israel, the occupying Power, and the United States against international organizations and their resolutions. Underlining Palestine’s commitment to multilateralism, he said his people have placed their hope and aspirations for freedom in the hands of the United Nations. “It is paradoxical that the time that this Organization was elaborating its Charter […] the Palestinian people were being deprived of the very rights enshrined in these instruments,” he said, recalling that the Palestinians have watched peoples around the globe gain their independence even as they continued to wait. As that historical injustice continued, Palestinians pursued every action to take their place among nations, becoming an observer to the General Assembly and joining numerous treaties and conventions. Today’s declaration calls on all States to uphold the Charter, international law and Security Council resolutions, he said, asking if Israel will finally abide by the rules it has consistently violated for seven decades.
PIETRO PAROLIN, Secretary of State of the Holy See, said it has taken an active role in the United Nations since being recognized as an observer State. It has urged the Organization to be a moral centre where a family of nations convenes. As the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, countries cannot only focus on themselves, but must work together in resolving common problems. Adding that the United Nations is not perfect, sometimes failing to live up to its name when certain interests triumph over the common good, he stressed the need for diplomats to commit themselves to the daunting task of overcoming this. International dialogue and common actions are needed now more than ever.
GABRIELA CUEVAS BARRON, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said the international community cannot afford to slow its work towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, which will empower women and youth and ensure democracy. The United Nations remains the most important global institution and individual Governments must continue to meet their commitments to multilateralism. Parliaments need to actively engage with the United Nations as Government decisions impact the Organization. The Assembly has been supportive of parliaments. The seventy-fifth anniversary marks a new beginning for the United Nations, parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, she said, stressing that it is time to work together for a better world for everyone.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, affirmed there is no way to meet grave global challenges save through multilateral international action, and the United Nations with all its pros and cons, points of weakness and strength, remains the primary rostrum to save future generations from the scourge of war. As the United Nations is the product of the political will of its Member States, he acknowledged the Secretary-General’s ambitious plans to develop the Organization and promote its working machineries to cope with the challenges facing the world. Given the colossal pressures on the international system, he reiterated the League’s commitment to the principles of the Charter, including peaceful settlement of disputes and refraining from use of force or interference in the affairs of others. Among the challenges facing Arab States, the United Nations must address the main question of Palestine and end Israel’s occupation, establishing a sovereign State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.
MYRNA CUNNINGHAM, President of the Board of Directors of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic hit indigenous people particularly hard due to, inter alia, such peoples’ limited access to basic services. In response, indigenous peoples implemented measures of self-government in line with their traditions, in their own languages, to safeguard their cultural heritage. Indigenous peoples have much to contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda and to tackling critical environmental and economic situations. She called on the international community to ensure access to vaccines, to overcome the technological and digital divide and to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A United Nations that enjoys the full, effective participation of indigenous peoples would make the world better than it is today, she added.3
YOUSEF BIN AHMAD BIN ABDUL RAHMAN AL-OTHAIMEEN, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations coincides with the unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and that multilateral cooperation is needed to address the effects of the virus. Turning to the question of Palestine, he called on the international community to find a comprehensive, permanent solution according to international law that recognizes East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. He also urged cooperation between United Nations organizations and Member States to find a permanent solution for the Rohingya minority in Myanmar as reflected in the related case presented before the International Court of Justice. He stressed that there must be accountability and justice for grave violations of the rights of the Rohingya and called on Myanmar to implement the Court’s decision.
PATRICIA SCOTLAND, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, said that it is home to 54 countries with 2.4 billion people and is committed to working for peace. The Commonwealth secretariat and the United Nations signed a new memorandum agreement to work together on many issues, including climate change, ending violence against girls and women, the reduction of hunger and protecting the environment. Much work needs to be done and the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the weaknesses existing in individual countries and global institutions. There are fresh opportunities and emerging threats that can only be addressed by collective multilateral action. The United Nations anniversary is an opportunity to reinvigorate multilateralism, which is more needed than ever, she said, adding that the Commonwealth looks forward to another 75 years.
CHILE EBOE-OSUJI, President of the International Criminal Court, said the organization and the United Nations – “members of the same family” – share the same philosophy of multilateralism. The need for both institutions emanated from the horrors of the Second World War, with the early work of the International Law Commission laying down the foundation upon which the Court would later be built. Peoples of the world want international cooperation, the eradication of violence and conflict and human rights for all. “That is the future that the [International Criminal Court] strives to foster through the rule of law, accountability, prevention of atrocities and justice for victims,” he said, adding that the United Nations plays an indispensable role in achieving a better future for humanity.
JAN BEAGLE, Director General of the International Development Law Organization, said the United Nations anniversary is taking place at a time of one of the worst disruptions since the Organization’s founding. “COVID‑19 has exposed, and is being aggravated by, the entrenched injustices and inequalities under which too many people still live, and from which no nation can claim to be exempt,” she said. The opportunity to “build back better” presents a chance to revive and renew the spirit of cooperation and solidarity enshrined in the Charter, which is now manifested in the 2030 Agenda. Noting that the rule of law is in fact distinct from “rule by law”, she said the former is rooted in the values at the heart of the Charter and attuned to the needs and lived reality of people — particularly those most vulnerable and at risk of being left behind. The International Development Law Organization works to advance the essential contribution of the rule of law to sustaining both peace and development, enabling Governments and people to reform their laws and strengthen institutions, and will continue to do so.
KEVIN CASAS-ZAMORA, Secretary General of International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), said the pandemic has revealed the deeply-rooted fragilities of the systems upon which development is grounded, damaging basic infrastructures, service delivery systems in health and education, job creation, and emergency preparedness. It has also affected trust in public institutions and their effectiveness in responding to unprecedented global challenges. The international system of norms and institutions created over the past decades is at risk of becoming irrelevant, and “We cannot let that happen,” he said. The United Nations will grow stronger out of the challenges posed by this pandemic, he noted, but only if it rekindles its will to change in the direction of more inclusion, more transparency and more democracy in the global arena.
JÜRGEN STOCK, Secretary General of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), noting its long, shared history with the United Nations, said the world faces a landscape of crisis with the COVID‑19 pandemic posing a “formidable challenge to security worldwide”. With international flows broken and tragedy penetrating communities, the United Nations is needed. As crime targets the most vulnerable, attacking essential health infrastructures, crippling economies and defrauding victims, INTERPOL is working alongside the United Nations through global information‑sharing, operational support and capacity‑building. He noted more than 100 Security Council and General Assembly resolutions have called for that support against a wide range of threats from terrorist travel and human trafficking, to environmental crime and crimes against humanity. “Crime‑fighting is an integral part of the change we want to achieve, for the generations to come,” he said.
IRWIN LAROCQUE Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noted that the United Nations is an Organization focused on multilateralism or the concept of nations striving together to resolve common problems. His region´s commitment to the United Nations has been unwavering since one of its members joined 50 years ago, he said, noting that CARICOM has played an active role in placing on the United Nations agenda on issues like climate change, the Law of the Sea and non‑communicable diseases. As the region most dependent on tourism, CARICOM has been highly affected by the COVID‑19 pandemic. The pandemic, along with climate change, demonstrates that access to development finance must be changed, he stressed, adding that the challenges have never been greater.
KENNEDY GODFREY GASTORN (United Republic of Tanzania) spotlighted the United Nations role in adopting and implementing the 2030 Agenda, thereby helping to reduce rates of hunger, maternal and child mortality and HIV, improve gender equality and increase access to clean water. However, challenges such as protracted conflicts, inequality, poverty and climate change remain, and COVID-19 is expected to worsen them. Meanwhile, a growing trend of unilateral decisions by some Member States is having negative impacts on the multilateral system, undermining the profound principles of the United Nations. He welcomed critical reforms of the Organization aimed at making it more effective and relevant, pointing out that the United Republic of Tanzania contributes troops to United Nations peacekeeping operations and pledging to continue to support efforts to make life better for all people.
Right of Reply
The representative of Pakistan, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to the statement delivered by India on 21 September, saying that Jammu and Kashmir is not part of India. It never was, it never will be, and India’s shenanigans cannot deprive the Kashmiris of their right to self-determination as set out in Security Council resolutions, he said.
The representative of Iran said that the regime in Israel uses falsehoods as a tool to divert attention from its expansionist policies. The real danger to regional peace and security, and to the non-proliferation regime, is nuclear weapons in the hands of the Israeli regime, he added.