Delegates Also Commemorate 75 Million People Who Died during Second World War
The General Assembly adopted three resolutions today, all without a vote, including one urging Member States to designate the world’s two million seafarers and other maritime personnel as key workers in the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic, as delegates also commemorated the 75 million people, most of them civilians, who lost their lives during the Second World War.
Through its resolution titled “International cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic to support global supply chains”, the Assembly also called upon Governments to promptly take steps to facilitate maritime crew changes, including by expediting travel and repatriation efforts and ensuring access to medical care.
It also encouraged Governments and relevant stakeholders to implement protocols to ensure safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic as approved by the International Maritime Organization’s Safety Committee, thus allowing stranded seafarers to return to their home countries and permitting their replacements to join their ships.
Indonesia’s representative, who introduced the text, said that the shipping industry transports more than 80 per cent of world trade, yet the work and commitment of its seafarers has largely gone unnoticed, even as they face significant challenges due to the pandemic.
“The crisis being endured by seafarers and others at sea cannot be permitted to continue,” said the United Kingdom’s delegate, who called for States to act immediately for the sake of seafarers’ physical and mental welfare, the marine environment, and the global economy and supply chains.
The Assembly also adopted a draft resolution titled “Sport as an enabler of sustainable development”. Monaco’s representative, introducing that annual text, said that it incorporates new elements which recognize the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on professional, amateur and youth sport, including the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to mid‑2021.
In addition, the Assembly adopted a text titled “Credentials of representative to the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly,” as contained in the report of the Credentials Committee. Kennedy Godfrey Gastorn (United Republic of Tanzania), Committee Chair, introduced the report.
Also before delegates today was the Secretary‑General’s report on implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the first since that framework agreement was adopted by world leaders at an intergovernmental conference in Marrakech, Morocco, on 10 December 2018 and subsequently endorsed by the Assembly. (See Press Releases DEV/3375 and GA/12113.)
El Salvador’s representative, referencing that report, said that without appropriate follow-up and monitoring mechanisms in place, the Global Compact risks becoming an “impactless instrument”. She also called for a change in the narrative regarding migrants — one that would underscore their positive contributions, including in mitigating the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic.
The Assembly’s solemn meeting in commemoration of all victims of the Second World War was prompted by its resolution 75/5, adopted on 6 November, on the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of that global conflict which also led to the creation of the United Nations. (See Press Release GA/12282.)
António Guterres, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, delivered opening remarks, saying that “never again” was the rallying cry of those who gathered around the Organization’s Charter in the wake of the war. Today, however, the international community is falling short on the promise of the Charter as it confronts the climate crisis, poverty, hunger, inequality, human rights violations and a raft of regional conflicts. Reiterating the call he issued in March for a global ceasefire in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, he said that millions look to the United Nations to deliver on peace, human rights and equality — and that “we cannot let them down”.
The Russian Federation’s representative, speaking also on behalf of China and several Member States that were once part of the Soviet Union, said that today’s commemoration was not about perpetuating hatred, but rather to draw a lesson from history, look to the future and jointly cherish and safeguard peace. He condemned shameful attempts to rewrite the history of the war, adding that the international community must stand alert and united to suppress any embryo of Nazi ideology.
Israel’s representative, in the same vein, said that despite their differences, the nations that joined together to defeat Nazism “knew that evil had to be stopped”. She emphasized the importance of mourning the victims of “history’s darkest hour”, which is synonymous with the Holocaust, and that the international community cannot allow the sacrifices of so many to be in vain.
South Africa’s representative said that victory in 1945 helped lead to independence movements in Asia and Africa, and paved the way to the intensified struggle against Apartheid. Calling for Security Council reform, he urged all nations to stand united against nationalism, unilateralism and isolationism.
In other business, the Assembly took up the Secretary‑General’s report on the culture of peace and the related draft resolution “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”. Bangladesh’s representative, introducing that text, said that the annual resolution calls for a High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace to be held in September 2021. As intolerance rises in the midst of the COVID‑19 pandemic, the text’s importance has only grown, she added.
Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Qatar, Brunei (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), China, Iran, Djibouti (on behalf of the African States), Iraq (on behalf of the Asia-Pacific States), Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States), Malta (on behalf of the Western European and Other States) and United States (on behalf of the Host Country), as well as the European Union.
Representatives of Tajikistan (on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Ukraine, Serbia, India, Syria, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Belarus, Pakistan, Peru (on behalf of a number of States, including members of the Lima Group), Venezuela, Nicaragua, Brazil (on behalf of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance), Libya, Oman, Kuwait and Cuba also spoke.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 2 December to take up draft resolutions on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East and to continue its consideration of the culture of peace.
Follow-up to Outcome of Millennium Summit/Strengthening of United Nations System
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) introduced the draft resolution titled “International cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic to support global supply chains” (document A/75/L.37), under its agenda item on strengthening of the United Nations system. He explained that the shipping industry remains the backbone of the international economy, transporting more than 80 per cent of world trade and delivering vital medical supplies, food and other basic goods essential for the COVID‑19 response and recovery. Behind this critical sector are two million seafarers, whose work and commitment has largely gone unnoticed and who face significant challenges due to the pandemic. The draft resolution urges Member States to designate seafarers and other marine personnel as key workers. It calls on Governments to take steps to facilitate maritime crew changes, including by enabling embarkment and disembarkment, expediting travel and repatriation efforts, and ensuring access to medical care. It also requests Governments as well as international stakeholders and relevant stakeholders to provide the necessary attention and concrete action to ensure the well-being of seafarers.
PEGGY VISSERS (European Union) welcomed the adoption of the resolution by consensus, noting seafarers are truly essential workers, transporting food, fuel and medicines around the world. However, hundreds of thousands remain stranded on ships due to travel restrictions and border closures, endangering their health as many are physically and mentally exhausted, having worked beyond their scheduled detail. The situation also threatens to disrupt supply chains and global trade. Seafarers must be able to both return home and embark to aid colleagues, as repatriation is a right. Crew changes can be done at low risk, she said, with ports in all European Union member States remaining open. Noting that fishermen are overlooked in the discussion, she expressed regret they were not considered in the resolution.
EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador), referencing the Secretary‑General's report on the topic, said that the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration represents a crucial step towards implementing a holistic approach to migration. Without appropriate follow-up and monitoring instruments in place, however, the Global Compact risks becoming an “impactless instrument”. Further, she stressed that no State can successfully manage migration on its own; host, transit and destination countries must all play a part. While migrants have made important contributions to their destination countries, they suffer not only from the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic, but from insufficient living and working conditions, phobia, discrimination and lack of access to healthcare. Nevertheless, many migrants are on the front line of the pandemic response, playing an essential role by providing formal and informal healthcare services. She called for a change in the narrative, underlining migrants’ positive contributions and key role in mitigating the effects of COVID‑19.
DAVID MESSENGER (United States), noting his delegation’s co-sponsorship of the resolution, said his country has worked tirelessly to facilitate crew changes and repatriation of seafarers. It has been a strong voice advocating that States take decisive action to facilitate crew rotations in this difficult period, he stressed, also adding that the United States has ensured access to emergency medical care, consistent with international obligations.
MOHD HAFIZ OTHMAN (Malaysia) said the COVID‑19 pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of maritime transport as an essential sector for the continued delivery of critical supplies and global trade in times of crisis. As a co‑sponsor of “L.37”, Malaysia believes that the scope of access to medical care, as reflected in preambular paragraphs 12 and 14 as well as operative paragraph 5, should be further enhanced. In this regard, he urged Member States to share the burden by facilitating and treating seafarers who show COVID‑19 symptoms while on board before repatriating and returning them safely to their home countries.
Ms. MCARDLE (United Kingdom), joining consensus on “L.37,” said that seafarers and those operating their ships have faced unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic, in particular restriction on their ability to conduct crew changes, to return home and to access health care and assistance. She recalled that in March, her country identified seafarers and other maritime workers as key workers. It also wrote to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) reaffirming its full commitment to the welfare of seafarers of all nationalities and to relevant international conventions. The United Kingdom also hosted an international summit on crew changes in July and worked diligently to encourage the implementation of IMO protocols in that regard. “The crisis being endured by seafarers and others at sea cannot be permitted to continue,” she said, calling for States to act immediately for the sake of seafarers’ physical and mental welfare, the marine environment, and the global economy and supply chains.
FERNANDO DE LA MORA SALCEDO (Mexico), welcomed the progress outlined in the Secretary‑General’s report on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adding that thanks to international “it is coming alive on the ground” for the benefit of Governments, migrants and their communities. Mexico has made a voluntarily contribution to the Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund and has informed the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) about its efforts to implement the Compact as well as the challenges it has encountered. Mexico will actively participate in the March 2021 regional meeting on the topic. Acknowledging that huge strides forward have been made on the topic over the last few years, partly thanks to the Global Compact itself, he said the international community cannot overlook the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on migrants, who illustrate every day how essential they are to the global economy. Migration is a decision, not a necessity, he stressed, noting that as stated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it must be safe, orderly and regular.
The Assembly then adopted “L.37” without a vote.
Sport for Development and Peace
ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) introduced the draft resolution titled “Sport as an enabler of sustainable development” (document A/75.L.30), saying that it incorporates new elements which recognize the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on professional, amateur and youth sport, with the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to mid-2021. Summarizing the draft’s six recommendations, she said that they address, among other things, the inclusion of sport and physical activity in post-pandemic recovery plans, policy guidance, capacity development, technical cooperation and financial assistance. She also underscored the Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ work in the area of sport and development. Speaking in her national capacity, she stressed the importance of digital technology as a tool for continuing physical activity during the pandemic, as well as the need to improve access to sport facilities for women and disabled persons once COVID‑19 has passed. She also called for greater solidarity between and within countries, with sport playing a major role in that regard.
GUO YIRAN (Singapore) underscored that the COVID‑19 pandemic has upended the lives of billions of people around the world and its impact has been especially severe on more vulnerable segments of the population, such as children, women, older persons, persons with disabilities and minorities. “Sport provides an avenue for us to celebrate humanity in its highest ideals,” she said, expressing concern about the impact of COVID‑19 on this sector. Recalling that most major sporting events have been cancelled or postponed, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, she underscored the need to work with the sports community to find new ways to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. For example, to help the sport sector stay afloat in Singapore, the Government has provided financial support to sport freelancers and businesses to transform their business model and adopt digital solutions. She further underlined the importance of reopening spectator sporting events and supporting sport for all, noting that her Government has committed to upgrading all public gyms to be inclusive and senior‑friendly by 2026 to help older persons and persons with disabilities stay active.
BIN RASIDI (Malaysia) said sports promotes development and peace, a powerful tool with universal values that unite people, fostering patriotism by bridging gaps among diverse communities in his country. Malaysia has identified numerous sporting sectors for development, with all activities designed to be inclusive at all levels. The “Sports for All” initiative aims to encourage a healthy lifestyle in the country, featuring programmes with policies to ensure inclusivity for those with disabilities, as well as women and seniors. He noted Malaysia aims to become a sporting nation, with initiatives in line with several Sustainable Development Goals. The country has been adversely affected by the COVID‑19 pandemic, with movement restrictions posing challenges to the health of its citizens and the survival of sporting businesses. In response, the Government launched virtual fitness programmes and e-sports competitions, and it is supporting athletes expected to compete in the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Member States must make a collaborative effort to overcome the effects of the pandemic in the sports arena and every domain.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), highlighting the importance of sport to her country, said that it can transform society and help achieve sustainable development. In 2022, Qatar will host the World Cup, which will be an opportunity to promote peace, development and mutual understanding among the peoples of the world. The organizational committee for this event is also implementing other initiatives, including a youth programme to promote sustainable development and address social issues. Expressing hope that the 2022 World Cup will help promote social and economic well‑being, she said that the event will be green and carbon neutral.
NOOR QAMAR SULAIMAN (Brunei Darussalam), acknowledging the role that sports play in advancing development, peace and social progress, voiced concern that COVID‑19 has led to the closure of many places of leisure. Sports provide a platform to communicate and develop new bonds with people from across nations and boundaries, she said, calling them “a powerful tool in the promotion and advancement of peace and harmony”. In Brunei Darussalam, physical education has always been a key element of a national education curriculum, she said, noting that sports can act as a positive outlet to counter social issues such as drug abuse, violent extremism and overcoming mental health problem. She said that her Government puts the promotion of sport as a high priority for its people, where investments were made for recreational infrastructure such as a 12-hectare public park in the heart of the capital.
NAN HAYWORTH (United States), noting that she is a member of her country’s President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, stressed the role of athletic participation in developing sound bodies and agile minds, capable individuals, productive teams, vibrant communities and robust nations. The Secretary‑General’s report underscores the role of sport as a global accelerator of peace and sustainable development, she said, praising its timely focus on the role of physical activity and sport in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on health and well-being. Noting various efforts to adapt sports to pandemic precautions, she said that the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo represents a bright light on the horizon. The current draft resolution recognizes the invaluable contribution of the Olympic and Para-Olympic movements in establishing sport as a uniquely effective means of promoting peace and development. International sports bodies must be free to develop their own good governance and equitable dispute resolution mechanisms free from external influences, she said, also stressing that her country’s joining the consensus on this resolution does not imply any change in the current state of treaty or customary international law. Further, regarding the text’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, she referred delegates to the concerns expressed by the United States in the general statement delivered on 18 November.
BING DAI (China) said that through sport, the people of the world can not only improve their health, but also better shield themselves from COVID‑19. By embracing the Olympic spirit, they can also work and thrive together. Recalling that Beijing hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 2008, he said that the city now is preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics in earnest. It will thus become the first city ever to host both Olympiads. Despite the pandemic, China will complete the construction of the main stadium and other facilities and infrastructure by the end of this year, he said, adding that the Games will be environmentally friendly, powered entirely by green energy sources. He went on to say that the Games will be spectacular yet frugal, free of corruption, with zero tolerance for doping and “as pure and clean as ice and snow”.
The Assembly then adopted “L.30” without a vote.
PAYMAN GHADIRKHOMI (Iran), speaking in explanation of position on “L.30”, said while his delegation had joined consensus, it asserts the primacy of all domestic programmes and guidelines related to sports and education. Pointing to operative paragraphs 6 and 10, he said Iran’s national laws enjoy total priority and are the sole and final source of action and reference.
Commemoration of All Victims of the Second World War
VOLKAN BOZKIR (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, described the Second World War as one of the most catastrophic events in human history, affecting almost all States. Approximately 75 million people lost their lives, with the majority of them civilians, but the conflict also demonstrated the clear need for a forum to harmonize the action of nations. Quoting former Secretary‑General Dag Hammarskjöld as having said that the United Nations “was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell,” he said that the world today is certainly not in heaven, but neither is it in hell. And while much progress has been made — including the forging of a multilateral system based on the promotion of democratic values, human rights and fundamental freedoms — “we can do better and do more” to advance peace, security, freedom and development. In confronting the COVID‑19 pandemic, and in looking ahead to the next 75 years, the world should draw inspiration from those who experienced the war and embrace multilateralism in confronting today’s major challenges, he said.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, honoured the millions who fell on the battlefields of the Second World War, millions murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust and the millions more killed by genocide and bombings, recalling “Never again” was the rallying cry of those who gathered around the Charter of the United Nations in its wake. It would be unspeakable to the Organization’s founders to imagine the world could ever suffer so again, he said, given that they placed prevention and peaceful resolution of disputes at the heart of their vision. He noted the tools of Chapter VI of the Charter have been effective in preventing a catastrophic global war, as 75 years have passed without a conflict between the major Powers.
The international community, however, continues to fall short on the promise of the Charter, with the climate crisis, inequality, human rights under assault and technology used for disinformation to divide people further, he said. Regional conflicts continue to rage, with the COVID‑19 pandemic revealing a lack of global preparedness. He further noted poverty is increasing for the first time since 1988, with 130 million worldwide at risk of being pushed to the brink of starvation. Progress on gender equality is being rolled back decades, with lockdowns trapping women with their abusers as reports of domestic violence skyrocket. Reiterating his call made in March for a global ceasefire by the end of 2020, he noted support from 180 Member States and more than 800 civil society organizations. Citing further expressions of support from 150 countries for stopping gender-based violence, he expressed regret that few have followed through on their commitments. “There can be no sustainable peace where half the population is excluded,” he said. Millions worldwide look to the United Nations to deliver on peace, human rights and equality. “We cannot let them down,” he said, nor can the world forget those who fell during the Second World War. “We owe it to them to learn the lessons of history,” he said, calling on the international community to “move forward with unity of purpose.”
MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the anniversary of the end of the Second World War is of remarkable importance for the United Nations since it was founded from the ashes of that brutal war, which claimed millions of lives. Honouring the countless victims, he added that this special session is also an opportunity to recall the General Assembly’s commitment to make every possible effort to prevent another world war. Calling on the international community to recall the horrors perpetrated during those darkest of times and resolve that they must never be repeated, he added that the United Nations was established to ensure unity, harmony and tolerance among Member States. “Let us not forget the many Africans enlisted or conscripted to fight the Axis countries in World War Two,” he said, stressing that they were instrumental in bringing an end to the war, which was fought across Africa, Europe and the East. More than a million Africans served as combatants as well as workers and carriers for the colonial Powers. The most fitting way to honour those who sacrificed their lives in that war is by continuing to build a peaceful world today, he said, reaffirming commitment to the guiding principles of the United Nations, including non-aggression and the peaceful settlement of disputed conflicts.
MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), speaking for the Group of Asia and the Pacific Small Island Developing States, noted the importance of commemorating the foundations of the current international framework and of reflecting on the lessons learned from the scourge of war. Though the Second World War is over, the world has not escaped the tragedy of war, as people continue to suffer and basic needs remain unmet. Further, the persistent threats of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continue to jeopardize peace and stability. He stressed that the lesson humanity must learn from the “grave experience” of the Second World War is that dialogue, respect, cooperation and responsible behaviour must prevail over war, conflict and violence. Current global challenges — like the COVID‑19 pandemic — don’t discriminate based on ethnicity, religion or political affiliation, and members of the international community hold the same responsibility to ensure a better future for present and coming generations. He stated that the best way to overcome the two primary challenges to collective prosperity — terrorism and armed conflict — is through effective United Nations mechanisms. To that end, he emphasized the need to reform and strengthen these organs, especially the Security Council.
WALTON WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, noted that the region was not exempt from the painful legacy of the Second World War and its economic, political, military and social consequences, despite not being directly involved in it. Once the war ended, the region opened its doors to millions of migrants and refugees, survivors of the conflict that actively contributed to regional economic development and who regained their hope for a better life after the trauma. “This heritage of values and cultural richness is a treasure that our region will never fail to dignify, honour and appreciate,” he said. Latin America and the Caribbean is committed to being a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, joining the global call for the full implementation of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Citing the “deep diversity of ethnicities and cultures that enrich life and add both value and stability to our nations,” he noted the region’s Heads of State and Government declared it a “Zone of Peace” in 2014, where differences are settled through pacific means and political dialogue.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta) drew attention to the unspeakable suffering and an unprecedented number of victims brought about by the Second World War. Expressing gratitude to those who lost their lives in the fight against the Nazi regime and its allies, she recalled the international effort to ensure accountability for perpetrators of the most serious crimes. This understanding resulted in signing the Charter of the United Nations, she said, adding that the Organization was founded to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” At a time of rising racism, nationalism and populism, this commemoration is a stark reminder of where ideologies of hate can lead, she stressed, warning against repeating the same mistakes. “We have our principles, the Charter. We have our road map, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Alas, we also have common challenges, notably the emergencies of climate change and the global COVID‑19 pandemic,” she asserted.
KELLY CRAFT (United States), emphasizing that the impact of the Second World War is still being felt today, said that her country is proud to join today’s commemoration. The enormity of the human toll of that conflict demands that lessons be learned from the biggest tragedy of the twentieth century. The majority of the 60 million who died were civilians, she said, recalling among other atrocities the Holocaust. She urged the international community to renew a solemn vow to fight against modern-day atrocities, carrying forth the voices and experiences of those who endured the war and teaching the lessons of history to future generations. She urged the international community to summon the political will to end tyranny and to work for reconciliation and peace among all nations.
SILVIO GONZATO (European Union) noted that the General Assembly was commemorating a tragic chapter in the history of Europe and the world amid a global pandemic. Pointing out that the international community has the power to ensure the atrocities of the Second World War are never repeated, he said, “We believe that historical awareness is necessary to avoid similar crimes in the future.” Emphasizing that aside from two world wars, global efforts to maintain peace have failed too often, he affirmed the European Union pledges to work with all Member States to prevent those scourges. He expressed regret that many crises remain unresolved with new ones arising, calling on the international community to redouble efforts to settle disputes by peaceful means. While hailing the heroic sacrifices of the Allied forces in defeating the Nazis, he underscored the importance of remembering that the end of the conflict brought also painful divisions between peoples and States, and more crimes against humanity. It is also crucial to pay tribute to all the women and men who fought for peace, he said.
MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan), speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said it is the international community’s solemn duty to preserve the memory of those who gave their lives and suffered colossal deprivation to liberate the peoples of Europe and other countries around the world from Nazi enslavement. Noting the Assembly’s adoption on 5 November, of the resolution concerning the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, he pointed out that his group was one of the co‑sponsors of that text. Unfortunately, in recent years there have been increasing attempts to distort history, he said, adding that the international community must defeat all manifestations of fascism, chauvinism, xenophobia and radical nationalism. Condemning efforts by some political forces to rewrite history and to distort the outcomes of the Second World War, he expressed deep concern about the glorification of the Nazi movement and neo-Nazism, including by erecting monuments and memorials, carrying out public demonstrations, as well as renaming streets in honour of the Nazi movement. Calling for support for the annual Assembly resolution on combating the glorification of Nazism, he said the world needs to step up efforts to prohibit all crimes against humanity.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), speaking also on behalf of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, said that the victory of 1945 over a common enemy in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific and other parts of the world is the common heritage of mankind and a monument to the unity of peoples in the face of unprecedented evil. “Let us forever cherish the memory of those who sacrificed their lives in the name of victory,” including those killed or fatally wounded in battle, those who died of exhaustion and hunger, and those who were tortured to death as prisoners of war or in concentration camps. “No one is forgotten, nothing is forgotten.” Today’s commemoration is not about perpetuating hatred, but to draw a lesson from history, look to the future and jointly cherish and safeguard peace, he said. Unfortunately, shameful attempts are being made to rewrite the history of World War Two through false narratives, which deny acts of aggression or which glorify aggressive war and colonial rule. Attempts are also being made to erase the memory of heroic acts, to destroy war monuments, and to prohibit medals and symbols of glory associated with the 1945 victory. “These have no justification, no matter what political or geopolitical reasoning behind it.”
While States bear the main responsibility to prevent and combat the spread of neo-Nazism, the international community must stand alert and united to suppress any embryo of Nazi ideology and prevent a recurrence of wartime massacres, he said. Recalling that his country, among others, introduced the annual resolution “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” he said that the great victory of 1945 and the United Nations are twins. The principles that underpin the Organization must therefore be safeguarded and future generations saved from the scourge of war.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) recalled that Ukrainians and Polish people were among the first victims when Nazi soldiers from the west and Soviet soldiers from the east marched into Poland and Western Ukraine in 1939. Soviet troops killed thousands of Ukrainians during their occupation of the region, and subsequently killed even more when withdrawing in 1941, while also setting on fire important infrastructure in the wake of the advancement of Nazi troops. In 1944, the pattern was reversed, he said. The advancing Soviet troops were shelling, while withdrawing Nazi troops set on fire all that remained. Millions of Ukrainians sacrificed their lives fighting in the war, he said, adding that “the cruelest thing” was that the lives of thousands of Soviet soldiers were not spared when Kyiv was liberated from Nazi occupation in 1943, on the eve of the Communist putsch. Against this backdrop, he regretted the demand of a country to remove any acknowledgement of the responsibility of totalitarian regimes and the horrors of the Holocaust, as well as the need to address ongoing conflicts in Europe, from the draft statement of the Group of Eastern European States. He proceeded to read out the text, which called for the strengthening of multilateralism, the defense of the universality of human rights, and the promotion of respect for international law to address the security threats posed by the ongoing conflicts in Europe and beyond.
MARINA IVANOVIC (Serbia) said that ineffective multilateralism brought about the horrors of the Second World War, and that this event taught the world the necessity of having a system in place to “limit the arrogance of States.” Recalling the suffering and destruction that the Second World War visited on “then‑Yugoslavia” and concomitant attempts to exterminate the Serbian people, she highlighted the actions of that people — standing with the Allied forces, defeating the aggressor and “inscribing their names in the history of humankind.” Condemning attempts by some to diminish this victory and to relativize these events as “offensive to the sacrifices made by our fathers”, she stressed, as a representative of a country that sustained immense suffering in its fight against Nazism and fascism, that the international community has the moral obligation to cherish the sacrifices made during the Second World War.
ASHISH SHARMA (India) said that there can be no real statistical measurement of the human and material cost of the Second World War. “No figure can quantify the human loss, deprivation and suffering, the dislocation of peoples and of economic life, or the sheer physical destruction of property that the war witnessed,” he said. It is disheartening to note that, despite the contributions of thousands of volunteers from the colonial world to the war efforts of the Allied forces, these brave men and women have not been given their due recognition. The Second World War remains the greatest military engagement in the history of the Indian subcontinent, he said, underscoring that India contributed 2.5 million soldiers despite being under colonial occupation. He noted that the international community should rededicate itself to fighting contemporary forms of war and to ensuring a more peaceful and secure world.
NOUR ALI (Syria) said the Second World War changed history and it is important to remember its victims. She recalled the unprecedented extent of the war’s cruelty. It was a tragedy for all the people of the world and a major threat to the principles upon which human civilization was built. The birth of the United Nations was a consequence of the war, and its Charter set forth basic principles. The sovereignty of nations must be respected, and the use of force must be prohibited. There should not be a misinterpretation of the realities of the Second World War. People sacrificed their lives in the name of noble principles. This is what people are doing today for Syria, she said, noting that her country signed the Charter with other founding nations. It is necessary to avoid the threat of another war.
YAŞAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said there is not a single family in Azerbaijan that was not affected one way or another by the Second World War even though hostilities took place beyond the country’s territory. Azerbaijan mobilized for the army more than 600,000 of its sons and daughters, half of whom sacrificed their lives. Many Azerbaijanis also fought as members of the resistance in France, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and Yugoslavia. “The true heroism was the selfless service and dedication of the people of Azerbaijan, who worked day and night in oil production,” he said. As one of the major oil producers and suppliers during the Second World War, Baku secured nearly 80 per cent of all the oil extracted in the entire Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 90 per cent of its naphtha and 96 per cent of its lubricants. Four out of five Soviet aircrafts, tanks and trucks used during the war ran on fuel processed in the Baku refineries, from oil extracted in the Baku oil fields. The international community must use this commemoration to reaffirm its commitment to the principles and purposes of the Charter and work together to address the threats and challenges to international peace and security.
BAKHTIYOR IBRAGIMOV (Uzbekistan) underscored his country’s contribution to the war effort when it was part of the Soviet Union. Among other things, it gave refuge to 200,000 children displaced by the fighting. One blacksmith in particular adopted 15 war orphans, raising them as part of his family. The whole world paid a high price for victory over fascism, he said, emphasizing that the memories of those who lived through the Second World War must be kept alive and shared with future generations. At the same time, the United Nations must be strengthened so as to nurture an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding.
MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) recalled that almost 600,000 Armenians participated in the Second World War and noted that the ultimate victory won paved the way for the establishment of the United Nations. However, despite the achievements of the Organization, the world continues to face challenges including armed conflicts, the exportation of violence and the use of foreign terrorist fighters to project influence. Even today there are State-led policies of hatred aimed at exterminating ethnic and religious groups that, if not addressed properly, can lead to mass atrocities, he warned. In that context, he urged the international community to respond resolutely to the use of force for conflict resolution so Member States can focus on the emerging threats to peace and security the world currently faces.
XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), associating himself with the African Group, noted that 334,000 people of all races and backgrounds from his country volunteered to serve in various theatres of the Second World War. The eventual victory helped lead to independence movements in Asia and Africa, and paved the way to the intensified struggle against Apartheid. He noted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 11,000 known graves of South African veterans, which must continue to be memorialized as they stand as a link between past and present. The United Nations must pursue its core system of multilateralism, he stressed, as the COVID‑19 pandemic is the latest global challenge requiring a robust multilateral response from the international community and a united stand against nationalism, unilateralism and isolationism. Expressing concern that the global system of governance remains largely unreformed, he called for a Security Council that reflects a fair, just and equitable international order, quoting Nelson Mandela on the need for a world of democracy and human rights, free from poverty and unburdened by the tragedy of millions forced to become refugees.
ARTSIOM TOZIK (Belarus), associating himself with the Russian Federation and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said that the historic victory over the most bloody and destructive war in history created the conditions to establish the United Nations. Noting the emergence of skeptical voices questioning how much today’s world needs to remember the lessons of the Second World War, he said, “it’s not time to turn the page on this history”. Those who forget the lessons of history are obliged to repeat them, he cautioned, adding that many States are focusing on regional or global supremacy while tolerance and compassion are falling by the wayside, dismissed as weaknesses. The threat of the use of force and sanctions are ubiquitous, he pointed out, also lamenting the manipulation and distortion of history.
NOA FURMAN (Israel) pointed out that, although the nations that joined together to defeat Nazism during the Second World War didn’t always agree, they “knew that evil had to be stopped” despite political differences. Recalling the immense losses suffered by the Russian people during the war, she said that the people of Israel will never forget their bravery or their sacrifice. She also stressed the importance of mourning the tens of millions of victims of “history’s darkest hour”, which is synonymous with the Holocaust. Families were torn apart, one-third of the Jewish people were killed and the “numbers tattooed on the arms of our parents and grandparents” serve as an enduring reminder of the horrors they suffered. She cautioned, however, that the passage of time threatens to cloud the world’s memory of these events and that freedom is once again under attack as the pandemic provides fertile ground for renewed anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere. Urging that freedom, equality and democracy are worth fighting for, she said that the international community cannot allow the sacrifices made by so many seventy-five years ago to be in vain.
SAAD AHMAD WARRAICH (Pakistan) said that millions of lives were lost during the Second World War and that ideas of racial superiority played a part. Even though it was under the yoke of colonial domination, Pakistanis were heroes. He urged the international community to pay homage to all the victims of the war and reflect on the lessons learned. Atrocities against humanity do not develop in a day. They happen over time in a toxic atmosphere of racism and xenophobia. The international community cannot ignore this type of atmosphere. Inaction is not a choice. A policy of appeasement does not work with fascist ideologies. There is now a resurgence of global xenophobia and intolerance, which has been exacerbated by the COVID‑19 crisis. Mistakes should not be repeated. Social progress should be promoted.
KENNEDY GODFREY GASTORN (United Republic of Tanzania), Chair of the Credentials Committee, introduced its report (document A/75/606), saying that since it met on 23 November, formal credentials required by the Rules of Procedure were received from Brazil, Cambodia and the United States.
The Assembly, on the recommendation of the Credentials Committee, then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution contained in its report, thus approving it.
The representative of Peru, speaking in explanation of position on behalf of several countries, including members of the Lima Group, said that by joining consensus, his country’s decision must not be interpreted as tacit recognition of either Nicolás Maduro’s regime or its appointees. More than 50 countries recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate President of Venezuela, he added.
The representative of Iran expressed reservations about parts of the Credentials Committee’s report that could be construed as recognition of the Israeli regime.
The representative of Venezuela said that by accepting the credentials of members of its delegation, the United Nations and the Assembly recognized the sovereign will of the Venezuelan people to self‑determination. Using the Assembly to attack a Member State constitutes an attack on the system of sovereign States as set out in the United Nations Charter. The Government of the United States had unleashed a campaign of colonial aggression against Venezuela, including an attempted coup d’état. However, hatred is a poison against the haters themselves, he said, adding that United States President Donald Trump is refusing to recognize the will of his own people.
The representative of Nicaragua underscored his country’s full support for, and solidarity with, President Maduro, describing him as Venezuela’s sole constitutional President. The situation in that brother country is a domestic matter that must be resolved on the basis of its laws and Constitution, he added.
Follow up to Declaration and Programme of Action on Culture of Peace
RABAB FATIMA (Bangladesh) introduced the draft resolution titled “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/75/L.28) under the agenda item on a culture of peace. Given the strictures of the COVID‑19 pandemic, she said this year witnessed a technical rollover of last year’s resolution with changes including to preambular paragraphs 4 and 14 and operative paragraphs 20 and 21. After marking a successful twentieth anniversary, the resolution has returned to its original form, calling for a High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace to be held in September 2021. The resolution has evolved since 1999 into a dominant theme, complementing the United Nations Charter in a rapidly changing global security scenario. As intolerance rises during the pandemic, the text’s importance has only grown. Noting the roster of 99 countries co-sponsoring “L.28” illustrates large cross-regional support, demonstrating the unwavering commitment of the international community to the issue, she invited more delegations to co-sponsor it.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, said the work of this organization is based on the principle that all human rights are universal, interdependent and interrelated. Launched in February 2020, this growing group is composed of 32 States from different regions whose people follow a wide diversity of faiths and beliefs, he said, noting the holding of its first annual Ministers’ Forum on 17 November 2020. Studies indicate more than 80 per cent of people live in countries with restrictions on the free practice of faith, he pointed out, adding that freedom of religion or belief is an integral part of the international framework for human rights. Underscoring the importance of the right of individuals to hold any belief or none, he invited members of the United Nations to join the Alliance in its fight against persecution and hatred.
NOOR QAMAR SULAIMAN (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recalled that her group adopted the Declaration on Culture of Prevention for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society in 2017, which represents an approach that builds a culture of prevention and strengthens resiliency in the region. The Culture of Prevention summarizes six key thrusts, namely promoting a culture of peace and intercultural understanding, a culture of good governance and a culture of resilience and care for the environment, among others. ASEAN is committed to continuing its engagement with the United Nations through the recent adoption of the new action plan to implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between the two organizations, she said. In addition, ASEAN is engaging with partners across the globe to promote a culture of peace, security, stability and prosperity through key instruments such as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and the Southeast Asia Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty.
MOHAMED MOHAMED (Libya) said that peace is the foundation of prosperity, stability and security and that periodic review helps the United Nations take stock of its efforts to promote a culture of peace and combat hate speech and intolerance. He called for increased intercultural dialogue and understanding, stressing that freedom of opinion should not be used as a pretext to denounce any religion. Peace is a commitment to the ideals of freedom, justice, equality and respect for human dignity, is closely linked with development and can be achieved through fighting inequality and hate speech. To this end, he called on the media to promote this message of solidarity and highlighted the importance of ensuring that the Internet is not used to spread terrorist groups’ toxic ideology and radicalize young people. Referencing the harsh conditions his country is facing, he added that journalists and media personnel should adopt “an approach of tolerance.”
AZRIL BIN ABD AZIZ (Malaysia) said he was strongly committed to developing a global culture of peace where dialogue was important and human rights are observed. The empowerment of human rights confers responsibility on people. The freedom of expression should not upset the freedom of belief. Everyone must work together. Mutual respect must rise beyond hate and fear to respect people of diverse cultures and values. The international community must not allow the pandemic to allow the spread of hate speech. Malaysia is dedicated to strengthening efforts to produce a culture of peace.
ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela) said the COVID‑19 pandemic has demonstrated that the human species is fragile, but also that all must work to build solid health-care systems that are universal in scope, and renew cooperative international alliances with no distinction between peoples. While States honour heroes and heroines on the frontlines of the pandemic, he noted that in the midst of a landscape of uncertainty and chaos, some countries still use their power to destabilize other States. Unilateral coercive measures by the United States prevent Venezuela from accessing the global financial system and purchasing medicines and food, constituting a crime against humanity. Stating that strategy has failed but left a wound and “radiating pain” in his country, he condemned “economic terrorism”, demanding those measures be immediately lifted. Venezuela is always present in promoting peace and solidarity. He reiterated support for the Secretary‑General’s appeal to end hostilities and armed conflict across the globe, as peace can only be achieved through multilateralism and diplomacy.
AHMED DAWOOD ALI AL ZADJALI (Oman) said that a culture of peace is a key priority for his Government. Peace is the greatest blessing, he said, because it provides stability to nations and encourages cooperation. The Charter of the United Nations reaffirms the importance of peace and urges States to adopt a peace-loving policy, establish good neighbourly relations and to refrain from any interference in the internal affairs of other States. Accordingly, his country made peace a key element of its foreign policy and is working hard to achieve this in its relationships with all States. Oman will always be on the side of peace, he stressed, rejecting violence and the use of force to resolve disputes. Peace will not be achieved through words but through acts that are in line with the principles and customs of the international community.
FAHAD M. E. H. A. MOHAMMAD (Kuwait) pointed out that the international community is facing increasingly complex, interconnected challenges that have “worsened in an unprecedented fashion” in 2020 due to the COVID‑19 pandemic. This pandemic does not differentiate between developed and developing countries and is the greatest challenge the world has faced since the Second World War. Attendant to the spread of the coronavirus has been an increase in racism, hate speech and discrimination, which undermines the spread of a culture of peace within societies. He called on the international community to collectively transform a culture of hate, intolerance and war into one of dialogue, coexistence and peace. To this end, he underscored the important role that women and young people can play and said that these groups must be allowed to participate fully in society, including in the political process.
Mr. WONG (Singapore), associating herself with ASEAN, said it was more important than ever to work towards a culture of peace. It is critical for achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Social cohesion is necessary to bridge the divides between people. Singapore promotes the use of international dialogues to discuss issues of culture and faith and develop new ways to foster harmony in the world. It is important that children from a young age are taught subjects such as racial harmony. This is done in Singapore in the schools to shape attitudes that foster a more peaceful culture. Her country will continue to work with all people and support multilateralism. During COVID‑19, it is even more important to renew the international community’s commitment to a culture of peace.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) expressed concern at global discourse taking a turn towards targeting and defaming 2 billion Muslims around the world, condemning populist rhetoric and movements, and all hate speech against anyone on the basis of faith, religion or race. Citing the importance of preventing and resolving conflicts peacefully through preventive diplomacy in line with Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations, she noted that Doha hosted Afghanistan peace negotiations, which were well-received by the Security Council. Calling on the international community to dissociate itself from efforts by some States to undermine peace and security, as well as interfere in State sovereignty, she cited the unjust blockade against her country initiated in 2017.
PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba) said the COVID‑19 pandemic has made eloquently clear how unfair the global order is in the way it prioritizes rich countries and upholds their interests to the detriment of the poor. Poverty and hunger have been worsened by the pandemic, he said, pointing out that the world has all the wealth and technological innovation necessary to eradicate these scourges. Lamenting that even in the middle of the pandemic, there is increased application of unilateral coercive measures which run counter to the United Nations Charter and international law, he said that such measures further affect poor countries. Some of the richest nations of the world have unleashed a competition to monopolize control over medicines and technologies. Stressing that the pandemic is a global problem, he added that there can be no peace without economic and social development.