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GA/12370
27 September 2021
Seventy-sixth Session, 16th & 17th Meetings (AM & PM)

Concluding General Debate, World Leaders Call for Strong Global Action to Resolve Longstanding International Peace, Security Challenges in Middle East, Africa

Enduring challenges to international peace and security in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere took centre stage today — along climate change and the COVID‑19 pandemic — as major issues which demand robust global action as the General Assembly concluded its annual general debate.

Since 21 September, 194 Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers and representatives of Member States took the rostrum or delivered their statements in pre-recorded videos, taking stock of the state of the world as the Assembly launched its seventy-sixth session in a hybrid format.

Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, delivered closing remarks, saying that over the last week, the list of speakers included 100 Heads of State, 52 Heads of Government, 3 Vice-Presidents and 34 ministers — although only 18 were women.  “I trust you are as encouraged as I am by the strong showing of our return to in-person democracy,” he said, after the Assembly last year held its general debate in an all-virtual format owing to the pandemic.

Much was discussed, but the fact that a clear set of issues arose time and again — including equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine; the need for success at the upcoming twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland; and peace, security and the risks of instability — spoke volumes as to what the world wants, he said.

“It is now for us, and that of the United Nations system, to address these demands and to do so in a manner that turns every challenge into an opportunity — an opportunity to strengthen multilateralism and deliver results on the ground,” he said, emphasising that there is no time for complacency.

Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of Israel, said that the new Government recently formed in Israel is the most diverse in its history.  “It’s okay to disagree, it’s okay — in fact vital — that different people think differently, it’s even okay to argue,” he stated.  He warned that Iran is seeking to dominate the Middle East with a nuclear weapons programme that has reached a critical point.  But there are reasons for hope, he added, noting Israel’s growing ties with Arab and Muslim countries.

Vladimir Makei, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that his country is the subject of “a large-scale hybrid war” prompted by its decision to be a strong, sovereign and prosperous State.  Human rights have become “a real weapon against undesirable and disobedient countries” in the hands of short-sighted politicians, while unilateral restrictive measures, which violate international law and inflict serious damage on international relations, have become another “favourite toy of Western States”.  Citing Martin Luther King, Jr., he urged the international community to “live together as brothers or perish together as fools”.

Jean-Yvest Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, said today’s crises underline the importance of collective responsibility, particularly in maintaining international peace and security.  To that end, France is calling for a summit of the five permanent members of the Security Council to set out an action plan, enable the Council to fully exercise its mandate and start a dialogue on key issues of arms control and collective security.  The world must also focus on human rights violations, which constitute a serious threat to international peace, he said.

Khalifa Shaheen Almarar, Minister for State of the United Arab Emirates, said regional interference in Arab affairs — especially in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq — must halt and full respect for Arab countries must be ensured.  The COVID‑19 pandemic has exacerbated the ongoing recruitment of young people by extremist and terrorist groups, he said, adding that the Middle East must be made a region free of weapons of mass destruction.

Fayssal Mekdad, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria, said the COVID-19 pandemic revealed both human solidarity and a sinister push to settle political scores.  On a national level, Syria’s fight against terrorism remains a challenge, as some States continue to support terrorist groups.  Humanitarian action in Syria must fully respect its national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, he said.  He expressed full support for Iran in the face of illegal sanctions, adding that Syria holds countries which support Israel responsible for its war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Ahmed Awad Ahmed Binmubarak, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Yemen, drew attention to the hardship his country has endured since the Houthi coup of 2014, adding that Iran, the militia’s patron, is part of the problem and not part of the solution.  He called on the international community to put more pressure on the Houthis, to steer development and humanitarian funds through the central bank to help the economy, and to avert a catastrophic oil spill from the Houthi-controlled oil storage tanker Safer in the Red Sea.

Hassoumi Massoudou, Minister for State and Foreign Affairs of Niger, spotlighting the severe impact of climate change on the Sahel region, called attention to ongoing attacks by terrorist groups on schools in West and Central Africa.  The international community must honour its commitments to support young peoples’ right to education, he said.  He also expressed strong support for efforts for Security Council reform that would see a bigger African presence in that organ.

Osman Saleh Mohammed, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, said that with the world facing the triple challenge of COVID-19, climate change and inter-State rivalry, “all of us must climb down from our high horses and ponder on these issues in a holistic manner”.  Touching upon regional border disputes and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, he said that acrimonious and internationalized forums will likely hinder efforts towards an arrangement that suits the requirements of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.

Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Erywan Bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof, Second Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, alluding to Myanmar, said that the situation in a fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member State posed a risk to regional security.  He welcomed ASEAN leaders’ early agreement of a five-point consensus aimed at ensuring a peaceful return to democracy in that country, a cessation of violence, dialogue among all parties and humanitarian assistance.

Also speaking today were ministers and representatives of Iceland, Algeria, Grenada, Bahrain, San Marino, Oman, Sao Tome and Principe, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Cameroon, Congo, Dominica, Morocco, Mozambique, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Canada, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Guinea and Timor-Leste.

The representatives of Serbia, Iran, Albania, Lithuania, China, United Arab Emirates, Belarus and Canada spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

Statements

NAFTALI BENNETT, Prime Minister of Israel, warned that two plagues challenging society today — the coronavirus and political polarization — were capable of eroding public trust in institutions and paralysing nations.  “In a polarized world, where algorithms fuel our anger, people on the right and on the left operate in two separate realities, each in their own social media bubble; they hear only the voices that confirm what they already believe in,” he pointed out.  In that context, he underscored that the new Government recently formed in Israel is the most diverse in its history.  “It’s okay to disagree, it’s okay — in fact vital — that different people think differently, it’s even okay to argue,” he stated.

Turning to Israel’s COVID-19 response, he reported that the Government recently asked Israeli families to carry out home-testing for children so that schools can remain open.  He also outlined his country’s vaccine roll‑out activities, recalling that Israelis were among the quickest in the world to get vaccinated and are gearing up to receive a booster shot.  As a result, Israel's economy is growing and unemployment is down.

However, Israel cannot lose sight of what is happening in the region, he continued.  It is surrounded by Hizbullah, Shia militias, Islamic Jihad and Hamas.  All have in common the desire to destroy Israel, with backing from Iran.  Indeed, Iran seeks to dominate the region under a nuclear umbrella.  It has tried to spread carnage throughout the region in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Gaza, all of which are falling apart.  Moreover, it has recently made operational a new deadly terror unit made up of swarms of killer unmanned aerial vehicles, outfitted with lethal weapons that can attack any place, any time.  Iran's nuclear weapon programme is at a critical point, he stressed, warning that all red lines have been crossed and inspections ignored.

Nevertheless, there are reasons for hope, he said.  First and foremost are the growing ties Israel is forging with Arab and Muslim countries.  Those ties began 42 years ago with Israel’s historic peace agreement with Egypt and continues today with the Abraham Accords, which normalized Israel’s relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

Highlighting Israel’s enhanced relations with allies in the region and beyond, he recalled that such efforts manifested themselves last week with the defeat of the racist, anti-Semitic Durban conference, when 38 countries choose to skip the conference.  “Fighting the only democracy in the Middle East doesn’t makyou ‘woke’,” he said, adding that adopting clichés about Israel without bothering to learn the basic facts was “plain lazy”.

VLADIMIR MAKEI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that global security threats were on the rise, due to hybrid wars and criminal use of modern information technologies which fuel extremism and terrorism.  Extending his Government’s full support for the work of the World Health Organization (WHO), he warned against politicizing the pandemic.  Highlighting that 2021 celebrates the eightieth anniversary of the Great Patriotic War, he said he regretted seeing dangerous trends of skewing the moral and legal assessments of that war’s outcomes.  Thus, Belarus adopted a new law foreseeing criminal accountability for the rehabilitation of Nazism, he announced.

“Today Belarus is the subject of a large-scale hybrid war,” he went on to say, accusing Western countries of exerting pressure on his nation for choosing a path towards a strong sovereign and prosperous State.  The West had fabricated a conflict with refugees on the western border of Belarus in order to justify its destructive actions against his country.  Moreover, the European Union did not respond to his country’s long overdue proposal to hold high-level consultations on illegal migration and the Union’s partners stopped funding all projects pertaining to the fight against illegal migration.  Despite this, Belarus remained committed to a policy of good neighborliness, he emphasized, noting that his country had always been on the front line of the fight against trafficking in human beings, both nationally and internationally.

Warning that human rights has become “a real weapon against undesirable and disobedient countries” in the hands of shortsighted politicians, he stressed that attempts to impose democracy from outside often lead to chaos and instability.  Unilateral restrictive measures, which violate international law and inflict serious damage on international relations, have become another “favorite toy of Western States”.  He expressed his solidarity with other countries suffering from sanctions that undermine development of private initiatives, reduce educational opportunities and threaten food security.  All financial and economic sanctions should be outlawed as an instrument of political pressure.  In addition, some Member States reinterpret the work and practices of the General Assembly by promoting the voices of civil society at this high-level platform.  “This is categorically unacceptable,” he said, recalling the key principle of the United Nations work of “one State, one vote”.  Civil society representatives would drown the views of independent States and make it harder to achieve consensus.  Citing Martin Luther King, he urged the international community to “live together as brothers or perish together as fools”.

AHMED AWAD AHMED BINMUBARAK, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Yemen, said that his country has endured seven years of hardship due to a war forced upon its people by the Houthi militia.  That group is supported by Iran, which remains part of the problem rather than part of the solution.  Since the Houthi coup, Yemenis have experienced oppression, the suffocation of public freedoms and the torture of its citizens.  Sana’a, a centre of civilization, has become a huge prison camp.  He commended the efforts of the United Nations, welcomed the appointment of the Secretary-General’s new Special Envoy for Yemen and reiterated his Government’s full cooperation in efforts to achieve a fair and sustainable peace.

He went on to say that the Government made many compromises and agreed to all proposals to end the Houthi coup, including those made by the previous Special Envoy and by Saudi Arabia, which were based on a comprehensive ceasefire.  However, those initiatives were met by intransigence on the part of the Houthis and their Iranian patrons.  He drew attention to the scale of the humanitarian crisis; the fighting now under way in Marib city, with the Houthis attacking with indifference to civilians and displaced persons; the extrajudicial execution of nine people, including a minor, on 18 September, in a manner reminiscent of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh); and the plight of thousands of politicians, activists and journalists being held in dungeons.

More pressure must be put on the Houthis to put all the money they have pillaged, including through taxes and customs fees, into the Central Bank, he continued.  The international community should direct aid money through the Central Bank, thus supporting the economy and halting the devaluation of the Yemeni currency.  As well, development needs and priorities should be mainstreamed into all humanitarian activity to spur an early recovery.  He expressed thanks for the 1 million vaccine doses Yemen has received so far, including through the COVAX Facility, but warned that that quantity falls well short of expectations.  He also called on the international community to avert the catastrophe that might result from an oil spill from the FSO Safer, as the Houthis continue to deny a team of United Nations experts access to that oil storage tanker in the Red Sea.

KHALIFA SHAHEEN ALMARAR, Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates, stressed that regional interference in Arab affairs, especially in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq, must halt, adding that ensuring full respect for the sovereignty of Arab countries and reaching comprehensive political solutions under the auspices of the United Nations remain the only way to end the crises in the region.  Calling for a comprehensive political solution that includes a ceasefire to achieve peace and stability in Yemen and neighbouring countries, he emphasized that stability in the region also requires ending the occupation of all Palestinian and Arab territories.  In that regard, he commended the Abraham Accords signed by Israel, United Arab Emirates and the United States last year.

He highlighted the continued recruitment of young people by extremist and terrorist groups, which had been particularly exacerbated by the pandemic.  There was also a need to protect the security of energy supplies, freedom of navigation and trade routes while working on de-escalation.  “Similarly, we must ensure that the Middle East is a region free of weapons of mass destruction,” he continued, drawing attention to Iran's development of nuclear and ballistic‑missile programmes.  In addition, Iran must end its occupation of three islands — Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa — and agree to resolve this dispute through direct negotiations or referral to the International Court of Justice.

Stressing the urgent need to strengthen security and stability in Afghanistan, ensure secure access of humanitarian assistance and preserve human rights, he also underlined the importance of maintaining security and stability in Africa, countering hate speech and ensuring women and youth actively participate in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Looking forward to the twenty‑sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), he stated that his country seeks to host the Conference in 2023 and to bid for the non-permanent member of the Security Council for the term 2022-2023.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria, said the pandemic revealed both human solidarity and a sinister push to settle political scores, accuse other countries of creating the virus and continue imposing sanctions.  On a national level, Syria’s fight against terrorism remains a challenge as some States continue to support terrorist groups.  Syria has positively engaged in the Astana process, despite Turkey’s support for terrorist organizations, he noted, emphasizing that any foreign presence on its territory violates the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  Warning against harbouring illusions of secession in north-east Syria, he said the Government remains open to all genuine political initiatives aimed at helping to overcome the crisis.  Syria’s doors remain wide open for the voluntary return of all refugees and the Government is making efforts to address humanitarian issues.  However, humanitarian action in Syria must fully respect its national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, he stated.

Highlighting other issues, he condemned the use of chemical weapons, underscoring that his country was cooperating with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on outstanding matters.  Syria also remains firmly committed to fully recover the occupied Syrian Golan, he said, adding that Israel must be held accountable for its violations.  Calling for an end to Israel’s war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory, he said that Syria holds countries supporting Israel responsible for these acts.

He also expressed concerns about United States actions against several countries, voicing full support for Iran in the face of illegal measures against it and condemning the militarization of the Korean Peninsula, the Cuba embargo and unilateral sanctions targeting Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Syria and Venezuela.  The international community must promote dialogue and understanding among States based on mutual respect in order to build a new more balanced, democratic and just world order, he said.

GUDLAUGUR THÓR THÓRDARSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation of Iceland, expressed his regret that, around the world, calls for human rights, peace and stability were too often ignored, while the threat of climate change intensified.  “To build a more just and peaceful planet for all of us, we need all nations united, our United Nations,” he said.  Pointing to the urgent need to ensure a fast reach of vaccines to countries around the world, he noted that his Government contributed ISK 1 billion to the COVAX initiative and started vaccine sharing through the same mechanism.

While the consequences of the pandemic were disastrous around the world, he warned the effects of climate change were bound to be even worse.  Looking ahead to COP26, he said States should honour their commitments to the Paris Agreement.  Iceland aimed to reduce greenhouse‑gas emissions by more than half by 2030, become carbon‑neutral by 2040 and fossil-fuel‑free by 2050, among other initiatives.  He urged high-income countries to support lower‑income ones to advance their climate ambitions, highlighting that his country’s main contribution was focused on exchange of knowledge and experience in the use of green energy solutions.  As well, the health of the world oceans was under pressure and concrete steps were needed to ensure stronger regional and international cooperation on ocean affairs, he said, citing recent gains made in this regard by the Arctic Council.

Turning to the Sustainable Development Goals, he said his Government involved private sector partners and civil society in the development and humanitarian work.  He also highlighted the importance of gender equality for economic and social progress.  Lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms often leads to conflicts, humanitarian and political crises, he said, pointing to the recent military coup in Myanmar and the situation in Afghanistan.  The Taliban and other parties must respect international law, seek an inclusive political settlement, and ensure humanitarian access and safe passage for all, or else be held accountable.  Announcing that Iceland will run for a seat on the Human Rights Council for the term 2025-2027, he added that the complexity of modern conflicts and crises continues to grow with the marriage of emerging factors, including climate change, cyberthreats and disinformation.  The Security Council needed to act with greater foresight based on a broader view of security.  “We need more transparency and openness within the United Nations system and among Member States,” he said stressing the need to bring the United Nations closer to the people of the world.

RAMTANE LAMAMRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and National Community Abroad of Algeria, said that despite its many challenges, the pandemic offered an opportunity to repair the mistakes of the past.  These included reforming the United Nations system to strengthen its ability to fulfil its various mandates and revitalizing the General Assembly.  In addition, the Security Council needed to be reformed to ensure equitable geographic representation.  He also called for reforms to redress the historical injustice suffered by the African continent.  Deeply concerned about the lack of prospects for a just and final solution to the Palestinian question, he condemned the repressive practices of the Israeli occupation and its denial of international law.  He urged the Security Council to assume its responsibilities by allowing the Palestinian people to establish an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

On the matter of the Western Sahara, he reaffirmed his Government’s support for the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination.  He called on the United Nations to assume its legal responsibilities towards the Sahrawi people and guarantee their inalienable rights.  He also called for a free and fair referendum, stating that the occupying State has repeatedly failed to meet its international obligations.  The fate of Western Sahara is a question of decolonization, he stressed, adding his support for the decision of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to launch direct negotiations between Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Regarding the situation in Libya, he voiced his opposition to unilateral coercive measures.  Algeria was ready to continue its efforts to organize a national reconciliation, he stated.  Further, in Mali, his Government was determined to continue to support the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement Committee resulting from the Algiers process.  He welcomed the progress made, despite the spread of the terrorist threats in Mali and throughout the Sahel.  On the domestic front, he announced that his Government continues to consolidate its democracy, enshrining the rule of law and social justice, through the amendment of the Constitution and the holding of legislative elections.

OLIVER JOSEPH, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Business and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Affairs of Grenada, said that the pandemic disrupted the Grenadian economy, which contracted by 13.7 per cent in 2020 after an upward trajectory since 2013.  Unemployment rose from a record low of 15.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 28.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, with 14,000 jobs being lost as a direct consequence of the pandemic.  Tourism and air transport were among the sectors experiencing the most stark declines.

He highlighted the need to address his country’s reclassification status by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistant Committee, which resulted in the marginalization of development assistance to the region.  In that regard, support was needed from international organizations, including the United Nations, in the dismantling of unfair rulings.  He urged that a multidimensional vulnerability index be created by 2022 that adequately addresses the vulnerability of Caribbean States, in addition to the economic data, such as gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.

Stressing the need to regain access to concessional financing, he noted that, like many small island developing States, Grenada faces extreme risks in the agriculture sector, which affect its food security, main export crops, fruit crops, forestry, livestock and fisheries.  To reduce these impacts, Grenada has been implementing climate-smart agriculture and adopted a blue growth agenda to sustainably utilize its vast maritime resources.  In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, his country also advocated for the One Health agenda at a global level to promote the link between well-being, prosperity and a healthy environment, he said.

OSMAN SALEH MOHAMMED, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, speaking on behalf of President Isaias Afwerki, said that the global community is facing triple challenges:  the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and growing international rivalry.  “All of us must climb down from our high horses and ponder on these issues in a holistic manner,” he said, describing the theme for the seventy-sixth General Assembly as apt and optimistic.  Today’s global challenges call for a stronger United Nations that is more representative, transparent and effective.  Therefore, the international community must strengthen and revamp the United Nations system.  Multilateral institutions have been rendered impotent, due to the unilateral actions of a select few, he noted.

Turning to issues of border dispute and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, he said that acrimonious and internationalized forums will likely hinder an enduring and comprehensive arrangement that addresses the requirements of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.  The Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship had ushered in a new epoch of hope, but the Tigray People's Liberation Front was not accepting the present realities.  While in power in Ethiopia, they continued to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories in violation of international law and the Arbitral Award of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission.

They were continuing to wage intermittent assaults against Eritrea to provoke a major war, he continued, adding that it was inexcusable that the United States and its European allies were defending the Front’s illicit and dangerous acts.  False narratives have created moral equivalence between the principal culprit and those compelled to take deterrent action warranted by international law.  This situation underlines the structural inadequacy of the global governance system, he pointed out, stressing:  “The injustices meted on Eritrea by powers who feel they can trample the sovereignty of nations and peoples at their whim must come to an end.”

ABDULLATIF BIN RASHID AL ZAYANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need to continue international cooperation.  Bahrain’s efforts to mitigate the effects of the virus included providing more than 2.5 million doses to its population free of charge and rolling out a $12 billion economic stimulus.  He also noted that the pandemic had strengthened Bahrain’s ties to WHO.

Turning to human rights, he highlighted Bahrain’s ongoing work with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the recent signing of a declaration of intent with the resident country coordinator to contribute to the national human rights plan and initiatives for women in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  In addition, Bahrain maintained its Tier 1 status in the United States’ annual Trafficking in Persons Report for the fourth consecutive year.  He also noted that Bahrain was looking forward to the forthcoming COP26 in Glasgow.  Pointing to his country’s efforts to increase its share of renewable energy, he expressed his support to the Saudi Green and the Green Middle East Initiatives.

He went on to say that the recent Al Ula Summit Declaration would promote greater cooperation among member States.  Similarly, the signing of the declaration in support of peace with Israel would aim to consolidate peace in the region.  He called on the international community to find a solution for the Palestinian people by establishing an independent State with East Jerusalem as the capital in accordance with the two-State solution, resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative.  As well, a political solution was needed regarding several conflicts, including the Renaissance Dam to preserve water rights for Egypt and Sudan; Libya and its territorial integrity; and Morocco and the situation in West Sahara, to name a few.  Also calling for the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East region, he praised efforts aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring the ability to develop nuclear weapons.

LUCA BECCARI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of San Marino, underscoring that his country experienced one of the highest rates of mortality in the world from the pandemic, said that the virus had been contained by the Government putting policies in place, based in equity.  These efforts were aided by “an extraordinary sense of solidarity” by the people of San Marino and the support of other countries.  However, the closing of borders and the lack of freedom of movement was a serious issue, he said, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation to address global challenges.

Turning to the situation in Afghanistan, he underscored the need for the United Nations humanitarian assistance to have unhindered access and reiterated his support for Security Council resolution 2593 (2021).  He also expressed his concerns about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and advocated for a new treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.  The pandemic endangered the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he noted, underlining that “the crisis should not hinder our ambitions and hopes”.  To that end, San Marino had its first voluntary national review in July.  Climate change was jeopardizing global food security, water supplies and livelihoods.  Small island developing States in the Pacific were among the first ones to witness these effects.  Implementing the Paris Agreement through investments in climate resilience must be a priority.

“San Marino attached great importance to the promotion and protection of rights for people with disabilities,” he continued, praising the recognition of the guidance on triage produced by the Bioethics Committee of San Marino by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Building accessible, inclusive and non-discriminatory societies was a priority for his country.  Pointing to new global challenges, he expressed his support for the reform of the United Nations.  “The revitalization process of the General Assembly must continue to be a reference point,” he stressed.  He also called for a reform of the Security Council to make it more democratic, transparent, efficient and accountable.  These reforms would strengthen the United Nations mandate by adding efficiency and flexibility.

SAYYID BADR BIN HAMAD BIN HAMOOD ALBUSAIDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Oman, said that, in his country, the uptake of preventative measures and the availability of COVID-19 vaccines helped strengthen a response to the pandemic and facilitate a gradual return to normal life.  Urging the international community to enhance cooperation and solidarity, he appealed to vaccine-producing and donor countries to do their utmost to ensure a fair distribution for all countries and individuals, particularly in less developed regions with limited facilities and medical capabilities.  Noting that Oman adheres to several key principles in its foreign policy — especially good neighbourliness, non-interference in the internal affairs of others, respect for international laws and norms, and support for dialogue — he said it also strives to contribute to peace in all regions of the world.

Turning to regional matters, he welcomed the positive developments stemming from the recent Al-Ula summit in Saudi Arabia, as well as successful reconciliation efforts led by Kuwait.  He also reaffirmed Oman’s support for the demands of the Palestinians for independence and the establishment of a State with East Jerusalem as its capital.  On the crisis in Yemen, he said Oman is working with both the United Nations and the United States envoys, with the aim of ending the war through a comprehensive, permanent ceasefire on all sides and the full resumption of humanitarian efforts.  In particular, he underlined the need for medication, health care, food, fuel and housing.  Regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, he expressed his hope that talks in Vienna will lead to desired consensus among all parties, while on Afghanistan, he voiced his expectation that the parties will give highest priority to the needs and aspirations of the country’s people.

Condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, he called for efforts to end threats to international maritime trade, as well as full compliance with treaties, agreements and international law to ensure freedom of maritime navigation.  Member States should fulfil their treaty commitments, in particular those relating to nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, in order to ensure global stability.  He also noted that the road to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals remains “long and bumpy” and requires international cooperation.  Expressing support for investment and economic diversification programmes, which his country and others are undertaking, he highlighted women’s crucial role in those efforts.  In addition, more was needed to build a “social fabric that ensures the sound education of young people, on whom the hopes of nations are held,” he said.

EDITE RAMOS DA COSTA TEN JUA, Minister for Foreign of Affairs of São Tomé and Príncipe, recalling the recent Food Systems Summit, underscored that “poverty was the greatest scourge of humanity”.  It was no coincidence that it appeared as the first Sustainable Development Goal.  She urged the international community to consider the eradication of poverty as its top priority, pointing out that poverty was the direct cause of most global challenges the world was facing.  Deploring the status quo regarding South-North migration flows, she stressed that countries of reception should combine their efforts regarding refugees and support countries of origin to address this phenomenon.

She requested the United Nations to create more binding mechanisms to ensure solidarity for the victims of war and terrorism, and she called for long-lasting solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian, Syrian and Libyan conflicts.  As well, solutions were also needed to address the crises in East, West and Central Africa.  Political instability in several African countries was a great concern for São Tomé and Príncipe.  Regarding the situation in Sahara, she commended the United Nations’ efforts to appoint a special representative to assist the parties to reach a political solution to their regional dispute based on United Nations and African Union resolutions.  She invited all parties to commit to this political process.

Underscoring that climate change was endangering the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, she urged the international community to fulfil its commitments.  She requested the inclusion of African representation in the Security Council as part of the ongoing reform to ensure greater representativeness in the decision-making.  Commenting on the economic development of São Tomé and Príncipe, she pointed out that her country was looking forward to its graduation from least developed country status in December 2024. . She said that support from the international community during this transition was necessary to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals.  Still, despite challenges, Africa would remain a continent of opportunities with strong assets, she stated.

KANDIA KAMISSOKO CAMARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Integration and the Diaspora of Côte d’Ivoire, called for the strengthening of cooperation, pooling resources and ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.  This requires adequate funding for current initiatives, the suspension of patents and the development of production capacities, particularly on the African continent.  She welcomed the United Nations Strategic Preparedness and Intervention Plan, COVAX Facility and other mechanisms, stressing that they can only function in the environment of peace and security.  Côte d’Ivoire rolled out a vaccination campaign with the support of bilateral and multilateral partners to immunize 60 per cent of the population by the end of the year.  Taking into account the unprecedented economic, social, and humanitarian impacts of the pandemic ‑ potential sources of instability ‑ consolidation of peace and the strengthening of social cohesion remained at the heart of her Government’s priorities.

Highlighting that her country seeks to become an emerging power, she detailed her Government’s work with all parties to strengthen the current efforts towards national reconciliation ‑ a process that contributes to the consolidation of the rule of law in Côte d’Ivoire.  She further emphasized that a strong health sector, which ensured both universal health coverage and better preparedness to face future threats, remains a priority of her Government.  As education was hit the hardest, she also spotlighted national efforts to improve equity, inclusion and digital connectivity.

The well-being of her country’s people was at the heart of the Government’s efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda, she continued.  Therefore, a national strategy was being established to develop a social protection system benefiting the most vulnerable populations, in particular through a direct cash transfer program.  Turning to the threat posed by climate change, she urged that environmentally conscious management production and consumption models be adopted.  States should propose concrete and urgent actions at the COP26, she said, outlining Côte d’Ivoire’s target to reduce carbon emissions by 28 per cent by 2030.  Turning to the global growth crisis, she again called for increasing official development assistance, debt cancellation and the promotion of innovative financing.  Since the start of the pandemic, there has been an uptick in terrorist attacks, including five in Côte d’Ivoire, she pointed out, calling for greater regional and international cooperation to address cross-border threats to peace and security.  She also affirmed support for redressing the historic injustice done to Africa, as well as reform of the Security Council.

DATO SERI PADUKA AWANG HAJI ERYWAN BIN PEHIN DATU PEKERMA JAYA HAJI MOHD YUSOF,  Second Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, said that, after a year of no local transmissions, his country is facing a new COVID-19 wave.  To control the spread, the Government has swiftly implemented several measures, including restricting movements and international travel, as well as ramping up vaccinations.  Three quarters of the more than 3.5 billion doses distributed worldwide go to 10 countries; low-income nations are only able to vaccinate less than 2 per cent of their populations.  Member States must work with pharmaceutical companies to ensure that the COVAX mechanism is able to provide equitable, accessible and affordable vaccines for all.

He warned that a large mental health problem is emerging because of repeated lockdowns and quarantines, which, if left unaddressed, will affect the new generation’s workforce, slowing economic and development progress.  Together with Australia and Malaysia, his Government is working towards a declaration on mental health cooperation to be adopted at the upcoming East Asia Summit in October to strengthen regional efforts to address mental health concerns.  “At the crux of it all, the people’s health and well-being are fundamental to build back better and stronger towards a resilient global community,” he said, adding:  “We must ensure that our recovery efforts prioritize the recovery of our economies by ramping up trade and investments so that livelihoods and employment can recover quickly”.

He called on the international community to champion free and open trade and investment, encourage greater technology transfer and strengthen global development.  Aiming for the establishment of more green initiatives, he underlined the importance of a “meaningful outcome” of COP26 in Glasgow that would set the future tone and direction.  The Association of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN) has already set out a framework for the circular economy to reduce waste of finite resources while reducing pressure on the environment, he stressed.

The situation in a fellow ASEAN member State poses a risk to regional stability, he said.  He welcomed ASEAN leaders’ early agreement on a “five-point consensus” to ensure a peaceful return to democracy in that country, in line with the will and interest of its people.  The consensus calls for an immediate cessation of violence, a dialogue among all parties and humanitarian assistance.  In that regard, he thanked external partners, including the United Nations, for their assistance, as well as for the generous humanitarian contributions pledged in September.  Turning to the situation in Palestine, he said continued forced evictions, destruction of homes and settlement expansion by the occupying Power has denied Palestinians their basic human rights and right to self-determination.  The Security Council must work towards a comprehensive, lasting peace, based on a two-State solution, he said, also calling on the international community to remain resolutely committed to creation of an independent State of Palestine, based on pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

ISMAIL OULD CHEIKH AHMED, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Mauritanians Abroad of Mauritania, said the consequences of the pandemic have been tremendous at the economic and societal levels, especially for developing and poor nations unable to weather a crisis of this extent and duration.  Measures to stem the pandemic have not been commensurate with expectations or needs, and developed States must guarantee to provide vaccine access and strengthen the technological capacities of those States in need.  He also reiterated an appeal for total cancellation of all external debt of African countries.

Domestically, the country has reached a 15 per cent vaccination rate and strictly implemented preventative measures, he said.  Despite a global rise in the cost of basic commodities, he noted they are available in Mauritania at reduced rates, with 120,000 households representing 600,000 people in vulnerable situations receiving health coverage and others receiving direct financial aid.  The Government has announced a “holistic economic take-off plan” to overcome the challenges and constraints of the pandemic, implemented in parallel with other programmes to ensure universal access to basic services.  Mauritania is also training young people with skills necessary to enter the labour market, and working towards a strong role for women in political life.  He further noted efforts to consolidate the principle of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary.

Mauritania is committed to fighting terrorism, working to foster religious dialogue, and to dry up sources of financing for extremists.  During his country’s presidency of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel), the “Coalition for the Sahel” was launched in June 2020 to support countries in the region as they grapple with a dramatically worsened security situation, forced migration and food crisis.  He noted 14 million people in the Sahel face food insecurity, with 29 million in need of urgent human assistance.  International partners have a moral obligation to help, but political leaders of the subregion must also uphold promises to provide good governance.  He reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to an independent, viable State with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Restating an “unwavering position” on the conflict in Western Sahara, he said Mauritania takes no particular side, supporting United Nations and Security Council resolutions, and called for the appointment of a special envoy.  Looking towards the end of the transitional period in Libya, he further called for a political solution to the crisis in Syria, and expressed support for the legitimacy of Yemen and a peaceful solution pursuant to the Gulf Initiative.

HASSOUMI MASSOUDOU, Minister for State and Foreign Affairs of Niger, said many gains laboriously obtained by developing countries have been jeopardized against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The prospects for recovery and growth are becoming further complicated as vaccine availability remains very low.  Welcoming the work of the COVAX Facility, Niger has — through the adoption of bold measures — nevertheless been able maintain a positive growth rate in 2021.  Advocating for the proposed moratorium on the debt of poor countries, especially those that were already in debt distress before the pandemic, he called for a new paradigm to support the development needs of the world’s poorest nations, as well as high quality and dynamic partnerships, and the liberalization of trade.

Spotlighting the climate crisis’ severe impacts on Niger and the broader Sahel region — which is suffering cycles of drought, flooding and resource scarcity — he described the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report as a resounding call for action.  The global community must mobilize ahead of COP26 to respond, including by adopting a common position on such issues as technology transfer and support for developing countries to meet their climate change goals.  The fragility linked to climate change remains a factor that exacerbates conflict, he emphasized, noting that Niger is surrounded by a hotbed of instability, where terrorist groups have proliferated in the years following the 2011 foreign intervention in Libya.

Despite its modest resources and large territory, Niger — along with support from bilateral and multilateral partners — has been able to ward off attacks by armed groups and begin repatriating communities displaced by conflict, he continued.  Calling attention to ongoing attacks by terrorist groups against schools in West and Central Africa, he noted that nearly 5,000 schools have been forced to close in recent years.  He called on the international community to honour its commitments to support young peoples’ right to education.  His country remains committed to building human capital in support of peace, development and the rule of law.  Outlining its various educational reforms, he also drew attention to the need to reform the United Nations to make it more inclusive and more representative of the richness of humanity.  In particular, he expressed strong support for efforts to reform the Security Council in line with the common African position, as laid out in the Sirte Declaration and the Ezulwini Consensus.

JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, said today’s crises underline the importance of collective responsibility, particularly in maintaining international peace and security.  To that end, France was calling for a P5 (five permanent members of the Security Council) summit to set out an action plan, enable the Security Council to fully exercise its mandate and start a dialogue on key issues of arms control and collective security.  He also emphasized the need to swiftly send humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, continue fighting terrorism in the Levant and Sahel regions and help Iraq to restore its sovereignty.  As well, situations in other States, including Libya and Ukraine, must be addressed, he said, adding that the United States position voiced yesterday cannot justify Iran’s continued violation of its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commitments.

Going forward, the world must focus on human rights violations, which constitute a serious threat to international peace, he continued.  Indeed, the international community must better equip itself to prevent these crimes and punish the guilty in the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Niger, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.  Working together is essential, he said, adding that:  “Our responsibility is also to build pragmatic and inclusive responses to the major global challenges that determine our shared future.”  This starts with COVID-19.  Thus, the north-south vaccine gap must end, as it jeopardizes the very meaning and credibility of multilateralism.  For its part, France will provide an additional 60 million doses by 2022 and is working on efforts to help African countries develop autonomous vaccine production capacities, he announced.

In terms of debt deferment efforts for economic recovery, France is ready to transfer 20 per cent of its special drawing rights to African economies to support transitions to sustainable development models, he continued.  The environmental emergency also needs urgent attention.  Amid a flourishing of increasingly irresponsible behaviour, he called on all States to support a minimum universal 15 per cent tax for multinational companies.  This historic turning point requires collective responsibility in international peacekeeping and security alongside shared responsibility in tackling major challenges, he said, pledging France’s full support in this regard.

LEJEUNE MBELLA MBELLA, Minister for External Relations of Cameroon, delivering a statement on behalf of President Paul Biya, said that at this critical time a strong appeal should be launched for renewed human solidarity.  To secure the future the world wants, nations must meet multiple commitments made at recent environment conferences.  In that regard, the pandemic offered an opportunity to provide concerted, lasting solutions to multiple threats and complex global challenges.  Underlining the importance of catching up on implementing the 2030 Agenda, he said the political will to do so must remain steadfast by strengthening multilateralism and providing the United Nations with the required resources to manage “our common home”.  Security Council reform must continue, aligned with the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration to assign two permanent seats to African States.

Moving from promises to firm commitments was essential in other areas as well, he continued.  Those included equal COVID-19 vaccine access, supporting low-income countries on the path of science and technology and reforming the global economic system to ensure fairer trade.  In this vein, he voiced strong support for a global minimum tax rate on multinational companies.  Citing other pressing global issues, he said action was needed to address conflict, piracy, migration and climate change.  For its part, Cameroon contributes to peace and security by supporting peacekeeping operations and focusing on ending socio-political tensions in its north-west and south-west regions.  In addition, his Government has launched a national dialogue, which is already yielding tangible results with a gradual return to peace.  During a period of marked challenges, Cameroon has also embarked on an extensive reform programme aimed at achieving goals set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

JEAN-CLAUDE GAKOSSO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Congolese Abroad of Congo, expressed his deep faith and trust in the United Nations, which managed to mobilize the international community in the face of a collective danger.  “It is only standing shoulder by shoulder we will be able to overcome the virus, which threatens the very existence of the humanity,” he said.  He further thanked all partners for facilitating direct access of Congo to vaccines.  Welcoming the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement, he outlined his country’s progress in climate adaptation and scientific studies.  He further reiterated his country’s appeal to the international community to invest in lasting funding and the smart management of the peat bogs in the basin of the Congo.

Stressing that “Africa is a continent where 60 per cent of the peacekeeping missions takes place”, he emphasized that it needs to take its place in the Security Council, making that organ more transparent, dynamic and representative of the world’s diversity, in line with the Ezulwini Consensus.  He went on to compare Africa’s claim for a seat at the Security Council with the embargo of Cuba ‑ an anachronism that needs to be addressed.

On the crisis in Libya, he said considerable advances were made thanks to the pooled efforts by the United Nations, African Union, European Union and the Arab League, as well as neighbouring States.  For the general elections ‑ a turning point in Libya’s history ‑ to take place in the upcoming months, he urged all stakeholders to look in the same direction and follow through with the implementation of the decision of the Berlin Conference on Libya.  These included consolidating the ceasefire and respecting the arms embargo, as well as carrying out a gradual withdrawal of foreign combatants.  Citing President Denis Sassou Nguesso who chairs the African Union High-Level Committee on Libya, he urged all the stakeholders of the conflict to deepen dialogue and learn to forgive each other.  More so, as Chair of the Committee, his President has pledged to stay with the Libyan brothers on their path to inclusive dialogue, national reconciliation and the reconstruction of their country, he said.

KENNETH DARROUX, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Business and Diaspora Relations of Dominica, said that to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and better prepare for the future, priority must be given towards establishing universal access to quality healthcare.  That will require a bigger role for the WHO, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency.  “Living with the COVID-19 pandemic ‑ and preparing for future pandemics ‑ must now become essential components of sustainable development,” he said.  Bilateral and multilateral development partners must respond to new realities by adopting more creative financial instruments.  Those countries that adopt progressive policies aimed at creating sustainable means of production and consumption should be duly rewarded, he said.

Underscoring the Caribbean’s vulnerability to rising sea levels and increasingly frequent extreme weather events, and recalling Hurricane Maria’s impact on Dominica in 2017, he said major polluters must act more aggressively to reduce global warming.  Dominica aims to become the world’s first climate resilient nation, but major polluters must take up their responsibilities and support small island developing States to adapt to climate change.  “This is a matter of climate justice,” he said, adding that Dominica looks forward to COP26 where Paris Agreement commitments — especially those regarding climate financing ‑ can be revisited and honoured.

Dominica’s ongoing development of geothermal resources will enable it to move away from importing fossil fuels to generate electricity within the next five years while also reducing energy costs for its citizens, he said, adding that geothermal energy has the potential to launch a new, cleaner and more affordable industrial revolution.  Turning to regional concerns, he urged the United Nations to take the lead in coordinating targeted support for Haiti in response to rising poverty, sustained political instability and numerous disasters in that country.  He also called for the economic, financial and trade embargo on Cuba to be discontinued and for the United States to allow the Cuban people to become fully integrated into the global trading system.

NASSER BOURITA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Living Abroad of Morocco, said the pandemic is a reminder of human fragility and has laid bare gaps in health, employment and social protection.  Unfortunately, multilateralism did not live up to the challenge.  The world now has a historic opportunity, and the United Nations must be at the centre.  A new world order must go beyond intentions, with a practical road map that promotes security and addresses threats.  Vaccination is the last line of defence in combating the pandemic, with the main goal being vaccine access for all.  Shortages in some regions are ticking bombs, and consequences will be tremendous.  Commending WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners, he said mutual recognition of vaccines produced around the world is essential, and Africa must become a priority in a global health strategy.

Migration, terrorism and climate change also need global attention, he said.  Among its efforts, Morocco addresses migration as a humanitarian issue, while launching related initiatives, and hosts a counter-terrorism centre.  To tackle climate change consequences, Morocco has adopted such tools as a transition plan to renewables.  Despite pandemic-related challenges, a new national development model based on the Sustainable Development Goals, is now creating the conditions for a more open, innovative and competitive economy.

Committed to peace and security, he said Morocco contributes to peacekeeping operations and anticipates a productive session as chair of the Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).  Recalling recent elections involving robust participation in the Moroccan Sahara, he reiterated the country’s readiness for continued cooperation with the United Nations to find a realistic, practical, lasting solution to the issue of the province, with full respect for Morocco’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  However, he remained deeply concerned about conditions in the Tindouf camps, calling on the international community to take action to get Algeria to honour its commitments, particularly by enabling the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to conduct a census in response to the Security Council’s repeated calls.  He supported elections in Libya as a crucial step towards peace.  Encouraging Israeli-Palestinian parties to resume peace talks and cease all actions that jeopardize negotiations for a two-State solution, he said Morocco’s peaceful relations with Israel echo its support for advancing the cause of peace in the region and strengthening regional security.  Going forward, urgent practical and coordinated action must enhance the United Nations role as a global framework for international cooperation, with States showing the required will and solidarity.

VERÓNICA NATANIEL MACAMO DLHOVO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, said that access to essential medicines and vaccines is one of the main challenges facing developing countries in their response to COVID‑19.  As such, Mozambique is in favour of a temporary waiver of certain clauses of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), she said.  The virus’ impact on developing countries challenges the international community to find effective resource mobilization means and mechanisms, aimed at stimulating the economic recovery of countries strongly hit by the pandemic.

The African continent is among the most affected by terrorism and violent extremism, she continued.  In Mozambique, terrorist activities have been recorded in some districts of the Cabo Delgado Province, in the northern part of country, she said.  In response, her Government embarked on a coordinated response to face such violence, with the involvement of various partners at national, regional and international levels.  Specifically, Mozambique counts on the support of its regional body, Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the help of the Defence Force of Rwanda.  In addition, the European Union and other international partners have provided humanitarian assistance and training for Mozambique’s Defence Armed Forces and Security Forces.

Turning to climate matters, she observed that Mozambique’s location makes it prone to natural disasters, particularly cyclones, which occur with higher frequency.  Despite its negligible contribution to greenhouse‑gas emissions, it is countries like Mozambique that are most affected by climate change, particularly by global warming.  Cuts in international financing for programmes aimed at promoting resilience and adaptation to climate change have led to an adverse impact and constitute a major challenge to developing countries, she stressed.  As such, the development goals inscribed in the “Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness” are important elements in the measures aimed to rebuild sustainably, she emphasized.  Lack of resources could seriously jeopardize the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, should current resource mobilization and disbursement patterns persist unchanged.

AMERY BROWNE, Minister for Foreign and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, stressed that every country was entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.  In that regard, he highlighted Trinidad and Tobago’s uphill battle to source from the marketplace COVID-19 vaccines, as a country with a relatively small size and low demand.

Calling upon the developed countries to fulfil their pledge of contributing $100 billion annually to support developing countries, he said Trinidad and Tobago was committed to its nationally determined contribution to reducing greenhouse‑gas emissions by 30 per cent in the public transportation sector and to cumulatively decreasing emissions by 15 per cent in the other main sectors by 2030.  Consequently, these commitments would help cut over 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.  Stressing the need to reassess the eligibility of small island development States for concessional finance beyond income measures, he applauded the efforts in the development of a multidimensional vulnerability index.

Highlighting the anti–terrorism act of Trinidad and Tobago, which has a robust legal architecture, he also noted that his country has recently enacted amendments to existing legislation on domestic violence, sexual offences and child protection, as well as on electronic monitoring of sex offenders.  He further noted his country’s commitments to enhancing children and youth development, and women’s participation.  However, he voiced concern regarding the lack of meaningful progress on Security Council reform, the unjust designation of Cuba as a State sponsor of terrorism, economic sanctions and the longstanding Israeli‑Palestinian conflict.

OTHMAN JERANDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, said that the COVID-19 pandemic had emphasized the role of the United Nations in tackling global challenges.  He expressed gratitude for the show of international solidarity during these difficult times.  “Hope cannot be built on nationalism and insularity,” and it can only emerge from a strong multilateralism, he added. Solutions must be found to achieve a balanced recovery in line with the Secretary‑General’s Our Common Agenda report.  He said the recent intervention of President Kaïs Saïed was in response to the political polarization which threatened democracy in Tunisia.  He asserted that democracy remains “irreversible” in Tunisia.  His Government also prioritized the fight against corruption to stabilize the State.

He underscored that the revitalization of the General Assembly was needed to deliver on Our Common Agenda.  The adoption of Security Council resolution 2532 (2020) appealing for a global ceasefire with Tunisia’s support was a demonstration of the country’s ability to remain “a force of positive proposals in the international system”, he said.  Commenting on several international crises, he indicated that Tunisia would keep supporting Libya in its efforts to restore security and stability. He called on the international community to end the suffering of the Palestinian people, stressing that the violation of their rights is unacceptable.  In the Arab region, he raised concerns about the situation in Syria and Yemen. He also stressed that Tunisia was aligned with the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063.

He invited the international community to continue working together against terrorism and climate change. In this regard, Tunisia will host several international conferences such as the eighteenth Francophonie Summit in 2021 and the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in 2022.

NARAYAN KHADKA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, recalled that his country has consistently contributed to the United Nations peace operations for over 63 years.  In that context, he emphasized the importance of ensuring the safety of peacekeepers and the need for adequate training, resources and modern technologies.  As one of the largest troop- and police-contributing countries, Nepal believes that such countries deserve more senior-level positions, both at the headquarters and in the field, based on the level of its contributions, he said.  Turning to climate matters, he said that while Nepal — home to 8 of the world's 14 highest peaks — welcomes climbers from around the world, it expects climbers to bring back their garbage from the high mountains to maintain their sanctity.  Nepal has several snow-fed Himalayan rivers that are connected to identity and civilizations and sustain one fifth of the global population, he stressed.

As both a least developed country and a landlocked developed country, Nepal’s structural challenges are unique, he went on to say.  The country views its plan to graduate from the least developed country category by 2026, as an opportunity to bring structural transformation and make the long-held national aspiration of graduation smooth, sustainable and irreversible.  To achieve those goals, the development of multi-modal transport infrastructure and unhindered transit rights of landlocked nations are critical to their sustainable development, he underscored.

As such, he called for the implementation of past decisions and programmes in full coherence with the 2030 Agenda and said he expects development partners to increase their support to establish a secure, reliable, and efficient transit transport system for the landlocked developing countries.  Moreover, it is time to reform global economic governance architecture to ensure fair and equitable representation of all, he stressed, welcoming the steps taken by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on debt relief and debt service suspension in that regard. 

DENIS RONALDO MONCADA COLINDRES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, said that the current global health crisis undermines efforts to overcome poverty, hunger, inequality, unemployment, and climate change produced by the “irrational and oppressive system of capitalist exploitation”.  The “dehumanized hoarding” of COVID-19 vaccines by developed countries is unacceptable as it prevents fair and equitable distribution to all of vaccines, which are a common good of humanity.  The pandemic has shown the need to create a new international economic model, based on inclusion, equity, and social justice, he stated.  The refugee crisis must not be forgotten.  The interventions promoted and carried out by the Western Powers violate the sovereignty of people, many of whom are forced to seek refuge in countries of the West, where they become victims of the unjust neoliberal model and their human rights are violated, he said.

The United Nations must ensure peace, justice, security, and comprehensive responses for the benefit of humanity, he continued.  In addition, he expressed Nicaragua’s support for the common African position contained in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration.  Nicaragua will continue to defend multilateralism and non-interference in internal affairs.  His Government advocates general and complete disarmament and is in favour of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  “It is unacceptable that in the midst of this pandemic, weapons of mass destruction continue to be modernized,” he stated.  Turning to the situation in Afghanistan, he stressed that peace there must prevail.  The United States and Europe must act rationally and responsibly.  The lessons of Afghanistan are clear, he said, stating that neither intervention nor unilateral sanctions worked.  Expressing solidarity with the people of Cuba, he called on the United States to lift its commercial and financial blockade.

“We must not forget the challenges of climate change and its devastating impact, particularly in developing countries,” he went on.  The major emitters need to acknowledge that they are responsible for global warming.  Underlining full support for the Palestinian people, he called for a two-State solution, including creation of a State of Palestine based on pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  He supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and said that all aggression against the people and Government of that country must stop.  His Government supports the end of all sanctions on Iran and calls for the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as this agreement demonstrates that dialogue and diplomacy are the most appropriate means for peaceful resolution.  In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to apply the principle of universality so that Taiwan can participate in the corresponding mechanisms and meetings of the United Nations system, he said.  He concluded by condemning the United States’ “hegemonic political aggressions that threaten the peaceful solution of conflicts”.

MARC GARNEAU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, recalling that in his former career, he saw the entire world from space, said that humanity must find a way to get along with each other and to care for the planet.  Noting the steps Canada is taking on climate change, including a $170 per metric ton price on carbon by 2030 and increasing its emissions reduction targets, he said that the capacity for human ingenuity has always existed; what is now needed is political will.  With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, the international community must scale up the production and equitable distribution of vaccines, while also focusing on rising debt levels and liquidity challenges of the least developed and middle‑income countries.  This can be done through a more robust spirit of global solidarity that reflects the values and interests of the United Nations, he said.

Isolationism contributes to growing authoritarianism, he said, pointing out that during the COVID-19 crisis, some seized the opportunity to erode civil liberties, freedom of expression and other universal human rights.  Canada will continue to press for democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar, and support efforts to end the military dictatorship in that country.  Raising the case of Michael Korvrig and Michael Spavor, who were imprisoned by the Government of China after Canada applied both Canadian and international law, in response to a request for the extradition of a Chinese citizen, he said the two men paid a heavy price for Canada’s commitment to the rule of law.  “We continue to oppose the way these two fine people were treated,” he said.  He thanked those who participated in the development and signing of the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State‑to-State Relations. 

The number of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons is hitting record highs year after year, he continued.  “We must listen to their voices and give them a place at the table.”  Humanitarian assistance must keep pace, but it cannot be a substitute for addressing the root causes of the problems which force people to flee.  Canada will provide refuge for those who defend democracy and uphold human rights, he said, adding that it is committed to welcoming 40,000 refugees from Afghanistan.  Canada fully acknowledges the hardship that racist colonial policies inflicted on generations of indigenous peoples.  Going forward, the Government is determined to uphold their rights and to improve their living standards.  He concluded by saying that during the past year, the United Nations has proven that it is up to the operational challenge of delivering in the most difficult situations.  “We know what must be done.  We must marshal the political will to do it,” he said. 

SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), recalling his country’s thirtieth anniversary of joining the United Nations, said: “The Korean nation, which lived on the same territory for thousands of years […] was artificially divided by the outside forces in the middle of the twentieth century and in the end, joined the UN with two seats.  This is a tragedy indeed.”  In addition, the tensions remaining in the Korean Peninsula were due to the hostile policy of the United States towards his country since its foundation.  He called attention to the annual military drills that the United States and “South Korea” staged on and around the Korean Peninsula and in the Korean waters for the last several decades.

In regard to the nuclear issue, it was not the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons that made the United States become hostile towards his country.  The United States, the biggest nuclear Power in the world, has been posing nuclear threats and antagonizing his country for more than 70 years.  He called on the United States to contribute to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula by withdrawing its hostile policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and by permanently stopping the joint military exercises and the deployment of weapons to “South Korea”.  He also called for efforts to make the Security Council an impartial and responsible body that substantially contributes to maintaining international peace and security, as explicitly stipulated in the United Nations Charter, and to increase the representation of developing countries. 

ALY DIANE (Guinea), delivering a statement on behalf of President Mamadi Doumbouya, said the pandemic has affected the health and economies of countries, while laying bare inequalities and demonstrating global dependence on technology and digital connectivity, which half the world’s population does not have access to.  Urgent action must work towards restructuring the global financial architecture and equally distributing vaccines, he said, welcoming debt relief measures, the $650 billion allocation for special drawing rights and financing for the COVAX mechanism.  For its part, Guinea adopted a pandemic preparedness and response plan and has, with bilateral and multilateral partners, improved vaccination rates. 

However, the world must also vigorously respond to problems beyond the pandemic, he said, including poverty, hunger, climate change, terrorism, irregular immigration, violent extremism, intolerance, racism, conflicts and inequalities.  Drawing attention to other concerns, including terrorist groups ravaging the Sahel region, a stalemate on Middle East peace talks and the assassination of Haiti’s President, he also reiterated Guinea’s support for Cuba, which is still facing decades-long economic sanctions.  In addition, climate change requires a global response, he stated, expressing hope that COP26 will provide an impetus for action, including the provision of assistance to developing countries that are the principal victims of global warming.  

Highlighting efforts made by Guinea’s National Committee of the Rally for Development, he said newly launched national consultations will allow for the development of a transition road map, including the formation of a Government of national unity, revision of the electoral register, elaboration of a new constitution and the holding of free, fair and universally accepted elections.  In building a new world order, he highlighted the need for strengthening multilateralism and reforming the United Nations.  In this vein, he said the Security Council must expand its membership to include two permanent seats for African States, in line with the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration.

KARLITO NUNES, delivering a statement on behalf of Francisco Guterres Lú‑Olo, President of Timor-Leste, said international cooperation must address the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on vulnerable States, especially least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, and those in conflict and emerging from conflict.  Timor-Leste has recorded more than 19,000 cases with 18,000 having fully recovered and 113 deaths.  Calling the vaccine a public good that needs to be accessible to everyone, he urged the international community to assist low-income countries who only vaccinate 1.1 per cent of their populations.  He thanked international partners whose assistance has allowed the country to administer more than 600,000 doses, thus vaccinating 30 per cent of the population.

As a country experiencing floods, landslides and droughts, Timor-Leste prioritizes climate change and is committed to taking measures, including correction of watercourse beds and reducing plastic waste, he said.  The Government has further launched the national reforestation campaign “A citizen, a tree”, as reforestation ensures greater rainfall and a cleaner environment.  He said Timor-Leste is considered a success story of the United Nations engagement in realizing the principle of the right of self-determination.  The country undertook a reconciliation process with Indonesia, following its invasion and occupation, illustrating the importance of reconciliation in restoring good relations, despite past pain and tragedy.  Timor-Leste has led by example, he noted, with its first-time use of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Compulsory Conciliation Committee to resolve its maritime boundary dispute with Australia.

Underscoring that unilateral coercive measures contravene the values and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, he called for lifting the longstanding embargo imposed on Cuba.  Turning to Myanmar, he welcomed the regional mechanism to address the challenges there and the five-points consensus adopted by ASEAN.  On Afghanistan, he called for respect for women’s rights and the rights of Afghan people and foreigners who wish to leave the country.  Noting Portuguese is spoken by 280 million people worldwide, he suggested it could also be considered as an official United Nations language. 

He urged the United Nations to commit to the work of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples to decolonizing the world’s remaining 17 non-self-governing Territories.  Noting that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been operating in the region for three decades with little satisfactory progress, he called for the Special Envoy to urgently reactivate the negotiation process between the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front) and Morocco, and to allow the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination. 

Right of Reply

The representative of Serbia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the status of Kosovo had been determined by the Security Council, a position reiterated by the Secretary-General early in September. 

The representative of Iran said his delegation rejected the baseless allegations against his country that had been made by his counterpart from Israel.  As the only occupying Power in the region, Israel has started conflicts for decades, yet its representative did not refer to violations against Palestinians, forced displacements, killings and policies that violate international law.  Israel also possesses weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons, destabilizes the region and is blocking the creation of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone.  Israel should have no illusions about Iran’s commitment to defend itself, an inherent right of all States.  Responding to claims made by his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates, he said the islands in question have been and are part of Iran, and any statements otherwise will be rejected. 

The representative of Albania highlighted several points on the status of Kosovo, which has been a sovereign State since 2008, recognized by 117 United Nations Member States.  Kosovo is an active participant in regional initiatives and is part of international organizations.  Kosovo’s full integration into the international community would only contribute to peace and development in the wider region, she said.

The representative of Lithuania, speaking also for Estonia, Latvia and Poland, said Belarus has deliberately created irregular flows of migration, using migrants to pressure the European Union and its member States.  She called on Belarus to stop this attack and address the humanitarian needs of migrants. 

The representative of China said his delegation rejected the statement made by his counterpart from Canada about Meng Wanzhou and two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.  Having spent more than 1,028 days in arbitrary detention, Ms. Wanzhou returned to China on 24 September, reuniting with her family, he said, emphasizing that the case was a frame-up involving Canada and the United States, with the true purpose being to supress China’s high-tech achievements.  Regarding the “two Michaels”, he said evidence had shown that they were engaged in acts that endangered Chinese security and had confessed to their crimes.  The Wanzhou case is different than the case of the two Michaels, he said, expressing hope that Canada will correct its mistakes.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates, responding to Iran’s delegate, said the islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb are part of his country’s territory and unequivocally opposed Iran’s occupation of them.  He called on that State to reach a peaceful settlement, either through direct negotiations or the International Court of Justice.

The representative of Belarus, responding to the joint statement on the migration issue by Lithuania’s delegate on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Poland, said his country did not initiate the conflict and has always properly upheld its obligations in accordance with international law.  His European colleagues are well aware of the reasons behind the situation, he said, underscoring a need for the parties to sit around the negotiation table and calmly resolve the matter, as they do not want escalation.

The representative of Canada said his Minister for Foreign Affairs had accurately depicted the issue regarding Meng Wanzhou, in keeping with Canadian and international law.  Ms. Wanzhou was treated with respect, due process and transparency.  He noted she had spoken outside the Vancouver courthouse, thanking the Canadian Government for upholding the rule of law, and apologized for any inconvenience caused.  By comparison, the two Canadian citizens held arbitrarily by China did not benefit from due process, he said, and his Government continues to oppose how they were treated.

The representative of Iran, taking the floor a second time, reminded his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates that the three islands in the Persian Gulf have been inseparable and integral parts of Iranian territory and restated its sovereignty.  Any claim to the contrary is categorically rejected, he said, and while Iran is ready to discuss any misunderstanding, that sovereignty is not negotiable.  He also stated that “Persian Gulf” has been the appropriate term for that body of water since 500 B.C. and will remain so forever.

The representative of China said that the reply delivered by his counterpart from Canada is unacceptable, adding that facts cannot be denied, and history will have the final judgement.

For information media. Not an official record.