GA/10758/Rev. 1


29 September 2008
General AssemblyGA/10758/Rev. 1*
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly


15th & 16th Meetings (AM & PM)

United Nations can channel ‘big power clout’ to ensure interests of smaller states,

get attention, world leaders say at conclusion of General debate

While the geopolitical tug-of-war among the world’s big Powers could not be wished away, the United Nations could help channel their clout to ensure that common interests, notably those of smaller countries, were not completely disregarded in the process, global leaders told the General Assembly today as it wrapped up its annual general debate.

The six-day debate, which included a high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, heard 111 Heads of State and Government take the floor to outline their priority concerns and reaffirm support for the Assembly as the most democratic forum for global dialogue.  A more inclusive arrangement in the 192-Member United Nations that gave broader decision-making authority to the General Assembly and brought greater diversity to the Security Council -- particularly in the form of a permanent seat for Africa -- would help ensure that the Organization lived out its democratic values and created a safer world.

On that note, George Yeo, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that international institutions like the United Nations would only function well when States accepted the emerging multipolar reality of the twenty-first century -- and worked with it.  As a small country, Singapore accepted that, while every country had one vote, not all votes carried the same weight, and that small countries needed the United Nations to protect their interests.

Smaller countries could turn the emerging multipolarity to their advantage by combining their strengths in the United Nations, he explained.  In the context of maintaining peace, global leadership by a new concert of Powers -- beyond the United States, Europe and Japan -- would exercise their influence transparently through both hard and “soft” power.  At the same time, no decisions on major issues of the day could be taken without major countries in the lead.  If it was so difficult to reach a conclusion to the Doha Round of global trade negotiations, it was hard to be optimistic that a United Nations agreement on climate change could be negotiated without strong leadership by the United States, Europe, Russian Federation, China, India, Japan and Brazil.

Wilfred P. Elrington, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Belize agreed, stressing that “the treatment we mete out to each other determines our own destinies”.  There was a “crisis of implementation” vis-à-vis global commitments due not to a want of resources, but of compassion and empathy, with countries taking action only when it was in their own self interest.  Developing-country interests were poorly represented -- and of lesser concern -- to global institutions.  There was a need to strengthen the United Nations, to better monitor implementation, and to reinforce the Organization’s universality through participation by all relevant stakeholders.

Turning to the specific situation of landlocked developing countries, Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, highlighted the obstacles that hampered the economic development of such countries:  basic infrastructure; and limits in access to markets, capital, and new technology.

Stressing the importance of international cooperation for the effective implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, he called for broad reforms to create a more robust and effective United Nations, especially to reinforce the Organization’s development pillars, its Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  The upcoming midterm review of the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action would offer an opportunity to assess progress made and constraints encountered.

Thanking all delegates for speaking with the candour required to face global challenges, General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua concluded the general debate by saying that, although the discussion had taken place in troubling times, the stage was being set for changes that would bring genuine democracy to the United Nations.  “The General Assembly enables the dialogue that is essential to identify and, more importantly, agree on solutions to our most pressing problems.”  While the “deeply flawed” global economic system teetered on the brink of collapse, with the turmoil perhaps most starkly reflected in the world food crisis, in recent days, the Assembly had heard concrete and far-ranging proposals that, if implemented, would prevent the food crisis from becoming a prolonged catastrophe.

It was clear that such man-made problems called for human solutions, he said, adding, “We must reorder our priorities if we are to fulfil the promises of security and well-being that billions of people have entrusted in us.”  Urgent appeals for a stronger United Nations had been heard, with leaders expressing enthusiastic support for the Assembly’s decision to enter into serious negotiations about the make-up of the Security Council in coming months -- a discussion that would be central to the Organization’s future.  “If we hope to climb out of the terrible mess we have created, we must treat each other with respect and love.”  States must make a difference in the months ahead.

Also speaking today were the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Yemen, Jordan, Myanmar, Botswana, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ireland, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa and Eritrea.

The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada also addressed the Assembly, as did the State Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Cambodia and the State Secretary of Kyrgyzstan.

Also speaking were the representatives of Libya, Ecuador, Denmark, Venezuela, New Zealand, Thailand, Belarus, Switzerland, Mauritius, Maldives, Mauritania, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sweden.

The Permanent Observer for the Holy See also addressed the Assembly.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 2 October, for a high-level meeting on the midterm review of the Almaty Programme of Action.


The General Assembly met this morning to continue its general debate.


THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said “development remains central and must come first” in order to achieve the interlinked goals of peace and human rights.  Turning to the specific situation of landlocked developing countries, he highlighted obstacles that hampered economic development, namely basic infrastructure, limits in access to markets, capital and new technology.

He stressed the importance of international cooperation in order to achieve effective implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.  The upcoming midterm review of the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action was an opportunity to assess progress made and constraints encountered.  He called for broader reforms to create a more robust and effective United Nations, especially to reinforce the Organization’s development pillars, and of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Reform should also include strengthening the regional commissions of the Economic and Social Council, as well as the role and authority of the General Assembly, as the primary deliberative and policy-making body.  The addition of new permanent and non-permanent members to increase representation on the Security Council was also necessary, he added.

The sudden increase in oil and food prices has contributed to the current economic instability worldwide, with a more amplified impact on developing countries with lower financial and technical capacities to withstand such shocks.  To help counter this, he called on delegations to seriously consider the creation of a global food bank and an international food fund, as well as for implementation of the Rome Declaration on food security adopted in June.  Among other actions, he urged global energy policies that supported poverty reduction and sustainable development in developing countries.

On global warming, which he said had led to many other social and economic problems, States should apply the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and ensure full implementation of the Bali Roadmap.  In all efforts, integration of the three components of sustainable development -- economic growth, social development, and environmental protection –- was crucial. On that note, though his country had been enjoying solid political stability and social order, a severe flood this year had inflicted major material losses nationwide.  In addition, rising oil prices, inflation and the global economic slowdown were now posing obstacles to the achievement of economic prosperity.

Despite this, there had been significant socio-economic development in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, reflected by high, sustained growth in gross domestic product (GDP) as a result of improvements in basic infrastructure and human resources, with the cooperation of international partners.  He said his country’s determination to pursue twin strategies of poverty eradication and regional integration, and the extrication of his country “from the shackles of underdevelopment” by 2020.

RASHID MEREDOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, said that, as a party to major instruments adopted by the United Nations to combat international terrorism and organized crime, his country supported the Organization’s efforts aimed at developing a global strategy to fight terrorism, and stood ready to provide its practical assistance to the international community in that regard.  Because it considered non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction a pressing issue on the international agenda, connected with ensuring peace and security, his country played an active role in identifying non-proliferation measures and took practical steps for their implementation both at the national and international levels.

He said as a party to the Comprehensive Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation, and other important international legal instruments in that area, Turkmenistan had joined the international initiative aimed at preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and in that connection, considered its signing of the Treaty on Establishing a Nuclear-Free Zone in Central Asia an important element in the efforts of the world community to resolve that issue.  Turkmenistan was also ready to cooperate with the United Nations in effecting comprehensive measures for the collective interaction in order to deal with the most pressing issues of the times, such as that of energy security, which, he pointed out, had become one of the integral components of the global security system.

He told the Assembly that the availability and accessibility of fuel and energy resources, their free delivery to international markets and effective use by the consumers had become major factors in the development of the world economy as a whole.  As one of the major oil and natural gas producers, Turkmenistan held a prominent place in the global energy system and, in that regard, took a responsible position to developing international cooperation on the basis of its national interests and needs of its partners.  But in order to ensure adequate supplies to the world energy markets, the country would also need a highly developed infrastructure of international pipeline networks.

Furthermore, he said that ensuring energy security was not confined only to problems relating to an increase in the volume of hydrocarbon extraction and development of new deposits, and expanding infrastructure for transport and delivery of energy supplies to end users.  It was necessary to take into account a number of other factors, such as political stability, the situation at the world markets, and the presence of security guarantees for international pipelines.

He said, adequate security of energy infrastructure facilities also implied a decrease in their vulnerability from the impact of natural and man-made calamities, likely risks connected to changes in the military-political situation in certain regions of the world, threats from international terrorist and unauthorized siphoning of transported energy resources.

He added that, because the present coordination of the efforts of States to establish a unified system of energy security had become an especially pressing issue, it was necessary to develop an appropriate international legal framework and effective partnership mechanisms, including those for the protection of energy transportation systems.  He believed that was a problem that affected all:  producers and transit countries as well as end users of energy resources.

ANDREI STRATAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova, said a strong, effective and reformed United Nations was needed to address global crises and threats to peace and security, including those related to disarmament and non-proliferation, climate change, food insecurity and terrorism, while strengthening international law and ensuring respect of human rights.  Moldova supported the organizational reform process as reflected in the outcome of the 2005 World Summit.

He also supported the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council’s role in the world in helping Governments attain the Millennium Development Goals, address humanitarian crises and issues related to post-conflict reconstruction.  The launch of intergovernmental negotiations would push the reform of the Security Council and increase the United Nations’ efficiency in international security, peacekeeping and in helping Member States find solutions to conflicts.

“Frozen conflicts”, like those that had sparked recent events in South Ossetia, Georgia, created instability and threatened regional and international security.  He called for the United Nations to take a more direct approach in preventing and managing crisis and conflict situations, as well as the humanitarian fallout which resulted from them.  That was of paramount importance to Moldova as it faced such a “frozen” conflict in the eastern regions of its country.  He called for the full implementation of the peace plan mediated by the European Union on South Ossetia on 8 August.

Moldova rejected all methods of dispute settlement by force, and did not believe the international recognition of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia would stabilize the situation.  The Moldovan Government’s attitude towards South Ossetia and Abkhazia would be guided only by the Helsinki Final Act, the United Nations Charter and all current principles of international law, he said.

On the Transnistrian conflict, he said Moldova continued to adhere to laws which provided for the resolution of the conflict by political means.  The demilitarization and democratization of the Transnistrian region was essential to a resolution.  The Moldovan authorities were concerned by the creation of necessary conditions to move forward the settlement process.  The President of Moldova had advanced a number of initiatives to promote peace between both banks of the Nistru River.

European Union assistance at the border of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine had contributed to increased security and transparency in that region, and had created a more favourable atmosphere for the settlement process of the Transnistrian conflict.  He said terrorism was still a threat that could only be overcome through joint firm actions of the International Community, and reaffirmed Moldova’s commitment to counter terrorism.  Moldova would undertake all possible steps to contribute to the United Nations’ actions in consolidating international legislation in countering terrorism.

RITA KIEBER-BECK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, pointed out that, although the United Nations was a unique tool that could be used to address global issues, it was bogged down in bureaucracy, inefficiency and political infighting.  All that landed squarely on the shoulders of the Member States and it was now up to them to adapt the Organization to today’s challenges.

Addressing the “lopsided” budget of the Organization, she observed that core activities such conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance and economic development, among others, were subject to an artificial policy of “zero budget growth” and financed through voluntary contributions.  Furthermore, peacekeeping bills to Member States were increasing.  She called for a shift in focus, “from fighting fires to preventing their outbreak”, and at the same time commended the Secretary-General’s efforts to strengthen the conflict prevention and mediation capacities of the Organization.

She also noted that some the reforms initiated by the 2005 Summit had come to a complete halt, while others were mired in difficult negotiations.  Not only did managerial, human resources and internal justice systems need to be addressed quickly, involvement by non-members of the Security Council in that body’s work needed to be enhanced to make it more legitimate and effective.

While Liechtenstein’s commitment to the rule of law had been a motivating principle to join the United Nations 18 years ago, the current practice of the Security Council on sanction listings and delisting, particularly in the area of counter-terrorism, was of troubling.  If basic international standards of due process were not applied across the board, the Council ran the risk of being perceived as violating human rights standards.  She also noted that the Council needed to continue exercising its powers under the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statue responsibly.  It had taken a significant step by adopting resolution 1593 (2005) referring the situation in Darfur to the Court.  Now the Council must stand by the Court’s efforts, especially “if we want to win the fight against impunity.”

She said that the “responsibility to protect”, a narrow concept to clearly define cases of genocide, war, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, was one of the most significant gains to emerge from the 2005 Summit Outcome.  That principle promised to address recent failures, on several occasions, to uphold the Genocide Convention.  If the conceptual clarity and consistent implementation of the principle were not ensured, then the goal of sovereign responsibility of States to protect their own populations, as well as the United Nations Charter, would be jeopardized.

She concluded with a call to delegations to tackle the global crises of climate change, food and energy shortage and a faltering international financial system, by recommitting to a common approach to the development agenda.  A consensus of Financing for Development built on the Monterrey Consensus would require sacrifice and compromise from all Members.  Furthermore, a strong General Assembly was needed, not one that was antagonistic to other organs of the United Nations, but a forum for meaningful discussions that led to clear decisions and successful implementation.

GEORGE YEO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said the collapse of the recent Doha Round of international trade talks was deeply troubling and had come as the global economy was rapidly slowing down.  Many members of the international community were worried that protectionist pressures would emerge in many countries, and that an increase in trade protectionism could reduce global welfare by many billions of dollars.  All that could hurt the collective effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

He said no decisions on major issues of the day could be taken without major countries in the lead.  If it was so difficult to reach a conclusion on the Doha round, “which is a positive sum game”, it was difficult to be optimistic that a United Nations agreement on climate change could be negotiated without strong leadership by the United States, Europe, Russia, China, India, Japan and Brazil.

As a small nation, Singapore accepted that while every country, large or small, had one vote each, each country did not carry the same weight.  Small countries needed the United Nations and other international institutions to protect their interests.  The Forum of Small States, an informal grouping of more than half of the United Nations membership, took a realistic view of global politics as the only way to secure its own interest, he said.

Recent developments in the Balkans and Caucasus did not bode well for the future.  He termed the Russian Federation’s recent recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states “unsettling”.  It was crucial for all countries, large and small, to adhere to the Charter and the international rule of law.  It was an absolute necessity to reform the United Nations, taking into account the global changes since the end of the Second World War.  International institutions could also be made more effective by partnering with regional organizations.

For example, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had effectively stepped in and built a bridge of trust between the Myanmar Government and the international community after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in May of this year.  While international and regional institutions could provide a more conducive environment, the key to a country’s development was its own good governance.  Every country needed to find its own road to the future.  Good governance, for example, along with the right policies helped China effectively stage the Beijing Olympic Games.  The right policies introduced less than 20 years ago in India also had helped that country make remarkable progress, he said.

Though very diverse, the countries of Asia were being reconnected by a new East-West trade in a new age of globalization, he said.  The promotion of effective Government, as compared to the promotion of democracy, was a critical factor in producing an economic take-off.  Let each country, after reaching a certain level of development, then shape the form of democracy best suited to its culture and history.

For development to take place there had to be peace.  The thoughtful manner in which the United States was managing its relationship with a rising China and India was of decisive importance.  It was rare in history for new powers to emerge without conflict.  China and India were becoming responsible stakeholders in the global system.  Global leadership was needed, but by a new concert of big powers going beyond the United States, Europe and Japan, he said.  A more inclusive global arrangement that included China, Russia, India and Brazil would make this a better and safer world for all.

ABUBAKR AL-QIRBI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Yemen, said terrorist acts on United States embassies in his country were being addressed by Yemeni security forces, and he joined others in condemning those acts.  He welcomed the readiness to work daily to counter terrorism, and he hoped that such efforts would take the form of support for overcoming poverty.  There was also a need for increased cooperation and coordination among intelligence services to “close all the gaps” that had allowed terrorists to continue their activities, which ran counter to human dignity.

Yemen had paid a heavy toll because of terrorism.  With acts carried out by Al-Qaida and Islamic Jihad movements, there had been “tremendous economic losses”, which had cost the Government some $2 billion.  He thus called on States and counter-terrorism partners to help his country implement development projects, which were key to countering terrorism.  At the same time, many had found a pretext for mobilizing against the Islamic religion, and he fully supported Saudi Arabia’s initiative vis-à-vis religious dialogue.  There was also a need to review counter-terrorism mechanisms, so that the war on terrorism would not lead to human rights violations.

Yemen, a least developed country, continued its democratization process through encouraging freedom of expression and aligning its work with the principle of peaceful power sharing.  He reaffirmed the intention to preserve the integrity of upcoming parliamentary elections, and welcomed attendance of international observers.

Moving on, he said it was important that the Assembly be a forum for resolving issues on the international level, notably with respect for the interests of all States, which led back to the “age of alliances”.  Changes on the international scene were multiple in nature; rising food and energy prices were compounded by the fact that industrial States tended to use biofuels, which threatened world food reserves.  While biofuels helped to reduce damage caused by global warming, many faced famine.  He called on the major economic powers to help poor countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The situation for Palestinians was a source of grave concern, he said, especially with the ongoing construction of the separation wall.  He called on all parties, including the diplomatic Quartet, to build conditions favourable for trust, and attain a just peace.  Israeli occupation forces were present at the most sacred sites for Muslims, and such measures might lead to uncontrollable consequences.  It was therefore essential to adopt resolutions that provided for the protection of such places.

Deeply concerned at attempts to interfere in Sudan, he called for respecting Sudan’s independence, encouraging Government dialogue with various factions.  He urged ending the “negative impact” of the recent decision of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.  Such matters should not be used as pretext for interfering in States’ internal affairs.

The number of refugees in Yemen was increasing, notably from the Horn of Africa.  Millions in that area, and in Somalia, were suffering from famine, and he urged enhanced international support for Yemen to cope with those refugee influxes.  Welcoming Ethiopia’s readiness to withdraw from Somalia, he also called on all Somali parties to strive to reach reconciliation, and external parties to refrain from “meddling” in Somali affairs.

SALAHEDDIN AL-BASHIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, said it was essential to revitalize the role of the General Assembly as envisaged in the Charter.  Jordan supported the trend of rebalancing the relationship between the Assembly and the Security Council.

In addition to facing the global challenges of high food and energy prices and climate change, Jordan had to deal with continued military occupation and the denial of its people’s right to self-determination and free expression of their identity.  The United Nations most important work in the Middle East was as the custodian of international law.  Having believed in the role of the United Nations, Jordan still viewed the Organization as the basic forum to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, ending the occupation of Arab land and redressing the injustice and suffering of the Palestinian people, he said.

The Arab Peace Initiative was, and still is, a clear invitation to Israel to become a part of the region without conditions or limitations, he said.  Yet Israel had ignored that initiative and had continued building the separation wall in defiance of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.  Israel had also intensified its settlement activities, which threatened the chances for creating an independent and viable Palestinian state.  Jordan supported the efforts of the diplomatic Quartet and the renegotiations originated in Annapolis.

Jordan cherished the peace choice, strategic peace that was reaffirmed by the Arab Peace Initiative and the two-State solution.  As the first anniversary of Annapolis approached, he said challenges facing those negotiations compelled the international community to demand that the parties fulfil their pledges.  It should ask the Quartet to make additional efforts to achieve the desired results in the final status negotiations and the obligation of the road map.

Turning to Iraq, Jordan welcomed the country’s remarkable progress and had reopened its embassy in Baghdad, which was adequately staffed.  His Majesty King Abdullah II had recently visited Iraq.  He said making the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction was a prerequisite for peace and stability there.  He called on the international community and influential States to ensure the accession of all countries in the region to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

It was important to strengthen international monitoring mechanisms to ensure the Middle East was free from nuclear weapons.  Concerning the Iranian nuclear issue, Jordan believed every nation should exercise its right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Jordan upheld international counter-terrorism conventions and valued international cooperation in that area.

U NYAN WIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, noted that with the interdependence of the world economy, financial shocks transcended borders and affected all countries.  He described Myanmar’s concerted efforts to produce more crude oil and natural gas for both domestic and export markets, as well as its successful expansion of existing crops and the cultivation of new crops for both industrial and domestic use.  However, political and social progress would only be achieved through development, and not through the coercive economic measures and the “immoral” unilateral sanctions imposed on his country.

In order to fully participate in efforts to contribute to food and energy security in its region, Myanmar needed unfettered access to markets, modern technology and investment.  The sooner the sanctions were revoked and barriers removed, the sooner his country would become “the rice bowl of the region and reliable source of energy”.

Myanmar was taking great strides towards the betterment of its people.  At the crux of its national development plan was the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.  Myanmar’s education initiatives and efforts to improve schools at all levels resulted in the literacy rate rising to 94.8 per cent, and the enrolment in primary schools to 98 per cent.  National plans to eradicate major disease, including HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, were also being implemented with successful results.  He decried, however, the allocation of resources for those health crises being based on politics, rather than need.

He observed that if broad reforms were implemented, the United Nations could serve the Member States needs more appropriately.  The Security Council needed to reflect the reality of the twenty-first century, and the General Assembly’s authority needed to be enhanced for the maintenance of international peace and security.  These reforms would ensure stronger membership, and improved working methods.  Furthermore, he called for commitments made at international summits and conferences to be translated into concrete action.

He then turned to the Secretary-General’s ministerial meeting on “Reducing Disaster Risks in a Changing Climate”, a timely issue for his country in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which had left unprecedented death and destruction.  Through that tragedy, he spoke of the “silver lining in the dark clouds”, noting Myanmar’s people’s united response to the crisis, and the outpouring of generosity from the international community.  Through a demonstrated willingness and ability to work with the international community, better and stronger homes, schools and monasteries were rebuilt, and paddy fields replanted.

Home to over 100 national races, national unity was a priority to the Myanmar Government, and a national reconciliation policy was actively being pursued.  A seven-step political road map to democracy was being implemented, and the fifth step –- general elections –- would be held in 2010.  He concluded with a wish that the global village of the world would, with understanding and tolerance, work together to face the shares issues and crises, and create a “peaceful and prosperous future”.

PHANDU T. C. SKALEMANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Botswana, said the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights afforded the chance to reflect on building a more just world order.  To help societies realize their full potential, States must continually strive to improve governance to ensure responsiveness to people’s wishes.  In that context, it was imperative that the will of the people expressed in free and fair elections be respected by all political leaders.  Heads of State or Government must avoid the temptation to change their constitutions to stay in power.

Botswana was determined to promote respect for human rights at home and abroad, and was aware of the need for international support in that endeavour.  Noting that Botswana was a party to the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, he fully supported the Court’s work, explaining that there should be no exceptions as to what the Court could or could not do.

Taking up African developments, he welcomed the signing of an agreement by political parties in Zimbabwe, saying that it should have a positive impact in Zimbabwe and the wider African region.  “This is a good beginning”, he said, adding that no party should attempt to obstruct implementation of the accord, as the crisis could only be resolved through it.  He called on the global community to help the process succeed with “much needed” financial and technical assistance.  He also congratulated former South African President Thabo Mbeki for his contribution to peace and democracy in Africa.

He said the United Nations was required to respond effectively to twenty‑first century challenges, and in managing relations between States, leaders were called on to set a higher standard.  Language employed in international forums should not be formulated to shame States.  States, especially major Powers, should refrain from using weapons to resolve conflict, as military conflict demonstrated a failure of diplomacy and an inability to employ resources to benefit human life.  Meeting the Millennium Development Goals should be a primary focus.

Welcoming initiatives by development partners, he said Botswana had always made effective use of such resources, and also envisaged a time when such assistance would no longer be needed.  The Secretary-General’s report outlined “a mixed and uneven score” in achieving the Goals.  The world was seriously lagging on every target, and the process had highlighted new challenges hindering attainment.  It was imperative to accelerate progress.

“Our people deserve a life free from fear and want,” he said, adding that that was not a privilege, but a human right that States had a duty to respect.  Children in developing countries continued to die from preventable diseases, and closing such gaps urgently necessitated sound national policies, matched by increased official development assistance (ODA); fairer international trade regimes; more global partnerships; full implementation of debt relief measures; and greater access to markets.

Conflicts continued to flare, making peace a remote possibility in some parts of the world, he continued, noting that in Africa, substantial time, energy and resources had been expended with little or no success.  Strides had been made in Liberia and Guinea-Bissau, but, regrettably, Darfurians faced hunger, and he was concerned at the continually worsening situation in that area.  On Somalia, he welcomed the signing of the Djibouti Agreement, and called for committing to an all-inclusive process so that Somalis could live in peace.  He reminded leaders to put their peoples’ interests first.

MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Minister for Foreign Relations of Chad, said the world was facing many challenges.  Armed conflicts that touched all the continents were compounded by the food, energy and financing crises, which had severely impacted the most vulnerable.  Those recurring crises were a handicap to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Chad was facing a shortfall in the necessary funding to meet the Goals.  While the oil production that began in 2003 had given the country additional resources, they were below its needs.

Outside assistance was necessary to meet the country’s needs and challenges, and to help reduce its external debt.  Solidarity was needed to reduce the inequalities that produced sources of tension.  Chad was working to improve the living conditions of its people within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Government was also working to reduce the hotspots that hurt development in the region.  The crisis in Darfur had economic, social and environmental repercussions for Chad.  The presence in eastern Chad of 290,000 Sudanese refugees and 180,000 internally displaced persons was a subject of major concern for Chad and the international community.  Chad welcomed the international community’s help to restore the balance to eastern Chad.  He appealed for a lasting solution to the crisis.  He welcomed the mandate of the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and encouraged the international community to make available all necessary resources, so it could achieve a lasting comprehensive solution.  He also linked stability in Chad with a settlement of the crisis in Darfur, welcoming the Sudan’s moves to restore diplomatic relations with his country.

Turning to international challenges, he said the setback to the world trade talks in Geneva hurt the most vulnerable countries.  Despite the international community’s efforts to reduce conflict in many parts of the world, fighting still existed on all continents.  Those conflicts displaced many people, and could lead to international terrorism.  He supported the United Nations efforts to fight terrorism.  On nuclear matters, he respected the rights of States to use nuclear power for civilian purposes.  He welcomed the normalization of the political and military situation in several African countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and the Comoros.  He made an urgent appeal to the Assembly and Security Council for just and equitable reform that incorporate the aspirations of the African continent.

BASILE IKOUEBE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Congo, affirmed his country’s commitment to the United Nations as an ideal framework for finding durable solutions to worldwide crises.  However, because of ongoing conflicts, the African continent was still struggling to strengthen fragile infrastructures and implement the Millennium Development Goals.

He heralded the Central African Republic’s efforts to ensure peace and security through dialogue between the Government and rebel forces, with full confidence that the Peace, Security and Development Pact of the Great Lakes Region, adopted last June, would assist in that regard.  He also welcomed the resumption of diplomatic relations between Chad and Sudan, and as co-mediator with Libya, he was determined to participate fully in establishing peace between those neighbouring countries.

Noting that solving the conflict in Darfur would contribute to that end, he appealed for the full deployment of 26,000 troops for UNAMID and said that a Congo police unit of 140 personnel would be at the Operation’s disposal.  However, the international agencies and community needed to double their efforts to help stabilize the conflict with rebels in Congo’s East Region and to implement the Abuja Accord.  The indictment of the Head of State of Sudan, in that respect, was counterproductive.

He also noted that several African countries, including Congo, voluntarily subscribed to the periodic review of the Peer Review Mechanism, a pillar of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  Nevertheless, the contradiction of African leaders having to face foreign judges in the “name of the principle of universal jurisdiction”, while leaders of powerful countries were excused from such scrutiny left the impression that Africa was, again, being subjected to haphazard and hateful practices, echoing the past of slavery, the slave trade and colonization.

Congo’s borders encompassed a considerable part of the Congo Basin, “the world’s second ecological lung after the Amazon.”  The Member States of the Congo Basin, while supporting the outcome of the Bali Conference and the upcoming post-Kyoto Protocol talks, requested compensation mechanisms for the preservation of forest equilibriums.  To further discussion and create additional solutions, Congo would host the sixth Forum on Sustainable Development in October.

After the difficult period of the 1990s, efforts from all parties of Congo’s society had brought about stability and national reconciliation to create legislative elections in 2007.  Future plans had been made to hold a presidential election in 2009.  Plans to initiate the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper would ensure free access to education, the recruitment of teachers, immunization, renovations of construction of a dozen health centres and free access to HIV/AIDS testing and anti-retroviral medication, among others.

YOUSSOUF BAKAYOKO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire, assured full support for the Secretary-General as he sought solutions to the world’s problems, especially the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.  Ivorians still recalled the Secretary-General’s historic visit on 23-24 April, and pledged their continued support to him and the United Nations operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).  He also thanked the global community, especially France and the African Union, for efforts to bring “a return of peace” to his country.  He reaffirmed his determination to organize free, open and transparent elections.  Proof of those efforts could be seen in the start of the penultimate phase of that process on 15 September.

International efforts –- through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union -– were improving the security situation in Côte d’Ivoire, and as such, he asked the United Nations to consider lowering its security level.  The Security Council’s sanctions committee should also accede to Côte d’Ivoire’s request to lift sanctions against various citizens.  He also called for a partial lifting of the arms embargo, he added.

He said that while the United Nations was now, more than ever, called upon to show it could maintain peace and security, the Organization was no longer adapted to the current world.  Reform was necessary, and to do that, States must clarify the goals of such change.  After years of reflection on the issue, it was time to bring it to a close.  There were differences on the Security Council’s composition, the right of veto, and improvement of working methods, and he reaffirmed support for the joint African position.  There would be no genuine peace with intolerable differences existing among populations.

Globalization was meant to open new horizons for economic cooperation, but developing countries had not benefited, he explained, saying it was necessary to regulate trade by adopting relevant rules.  He deplored the failure of recent World Trade Organization talks, which should have created conditions to help those countries.  The food crisis demanded the global community act together through “courageous” measures, he said, welcoming both the creation of the High-level Task Force on the Food Crisis, and UNCTAD efforts to strengthen South-South cooperation, notably in agriculture.  On the energy crisis, he said it was important that biofuels not damage agriculture; and serious thought be given to alternative sources of energy.

NUR UULU DOSBOL, State Secretary of Kyrgyzstan, said that collective efforts made at this Assembly session could help countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  With the rapid changes occurring today, the work of the United Nations was even more important.  The issue of reform was crucial as a vehicle towards guaranteeing international peace, and as a response to existing problems.  Strengthening the Security Council was necessary to help preserve international order and calm.  He advocated expansion of the Council and said reform had to include universality and fair representation.  Kyrgyzstan would continue to maintain peace and security.

The rapid changes in the world had not bypassed the Kyrgyz Republic.  Climate change and the food and energy crises had highlighted the importance of collective efforts, and had strengthened the role of the United Nations and other international organizations in working out effective mechanisms to reach solutions.  Kyrgyzstan faced the consequences of global warming, such as water scarcity.  Environmental deregulation had led to recurring earthquakes, landslides and flooding.  The country had storage sites for nuclear waste and this created a threat to regional and international security, he said.

Turning to other issues, he said the maintenance of radioactive waste storage sights was a priority for the country.  He called for financial and technical assistance to ensure their security.  Kyrgyzstan wanted a nuclear free zone in Central Asia, and wanted to achieve global and regional security.  The international community was going through a complex period and Member States had to seek practical solutions to the most pressing problems of this time.  It was even more important to strengthen the United Nations.  He hoped the current Assembly session proved to be a session of reform.

GIADALLA A. ETTALHI ( Libya) said his Government had made all efforts to help solve disputes in Africa, notably Chad, the Central African Republic and Sudan.  His country had always contributed to the framework of resolutions adopted by the African Union Council of Peace and Security.  He went on to say, the United Nations reform was vital, and commended efforts of the working group, appointed in the previous session, to address Security Council reform.

While that process had been slow, he welcomed the consensus reached on the working group’s recommendations.  Genuine reform would place decision-making in the hands of the General Assembly, and turn the Security Council into an executive instrument that enforced its decisions.  He called for convening a high-level meeting on United Nations reform in a European country.  In addition, Africa deserved a permanent Council seat on equal footing with other geographic regions.

Concerned at developing countries’ inability to attain the Millennium Development Goals, he reaffirmed the imperative for developed nations to fulfil assistance pledges.  He welcomed the convening last week of the high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs and supported the political declaration adopted at its conclusion.  Regarding financing for development, he discussed the launch of the “ Qadhafi Road” initiative as a way to link northern parts of Africa with western and southern parts.  It would be an important artery to enhance trade.

On other matters, he said corruption hampered attainment of the Goals and developing countries had suffered huge damages.  There were safe havens for stolen funds and plundered wealth, and it was unacceptable to remain silent on the matter, especially as such funds were often used by terrorists.

Libya was among the first to highlight the food crisis.  It had allocated $5 million for food security projects, and was financing seven others.  Developed countries could help Africa solve the problem by increasing development assistance devoted to agriculture, and investing in such projects as the Anka Dam project in Congo.  On climate change, he said that Libya, an arid or semi-arid area, suffered from desertification and water scarcity.  It had persistently made efforts to address those challenges, however, a comprehensive international agreement was needed, as were adaptation measures.

Explaining that Libya had voluntarily relinquished all programmes of weapons of mass destruction, he also noted the right to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes.  He strongly opposed using double standards in nuclear non-proliferation issues, and called for making the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.  The Ottawa Agreement on anti-personnel mines should be reviewed, he added.

Terrorism was an obstacle to stability in various parts of the world, and he urged adopting a definition of that phenomenon.  Associating terrorists with a specific religion or culture was bound to inflame conflict, and such a situation was incompatible with international goals.  The Convention on the Status of Refugees contained a definition of refugee status, and it was regrettable that some had opened the door of political asylum for thieves who were trying to evade punishment, including terrorists.  The creation of international criteria was of paramount importance.

Palestinians still suffered Israeli occupation, he said, and the unjust embargo imposed on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by Israel would impede the realization of peace in the area.  Peace could be achieved only with the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homeland, and creation of a Palestinian State.  Occupation of the Syrian Golan must end, and he called for withdrawal of all occupation forces from Arab territories, along with compensation for damages.

MARÍA FERNANDA ESPINOSA ( Ecuador) said that Member States supported peacekeeping budgets with millions of dollars but resisted support for development programs.  That puzzling order of priorities reflected a profound need for United Nations reform, including the increase of membership of the Security Council, the strengthening of the General Assembly, and broader democratization of the Organization.

Viewing the Millennium Development Goals as a minimal requirement, she called for Member States to go beyond the guidelines.  Ecuador’s Government was successfully working on increasing the quality of life for citizens of the country.  Economic and social policies were targeted at addressing the unequal distribution of income, employment, and the right to health and education, among others.  Ecuador and other developing countries hoped the upcoming Doha review conference on Financing for Development would engender external financing, relief of external debt, and reform of international financial institutions, to name a few.

The fulfilment of the commitment by donor countries to allocate at least 0.7 per cent of the GDP was particularly important.  She requested special attention to middle-income countries, as they comprised more than 41 per cent of the poor in the global community.

The fight against terrorism could not excuse some Member States from their obligations to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other States.  Human rights violations, incarceration and torture of alleged terrorists needed to be addressed by the international community.  The Human Rights Council was the best mechanism for the preservation of human rights, but all countries needed to put aside their political objectives for the Council’s work to be effective.  Ecuador had shown its commitment to participate in this goal by being the second country to the Universal Periodic Review.

The role of the United Nations in South-South cooperation was a primary function of the Organization and she was confident that the high-level conference on South-South cooperation scheduled in 2009 would offer an opportunity for such cooperation.  However, without total commitment to economic and social development, talks for international peace and security would not be effective.  In this regard, she noted the role of the Group of 77 and China, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement.

On the issue of migration, Ecuador had implemented a comprehensive immigration policy aimed at guaranteeing the protection of migrant persons, regardless of origins or status.  In this regard, she could not support the Return Directive issued by the European Union.  Ecuador’s new constitution had established the principle of universal citizenship, and President Rafael Correa had said, “there are no illegal human beings, only practices that violate the rights of persons”.  With more than 200,000 Columbian citizens seeing refuge in Ecuador, she called for the cooperation and support of the international community.

She concluded with a call for multilateral relations between nations that aimed to ensure global challenges were addressed successfully.  She announced that Ecuador’s own steps towards democracy resulted in the country approving yesterday of a new Political Constitution of the State, heralding a new social pact aimed at human welfare and harmony with nature.

CARSTEN STAUR ( Denmark) said global challenges called for global responses and it was best to employ effective and strong multilateral action through a strong United Nations system.  As French President Sarkozy, the current President of the European Union, stressed last week, continued reform was crucial to improve the Organization’s ability to solve problems, which was one of its core duties.  Member States needed to make sustained progress on system-wide coherence and the “Delivering as One” agenda.  Regarding Security Council reform, Denmark welcomed the agreement to initiate intergovernmental negotiations and backed Iceland’s candidature for membership, representing all Nordic countries.

Climate change needed to be addressed as an integral part of sustainable growth and development in the poorest countries.  The security risks posed by climate change also needed to be addressed.  Economic growth and environmental protection were fully compatible and the challenge was to create a framework for low-carbon growth in which increased energy efficiency; greater use of renewable energy sources; carbon capture and storage; and the development of a global carbon market were vital elements.  Denmark was set to host the next Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2009.  The goal was to reach a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol and make it a truly global instrument.

He hoped this Assembly would finally agree to a comprehensive convention on international terrorism and focus on due process and sanctions.  It had become increasingly clear that the lack of adequate due process hampered the efficiency of the sanctions system.

While the United Nations had played a major part in reducing the number of armed conflicts around the globe, he said several bloody and difficult conflicts remained.  The United Nations should play a much stronger role in coordinating the international engagement in Afghanistan.  A lack of success would have serious regional ramifications.

Turning to Africa, several factors had delayed the deployment of UNAMID.  Those responsible for the grave crimes in Darfur had to be held accountable.  Compliance with Security Council resolution 1593 (2005) was necessary, and Denmark supported the International Criminal Court.  He hoped the recent power sharing agreement would pave the way for a return to democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.  And in Somalia, he said, common efforts to fight piracy were needed by international players as they worked to improve the deplorable situation on the ground, and the prospects for a long-term political solution.

On the Middle East, Denmark urged the parties involved to honour their Road Map commitments and settle their differences in accord with international agreements and the Arab Peace Initiative.  He strongly condemned the unacceptable remarks made by the Iranian President that called for Israel’s destruction.  Regarding the war that erupted in the South Caucasus last month, he urged all parties to live up to the conditions of the six-point and Moscow agreements, and reach a long-term solution that respects Georgia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He acknowledged that the international community was not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, but it also was not “sidetracked”.  An extra effort was vital for the Goals’ success.  A special focus on the empowerment of women and increased investments in women were essential.  The Danish Government had initiated a specific call to action on gender quality and the empowerment of women, and to help sub-Saharan Africa meet its goals, created an international, high-level commission on effective development cooperation with Africa, he said.

MICHEÁL MARTIN, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Ireland, said the United Nations was an indispensable framework for realizing the potential of the international community.  Global challenges such as climate change, economic turbulence, spiralling food and energy prices, HIV/AIDS and terrorism, were confronting us all.  All countries had witnessed the potential fall-out from the current financial crisis, but had failed, as yet, to reach an agreement on a balanced world trade deal.  Rising fuel prices and climate change had exacted a singular toll on the world’s most vulnerable and poor.  More than halfway to 2015, the international community had not made enough headway towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

Pledging Ireland’s support for United Nations reform, he said, most recently, his Government had been pleased to work closely with the United Republic of Tanzania to facilitate consultations on greater system-wide coherence.  Moving forward with the reform agenda, of course, did not mean losing sight of the real strengths and achievements of the United Nations, especially in peacekeeping.  As the world evolved, so would our approach to peacekeeping.  Regional organizations, such as the European Union, could and should be expected to play an increasingly prominent role in undertaking Security Council-mandated operations, noting that the EUFOR (European Union-led force) efforts in Chad, was under the leadership of Irish Lieutenant General Pat Nash.

As for Ireland, he emphasized that it no longer needed to build peace at home, but was working towards securing and underpinning it for generations to come.  Ireland’s history made it particularly conscious of the huge human cost of conflict, and the moral obligation to prevent and resolve it.  Thanking the international community for its role in peacebuilding in Ireland, he said anchoring the peace process was a central partnership between the British and Irish Governments.  Ireland had also established a Conflict Resolution Unit to complement the work of others, especially the United Nations.

On disarmament, he said Ireland was committed to creating a secure and stable world through effective arms control and disarmament, and the elimination of nuclear weapons.  He pointed out that Ireland had hosted the Diplomatic Conference that had delivered the Cluster Munitions Convention this past May, an agreement to end the production and use of those instruments of war.  Establishing peace also meant improving the United Nations capacity to tackle human rights abuses effectively, by ensuring a strong and vigilant Human Rights Council.  In that regard, Ireland was supportive of the International Criminal Court and its mandate.

Noting that Ireland was the sixth largest aid donor to development assistance in terms of gross national product, he said Ireland had established a Hunger Task Force to tackle the root causes of hunger, especially in Africa.  To that end, he called for improving small-holder productivity in Africa, increasing focus on maternal and infant under-nutrition, and fully meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

SEYOUM MESFIN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, said a number of development efforts, including the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, had been a central element of his country’s recent millennium celebrations.  Yet, it was alarming that a number of countries were unlikely to meet those goals by 2015.  With the world facing a “development emergency”, decisive and timely actions were needed by both developed and developing countries in living up to their commitments.

Because food insecurity could undermine core democratic values and ruin national development endeavours, Governments had to work together in the economic sector to resolve the current global food crisis.  Saying the 2002 Monterrey Consensus on financing for development was a litmus test for the success of global partnerships, he called on developed countries to honour their commitment of 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product on overseas development assistance.

The Millennium Development Goals provided the “critical minimum” for Ethiopia’s survival as a nation, he said, adding that his country had laid the foundations for continued growth and democratization, by building democratic institutions from the grassroots and providing political space for responsible democratization.  Its 10 per cent average growth over the last five years was continuing despite recent setbacks.  As both a landlocked and one of the least developed countries, it attached great importance to both the Brussels and the Almaty Programmes of Action.

But, while his country appreciated all external assistance, it was equally conscious of the need for predictable, strong and enduring partnerships for mutual benefit.  Economic relations that did not penalize poor countries were needed.  He urged realistic preferential terms of trade to these countries, including quota and duty-free market access for all their goods and services.

Saying that sustainable development would only be possible with durable peace and security, he emphasized the role a revitalized Intergovernmental Authority for Development could play in ensuring regional integration and promoting peace, security and development.  Ethiopia had been committed to peace in Somalia since it helped organize the first broad-based peace conference there in 1992, and had consistently supported all efforts to bring about an effective Government there.

It was, thus, encouraged by the latest positive political developments in Somalia.  But while the Djibouti Agreement and the Addis Ababa road map had opened the way for further progress, he also urged the Security Council to discharge its responsibility by deploying a peacekeeping mission in Somalia as soon as possible.  At the very least, the Council should allocate the necessary resources to strengthen the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Continuing, he urged the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the Sudan to do more in overcoming the challenges facing them, while also emphasizing that the international community had to bear its shared responsibility in that regard.  Ethiopia fully supported the African Union’s position on Darfur and its handling of the International Criminal Court and the Sudan issue.  It was further firmly committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Eritrea through peaceful, political, legal and diplomatic means.

WILFRED P. ELRINGTON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Attorney General of Belize, said small countries like his own were not the masters of their own destinies, and the resources they needed to secure their future were not attainable without international assistance.  The security, development and well-being of all peoples of the world afforded the best guarantee for their own safety, security and development, and ultimately, their very survival.  “The treatment we mete out to each other determines our own destinies.”

“Every global problem requires global solutions,” he said, quoting the words of a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in a previous General Assembly speech.  Preconditions had been set forth in order to successfully combat present challenges:  understanding that all were each other’s keeper; that all were equal in ownership of the earth; and that no country would escape the consequences of a damaged planet.  However, there was a “crisis of implementation” of global commitments, with slow and uneven progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, dismal follow-through on the Monterrey commitments and the collapse of the Doha Development Round.

He said that was not due to a want of resources, commitments or common objectives, but “for want of compassion and empathy”, whereby countries acted only when “it’s in our narrow self-interest to do so”.  The interests of developing countries were poorly represented and of lesser concern to global institutions.  There was a need to strengthen the United Nations, in order to better monitor implementation, and to reinforce its universality through participation by all relevant stakeholders, in addition to prompt action on development promises and the submission of such actions to international oversight.

Alluding to his country’s journey from colonialism to independence, he said Belize’s development was challenged, not by nature, but because of human exploitation and selfishness.  In addition, the country and neighbouring Guatemala were in the International Court of Justice to settle a territorial dispute.  “We are still soldiers in the battle for freedom, equality and justice.”  But, instead of the crude instruments of war, weapons today consisted of “the power of the rule of law, cooperation and friendship between peoples and nations, and an abiding faith in multilateralism”.

OJO MADUEKWE, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, said that, in pursuit of his country’s goal to remain a stable and prosperous nation, it had “raised the bar” on bold political and economic reforms, aimed at making its economy more investment-friendly and its democracy more inclusive.  It continued to count on the support and understanding of the international community and its development partners, as it accelerated measures to enhance the State’s overall capacity.  Because a strong, safe and prosperous Nigeria would be a dependable contributor to regional stability and to emerging global ethics, it had never hesitated to respond unconditionally whenever duty called, be it in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, or now, in Darfur.

Against that backdrop of global solidarity, he raised the concern of many developing countries, especially in Africa, over the devastating effects of the widespread illicit trade in small arms.  Because of their lethal nature and easy accessibility, they could be described as Africa’s weapons of mass destruction.  The most effective strategy for eradicating that trade was through the elaboration of a legally binding global instrument, in combination with the political will to stem those weapons’ uncontrolled proliferation.

To this end, urgent action to criminalize oil bunkering was also needed, so that the sale of oil could no longer fuel new crisis situations in Africa, and especially in the Gulf of Guinea.  He also called on both the international community and the Government of the Sudan to take bold and robust steps towards the full deployment and operationalizing of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur.

Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he said it was clear that those lofty Goals were in jeopardy in many countries.  For its part, Nigeria was determined to do everything it could to ensure their realization.  But, evidence of a more manifest will on the part of the international community was needed to assist Africa in joining the rest of the global success story.  To that end, Nigeria was focused on a number of indicators, among them, a push for infrastructure, the revival of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, support for national extractive industries transparency initiative projects, and a breakthrough on a malaria vaccine.

Reiterating Nigeria’s unwavering support for the United Nations, he cited its full compliance with the ruling of the International Court of Justice by lowering its flag in the Bakassi Peninsula in August.  That action should serve as affirmation of its commitments to the objectives and purposes of the United Nations.  If the international community stood up in concert for its shared values and purposes, the United Nations and the world would be a much better place.  A new posture -- to move from data to determination, from rhetoric to results and from words to wisdom -- could make this a General Assembly session like no other.

NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa, pointed out that the focus of the sixty-third session of the General Assembly was the global food crisis, climate change and reform of the United Nations.  The confluence of the food, fuel, financial and climate change crises posed the real threat of undermining the progress made by developing countries in the struggle against poverty.  Due in part to a failure to fully implement the global partnership for development in the form of trade, aid and debt relief, it was clear that many countries in sub-Saharan Africa would not meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Recalling that Heads of State and Government had adopted a special section of the Millennium Declaration on the Special Needs of Africa, she expressed hope that the high-level meetings organized by the Secretary-General this year would act as a catalyst to spur the world into a greater sense of urgency in that regard.  In particular, there was a need for a massive transfer of resources through development assistance, investment, trade, technology transfer and human resource development to help meet the Goals.  Special attention should be paid to Goal 3 on the empowerment of women.

Returning to the food crisis, she said the African Union’s Green Revolution needed partnerships to succeed.  Support for NEPAD would be a major contributor to the struggle against poverty.  The Doha Development Round had stalled, despite seven years of negotiations, and South Africa called for a rededication of the Assembly’s efforts to ensure its successful completion.  It was also to be hoped that the climate change talks to be completed in Copenhagen in 2009 would set the stage for more concerted actions by all countries.

Stressing her country’s support for fundamental reform of the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, she said critical global challenges could not be addressed effectively when many countries and regions were left out of key decision-making processes.  The Security Council would have more legitimacy and credibility if it was expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.  It remained a travesty of justice that Africa, which constituted a large portion of the Council’s work, was not represented in the permanent category.  As a country due to complete its term as a non-permanent Member of the Council this year, South Africa congratulated the Secretary-General for appointing the African Union-United Nations panel to explore financing modalities for African Union-led peacekeeping missions.

Turning to the situation in the Middle East, she noted that her country had participated in the 2007 Annapolis Conference with great expectations, and would continue to support all international efforts to help the people of Palestine and Israel find lasting peace and establish a viable Palestinian State.  South Africa would also continue to work with the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Côte d’Ivoire in their efforts to consolidate peace and democracy.  As for Zimbabwe, South Africa hoped its leadership would soon finalize aspects of the Power-sharing agreement; the South African Development Community (SADC), the African Union and the SADC facilitator stood as guarantors of that agreement.  In addition, South Africa would do whatever it could, both bilaterally and within the African Union and the United Nations, to help the Sudan find peace, and to seek a just, mutually acceptable and lasting solution to the question of Western Sahara.

OSMAN SALEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, enumerated the many conflicts around the world that were not improving, singling out, in particular, the humanitarian suffering in Somalia and the lack of media attention to it.  The potential for the conflict in Georgia further to polarize the world was an example of the fragile global security situation.  Further, rising fuel and food costs and the recent spate of insolvencies involving financial corporations was driving the global economy into recession.  In addition, climate change with its concomitant increased frequency of floods and droughts, as well as the pandemics affecting millions of people, made for a dire picture of the challenges facing the global community.

Noting that there were multiple causes for those ills, he said:  “At the same time, it cannot be denied that many of them have been exacerbated, if not instigated, by the misguided and domineering policies of the US Government.”  “Management by crisis” had emerged as a new tool of policy promotion, whereby no real efforts were made to prevent and manage conflicts.  The United States deliberately spawned crises and allowed them to fester, so it could maintain control in situations of permanent instability.  There was an absence of countervailing forces, and the United Nations was weak for failing to pursue an independent line and act as a bulwark of multilateralism.

Citing efforts to resolve the border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, he said the parties had agreed to resolve it through binding arbitration.  The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission had announced its award in April 2002, and worked to establish that boundary for the next five years.  Ethiopia had tried to destabilize the situation through the use of aggression, supported by the United States, which had used its clout in the United Nations to forestall appropriate measures against Ethiopia, through such steps as the extension of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), in order to “manage by crisis”.

He went on to cite the situations in Somalia and the Sudan as further examples of humanitarian crises exacerbated, if not created, by United States policies.  Ethiopia had invaded Somalia in 2007, and the United States had bombarded Somali villages in the name of the war on terrorism.  “Were these interventions legal, justified or necessary in the first place?”  The United States was “fabricating” a new conflict situation between Djibouti and Eritrea to keep alive the “hot spots of tension”.  The resulting human suffering was too great, and Eritrea called for international efforts to check United States excesses.  The perils of unchecked unipolarism accentuated the need to bolster the United Nations, so as to make it a democratic institution of multilateralism.

In the Horn of Africa, Eritrea called for:  an end to the illegal occupation of sovereign territories; respect for the rule of law and the United Nations Charter; an end to the invasion of Somalia and the holding to account of war crimes perpetrators; an end to interference in the Sudan and the creation of a climate conducive to a lasting solution; and an end to United States meddling in the affairs of the Horn of Africa, which had invariably led to the instigation of crises.

LEONARD EDWARDS, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, recalled that his country had helped develop the concept of peacekeeping, noting that it was contributing to peace and security today in places as diverse as Afghanistan, Haiti and the Sudan.  With 2,500 Canadians supporting the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, the country continued to call for safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all those in need there.  Although the Government of Afghanistan and the international community were all too familiar with the tactics seen in the 14 September attack against members of a United Nations convoy in the Kandahar Province, they would not be swayed in their efforts to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans.  Canada had announced an additional $600 million contribution at the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan in Paris, bringing its total contributions close to $2 billion.

In Haiti, Canada was taking a comprehensive approach to reconstruction and development, he continued, outlining the country’s provision to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) of civilian police officers, military staff officers and corrections experts.  Canada was also the second largest bilateral donor to Haiti.  As a long-standing partner of United Nations efforts in Africa, it was committed to building sustainable peace in the Sudan.  To that end, it was important to implement fully the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  Canada called also upon the Sudanese authorities and rebel movements to end the violence in Darfur, facilitate the deployment of UNAMID, cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and respect human rights.

Stressing that the current crisis in Georgia called for a unified international response, he expressed support for the democratic and legitimate Government of Georgia, as well as the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.  Canada called on the Russian Federation to fulfil its international obligations, and cooperate fully with the international community in resolving the crisis.

Taking up the work of the United Nations, he reiterated his country’s support of proposals for greater accountability and transparency in the Security Council.  Canada welcomed the General Assembly’s decision to launch negotiations on that body’s reform.  The Organization was a key partner in delivering Canada’s humanitarian assistance, he said, the country was on track to meet its international assistance commitments by doubling international assistance to $5 billion by 2010-2011.  It would further deliver on its promise to double aid to Africa in 2009.  In response to the global food crisis, Canada was providing an extra $50 million for food aid.

Climate change was the world’s most pressing challenge, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must play a central role in meeting it.  While the responses to all global challenges began at home, the sum of national actions must drive a collective effort at the international level.  Indeed, among the most important components of the Bali road map was its recognition that no country could effectively address climate change on its own, and that countries in a position to act should do so.

In the year of its sixtieth anniversary, there was much work left to do in meeting the “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations” embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said.  As a member of the Human Rights Council, Canada was working hard to help that body live up to the reform objectives that had guided its creation two years ago.  Canada also supported the creation of the Universal Periodic Review, and would continue to strive for fundamental freedoms and human rights, in order to fulfil the ideals of the Universal Declaration.

OUCH BORITH, Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said terrorism was a stumbling block to the advancement and prosperity of societies, and the world at large.  As such, Cambodia had devoted its time, energy, efforts and resources to joining the international community to combat the scourge, in keeping with the relevant United Nations conventions and protocols, and agreements on security cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member States, among others.

Furthermore, the world was still marred by the spread of small arms, which continued to have implications on people’s comprehensive security and livelihoods, he stated, adding that, as a country which had been ravaged by war and conflict for more than two decades, Cambodia had experienced great suffering because of small arms and other weapons of war.  In that regard, he attached great importance to the agreed international instruments, especially the implementation of the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

On climate change, he stated that Cambodia, fully aware of the phenomena’s devastating consequences, had led a vast campaign of reforestation all over the country, where 14,300 hectares had been already planted between 2003 and 2006.  Cambodia strongly supported the Bali Action Plan for Reduction of the Greenhouse Gas, as well as the Japanese “Cool Earth” Initiative.  His country was of the view that, to help reverse climate change, it was also necessary to preserve nature’s  biodiversity as much as possible, and put an end to ongoing global deforestation, especially in the least developed countries, by assisting the people to find sources of income other than deforestation.

He said it was important for the international community to actively promote world public awareness of that issue, by mobilizing public participation on the absolute necessity to work together to struggle against global warming and climate change.  In that regard, he called on the United Nations to organize a World Summit on Climate Change so that the issue remained on the top of the agenda of the world’s leaders, and ensure that concrete and timely measures and actions could be taken to help reverse the current trend of global warming and climate change.

Turning to the Korean Peninsula, he expressed confidence that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States, as well as other parties involved would keep up the momentum in fulfilling the implementation of the 2005 Joint Statement, in good faith, for the sake of peace, stability and security of the region and the world at large.  Similarly, on the Middle East, which he said had engaged the international community’s agenda for long enough, he was hopeful that all parties to that conflict would have the will and the wisdom to end it as early as possible, for the interests of all the countries of the region.

ROY CHADERTON MATOS ( Venezuela) recalled that, several years ago, the academic concept of the “end of history” had heralded the “religion of neoliberalism” –- with the market as God -- as the secret to lasting prosperity.  But that academic pronouncement had actually turned into a curse.  Indeed, how much poverty, violence, torture, wars, invasions, oppression and social injustice had been its name?

Venezuela supported not just the peace initiatives put forth by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, but, also, his proposed concept of regulated capitalism, he said.  The country was also open to the idea of holding a summit of the countries most affected by the current financial crisis.  Indeed, as it witnessed the sorrow and anger of millions of brothers and sisters in the United States who had been swindled by the ruling class, Venezuela was sympathetic, having itself suffered under the untrammelled application by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of capitalist remedies.  But today, while Venezuela practised extreme democracy and held an extreme commitment to social justice, the international community was determined to squash it.  The instruments of that effort were the Fox Network, the neocolonialist group PRISA, the daily paper El Pais, the radical channel Globovision and many other lackeys of the international far right, among others.

Over the last decade, progressive democracy had burgeoned in Latin America and the Caribbean, he continued.  But, although elections in the region were much freer and more transparent today than they had been in the 1970s and 1980s, they were often not welcomed by the larger community.  Indeed, as people made a clear choice for leftist movements, that choice did not suit the far right, which, it seemed, did not love democracy as much as it claimed.  That phenomenon was reminiscent of Henry Ford, who, in describing his success, had said that any customer could have a vehicle in his choice of colour, provided it was black.

Underlining the Secretary-General’s statement that the time for “deep change” had come, he called for less unconditional faith in the magic of the markets.  Greed had led to the world’s food, fuel and financial crises, as the human right to food was being ignored.  It was time to construct a new model of development.  In Venezuela, the social programmes were free to reach all sectors of society, particularly the most vulnerable.  Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals was visible.  Health expenditures had risen and those suffering from HIV/AIDS received increased coverage.  Infant mortality had dropped.  Buoyed by that success, Venezuela was also making major contributions throughout the Southern Hemisphere to unite the abilities and strengths of the countries there, and encourage structural change.

On the global level, it was necessary to ask how many lives could be saved if the resources invested in war had gone to social programmes, he said.  There was also a need to re-evaluate several international organizations and mechanisms, including those of the United Nations.  Venezuela supported the enlargement of the Security Council, and the elimination of the anti-democratic veto.  Vigilance was needed to ensure that the Human Rights Council continued to work transparently.  Further, the world -– and particularly the United States -- should work together, so that by next year, the current financial calamity could be calmed, peace between nations could be safeguarded and each could stand together at the United Nations.

ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand), noting that her country was among those assisting with urgent food security needs during the current crisis, said a successful conclusion to the Doha Development Round would alleviate much of the pressure on the demand-supply imbalance.  New Zealand supported the Millennium Development Goals “Global Call to Action Campaign”, and noted the urgency of revitalizing efforts toward that end, among them, developing and strengthening partnerships between traditional and new donors, the private sector, civil society and through South-South Cooperation.  New Zealand was increasing its official development assistance by 62 per cent, and focusing that aid on countries of the Pacific, the area least likely after sub-Saharan Africa to meet the Millennium Goals.

Expressing her country’s support for the Secretary-General’s proposals to improve the human resources management system, she reiterated her disappointment in Fiji’s lack of progress towards restoring democratic Government, and urged that country to hold elections by next March, in accordance with its constitution.  New Zealand was pleased at the progress made in institution-building and improved governance in Timor-Leste.  It supported the extension of the United Nations mandate in that country beyond February.  New Zealand urged the authorities in Myanmar to achieve national reconciliation through open and constructive dialogue, and to respect universal human rights.

Turning to Africa, she said the targeting of civilians by State and non-State parties in Darfur was a flagrant breach of international human rights law, but the Power-sharing agreement in Zimbabwe was encouraging.  In the Middle East, New Zealand supported all attempts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict through a two-State solution.  Elsewhere, the international community must devote more resources to ending the conflict in Afghanistan, and help the Afghan people rebuild their country.  New Zealand also praised improvements in relations between China and Taiwan, and encouraged the two countries to maintain the dialogue they had established.

Regarding the International Criminal Court, she urged States to ensure its independence and success, so as not to betray the victims of egregious crimes.  New Zealand had played an active part in designing the new Human Rights Council, and would be seeking election to that body next year.  New Zealand reiterated the importance of the “responsibility to protect”, and called on the Security Council to be prepared to protect people from ethnic cleansing, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, when national authorities failed to do so.

DON PRAMUDWINAI ( Thailand) said citizens of the world were a part of a global village that was deeply divided along political, economic, social, racial, religious and cultural lines.  Its existence was neither sustainable nor healthy.  Continuing to see the world through the lens of “us versus them” would eventually lead to confrontation where no one won.  The challenge was to find the right balance between the individual political cultures of each country and the desire to achieve the ideals of democracy.  As for the situation in Thailand, there had been certain political developments that had made headlines lately, but the Thai people were determined to move forward along the path of democracy.

Noting that realizing the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 had become increasingly difficult for certain countries, he said it would seem that mutual aid among countries was both a moral imperative and a practical necessity, especially in the face of simultaneous global, food and financial crises.  For its own part, Thailand was adversely affected by rising oil prices in almost every aspect of its people’s lives.  However, in every crisis lay an opportunity.  The global oil crisis was nudging the world economy towards the use of alternative energy, and Thailand stood ready to engage with others in research and development of alternative energy technologies.

Regarding the food crisis, he said his country would continue to ensure a constant supply of rice, being the rice bowl of the world.  At the same time, Thailand would work with others around the world, to ensure an open international food market, and to establish agricultural trade rules that would help the world’s poor farmers and shore up food security in developing countries.  Thailand urged all countries to cooperate in averting a downward spiralling effect, with regard to the financial crisis, recalling that the East Asian financial crisis of 1997 had driven millions of people into abject poverty and despair.

He went on to discuss the threat brought about by climate change, which had produced “monster storms” such as Cyclone Nargis, which had struck Myanmar in May.  Ice was melting at the poles, and rising sea levels was threatening to engulf low-lying areas of the world.  Drought had increased, turning many once-arable lands into deserts.  Thailand would spare no effort to realize the vision begun in Bali in time for the Copenhagen Conference in 2009.

Turning to regional matters, he said that ASEAN was seeking to realize the visions of the “ASEAN Charter for ASEAN People” at its upcoming fourteenth session.  The goal was to move towards a rules-based and people-centred organization.  The world would benefit from having a more rules-based, effective, predictable and people-centred ASEAN as a partner.  The regional bloc could become a bridge between China and India, whose billions of people represented an enormous market.  The world might soon see a new “silk road” passing through ASEAN.

ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) stressed the need to reorient international relations from “confrontation fuelled by petty national interests to equal and mutually respectful dialogue and cooperation”.  Global challenges threatened the civilized existence of humankind.  That situation called for participation by all players, since, after all, even a peripheral local conflict posed a threat to the world.  Enhancing the General Assembly’s impact on world affairs could only be possible when the contributions of all Member States received attentive and unbiased consideration.  Unless States could set aside their own geopolitical interests, the Millennium Development Goals could not be advanced.  Despite declarations made by the Assembly, a true global partnership for development had not yet been established.

Describing climate change, as well and energy and food shortages, as interrelated issues of international concern, he said cooperation on the proliferation of energy-saving technologies, as well as renewable and alternative sources of energy, was the most promising way to address those dilemmas.  The creation of an appropriate regulatory mechanism by the United Nations could ensure continued economic growth, while maintaining environmental awareness.  A multifaceted energy agenda, including a code of conduct for transnational corporations engaged in oil and gas production and mining in developing countries, should also be established.

Attempts to gain access to resources like oil, gas and water was a major cause of conflict around the world, he said, noting that 97 per cent of the world’s water resources were found in the seas.  Belarus called for increased efforts to find a feasible way to desalinate sea water.  The United Nations could be integral to defining the future of such technologies, which should not end up in the hands of “a chosen few”.  Moreover, the delay and hesitation currently being displayed in addressing the changing climate was unacceptable, and should be avoided in the future.

A matter of immediate concern was preventing human trafficking through the elaboration of a United Nations plan of action, he said.  An inadequate response would risk the re-emergence of colonial thinking, and a new chain in the trading of humans.  Criminals would begin to select “the best”, and, as a result, there would be a growth in colonialist mentality.

He said his country supported the further democratization of the United Nations, stressing that the top five jobs in each department of the Secretariat should be distributed among the five regional groups.  To that end, Belarus called on Member States to bring a successful conclusion to its lengthy quest for its rightful membership in the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.  Following the accident at Chernobyl, Belarus had gained more than 20 years of experience in dealing with issues of atomic radiation.  Whether success would be attained at the Doha Round, working towards a post-Kyoto accord and reforming the Security Council depended largely on the development of a constructive and non-confrontational approach.

PETER MAURER (Switzerland) lamented the fact that even though a recent World Bank report indicated that the number of people living in poverty had fallen by some 500 million since 1981 -- their proportion of the total population having fallen from 52 per cent to 26 per cent -- some 1.2 billion people nevertheless still had to get by on less than a dollar a day.  Every day, 25,000 people died as a result of starvation and poverty, and there were still some 67 million refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide.

No State, however wealthy or powerful, could tackle such challenges alone, he said, and called for a strong United Nations to lead the search for the needed common solutions.  Only a strong United Nations could focus on “that which united rather than that which divided”.  While cooperation across cultural and religious borders was not always easy, Swiss history had shown that that was most likely to bear fruit when specific problems were tackled and solutions were sought in an open dialogue.

He explained that such an approach was reflected in his country’s “peace policy”, and was the reason why Switzerland supported projects whose purpose was to bring together people with different values and cultural backgrounds to enable them to coexist in a positive way.  It was that approach that characterized the country’s activity in the United Nations-sponsored Alliance of Civilizations.  In that context, too, Switzerland was participating actively in the work of the Human Rights Council.

On progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, he observed development would only be possible if the peoples of the developed world could defend themselves against injustice, had equal access to justice, property, work and markets.  He pointed out that the food crisis had made achieving the Millennium Development Goals more difficult, and he was pleased to announce that Switzerland had responded to the emergency by increasing its contribution to the World Food Programme (WFP).  He saw a positive side to the crisis, noting that rising food prices might also represent an opportunity, especially for farmers in developing countries, particularly if they were given access to land and property, as well as to finance.

SOMDUTH SOBORUN ( Mauritius) said the world must summon the political will to remedy a long list of factors affecting global food security:  outdated agricultural practices, inadequate infrastructure, inequitable distribution of land and insecurity of land tenure.  Mauritius was attempting to diversify its food crops, livestock and seafood production, and seeking economies of scale through partnerships with neighbouring Madagascar and Mozambique.  Against that backdrop, the Secretary-General’s establishment of a high-level task force on food security was commendable.  Mauritius also welcomed the $1.5 billion earmarked by the European Commission for a rapid response to the food crisis, to be disbursed in coordination with the Secretary-General’s task force.

He said his country Mauritius was encouraging more efficient use of energy, and seeking to tap renewable energy resources, in light of rising oil prices.  Those goals were being advanced as part of the “Maurice Ile Durable” project, which envisioned Mauritius as nature’s laboratory, and whose aim was to seek ecological solutions to global warming and over-dependence on fossil fuels.  Indeed, climate change posed a particular burden on island States, and for that reason, the Government was fully engaged in the post-Bali process.  At the last high-level meeting on climate change, it had made a plea for the creation of a special fund to enable the development and implementation of adaptation measures.  However, that appeal to international donors was as yet unanswered.

He went on to note that continued access to official development assistance, concessionary financing arrangements, reduction in debt servicing and improved terms of trade was crucial in building up the economic resilience of small island developing States.  Arbitrary criteria applied to determine their eligibility for securing concessionary finance -- based on gross domestic product -- had disqualified most small island States from accessing much-needed funds.  For that reason, such States must be treated as a distinct category.

Describing his country’s progress on the Millennium Development Goals as good, he said the Government was pursuing a number of programmes to eliminate absolute poverty.  In addition, it had hosted a SADC conference on poverty in April, which had led to the convening of a joint ministerial task force on food security in July.  Mauritius noted the adoption last week of the political declaration on Africa’s development needs, and called for concrete action by the continent and its development partners.

Condemning the decision by Myanmar’s junta to prolong the arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, he expressed favour for the creation of a Palestinian State, according to the various blueprints advanced by the Quartet and the Arab Peace Initiative.  Regarding Africa, the parties to the Darfur conflict must exercise restraint.  Mauritius hoped a national unity Government would be established in Zimbabwe.  As part of its contribution to combating terrorism, Mauritius had joined the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.  Mauritius also called for the expansion of the Security Council, while voicing firm support for the Ezulwini Consensus, which called for two seats for Africa in both categories.

He concluded by raising his country’s sovereignty claim over the Chagos Archipelago, which the United Kingdom had excised from the territory of Mauritius prior to its independence.  High-level talks were underway, so as to enable its citizens to return to the islands of their birth.  Likewise, Mauritius urged France to pursue dialogue with Mauritius on the issue of Tromelin.

AHMED KHALEEL ( Maldives) spoke of his country’s progress in strengthening and modernizing democratic governance, saying that its new constitution guaranteed civil liberties and fundamental freedoms.  Institutions established to safeguard democracy were operational, and steps were being taken to restructure the legal and judicial system to align it with internationally accepted standards.  The country was set to hold its first multiparty presidential election next week.

Since joining the United Nations in 1965, the country had also made significant socio-economic progress in pursuing a people-centric path to sustainable development, he said.  The Millennium Development Goals were fully incorporated into national development priorities, and four years ago, the General Assembly had decided to promote the Maldives from the list of least developed countries.  It was also being hailed as a major success story of the multilateral development assistance framework.  However, those achievements would be meaningless if environmental sustainability could not be guaranteed.  Climate change posed the most immediate threat to human security, compromising such fundamental rights as self-determination and the right to life itself.  Global warming and changing weather patterns undermined the lives and livelihoods of millions.

Small island developing States were particularly vulnerable to global warming, and the very existence of the Maldives was threatened, he said.  Small island States had no time for hesitation and inaction.  Global warming was a development issue, but also a moral, ethical, political, legal, human rights and security one.  The Maldives had decided to raise the issue at the Human Rights Council in 2008.  “The inverse relationship between responsibility for climate change and vulnerability to its consequences is often overlooked.”  Small island States contributed the least, yet suffered the most from climate change.  A comprehensive, rights-based approach to sustainable and just development, anchored in the concept of common but differentiated responsibility, was imperative.

The interrelationship between climate change, food security and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals could not be overemphasized, he said.  More than 100 million people were being driven into poverty by the current global crises.  The solution lay in a fair and equitable trading regime.  The successful completion of the Doha Development Round, and successful outcomes to the post-Bali negotiations and the Financing for Development Conference in Qatar were critical to that end.

ABDERRAHIM OULD HADRAMI ( Mauritania) said that, after two decades of political tyranny and corruption, his country’s Armed Forces had intervened in April to establish a transitional democratic State.  Mauritania had then proceeded to engage in a transparency initiative among the extracting industries.  Property belonging to public officials was subject to disclosure of property, and there was increased transparency in public transactions.  A new law had been established to strengthen press freedom.  A quota of 20 per cent had been set for women candidates seeking Government positions, which had led to 18 women being elected to the current Parliament.

The military intervention had been undertaken because the former President had proven unable to lead the country, he said.  He had used public finances to buy the allegiance of some parliamentarians and fired public officials in an arbitrary manner.  He had threatened to dissolve Parliament to avoid the formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate the sources of financing of a private business created by his family.  While the country’s economy had become poorer, the former President had gone on overseas trips at the expense of the taxpayers.  As a result of the change in Government, the Higher Council of State had declared its commitment to protect democracy and organize free and transparent elections at the earliest possible date.

On other fronts, Mauritania was committed in its support for various multinational organizations, such as the Union of the Arab Maghreb, the League of Arab States, the African Union and the United Nations, he said, paying tribute to the General Assembly for its efforts to reform the world body, particularly the Security Council.  In that regard, Mauritania called for the African and Arab groups to be represented in the Council’s membership.  Japan and Germany should also have permanent seats, since they both played a vital role in the maintenance of international peace and security.

He went on to praise the Assembly’s efforts to deal with the effects of rising food prices at its last session, in financing development projects and tackling the problems of climate change.  The Assembly’s sixty-third session had come at a very difficult time, with food prices reaching crisis levels and threatening to undermine the economies of developing countries.  Mauritania called on wealthy countries to honour their financial promises to poorer countries.

Turning to peace and security issues, he voiced support for the restoration of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and the establishment of their own State.  Mauritania disagreed with the request by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for the arrest of the President of the Sudan, which would create more tension.  However, ongoing negotiations on Western Sahara deserved praise.  Mauritania condemned terrorism in all forms and supported tolerant Islamic values.

On the subject of development, he expressed concern over the deadlock in the Doha Development Round, and called upon industrialized countries to show more flexibility and stronger political will to push negotiations forward.  On other issues, the consequences of development, such as climate change, boded ill for Mauritania, especially if it caused a rise in sea levels.  Industrial countries must limit the emissions that caused greenhouse gases.

ILEKA ATOKI ( Democratic Republic of the Congo), noting the particularly difficult circumstances posed by the crisis in the global financial system, the rising prices of food and fuel, and the effects of climate change, stressed how acutely those problems were affecting developing countries, and called for urgent, collective and determined action to prevent them from imperilling international peace and security.  In addition to the recommendations articulated at the Rome Summit, the Democratic Republic of the Congo called for innovative and urgent action to combat the global food crisis.  It also endorsed the World Food Programme’s appeal for additional funds.

He said his country had hosted a conference of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in July and was determined to actively uphold the measures devised then.  It was also committed to honouring those United Nations Conventions it had signed aimed at combating the effects of climate change, by fighting desertification and protecting biodiversity.  As home to 60 per cent of the Congo Basin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was aware of the role it could play to help combat climate change.  It would willingly do so provided the international community played its part by providing due compensation for the environmental benefits provided to humanity by the Congolese forests.

With the promise of a great future, but weakened by years of poor governance, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had risen again as a State, a people and a democracy, he said.  Following its successful reunification and subsequent elections, the country had launched efforts for its long-term reconstruction.  The improvements it had made, however, must be shored up in light of the dangerous events in the east of the country.  Indeed, the actions of the National Congress for People’s Defence (CNDP) had made it impossible for several eastern provinces to enjoy the benefits of peace, security and reconstruction.  Recent outbreaks of fighting had led to huge displacements of the population.

Despite progress elsewhere, that group -- in addition to the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) -- continued to sow death and destruction, he said.  To reverse that trend, the Government was working to mobilize information campaigns to promote disarmament among the Rwandan groups; to encourage their disarmament and voluntary repatriation; and to deploy brigades to act, in concert with forces from the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).  A disengagement plan, drawn up by MONUC, had also been accepted.  It would come into force on 1 October and have 45 days to work.  The United Nations should provide a clear mandate for MONUC to enforce peace and security as a matter of the Organization’s credibility.  Indeed, there was no more legitimate use of force than that by the United Nations.

Beyond the pursuit of peace in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was working to ensure social development, he said, adding that justice was a pillar in that effort.  Entire families had been wiped out, mass graves had been found and women and girls had been raped.  Given that lingering tragedy, justice was what was most needed.  That would mean ending impunity.  How else could the rape of women and girls be ended or the abuse of human rights arrested if warlords were not punished.  Thus, justice was a foundation for peace -- national justice preferably, but international justice if necessary.

ANDERS LIDÉN (Sweden), noting that the Security Council, particularly its five permanent members, had a responsibility to uphold international law, said the Russian Federation’s invasion of Georgia was a clear violation of the United Nations Charter, and its subsequent recognition of parts of Georgia as independent States stood in contradiction to international law, including principles and commitments agreed in the context of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  Sweden supported Georgia’s territorial integrity and called on the Russian Federation to fulfil its obligations to withdraw its forces.

He said respect for human rights must be a part of all United Nations activities, including in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts, as well in as the work of United Nations funds and programmes.  In addition, support for human rights was important in countering terrorism, where measures must be taken within a clear framework of international law if they were to be effective.  For instance, it was essential that the Security Council develop clear and fair procedures in matters of listing and delisting individuals being targeted for sanctions.  In addition, the International Criminal Court should pursue justice in a way that supported peace processes.

States had a responsibility to protect the people within their borders from human rights violations, he stressed, adding that, if a State was capable of doing so, it should ask the international community for help, as Kenya had done recently.  In cases where States were unwilling to do so, the Security Council must face its responsibility to protect.  In doing so, the Council must avoid taking unilateral action because it might risk aggravating the problem and undermining international law.  Women in conflict situations must have full access to justice.  Although the Security Council had passed two resolutions reaffirming rape and sexual violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity, more must be done.  Sweden also wished to see an end to the death penalty, an “inhumane form of punishment”.

Turning to nuclear proliferation, he said the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons formed the foundation of the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.  In order not to undermine it, especially against the backdrop of developments in Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the nuclear Powers must demonstrate a readiness substantially to reduce their own arsenals.

He said his country supported efforts to bridge “crisis management” and long-term development in post-conflict situations.  By chairing the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Government of Sweden hoped to contribute to the further development of the United Nations role in that area.  Sweden had hosted the first annual review meeting of the International Compact with Iraq, believing that partnership between the Iraqi Government and the United Nations was crucial.

As for climate change, he said his country would provide resources for a special initiative in its development cooperation.  Mindful that it would hold the European Union Presidency in 2009, the same year as the Copenhagen conference on climate change, Sweden would take special responsibility for putting an international climate agreement in place at that meeting.

CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said the United Nations did not create events or trends, but was rather a sounding board where events and trends were submitted for debate and a coherent, consensual and timely response.  The crises of the current year presented a mixture of natural factors and elements of human responsibility.  However, the crises had frequently been compounded by tardy responses and a failure or reluctance by leaders to protect their populations.  The responsibility to protect was the responsibility of the international community to intervene in situations where individual Governments were unwilling to assure the protection of their own citizens.

During the past year, there had been a growing consensus that the responsibility to protect was a component of responsible leadership, he said.  That principle was being distorted to promote military interventions.  The use of violence to resolve disagreements was always a failure of vision and of humanity.  The responsibility to protect should be viewed as the need for the international community to come together in the face of crisis to find the means for fair and open negotiations, support the moral force of law and seek the common good.  Failure to collectively protect populations at risk and prevent arbitrary military interventions undermined the authority of the United Nations.

He said that, while many continued to debate the causes and further consequences of the financial, humanitarian and food crises around the world, it was the responsibility of the United Nations to provide direction, coherence and resolution.  The ability of the human community to provide food and security, and to protect basic human rights was at stake.  As for climate change, it was clear that not all that was possible should be legal, including deforestation.  When speaking of humans, however, there was an inconsistency.  It seemed that all that was technically possible should be pursued, ranging from the production of biological weapons to restructuring the family.  The global community must come together to reverse that contradiction.

Rights of Reply

The representative of Ethiopia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected the claim by the Eritrean delegate of sovereignty over territory owned by Ethiopia, saying Eritrea was now also illegally occupying Djibouti’s territory.  Concerning its “rogue politics”, Eritrea must be told that enough was enough.  There was “a one man show in Asmara” and that was the President who acted as both the Government and the State.  The President of Eritrea had no regard for accountability and ruled not by a constitution, but by absolute dictatorship.  It was a country in isolation acting as a ruthless regime.

Concerning Somalia, he said Ethiopia was there not as an invading force, but by the invitation of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.  Moreover, Ethiopia was a force for stabilization and it was Eritrea that was hosting terrorists, as affirmed by the Security Council.  The actions taken by Asmara were unacceptable to the civilized world.  Eritrea refused to coexist with Ethiopia and the region.  Eritrea’s troubles with its neighbours were not the result of something concerning one boundary, but stemmed from the belligerence of its own Government.  Ethiopia agreed with the Security Council that the primary solution to the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea rested with the parties themselves.  Eritrea had to understand that violence was unacceptable and that peaceful means must be used to resolve disputes.

The representative of Eritrea said in response that his Ethiopian colleague had made several false statements, but he would not honour them by responding to each one.  The Eritrean delegation did not wish to enter into accusations and counter-accusations that contributed little to the region’s peace and security.  But to set the record straight, if Ethiopia had cooperated with the decision of the Boundary Commission, the issues could have been resolved then and there.  The successful conclusion of the peace agreement would have brought the suffering of the two peoples to an end in 2003.

But it was a matter of record that Ethiopia and its appeasers had done everything in their power to frustrate and undermine the authority and decisions of the Boundary Commission with the hope of changing the world to Ethiopia’s liking.  It had chosen to flout international law under the cover of such talks, in the course of which it had compared the settlement mechanism to other incomparable situations, such as the one between Cameroon and Nigeria.  Ethiopia had done all that for the purpose of running away from its own agreement.

Eritrea had not occupied any Ethiopian land or territory, and the route to peace, therefore, was for Ethiopia unequivocally to withdraw from the sovereign territories of other nations, he said.  Ethiopia had clearly invaded Somalia, and its calls for peace there were a “mockery”.  Before that invasion, the presence of the international community had brought a semblance of order and stability to Somalia for the first time since 1991.  If left alone, that process would have allowed the Somali people to find their own solution to their own problem.

Closing Statement

MIGUEL D’ESCOTO BROCKMANN ( Nicaragua), President of the General Assembly, said that although the general debate had taken place in a “troubling time” for the world, the stage was being set for changes that would bring genuine democracy to the United Nations.  Indeed, the Assembly had heard from 111 Heads of State and Government, who had outlined priority concerns and reaffirmed that the Assembly remained the most important -- and most democratic forum -- for global debate.  “The General Assembly enables the dialogue that is essential to identify and, more importantly, agree on solutions to our most pressing problems.”

He said the “deeply flawed” global economic system teetered on the brink of collapse, with the turmoil perhaps most starkly reflected in the world food crisis.  In recent days, the Assembly had heard concrete and far-ranging proposals that, if implemented, would prevent the food crisis from becoming a prolonged catastrophe.  It was clear that solutions to such man-made problems called for human solutions.  “We must take brave steps to defuse the time bombs that are ticking at the heart of virtually all our societies.  We must reorder our priorities if we are to fulfil the promises of security and well-being that billions of people have entrusted to us.”

There were undeniable signs that the Assembly was getting its priorities straight, he continued, calling attention to the two high-level meetings on the special needs of Africa and the Millennium Development Goals.  Those meetings had generated unmistakable momentum for a successful gathering in Doha that would focus on financing for development.  The Assembly had also heard urgent appeals for a stronger United Nations, with leaders expressing enthusiastic support for the Assembly’s decision to enter into serious negotiations on the make-up of the Security Council in coming months -- a central discussion for the Organization’s future.  “If we hope to climb out of the terrible mess we have created, we must treat each other with respect and love.”  States must make a difference in the months ahead.

* *** *


*     Reissued to include the intervention by Belize.

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.