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With Crises in Food, Energy, Recession Hitting All at Once, ‘the World Looks to Us for Answers’, Secretary-General Says, Opening General Debate

Sixty-fourth General Assembly


3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)

With Crises in Food, Energy, Recession Hitting All at Once, ‘the World Looks

to Us for Answers’, Secretary-General Says, Opening General Debate

General Assembly President Hails United Nations as Most legitimate Forum

For Concerted Global Action, as 30 World Leaders Address Session’s First Day

Amid signs that countries were slowly pulling back from the brink of recession, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today cautioned world leaders attending the General Assembly’s annual debate that serious challenges remained, and that tackling the fallout from ongoing crises in food, energy and climate would require nothing less than rising to the call of an exceptional moment in history.

“If ever there were a time to act in a spirit of renewed multilateralism –- a moment to create a United Nations of genuine collective action –- it is now,” Mr. Ban said, opening the Assembly’s sixty-fourth general debate with a call for collective action. “Now is our time,” he declared, urging member States to be united in purpose and united in action.

Laying out his vision, he expressed hope that this year would see significant progress on various fronts, including in the creation of a nuclear-free world.  Amid new pledges by the United States and the Russian Federation to reduce nuclear arsenals, and optimism that next year’s Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) would offer a fresh start, the Secretary-General said that action on the issue now could helpbring the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty into force.

As for the ongoing fight against poverty, he drew attention to the fact that the “near poor” were becoming the new poor, and that an estimated 100 million people risked falling below the poverty line this year.  With that in mind, he was creating the Global Impact Vulnerability Alert System (GIVAS) to provide real-time data on the world’s socio-economic picture.  Further, a summit on the Millennium Development Goals would also be convened at Headquarters in 2010 to mount a final push towards the 2015 deadline.

Turning to the Organization’s work in the field, Mr. Ban called for consolidating progress in Darfur and delivering on world body’s mandate, especially as the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) –- which still lacked critical assets -– would be 90 per cent deployed by year’s end.  Among other situations, he said that, in Myanmar, if next year’s elections were to be accepted as credible, all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, must be released.

Regarding the situation in Gaza, he underscored that issues of justice and accountability had to be addressed and negotiations revived towards achieving a two-State solution.  Elsewhere, the United Nations was committed to standing with the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and solidifying gains in countries like Timor-Leste, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Nepal.

Above all, the United Nations was committed to offering a voice to the voiceless and defending the defenceless.  With crises in food, energy, recession and pandemic flu hitting all at once, “the world looks to us for answers”, he said, adding:  “If we are to offer genuine hope to the hopeless, if we are to truly turn the corner to economic recovery, then we must do so for all nations and all people.”

Picking up that thread, the President of the General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki, said the biggest challenges –- peace and security, environmental degradation, extreme poverty, simultaneous economic, food and energy crises and disarmament –- could only be tackled through a well-functioning multilateral system.

As the United Nations chief deliberative policy-making organ, the Assembly held legitimacy unmatched by any other body or organization, and he pledged to work with States to forge consensus on a revitalized Assembly and a reformed Security Council.  In the area of human rights, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance continued to plague societies across the globe, and the Assembly would need to support the development of the Human Rights Council.

Recalling that peace required global cooperation, United States President Barack Obama said his Government was ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation -- one that recognized the rights and responsibilities of all nations.  Recalling that he had assumed office at a time when many viewed the United States with mistrust, he said it was his deep belief that in 2009 -- more than at any other time -- the interests of nations and peoples were shared.

He said the United States would live up to its values and lead by example.  It had re-engaged the United Nations, joined the Human Rights Council and fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals.  Challenging all Member States to work together and with more urgency to ensure global peace and security, Mr. Obama laid down four pillars towards a more peaceful word, including eliminating nuclear weapons, curbing global warming, ending intractable conflicts and creating a fair global economic and trade system.

He noted the General Assembly had often become a forum for sowing discord -- but twenty-first century leadership demanded more.  No world order that elevated one nation over others would succeed.  “The choice is ours,” he said.  “We can be remembered as a generation that chose to drag the arguments of the twentieth century into the twenty-first […] or one that chooses to come together to serve the common interest of all human beings.”

Similarly, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said Africa was entering a phase of growth and transformation.  Uganda had faired well during the recession, mainly because of strong regional trade, but it would do much better when roads, electricity and railways were in place.  Progress in those infrastructure areas had been slow, due to dependence on foreign funding, which tended to be frivolous and erratic.

How could growth and transformation be expected in such a situation? he asked, and said the whole of Africa needed to “wake up” and cooperate on finding solutions.  Indeed, Africa could no longer be held hostage to foreign funding in such vital areas, he said, stressing that African nations faced a double task: to transform from pre-industrial to modern economies and to cope with problems caused by others, including the global financial crisis and environmental deterioration.  The need for dialogue among civilizations was long overdue, he added.

On that point, Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, said the international community had felt the need, as never before, for informal collective leadership, and an increased role for forums like the Group of Eight (G-8) and Group of 20 (G-20).  Among problems that could not be solved without the United Nations was the imbalance of existing world economic governance mechanisms, the inadequacy of their “rules of the game” and the chasm between financial markets and the real economy.

He said the United Nations had to strengthen its influence and preserve its multinational nature.  Reforming the Security Council was essential to those efforts and the time had come to step up the search for a compromise formula for its expansion.  In addition, real progress in nuclear disarmament would be impossible without addressing national missile defence and non-nuclear strategic offensive arms potential.  He expected work on a new treaty to fully take into account relevant provisions of the joint document endorsed by himself and the United States President at their meeting in Moscow earlier this year.

Hu Jintao, President of China, said that, as the world moved further towards multi-polarity and economic globalization, democracy in international relations had gained greater public support.  At the same time, prospects for global economic recovery were unclear and he called on the United Nations to achieve a more balanced global economic system, notably by creating an international environment conducive to developing country growth.  Developed countries should open their markets by reducing or exempting tariffs, while developing nations should upgrade South-South cooperation.

For its part, China would continue to open to the rest of the world, he said, pledging support to developing countries hurt by the financial crisis.  Such efforts would include assistance for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, increased assistance to Africa, the reduction -- or cancellation -- of debt for heavily indebted poor countries and promotion of regional monetary and financial cooperation.

Also speaking today were the Heads of State of Brazil, Libya (on behalf of the African Union), Qatar, Turkmenistan, Chile, Uruguay, Algeria, Republic of Korea, France, Argentina, Tajikistan, Monaco, Colombia, South Africa, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Dominican Republic, Iran, Bolivia, Ukraine and Poland, as well as the Heads of Government of Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Italy, United Kingdom and Australia.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. Thursday, 24 September, to resume its general debate.


The General Assembly met this morning to begin its annual general debate.

Statement by the Secretary-General

Opening the sixty-fourth session’s general debate, United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON recalled that the Assembly gathered every September in a solemn rite –- to reaffirm the United Nations’ founding charter and faith in the principles of peace, justice, human rights and equal opportunity for all.  Delegates assessed the state of the world and laid out a vision for the way forward.

This year, however, the Assembly had been asked to rise to an exceptional moment:  amid the many crises of food, energy, recession and pandemic flu, the world looked to the 192-member body for answers.

“If ever there were a time to act in a spirit of renewed multilateralism –- a moment to create a United Nations of genuine collective action –- it is now,” he said.  It was time to put the “united” back into the United Nations.

Laying out his vision, he asked world leaders to make this year one in which the Organization rose to the greatest challenge facing the human family:  the threat of catastrophic climate change.  Indeed, just yesterday, 100 Heads of State and Government recognized the need for a climate agreement that all nations could embrace, in line with their abilities, consistent with what science required, and grounded in “green growth” –- the lifeline of the twenty-first century.

He urged that this year see a world free of nuclear weapons.  It was a cause that had lain dormant for too long, which was why, last October, he had proposed a five-point plan for putting disarmament back on the global agenda.  The Russian Federation and the United States had pledged to cut nuclear arsenals and this May, there would be a chance to push for real progress at the United Nations Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Moreover, tomorrow’s historic Security Council Summit, chaired by the President of the United States, offered a fresh start.  “With action now, we can get the ratifications to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force,” he said.

In the fight against poverty, he hoped this year would bring a focus on those left behind, as a new crisis was at hand.  The near-poor were becoming the new poor and an estimated 100 million people risked falling below the poverty line this year.

Markets might be bouncing back, but incomes and jobs were not, he said.  People believed the global economy was stacked against them, which was why he had put forward a Global Jobs Pact for balanced and sustainable growth, and was working to create a new Global Impact Vulnerability Alert System, which would provide real-time data on the world’s socio-economic picture.

A special summit on the Millennium Development Goals also would be convened at this time next year.  “With only five years to go, we must mount a final push towards 2015,” he stressed.  Rightly, women and children had been placed at the forefront.

The prevention of sexual violence against women also must be a priority.  “Let us agree:  these acts are an abomination,” he stressed.  Leaders of every nation were personally accountable when such crimes were committed within their borders.  When women died in childbirth or were raped as a weapon of war, the United Nations could not look the other way, and he reminded delegates they had recently agreed to create a single agency to address women’s issues.

Along similar lines, he said the Assembly also had reaffirmed the responsibility to protect.  “Where conflicts arise, justice and accountability should follow,” he said, which was why the work of the International Criminal Court was so vital.  He looked forward to the Review Conference next May as a chance to strengthen its mandate.

Turning to the United Nations’ work in the field, he said none of those noble goals could be achieved without peace, security and justice.  In Darfur, that meant consolidating progress and delivering on the mandate.  While the mission would be 90 per cent deployed by year’s end, it lacked critical assets, and in that context, he urged continued work to stabilize the Sudan and to shore up the comprehensive peace with the Southern Sudan.

Noting that Somalia continued to demand attention, he said the United Nations, in Sri Lanka, would continue to press for settlement, reconciliation and respect for the principle of responsibility.  He welcomed the Government’s pledge to allow all displaced persons to return by the end of January.

In Myanmar, the release of some political prisoners last week fell short of what was needed, and he called for doing “much more” in the best interests of the country and its people.  If next year’s elections were to be accepted as credible, all political prisoners –- including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi –- must be released.

In Gaza, people continued to suffer, he stressed.  Issues of justice and accountability had to be addressed and he urged reviving negotiations towards a two-State solution and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.  He supported United States President Barack Obama’s efforts for the resumption of peace talks and would work within the Quartet to that end.

While recent elections in Afghanistan had revealed serious defects, the world should not forget that progress had been made, he continued.  The United Nations was committed to standing with the Afghan people, as well as with the people of Pakistan.  Significant progress also had been made in Timor-Leste, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Nepal.  Quiet progress had been made in Iraq and fresh opportunities created in Cyprus.  It was time to take stock and move forward.

On a final note, Mr. Ban reminded delegates that their common ambition should be to make the United Nations’ outward renovation work a symbol of the Organization’s inward renewal.  The United Nations had made progress in “Delivering as One” and in “getting peacebuilding right” so that societies emerging from war did not slide back into conflict.  It had created the Department of Field Support and was developing the “New Horizons” strategy to make peacekeeping more agile and effective.

“We need the strong support of Member States, just as we do to secure the safety of our brave staff serving in dangerous places,” he said.

In his travels from the Arctic ice rim to the steppes of Mongolia, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to summits in Trinidad and Tobago, London and L’Aquila –- he had spoken out on one point above all others:  the United Nations was the voice of the voiceless, the defender of the defenceless.

“If we are to offer genuine hope to the hopeless, if we are to truly turn the corner to economic recovery, then we must do so for all nations and all people,” he said.  “We are here to take risks, to assume the burden of responsibility, to rise to an exceptional moment, to make history.”  This year, of all years, asked no less.

Statement by General Assembly President

ALI TREKI, President of the United Nations General Assembly, said the sixty‑fourth session was taking place as the international community faced multiple crises and enormous challenges in areas from international peace and security, to environmental degradation and climate change, to extreme poverty and deadly infectious diseases.  The setbacks to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; the economic, financial, food and energy crises; disarmament and non-proliferation were all challenges in the backdrop of this session.

Those challenges could only be addressed through a well-functioning multilateral system that would ensure effective and collective action.  As the embodiment of multilateralism, the United Nations was the most legitimate forum for ensuring concerted global action.  The Assembly was “the chief deliberative policymaking organ of the United Nations”, and held a global membership and legitimacy unmatched by any other organization.  Mr. Treki pledged to work with Member States to forge a consensus on a revitalized Assembly, a more representative and reformed Security Council, and other initiatives to improve the effectiveness and management of the Organization.

Turning to crucial issues facing the world, he said the international community needed to work towards a global climate change agreement in Copenhagen and a more comprehensive and coherent approach towards peace, security and development in Africa.  He said the upcoming high-level Assembly meeting, scheduled for the start of the sixth-fifth session in 2010, would be held just five years before the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and offered an opportunity to identify the impediments to progress towards the Goals.

Supporting post-conflict peacebuilding would continue to be a major concern for Member States, as would the promotion and protection of human rights.  He noted that the Assembly would review the follow-up to the outcome of the Durban Review Conference as racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance challenged societies across the globe.  The Assembly would be required to support the development of the Human Rights Council.  The question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict remain unresolved despite its place on the Assembly’s plenary agenda for many years, and still posed a serious threat to international peace and security.  A comprehensive and lasting settlement was needed, he said.

The Organization had a unique responsibility in striving for the rule of law within international affairs and was the universal centre for international standard setting in various fields of international law.  Yet the rule of law meant little without the accountability of law, and in the face of violations of international law, there had to be effective means of redress.  While the international community was constantly strengthening accountability mechanisms, including dispute resolutions, it had far to travel to fulfil this part of the vision.  The law itself had to reinforce the common belief in the fundamental dignity of all human beings, Mr. Treki said.


LUIZ INáCIO LULA DA SILVA, President of Brazil, said he would focus on three perils haunting the planet:  the ongoing economic crisis; the lack of stable world governance; and the threat of climate change.  As he had said a year ago, history would never forgive the serious blunder of dealing with the “impacts” rather than the “causes” of the crisis. 

For example, he said, the current economic crisis was more than a crisis of “big banks”.  It was a crisis of “big dogmas”.  An economic, political and social outlook that had been held to be unquestionable had simply fallen apart.  A senseless system based on absurd doctrines, such as markets regulating themselves, had proved itself bankrupt.  Furthermore, the fact that a total collapse of the system had been avoided had apparently given rise to irresponsible acquiescence in certain sectors.  Most of the underlying problems had been ignored.  There was enormous resistance to adopting mechanisms to regulate financial markets.

At the G-20 meetings and in other venues with world leaders, he continued, he had insisted on the need to irrigate the world economy with a significant volume of credit.  He had defended the regulation of financial markets, the widespread adoption of anti-cyclic policies, the end of protectionism and the fight against tax havens.  He had proposed true reform of the multilateral financial agencies. 

The world could no longer be run by the same rules and values that had prevailed 65 years before, he stated.  Likewise, the United Nations and the Security Council could no longer be run under the structures imposed after the Second World War.  The world was growing “multilateral” and also “multi-polar,” based on regional integration, such as South America’s creation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).  And rather than being in conflict with the United Nations, such a world would invigorate the Organization.

It would take political will to confront and overcome situations that conspired against peace, development and democracy, he continued.  Without political will, throwbacks such as the embargo against Cuba would continue.  There would be more coups such as the one that had toppled the constitutional President of Honduras, granted refuge in Brazil’s embassy in Tegucigalpa since Monday.  The international community must demand that he be returned to the Presidency of his country and must ensure the inviolability of Brazil’s diplomatic mission in Honduras.

Finally, he said, the threat of climate change would continue to grow unless all countries took action to turn back global warming.  His country would arrive in Copenhagen with precise alternatives and commitments based on a National Climate Change Plan that included an 80 per cent cut in deforestation of the Amazon by 2020.   Further, despite the fact that Brazil was self-sufficient in oil and major reserves had recently been found, Brazil would not turn into an oil giant but would consolidate its role as a world power in green energy.

Meanwhile, he said the developed countries must set emission-reduction goals far beyond those tabled to date.  Plus, the funding for technological innovations to protect the environment in developing countries was totally insufficient.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, said that, while he had been in office for just nine months, he was aware of the expectations that accompanied his Presidency –- they were rooted in a discontent with a status quo that had allowed people to be increasingly defined by their differences and outpaced by their problems.  At the same time, such expectations were rooted in hope that real change was possible and that the United States would lead in bringing it about, he said. 

He had come to office at a time when many viewed the United States with mistrust, but it was his deep belief that in 2009, more than at any other time, the interests of nations and peoples were shared.  Religious beliefs could forge new bonds or tear people apart.  Technology harnessed could light the path to peace or darken it.  What happened to the hope of a child anywhere could enrich the world –- or impoverish it.  “We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” he said.  “Our work must begin now.”

“ America will live its values, and we will lead by example,” he said, noting that his Administration would work with all Members States to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaida and its extremist allies.  In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States and others were helping to develop their Governments’ capacity to lead in that effort, and advance their peoples’ security.  In Iraq, it had removed American combat brigades from cities and set a deadline of next August to remove all such brigades from Iraqi territory.  He pledged to keep his promise to remove all troops by the end of 2011.

He said the United States had outlined a comprehensive agenda to seek a world without nuclear weapons.  In Moscow, the United States and the Russian Federation had announced they would pursue reductions in strategic warheads and launchers.  At the Conference on Disarmament, they agreed to a plan for negotiating an end to the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons, and this week, the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, would become the first senior American representative to the annual Members Conference of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

The United States also had re-engaged the United Nations, he explained, saying “we have paid our bills”, joined the Human Rights Council, signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals.  Some actions had yielded progress and others had laid the groundwork for it in the future.  But such efforts could not fall to America alone; all had to bear their share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.

Recalling that peace rested on the cooperative effort of the world, Mr. Obama pointed out that the General Assembly had often become a forum for sowing discord.  Twenty-first century leadership demanded more, and no world order that elevated one nation over others would succeed.  “Old habits and old arguments are irrelevant to the challenges faced by our people,” he said, calling for building new coalitions that bridged old divides.  “The choice is ours:  we can be remembered as a generation that chose to drag the arguments of the twentieth century into the twenty-first […] or one that chooses to come together to serve the common interest of all human beings.”

With that, he put forward four pillars, fundamental to a future the United States wished to see, calling first on States to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and seek a world without them.  Today, the threat of proliferation was growing in scope and complexity.  Failing to act invited a nuclear arms race in every region.  A fragile consensus stood in the way of that frightening outcome -– the basic bargain that shaped the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which outlined States’ right to peaceful nuclear energy and that those with nuclear weapons had the duty to move towards disarmament.

He said the United States would pursue a new agreement with the Russian Federation to substantially reduce strategic warheads and launchers, and complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opened doors to deeper cuts.  It also would host a summit next April reaffirming nations’ duty to secure nuclear material on their territory and help those unable to do so.  Such efforts must work to strengthen the NPT. 

When International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections were avoided and United Nations demands ignored, people were less safe and all nations were less secure, he said, adding that the Governments of North Korea and Iran threatened to take the world down that dangerous slope.  He was committed to diplomacy that opened a path to a more secure peace for both nations, but if they ignored international standards, they must be held accountable.  “We must insist that the future does not belong to fear.”

Turning to the second pillar –- the pursuit of peace -– he said efforts must begin with an unshakeable determination that the murder of innocent people would never be tolerated.  In confronting extremists that promoted conflict by distorting faith, he said the United States would forge partnerships, share intelligence, coordinate law enforcement and protect people.  The most powerful weapon in its arsenal was the hope of human beings –- the belief that the future belonged to those who built, not destroyed.

The United States would boost support for peacekeeping and energize efforts to prevent conflicts.  In the Sudan, he said, it would pursue lasting peace through support of people in Darfur and implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  Elsewhere, from Haiti to the Congo to East Timor, it would work with the United Nations to support lasting peace.

In addition, the United States would continue to seek a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, and the Arab world.  Just yesterday, he had met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas.  While progress had been made, he continued to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and reiterate that America did not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.

He said the time had come to relaunch negotiations –- without preconditions –- that addressed the permanent status issues:  security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees and Jerusalem, he said.  The goal was clear:  two States living side by side in peace and security -– a Jewish State with true security for all Israelis, and a viable, independent Palestinian State with contiguous territory, that ended occupation begun in 1967.  The United States would also pursue peace between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and a broader peace between Israel and its many neighbours. 

Turning to the preservation of the planet, he said the danger posed by climate change could not be denied and nations’ responsibility to meet the challenge could not be deferred.  Without action, efforts to end conflict would be eclipsed by wars over refugees and resources; development would be devastated by drought.  “The days when America dragged its feet on this issue are over,” he said, adding that the country would press ahead with deep cuts in emissions to reach the goals set for 2020, and eventually 2050.

On the final pillar –- creating a global economy that advanced opportunity for all people –- he said the world was still recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Across the globe, there were promising signs, yet little certainty about what lay ahead.  At the upcoming G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, the United States would work with the world’s largest economies to chart a course for balanced growth.  That would mean vigilance, to ensure efforts did not let up until people were back to work, rekindling demand, and strengthening regulation for all financial centres.

Indeed, there was a moral and pragmatic interest in the broader questions of development.  The United States had set aside $63 billion to carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS, to end death from tuberculosis and malaria, to eradicate polio, and strengthen public health systems.  The United States would join others in contributing H1N1 vaccines to the World Health Organization.

Growth could not be sustained unless all embraced their responsibility.  Wealthy nations had to open their markets to more goods, and reform international institutions to give more countries a greater voice.  Developing countries had to root out corruption that precluded progress.  The United States would support honest police and independent judges, civil society and a vibrant private sector.

“Our goal is simple:  a global economy in which growth is sustained and opportunity is available to all,” he said.  Such changes would not be easy but he believed the world’s people hoped that for their children.  Democracy and human rights were essential to achieving such goals.  The test of leadership would not be the degree to which nations fed the fears of their people.  As an African American, he would never forget that he would not be here today without the steady pursuit of a more perfect union in the United States.  While America had too often been selective in its promotion of democracy, that only reinforced its commitment.

“We have reached a pivotal moment,” he said.  “The United States stands ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation -– one that recognizes the rights and responsibilities of all nations.”  With confidence in its cause, and commitment to its values, the United States called on all nations to help it build the future people deserved.

MUAMMAR AL-QADHAFI, Leader of the Revolution of Libya, speaking also on behalf of the African Union, said he hoped this gathering would be a historic one.  He also congratulated United States President Barack Obama on his first address to the General Assembly.  This year’s debate was being held in the midst of many challenges and the world should unite and defeat these challenges, which included climate change, the economic crisis and the food crisis.

He said many Member States were not present when the United Nations was created by three countries years ago.  They created the Charter but the Preamble was different from the provisions and articles.  No one objected to the Preamble, but he rejected everything that came after.  The Preamble of the United Nations Charter said nations were equal, whether large or small.  The veto power bestowed upon the five permanent members of the Security Council was, therefore, against the Charter, and he neither accepted nor recognized it.

Continuing, he said the Charter’s Preamble stated that military force should not be used unless there was a common interest.  But 65 wars, with millions of victims, had broken out since the creation of the United Nations.  Moreover, the Preamble said if there was aggression against any country, the United Nations together would check such actions.  Despite that, countries which held the veto used aggressive force against “the people”, even as the Charter said no nation had the right to intervene in the internal affairs of another.

He went on to express concern that right now, calls for reforming the Organization focused only on increasing the number of Member States.  That would only make things worse.  For instance, adding more Security Council seats would “give rise to more super-Powers, crush the small people and create more poverty”.  Such an impractical move would also generate more competition among countries.  In any case, the Council should act according to the rules of the United Nations.  The solution was to close the admission of new Member States and provide equality among those already belonging to the Organization, he said.

Currently, the Assembly was like a decor without any substance.  “You just make a speech and then you disappear...that’s who you are right now,” he said.  Setting that right would mean that the Security Council could serve as a tool for implementing resolutions adopted by the Assembly.  The Council should represent the interests of all countries, through individual seats or seats held by unions that represented each region of the world.  There were equal votes in the Assembly and there should be equal votes next door in the Security Council, he declared, adding that ultimately, for a united and peaceful world, serious Organizational reform was needed.

Keeping his focus squarely on Security Council dynamics, he said that the 15-member body practised “security feudalism” for those who had a protected seat.  “It should be called the terror council”, he said, underscoring that terrorism could exist in many forms.  The super-Powers had complicated interests and used the United Nations for their own purposes.  Indeed, the Security Council did not provide the world with security, but gave it “terror and sanctions”.  He was not committed to adhere to the Council’s resolutions, which were used to commit war crimes and genocides.  He reiterated that the Council did not provide security and the world did not have to obey the rules or orders it decreed, especially as it was currently constituted.

Regarding Africa, the African Union deserved a permanent seat in the Security Council for the suffering it had endured for many years.  This had nothing to do with reform, he said, declaring that Africa deserved compensation, amounting to some $77.7 trillion for the resources and wealth that had been stolen in the past.  Colonization should be criminalized and people should be compensated for the suffering endured during the reign of colonial power.

Africans were proud and happy that a son of Africa was now governing the United States of America and it was a great thing -- it was a glimmer of light in the dark of the past eight years, he said.

However, he noted the money spent by the United States and the city to secure United Nations Headquarters during the annual Assembly.  While thanking the United States for its efforts in hosting the Organization for the past 50 years, he said the United Nations should hold its annual debate in another hemisphere for the next 50 years.  He complained about the trouble some diplomats and their staff had in securing visas from the United States Government.

YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI, President of Uganda, said Africa had gotten grasp of the development compass in the last 15 to 20 years.  Uganda’s economy had grown at the rate of 6.5 per cent a year for the two decades and had grown 7 per cent the last year, despite the global recession.  Those reasonable rates of growth had been achieved despite the fact that three vital infrastructural elements remained to be resolved decisively.

In the areas of electricity, roads and railways, he said progress had been slow due to a dependence on foreign funding, which tended to be frivolous and erratic.  Rising tax collections have now put Uganda in position to fund projects in those areas and foreign investments were welcome, of course.  But Africa could no longer be held hostage to foreign funding in those vital infrastructural areas in which there were shameful global inequities.  The United States, for example, had an electrical usage rate of 14,124 kilowatts per capita per year, while Africa had 574, and some African countries had rates as low as 9 kilowatts. 

How could growth and transformation be expected in such a situation, he asked, and said the whole of Africa needed to “wake up” and cooperate on finding solutions to that matter and to the poor condition of roads.  In China, the cost of transporting a ton of cargo between Beijing and Shanghai by rail, was $12.  In East Africa, the cost was $65.

He said another two bottlenecks were related to the export of raw materials and the lack of progress in modernizing subsistence and traditional agriculture.  The present process of exporting raw materials was called “modern slavery” by many Africans since it brought in only 10 per cent of the final processed product.  The modernization of farming meant the implementation of initiatives to improve products and equipment, irrigation systems, breeding stocks and agro-practices. 

Africa was entering a phase of growth and transformation, he said.  Uganda had faired well during the recession because of regional trade, but it would do much better when the three infrastructural elements of roads, electricity and railways were in place.  Africa had great growth potential that was not yet tapped and multilateral action would unlock the dormant potential.  The situation was similar to the current global crisis, which had been caused by lax regulations in managing the world’s economics.  Multilateral actions had been required to stop money-laundering and to strengthen regulations.

In conclusion, he said African countries had a double task.  One was to transform their economies from pre-industrial to modern ones.  The other task was to cope with problems caused by others, such as the global financial crisis and environmental deterioration.  The need for dialogue among civilizations was long overdue.

SHEIKH HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI, Amir of Qatar, said the current General Assembly coincided with an extremely special international situation; one that took place at “critical junctions of major historical developments”.  That had given rise to the opportunity to regulate international interactions and systems. Those opportunities were a “pre-renewal” for a new future, especially after the financial market crisis, 11 September 2001 and other events.

He urged that the United Nations system needed quick renewal and strengthening of its institutions so that it conformed to the new realities of the world.  Global events had altered the world map, changed the balance of power, and had also generated a “renewal-seeking movement” in the United States that “we are all following with interest”.

He added that the international community had become “confused”, and it was now clear that peace and prosperity required more than bi-polarity or the hegemony of one country, no matter how advanced that country was.  “It is clear that the serious crises of the world were exacerbated when nations and the international order tried to tackle issues not from the United Nations framework but from another setting.”  The situation in the Middle East was one of those issues.

Highlighting the contribution that small States could make on issues, he said that although the sizes of States were not equal that “it is time to go back to the United Nations system that accommodates everyone and is a venue recommended by all and a charter accepted by all nations of the earth”.  It was necessary to use the United Nations to solve intractable crises with a legitimate international consensus.

Turning to the issue of energy, he highlighted Qatar’s involvement with energy alternatives, its concern with global climate change and the impact of that phenomenon on the environment and life on planet. Moreover, there could not be peace or prosperity when there was an energy crisis.  He thanked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for his United Nations Summit on Climate Change, which was a forum to discuss the issue’s serious threats.  He said it was the duty of the international community to respond to these new challenges. 

Finally, he noted that Qatar’s North Field has made that country the world’s third largest producer of natural gas; consumption of which was less harmful to the environment.  Thus, the Government of Qatar was promoting its use, as well as encouraging efficiency using other forms of alternative energy such as solar power.

GURBANGULY BERDIMUHAMEDOV, President of Turkmenistan, said today’s world demanded closer coordination among States and international organizations.  How effective that interaction was would determine how global problems of ecology, energy, food, water distribution and poverty would be solved.  It would be impossible to discuss achieving those goals without reaffirming the United Nations’s most important role.  For more than 60 years, it had been the main guarantor of universal peace, security and development.

Regarding United Nations reform, he said the Organization had to improve its effectiveness.  Reform must be sensible, targeted and related to the global community’s real needs.  Supporting efforts to bring more openness to the United Nations, he said the Security Council’s structure had to be improved, notably to create closer interaction with the General Assembly.

He said the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan, and features of its legal status, provided opportunities for positive influence on the process in the Central Asia and Caspian Sea region.  The idea would be to create permanent mechanisms for discussing regional problems and working out mutually acceptable decisions.  Security of one country could not be guaranteed in a lack of regional security.

On energy, he said discussion centred not on accepting preventive measures or local agreements on aspects of fuel transport, but on the creation of a new, universal model of relations in the world energy space –- those based on a multilateral balance of interests.  In line with a General Assembly resolution on “Reliable and stable transit of energy resources and its role in securing stable growth and international cooperation” (2008), Turkmenistan had held a high-level international conference on that issue.  A proposal from it outlined the creation of a legal document on the transit of energy resources, which would take into account proposals of interested countries and organizations.  Turkmenistan fully supported that idea and called on interested States to put forward proposals.

Taking up disarmament and reduction of weapons arsenals, he said countering distribution was a main issue on the global agenda.  Turkmenistan was convinced that the fewer armaments, the more stable the world’s development.  All countries in his region were parties to the 2006 Treaty that established a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia, and he called for holding an international conference in the first half of next year under United Nations auspices.  He also welcomed proposals aimed at assisting global disarmament processes.

Among the most serious issues today was effectively countering international terrorism, illegal drug trafficking and trans-border organized crime, he said. Such problems were especially important in his region and only through joint efforts could those threats be resisted.  The United Nations should increase its participation in coordinating models of international cooperation that aimed to neutralize those threats.

Turning to the revival of Afghanistan, he said Turkmenistan would continue to provide assistance to that country for reconstruction, and social and humanitarian purposes.  The United Nations, with its peacemaking experience, should suggest new political-diplomatic models for solving Afghanistan’s problems and take into account the potential of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia. 

The serious after-effects of the world financial and economic crisis demonstrated the need to join efforts in shaping a global architecture of security and establishing conditions for equal relations among States, based on recognized international legal norms, he said.  Responsibility, morality and humanism were criteria that current and future generations would use to assess the Assembly’s work.  As a member of the world community, Turkmenistan would contribute to strengthening the high principles in such international affairs.

MICHELLE BACHELET, President of Chile, said that, while six decades of international collaboration had led to “significant progress”, the current economic crisis had given new urgency to the need for global collaboration on combating climate change and world hunger, among other things.  On the issue of poverty, she reminded the Assembly that more than 1 billion people suffered from hunger globally -- 50 million of them in Latin America alone.

She noted the “sad paradox” that at the same time Governments in developed countries spent trillions of dollars to revitalize the economy, the World Food Programme had seen its budget reduced by half.  She then observed that less than 0.1 per cent of what had been spent on the financial rescue plans could end the food crisis, and she added that the issue of global hunger should be put on the agenda –- in the Assembly and at the forthcoming meeting of the G-20.

“[It] is not possible that, on the pretext of the economic crisis, the executives of the investment banks, which were at the centre of the current crisis, gambling irresponsibly with financial assets, should today be back to business as usual,” she continued, decrying the excessive bonuses still being paid out by some companies.  The world could not continue that way, especially since the collapse of financial institutions in some countries had revealed a “crisis of conception”, where the State and the public sector were now seen as parts of the problem, not the solution.  While widespread damage had thus far been averted, it was time for all to recognize the need for constructing realistic, fair and pragmatic models that ensured advancement for all peoples.

Turning to her own country, she said that, having learned the lessons of the past, Chile had developed stricter and more effective financial regulation and more solid macroeconomic foundations, with better capitalized banking systems.  “Today, reform cannot wait -– either domestically…or abroad.”  On the issue of the United Nations, she said Chile supported the Organization’s recent efforts in the areas of human rights, development and climate change.  Her country favoured reform and enlargement of the Security Council and supported the “important work” being done by the Peacebuilding Commission.

Regarding climate change, she warned that, unless the countries coordinate at the highest level, the upcoming Copenhagen Conference would not attain its goal, and she urged the Assembly, “Let us not use the economic crisis as an excuse for not reaching an agreement that our citizens are demanding.”

TABARE VAZQUEZ, President of Uruguay, demanded the immediate restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Honduras and the restoration of those democratically elected by the Honduran people to their posts.  He further called for the integration of the American continent without exclusions, exceptions or embargoes, such as the one on Cuba, without second-class partners.  “We are all Americans,” he said, “and equals.”

As one of the main contributors of troops to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, he noted that the difficulties encountered in the peacekeeping system -– such as their growing demand and complexity –- far from being discouraging, should be a stimulus to better coordination of efforts with other Member States and the Secretary-General to stabilize areas affected by conflicts, protect the civilian population, strengthen institutions and promote economic and social development of affected countries.  States must also cooperate in the fight against terrorism, while maintaining absolute respect for international law and human rights.

Uruguay, which had signed a wide range of human rights conventions, would be one of the first signatories to the Optional Protocol of the International Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, he said.  The country was also party to the main international conventions on the environment and sustainable development.

In a time of globalization, it was not only the economy that had to be globalized; “peace, freedom, democracy, justice, dignity and the welfare of the people must be globalized as well”, he said.  Among the many policy and actions undertaken by Uruguay to that end, was its firm commitment to tobacco-control policies.  Citing the World Health Organization (WHO) statistic that smoking was “the leading avoidable cause of death worldwide”, he noted that Uruguay had become the first smoke-free country in the Americas, which was no small matter when one considered it caused more than 5 million deaths annually.  His delegation had sponsored and promoted the resolution to create a smoke-free United Nations.  “It is a partial, but auspicious advance in the fight against this epidemic,” he said.

He also spoke of Uruguay’s efforts to become a country providing equal opportunity access to information technologies through the Ceibal Project, providing every student and teacher in the public primary school system with a laptop computer having Internet access.  He anticipated that, by the end of 2009, every student and teacher in the elementary school system would have received an XO prototype.  The programme developed intelligence and introduced deep changes in teaching and learning, offering equal access to information starting in childhood.  The project would provide knowledge that was indispensable for becoming a member of society and ensuring its proper functioning.

In closing, he quoted Michel de Montaigne, who had said: “There is no greater destiny for human beings than taking care of the task of being human.”  Five centuries later, it should not be remembered as something solely of the past, but something to be assumed as a task of the present.  “I believe there is no other option if we really want to survive as a species and to improve as human beings,” he said.

ABDELAZIZ BOUTEFLIKA, President of Algeria, said the global economic crisis was again at the centre of the Assembly’s debate.  It was only through an integrated, concerted approach to international relations that States could collectively surmount today’s problems and deal with the menace that weighed on peace and security.  Describing the current state of affairs, he called for ending opaque commercial and financial practices imposed in the name of free trade, and incoherence in the face of the crisis, seen most notably in the unfair treatment of developing nations.

In negotiations to conclude a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, a spirit of compromise and solidarity was needed, particularly because developed countries had been motivated by narrow national interests.  He said such behaviour also had been seen on the issue of non-proliferation and disarmament, which had suffered from non-compliance of certain nuclear Powers, and in the fight against impunity.  The question of human rights was based on a selective approach, casting suspicion on efforts in that area.

He favoured measures that would strengthen existing structures to counter the financing of terrorism.  In that context, the African Union had launched an appeal, and he supported its efforts to make it concrete.  He hoped the United Nations would make progress on reform in the General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council.

Indeed, he continued, a revitalized Assembly would be able to find compromiseon Security Council reform.  Equitable representation in the Council was needed, in line with the demands of our time.  In addition, the preservation of peace, promotion of development and respect for human rights were necessary for building an Arab-Maghreb region that was stable and integrated.  The United Nations had supported Algeria in settlement of disputes in the Western Sahara, in line with the United Nations Charter, he added.

Continuing, he said Algeria was fully committed to Palestinians and their situation.  Indeed, the Middle East would not be able to achieve peace without a just and sustainable solution to that question.  Pressure must be brought to bear on Israel and its policy of aggression towards Palestinians.  Noting that Algeria had joined all African efforts to end obstacles to development, he said the African Union’s collaboration with the United Nations had led to reduced tension on the continent.  In closing, he reiterated his hope that international affairs be carried out in a manner that reinforced the multilateral system.

LEE MYUNG-BAK, President of the Republic of Korea, began by underscoring the special historical ties between his country and the United Nations, which had enabled it to carry out unprecedented democratic elections in 1948.  The United Nations had come to his country’s rescue only two years into its independence, once the Korean war had broken out in 1950.  He acknowledged the Organization’s invaluable support in that regard.

Regarding Republic of Korea’s international contributions, he said the country was striving to become a “Global Korea” by actively ensuring the well‑being of all human beings.  Although financial support was crucial, he said it was fundamental to overcome poverty through a development model that was fit for each country.

On the Millennium Development Goals, he said developing countries that had been most affected by the economic crisis required humanitarian assistance and development cooperation.  His country would triple its official development assistance (ODA) by 2015, and would take part in making the global partnership for more effective development cooperation even stronger.  It would also be actively engaged in promoting international peace, security and countering terrorism.

Turning to green growth, he urged all countries to participate in tackling the challenges of climate change, while appreciating the United Nations role in mustering global support and making the issue an urgent priority.  The Republic of Korea had responded proactively to climate change by adopting a “Low-Carbon Green Growth” strategy, through which it would invest roughly 2 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in green growth over the next five years.  That was the best way to address global climate change and recover from the economic crisis, and for his country to prepare for the future.

Regarding other issues, he pointed out that water was the most important resource, and he urged all Assembly delegations to devote more attention to it, as it was critical to attaining the Millennium Goals.  While launching the East Asia Climate Partnership, the Korean Government had realized that providing fresh water, developing policies and infrastructures for disaster prevention were the most pressing issues.

Continuing, he said the “Four Major Rivers Restoration Project”, which provided solutions towards water security, curbed floods and helped regenerate river ecosystems, was an example of one such initiative.  It was about time that the international community created an effective governance system to address water-related issues and proposed a global water management cooperation initiative.

On nuclear non-proliferation and the Korean peninsula, he stated that he recognized the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction threatened global peace and that all countries had to cooperate to strengthen global non-proliferation agreements.  Recent initiatives put forward by the Secretary-General and United States President Barack Obama could help bring about a common understanding on the issue.  Denuclearization was crucial to paving a path towards reconciliation and unification of the two Koreas.  His country was still committed to global efforts to disable the nuclear programs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, while ensuring increased dialogue.

He concluded by stating that ensuing global challenges could only be overcome through international cooperation and hoped that a new and stronger United Nations would rise to such a challenge.  His country would cooperate closely with the Organization in helping it fulfil its overall mandate and carry out its responsibilities as part of the international community in attaining a “Global Korea” and green growth.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, President of France, said the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session was taking place amid an unprecedented financial and economic crisis, and on the threshold of an environmental disaster.  The international community had a responsibility to invest in a new world where the follies of the past were no longer possible and everyone was aware that the path taken over the last few decades was a dead end.

The international community was accountable to the tens of millions of people who had lost their jobs, homes and savings; the billion who were suffering from hunger; and the hundreds of millions who had no access to water, energy, health care or education.  It was the duty of the Heads of States to restore hope to these human beings, he said.  The question was whether the world would change because it acted together with wisdom and intelligence, or waited until change was thrust upon them by fresh crises.

On the issue of reform, he said the number of permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council needed to be increased.  It was unacceptable that Africa did not have a permanent Council member.  It was equally unacceptable that South America, with such a great Power as Brazil, or India, with its population of 1 billion, or Japan or Germany, be excluded from the Security Council.  The legitimacy of the United Nations depended on such reform.

The international community needed to reform the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, he continued.  Voting rights in those institutions needed to be more equitably distributed among countries and their missions redefined.  There could not be a multi-polar world and a single currency, he declared.  The system had to be reviewed.  Tax havens had to be eliminated and the price swings of commodities that were subject to excessive speculation, starting with oil, had to be curbed.

On climate change, he said that, in Copenhagen, the international community needed to establish quantitative targets for greenhouse gas emissions and set up a world environment organization.  The world could not let the law of trade be the only law.  While believing in free trade, President Sarkozy said there were specialized United Nations organizations that set fundamental standards in areas such as health, labour and the environment.  No single standard was more important than another.

The world needed to develop further resources for development assistance.  These resources could be developed by taxing excessive speculative gains, if necessary.  He appealed to all countries to have the recommendations made by the Commission of Experts of the President of the General Assembly on reforms of the international monetary and financial systems, chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, implemented as soon as possible.

The task before the world was a huge one.  In Pittsburgh at the upcoming G‑20 meeting, and in Copenhagen, nothing would be worse than a mediocre compromise.  France had come to say the world had no more time to act.  He hoped that 2009 would be a year in which a more fair and efficient world order would be established.

FREDRIK REINFELDT, Prime Minister of Sweden, speaking also on behalf the European Union, said that though globalization had brought prosperity to the nations of the world through commerce, information, inventions and ideas, with that prosperity had come shared problems and crises, amongst them pandemics, food insecurity, drug and human trafficking, terrorism, and climate change.  Welcoming the United States commitment to work with others in multilateral institutions, he stated that with the United Nations coordinating to initiate and facilitate international norms and actions, a new era of worldwide cooperation had begun.

He went on to urge developed countries to reduce emissions by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020 and to support developing countries in both financial and technical means towards that end.  He also noted that the European Union had taken concrete steps towards ensuring reduced emissions, low-carbon growth, and climate financing to developing countries.  It was also planning to play an active role in Copenhagen in December 2009, and he encouraged other developed countries to do the same.  In that way, future generations would “experience nature as we know it”.

Addressing the global financial crisis, he stated that the European Union was determined to reach a comprehensive agreement of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, and was committed in promoting global financial stability and sustainable economy.  He said that, with attention on developing countries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, each member of the Union was working towards achieving their respective ODA targets in order to actualize the Millennium Development Goals.

Turning next to human rights, he said the European Union called for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances and in all cases.  The Union’s support for the United Nations peacekeeping forces and peacebuilding efforts, and for the work of the International Criminal Court, ensured that the rules of international law applied to all nations, regardless of size.  Thus, terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes would continue to be appropriately addressed.

The relationship between Europe and Africa, close in geography, had also grown close through globalization and strong partnership.  One example, he said, was the European Union’s naval operation Atalanta, off the coast of Somalia, which protected vessels delivering humanitarian aid, as well as provided support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  He went on to say that Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) -- both dealing with issues regarding women, peace and security -- needed to be implemented, so that women and girls in areas of conflict would be protected from the brutality of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

As a friend of both the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the European Union urged all parties to take the necessary actions towards peace so that a two-state solution could successfully be implemented.  In this regard, he pledged the European Unions support to the efforts of the United States work toward resuming peace negotiations.

He concluded with a quote of the Swedish statesman and former United Nations Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld: “The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned.”  He observed that that statement held as true today as it had then.

SILVIO BERLUSCONI, Prime Minister of Italy, began by reporting on the outcome of the recent G-8 Summit held in L’Aquila, which he had chaired.  That meeting had brought together 28 countries comprising 80 per cent of the world economy.  He said the participants had first decided to continue the work on banking and financial regulations that would be fleshed out during the upcoming Pittsburgh meeting of the G-20, with the goal of assuring economic growth, equity and transparency.

He highlighted the notion of a new development model -- one that would be based on open markets, rejected protectionism and allowed the poorest countries to “fully benefit from the growth opportunities afforded by international trade.”  After the L’Aquila Summit, participants had decided to revive the Doha Round of world trade negotiations, with the goal of wrapping them up by 2010, after trade ministers met in India.

With regards to climate change, the main economies had reached an agreement to limit global warming to 2° C above pre-industrial levels.  He said the “common front to combat climate change was reconfirmed” by yesterday’s Summit on Climate Change convened by the Secretary-General.  “Winning the climate change challenge will require a commitment from all the protagonists of the world economy, without exception,” he declared.

On food security, the G-8 had decided to establish a $20 billion fund for agricultural development and to fight global hunger.  He added that, on too many past occasions, the financial assistance allocated to developing countries had failed to reach the people for whom it was destined.  That was why the resources set aside at L’Aquila would be invested in concrete projects targeting primarily agricultural infrastructure in countries that promoted democracy, had good governance and respected human rights, as well as the rights of women and children.

He went on to say that stock market speculation must be countered and that manipulation of energy, commodities and food resource markets must end.  Speculating in wheat, rice and soy have led to serious crises, especially in Africa.  Further, fluctuation in oil prices caused by speculation had lead to financial and economic instability, he added.

In short, he said, the “absolute priority is that the futures market be regulated more strictly”, proposing it would be key to consider a global system of strategic commodities reserves to “nip in the bud any speculative tendencies”.  He added that the fight against speculation must also include the abolition of tax havens.  While much had been done to wipe out existing havens, “we must also strengthen the monitoring role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to fight attempts at creating new ones”.

GORDON BROWN, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said that, when the Assembly’s general debate had gotten under way last year, the world was on the brink of a global crisis, and the full scale of the dangers posed by the prospect of a collapse of the world banking system, a crippling loss of jobs and frozen credit were just becoming clear.  As never before, the fate of each country rested in the hands of all, and as the fear of the unthinkable had begun to take hold, the international community had come together, through the G-20, to fight back against global recession.

“So today, we can draw on strength from the unprecedented unity that has defined the past year -- but we cannot be complacent,” he said, highlighting five current challenges -- climate change, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, poverty and shared prosperity –- that demanded swift and concerted action.  Once again the world was on the brink, and if momentous decisions were not made, the next six months might prove even more challenging than the last.

He said that if the international community did not reach a real agreement at Copenhagen on climate change, “we cannot hope for a second chance some time in the future”.  Indeed, now was the time to limit and reverse the climate change that was being inflicted on present and future generations.  At the same time, he stressed that progress in Copenhagen was not certain, because a solid climate change deal required money.  Moreover, if the poorest were going to adapt, richer countries must contribute financially.

He also proposed an additional flow of financing action against climate change, from the public and private sectors, of around $100 billion a year by 2020. In addition, a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement on climate change at Copenhagen would be the next test of global cooperation.

On Afghanistan, he said that if the international community gave way to the insurgency, Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups would return and, from that sanctuary, plot, train and launch attacks on the world.  A safer Afghanistan meant a safer world, but “none of us can be safe if we walk away from that country”.  He added that the international community must unite against every source of terror and injustice in the world, mentioning violence in Somalia and Sudan, the conflict in Israel and Palestine, and the fact that Burma’s elected leader was incarcerated.

He went on to say that there could be no chance of a nuclear-free world if Iran was allowed to develop nuclear weapons and set off a new arms race.  On other matters, he said that, if the international community did not follow through on coordinated global fiscal expansion, there would be no global compact for jobs and growth.  Further, failing to fight preventable illness would leave some 12,000 children dead in Africa each day.

He reiterated that proliferation was a real threat, in light of the fact that there were now nine nuclear-armed countries.  He said the world was at a moment of danger, and added that Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must know the world would be even tougher on proliferation and consider further sanctions.

Finally, he said the financial crisis had revealed the need for comprehensive reform and a “compact for jobs and growth” to bring rising prosperity, with stimulus measures.  More important was to make sure the recovery did not falter, and that “we do not turn off life-support for the economy prematurely”.  The financial crisis had devastated Africa, and therefore, recovery was needed and an assurance that the Millennium Development Goals did not fall beyond reach.

Describing poverty in Africa as “unyielding, grinding, and lethal”, he said that empowerment through trade justice must be matched by empowerment through free education and free health care.  He added that there were the beginnings of free universal health care in parts of Africa and Asia.  As a result, more than 10 million more people would have access to free health care.

CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER, President of Argentina, said she had meant to begin her statement with a strong appeal for the need to rebuild multilateralism and cooperation in order to overcome the current socio-economic crisis.  Some developments, however, had led her to begin with the situation in Honduras, where the power at her country’s embassy had been cut off this week, as the protests and marches in favour of a return to democracy were going on in the country.  The embassy of Brazil had had its electricity and water cut off for having given shelter to the constitutional President of Honduras.  It was crucial that the international community became aware that its failure to design a strong multilateral strategy to return democracy to Honduras would set a very serious precedent in the region.  She called upon nations to safeguard the basic values of democracy and respect for human rights in the region.

Multilateralism meant understanding that it was necessary to set common and general rules in the world that must be accepted by all countries, she said.  Defining multilateralism would require concrete actions by all the players under the same parameters.  For instance, the only possibility of successfully tackling climate change required setting common rules for addressing the problem, for both developed and developing countries.  Another issue that pointed to the need to look at multilateralism as not just a rhetorical statement related to the Malvinas, which still could not achieve sovereignty -- a principle that had been proclaimed by the General Assembly on many occasions.

In connection with the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, she also reiterated her country’s request for the extradition of several Iranian officials who were sought by Argentina -- not to be sentenced, but to be investigated and tried, enjoying all the freedoms and guarantees granted by democracy.  This year, one of the officials whose extradition had been requested had been made a minister.  Today, the Assembly would hear a statement by the President of Iran, who would perhaps deny the tragic events of the past and would certainly mention the threat of imperialism and invoke the name of God.  Her country was not an imperialistic country.  On the contrary, it had suffered the effects of colonialism.  Like the President of Iran, she believed in God.

Among the positive developments, she mentioned a recent visit of an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Argentina, 30 years after its first visit, to investigate the crimes committed by the dictatorship.  She also spoke about a bill to the Congress of Argentina to eliminate the crime of libel against journalists -- a measure that would promote the freedom of the press in the country.

As a member of the G-20, which would meet tomorrow, she also asked for the voice of another multilateral forum to be heard -- the International Labour Organization (ILO).  Workers and businessmen were real stakeholders in the efforts to reactivate the world economy, and their opinion should be heeded.

In conclusion, she stressed that democracy, human rights and similar rules for all the countries of the world were the keys to building new multilateralism.  It was clear that those with more responsibility and power also had the obligation to exercise that leadership in a responsible manner.  That was what developing countries were asking for.

EMOMALI RAHMON, President of Tajikistan, said that the United Nations continued to encourage Member States to attain the Millennium Development Goals, while playing a central role in how Member States addressed both the benefits of globalization, in terms of progress, economic growth and development, and the negative aspects of globalization, such as emerging ecological challenges and international terrorism, to name a few.  In that effort, the United Nations peacekeeping operations were one of the significant activities of the Organization.

When common problems, among them illicit drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime, merged, a greater threat faced the international community, he stated.  In that regard, he encouraged Member States to expedite the adoption of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism.  The prevention of illicit drug trafficking was a core aspect in challenging international terrorism.  “ Tajikistan has developed bilateral, regional and multilateral short-term and long-term programs of actions, and ratified about 30 intergovernmental agreements,” he said.  Because of such concerted efforts, in terms of confiscated drugs, Tajikistan now rated number one in post-Soviet territory and number four in the world.  Because of that, an estimated 36 million human lives were saved from drug addiction.

As one of the countries bordering Afghanistan and thus on the front lines of trafficking, Tajikistan stymied the spread of narcotics, terrorism and extremism. However, in the past, the support from Member States had not been sufficient to properly address the increasing illicit drug industry and its involvement in international terrorism.  A military response was, in his view, clearly not effective, and he called upon the international community to participate in implementing social and educational projects to create a peaceful rehabilitation, one in which the Afghan people could claim ownership.  Assistance of that nature to Afghanistan would be an effective way to counteract the drug threat emanating from that country and, in turn, impact the shared problems of the global community.

As the eighth ranked country in the world for hydropower resources, Tajikistan only utilized 5 per cent of its potential, he said.  Faced with consistent energy crises, partly due to climate change, a push towards development and completion of hydropower stations would clearly provide energy not only to the Central Asia region, but to the neighbouring countries of Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  That initiative would contribute to water-energy and socio-economic sectors, as well as environmental protection.  However, because of the impact of climate change, Tajikistan’s glaciers, the main source of rivers, had been reduced by a third since the 1930s, while water consumption increased.

“It is anything but a secret that mankind is already facing the problem of shortage of freshwater, which is not accessible to more than 1 billion people on the planet, and in some countries the price of freshwater currently exceeds the price of gasoline,” he said.  Reminding Member States of the degradation of the Aral Sea, he urged that Central Asia countries review their strategies and work towards an integrated approach towards water and other natural resources.  Only by working together would beneficial long-term solutions be possible.  He then proposed that the year 2012 be declared as “The International Year of Water Diplomacy”.

“Mutual understanding and cooperation that have prevailed in this Organization since the time of its establishment remain the only way to a bright and clear future, to universal peace and prosperity,” he said, and concluded with the hope that in the third year of the five-year term towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the international community make 2010 a landmark in meeting global challenges and overcoming difficulties.”

HU JINTAU, President of China, said that, as the world moved further towards multi-polarity and economic globalization, multilateralism and democracy in international relations had won greater public support, while opening up cooperation for mutual benefit.  At the same time, the world remained under the impact of the financial crisis and the prospects for an economic recovery were still not clear.  Global issues such as climate change and food security had been thrown into sharp relief.  In the face of unprecedented opportunities and challenges, the members of the international community should commit themselves to four areas of work -- peace and security, development and common prosperity, cooperation and common progress, and tolerance and harmony -- to continue “our joint endeavour to build a harmonious world”, he said.

In terms of security, he emphasized the need to adhere to the “purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”, and said that the Organization played an important role in the field of international security.  He added that “China has consistently stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and a world without nuclear weapons”, and urged the international community to advance the nuclear disarmament process to eliminate the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while advancing the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

With regard to development and prosperity, he said the equal participation by developing countries was a key to shared prosperity, and a fairer and more just economic order.  He called on the United Nations to deepen its development contribution and to achieve more balance in the global economic system by creating an “international environment conducive to the development of developing countries”.  He suggested that developed countries open their markets to developing countries by reducing or exempting tariffs for those countries.  He also noted that for developing countries, self-reliance was essential and South-South cooperation should be upgraded.

As for cooperation and common progress, he said that no country was exempt from the global challenges of climate change, food and energy security, and public health.  On these issues, he said, international cooperation was a key -- especially under the auspices of the United Nations and in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and he offered China’s help to prevent and control the further spread of Influenza A (H1N1) in developing countries.

Finally, with reference to increased tolerance and harmony, he called for an acknowledgement of cultural differences, social systems and values combined with a “vigorous” promotion of human rights.  And he went on to encourage the countries of the international community to seek common ground while also respecting each other’s differences.

Concluding, he spoke of Chinese history and his country’s contribution to the world.  He said that China would continue to develop and open up, to the benefit of both China and the rest of the world.  Specifically, he outlined four promises with regard to Chinese support for developing countries that were particularly hurt by the financial crisis, including “relevant capital increase and financing plans”; assistance with the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals; increased assistance to Africa and the reduction or cancellation of debt for heavily indebted poor countries; and participation in and promotion of regional monetary and financial cooperation.

“Let’s join hands, share development opportunities, rise above challenges and make unremitting effort to build a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity,” he said.

Prince ALBERT II of Monaco said it was necessary to clearly define and implement the Millennium Development Goals, which responded to the vital needs of all human beings.  If the elimination of poverty remained the priority of the international community, then it was necessary that nations meet their obligations as the most destitute were also the ones who suffered from hunger and malnutrition, who did not have access to water, and who did not benefit from social services or basic medical services.  Among the principal victims were women and children, including the 25,000 who died each day, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

On international cooperation, he said several hundred thousand people currently benefited from his country’s efforts in the areas of health, education and the fight against poverty.  In that regard, Monaco urged that the effort towards reaching the goal of devoting 0.7 per cent of GDP to development assistance between now and 2015 be pursued.  Such development assistance needed to be accompanied with long-term investments aimed at strengthening the capacities of developing countries, particularly through the transfer of appropriate technologies taking into account the imperatives of sustainable development.

With the recent food crisis as background, it was necessary to give agriculture the priority it deserved since food security depended on it, he went on.  It was necessary to create a “new deal” for future generations.  In that regard, donors must become partners for a new green revolution in Africa where agriculture, adapted to the specific conditions of the continent, would facilitate the empowerment of local populations.

An integrated management of water resources was mandatory, continued.  The international community must be aware of the disasters and potential conflicts that would arise if it failed to do so, and the risks linked to poor sanitation conditions susceptible to cause outbreaks of infectious diseases and pandemics. Noting that desertification and drought phenomena were exacerbated by climatic change brought about by man, he said that a failure in the Copenhagen negotiations was not an option.

Further, countries must, together, succeed in defining a post-Kyoto Protocol agenda strictly in line with a low-carbon emission future, he said.  For too long, scientific warnings had been neglected.  The unparalleled mobilization of public opinion prompted the international community to adopt innovative measures to slow down the evolution of global warming.

During the past few months, the world economy had been sorely tried and tested, he continued.  Although signs of recovery were beginning to show, conclusions needed to be drawn from the sombre year.  The globalization of the economy and the interdependence that resulted from it called for a crucial reform of the international monetary and finical system.  The G-20, at its Heads of State Summit in November 2008, had acknowledged the urgency of measures to be taken to spare the world economy from catastrophe worsened by panic in the financial markets.

Monaco was confident of the capabilities of the G-20 to lay out the basis for a new era.  He said Monaco had been working for many months to fulfil the obligations it subscribed to and to comply with the required norms of OECD with a view to improve transparency and information exchange in fiscal and banking matters.  The breach of trust spawned by the financial debacle had more than ever made it necessary that the measures taken by the G-20 be non-discriminatory towards all United Nations Member States.  A consultative body would ensure the legitimacy of any decisions made.

He said it was of utmost importance to strengthen the rule of law and democracy institutions that were the guardians of sovereignty and peaceful co-existence among States.  In that regard, Monaco supported implementation of the “responsibility to protect” as a symbol of the strengthening multilateralism in the service of all populations.  That responsibility did not affect the exercise of responsible sovereignty which placed the individual in the forefront.   Monaco would keep on working with its partners in order to implement best practices in the areas of protection, international assistance and capacity building with the common objective to save lives.

ÁLVARO URIBE VÉLEZ, President of Colombia, said his Government’s objective was to increase the international community’s confidence in his country, and that he would accomplish that in several different ways, including by strengthening security and democracy, promoting socially responsible entrepreneurship and investment and ensuring social cohesion.

In terms of security, he noted several key achievements, including the dismantling of paramilitaries.  Those groups had been private criminal gangs whose objective was to combat drug-trafficking guerrillas.  However, that had often led to a “mafia-style” relationship between the guerrillas and criminal gangs that only exacerbated the situation.  Today, the State was the only body that combated criminals.  The accompanying problems, such as intimidation and assassination of judges, were now gone, he added.

“We combat terrorism with wholehearted determination as we practice democracy with full devotion,” he said, stressing that Colombia was betting on a modern democracy, safe, free and building social cohesion, with independent institutions, with confidence derived from the transparency that was based on a high degree of citizen participation.

Another pillar of his Government’s strategy encouraged socially responsible investment and entrepreneurship as a means to overcome poverty and build equity.  He said that speculation should be avoided, and “social responsibility is inseparable from the meaning of capital as a factor in the creation of social wealth and not of speculation”.  He also stressed that social responsibility was inseparable from the fight against climate change.

Continuing, he noted that his country’s greatest contribution to the fight against climate change was the preservation of 578,000 square kilometres of rainforest. That was more than 51 per cent of the national territory, which encompassed the Amazon at its greatest extension.

Further, he said a special forest ranger families programme included some 90,000 rural families who helped protect the rainforest and keep it free of illicit drug crops.  In addition, Colombia was the second largest producer of sugar cane-based ethanol in Latin America, and it also produced some 108,000 litres of biodiesel from African palm.  Colombia was also providing incentive for other clean energies, such as solar and wind power, he added.

Lastly, he said the international community gained nothing if it failed to attach equal importance to the environment.  Such insistence on environmental protection was crucial for Colombia, a “mega-diverse” nation that held 14 per cent of the planet’s diversity in plant and animal species.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, President of the Russian Federation, said the current session was taking place at a very crucial and uneasy point in time, with an economic crisis, regional conflicts, food shortages and climate change.  The agenda had been dictated by life itself, and that, in turn, dictated the growing demand for the United Nations as a tried and tested mechanism for the harmonization of various countries’ interests.  As never before, the international community was feeling the need for informal collective leadership, increased role of such formats as the G-8 and more recently the G-20, as well as other negotiation and mediation fora.

Another distinctive feature of modern times related to an increasing role of regional entities, he said.  That trend was entirely consistent with the principles of the United Nations Charter.  His country, for its part, would continue to strengthen the mechanisms of regional interaction together with its partners across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRIC ( Brazil, Russian Federation, India and China).  Those mechanisms helped their members to respond collectively to common threats, mitigate the consequences of crises and increase the sustainability of their national economies.

Among the problems that could not be effectively resolved without the United Nations, he mentioned the imbalance of existing world economy governance mechanisms, the inadequacy of their “rules of the game”, and the chasm between financial markets and real economy.  With the Millennium Development Goals under a threat of disruption, donor assistance to the countries in need could not be put off until later.  The arrangements made at the G-20 summits and the United Nations conference on the world financial and economic crisis must be implemented within the deadlines that Member States had set.  It was also important to address the issues of global energy security.  His country had recently solidified the principles of a new legal framework for cooperation that had been formulated at the Saint Petersburg G-8 Summit three years ago, and was now inviting everyone to engage in further constructive discussions in that regard.  Those discussions should be conducted with an active involvement of specialized multilateral institutions, including the agencies of the United Nations system.

His country also deemed it important to strengthen the United Nations itself, he continued.  The Organization must adapt to the new world realities, strengthen its influence and preserve its multinational nature, as well as the integrity of the Charter provisions.  The reform of the Security Council was an essential component of that revitalization.  The time had come to step up the search for a compromise formula of its expansion and increased efficiency.

Turning to disarmament, he mentioned a Russian-Chinese initiative regarding a treaty on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, as well as the proposal to universalise the Russia-United States Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missiles.  The Russian Federation was steadily following the path of verifiable and irreversible reductions in nuclear weapons as an essential element of “a new start” in its relations with the United States.  Presidents Obama and Medvedev had signed a relevant document in Moscow last July, and a mandate for further negotiations had been agreed upon -- to elaborate a legally binding treaty, which should replace the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, which would expire in December.  The recently announced adjustments to the United States plans for a missile defence system -- a subject of his meeting with President Obama today -- represented a constructive step in the right direction.  His country was prepared to engage in a thorough discussion of the United States proposals and relevant Russian initiatives regarding cooperation in that area.

Real progress in nuclear disarmament was impossible without addressing national missile defence and non-nuclear strategic offensive arms potential.  He expected work on a new treaty to fully take into account relevant provisions of the joint document endorsed by the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation during their meeting in Moscow.  Other nuclear States should join the disarmament efforts.  There was no need to wait for further progress in Russia-United States disarmament.  It was possible to start elaborating acceptable and practical arrangements, taking into account the difference in the size of potentials.  The 2010 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference would focus on the issues of nuclear disarmament, strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and a peaceful atom.  A global summit on nuclear security next April would also present a good opportunity to continue those discussions.  The Russian Federation had agreed with the United States Administration on joint steps for further progress in such aspects of nuclear security as prevention of nuclear terrorism and expanding access for all members implementing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in good faith to the achievements of a peaceful atom. He called for collective cooperation on those matters.

As a member of the Quartet, Russia supported the efforts aimed at strengthening the nuclear-non-proliferation regime in the Middle East, he said.  His country had made specific proposals in the framework of the NPT Review in that regard.   Russia had also made proposals within the framework of the six-party talks in connection with the mechanism to ensure peace and security in North-East Asia.

Turning to regional conflicts and security, he recalled “a reckless attempt of Georgia’s authorities to resolve the problem in its relations with South Ossetia by military means”.  To avoid the repetition of the events of August 2008, it was necessary to have clear and effective mechanisms to implement the principle of the indivisibility of security.  Without that, it would be impossible to overcome the legacy of the past, its instincts and prejudices.  Moreover, irresponsible regimes should not have any opportunity whatsoever to cause disputes among other countries.  The role and place of modern nations in ensuring global security was one of the most relevant topics.  Such issues had been the focus of discussion at an international conference in the Russian city of Yaroslavl.  The outcome of that discussion was that the future belonged to “smart politics”.  The current global crisis was not only the crisis of economy, but also a crisis of ideas.  It accumulated “a critical mass” of outdated policies and development models.

The Russian Federation had introduced an initiative to sign a European security treaty and proposed a fresh look at that problem, he said.  The initiative concerned the Euro-Atlantic space, but its key provision on indivisibility of security was a universal principle applicable to all regions of the world that was fully consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

Referring to the growing nationalist moods, numerous manifestations of religious intolerance and animosity, he said it would be extremely useful to establish a high-level group on interreligious dialogue under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General.  That was especially relevant on the eve of the year for Rapprochement of Cultures in 2010.

He added that, on the eve of the sixty-fifth anniversary of the end of the Second World War next year, Russia had made a proposal to adopt a General Assembly resolution on the matter and hold a special session to commemorate all victims of that war next May.   Attempts were being made to whitewash Nazism, deny the Holocaust and revise the decisions of the Nuremburg Tribunal.  Firm and joint resistance to the manifestations of neo-Nazism and attempts to revise the outcome of the Second World War should remain a priority task for the United Nations.

JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, said the role of the United Nations in the fight against apartheid had been a unique example of the international community’s exercise of its collective political will.  That was why his country was committed to participating in the fight against poverty and numerous world crises.  He said it was imperative that all countries acted immediately to stop the global economic crisis from dismantling decades of gains.  Despite the negative effects of the economic meltdown, which was severely affecting developing countries, though they had not caused it, eradicating poverty had to be at the heart of the work of the United Nations.

The global economic crisis had made it crucial to reform unrepresentative and outdated Bretton Woods institutions, by making them more democratic and open to the participation of developing countries.  In order to eradicate poverty, it was imperative to conclude the Doha Round of trade talks by prioritizing development.

On Africa, he urged the United Nations to ensure that the international community implemented commitments it had made to the continent.  The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) must be used to mobilize resources for Africa.  There could be no enduring peace without development and thus no development without security.  Turning to conflict resolution in Africa, he highlighted his country’s efforts in this regard.  Despite the African Union’s political will for conflict resolution, it lacked resources.

He appealed to the United Nations to cooperate with it in its peacemaking efforts and to support the Union’s ban on de facto Governments.  He also noted that the quest for global peace and security was inseparable from the pursuit of justice, self-determination, human rights and economic development.  In this regard, a peaceful solution to the situation in Western Sahara and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had to be found immediately.

Turning to the NPT, he stated that the 2010 Review Conference would be an occasion for countries to bind themselves to implementing that accord.  It was crucial to strike a balance between disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful energy use.

Regarding climate change, he stressed that its devastating effects, of which developing countries bore the greatest brunt, would gravely undermine development and poverty eradication efforts.  He called for action towards an effective global accord on its challenges, which had to recognize that solving climate change could not be divorced from striving to eradicate poverty.  The overall goal would be to decrease worldwide emissions without limiting development in southern countries.

In an ever more interdependent world, only multilateral cooperation could resolve global problems effectively, in which a reformed United Nations had to carry on playing a central role that was effective, transparent and efficient.  For that to come into full effect, it was fundamental to reform the Security Council, by making it more representative of the international community, with a permanent African country for instance.

VÁCLAV KLAUS, President of the Czech Republic, said he firmly believed in the United Nations and supported reform of the Security Council to more adequately reflect the political and economic realities of the current world.  Further, this year marked 20 years after the fall of communism and, in that time, his country had built a stable political democracy and transformed its economy into a functioning free-market one.  That experience was relevant to discussions of how to solve the economic problems facing the world today.

He noted that measures taken to date to overcome the economic crisis had contributed to avoiding a repetition of the situation of the 1930s, and succeeded also in avoiding the repetition of a massive protectionist reaction.  “Protectionism […] should be resolutely condemned here today,” he said.  Although the first signals that the crisis had reached, or neared, its bottom were visible, he said the post-crisis period would be difficult and complicated.  Attempts to increase aggregate demand had led to unprecedented expansion of public expenditures and public debt.  Many of the Organization’s Member States already had been facing or approaching a debt trap.  The international flow of private capital was becoming less reliable.  The fall of international trade undermined the continuation of export-oriented strategies of many emerging markets.  Huge fiscal deficits would harm future economic growth of all countries.

Business cycles had always existed and would continue to exist, he said.  In spite of them, the trend over the last two centuries had been characterized primarily by economic growth.  “When looking for an appropriate reaction to the problems connected with the current crisis”, he continued, “we should build on the idea that the crisis was basically a failure of Governments, not markets.”  The manipulation of monetary policy in an attempt to artificially prolong growth, the irrational subsidization of demand in the housing sector and the failures of financial market regulation contributed substantially to the crisis.  “Let us not delude ourselves that the economic cycle and its consequences can be prevented by more extensive Government regulation or by aiming at global governance of the world economy.”

The needs of all kinds of countries must be considered, he said.  Global economic development would benefit from removing barriers, not creating new ones which would complicate the access of poorer countries to foreign markets and their ability to develop by their own means.

Economic recession and large increases in public debt had reduced the possibilities the world had to meet certain challenges, such as climate change, he continued.  Measures proposed to that end represented another heavy burden for both developed countries, which were falling into deep fiscal deficits, and for developing countries.  Rich countries, which often pushed the agenda at international fora, were losing their ability to compensate the poorer countries for the impact of these additional costs.

CARLOS MAURICIO FUNES CARTAGENA, President of El Salvador, said that just over three months ago, his country had initiated a process of deepening and strengthening its democracy with a change of Government after two decades of rule by a single political party.  The new Government had proposed two overarching objectives with the aim of lifting the country out of its economic crisis and social and cultural backwardness, and moving towards social inclusiveness and a just economic distribution.  “Unite, create and include” were the three key words of the new Government.

In less than 100 days, the national unity Government, whose goals were to end societal divisions and create the basis for coexistence in peace and security, had launched a programme for social housing, unprecedented in the country’s history, he said, as well as programmes to create some 100,000 jobs.  Those and other programmes supported temporary jobs for youth and provided housing.  There were also plans to set up the first network of social assistance to aid the poorest urban communities, while programmes for rural communities were already under way.  All of that was being done through open dialogue with all segments of society.

Speaking of security, he raised the question of the dangers posed by organized crime, drug trafficking and youth gangs.  All methods must be used to combat those scourges, he said.  There must be firm and constant domestic policies within all countries in order to fight international organized crime.  Only through unity could that fight succeed.  He suggested organizing an international conference to address those problems and sought assistance from the United Nations to that end.

Turning to the question of economic migration, he noted that 3 million El Salvadorans working abroad contributed 18 per cent of the country’s GDP.  That led to the fracturing of families and created wounds difficult to heal.  Those emigrants had been denied the right to vote.  He had asked political parties, universities and judges to create a framework that would, among other democratizations, ensure the right to vote to citizens living abroad.  He called for a holistic and long-term approach to migration to assess all its causes and effects, and looked forward to discussions on the issue at the Third Global Forum on Migration and Development, being held in Athens.

He sought a foreign policy aimed at strengthening cooperation with all nations, promoting peace, security and sustainable development, respecting sovereignty, the right to self-determination and non-interference in the internal affairs of nations, in accordance with the principles and objectives of United Nations Charter.  He spoke of having restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and went on to urge the strengthening of links among Central American countries, looking to the European Union as an example.  A first step towards a Central American Union would be a regional summit to advance the principles set out in the Tegucigalpa Protocol.

Among the objectives of such a summit would be the strengthening of democracy in the region, which would help to avoid coup d’états, such as the recent one in Honduras, he said.  That must not be allowed to set a precedent.  He called for the immediate reinstatement of President Zelaya and the creation of a Government of national of unity, to establish legitimacy. 

He expressed deep gratitude for the role played by the United Nations in helping El Salvador from war to peace and on towards democracy and development.  He was committed to implementing policies that would promote the Millennium Development Goals and other key United Nations guidelines for the full protection of human rights, and indicated his intention to join all human rights instruments.  He further expressed support for reform of the United Nations principal organs, especially in light of the new challenges where social, economic, environmental, and political and security issues were interconnected.

While the international financial crisis affected all countries, it especially affected those that were poor and developing, he said.  Noting that international cooperation was essential to those countries, he called upon the industrialized and donor countries to participate in all efforts towards progress, particularly with regard to implementing their commitments made at Monterrey and Doha.  He made special note of the need to reform international financial structures and systems.  On climate change, he spoke of the need to reach a treaty at the upcoming conference in Copenhagen that would encompass sustainable development.

TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, President of Equatorial Guinea said that the economic crisis created global instability and threatened world peace.  In such a climate of insecurity, compounding crises such as food shortages, natural disasters, and climate change issues, to name a few, challenged the United Nations.  However, he continued, to formulate effective responses to the economic and financial crisis, Member States needed to be encouraged to “rein in their actions” that affected weaker and poorer countries.

He observed that the end of the cold war made it possible for a more global world to emerge, one with more justice and better relationships between countries.  Since then, mutual respect for different cultures and shared responsibilities remained the fundamental basis for cooperation between nations and was the guiding principle of the United Nations.  However, the gap between developed and underdeveloped countries had widened, despite the many resolutions and recommendations adopted by the General Assembly.  A replacement of the old economic order was needed, to create a fairer and more equitable system with financial assistance to weak and more vulnerable countries through special summits and globalized trade.  Even with all the initiatives in recent years, only 20 per cent of the Millennium Development Goals had been met.

Stating that Equatorial Guinea welcomed debate about the global crisis, he called for a redefinition of positions in regard to global development, in order to resolve what he saw as problems stemming from the conflicts driven by wealthy countries to the detriment of poor countries.  When a collapse of balance and a lack of multilateral collaboration occurred, “the result could be nothing but a cold or a hot war” and he called for new global approaches to enhance an equitable contribution.  Through strengthened intercultural dialogue, these new strategies would support the original philosophy of the United Nations.

He went on to discuss Equatorial Guinea’s excellent ties and friendship through economic cooperation, not just with all its regional neighbours of Central Africa, but with all countries that contributed to global peace and economic development through use of Equatorial Guinea’s natural resources and oil, in particular its partners in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia.  However, he was astounded by what appeared to be envy of his country’s oil resources.  These resources had been made available to the international community, and yet Equatorial Guinea became the target of attacks, invasions, and attempts at destabilization in what clearly was an aim to gain control of resources that belonged solely to his country.  He stated that Equatorial Guinea was a peaceful country committed to the United Nations Charter.  It sought to maintain non-violence negotiations and engage in dialogue for disputes at international tribunals.

He concluded by saying that global peace was a universal right of all people and a prerequisite for the survival of humankind.  Global crises affected global peace, as seen in recent conflicts in different States of the world.  The United Nations was created for peace, and for the sake of global peace, he called upon the international community to be prudent and not allow injustice to stoke crises between nations.

LEONEL FERNÁNDEZ REYNA, President of the Dominican Republic, said that, while taking stock of the Millennium Development Goals last year, and prior to the economic collapse, developing countries were affected by two major crises, one being the sharp rise of oil prices and the other the sharp increase of food prices.  The oil crisis provoked vigorous protests in various parts of the world, as all products become more expensive.  Governments had been forced to use reserve oil supplies and utilize subsidies in order to maintain peace and democracy.

As for the food crisis, he said price fluctuations had pushed an additional 150 million people below the poverty line.  Currently more than 1 billion went hungry every day.  He also noted that the World Bank estimated that, in order to reach the Millennium Development Goals, $250 billion would be needed for the years between 2008 and 2015.  The economic crisis had affected developing countries and impacted the resources needed to cut poverty levels.

Yet in spite of that, some maintained the illusion that the aims of the Millennium Goals might be met.  However, the reality was that the financial crisis had been so intense that anxiety and panic not experienced in years was being felt worldwide.  Moreover, because of the crisis, 400,000 children and tens of thousands women had died.  Those deaths could have been avoided.  “This is a true catastrophe.  It is something morally and politically unacceptable.”

He then called on the General Assembly to declare a state of emergency in regards to the Millennium Development Goals.  Indeed, an entirely different attitude needed to be adopted if those targets were to be met.  Although such an approach could be seen as failure, he insisted that not to do so would be cowardly.  The worse decision would be leaving behind all those needing human solidarity.

He proposed that the Goals be reconsidered and that the 2015 deadline for meeting them be extended.  The General Assembly would then create conditions in which Governments and non-governmental organizations would be able to shoulder their tasks in a productive way.  He understood that there were insufficient resources for the task at hand, but said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

He also drew the Assembly’s attention to the possibility of new funding sources and, in that regard, he urged the creation of a new working group which would carry out thorough research for a recommended plan of action regarding offshore financial havens.  He noted that the World Bank had estimated that tax evasion resulted in lost revenue of $250 billion, an amount that would provide external aid to meet the Millennium Development Goals.  He said OXFAM had noted that some $50 billion was lost because of offshore banks and tax havens, and that Christian Aid had affirmed that the tax evasion between the years 2000 to 2015 would result in a total of 5 million children’s deaths.

Abundant resources in the world were unfairly and unequally distributed, he said in conclusion, and a new monetary system, one without secrets or laundering was necessary.  He called for the General Assembly to make wide and brave decisions so that the right to a dignified life for all people could be realized.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President of Iran, said that to create “a bright tomorrow”, fundamental changes of attitude would have to be made.  First off, the current financial system would have to change.  “The engine of unbridled capitalism, with its unfair system of thought, has reached the end of the road and is unable to move,” he said.  “The era of capitalist thinking […] and the age of setting up empires is over.  It is no longer possible to humiliate nations and impose double standards on the world community.”  Such hypocrisy would not be allowed to continue.  “Those who define democracy and freedom and set standards while they themselves are the first who violate fundamental principles […] can no longer be both the judge and executor, and challenge the real democratically established Governments.”  He added that “most nations, including the people of the United States, are waiting for real and profound changes.”

With regard to Palestine, he said that the entire population of a country had been deprived of their homeland for more than 60 years, and their legitimate right of self-defence had been denied.  He noted that while certain Governments unconditionally supported the occupiers against defenceless women and children, at the same time, “oppressed men and women” were subjected to heavy economic blockades, the result of which was “genocide”.  He then addressed issues in the wider Middle East and said it was “not acceptable that some who are several thousand kilometres away from the Middle East should send their troops for military intervention” and spread war, bloodshed, aggression and terror.

It was no longer possible to bring a country under military occupation in the name of the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, while the production of drugs multiplied and terrorism widened its dimensions, he said.  And “those who have created the current disastrous situation continue to blame others.  How can you speak about friendship and solidarity with other nations while you expand your military bases in different parts of the world, including in Latin America?”  He warned that such “militaristic logic” would have dire consequences and exacerbate the problems in the world.  “There are those who export billions of dollars of arms every year, stockpile chemical and biological, as well as nuclear weapons […] while accusing others of militarism.”

On the subject of the economy, he said the current financial mechanisms were outdated, and those inequitable structures were unable to solve the challenges ahead.  The political and economic structures created following the Second World War had been based on intentions to dominate the world and failed to promote justice and lasting security.   “By the grace of God, Marxism is gone.  It is now history.  Unhindered capitalism will certainly have the same fate.”  He spoke against colonialist and discriminatory goals and hypocrisy in international relations, and called for collective action “to return to basic moral and human values”.

Before the Assembly were several points on the agenda, he said.  The first included the reform of the Organization itself, in particular the structure of the Security Council and the abolishment of veto rights, and the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people.  He also called for an end to inference in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe.  “Oppression against Palestinians and violations of their rights still continue,” he said.  “Bombings in Afghanistan and Pakistan have not yet stopped, and Guantanamo prison has not yet been shut down.  And there are still secret prisons in Europe.”  Further points before the Assembly included reform of the current international economic structures and political relations, and the “eradication of the arms race and the elimination of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons”.  At the same time, he emphasized the right of “all nations to have access to peaceful technologies”.

Speaking of his own country, he said: “Our nation has successfully gone through a glorious and fully democratic election, opening a new chapter for our country in the march towards national progress and enhanced international interactions.  They entrusted me once more with a large majority with this heavy responsibility.”  He emphasized that Iran was ready to engage with the international community and “warmly shake all those hands which are honestly extended to us”, he said.  “No nation can claim to be free from the need to change and reform in this journey towards perfectness.  We welcome real and humane changes, and stand ready to actively engage in fundamental global reforms.”

EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, stressed the importance of unity, which was needed to resolve the current crises, meet the peoples’ needs, achieve dignity and, above all, tackle the deep asymmetries of today’s world.  A number of statements in the Assembly had focused on the origins of the crisis, but the majority of speakers had only referred to the effects rather than the causes of the current situation.  The origin of the crisis had been unbridled accumulation, commercialization of Mother Earth and, above all, capitalism.  There could not be social peace if there was injustice and inequality.

He said that United States military bases threatened social peace, democracy and integration.  They also provoked distrust among people.  “We know what uniformed personnel of the United States can do in a country.  When there are United States military bases in Latin America, social peace and democracy can not be guaranteed.”  For instance, there was a United States military base in Honduras, he added.

Commending the courage of President Zelaya, who had travelled to Honduras in peace and with the goal of restoring democracy, he exclaimed: “How good would it be if the United Nations were to issue an ultimatum to the military dictatorship in Honduras and if a democratically elected President were reinstated!”

Turning to climate change, he stressed the importance of living “in peaceful existence” with Mother Earth, which was life-giving, provided water, natural resources and oxygen.  Without ensuring the well-being of Mother Earth, it was impossible to guarantee the well-being of its inhabitants.  Earth could and would exist with or without human life, but human life could not exist without Mother Earth.  It was as important to defend the rights of Mother Earth as human rights.

In that connection, he suggested that developed countries must pay off their “climate debt” to the planet.  He also proposed the establishment of a “climate justice court” to try and punish those who damaged the planet.  A structure was needed to quantify the damage imposed by a number of countries and transnational corporations in that regard.  Finally, he presented to the Assembly a proposal, generated by indigenous civil society movements on the need to adopt a United Nations declaration on the rights of Mother Earth, a right to life, generation of bio-capacity, clean life and living in harmony.  He hoped that proposal would be taken into account in Copenhagen.  He also hoped the Conference would achieve important lasting solutions.

“If we want to change the world, we need to change the United Nations,” he continued.  In particular, a real democratization of the Security Council was needed.  It was necessary to eliminate permanent seats with the right of veto.  All the countries must have the same rights within the United Nations.  Through the democratization of the Council, democracy could be brought to the United Nations.

Expressing high hopes for the new Administration in the United States, he said that with the closing of Guantanamo Bay detention facility and other actions, progress had been made.  He hoped the economic blockade against Cuba would be lifted.  At the same time, certain custom tariff preferences had been given by former President Bush to some countries of Latin America.  Those decisions had been taken for political reasons, but the former President had never taken into account the recent constitutional developments in his country.

Mr. Morales also rejected accusations that he was encouraging the production of cocaine.  His Government had, indeed, launched a campaign for traditional use of coca leaf, but one should remember that coca leaf was not the same as cocaine.  Zero-cocaine policy did not mean eradication of coca leaf, which was beneficial and healthy for humans.  Coming from the unionist movement, he also denied the accusations that he had dismantled the unions.

He added that Chile and Bolivia felt sufficient trust to resolve the issue of maritime access bilaterally.  If that could not be done, the intervention of the international community might become necessary.

VICTOR YUSHCNENKO, President of Ukraine, said there was an atmosphere of strengthening freedom in his country, and its choice for democracy was irreversible.  As a free nation, Ukraine would not accept any form of interference into the internal affairs of sovereign States, any pressure on them, or any manifestation of authoritarian thinking in international relations.  Most importantly, Ukraine would not accept any violations of fundamental international principles, particularly territorial integrity and the inviolability of the frontiers of all sovereign States.

The Charter entrusted the Security Council with the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, and he confirmed Ukraine’s resolve to become a Council member in 2016-2017.   Ukraine would always be a reliable partner of the United Nations in all peace and security issues and collective actions that fostered stability in all regions, especially Africa.

Nearly 15 years ago, Ukraine had voluntarily given up the world’s third largest nuclear potential and acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear State.  He welcomed steps taken by the Untied States and the Russian Federation to shape a new agreement to replace the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms of 31 July 1991, which expired this year.  The country strictly abided by Council resolutions and adhered to all established international regimes.

He then turned to the global fight against maritime piracy, which was an important issue for a country with nearly 70,000 citizens employed on ships under foreign flags.  Ukraine valued all efforts of the United Nations and International Maritime Organization in that regard, and he stressed that piracy was a dangerous and threatening problem that impacted all nations.  In the last seven years, pirates had attacked 18 vessels with Ukrainian sailors on board and 35 Ukrainian sailors had been taken hostage in the last nine months.   Ukraine strongly supported the creation of uniform and clear rules to fight pirates and protect sailors.

The global financial crisis was one of the most acute problems facing the international community and it may be time to discuss the creation of a United Nations “Economic Security Council”.  The most important objective of the Organization was for each country to protect common people from the financial crisis and prevent a decline in their living standards, he added.

LECH KACZYŃSKI, President of Poland, said the United Nations had been created to prevent atrocities that had occurred during the Second World War and to redress the failures of the League of Nations.  The United Nations had undergone various turns throughout the years, including clashes between “the socialist camp” and the free world.  Twenty years ago, after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Poland had gained real independence.  At that time, the world believed it had found a way to solve all problems, especially economic ones, through the use of free markets and free movement of capital.  However, in recent years, that “fight” had been undermined and, as such, he would focus his comments on the crisis.

Turning briefly to the issue of conflict, he said that among the many causes of conflict was the violation of States’ territorial integrity, especially through the use of force, such as what had happened in Georgia.

He went on to say that he represented a country that continued to develop.  Indeed, Poland was among the few countries in the European Union to record economic growth this year.  The global crisis had shown that too much faith had been put in markets and banking systems.  The question of preventive measures had arisen and, in that context, the United Nations had a great opportunity.  New regulations for bank sector supervision were needed.  There were places where banks were not under any control, which fostered criminal activity such as drug trafficking and the creation of tax havens.  It was in the common interest to end such practices and no other organization was better placed than the United Nations to create international norms.

Highlighting the need to increase flexibility of International Monetary Fund and World Bank programmes, he said questions had also arisen about to how to better use agencies affiliated with the United Nations, notably ILO, which should be a place where alternative programmes to liberal development could be developed.  He clarified that he was referring to the creation of programmes that would take account of the interests of workers and the balance between different social groups, especially among rich and poor countries.

Recalling comments by the President of the United States that his country would take a new approach to the United Nations, he said such efforts created a new responsibility for the Organization.  The United Nations needed organizational changes that would make peacekeeping operations more effective.  That did not exclude tasks taken up by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but the United Nations should play a leading role.  On Security Council reform, he said it was an important issue and that there was a difference between what had been established 64 years ago and present day concerns.

Regarding climate change, he said richer countries must realize that assistance should be provided to weaker States.  Tackling the issue should not make development easier for some and more difficult for others.  In addition, international terrorism was an important problem, as the situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan had demonstrated.  The United Nations could play a greater role in that regard.  Finally, he had heard today that the United Nations was entering a new phase.  That would be a test of its greatness.

KEVIN RUDD, Prime Minister of Australia, said much remained to be done in connection with the world economic crisis, which had brought such carnage to the world markets.  The crisis had been a wake-up call for the international community to reform the institutions of international financial governance.  The failure of those institutions was not only a matter of concern -- the price of their failure had been paid by working people all over the world.  His country had also been seriously affected by the crisis.  The G-20 were trying to address the issue, with Governments acting in concert to stabilize the global financial system, introduce stimuli, promote confidence and initiate a financial market reform programme.

Those extraordinary interventions had succeeded in breaking the fall, but economic recovery was far from certain and more turns and twists lay ahead, he continued.  The financial reform must be completed.  It was also necessary to agree on emergency interventions and articulate a new framework for sustainable future economic growth.  One of the failures of the old system lay in the lack of global economic coordination and supervision.  The G-20 would need to build on the structures of cooperation and apply them to the challenges of global recovery.  The meeting in Pittsburgh presented an opportunity to achieve balanced and sustained growth.  Among other proposals, he also mentioned the need for the International Monetary Fund to analyse individual national economic plans to see whether they were sufficient, as well as a German proposal on the adoption of a charter of sustainable economic activity.

With little time remaining before the climate meeting in Copenhagen, not enough action had been taken, he said.  The collective political will had not been sufficient and mutual recriminations had become prevalent.  What was required globally was the leadership to embrace the truth that all the Governments needed to reach beyond their own reasons and arrive at “a grand bargain” on climate change, anchored in science and the need to avoid a catastrophic climate change.  Among the challenges were binding targets, public and private financing arrangements to support adaptation and mitigation, and transfer of technology issues.  All available mechanisms for international cooperation should be used.   Copenhagen would be a test of collective leadership.  As chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, he knew that time was already running out for small island States.  The South Pacific was part of the human face of climate change, and Australia was prepared to act on that great challenge.

Turning to nuclear weapons, he said that nuclear tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea this year had been rightly condemned by the international community.  He was encouraged by the commitment by the United States and the Russian Federation to further reduce their arsenals.  The NPT had played a crucial role, but a successful review conference in 2010 was needed to reinvigorate the process.   Australia and Japan had recently established a commission to chart a realistic course to achieve a strengthened non-proliferation regime.  In that regard, tomorrow’s Security Council meeting on non-proliferation and disarmament was of great importance.

The realization of the Millennium Development Goals was fundamental for the elimination of world poverty, he continued.  That was a core reason why his Government was committed to devoting 0.5 per cent of gross national income for official development assistance purposes.  The Doha Development Round was taking too long, due to the deficit of political will.   Australia, as one of the lead negotiators, was ready to work to bridge the gaps.

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For information media. Not an official record.