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Inclusive Multilateralism, Fully Democratic United Nations Needed to Combat Poverty, Terrorism, Other Threats, Speakers Tell Assembly General Debate

Sixty-fourth General Assembly


5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)

Inclusive Multilateralism, Fully Democratic United Nations Needed to Combat

Poverty, Terrorism, Other Threats, Speakers Tell Assembly General Debate

To effectively tackle terrorism, entrenched poverty and the threat of weapons proliferation, a more equitable multilateral system that valued diversity and fostered a “climate of dialogue” was urgently needed, world leaders attending the General Assembly’s annual debate stressed today, as they pushed for a more democratic United Nations.

In a day that heard many delegations describe how they were grappling with exactly how to create a more balanced world order, the newly elected Prime Minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama, said his Government, following the spirit of yu-ai, or fraternity, would make utmost efforts to be a bridge between the Orient and the Occident, developed and developing countries, and between diverse civilizations.

Discussing how Japan would carry out that task, he said that as nations further liberalized trade and investment, international coordination would be needed to forge systems that reined in poverty and economic disparity, a difficult task if left only to market mechanisms.  Japan would play a bridging role in international forms, including the Group of 20 (G-20), in formulating common rules to that end.

On the issue of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, Japan could both promote disarmament and help bridge differences between nuclear- and non-nuclear weapon States.  To ensure success at next year’s Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference, he urged taking action now towards the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and early start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.

For Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, creating an inclusive global order required new leadership so countries would stop perceiving the world as a threat, and start seeing it as a place of solidarity.  Everyone -- regardless of creed or colour -- was obliged to build a world of peace, justice and prosperity.

He said Turkey continued to be a force for peace and stability in its restive region.  Over the past seven years, it had made efforts to resolve its differences with neighbouring countries and to improve bilateral relations.

Regarding the specific situation in Cyprus, he supported a comprehensive solution, citing the United Nations as the foundation upon which a solution could be built and the world body’s Secretary-General as a “bridge” between the two sides’ differences.  Noting that a mutual solution should be reached by the end of 2009, he said a fair, lasting solution would help transform the Mediterranean zone into a peaceful and cooperative place.

Picking up that strand, Dimitris Christofias, President of Cyprus, recalled that one year ago, his country had embarked on intensive negotiations with the Turkish-Cypriot Leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, in a common effort to end the division of the island.  While there had been progress, the two sides did not appear close to a final solution to the Cyprus question.

Nonetheless, Turkey had become a key player in finding a solution, and that solutions relied on its political will and policies.  He urged Turkey to contribute towards creating a dual federation, in line with Security Council resolutions, and to resume normal relations with Cyprus.   Cyprus had never sought hostile relations with Turkey but it had to protect its sovereignty.  It was prepared to resume talks with the Turkish Government and and with the Turkish-Cypriot leader.

Pointing towards opportunity, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, said history was replete with examples of how nations, immersed in crises, had changed underlying assumptions about themselves and created new tools to solve problems.  While such innovations would vary, the challenges were the same: creating a shared vision, increasing trust among peoples and adopting a moral purpose to achieve such goals.

Today, the world had an exceptional opportunity to address environmental challenges, improve economies and reform multilateral institutions -- at the same time.  The G-20, for example, was now playing a crucial role in restoring global economic stability.  But should its base not be broadened further, to include nations that were most vulnerable to the decisions of the few?  He urged thinking differently about issues, especially on providing better support to regional actors and engaging the majority of the world in truly global decision-making.

“We work with each other or we suffer in isolation”, said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, calling on all nations to adapt to the reality of common responsibility for sustainable development.  United Nations peacekeeping operations were core to nation-building.

Although Lithuania was a small nation, it was fully committed to regional and global responsibility, and would make use of core United Nations principles of dialogue, respect and tolerance, she explained.  With that in mind, Lithuania was the current President of both the Council of the Baltic States and the Community of Democracies.  Indeed, democracy was inseparable from peace, the rule of law, respect for human rights and overall prosperity.  “The global interest is our national interest and the global responsibility is our national responsibility”, she added.

Pressing world leaders to put that spirit into practice, especially times of heightened insecurity, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the main threat to all nations was the marriage between fundamentalism and weapons of mass destruction.  Indeed, the greatest challenge was that of preventing Iran from procuring nuclear weapons.  “Are the members of the United Nations up to that challenge?” he asked.

Affirming Israel’s desire for a permanent, genuine and defensible peace, he reminded the General Assembly that anytime an Arab leader reached out to make peace, Israel had met with them, as was the case with Egypt and Jordan.  He also recalled that when a two-State solution had been voted on in 1947, the Jews accepted the resolution; the Arabs rejected it.  What Israel had wanted for 62 years was for the Palestinians to say “yes” to a Jewish State, and in return, Israel would recognize the State of the Palestinian people.  “It is as simple, clear and elementary as that.”

Also speaking today were the Heads of State of Comoros, Ghana, Bosnia and Herzegovina, São Tome and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Panama, Switzerland, Venezuela, Slovenia, Guyana, Costa Rica, United Republic of Tanzania, Latvia, Malawi, Iraq, Gambia, Paraguay, Maldives, Guatemala, Haiti, Senegal, Finland, Zambia, Croatia, Marshall Islands and Georgia, as well as the Heads of Government of Spain and Malta.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. Friday, 25 September, to resume its general debate.


The General Assembly, this morning, met to continue its general debate for the sixty-fourth session.


AHMED ABDALLAH MOHAMED SAMBI, President of the Comoros, said the Comorian islands had been accepted into the international community with the colonial Powers.  Despite many relevant resolutions and consultations that had taken place, France continued to hold referendums in Mayotte to anchor the island to the French republic.  The consultations held meant that the status of Mayotte had been changed, in the context of French law.  The latest referendum aimed at making the island an overseas French department in 2011.

However, he pointed out that the relationship between France and the Comoros was unique. Despite attempts to separate one island from its sisters, the country had a privileged partnership with France, especially as it was always associated with the international community in major decision-making.   France was still its biggest trading partner and provider of development aid, and more than 200,000 Comorian people lived in France.  There was no hostility between the two countries, and the desire for cooperation in no way diminished the importance of the territorial integrity of the Comoros.

He proposed ending differences and discussed the principle of “one country, two administrations”.  By that principle, France should acknowledge full sovereignty of the Comorian islands.   Both parties had to agree on the duration of the French presence on the islands and he requested that France encourage the economic development of the three other islands, so as to strike a balance over the archipelago that would foster a rapprochement.  Those efforts would enable islanders to preserve their living standards.

Describing the relationship between France and the Comoros, he said there had been almost two centuries of shared history, culture and language.  “We must not spoil this inheritance by allowing misunderstandings to persist,” he said.  For such reasons, he was here to show his goodwill, which he hoped would never be annihilated by inflexibility or intransigence.

As for the Assembly, he said progress had been made “here and there”, but children still suffered.  Health care was still a luxury for the majority of Comorian citizens.  Small island States, such as his, were also threatened by multiple natural disasters, which worsened an already fragile socio-economic situation.  Technological advances had been huge and true international mobilization, especially by countries better served to face challenges, was necessary.  It was time to show solidarity by acting and being pragmatic, if people were to find hope.  Developing countries were not asking for the moon, “at least for the time being”.  They were asking that efforts be pooled to meet their demands.

He said the United Nations had a huge role to play in attaining that goal. Only a more representative and equitable Organization could better solve the problems faced by all nations.  He called for a better definition for the responsibility to protect.  On peace and security, he welcomed the United States President’s efforts in the Middle East, expressing hope also to see an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and coexistence of the two States, as outlined in various resolutions.  Regarding the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Great Lakes region and Darfur, he said fratricidal conflicts only exacerbated abject poverty in those areas.

JOHN EVANS ATTA MILLS, President of Ghana , said that the combined effects of the crises Africa continued to face, among them climate change and high food and energy prices, as well as the ongoing global financial and economic turbulence, threatened recent economic and democratic growth.  Those challenges also had a profound impact on international peace and stability.  The beneficial effects of globalization were still negligible in developing countries, and many citizens still lived on less than one dollar a day. 

All that, he observed, threatened the recent progress made by many African countries, leaving them vulnerable to erosion by continued external threats, as well as practically ensuring that, for many, the Millennium Development Goals would not be attained in any meaningful way.  He noted actions taken by African countries to mitigate those obstacles, amongst them the recapitalization of financial institutions, trade policy changes and regulatory reforms, to name a few.  However, additional support was needed to bolster those efforts. 

He called for developed countries to meet existing commitments on aid and debt reduction.  He also called for sale of International Monetary Fund (IMF) gold reserves to help support the efforts of African countries struggling in the economic crisis, and urged the Fund to support African economies during the crisis by putting in place a new facility with relaxed conditions.  Equally important was the fact that although the ongoing World Trade Organization Doha Round talks were committed to improving market access for developing countries, the current global trading system, especially tariff and non-tariff barriers, hindered and damaged earning opportunities of farmers and rural communities in poor countries.

In order for Ghana and other African countries to fully participate in global trade and achieve sustainable social and economic development, he said there needed to be enhanced access to markets.  Moreover, abuse of anti-dumping rules must be eliminated, and tariff and non-tariff barriers should be reduced. However, he also noted that for their part, African countries needed to remain committed to good governance in order for any sustainable development to succeed.

Addressing climate change and how that phenomenon was risking Africa’s social, economic and environmental development, he urged that at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the issue of financing, mitigation and adaptation for developing countries be a central component in the deliberations.  Further, in illuminating the intricate link between security and development, he heralded Ghana’s peacekeeping operation, one of the oldest and most consistent troop-contributing countries.  He said that, although the increasing demands had placed a strain on an already overstretched system, it was an honour to participate in the success of such efforts of the Organization and that he was optimistic about the reform process that had already shown improvements.

Recalling Ghana’s commitment to the adopting of the 1995 Beijing Declarations and Platform in Action, he said that, although there was often a huge gap between policy and practice, his Government was pursing an Affirmative Action Policy, which would ensure 40 per cent representation of women in decision-making positions.  In that respect, he noted the appointment of the first female Speaker of Parliament, as well as female Ministers for Women and Children Affairs, Justice and Attorney-General, Trade and Industry, Environment and Science, among the many positions being filled by women.

ŽELJKO KOMŠIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that one of the most pressing issues last year was the global economic and financial crisis, which had become the biggest threat to global peace and stability.  “Global crises require global solutions,” he said, stressing that if the international community failed to act, there could be unimaginable consequences.  Welcoming the outcome of last June’s High-Level Conference on the Economic and Financial Crisis and Its Impact on Development, he said the role of the General Assembly was to lead the process, to improve cooperation to eradicate poverty and to create global social justice.

The global economic crisis had jeopardized and compromised efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals, one of the Organization’s most noble tasks, especially for sub-Saharan Africa’s poorest countries.  However, he said developed countries must also take responsibility for helping Africa reach those Goals, including by doing everything they could to overcome the global economic crisis, by reforming the financial system and by making that system more transparent.

He said Bosnia and Herzegovina had made systematic efforts to accomplish the Millennium Development Goals, and it was currently preparing a development and social inclusion strategy with the United Nations.  Turning to climate change, he said the international community must respond to this universal threat urgently, and expressed hope that the Copenhagen Summit would gain the support of all Member States and produce a solid post-Kyoto agreement.  Political and economic interests should not hinder such goals to regain the loss of the natural balance of our planet.

On Organizational matters, he agreed that the United Nations in general and the Security Council in particular should undergo careful, prudent reforms to ensure better coordination and efficiency of all bodies of the system.  There was overall consensus that reforming the Security Council would ensure more transparency by allowing non-member States, particularly those on its agenda and those ridden with crises, to take part in its work and help find the best solutions.  While such a move needed to be made urgently, he called for dialogue and compromise when the time came to discuss the way forward.

Continuing, he said a group of countries from Eastern Europe must have another non-permanent seat in the Council, especially as the number of countries in that region had grown over the past two decades.  He stressed that the Council must take more efficient use of preventive diplomacy.  Indeed, taking such a course would ensure that crises were solved before they became full-blown conflicts.  Overall, the United Nations should foster early warning mechanisms to help curb numerous crimes against humanity.  He also noted his country’s ongoing commitment to the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia.

Turning to the global refugee crisis, he expressed his support for a joint United Nations and the non-governmental sector’s efforts to tackle that problem, as the number of refugees grew every day, while viable solutions seemed ever more elusive.  On United Nations peacekeeping missions, he urged Member States to do their utmost to ensure that such operations were more long-term oriented, efficient and culturally and geographically sensitive, by ensuring a clear assessment of the situation in the field and peacebuilding processes in order to find a universal sustainable solution.

The country’s foreign policy was committed to finding long-lasting peace, security and stability within a democratic context.  Smaller countries had to be encouraged to be part of the Council’s decision-making process.  Bosnia and Herzegovina’s participation had been the topic of many international debates. Given its multi-ethnic, multinational and multi-religious state, it was willing to share know-how on building peace especially towards multiculturalism and reconciliation in a post-conflict context.

PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda, said the Assembly’s session offered another chance to reflect on how best to reconcile what, at times, were mistakenly considered irreconcilable concepts:  socio-economic development and a healthy environment.  Leaders and citizens the world over often wondered how to spread prosperity without degrading oceans, rivers and the air we breathe.  However, these were also times of extraordinary scientific, technological and business innovations that could help address such challenges, if decision-makers had the courage to harmonize national, regional and global priorities.  History was replete with examples of how nations, immersed in crises, had changed underlying assumptions about themselves and created new tools to solve problems.  While such innovations would vary, the challenges were the same:  creating a shared vision; increasing trust among peoples; and adopting a moral purpose to achieve such goals.

He said today the world community had an exceptional opportunity to address environmental challenges, improve economies and reform global multilateral institutions -- at the same time.  The Group of 20 (G-20), for example, was now playing a crucial role in restoring global economic stability.  However, should the base not be broadened further, to include nations that were most vulnerable to the decisions of the few?  All nations should be part of those important discussions.

“This is the time to embrace true multilateralism,” he said.  Multilateralism had always been key to forging a fairer global community.  The rise of global networks of trade, industry, prosperity and social values, together with the creation of multilateral institutions to guide such processes, had contributed to an improved decision-making system.

Improving global governance also had to address international justice, which had to be fair to all -- rich and poor, strong and weak.  He was pleased that the Assembly’s sixty-third session had examined the issue of universal jurisdiction and looked forward to resolutions on that matter in the current session.  Turning to the East African Community, he discussed progress, saying that the January 2010 inauguration of the East African Common Market would boost trade, investment and the free movement of some 130 million people.  Indeed, there was no better way to reduce economic difficulty than by building larger regional markets that improved productivity, which, in turn, increased purchasing power and eventually strengthened societies.

On the environment, he said every nation should have co-equal status and be considered a concerned nation at the forthcoming Copenhagen summit.  Each nation had rights and obligations, and should be open to burden sharing, according to their ability to do so.  Some key issues to be addressed included how much the industrialized nations would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, how much developing nations would limit emissions growth and how to finance strategies to conserve energy and build green technologies.  Rwanda had made modest, but proportionate contributions, notably by hosting African preparatory meetings for the Copenhagen conference and implementing policies for reforestation and terracing.  On peace and security, he pointed to continued progress in addressing the question of the Great Lakes Region.  Leaders recognized that solutions, starting with a joint regional effort, could bring about peace.  In closing, he urged thinking differently about various issues:  fostering economic growth while investing in the environment; improving peace and stability of all regions by supporting legitimate regional actors; and engaging the majority of the world into multilateral decision-making.

DALIA GRYBAUSKAITE, President of Lithuania, said the challenges facing the global community could not have been envisioned by the founders of the United Nations some 60 years ago.  Effectively tackling the economic crisis, and addressing terrorism, proliferation of weapons and climate change required transforming the Organization into an instrument of global politics.  “The modern world insists we are dependent on each other.  We work with each other or we suffer in isolation,” she said.

In order to address the lag in donor commitment towards the Millennium Development Goals, which was impacting the poorest and most vulnerable, she called on all nations to adapt to the global reality of common responsibilities for sustained development and listed five components to ensure continued growth, cooperation and progress.  First, the United Nations peace operations were core components to peacebuilding and nation-building.  Therefore, Lithuania was committed to its peacekeeping obligations, regardless of the current economic limitations.

Second, she called for a strengthening of United Nations policy against nuclear proliferation, while still encouraging civil nuclear power.  To that end, the forthcoming review conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) next year would offer the opportunity to seek diplomatic solutions that complied with international commitments and requirements.  As for her third point, she said that responsible global, regional and local governance was necessary to ensure steady and sustainable economic recovery.  “Protectionism and isolationism never worked and will not work,” she added.

On her fourth point, she noted that climate change required a broad and coordinated response that included inputs from all nations.  Underscoring Lithuania’s commitment to the success of the upcoming Copenhagen Conference, she also applauded and supported the European Union’s goal to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.  Her final point focused on the interdependence of global and regional responsibility towards full implementation of the United Nations Charter.  She urged regional organizations to take a greater responsibility in their areas of operation and to share best practices with their neighbours and other local actors. 

Although Lithuania was a small nation, it was fully committed to its regional and global responsibility by utilizing the core principles of the United Nations of dialogue, respect and tolerance.  To that end, she said her Government was the current President of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, as well as the President of the Community of Democracies.  It would continue its preparations for the 2011 Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Presidency of the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, as well as the Lithuanian European Union Presidency in 2013.  Concluding that democracy was inseparable from peace, the rule of law, respect for individual and human rights, equal opportunities and overall prosperity, she called on Member States “…[to] recognise, from now on, in each of our capitals, that the global interest is our national interest and global responsibility is our national responsibility.”

DIMITRIS CHRISTOFIAS, President of Cyprus, said world stability and welfare had been threatened by the recent global economic and financial crisis.  The world could only overcome such challenges, including disease, poverty and threats to the environment, through collective international action and not through economic nationalism.  He said:  “The most important lesson to be learnt from the financial crisis is that the economy cannot be seen in isolation from the needs of society.” The scope of the current turbulence was a manifestation of neo-liberalism and lawlessness in its strongest forms.

In its present negative state, globalization was driven by the pursuit of excessive gains whereby the rich were becoming richer and the poor were becoming poorer, he continued.  More than halfway to attaining the Millennium Development Goals, the financial crisis was forcing States and institutions to rethink global priorities.  The United Nations was the most crucial body to find solutions to the effects of the global financial crisis, he added.

The world was faced with numerous challenges, including climate change, human rights abuses, failure to protect the vulnerable, growing conflict, pandemics, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and growing conflict. He cautioned, “If we do not take measures now, we face the risk of extinction.  We must take measures now.  Tomorrow will be too late,” he said, stressing that December’s forthcoming Copenhagen Climate Summit must be a turning point in addressing catastrophic climate changes.

Turning to a military coup and foreign invasion in 1974, he said the United Nations had responded with key resolutions expressing the international community’s support to Cyprus.  Those and other international legal instruments and resolutions gave his country help towards finding political solutions.  He said that, one year ago, his country had embarked on intensive negotiations with the Turkish-Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, in a common effort to end the division of the island.  There had been some progress, though he admitted the two sides did not seem to be close to a final solution to the Cyprus question.

His country’s goal was to ensure the sovereignty, independence and unity of the common homeland for Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, and to restore human rights and basic freedoms of all peoples.  Above all, Cyprus was committed to creating a United Federal Republic of Cyprus with two large autonomous regions, one Greek-Cypriot and the other Turkish-Cypriot.

Despite his country’s efforts, Turkish-Cypriots, with Turkey’s support, continued to make proposals outside the framework of United Nations resolutions on Cyprus regarding termination of military occupation, the illegal confiscation of property and the presence of settlers.  Possible acceptance of those proposals would ultimately lead to violation of international human rights treaties, as well as of the basic principles on which federations were built.

“Such a solution would be neither viable nor functional,” he cautioned, and expressed hope that Turkish-Cypriots would reconsider their position during a second round of talks.  He added that the solution must be by the Cypriots, for the Cypriots, signalling that a mutual solution would be presented to the people as two referendums. 

Since the 1974 invasion, Turkey had become a key player in finding a solution to the Cyprus problem and successful solutions still relied on its political will and policies.  Contrary to its current confederation-oriented approach, he urged Turkey to contribute towards a dual federation in line with Security Council resolutions.  It should resume normal relations with the Republic of Cyprus and recognize it in accordance with the European Union’s decisions.

He also said it was a paradox that Turkey, a member of the Security Council, did not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, and that it continued to occupy its territories for 35 years, undermining its unity and integrity, thus violating United Nations resolution 541 (1983), which recognized the sovereignty and independence of the Republic.  That was illegal.   Cyprus never sought hostile relations with Turkey, but it had to protect its sovereignty.  It was prepared to resume talks with the Turkish Government and with the Turkish-Cypriot leader.

FRADIQUE DE MENEZES, President of S ão Tome and Pr íncipe, reminded delegates that though a year had passed, the world had not fully recovered from the effects of the economic and financial crisis.  The same distortions remained and the biggest challenge lay in guaranteeing the future of the planet, especially on the economic and environmental fronts, areas that were particularly important for small island nations such as his.

Noting that his country’s carbon emissions were insignificant, he said, “Time is no longer on our side, but has become our unforgiving judge.”  There was no time for unfounded justifications for non-fulfilment of the Kyoto Protocol.  As such, he called for urgent and concrete measures to address that crisis.

Turning to the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the United Nations, he said there was an urgent need to reform the Organization.  African countries, and especially small nations on the periphery, were mired in the deepest poverty. Such problems were particularly difficult to solve and needed more diligent attention from the international community.

Regarding peace and security, he called for rethinking the world order.   São Tome and Príncipe was small and vulnerable.  Challenges should be faced through a multilateral approach, based on international law and the United Nations Charter.  Reform of the Security Council was a question that could not be delayed forever.  African States must have a voice in that body, and they could not be “cast aside” when decisions were made that affected the entire Organization.  He strongly supported the African Union’s call for Africa to be represented on the Council.  

On the Millennium Development Goals, he said that the world was far from making its desired progress to achieve those noble targets.  For its part, São Tome and Príncipe had made determined efforts, especially to achieve health and education objectives.  “We are almost there”, he added.  Also, temperature rise in recent decades had caused glaciers and polar ice caps to melt which, in turn, had caused sea levels to rise.  Climate change was a huge strategic challenge for all nations, as it raised security challenges, he said, and called for “substituting” the Kyoto Protocol.

The path ahead was long and arduous, he said, appealing for greater cooperation between developed and developing countries, donors and recipients.  Consultations should not be limited to Government officials; they should include recipients of the programmes designed to increase development.  The United Nations was an indispensable organization and must continue its mission to maintain peace, security and international organization.

ERNEST BAI KOROMA, President of Sierra Leone, said global crises were best tackled through dialogue among civilizations.  Such dialogue promoted understanding, understanding promoted cooperation, and cooperation made vital and legitimate the institutions and mechanisms that had been created to meet common goals.  He added that broad and inclusive dialogue also created the synergies required to tackle modern challenges such as climate change, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and flu pandemics, the food and fuel crises, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, drug trafficking and the present global economic meltdown.

“Among some population groups, the impact of the [economic] crisis may be on the size of their bonuses; on others it may be on whether they acquire a second car or not,” he said, but stressed that for the vast number of people, particularly in Africa, the impact of the crisis created life-threatening situations.  He said that the global financial crisis had put Sierra Leone’s recent economic growth in jeopardy and pushed greater numbers of people towards extreme poverty. 

Aside from such challenges, and despite years of conflict, political stability had improved rapidly in his country, and economic growth remained strong at 6 to 9 per cent.  He said the Government had already achieved results on key priorities, including health and education reform, as well as infrastructure construction.  He also highlighted the recent completion of a hydro-electric project, which was supplying clean, affordable power to Freetown.  On the downside, however, his country was still struggling to deal with the effects of trade imbalances in international commerce. 

With regard to the challenges ahead, he said that climate change posed a particular threat to African nations.  “Today, the poorest nations, who contribute the least to the phenomenon, are the most vulnerable,” he said.  Another danger was the increasing proliferation of small arms and light weapons, he said, and called for the strengthening of conflict resolution mechanisms.

He went on to praise the United Nations peacebuilding efforts in his own country and announced that Sierra Leone, as “a payback and in the spirit of reciprocity”, had fully joined the ranks of countries contributing troops to United Nations peacekeeping operations.  In conclusion, he called for reform of the Security Council “without further delay”.  To that end, he reiterated Africa’s traditional demand for representation in both permanent and non-permanent categories in that body. “Let us promote multilateralism and strengthen our collaborative efforts to contain the rising threats to our planet,” he said.

RICARDO MARTINELLI BERROCAL, President of Panama, began by focusing on climate change and, while he congratulated all nations for their solidarity in confronting global warming, he nevertheless called for decisive action and a new approach to tackle a crisis that had been triggered by unchecked exploitation of natural resources.  “We must apply new formulas, change our behaviours and value our relationship with nature,” he said, adding, “our options are clear […] if we do not act with prudence, the consequences will be irreversible.”  

Continuing, he highlighted the role Panama played on the international scene, saying his country had a duty to “demonstrate how our economic model and government can be exemplary to all”.  Speaking as a former entrepreneur, he said he had entered the political arena to change things and he planned to put his private sector experience to work as he implemented the broad mandate given to him by the people of Panama.

Although his tenure began this past May in the shadow of the current economic and financial crisis, he noted that Panama was growing.  He pointed to significant improvements within the country thus far, including increases in the salaries of law enforcement officials, distribution of $100 per month to senior citizens without retirement funds, low-cost housing, and construction of a metro, which would be the largest employment programme in the history of Panama.

Turning to the banking and financial sector, he highlighted the importance of Panama, with its groundbreaking shipping Canal that joined the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific ocean, was a “gatekeeper of the global economy.”  He added that the ColÓn Free Trade Zone was the largest in the hemisphere, which made the country the most important maritime commercial route in the world.  Thus, Panama was “the most efficient logistics hub in America”.

Important to that logistics hub were plans for a third set of locks that aimed to expand the capacity of the Canal and further open the doorway for international commerce.  “ Panama is an ideal place to invest, to establish enterprises and to live.  We will transform Panama into the Hong Kong or the Dubai of America.”  He highlighted the benefits of the Panama-Pacifico Special Economic Area, which made labour and immigration welcoming and flexible.

He exclaimed, “All are welcome to Panama.  We are open for business!”  He also said that tourism was the country’s new passion, and that its national parks, coral reefs, islands and biodiversity made it an ideal travel spot.

Turning to issues within the Americas, he said he was closely following the reconciliation efforts in Honduras.  He noted that Honduras’ return to the rule of law was necessary to its well-being and that of Central America.

He noted that because Panama was a geographical crossroads, it was used by organized crime for drug and arms traffic, but that “we are declaring our own war”, and said that they had committed to becoming active partners with Mexico and Colombia in the battle on narco-terrorism.  He ended on a positive note:  “If I had to describe Panama in just a few words, I would say we are a country and a people full of surprises.  Panama will amaze you.”

HANS-RUDOLF MERZ, President of Switzerland, said the recent economic crisis and collapse of the global financial system had illustrated the interconnectedness between and among nations.  It also served to remind Member States that other global challenges, among them, climate change, the food crisis and pandemics, were not confined to national borders.  Confronting those challenges required a concerted and coordinated international cooperative response.  “The United Nations is the place where this cooperation happens.  Today, the world needs the United Nations more than ever,” he said.

To ensure the success of the Organization and its initiatives, he called for the strengthening of ties between the United Nations and other mechanisms such as the G-20, which “had taken over an important role in the discussion of important global issues”.  He cautioned that that development must not undercut the efforts of other, more inclusive institutions.  Further, he stated that economic activities needed to adhere to the fundamental values of economic, social and environmental sustainability. 

Utilizing institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Organization was equipped with the tools to address the financial crisis.  He said that, although reforms were crucial to address recent failures and abuses, a liberal economic order and open market system had lifted many people around the world out of poverty, and he supported the United Nations’ call for the swift conclusion of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations.

Because developing countries were hardest hit by the financial crisis, there was concern that broad achievement of the Millennium Development Goals would be delayed.  Despite budget constraints, Switzerland pledged to maintain its level of development aid, as developing and developed countries were partners in achieving the Goals.  Turning to climate change, he expressed Switzerland’s support for a successful conference in Copenhagen in December and committed his country to achieving its CO2 reduction targets for 2012, and preparing to cut their emissions by 20 per cent by the year 2020. 

He went on to say that, the cost of adaptation to climate change would amount to tens of billions of dollars a year, half of which would be at the expense of developing countries.  With that in mind, he proposed a global carbon tax based on the “polluter-pays” principle in order to tackle those expenses.  

On United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities, in taking over the chairmanship of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, and continuing its initiative on Armed Violence and Development, Switzerland supported the strengthening and expansion of the Organization’s prevention and mediation capacities.  On the sixtieth anniversary of the Geneva Convention, and in light of the difficulty in ensuring respect of its rules due to the new forms of warfare, Switzerland would be organizing a ministerial side-event in New York during the General Assembly, as well as an international expert conference in Geneva in November, which would be open to all State parties to the Geneva Convention.

JOSE LUIS RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO, President of Spain, focusing on the global financial meltdown, said that, despite possible signs of recovery, all were still concerned about the future.  Rules had not been put in place to prevent a recurrence of the crisis, and it would be up to the G-20 to establish a basis on which to deal with such issues.  While this was not the first global economic upheaval, it was, indeed, the first crisis of global governance.

All nations were obliged to learn lessons -- certainly about economic and financial issues -- but also other challenges that needed a global response, including the need for coordinated, political, multilateral action.  Social and economic development would not be possible without the creation of adequate security conditions.  With that, he called on States to avoid failure in combating hunger, poverty and climate change, and in the fight to prosecute organized crime, piracy and terrorism.  A great opportunity was within reach, he added.

For its part, Spain was committed to multilateralism and building a system of global governance.  Indeed, multilateralism was not just a procedure for resolving conflicts.  To be effective, it required two promises to be fulfilled. Multilateralism was inseparable from faithfulness to human rights, democracy and equality for all.  The firm defence of democracy had a name:   Honduras.  “We’re not going to accept an anti-democratic coup,” he said.

In addition, multilateralism required a climate of dialogue, respect and recognition among countries, regions and civilizations.  Recalling his proposal to create an Alliance of Civilizations, he said Spain was pleased to see that the number of members participating in the Group of Friends had increased.  The Alliance’s third forum would be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next year.  He had noted the General Assembly President’s proposal to address dialogue for peace, security and international development, and said the time had come for the Assembly to approve a resolution that would give a Charter to the Alliance.

In the area of security, he said the new multilateralism allowed for the prohibition of antipersonnel land mines and cluster bombs, and now there was a chance to abolish nuclear weapons.  Countries today were discussing the greatest arsenal reductions ever seen.  Spain renounced nuclear weapons and called for strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a goal that coincided with Spain’s Presidency next year of both the European Union and the NPT Review Conference.

On peacekeeping, he shared concern at the situation in Afghanistan, and was confident that the international community would find solutions, not all of which would be military.  In addition, the search for peaceful solutions in the Middle East had to continue, and the global community should consider recognizing a State of Israel and a State of Palestine.

Turning to the issues of poverty and hunger, he called the fact that so many people around the world faced hunger daily an unjust situation in the twenty-first century.  Indeed, there was a radical imbalance in peoples’ living conditions. Questions about international peace and security must go hand in hand with a renewed fight against poverty, and States must not yield to the temptation to avoid fulfilling commitments to the most vulnerable.  With the 2015 deadline in sight, the Millennium Development Goals could still be achieved.  Discussing Africa, he said the twenty-first century should belong to a continent that had too long been dispossessed.  For its part, Spain was a large donor to Africa had made commitments in the area of food security.

YUKIO HATOYAMA, Prime Minister of Japan, recalling his country’s 30 August general election, which had brought about a change of power, said his Administration embodied the dynamism of democracy, and it would exert all efforts to address domestic and foreign policy challenges.  Indeed, the world faced various challenges, and Japan, following the spirit of yu-ai, or fraternity, would make utmost efforts to be a bridge between the Orient and the Occident, developed and developing countries and between diverse civilizations.

Discussing five areas that Japan planned to address, he spoke first of measures to respond to the global economic crisis and explained that Japan must first revive its own economy.  Abolishing provisional rates on auto-related taxes would provide 2.5 trillion yen in tax relief annually and enhance the cost competitiveness of Japanese industries.

He also said international coordination would be needed to forge systems to reign in poverty and economic disparity, which would be difficult to coordinate by simply leaving them to market mechanisms.  Japan would play a bridging role in international forums, including the G-20, in formulating common rules to that end.

Regarding the second challenge -- climate change -- he said the path to creating a post-2012 framework would be anything but smooth.  His Government had set an ambitious target for reducing greenhouse emissions 25 per cent, by 2020, over 1990 levels.  It was prepared to provide more financial and technical assistance to developing countries than in the past, premised on the formulation of a fair international framework by all major economies and agreement on their targets.

On the issue of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he welcomed progress in negotiations between the United States and the Russian Federation on nuclear-weapon reductions, adding that it was urgent for all nuclear weapon-holding States to take concrete measures on nuclear disarmament.  Japan continued to maintain the “three non-nuclear principles” despite its potential to acquire nuclear weapons.

To ensure success at 2010’s NPT Review Conference, he urged taking action now towards the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and early start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  In that context, he said nuclear tests and missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a threat to peace and stability for the East Asian region and the world.  He urged that country to fully comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, saying that Japan would continue its efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula through the six-party talks.  Indeed, Japan sought to normalize relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea through the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues.

On peacebuilding, development and poverty, Japan would work with international and non-governmental organizations to strengthen its assistance to developing countries in terms of quality and quantity.  It planned to redouble efforts towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and in the promotion of human security.  In Afghanistan, he said Japan had provided assistance in such fields as strengthening the security sector and developing social infrastructure.  To address the reintegration of insurgents, Japan would make vital contributions, possibly in the area of vocational training.  As regional stability was also important, Japan had provided support for Pakistan and other countries in the area.

Finally, he said he looked forward to an East-Asian community taking shape as an extension of cooperation built step by step among partners.  He expressed hope to move forward on such issues as free-trade agreements, finance, currency, energy, the environment and disaster relief.  Turning to the United Nations, he expressed his firm belief that Japan could play an even greater role in the Organization, and, above all, in the Security Council.  Japan would continue to engage in the intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform, pursuing expansion of permanent and non-permanent membership, as well as Japan’s permanent membership on the Council.

TAYYIP Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, said that in order to overcome the world’s multiple problems, a trust-oriented, diverse, fair and inclusive global order was necessary.  “The global problems of our age necessitate global scale solutions.”  He called for new leadership so countries could stop perceiving the world as a threat, to seeing it as a place of trust and solidarity.  Everybody, regardless of their creed and colour, was responsible for constructing a world of peace, trust, justice, tranquillity and prosperity.

He said that terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, hunger, poverty, growing pandemics, food and energy concerns, and rising xenophobia continued to pose grave challenges.  In addition, global warming and the financial crisis required robust solutions.  To ensure a more participatory global order, all countries must work together to make the United Nations more efficient, democratic and transparent.  That would, in turn, allow the Organizations to make a greater contribution towards global peace and stability.

The United Nations had to become more effective in tackling the world’s pressing challenges, including human rights and gender equality.  In that regard, he said, Turkey endorsed reforming the Organization, which would be incomplete unless the Security Council was restructured and enlarged to include more non-permanent members.  The United Nations peacekeeping system had to be improved, bearing in mind, among other things, capacity-building and regional coordination, he added.

Turkey continued to be a force for peace and stability in its restive region.  He said that over the past seven years, Turkey had made efforts to resolve its differences with neighbouring countries and to improve bilateral relations.  It had also aimed to move from a relationship of “passive-good neighbourliness to one of active friendship and cooperation”.  Talks with Greece were an example of such actions.

Having initiated the “neighbouring countries process”, his country was still committed to political dialogue and creating national unity in Iraq.  In that regard, Turkey was committed to maintaining the Strategic Dialogue Mechanism with Iraq in the fight against terrorism and to ensure bilateral relations.  Turning to Palestine, he said Turkey was very sensitive to this issue and had always stood by the Palestinian people.  Resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict towards two peaceful coexisting States was invaluable to global peace.  Treating everyone fairly and equally would allow for regional and global stability.

Turning to the fight against terrorism and ensuring stability and prosperity in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he expressed his country’s support in this regard. Turkey had convened a ministerial meeting on a democratic Pakistan in August.  On Cyprus, he supported a comprehensive solution to the question of the island, citing the United Nations as the foundation upon which a solution could be built and the world body’s Secretary-General as a bridge between the two sides’ differences.

A mutual solution would have to be reached by early 2010, he said, emphasizing that if Greek-Cypriot intransigence obstructed such a conclusion, “the normalization of the status of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will become a necessity which can no longer be delayed.”  A fair and lasting solution in Cyprus would help transform the Mediterranean zone into a peaceful, cooperative and stable place.  He added that the Turkish-Cypriot side was still subjected to unfair levels of isolation.  Lifting that unfair practice would speed up the peace process.

Regarding cultural diversity, he cautioned against seeing different cultures as “other”, stressing that they had to be seen as individual elements of humankind.  The Alliance of Civilizations, a United Nations initiative that was co-sponsored by his country, would shape a global civilization based on universal values in democracy, human rights, youth and media.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister of Israel, said the United Nations had been founded 60 years ago, following the Holocaust, and had been thereafter charged with preventing such horrors from ever happening again.  Yet nothing impeded that central mission more than “the systematic assault on the truth”, he said, decrying “the latest anti-Semitic rants” by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during his address to the Assembly yesterday evening.  

Mr. Netanyahu then held up a sheaf of Nazi meeting notes as physical proof of that regime’s horrendous work.  The preserved minutes had been taken at a meeting in the Villa in Wannsee, where on 20 January 1942, senior Nazi officials had laid out the plans for exterminating the Jewish people.  The documents had been recently given to him by the German Government.  “Is this a lie?” he asked.

He then presented to the Assembly the original construction plans of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, plans that contained the authorizing signature of Heinrich Himmler.  Recounting United States President Barack Obama’s recent visit to another concentration camp, Buchenwald, he asked delegations if President Obama had been paying tribute to a lie.  He then recounted his own family history of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who had perished, as well as the tattooed numbers on camp survivors.  All, he stated, added to the proof of the truth about the Holocaust.

He commended those who had refused to attend the General Assembly to hear the Iranian President’s speech, as well as those who had left in protest.  But he stated emphatically to those who stayed that in doing so, they had given legitimacy to a denial that was shameful and to a country that aimed to wipe out Israel.  Although the threats were currently levelled at the Jews, he reminded Member States that what had historically started as attacks on the Jews, had inevitably ended up affecting others.

He went on to say that in the past 30 years, fanaticism had impacted all people, and had been the cause of death of not just Jews, but Hindus, Muslims and Christians.  Any society that aimed to have only their version of true believers always subjugated those who didn’t conform.  That struggle, he continued, wasn’t about one group of believers against another, rather it pit civilization against barbarism, the twentieth century against the ninth century, and those who sanctified life against those who propagated death.

Affirming Israel’s commitment to participate in a global response to the myriad problems facing all nations, such as climate change issues, disease and the need for fossil fuel alternatives, to name a few, he said, however, that the main threat to all nations was the marriage between fundamentalism and weapons of mass destruction.  Indeed, the greatest challenge facing the world was that of preventing Iran from procuring nuclear weapons.  “Are the Members of the United Nations up to that challenge?” he asked.

He then turned to the recently issued report on the crisis in Gaza earlier in the year.  He viewed the document as falsely equating terrorists with those being targeted.  Recounting that Hamas had for eight years fired rockets on Israeli citizens, he said that there had not been one United Nations resolution condemning those criminal attacks.  And although Israel had unilaterally withdrawn from the Gaza Strip by removing 8,000 Israelis and 21 communities -- a move that many in Israel believed would bring peace -- Israel had been subjected to Iranian-backed terrorism to which the United Nations remained silent.  After eight years, Israel had been forced to respond. 

He affirmed Israel’s desire for a permanent, genuine and defensible peace, and he reminded the Assembly that anytime an Arab leader reached out to make peace, Israel met with them, such as it had with Egyptian and Jordanian officials. “If the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my Government and the Israeli people, will make peace,” he said, recalling that when a two-State solution had been voted in 1947, Jews accepted the resolution but Arabs rejected it. 

What Israel had wanted for 62 years was for the Palestinians to say “yes” to a Jewish State, just as Israel was asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people.  “It is as simple, clear and elementary as that.”  He stressed that peace, prosperity and dignity required security.  Israel must have its security and that the Palestinians “should have all the power to govern themselves except the handful of powers […] that threatened Israel”.

HUGO RAFAEL CHÁVEZ FRÍAS, President of Venezuela, said that the night before, he had attended a screening of Oliver Stone’s new movie, South of the Border, in which Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was shown chewing coca leaves and saying, “Coke is not the same as coca”.  Other Presidents of Latin America had been shown in various contexts, and the movie even captured United States President Barack Obama in Trinidad, “chatting with a group of us, his hand held out, his face smiling”.  He mentioned the film because it could help decipher several enigmas of the times, chief among them the ideological warfare currently under way.

Indeed, a geopolitical revolution was under way -- a moral, spiritual, comprehensive and necessary revolution, he said.  After centuries during which millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean had suffered, the world had come to this moment.  The revolution marked the beginning of a world renewed and it would only grow with the passing of time.

As a result of that revolution, the twenty-first century would be the century of socialism.  Even Albert Einstein had concluded that the only way for the human species to live on the planet was through socialism.  Capitalism was actually a road to ruin, not allowing for change.  By contrast, the socialism of South America, which was Indian-American as well as Bolivarian, was a “heroic system” that had to be made anew.

Noting that former United States President John F. Kennedy had, just days before his assassination, observed that hunger was the main reason for the revolution in the South, he said President Kennedy had not been a revolutionary, but had been intelligent.  Likewise, the current United States President was an intelligent man.  “It doesn’t smell of sulphur here any more, it’s gone.  It smells of something else:  hope.”

Stressing hope’s potential, he urged fellow Member States to take up the challenge of translating the hope in their hearts into action.  Revising the comment made the day before by Brazilian President Lula da Silva, he said it was not true that there was no political will, only that some of the necessary will was missing.

He went on to say that those who blocked the doors to a peaceful revolution, would only make it violent, and he reminded the Assembly that while its Members were gathered in New York, one of their fellow leaders sat with a small group of people in the Brazilian embassy in Honduras.  He had spoken to Honduran President Manuel Zelayas just hours ago and now was asking for the Assembly’s resolution, as well as the resolution of the Organization of American States, to be implemented.

Outlining his further thoughts on the causes and impacts of the coup in Honduras, he suggested the Pentagon had been behind it.  Those who had had forced President Zelaya into exile had been trained by the United States and had even held him on a United States base before taking him to Costa Rica.  Those facts, according to Mr. Chavez, had created a contradiction that had caused many to wonder if there were two President Obamas.  For his part, he hoped the one who had spoken to the Assembly yesterday would prevail.

Returning to the revolution that was under way in the South, he said it was not a movement that had sprung up among guerrillas in the mountains, but was rather a democratic revolution that sought to remain peaceful.  It would not be blocked. “This is our century now.  We are going to build our own path.  No one can stop us.  Imperialism must end.”

Critiquing President Obama’s Assembly address point by point, he said that if the United States sought nuclear non-proliferation, it should destroy its own nuclear weapons.  If it sought international peace and security, it should seek peace in Colombia.  Having seven bases there was not the route to peace.  If the United States wanted to address climate change, then it should move beyond words and embark on actions, particularly by addressing the problem of over-consumption.

Finally, he promoted the conclusions of the Commission of Experts appointed by former General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockman to analyse the financial and economic crisis, and invited the United States -- “the Socialist side” -- to pursue a global economy that advanced opportunity for all people.  For so long everyone had been hearing about a new world order.  Clearly a new paradigm with new institutions and a new economy was needed.  Fortunately, he said, the birth of that world had already started.

DANILO TÜRK, President of Slovenia, said the Assembly had worked these past few days to generate the necessary political will to “seal the deal” at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, and that humankind must make a resolute step towards a new and effective system to mitigate the effects of global warming.  Each Member State’s responsibilities were common, but differentiated.  Further, it was necessary to broaden that front to include civil society and the private sector, as a profound societal shift was needed to change “the way we produce, the way we consume, and the way we live”.

For that to happen, however, he said, the world needed a comprehensive strategy that consistently addressed such issues as the food crisis, climate change, the energy crisis and the spreading of infectious diseases.  Despite the different roots of those problems, they produced a cumulative effect, he said. Those issues hobbled global development and made the Millennium Development Goals, “only a distant possibility”.

In that context, the role of the United Nations was enshrined in the outcome of the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, held in New York last June.  The results of that meeting should be elaborated further, and specific priority tasks for global development must soon be defined.  Much was expected of the upcoming Pittsburgh Summit of the G-20.  Moreover, resources must be increased and adjusted for the Bretton Woods institutions with a view to proper maintenance of global financial stability.

But much more was needed, he said, including the improvement of official development assistance (ODA), and particular priority to Africa’s development. Slovenia was among the first Member States to sign today the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  Slovenia was also an active member of the Human Rights Council and remained optimistic, although problems existed that exceeded that Council’s potential.

“We still haven’t found the right tools to respond to [systematic human rights violations] in a timely and effective manner,” he said, welcoming the Assembly’s recent debate on the responsibility to protect.  He further said that reform of the United Nations Security Council was long overdue, and thus far, progress had been insufficient.  Indeed, proposals such as that made last year by Slovenia needed to be approached head on.

He said peacekeeping operations must also be strengthened by increasing operational capacity and political sophistication, as that would strengthen all other United Nations activities, including preventative diplomacy.  He said the United Nations remained an indispensable forum for political consultation and policy advice, and its experience was irreplaceable.  That was evident in the case of Afghanistan, especially, as after three decades there was still “no military solution to that country’s variety of problems”.

Although conflicts such as that were often discussed at specialized international conferences, he said, the time had come for a broad look at the entire experience to assess what had gone wrong, and why.  That would provide a sober assessment of the current situation, and a careful definition of further steps to make international political, economic and administrative assistance more effective.  Although the current agenda of the United Nations was heavy, that was “not news” as the Organization had always represented the hope and the promise of the world, he said, calling on the international community to live up to that promise.

BHARRAT JAGDEO, President of Guyana, said the world was “beset by historical challenges”, and lauded the theme of this year’s General Assembly, which was to deal more effectively with global crises.  Recent history was replete with examples of crises that have been addressed only to recur with greater severity.  Thus, he urged the international community to learn the lessons of the past.

He stressed that nowhere was such deleterious repetitiveness more evident than in the global economy, which had “catapulted from one calamity to another in recent years, each more severe and pervasive than the previous”, each successively disclosing new vulnerabilities in the global financial architecture.

He addressed the “peculiar vulnerabilities” of the Caribbean countries which included minute domestic markets, remote geographies, susceptibility to natural disasters and few opportunities for diversification.  Specifically, he cited the depressed tourism market and lowered prices of primary commodities, such as bauxite, which had led to a decline in export and foreign currency earnings.

He noted that last year he had called for a new Bretton Woods architecture, yet he now feared that in spite of that discussion, the concerns of small countries would not be reflected, despite their obvious need.  He urged the international community to relieve, support and restructure the debt of all heavily indebted small countries, and called for bilateral and multilateral partners to provide additional development assistance.

Turning to the issue of climate change, he urged the global community to “shape a solution that is in all our interests”, stressing that many of the building blocks that would lead to such a solution were already in place.  The challenge for the upcoming Copenhagen meeting on climate change would be to turn these building blocks into an agreement.

The agreement should be guided by science and by a need to treat all countries fairly, he continued, adding that Guyana and other developing countries were concerned whether the wider international community would commit to the scale of financial transfers that all major analyses agreed was needed.  On the other hand, he understood that many developed countries were worried that the financial outlays would be an excessive burden on their own budgets during the current challenging financial times.

However, he said, political concerns could be a recipe for a stalemate that the world could not afford, and leadership would be required from all nations.  He welcomed the proposals laid out by Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, and supported by the European Union, to generate funding of $100 billion per year to address climate change in the developing world.

He said that he was confident that with the right signal from the developed world, developing countries were ready to play their part, adding that Guyana had launched its Low-Carbon Development Strategy, which would place its entire forest under long-term protection to not only provide the world with climate services, but move its economy onto a long-term, sustainable, low-carbon development path.

ÓSCAR ARIAS SÁNCHEZ, President of Costa Rica, said that, when he had first spoken at the United Nations 23 years ago, it was as “an island of reason in a sea of insanity”, and he came bearing the cries of millions of Central Americans who sought a peaceful solution to the civil wars that lacerated the region.  The second time he had come, it was to ask for support for a peace plan signed by the Presidents of Central America.  In those days, “no one thought we would have the strength to confront the Powers of the cold war and find our own solution to our problems.  No one thought that we would be able to sow the seed of democracy in our lands.”

Today, he wanted to recognize the distance Central America had travelled, but to also warn of the risk of falling back.  He said one Central American nation had seen the “demons of coup d’état” awaken once again.  The armies of the region received nearly $60 billion to combat “imaginary enemies”, while the people struggled against the economic crisis with empty hands.  He said some leaders defied democratic rules in “imaginative ways”, while problems on the continent remained the same or deteriorated.  Poverty continued to afflict more than a third of its inhabitants, and one in three Latin Americans had not “seen a high school classroom”.  Additionally, the violent death rates of some countries in the region exceeded that of countries at war.  Millions of trees were felled, making up two thirds of the loss of forest cover worldwide.

He said it was difficult for Latin America to not feel it was always rescuing the future from the claws of the past.  The problems of democracy, development and fighting militarism and oppression were cycles that repeated themselves in most developing nations.  These nations also bore the worst part of the struggle against global warming, and would carry the heaviest burden of population growth.  Success would depend on whether three fundamental challenges could be taken on, namely strengthening democracy; promoting development through the reduction of military spending and arms trafficking; and the creation of a new international order for the transfer of aid, information and technology to combat climate change.

In the rush to emulate developed countries, he said developing nations had skipped fundamental steps, including the patient construction of democratic institutions, as they lacked a true civic culture that extended beyond appearances.  Paraphrasing Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges, he said most inhabitants of developing countries did not identify with the State, which to them was more like an abstract concept far from their immediate needs.  This was why they preferred messianic leaders to democratic institutions and “caudillos” to political parties.  “As long as we continue on this path, placing hopes in developing countries will be like pouring water into a sack,” he said.  That challenge was even more urgent due to the threat of an arms race that moved $1.3 trillion internationally.  The combination of strong armies and weak democracies had proved harmful in every corner of the planet, above all in Latin America, which had been “a showcase of dictatorial horrors” during the second half of the twentieth century.

In Latin America, armies had not guaranteed respect for political will; they had mocked it, he said.  Latin America spent $165 million a day on weapons and soldiers, despite threats that were less significant than the mosquito that carried malaria, or the drug cartels and street gangs who were sustained by the unrestricted market of small arms and light weapons.  For that reason, priorities must be put in order.  Since Costa Rica had renounced its army and declared peace on the world, it could now invest its resources in things that mattered.  He said it was both a good resource-allocation strategy, and a moral imperative for all nations to gradually reduce military spending.

Furthermore, he asked the General Assembly once again to make the Costa Rica Consensus a reality, an initiative which would create mechanisms to forgive external debt and support with international resources the developing countries that were investing in environmental protection, education, health, housing and sustainable development, and less in arms and soldiers.  He also asked the General Assembly to approve the arms trade treaty, which would prohibit the transfer of arms to States, groups, or individuals when sufficient reason existed that those weapons would be used to weaken human rights or international law.

He said that right now the “greatest arsenal of genius” in the world was working on perfecting weaponry and defence systems.  But that was not its place.  Its place was in creating universally accessible medicines, protecting harvests, educating future leaders and protecting against global warming.  With the upcoming summit in Copenhagen, he said Costa Rica would attend with its “head held high”, since it had launched an initiative called Peace with Nature, through which, among other things, Costa Rica proposed to become carbon neutral by 2021.  That was possible due to nearly four decades spent replanting forests, safeguarding natural species, and the pioneering of institutions devoted to the search for renewable energy sources.  More than 95 per cent of Costa Rica’s electricity currently came from water or wind.

In closing he reiterated that the three main challenges of strengthening democracies, reducing military spending and cooperating to confront climate change constituted the most ambitious agenda humanity had ever taken on.  However, he said the world was like Adam and Eve, in an ideal Paradise, minutes before being expelled “by our own arrogance”.  Whether or not the opportunities were squandered depended on the international community’s sense of responsibility, humility and courage, and he expressed hope that that would be the beginning of a new, sustainable civilization.

JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE, President of United Republic of Tanzania, said that a number of East-African countries had been experiencing unprecedented drought.  Agricultural production had been severely affected, causing acute food shortages, as well as shortages of grazing lands and water for livestock.  Rivers were drying up, interrupting hydropower generation.

The United Nations should be aware of the growing danger, which could reach catastrophic proportion if the rain shortage persisted, and consider how to assist now rather than waiting for graphic pictures of emaciated and dying children to dominate the news to act.  Further, he said, concerted efforts by African Governments and donors were required to affect the African “green revolution”, which had been too long in coming.   Africa looked to the United Nations for leadership in that regard.

Turning to the problem of youth and employment in Africa, he said the continent faced one of the world’s biggest job deficit challenges with youth accounting for 37 per cent of the working age population and 60 per cent of the unemployed.  In some nations, youth unemployment was up to 80 per cent.  A constantly rising number of young Africans were entering a labour market that was not expanding as fast.  Beyond any economic costs, that carried a high social price.

Those young people threatened to become petrol for many of the fires raging across the continent.  Creating opportunities for these youth was a challenge African States could not tackle alone.  The Danish Government had, in April 2008, formed a Commission for Africa to address the challenge.  He asked for the Commission’s report to be transmitted to the Assembly and proposed that it consider dedicating a decade to focus on youth unemployment for the 2011-2020.

He said it was a matter of “great comfort and pride” that, except for a few hot spots -- particularly in Somalia and to some extent in Darfur -- peace reigned in most of Africa.   Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo was calm.   Burundi was enjoying peace after many years of civil war and instability.  That situation had facilitated the return of many refugees from the United Republic of Tanzania.  Meanwhile more than 160,000 refugees had chosen to remain there and were applying for citizenship.  The Government had accepted their citizenship requests in principle and was finalizing the procedures for granting it.  However, they would be moved from refugee camps and resettled elsewhere in order to discourage the refugee mentality among them, as well as among their fellow Tanzanians.  The support of the United Nations would be needed in that very expensive exercise.

Concluding, he underlined his country’s commitment to peace in Africa and the world.  It was ready to do more to train and deploy peacekeepers as requested.  He called on the Security Council to expedite the process of giving the people of Western Sahara the opportunity to decide their future status.  Meanwhile, any reform in the Council must include Africa’s being granted two permanent seats.  The international community’s support was critical to the African Union’s position regarding unconstitutional changes of Government.  Any decision that ran contrary to that undermined the African Union’s good intentions, he added.

VALDIS ZATLERS, President of Latvia, said international cooperation had become ever-more important, given the wide array of challenges facing the world today.  Some of those pressing problems, namely in the areas of energy, the environment, finance, food and fuel, made global action crucial.  Over the past year, the global financial crisis had struck the world, affecting international policy.  The crisis should serve as an opportunity to promote an open global trading system, he said, expressing the hope that the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization talks would soon come to a close.

He went on to say that developing countries had been hit severely by the global economic turbulence, yet it was crucial not to give up on attaining the Millennium Development Goals.  Although climate change was a global challenge that had to be tackled internationally, every country would have to do as much as it could to blunt the impact of that phenomenon.

Turning to global stability and security, he said it was crucial to provide both civilian and military assistance to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, in order to impede the threat of terrorism.  Latvia had helped the war-ravaged country in both respects.  With regard to the Middle East crisis, he urged both Israel and the Palestinians to work towards carving out a two-State territory.  His country had set up a rehabilitation programme for 18 traumatized Palestinian children from the Gaza Strip.

Turning to the security situation in Georgia, he expressed regret at the closure of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), while urging the quest for stability to be in line with international instruments on independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.  On the post-electoral crisis in Iran, he voiced concern about the worsening human rights situation and violent crackdowns on protesters, and urged the country to abide by relevant Security Council resolutions.

Latvia was part of the global fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and was certain that the 2010 NPT Review Conference would be a crucial step in that process.  He urged all States to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, which Latvia supported as a tool to fight impunity and to promote compliance with international law.  Furthermore, he expressed his support for the “responsibility to protect”.

Turning to the reform of the Security Council, he said such change was a crucial part of restructuring the United Nations in general.  He expressed his country’s support for intergovernmental talks on Council reform, especially as that 15-member body must reflect today’s changing world.

BINGU WA MUTHARIKA, President of Malawi, joined the calls for strengthening multilateralism and dialogue among civilizations to promote peace, security and development as a way to effectively respond to global crises.  He said it was time for world leaders to move closer together and to strengthen collaboration in facing global challenges such as climate change, financial and economic crises, food and energy crises, armed conflict, terrorism and, above all, poverty.

First on the agenda in multilateralism, he said, was to reach consensus on reform of the multilateral institutions, including the United Nations.  Equitable representation of the world’s countries must be achieved and developing nations must have an effective voice on matters concerning them.

Second, he said, world food security must be attained.  Food shortages threatened the foundations of democracy and good governance.  A formula must be developed for world food production at affordable prices.  His own country had moved from a condition of food deficit to a food surplus nation, able to afford export to neighbours.  The success was the result of a strategy in which the Government had allocated large budgetary resources to the agricultural sector and had invested heavily in that area.  Subsidies had also been granted to poor farmers to buy fertilizers, seeds and chemicals at low-cost, so as to make poor smallholder farmers more productive.

Moving on, he said the third item on the agenda for multilateral action was to manage climate change.  His country’s strategy was aimed at intensive irrigation farming and moving away from heavy dependence on a rain-fed agricultural system.  A “Green Belt” programme would irrigate up to a million hectares of land for small-, medium- and large-scale farming.  Food crops would include rice, wheat, maize, beans and lentils.

The final item on the agenda, he said, was the question of what would happen with trade under the Doha framework.  It was of concern that the industrialized countries continued to marginalize Africa, while they continued to protect their industries against African goods.  A fair international trading system could be developed if the G-8 countries were willing to engage in genuine dialogue to solve the problems.  All nations must also take part in global dialogue concerning democracy, good governance, human rights, the rule of law and the fight against terrorism in all its manifestations.  “We live in one world,” he said.  “We have the same destiny.”

JALAL TALABANI, President of Iraq, said that there had been significant improvements in his country over the last year.  The Government had assumed added responsibility for the country’s security, and had reached an agreement with the United States on the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.  As the Iraqi Government had worked towards national dialogue and reconciliation, while simultaneously confronting terrorist groups, armed militias and outlaws, security in Iraq had improved, he said.

He went on to say that Iraq’s external relations had also improved and there had been high-level international visits to the country as well as the reopening of foreign embassies in Baghdad.  The Iraqi Government would continue to deepen its friendship, cooperation and good neighbourliness, so as to restore its role in the Arab, regional and international community, in a manner that strengthened security and stability in the region, he added.

With regard to the economy, he said Iraq had passed a set of laws that contributed to greater progress and prosperity in Iraq, and the country’s 2009 budget was ambitious.  Because the security situation and financial outlook had improved, a significant number of displaced Iraqis had returned home voluntarily.  The Government was encouraging such returns, and he called on other States and international organizations to promote “a culture of voluntary return”, because, he said, “ Iraq needs the expertise of all Iraqis to contribute in building the future of their country”.

Concerning the upcoming legislative elections scheduled for January 2010, he said that exercise would strengthen the building of national institutions and put the country on the right path towards security and stability, which, in turn, would be a key factor in furthering security and stability in the region.  Challenges, however, remained.  The real danger faced by Iraq was outside interference, he said.  Iraq had recently witnessed a series of bombings and terrorist attacks, the last of which -- the “bloody Wednesday” explosions in August -- had targeted the Iraqi Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance, and had claimed many innocent victims. 

Those criminal acts, and the number of victims claimed in the attacks, had escalated to “the level of genocide”.  Such terrorist attacks qualified as crimes against humanity and should be subject to punishment under international law, he said.  “We believe these acts […] cannot be planned, funded and implemented without the support of external forces,” he said.  As a consequence, his Government had put the matter in front of the Secretary-General with a request that it be submitted to the Security Council so that an independent international investigative committee could be formed.  Those found guilty should be sentenced by a special international criminal court, he said.

On the subject of various Security Council resolutions, he said his Government had inherited a number of financial problems and difficult commitments from the previous regime, and the Iraqi people were paying the price.  He therefore called on the Council to terminate any resolutions issued under Chapter VII, affecting the sovereignty of his country.  He went on to praise the positive role of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and encouraged United Nations agencies and institutions to intensify their presence in Iraq and to reopen their Baghdad offices.

AL HADJI YAHYA A.J.J. JAMMEH, President of Gambia, opened by noting that this year’s focus on strengthening multilateralism was particularly relevant.  “The complexities of today’s world are such that no nation can successfully confront alone,” he said, adding that much could be achieved when countries collaborated and based their actions on mutual understanding, respect, commitment and universal justice.

However, he said, some Member States blocked well-meaning resolutions necessary for the maintenance of world peace.  As long as that continued to be the order of the day, he said, the United Nations would remain “united by name only”, and would not fully achieve its objectives.  He called for urgent reforms within the United Nations systems, ones that would establish the principle of equality among nation-states, irrespective of their geopolitical size, location, or economic circumstance.  He declared that double standards had no place in the United Nations.

Moving on to the issues within Africa, he asserted that there were sad facts on the continent, including that it was home to the poorest of the poor, despite the fact that it was the richest in terms of mineral and other natural resources. He said it “is no fault of ours if we the Africans are poor today”, and blamed drought and locust invasions.  “The locust invasions I am talking about are the western multinational companies that exploit our natural resources as well as agricultural produce, taking 95 per cent of their financial value and leave us the owners of these resources with only 5 per cent or less at most.”

He also said there was nothing African countries could do because those “locusts” had absolute monopoly of the technologies being used in those extractive industries.  He argued that treaties make it impossible to do anything about it -- and that these treaties are also called “globalization”.  He asserted that, even dead bodies had not been spared by the locusts, referring to the price that agricultural products such as tea, coffee and cocoa fetched on the international markets.  Indeed, Africans received only $1 of profit when a kilo of agricultural products was sold for $15 once it reached the international market.

He reiterated his delegation’s support for the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and called for concerted efforts to support international research on traditional medicine and alternative disease treatment programmes.  In fact, he added, traditional systems were more cost-effective, but often abandoned for the sorts of criticisms that come from multinationals “who feel threatened that certain traditional breakthroughs would be detrimental to their corporate existence and interests”.

Addressing peace and security, he favoured a speedy resolution of the plight of the Palestinians and called upon the State of Israel to accept and respect the two-State solution that the international community had so clearly articulated.  In addition, his delegation held the position that Taiwan should be invited to participate in all the meetings and activities of the United Nations and its specialized agencies.

Lastly, he expressed deep dismay at the protracted negotiations and a “seeming connivance to prevent the reform of the Security Council”.  He said Africa wanted to see such reform undertaken with a balanced representation of the continents in the Security Council.  He urged the President of the General Assembly to ensure that Africa had at least two permanent seats in the Council.

FERNANDO LUGO MÉNDEZ, President of Paraguay, stressed the sanctity of life as central to the work of the United Nations.  Its Charter stressed the preservation of future generations as its primary goal, yet a murderous onslaught of warplanes continued to kill children and other civilians around the world.  Countries continued to inflate their military budgets, labelling them “defence” funds.  Not only was that perverse game corroding the future, but people around the world were trading a rifle for a container of vaccine or a warplane for a public health budget.  Indeed, too many countries were seduced by the trade of death.  But Paraguay, declaring before the world its absolute commitment to peace, would not mortgage its daily bread “to dance the blind death of warlords”.

Globalization called for a new world economic order that would eliminate unequal access to the benefits of development, he said.  A little more than a year ago, Paraguay had been in tatters, but the country was now working to balance its economy, strengthen democratic processes and eliminate severe social differences.  The international community used terms like “developing”, “middle income” or “least developed”, which papered over the pathetic situation in which those countries continued to suffer while other nations benefited at their expense.

He said a new economic order had specific aims: promoting and strengthening small economies on the basis of fair and equitable distribution of the benefits of wealth; ending unfair trade practices; and ensuring the healthy political development of all nations without undue interference from larger, more powerful ones.  In that regard, he expressed concerns about events in Honduras following the savage coup d’état there.  Elsewhere, concrete solutions were needed to international conflicts.  Global warming also had to be curbed, and particularly the situation of the peoples of the South, who were forced to deal with the effects of climate change despite the North’s role in causing most of that change, must be addressed.

Accomplishing those goals would prove to be an epic fight subject to major challenges and difficulties, he conceded.  But surely it could be won in the twenty-first century.  In promoting peace and social development, the United Nations could play an important role, yet there was no time to lose.  Ensuring justice and repairing the acrimonious history between rich and poor countries must be a priority on the agenda of the United Nations.  The Organization should, in turn, be reformed, particularly the Security Council.  Meanwhile, the economic crisis remained a concern, as did the persistent blockade of Cuba by the United States, and the global arms race.

MOHAMED NASHEED, President of the Maldives, said it was the first time a democratically elected President of the Maldives had addressed the Assembly.  “I am extremely pleased to be here,” he said, noting that he had spent many of the past Assembly sessions locked in a hot, humid, damp cell with his hands shackled and feet bound; imprisoned for his conviction that that the 300,000 people of the Maldives should be free from fear, free from want and free to live their lives in liberty and in dignity.

He thanked the international community for its support of the country’s transition to democracy after 30 years of autocracy.  But he also urged the international community to maintain its involvement in his country to ensure, he said, “that the beliefs that we fought for are set in stone rather than written in sand”.  As to the challenges ahead, he outlined three areas in which the Maldives needed help from the international community.  First off, democratic institutions and rights had to be strengthened, he said.  In particular, he wanted to ensure the equality of women and men, not just in name but in practice as well.

The second area where Maldives sought assistance was in dealing with the economic challenges currently facing the country.  His Government had begun major economic reform to reduce the sizable public sector, to privatize public utilities and to promote private enterprise and trade.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Indian Government had already extended support to the Maldives.  But the country could not succeed without more help, he said.

The final challenge concerned climate change, a threat so serious that there could come a time, he said, “when we must consider abandoning our homeland”.  He urged the leaders in the Assembly to reach an ambitious and effective agreement in Copenhagen this December.  “To do otherwise would be to sign the death warrant for the 300,000 Maldivians,” he said.  With regard to such threats as terrorism, he said that Maldives stood shoulder to shoulder with all countries in facing down that menace.  He nevertheless warned that the past year’s events in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India showed that the fight was not easily won.

On the work of United Nations, he said proposed organizational reforms would be unsuccessful and incomplete if the Security Council was not restructured as well.  He called on the Assembly to complete the task and enlarge the membership of that 15-member body, both in terms of permanent and non-permanent seats, during the current session.  He added that his Government wanted friendly and mutually respectful relations, characterized by frank exchange, with all countries represented at the Assembly.

With regard to international relations, he said his country wanted to renew its relations with Israel and supported an independent and sovereign Palestinian homeland, in conformity with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.  He praised the courage of Aung Sang Suu Kyi of Burma and called for her immediate and unconditional release along with all other political prisoners.  In conclusion, he reiterated the importance of the upcoming Copenhagen climate meeting.  “It is imperative we succeed,” he said.  “If we want to save the world, saving the Maldives, I suggest, is a very good staring point.”

ÁLVARO COLOM CABALLEROS, President of Guatemala, said there were five central topics that were important to his country, which also had important international dimensions.  The first was the international economic and financial crisis, which had strongly impacted the national economy, though the rapid reaction of the United Nations and the international community in general deserved praise.  With regard to his own Government’s response, he said it had pursued a plan to provide services to the country’s poorest regions, especially among indigenous communities.

Insecurity caused by organized crime was another central issue, he said, noting that cross-border drug trafficking involved such a volume of financial gain that international cooperation to combat it was essential.  The Government had made significant strides in seizing drug shipments.  In terms of international efforts, he highlighted the crucial role played by the United Nations, through the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.

Turning to Honduras, he said his Government supported a return to democracy and the return of the rightful President.  At home, the Government was committed to protecting free expression and access to information.  As for arms, each country had a right to arm itself, but not to engage in illicit arms trading.  He urged States to continue to work in solidarity with the poor and concluded by saying: “If we support those who have little, in the end we will all have more.”

RENÉ GARCIA PRÉVAL, President of Haiti, said that on top of the food, energy and financial crises taking a toll on the world’s populations, many countries now had to face recurrent natural disasters.  Each blow required the rebuilding of the same infrastructure that had been destroyed and the re-establishment of the same productive capacities that had been swept away by hurricanes and floods.  Without sufficient resources, the time would soon come to prepare for new disasters before the reconstruction process could be completed and before communities had time to recover from previous ones.

“Apparently this is the new life cycle for which vulnerable countries like ours must be prepared, and with insufficient means,” he said, stressing that the situation was no accident, but the direct consequence of a model of development and governance that powerful nations had imposed on the rest of the world for centuries.  It was too concerned with the well-being of “money happiness” and too little concerned with that of people.  It was a model which, even in wealthy countries, imposed a precarious standard of living on a large segment of their own populations, who were deprived of health care, decent housing and even quality education.

“Why should all of humanity accept that half the inhabitants of our planet live with such privations, in hunger and poverty, without hope for relief from their situation?” he asked.  “Why should all of humanity accept that our planet be placed in danger irresponsibly, that species be condemned to extinction, that our populations become more vulnerable to natural disasters simply because of greedy economic choices by a minority of polluters?”  The only true way to peace, stability and security was through development, and the only way to end the cycle of poverty and dependence was through aid that created the capacity for countries to develop on their own.

He said that, like many peoples of the South, Haitians were hard-working, clever and enterprising, with a great gift for resilience, forged in the disappointments of daily life, and capable of finding optimism in the smallest resource placed at their disposal.  They yearned to mobilize that potential to take the path of sustainable development.  It was possible for countries to develop, but that would require a new paradigm for international cooperation that recognized the ability of the poor to conduct business and produce wealth through the means and opportunities offered them to reinforce their productive capacities.  However, without a vision that would break from the culture of perpetual humanitarian aid, peace and stability would be fleeting.

Turning to the situation in Haiti, he noted that, despite the negative impact of numerous international crises, important progress had been achieved in the areas of security, human rights, the investment climate, the elimination of corruption and the establishment of a society in which dialogue held a central place, supported by a free and independent press.  That progress must be supported and expanded, which was why the support of the United Nations was necessary.  A proper balance of military, police and administrative personnel would put the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in the best position to help the country consolidate a climate of peace and stability for reconstruction, reduce vulnerability and eliminate poverty.  Meanwhile, Haiti condemned the coup d’état in Honduras and the embargo against Cuba.

ABDOULAYE WADE, President of Senegal, said humankind faced a convergence of difficulties in the agricultural, financial and economic and climate crises, as if the difficulties “had arranged to meet in one place at the same time”.  The world was condemned to prevail, as indeed it must.  The only question was how to coordinate the numerous actions needed to do so.  A high level of shared responsibility was required in the search for solutions, particularly in managing the immediate impacts of the concurrent crises and in searching for long-term remedies.  Ready-made solutions should be rejected and past mistakes avoided.  Human behaviours and attitudes must be changed, particularly with regard to combating climate change.

Stressing that Africa should participate fully in that work, he welcomed the expansion in the level of cooperation within the G-8 and the G-20.  A “shadow G‑20”, comprising experts and open to all, was called for.  It was also appropriate that the theme of the sixty-fourth Assembly session stressed multilateralism in effectively responding to the world crises.  Indeed, the challenges were complex, requiring coordinated and innovative solutions, particularly in the areas of agriculture and food security.  The on-time achievement of the main Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty required a new approach, founded on support for agriculture.

To that end, production and storage lines as well as the marketing of agricultural products must be modified, he said, announcing that a forum on world agriculture, to be held in Dakar in January 2010, would seek to advance ideas on how to do so.  Also important in those efforts was the global partnership for food security proposed by the G-8.  If those changes were made, there was no reason why Africa would not be able to feed itself.  That was particularly true given its wealth of land.  However, it would only be possible if Africans no longer sold those lands to foreigners.  For its part, Senegal had developed the “Great Agricultural Offensive for Food and Abundance” as one instrument in its food security arsenal.  Yet domestic efforts would be in vain if the international trade system remained unjustly structured.  Measures should be undertaken to make that system more equitable.

The Climate Change Summit earlier this week had reinforced the sense that the threat would persist unless consumption and production patterns changed, he said.  At the dawn of a new green economy, Africa wished to take on its responsibilities.  That was Senegal’s goal in coordination with the construction of the “Great Green Wall”, which would eventually run from Dakar to Djibouti and be planted with flora native to the Sahel region.  Moreover, the possible creation of climate change missions that were similar in spirit to peacekeeping missions should be considered.  Such a volunteer army of “environmental troops” would seek to implement large-scale environmental projects.  One such project was the creation of an Atlantic erosion wall in West Africa.

He went on to emphasize the need for African unity, which was the only way for the continent to meet the challenges of globalization and the redefinition of world governance rules.  On issues of regional peace and security, he welcomed the gradual restoration of stability in Guinea-Bissau, as well as the “Dakar Accord” which had normalized the situation in Mauritania.  However, Senegal remained concerned about the situation in Guinea, where a dialogue that included the military was needed.

TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, called the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Conference a “real possibility for change”.  The responsibility to take the decisions that would profoundly shape the future of humankind lay with industrialized countries and emerging economies alike.  A global climate agreement was a precondition for comprehensive sustainable development, and it must include elements of solidarity and international support in coping with the needs of adaptation.  Although women were especially affected by climate change, they were also powerful actors in combating it, and their full participation in the negotiations and in implementation of the new agreement must be ensured.

Gender, food production and climate change were all interlinked, she said, pointing out that 70 per cent of the world’s poor were women and girls.  Women also made up the majority of agricultural labourers, and close attention should be paid to their role, especially in the least developed countries.  The negative impacts on small island developing States were also particularly grave as those countries were threatened by rising seal levels and extreme weather conditions.  It was time for the international community to demonstrate its resolve to live up to commitments made in 2000 to attain the Millennium Development Goals, and their reiteration at the 2005 World Summit, even in the face of a contracting world economy.

Turning to the financial and economic crisis, she said a solution should be based on the concept of fair globalization and address the goal of decent work for all.  The “tectonic plates” of the world economy were moving, new actors were emerging and a new global consensus was required on business ethics, integrity and sustainable economic growth.  Trust in international financial institutions must also be restored.  They must be more transparent, accountable and sustainable.

Calling attention to Africa’s continuing suffering and needs, she noted, however, that there had been positive developments, including a decline in the number of conflicts on the continent, and the commitment by the African Union to strengthen its conflict-prevention capacity.  As for other current conflicts, the latest developments in the Middle East were a cause for “careful optimism”.  The broadening consensus could activate the peace process soon.

She said implementation of Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2000) on women, peace and security was urgently needed in all countries.  As a follow-up to the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership, Development, International Peace and Security of last March, Finland and Liberia had convened a sideline event at Headquarters today, titled “Peace and Security through Women’s Leadership: Acting on 1325 and Climate Change”.  It focused on integrating gender aspects into the new climate agreement. 

Systematic rape and sexual violence, as condemned in Security Council resolution 1820 (2008), must be treated as a forbidden weapon of war and legal processes must be provided to victims while their attackers were prosecuted, she stressed.  The appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Women and Armed Conflict would enhance the implementation of resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008), she said, calling on the General Assembly to support that proposal.  As for this morning’s Security Council debate on nuclear issues, she welcomed the strong return of disarmament to the international agenda and expressed hope that it would lead to real progress.

RUPIAH BWEZANI BANDA, President of Zambia, said the General Assembly was opening against a backdrop of global financial crisis -- a timely reminder of the consequences of his country’s overdependence on one source of revenue: copper.  Thus, Zambia was taking on the diversification of its economy –- in agriculture, tourism and manufacturing –- as well as programmes aimed at improving the business environment.  However, the true way forward would be an expeditious conclusion of the Doha trade negotiations.

Calling for reform of the international financial governance system and other international bodies, he said changes “should respond to the needs and concerns of all nations, regardless of status”.  Part of that would include a greater voice and more power for developing countries in the World Bank and IMF.  “The reform process should aim to improve the predictability of aid flows and emphasize reforms which promote faster aid delivery and less conditionality.”

He applauded United Nations efforts to tackle climate change, noting, however, that efforts to raise the living standards of the world’s poor in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals were being frustrated by the effects of climate change.  He recalled a time in Zambia when forests had been “within a child’s walking distance” and teeming with animals, birds, plants, insects and fruits.  Today, however, his grandchildren would be lucky to be able to name the country’s indigenous fruits on the fingers of one hand.  As the Copenhagen Conference drew near, Zambia hoped for an agreement that would balance climate change concerns with development.

Calling for reform of the Security Council, he said it needed to be “more representative, democratic and accountable to all Member States, irrespective of status”.  Given that Africa constituted the second largest bloc of United Nations Member States, proposals to reform the Council should heed the region’s call for two permanent seats, with veto power, and two non-permanent seats that would “address the historical injustice against Africa”.

STJEPAN MESIĆ, President of Croatia, said that every issue, no matter how much it may appear to be regional, was in fact global in terms of its consequences.  The international community could not be content with a world where developing countries lagged behind, struggling with hunger, education and basic health care.  Many States and groups around the world were united in their inclination to use terror as a means of action and resorted to force to achieve their goals.  Although competition between the blocs no longer existed, the world had hardly become more secure.

The dominant economic model, based on greed, had sowed social unrest and bore the potential to erupt into social insurgency on a global scale, he warned.  The international community must dispel prejudices and stand up to discrimination on whatever grounds, while promoting and practising multilateralism and dialogue among civilizations.  The world was still in the process of learning the dialogue of multipolarism and could not yet face the fact that it was “not a crime to be different”.  With the shift towards multipolarism, the international community had not established a set of universal values, as indeed it had not, would not, and could not establish a single model of social and economic relations applicable to all.  The specific features of individual nations and civilizations must be respected, as there was no reason why anyone should be asked to renounce his or her culture or heritage.

Finally, he said that a world characterized by international peace, security and development was not possible without disarmament or the renunciation of nuclear weapons.  The problems of development would become minor if the huge funds currently allocated to armaments were channelled into development instead.

LITOKWA TOMEING, President of the Marshall Islands, said the United Nations joint offices in his country had brought the Organization’s ideals closer to the people, and expressed hope that the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) would follow suit so as to produce concrete results on the ground.  He took note of the Secretary-General’s commitment to the challenges of climate change, particularly his recognition of the duty of larger economies to the most vulnerable, saying he considered the G-8 commitment made in L’Aquila, Italy, to be a necessary step forward.  He further hoped that the recent increased participation by the United States in climate debates indicated its intention to play a major role.

Noting that the major economies would be watchful that Copenhagen not excessively disturb their established way of life, he urged those nations to consider the implicit moral obligation that came with their privileged and affluent status.  For small island States, the question was whether Copenhagen would diminish or enhance their security and their chances of survival.  The success of Copenhagen would be judged by the extent to which small, low-lying States would feel safe and secure.  “In our interdependent global community, the moral duty of the collective must always be the protection of the most vulnerable and the weak.”

Copenhagen was not a competition for the survival of the few, he said.  “It is about unleashing moral and political forces and synergies inherent in the collective body of nations for the good of all.  What else does political will mean but this?” he asked.  Although the Marshall Islands’ rate of emission was insignificant in relative terms, the country had set a reduction target of 40 per cent by 2020 he said.  Towards that end, it had been pursuing the use of solar power, with nearly 40 per cent of households in the outer islands drawing on it as a main energy source.  That initiative would be pursued until all 33 islands were fully covered.  Even so, the funding for adaptation efforts was inadequate, a problem compounded by the complexity of accessing it.

Recalling the history of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958, he said he was encouraged by today’s Security Council session on nuclear weapons use and testing.  Sixty years since the detonation of some 67 nuclear bombs, the Marshall Islands was still grappling with their after-effects.  He called for a new perspective that would wipe the spectre of war and the use of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.  Banning nuclear weapons alone would not remove the root causes of war.  National leaders recognized the nature of the problem, but lacked the will to take action.  National interests must find their fuller expression when subordinated to the needs and interests of the planet.

On United Nations reform, he said evolving global affairs demanded a reconstitution of the Security Council’s membership and recognized “ Japan’s distinguished leadership and achievements in the area of human security”.  That made it deserving of a permanent seat on the Council.  He further commended the confidence-building process between China and Taiwan, noting that the latter’s membership in United Nations specialized agencies would enable its 23 million people to play an active part in the affairs of nations.

LAWRENCE GONZI, Prime Minister of Malta, said his country had celebrated the forty-fifth anniversary of its United Nations membership this year and still believed in the ideals and purposes of the Charter.  Twenty years ago, Malta had put the issue of climate change on the political agenda at the United Nations and today it was “one of the principal critical issues dominating the international environmental concerns of this new century”.  Malta’s commitment to the issue was as strong as ever, and he urged other countries to work for the success of the upcoming Copenhagen Conference.

Concerning work to be undertaken by the Organization, he proposed the drafting of a declaration on human duties and responsibilities, which would include the task of conserving the human species and preserving the environment.  “ Malta believes that human duties are intrinsic to the personality, oneness and uniqueness of the human being, and are as inalienable as human rights,” he said.  “Those duties do not arise from laws or obligations but are fundamentally inherent to the human being.”  In terms of the Organization’s diplomacy and peacekeeping support, he said the Middle East continued to “evade our long-sought efforts”, and reiterated Malta’s long-time support for two States, Palestine and Israel, in peaceful coexistence.

As for the question of illegal immigrants, an issue he had raised last year as well, he said Malta continued to honour its international obligations, although the small country was experiencing severe difficulties as a result of the influx.  “ Malta has always dealt with these situations with great responsibility, humanity and benevolence, paying due respect to every human being without exception, and we will continue to do so,” he said.  “At the same time, the problem of illegal immigration is an international phenomenon driven by external factors, which cannot always be prevented or even mitigated by the countries affected by this problem.”  He encouraged the United Nations to address issue affecting Malta and other Mediterranean countries disproportionately and in an unprecedented manner.

MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, President of Georgia, said the Assembly was meeting on the twentieth anniversary of one of the most successful triumphs of United Nations principles -- the fall of the Berlin Wall.  That event had ended an artificial line separating nations, dividing families, strangling freedom and imprisoning millions.  The Wall’s dismantling had done more than free the captive nations of the Warsaw Pact.  It had unleashed the hopes and dreams of millions living under the Soviet Union’s tyranny.  But if the past was honestly evaluated, the present remained bittersweet.  The vision of a whole, free and peaceful Europe was not yet accomplished.

Like Germany a generation ago, Georgia was today a nation with a deep wound running through it, he said.  A wall had cut off one fifth of Georgia’s territory, mocking the progress made in Berlin 20 years ago.  A year ago, Georgia had been invaded by tanks, warplanes, warships and State-directed hackers.  Hundreds of people had been killed or wounded, while tens of thousands of innocent civilians had been forced to flee in the face of ethnic cleansing that had been well documented by independent human rights organizations.  Those acts of brutality had gone unaddressed in direct contravention of international law, United Nations norms and internationally signed document designed to reverse such wrongs, he said.  “Indeed, those who unleashed war in Georgia said in this very Hall yesterday that they had to do it to implement the principle of indivisibility of security” in order to “step over the legacy of the past era”.

But the people of Georgia could not and would not accept a new dividing line across their country, nor was it a matter for Georgia alone, he stressed.  It was a threat to the values of the Organization.  Georgia did not expect the wall to disappear overnight.  It understood the need for patience.  History suggested that patience should not be passive, and for a wall to fall, actions must be taken to hasten its demise.  To that end, he thanked the nations that had resisted illegality, pressure and in many cases attempts at bribery, to recognize the Georgian territories now occupied by a foreign force.

He said the Georgian people had regrouped and were making real process on the path of peace, freedom and individual liberty.  Young children living in refugee camps outside Tbilisi symbolized the path Georgia had taken after the invasion in their unstoppable pursuit of a normal life and education.  The Government was also following through on its promises to strengthen democracy, foster pluralism and expand individual liberties.  Three months of opposition protest had been allowed to proceed unhindered, and opposition parties had been brought into meetings of the national security council.  Commitments had been made to the direct election of mayors in 2010 and new electoral rules were being drafted on a consensus basis for the next local and parliamentary elections.

Georgia’s biggest imperative was to continue to integrate all different groups into social life, he said.  It was also necessary to create more employment and recover from the economic crisis of the last year.  Georgia had just been named as the eleventh most attractive country for doing business, rising from 122nd place only a few years ago.  Clearly, it had not withered in the face of invasion, nor reduced freedom in the face of recession.  Indeed, it continued to contribute to the common goals established by the international community, even in the face of adversity.  It was in the vanguard of the battle against climate change, producing 85 per cent of its electricity from green and renewable sources.  Georgia was on the frontlines in confronting terrorism around the world with its allies, including in Afghanistan.

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For information media. Not an official record.