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Seventieth Session,
25th, 26th & 27th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Climate Change Agenda Must Unite International Community, Speakers Stress as General Assembly Debate Continues

From the mountains to the seas, from the Caribbean to the Arctic, global warming was a global problem, and small countries were especially at risk, the General Assembly heard today as it continued its annual general debate on the fifth day.

Support for least developed countries and small island developing States was essential, the Assembly heard again and again, as delegates spoke of “the deadly capacity” of climate change.

Saint Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy S. Harris said his country was a regional leader in renewable energy development, but devastating floods, persistent drought, and coastal erosion were threatening the economy and food security of small island developing States.  The tourism industry and the coastal communities were especially hard hit and the world must do more for disaster response, recovery and insurance in those States.

Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados, emphasized that just as the single existential threat of a global war had led to the founding of the Organization, climate change must unite the international community again.  The Caribbean countries were clear that the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris should result in concrete commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions and restrain the global average temperatures.

“Our country is already being affected by the nefarious effects [of climate change], even though we are not an active polluter,” stressed Manuel Salvador Dos Ramos, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Communities of São Tomé and Príncipe.  The country was seeing reduced rainfall, floods and the gradual erosion of coastlines.  He joined other speakers in welcoming efforts to reach a climate agreement that was ambitious, broad and binding on all parties, with the ultimate objective of limiting the increase of global temperature to at most 2°C as compared to pre-industrial levels.

The representative of Kiribati, Baraniko Baaro, said that, in some parts of his country, whole villages had to relocate due to severe coastal erosion and flooding.  Kiribati had purchased offshore land and was looking at plans to build floating islands, as well as raising the height of islands to above the predicted sea-level rise.  The agreement at the Climate Conference in Paris must include provisions on loss and damage and a special mechanism to fast track urgent assistance for millions of people around the world who needed that help now.

Calls for urgent action on climate change were not limited to small island developing States.  Shrinking glaciers in the north had contributed to higher sea-levels in the south, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, reminded the Assembly.  Emphasizing the fragility of the Arctic ecosystem, where temperatures were increasing at more than twice the average global rate, he said that the Climate Conference in Paris was the last chance to get on the track to a sustainable future.

“We need to look beyond the horizon of our mountains,” said Antoni Marti Petit, Head of Government of Andorra.  With the temperature dropping by 0.2°C every decade and water resources declining, Andorra, which depended on mountain tourism, needed all countries at the Climate Conference in Paris to align national policies with a global vision.

He also spoke on Syria, stressing that when there was a massacre, “medium efforts” were not enough.  The discussion of that conflict continued today with delegates calling on the Security Council to act with resolve.  The Foreign Minister of Liechtenstein, Aurelia Frick, said that some of the Council’s most damaging failures had occurred in the face of atrocity crimes: Rwanda, Srebrenica and now Syria.

Responding, Walid Al-Moualem, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria, said that the Security Council’s resolutions under Chapter VII were “still only ink on paper”.  The Assembly must stop Member States from committing criminal acts against the Syrian people and stop the flow of terrorists into his country in order to create a Caliphate State.

The only way to achieve a political solution was through Syrian-led national dialogues and without interference, he said, expressing support for the Russian Federation’s invitation to establish an international-regional coalition to counter terrorism.  While fighting terrorism, Syria could not implement any democratic political measures.

A number of speakers also welcomed the restoration of peace in Burkina Faso following a recent coup attempt, which had briefly imprisoned its President.  In that regard, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Niger, Aïchatou Boulama Kané, thanked the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union for their role in the return to stability.

The President of Burkina Faso’s transitional Government, Michel Kafando, also addressed the Assembly.  Two weeks ago, he said, it had been “unthinkable” that he would be here.  Member States, civil society organizations and journalists had defended democracy by condemning the coup and they must continue to support efforts to anchor a genuine democracy in Burkina Faso.  “The people of Burkina Faso have asked me to convey our deep appreciation to you,” he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mauritius, Albania, Bahrain, Belize, Grenada, Congo, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Philippines, Jamaica, Myanmar, Bhutan, Tuvalu, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Viet Nam, Turkmenistan, Peru, Honduras and Guinea-Bissau.

An observer of the Holy See also took the floor.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Serbia, Albania, Turkey, China, United Kingdom and the Philippines.

The General Assembly will convene again on 3 October, at 9 a.m. to conclude its general debate.


ANTONI MARTI PETIT, Head of Government of Andorra, said that while the values of peace and social justice, and more recently sustainable development, were essential to the “charisma” of the United Nations, the recognition that there was more room for improvement was an important step forward.  Andorra was a small country and over the last 70 years, had moved from isolation to openness.  Roads had enabled the mountain-locked country to develop tourism, trade and finance, providing opportunities for the local population.  The history of Andorra was a history of change and adaptation, and three years ago, his country had adopted a new economic law that eliminated limits to foreign investment.  Enhancing its economic ties was a way for the country to contribute to a cooperative and just world.  “We need to look beyond the horizon of our mountains,” he said, noting that Andorra was negotiating an agreement of association with the European Union.

On Security Council reform, he agreed with the French President on suspending veto rights in the Council in the case of mass atrocities.  In those instances, the international community must not remain at a standstill, but should move forward, without waiting for a new humanitarian crisis; “medium efforts” in the face of atrocities were not enough.  The refugee crisis was not a socio-economic migration problem but one of people fleeing war and death.  Andorra had joined other countries in hosting refugees and would participate in a balanced solution, within the context of the European framework.  Similarly, climate change called for global solutions.  Global warming affected Andorra deeply, with the temperature in the country dropping by 0.2 centigrade every decade.  Precipitation was also dropping and water resources would be reduced by 18 per cent, all of which was especially difficult for a country that depended on mountain tourism.  “The world is watching” the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, where the decisions taken would be judged by future generations.

NIKOLA GRUEVSKI, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said that despite living in a world where ongoing conflicts were affecting the lives of millions, the United Nations had not failed in its mission as it continued to resolve and mitigate difficult situations.  He noted the valuable work of United Nations peacekeepers and called for a greater role for the General Assembly in the selection of the next Secretary-General.  Noting that the world was becoming ever more globalized, he advocated for the bold policy shift of “commitment, cooperation and wisdom” in jointly addressing the problems facing it.

South-East Europe, he said, faced two key strategic and global challenges — the refugee crisis and aspirations by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) to penetrate the region.  Almost 160,000 people, primarily from Syria, had transited through his country since the beginning of 2015.  While it was doing all it could to help the refugees, stronger engagement by the European Union in conjunction with Balkan countries was needed.  The root cause of the crisis was the Syrian conflict and it was crucial to resolve it.  The danger of radicalism in South-East Europe could be eliminated through joint engagement by the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union.  Outstanding issues in the region should be a strategic priority for the United Nations.  The region’s integration in collective security systems such as NATO and the European Union as well as positive relations among key players, such as the Russian Federation and China, would help make it impervious to negative influences.  His country’s main strategic and foreign policy goal remained membership in both the European Union and NATO.  Regarding the issue with Greece over the name of his country, he said that the decision adopted by the International Court of Justice had benefitted the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and must be respected.  He urged the Greek Government resolve the issue, noting that the 1995 Interim Accord was the cornerstone of their relations and should be honoured.

FREUNDEL STUART, Prime Minister of Barbados, noted that Member States would gather in Paris for the Climate Change Conference to ensure the planet’s survival.  For those who had framed the Charter, the cessation of global war was the single existential threat, and while that threat remained, “it would be to our peril were we not to accord to climate change the same deadly capacity”.  The countries of the Caribbean were clear that the Climate Conference in Paris should result in a commitment by all parties to curb greenhouse gas emissions to hold global average temperature increase below 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels; cooperate in taking action and submit to regular 5-year cycles of reporting, verification and updating mitigation commitments; and support small island developing States and least developed countries.  A single natural or manmade disaster could have catastrophic economic, infrastructure and humanitarian effects on a national scale.

Seventy years on from the creation of the United Nations, he said, the Organization had transformed the international system, leading to his country’s full sovereignty and United Nations membership, however, not all the hopes embodied in the Charter had been realized.  For small developing countries, in particular, the promised emphasis on development had not been fully realized.  Development could not flourish where there was no peace.  In that context, he was heartened by the lessening tensions between Venezuela and Guyana.  He meanwhile regretted the international community’s failure to take action to end the refugee crisis, underscoring that people who lived in peace and security, and whose human rights were respected felt no compulsion to flee.

Barbados had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty in May 2015, he said, noting that for countries like his, the real weapons of mass destruction were small arms and light weapons.  Their trade often was accompanied by traffic in illicit drugs and other organized crime.  Barbados had also adopted the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development this year, linked through setting goals and providing the means for their realization.  The United Nations and international financial institutions must address the graduation of middle- income countries from access to concessionary and grant-based financing.  It was time to develop appropriate development measures that went beyond per capita gross domestic product (GDP).  Touching on other matters of interest to his country, he commended the United States’ decision to end its diplomatic isolation of Cuba, and hailed the General Assembly’s decision to create an International Decade for People of African Descent, focused on recognition, justice and development.  In pursuing sustainable development, due regard should be accorded the reparatory justice contemplated in the activities envisaged in implementation of the Decade.

MICHEL KAFANDO, President of the Transitional Government of Burkina Faso, said the Government he was leading had resulted from a popular uprising in October 2014.  He was here today to extol the virtues of true liberty and having been deprived of that for a time, he said he knew how precious it was.  Two weeks ago when he was jailed on the eve of the electoral campaign as a result of a heinous coup, it was unthinkable that he would be here.  Thanking Member States, civil society organizations and journalists, he said that “the people of Burkina Faso have asked me to convey our deep appreciation to you”.  He sought the international community’s continued support in order to anchor a genuine democracy in Burkina Faso.

Turning to international affairs, he said that while the world was far from achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the action plan adopted at Addis Ababa lay the groundwork for the effective implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.  He urged a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and reaffirmed the need for autonomy status to the Saharan region as a credible solution to the conflict in Western Sahara.  Burkina Faso also endorsed a complete lifting of the embargo against Cuba and welcomed the recent positive developments between the United States and that Caribbean country.

ANEROOD JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said that, as a small island developing State vulnerable to natural hazards, it believed that the greatest future challenge to peace and security would be climate change.  Predictable financing and shared technology was necessary to address a collective threat, and Mauritius was pleased to host the Commonwealth Climate Finance Skills Hub, which would be launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta.  Mauritius also was committed to good governance, transparency and the rule of law at all levels.  In June 2015, it had reaffirmed its commitment by signing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance on Tax Matters.  In March, it had hosted the Signature Ceremony for the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration, otherwise known as the Mauritius Convention on Transparency. 

He said that reform of the United Nations would make it more responsive to the needs of all Member States.  Comprehensive reform of the Security Council also was needed, and Africa’s legitimate aspiration for permanent representation should not be denied.  Small island developing States, which represented more than a quarter of United Nations membership, deserved representation on the Council; Mauritius also supported India’s aspiration for a permanent seat.  It was time to resolve the situation that prevented Mauritius from effectively exercising its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago and the Island of Tromelin, which formed an integral part of Mauritius territory.  That position had been supported by decisions of the Arbitral Tribunal against the United Kingdom, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  He also urged the United States Government, which was currently using Diego Garcia for defence purposes, to talk with Mauritius about the long-term interest of his country regarding the Chagos Archipelago.  His Government was committed to pursue all efforts in line with international law for the effective exercise by Mauritius of its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, including further recourse to judicial or arbitral bodies.

TIMOTHY S. HARRIS, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said the well-being of small island developing States was threatened by acts of nature, such as devastating floods, sea-level rise, persistent drought, and coastal erosion, which had the capacity to undermine their economic growth and threaten food security.  Underscoring the unsettling challenge to their vital tourism industry and the devastating loss of entire coastal communities, he called on the world community to do more to help those States adapt and to also consider disaster response, recovery, and insurance for those efforts.

Noting the importance of access to global funding mechanisms, he said that for too long, small island developing States had been “hamstrung” by complex application procedures.  In that regard, he welcomed the Green Climate Fund board’s recent decision to aim for a floor of 50 per cent of the adaptation allocation for particularly vulnerable countries.  On renewable energy development, he said his country had emerged as a leader in the Caribbean.  By 2016, it would add waste to energy, and by 2018 would add geothermal energy on the island of Nevis.  It was also working diligently to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and reduce its carbon footprint.  He also noted efforts made by his country to combat crime and violence, non-communicable diseases, and AIDS, and called for a stronger global response to these.  His country had benefited from partnerships with the “Republic of China (Taiwan)”, as well as from its PetroCaribe agreement with Venezuela.

EDI RAMA, Prime Minister of Albania, said that when the Pope had visited his country, he had called it a “religious fraternity” due to its diverse cultures living together in peace.  At a time when religious extremism, violence and terrorism were causing an exodus of biblical proportions, bringing refugees to the doorsteps of countries in his region he hoped to show that another way forward was possible.  Last year, for the first time in a century, no peoples in the Balkans were pointing guns at each other.  The talks between Serbia and Kosovo had enabled them to find solutions to a series of issues for the benefit of the region and their people.  He called on those States that had not done so to recognize Kosovo, as that would enhance the region’s stability and be good for Serbia as well.  His visit to Serbia last year was the first by an Albanian Prime Minister in 68 years.  Inspired by the youth exchanges between France and Germany following the Second World War, Albania and Serbia were now establishing such exchanges.

Countries large and small should come together to put a better future for the young at heart, he said.  Albania would include a charter of values found in the Sustainable Development Goals in its new school curriculum.  Such measures would be effective if everyone played a part.  In an era facing such serious challenges, he said the future should be ensured by teaching the young the value of tolerance.  Noting that Winston Churchill had said that only words remained forever, he called for tolerance and respect for diversity to be put in “black and white” as well as recognition that the common humanity shared by all should be taught in schools.  While words would not eliminate violence and intolerance in and of themselves, if the young were shown the right way they would take it.  “Let us show them that men, women and all peoples of the world were joined by their common humanity, no matter the language, religion, colour or nationality.”

WALID AL-MOUALEM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria, noting that the Council’s resolutions under Chapter VII were “still only ink on paper”, asked what had been done to stop Member States who supported terrorism from committing criminal acts against the Syrian people.  He cautioned that if the flow of terrorists to his country, and the Member States that supported it, was not stopped, then the fire that had broken out in Syria, Iraq and Libya would continue to spread.  Syria could not implement any democratic political measures as long as terrorism was striking at home and threatening innocent civilians.  Syrians nevertheless believed in the “political track”, the preservation of national sovereignty and unity.  As the only way to achieve a political solution was through Syrian-led national dialogues and without interference, his country had agreed to participate in relevant conferences as well as in the brainstorming committees of experts proposed by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy. 

He expressed Syria’s support for the invitation by the Russian Federation’s President for an international-regional coalition to counter terrorism, adding that the announcement of Russian airstrikes in Syria, as requested by his Government, would support his country’s counter-terrorism efforts.  Israel continued to attack his country, arming and supporting terrorists, and increasing Syrians’ need for basic services.  Inhumane sanctions by the European Union and the United States also exacerbated the living conditions.  Syria was cooperating with the United Nations to meet its people’s basic needs and guarantee safe returns.  It adhered to the full restoration of the occupied Syrian Golan to the 4 June 1967 lines and rejected attempts by Israel, the occupying Power, to change the natural, geographical and demographic characteristics in violation of Council texts.

His country supported the rights of the Palestinian people, as well as the establishment of an independent State on its land, with Jerusalem as its capital.  Syria had joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, and despite the prevailing situation, had fulfilled its obligations.  He congratulated Iran for its historic agreement, while underscoring that establishing a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East required Israel’s accession to all relevant treaties and the placement of its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s supervision.  He congratulated Cuba on its accord with the United States and repeated his calls to lift the coercive measures imposed on Syria, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Venezuela and Belarus.  Council counter-terrorism resolutions must be implemented in order to triumph over terrorism and achieve economic and political reforms.  Only then could there be an end to the war in Syria and implementation of matters agreed on the political track.

GUNNAR BRAGI SVEINSSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, said that the world community should be proud of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Praising Sustainable Goal 7 on affordable, reliable and sustainable modern energy for all, he said the aim should be the elimination of carbon fuel and the channelling of fossil fuel subsidies towards renewable energy resources.  Each State must contribute to such common goals.  Noting the fragility of the Arctic ecosystem, he reminded those present that temperatures there were increasing at more than twice the average global rate.  Shrinking glaciers in the North contributed to higher sea levels in the South.  The Climate Conference in Paris would be the last chance to get on track towards a sustainable future.  Along with other European countries, Iceland was committed to reduce greenhouse gasses by 40 per cent in 2030.

On other matters, he said that without peace and security there could be no sustainable development, but those were no justification to violate human rights, including death penalty use.  He called on Saudi Arabia to commute that sentence in the case of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who had been convicted when he was a minor.  Stressing the need for humane treatment of all minorities and the most vulnerable, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, he said “We the peoples” in the United Nations Charter included everyone.  Calling the current refugee crisis an “exodus”, he said the conflict in Syria had produced a scale of suffering that “we all hoped never to see again”.  The long-term solution was to resolve that and related conflicts by political means.  The Security Council must halt the bloodshed in Syria.  He also called for support of frontline institutions such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to which Iceland was allocating $16 million.

He remained committed to the two-State solution for Israel and Palestine.  He expressed concern over the humanitarian situation of Palestinians, while at the same time, decried terrorist activities from certain elements among them.  He urged that Western Sahara and other disputed areas not be forgotten, noting that it was of grave concern when a permanent member of the Security Council undermined the territorial integrity of another State.  On organizational reform, he said that it was time for qualified female candidates to be considered for the position of Secretary-General as well as President of the General Assembly and supported an expansion of permanent and non-permanent seats on the Council.  He also supported the initiative by France and Mexico on regulating the veto and for the code of conduct on Council action against genocide and other crimes against humanity, drafted by the Accountability, Coherence, Transparency (ACT) group of States.

KHALID BIN AHMED BIN MOHAMMED AL KHALIFA, Foreign Minister of Bahrain, said that his country was classified in the United Nations Human Development Index as having very high human development, having scored a 5 per cent growth rate in the last five years.  The International Telecommunication Union had conferred its Sustainable Development Award for 2015 on the country’s Prime Minister.  He stressed the role of environment in sustainable development and the importance of joint action to address climate change in the hope that the Climate Conference in Paris would reach a binding and ambitious agreement, particularly on repercussions to small island developing States.

Turning to Iran, he advised the country not to squander its people’s resources to promote vested interests, but rather to use them to achieve development and progress and to build bridges with its neighbours.  However, Iran, he said, had responded in an “evil manner” and so Bahrain was left with no option but to recall its Ambassador to Iran, in an effort to protect its own people and interests.  Concerning Yemen, he urged those who had taken up arms there to lay them down, and called on all factions to enter into national dialogue on the basis of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative and implementation mechanism.  As Syria went down a “treacherous and slippery slope”, Bahrain called for an end to the situation and a return of that country to its previous condition of unity, harmony, security and stability.  Foreign military intervention must cease and an agreed political settlement, consistent with the Geneva communique, must be reached.  On the humanitarian front, he noted that Gulf Cooperation States were hosting 3 million Syrian “brothers and sisters” granting them all rights, from free education and health care to the right to work and a decent life.

Condemning terrorism in all its forms, he said it could only be stopped through collective efforts at all levels, including its sources of financing.  The illegal and inhumane acts by Israeli authorities and extremist groups against the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound could destroy any chance of peace.  While affirming the importance of the agreement on Iran, he said it did not eliminate all sources of tension resulting from that country’s attitude towards others in the region.  In that context, he affirmed the importance of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, including the Arabian Gulf region, stressing the need for Israel to adhere to the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and place its facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.  Confronted by daunting challenges, he said Middle East States needed to reflect deeply on how to create a mechanism for collective action, with a view to consolidating security and stability.

AURELIA FRICK, Foreign Minister of Liechtenstein, said the maintenance of peace and security was at the heart of the Charter and in the world’s eyes, the work of the Security Council determined the Organization’s success or failure.  Like many other countries, Liechtenstein wanted the Council to act with resolve and efficiency.  Some of its most damaging failures had occurred in the face of atrocity crimes, in Rwanda, Srebrenica and now Syria.  The international community should acknowledge that as it celebrated the Organization’s seventieth anniversary and should commit itself to decisive action in the future.  To that end, Liechtenstein had led the discussion in the ACT Group, which had produced a code of conduct to guide Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.  A voluntary political commitment, the code included two pledges.  The first was to support timely and decisive action in the Council that would end or prevent mass atrocity crimes.  The second was to not oppose or obstruct credible draft resolutions put forward to that end.  Sixty states had already made that commitment and she hoped that many others would join the list when the code was launched on 23 October.

She said that the International Criminal Court, the first treaty-based international court with jurisdiction over the worst international law crimes, shouldered a massive responsibility in turbulent times.  The international community should increase its support to the Court and more States should join the current 123 parties to the Rome Statute.  The link between the Court and the United Nations would become stronger, thanks to the Kampala Amendments on the crime of aggression.  That amendment would help the Court enforce a core provision of the Charter:  the prohibition of the use of force.  That meant the most serious forms of the illegal use of force would no longer be merely a breach of the Charter, but also would entail criminal accountability for those responsible for the acts.  The international community was just a little more than a year and a handful of ratifications away from the Court’s jurisdiction over that crime.

Wilfred Elrington, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belize, said at the founding of the United Nations seventy years ago, the world was not confronted by the “potentially intractable and catastrophic” phenomenon of climate change.  He questioned whether the Organization possessed the resilience to tackle the issue.  Climate change was giving rise to melting glaciers, the rising and warming of oceans, and the spawning of super typhoons, hurricanes and floods.  Although the world was confronted with the man-made threat of senseless violence perpetrated by terrorists, religious extremists and brutal regimes, nothing posed so great an existential threat to the entire planet as climate change.  It had led to a severe erosion of the world’s food supply and the looming spectre of global starvation.  The issue had to be treated with the utmost urgency.

The United Nations, he went on, had made inroads in combatting climate change, most notably the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda but the “jury was still out” on its record of achievements in that regard.  A successor global emissions reduction regime hung in the balance, owing to inadequate finance and technology.  The failure of world Powers to agree to limiting temperature rises to well below 1.5 degrees centigrade relative to pre-industrial levels would adversely affect small island developing States and low-lying coastal areas.  Belize would do its utmost to contain climate change.  It had joined other small island States in pioneering the so-called DOCK initiative to foster the transition to low carbon and climate resilient economies.  Belize was also doing its part in ensuring that peace and security prevailed in its region.  It had joined the Latin American and Caribbean countries in designating the region as a zone of peace, and earlier in 2015, it had signed a Protocol to the Special Agreement between Belize and Guatemala to submit Guatemala’s Territorial, Insular and Maritime claim to the International Court of Justice.

Clarice Modeste-Curwen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Grenada, said without a successful legally binding agreement at the Climate Change in Paris, the impacts of climate change would continue unabated.  Climate change was a major multidimensional security threat to small island developing States, and he urged the international community to commit ahead of the conference to adopting a new agreement that kept the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius.  Immediate consensus on climate change was needed, including on financing.  He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to Agenda 21, the 1992 Programme of Action for Sustainable Development, and the SAMOA Pathway — Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action — and strongly supported the convening of Triennial Oceans and Seas Global conferences for the duration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, beginning with the June 2017 conference in Fiji.  He also suggested that the so-called DOCK initiative be used as a global platform for Governments and relevant stakeholders to ensure financing for the full implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

On related development issues, he called on the international community to make good on its target of 0.7 per cent official development assistance (ODA), notwithstanding that 0.2 per cent would go to small island developing States like Grenada.  He said that the unilateral graduating of many small island developing States to middle-income status was premature and had resulted in significant budgetary shortfalls, and he reiterated the call for a more holistic and comprehensive set of indicators for classifying States.  Per capita income as a sole measure without the context of climate vulnerability and other inherent structural challenges did more harm than good.  Small island developing States were already disadvantaged by small economies of scale, climate impacts and high indebtedness, and were only seeking a level playing field that took such disadvantages into account.  It was disheartening that developed partners with whom they had engaged to build capacity had reverted to suspicious blacklisting.  He urged those countries to weigh their interactions with small and vulnerable island States to ensure that the latter group was not victimized economically or in reputation.

JEAN-CLAUDE GAKOSSO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Congo, representing President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, said that the founding fathers of the United Nations wanted to promote social progress and better living conditions for everyone.  There had been much human progress and scientific and technological improvements since then.  His country and others had thrown off the yoke of colonialism and there were now many new nations.  Over the last 70 years, humanity had not seen a tragedy on the scale of the Second World War and, in that, he acknowledged the role of the United Nations.

He said his country Congo hailed the resumption of relations between Cuba and the United States and believed that brave process could lead to the lifting of the economic embargo.  The Congo also saluted the recent nuclear accord reached with Iran.  Yet, even with the undeniable advances, the international community had to address the numerous existing weaknesses in order to ban the spectre of war.  There were now many conflicts fed by non-State actors and small extremist groups, even pirates.  Climate change, with its dangerous effects on the environment, and the migration crisis were among the crises that represented threats to the stability of States everywhere.  Africa had not been spared the spate of conflicts, he said, highlighting the terrorist threats created by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, for which an international response was needed.  Tensions persisted in Mali and South Sudan as well as an ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic, requiring the international community’s support.

Peace and stability needed to be backed by a minimum of economic development that benefited the broadest number of people, he said.  An effective platform of financing for sustainable development was necessary.  Congo had a national sustainable development strategy.  The 2005 World Summit was evidence of the collective will to see the United Nations reformed.  The Organization needed greater transparency and justice and more internal democracy, while respecting the sovereignty of States.  Congo renewed its commitment to the United Nations and exhorted the community of nations to work towards the noble ideals of equality, justice and peace, and the solidarity and generosity of humanity.

MANUEL SALVADOR DOS RAMOS, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Communities of São Tome and Príncipe, said the 2030 Agenda and the proper framing and resolution of climate change issues would create a path towards sustainable development for developing countries, particularly on the African continent.  Describing the pillars of Africa’s path — which included science, technology and innovation as well as peace and security, among others — he urged the United Nations to adapt its programmes to the specific realities of the African continent without losing sight of its Millennium Development Goal accomplishments.  He went on to mention “persistent hotbeds of tension” around the world — including Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara, Israel and Palestine, among others — and commented in particular on the conflict in Syria with its disastrous consequences.

On climate change, he said it was imperative to reach a global agreement at the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris.  “Our country is already being affected by the nefarious effects [of climate change], even though we are not an active polluter,” he said.  The country’s vulnerabilities included the reduced rainfall, diminished river flows, floods and the gradual erosion of coastlines.  He welcomed the determination of France and Germany to reach a climate agreement that was ambitious, broad and binding on all parties, in accordance with international law, and with the ultimate objective of limiting the increase of global temperature to at most two degrees Celsius as compared to pre-industrial levels.  He hoped that the agreement, once reached, would enhance the international obligation of all signatory parties to make funds available for continued scientific monitoring of climate issues and the transfer of technology to developing countries.

IBRAHIM AHMED GHANDOUR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, welcoming the 2030 Agenda, said that his country had been engaged in implementing its plan of action for sustainable development.  However, those objectives must complement the process of peace, stability, and growth in his country.  Recalling his country’s signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the 2011 Doha Peace Agreement, he expressed dismay that “its reward” for achieving peace and stability had been endless pressure, sanctions, boycotts and unilateral and coercive measures.  Furthermore, obstacles had been created to bar his country from benefiting from certain initiatives, such as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative.  Despite such unfavourable conditions, it had made efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and, in particular, had met successes in the areas of education and women’s employment.  The gains it had achieved in increasing per capital income, however, had been offset by the fallout from the separation of Southern Sudan, as well as the negative effects of the global economic crisis and the economic embargo. 

He noted that his Government had conducted peaceful, free fair and transparent presidential and parliamentary elections in April.  For the first time in history since its independence in 1956, the Sudanese had elected officials throughout the country. In response to the national dialogue initiative launched by the President in January, a large number of political parties had agreed to discuss issues, such as peace, economy, poverty, and human rights.  The Government had guaranteed safeguards for the remnants of rebel armed groups, and the President had issued decrees on the amnesty renewal for all armed individuals as well as an extension of a unilateral moratorium by two months to encourage the participation of targeted armed groups and individuals in the national dialogue.  His Government had also made commendable achievements in human rights and had adopted a comprehensive 10-year plan.  Efforts to ensure women’s participation in political life were evidenced by their involvement in all stages of the recent elections.  Constant cooperation had been maintained with the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, which had actively participated in the universal periodic review of the Human Rights Council.

To fight cross-border crime, His Government had signed bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries and had enacted a national law to combat human trafficking, he said.  It had also worked to ensure that its laws were in full compliance with international law and instruments related to counter-terrorism.  Politicization of the relationship between the Security Council and the International Criminal Court had made it a tool for targeting African leaders in particular.  Underscoring the importance of a fair equitable and universally acceptable international order, he called for the expeditious reform of the United Nations, and the Council in particular, to make it representative, democratic and transparent, and ensure the representation of African nations in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.

SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, said the challenges facing the Middle East today — particularly extremism, terrorism, interference in the internal affairs of States and non-respect for the sovereignty of States — demonstrated that the United Nations had not yet fulfilled its primary objective of maintaining international peace and security.  All Member States must commit themselves to the principles of sovereignty and non-interference and the promotion of dialogue and moderation.  His country was concerned by the escalating tension and violence resulting from terrorist acts committed by elements aiming to destabilize the region and undermine its security.  The brutality of groups such as Da’esh, Al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Ansar Allah and others had intensified.  After five years of conflict and chaos, the regional forces had joined efforts to help restore security and stability; his country had played an effective role in those efforts.

He said that his country stood by the Government and people of Egypt and was part of the coalition to support the legitimate Government of Yemen.  In that country, it was necessary to combat the Houthis and ensure full compliance with Security Council resolution 2216 (2015); the United Arab Emirates therefore supported the efforts led by Saudi Arabia to enhance the capacity of Yemen’s people and to restore stability.  He also turned to Libya and Syria, which was an increasing concern.  A political settlement was urgently needed in Syria, he stressed, to end the systemic mass atrocities committed by the Syrian regime against its own people.  The Council must reach a consensus on a settlement to the Syrian crisis to ensure a political transition and the formation of a new Government there.  His country had received more than 100,000 Syrian nationals, and had extended humanitarian and development assistance totalling more than $530 million.  With regard to the President of Iran’s statement during the debate, he stressed that “Iran’s record does not qualify it to speak about the safety of Hajji pilgrims and human rights”.  He condemned that country’s continued occupation of the three United Emirate islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, and demanded the restoration of full sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates to those islands.

MUHAMMAD JUSUF KALLA, Vice-President of Indonesia, said a success story of the United Nations was its peacekeeping operations, which had kept conflicts at bay around the world.  Indonesia was the largest contributor of troops to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and stood ready to contribute even more troops if necessary.  At present, however, there were still many conflicts raging around the world: the Palestinian people still had no State, and sectarian conflicts such as the one in Syria were unfolding.  His country had experience in resolving conflict by peaceful means, he said, noting that August had marked the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding on Aceh, which had ended some 30 years of armed conflict.  He noted with concern that there was little progress made in the United Nations Disarmament Commission; the world lacked the necessary political will for nuclear disarmament.  The international community was also witnessing the worst year in recent history in terms of human migration and refugees.  Economic disparity and inequality continued, with more than 800 million people around the world suffering from undernourishment.  In many parts of the world, women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and other minorities remained marginalized.

On trade, he said there had been no concrete resolve from the Doha Trade Round to support a fair multilateral trading system.  Meanwhile, the Ebola crisis had shown the need for more robust health systems worldwide, and youth unemployment was high around the world.  “We must work together for rising peace and prosperity for our people,” he said, and it must stop the spread of radicalism and extremism.  The Organization also had to be reformed to become more inclusive and transparent.  He hoped that the Climate Conference in Paris would result in an agreement to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C.  In narrowing global disparities, South-South cooperation was a critical tool.  To that end, his country would establish the “Asian Africa Centre” as part of the follow up to the 2015 Asian African Summit.  Finally, he said, to guarantee peace and equitable prosperity, the United Nations needed support from each and every Member.

ALBERT F. DEL ROSARIO, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said the United Nations had had reaffirmed its continuing relevance against a backdrop of complex global issues and emerging regional threats to peace and security.  The Philippines renewed its commitment to several priority areas and national positions.  To start, the 2030 Agenda and the overall global development architecture needed to strengthen its resilience.  His State knew too well the urgency of building a climate-resilient economy.  Given the new normal of mega disasters, the international community must adopt a new legally binding climate agreement that was universal and equitable.

On South China Sea maritime disputes, he said the Philippines had placed its faith in international law to serve as an equalizer, allowing small States to stand on equal footing with wealthier, more powerful ones.  Through arbitration, the country hoped to see actions “consistent with Beijing’s declarations” so that efforts to lower tensions and resolve disputes in the South China Sea could succeed.  As chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the Philippines sought to pursue the following: investing in human capital development; fostering small- and medium-enterprises’ participation in regional and global markets; building sustainable communities; and enhancing the regional economic integration agenda.  Regarding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), those States would integrate their economies by the end of the year.

The Philippines remained firm in its position on the total and complete elimination of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.  He reiterated the need for balanced and immediate implementation of the 64-Point Action Plan of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Finally, the Philippines highlighted the positive contributions of migrants to sustainable development in countries of origin, transit and destination.  He said the Philippine migration management policy focused on two important considerations: migration as a shared international responsibility; and the full respect of migrants’ human rights in all circumstances.  His nation would continue to play an active role in the fight against human trafficking, either as the main or co-sponsor of resolutions that recognize the heightened vulnerability to trafficking of women and girls in humanitarian crises.

ARNOLD J. NICHOLSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, said that the challenge posed by climate change was an existential one for the people of small island developing States.  It was key to ensure implementation of the new development paradigm, and to address the unique vulnerabilities of such countries.  In yet another reminder of the devastating and disproportionate impact of natural disasters on those States, the sister island of Dominica was currently struggling to recover from the ravages of tropical storm Erica.  Jamaica joined the appeal to the international community to rally in support of the people of Dominica, by assisting in the recovery, reconstruction and humanitarian efforts that were required.

It was an unfortunate fact that such events would certainly occur again, he said, and even now the Bahamas were being pummelled by Hurricane Joaquin.  In spite of that fact, the global community could assure the impact of the next natural disaster on the small island and low lying coastal countries was lessened by helping those countries to improve their resilience.  The next major test for multilateralism would come in a few weeks when he hoped to conclude negotiations in Paris on a global agreement on climate change.  It was necessary to capitalize on that momentum that had been generated throughout the year and work in concert to make the Climate Conference in Paris a success for all.

WUNNA MAUNG LWIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, said that colonial divisions and their inherited legacies influenced today’s conflicts across the world, depriving many of economic and social development.  Terrorism and acts of extremism needed to be addressed decisively, and climate change and environmental degradation was undermining the development and lives of the poor.  Inequalities were widening, pushing the poor further behind.  It was therefore time to do soul-searching on the future of the Organization and to strengthen the collective resolve to address the “challenges of our time”.

The world was experiencing shifting patterns of rainfall and snow, rising temperature and heavy rainstorms, he said.  While the world envisaged a sustainable and resilient planet, scientific agencies agreed that human activities were contributing to climate change.  It was now time to translate commitments to action, and not a time for arguing.  It was crucial that the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris reached a meaningful and universal agreement, keeping global temperature rise to below 2°C.  It must also include obligations to provide least developed countries with adequate and additional financial and technological resources to help address the impacts of climate change.

AÏCHATOU BOULAMA KANÉ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Niger, said the United Nations had seen success in preventing conflict, including through its counterterrorism strategy and the 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms, among other key achievements.  The Organization had also adapted well to crises which were increasingly complex.  As a major troop contributor, her country looked forward to the new report of the Secretary-General on the future of peacekeeping operations.  Citing several recent accomplishments, she said the conclusion in July of the Iran nuclear deal was a “real reason for satisfaction”.  However, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis had not yet been resolved in spite of many initiatives and peace plans of the United Nations and its Member States.  Niger stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people and was a supporter of the two-State Solution.  In addition, wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen were other reasons for concern, and led to the “daily drama” of a massive influx of refugees.

She went on to express her satisfaction with the restoration of democracy in Burkina Faso, thanks to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union.  She also welcomed the National Reconciliation Forum in the Central African Republic, and the signing in June of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.  In Libya, the activities of armed groups threatened the peace and security that Libyans deserved, as well as the entire Sahel region.  Those situations of conflict were exacerbated by violent extremism and terrorism.  For example, Boko Haram disturbed the peace of the Lake Chad region.  However, that group would be defeated by the coalition of the States of the region that had formed to combat it.  Niger was committed to combating the phenomenon of terrorism in all its forms, both regionally and internationally.  Finally, she welcomed the “new turning point” marked by the 2030 Agenda.

LYONPO DAMCHO DORJI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bhutan, said the United Nations had delivered much that it promised in its Charter.  It had saved millions of lives through relief efforts, vaccinating children, eradicating smallpox and fighting HIV/AIDS.  It had fed millions every year in countries affected by war, conflict and natural disasters.  And it had negotiated peace deals and conducted peacekeeping operations to advance democracy and create an international human rights system.  It had combatted climate change, reduced extreme poverty, and prevented the spread and use of nuclear weapons.  However, even while celebrating achievements, it was important to look to the road ahead.

Peace, security and human rights needed to go hand in hand with sustainable development, he said.  Bhutan’s own Gross National Happiness was essentially “development with values”, and they also remained a bastion of environmental conservation with 72 per cent of land under forest cover.  Efforts to safeguard the environment were reinforced by a constitutional mandate to maintain a minimum of 60 per cent of land under forest cover, for all times.  Peace, security and human rights depended on an all-inclusive approach to development that put people and environment at the center.  Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals was a daunting challenge, and for countries like Bhutan that was both least developed and landlocked, the challenges would require innovative and creative approaches.  The key would be to build a strong and sustainable green economy that ensured gainful employment for youth, and promoted self-reliance.

TAUKELINA FINIKASO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment and Labour of Tuvalu, said that the principles enshrined in the Charter remained pertinent — nations were more connected, more cooperative and more technologically advanced.  However, despite that, persisting inequalities remained as a significant number of people were displaced and stateless, and a lack of hope for some had led to a future with extremism as an alternative choice of existence.  The world needed a United Nations answer, and its 2030 Agenda must deliver for the people.  The Sustainable Development Goals must be advocated as widely as possible to bring accountability to leaders, development partners, the private sector, religious bodies and the young.  As a least developed country and small island developing State, Tuvalu was faced with sea level rise inundating coastlines and food plantations.  Many of Tuvalu’s citizens had migrated on their own terms, but that did not solve global warming and the United Nations did not sanction climate change migrants as refugees.  The 2030 Agenda would be meaningless if a credible agreement was not reached at the Climate Conference in Paris.

Finally, as custodians of the Pacific Ocean, Tuvalu fully supported Sustainable Development Goal 14.  The blue ocean could not endure as a sink for radioactive waste or a dump for industrial garbage.  The islands had a warning for the Member States: without a healthy ocean, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals would not be possible.  If leaders gave people a healthy ocean, rather than a man a fish to satisfy his or her hunger for a day, it would take care of many generations to come.

DENIS MOSES, Minister of Foreign and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Affairs, of Trinidad and Tobago, said his country’s prospects for sustainable development were inextricably linked to the safety and security of its people.  However, Trinidad and Tobago’s ability to provide such safety and security had been increasingly stretched given its location in a region heavily impacted by the trafficking of small arms and light weapons connected to the drug trade and its criminal networks.  Consequently, the country and CARICOM subscribed to the aims and objectives of the Arms Trade Treaty, a critical vehicle for development.

Now that the international community accepted climate change as a threat to existence, he noted that it would weigh most heavily on small island developing States and least developed countries, crippling their ability to react to external shocks of their social, economic and ecological systems.  Recognizing the need for bold and responsible action on the part of all Governments, Trinidad and Tobago had submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ahead of target.  It was his expectation that any credible agreement from Paris set the world on a path to decarbonisation of the global economy before the end of the century.

Finally, while he expressed encouragement by the easing of tensions in the northern Caribbean with the resumption of dialogue between the United States and Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago was concerned by the border controversy between its neighbours, Venezuela and Guyana.  This dispute required settling by Pacific means in keeping with the Charter.  Moreover, as the General Assembly was the only grouping of States that possessed the legitimacy to act on behalf of the international community, Member States must “spare no effort” to make it a more effective and dynamic instrument in the elevation of all peoples and defence of their rights.

ALVA R. BAPTISTE, Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation of Saint Lucia, said the Organization must continue to address the increasingly complex issues of human survival.  While geographically far from the migration crisis in Europe, the human suffering “burns our collective Caribbean heart”.  The right thing must be done in taking in those fleeing Iraq, Libya and Syria.  He commended the United States and Iran for working out a diplomatic solution to manage the nuclear threat, adding that it could lead to a reduction in tensions, as well as set the stage for working out a “rational” strategy to tackle the root causes of animosity.

A similar approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be taken, he said, reiterating his country’s recognition of the Statehood of Palestine and its full membership in the United Nations.  On the economic front, he questioned how small islands could succeed in the war on poverty if global policies systemically undermined them.  Climate change, erosion of trade preferences, decline in official development assistance, drop in foreign direct investment, and growing security costs associated with the small arms and illegal narcotic trades had led to increased borrowing to meet Saint Lucia’s obligations.

He expressed hope that the global agreements on disaster risk reduction, financing for development, and post-2015 development, as well as the upcoming climate change resolution would usher in prosperity.  Finally, he welcomed the diplomatic reconciliation between the United States and Cuba, expressing hope it would allow for a “full-scale reconciliation of hemispheric relations”. It removed unnecessary impediments to regional and hemispheric cooperation, allowing small countries, such as Saint Lucia, to initiate mutually beneficial plans in the Caribbean.

ARCHBISHOP PAUL RICHARD GALLAGHER, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, expressed his satisfaction with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, which Pope Francis had called an important sign of hope for humanity.  In contrast to that hope, there was the “sad panorama of war”; without resolving those conflicts properly, all efforts to overcome poverty would fail.  The world had before it the tragedy taking place in Syria, as well as troubles in Libya, Central Africa, the Great Lakes Region, South Sudan, Ukraine and the Middle East.  Those issues must remain at the centre of the international community’s attention.  It was a “bitter irony” that the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations was accompanied by the greatest exodus of peoples seen since the Second World War.  In that regard, his delegation appealed to States to overcome every form of nationalistic self-interest and recognize the unity of the human family.  On the responsibility to protect, he said that principle saved peoples from mass atrocities, instances of genocide, war crimes and other grave human rights violations.  It was not always easy to carry out that responsibility in practice, not least because its observance often conflicted with a strict, literal interpretation of the principle of non-intervention.  Due to the unacceptable human costs of inaction, the search for effective juridical means for the practical application of that principle must be among the central priorities of the United Nations.

Similarly, he called on States to observe existing international law, which required a “genuine and transparent application” of Article 2 of the Charter.  Article 2, however, could not become an alibi for excusing gross violations of human rights.  Another core issue was disarmament.  There was the telling example of the failure of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in May.  In view of that impasse, it was important that the international community and individual States signal a real desire to pursue the shared objective of a world free of nuclear weapons.  On climate change, he hoped that a fair, transformational and legally binding agreement would be adopted at the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said that, as a “beacon of hope”, the United Nations had played an increasingly important role in maintaining peace and security, protecting and promoting human rights and advancing development and progress.  Welcoming progress on the Iranian nuclear issue, and in normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba, she nonetheless expressed concern that terrorism, violent extremism and religious and ethnic intolerance threatened regional and international peace and security.

Among other challenges she addressed were poverty, discrimination, humanitarian crises and climate change, which threatened the livelihoods of billions of people and the existence of many countries.  Experience with the Millennium Development Goals had shown that peace and stability were prerequisites for sustainable development.  It was incumbent upon States to do their utmost to ensure peace and security at the national, regional and international levels.  At the same time, people must be at the centre of the new 2030 Agenda.  She called on developed countries to assist developing nations in the implementation of that Agenda, especially in the areas of financing, technology transfer and human resource development.  She also supported South-South cooperation activities.

Stressing that Viet Nam had immediately associated itself with the Organization’s values after it gained independence from almost a century of colonialism, she said it had always placed people at the centre of development.  As part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Viet Nam continued to work towards a thriving and stable region.  It was vital that maritime safety, security and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea were secured.  Viet Nam was working with ASEAN members to that end, including by calling on all parties to refrain from the threat or use of force and to settle all disputes by peaceful means in line with international law.  It was also engaging with partners to ensure the implementation of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and to work for the early conclusion of a code of conduct.

AKSOLTAN ATAEVA (Turkmenistan) said her region was in the process of being reborn as a strong and stable link in international partnerships.  Turkmenistan was focusing on that goal, and invited the United Nations to join in its efforts, including through establishing a United Nations Regional Centre there.  The major ecological problems of that region were well known, and affected the overall atmosphere.  The vision for such a centre already existed, and Turkmenistan was ready to provide the infrastructure.  She proposed that the centre be devoted to technologies for combatting climate change.

Her country would continue to provide aid to Afghanistan for economic and social infrastructure projects, as well as discounted energy and teaching for Afghan professionals in their institutions, she said.  It was important to provide support to developing and least developed countries.  Sustainable development for Turkmenistan meant achieving high technological, environmental, health care and agricultural standards.  Providing humanitarian and food aid were extremely important, but would not alone solve the problem.  She emphasized her country’s readiness to strengthen cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), WFP, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other entities.  There was tremendous creative potential in the United Nations, which had accumulated over decades, providing the solution to many global problems.  This proved that only by joining forces could the international community achieve the goals it had set, no matter how difficult they may be.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that the United Nations continued to achieve progress for mankind over the past 70 years of its existence but those achievements had not necessarily reached everyone equally.  With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals last week, mankind had a universal instrument over the next 15 years to eradicate poverty and protect the plant without leaving anyone behind.  Social inclusion was crucial.  The most vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples, people with disability, the elderly and migrants, must be included.  Governments must increase budgets for social inclusion, particularly in education, health and gender equality.  On climate change, he called for a well-balanced, binding agreement at the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris.  As current president of the conference, his Government would spare no effort toward that end.

He commended Colombia for its reconciliation efforts with the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and welcomed the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, urging the latter to lift its economic blockade on the former.  He also called for a two-State solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.  His country respected the rule of law and the universal jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court must be recognized to combat impunity.  On Syria, he said that the Security Council must change its composition and its rules governing the use of the veto.  For the first time, Peru was sending a team of military engineers to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).  His country was also combating the drug problem by promoting alternative crop cultivation to farmers.  He advocated for arms trade regulation, disarmament and non-proliferation, saying development could not happen without peace.

MARY FLORES (Honduras) said that it was only natural that those who came from places with abysmal shortcomings, pressing needs and thankless exclusions saw things differently than those living in opulence, wealth, supremacy and arrogance.  Even the universal terms of law, justice and equity were viewed and interpreted differently.  It was even true for truth to be questioned, if not conditioned by the truth of others.  Everyone reacted to one’s own reality.  A victim of extreme and unsurmountable violence who abandoned his or her homeland on a treacherous journey in pursuit of a better life would not understand the concept of righteousness and justice the way a person who enjoyed all possible assurances and did not want his or her comfort disrupted by the inconvenience of strangers.

Massive migrations were only a symptomatic consequence of other acute problems that must be addressed, she said.  The international community had a responsibility to address them all; not with promises, but with results, because despair drained even prolonged patience.  The answer to that serious dilemma did not need to be invented, but rather it lay in the foundation of the natural values of civilization and in the divine principles of spirituality that made converging points in all religions.  It was contained in the minutes of the Charter doctrine that inspired the existence of the United Nations.

BARANIKO BAARO (Kiribati) said that in adopting the 2030 Agenda, it was important not to leave the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals behind.  Many countries, including hers, had not had a strong score card on the implementation of those Goals for a reason.  The development challenges facing the small island developing States were further compounded by climate change.  People in her country lived on low-lying atoll islands.  In some parts of the country, whole villages had to relocate due to severe coastal erosion and flooding.  Crops had been destroyed and drinking water sources were being contaminated by the intruding sea water.  Her country had adopted a multipronged strategy to ensure the survival of its people.  It had purchased offshore land, was looking at possible plans to build floating and artificial islands, and raising the height of islands to above the predicted sea-level rises.  It had embarked on educating its people on migration with dignity.  Saying that climate change was an existential challenge was simply not enough, she said, calling for an ambitious legally binding agreement at the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris.  The agreement must include provisions on loss and damage as a stand-alone element separate from adaptation and a special mechanism to fast track urgent assistance for millions of people around the world who needed that help now.

JOÃO SOARES DA GAMA (Guinea-Bissau) said that despite the recurrent instability, his country’s determination to build a viable State remained intact.  With the return to constitutional normality, the Government had made efforts to provide basic conditions required to relaunch its economy and tackle new challenges in consolidating peace and security.  The 2015-2025 “Terra Ranka” Development Strategy would guide Government actions.  The Strategy was consistent with the goals established in the 2030 Agenda.  The implementation of that Agenda would contribute to his country’s sustainable development.  In the same vein, the fulfilment by donor countries of their commitments to public development aid and other funding was crucial for the most vulnerable countries.  Issues related to Africa continued to dominate the agenda of the Security Council.  As nine of Organization’s 16 peacekeeping operations were in Africa, the voices of the continent’s 54 States must be heard in conflict management.  Africa’s legitimate claim for two permanent seats and broader representation as non-permanent members must be heeded.  His country also supported a proposal for permanent seats for Brazil, India, Japan and Germany.  Welcoming the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, he said the main actors in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process could draw inspiration from that example.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Serbia said that his country was investing maximum efforts for regional stabilization and reconciliation.  He said unfortunately the representative of Albania had contended that dialogue was being conducted between Serbia and Kosovo, but Kosovo was not an independent State and was not a Member of the United Nations.  Albania’s speaker had called for the United Nations to recognized Kosovo as a State, but such statements could jeopardize positive results of the ongoing dialogue.  Resolving the status of Serbia’s southern province with an agreement that was acceptable to all was among his Government’s top priorities.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Albania said that Kosovo was an independent State recognized by 110 countries, and was a member of regional initiatives in South-Eastern Europe.  Since its independence in 2008, Kosovo had strengthened its geopolitical identity, and had contributed to peace and stability in the region.  Furthermore, Kosovo and Serbia were looking for common solutions.  With Kosovo’s independence, the region had closed the bitterest chapter in its recent history.

The representative of Turkey rejected allegations made against her country and said her country continued to stand by the people of Syria.

In response to a statement made by the Philippine delegation, the representative of China said that the Philippines’ illegal invasion was the root cause of the island dispute in the South China Sea.  He rejected the unilateral initiation of the arbitration process.  The issue should be resolved through direct negotiations based on history and international law.

The representative of the United Kingdom said it had no doubt about the Chagos Archipelago, which had been British since 1814, and was administered as part of the Indian Ocean territory.  No tribunal had ever called the United Kingdom’s sovereignty of the territory into doubt.  The United Kingdom did not recognize the representative of Mauritius’ claim to the Chagos Archipelago.  The United Kingdom planned to approve accession of the archipelago to Mauritius once it was no longer needed for defence purposes.  In the meantime, those defence purposes contributed significantly to global security, including protection against terrorism and piracy.

The representative of the Philippines welcomed the great concern of China for the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea.  But the sea was an international waterway and any disputes in the area must be settled at the international level, including through arbitration.  He reiterated the invitation for China to join the Philippines in deliberations and let the settlement of disputes be decided upon on the basis of international law.

Taking the floor a second time, the representative of Serbia reiterated that Kosovo was neither an independent State nor a United Nations Member State.

Also speaking again, the representative of China reiterated that illegal invasion of China’s territory by the Philippines was the root causes of the dispute and his country would not change its position of non-acceptance and non-participation.

For information media. Not an official record.