World Leaders Debate International Security Challenges, Calling for Concerted Efforts to Curb Threats, as General Debate Continues
Focusing on international peace and security, world leaders stressed the need to curb terrorist attacks, end ongoing conflict, resolve the refugee crisis and reform the Security Council, as the General Assembly continued its annual debate today.
Referring to the “undeclared war against Afghanistan”, Sarwar Danesh, Vice-President of that country, said more than 10 terrorist groups, sent to obstruct democracy and State-building, were fighting against his country. “Recent attacks in Kabul by the Taliban and Da’esh had been organized from inside Pakistan, while the Taliban sought more control of Kunduz and Helmand Provinces,” he said.
He also questioned where previous leaders of Al-Qaida and the Taliban were hiding, as well as how and where terrorists were being trained, equipped and financed. Although Pakistan had been requested to destroy safe havens, the situation remained unchanged. Welcoming the efforts of any Islamic country to promote peace in Afghanistan, he said “Those individuals and groups [who] resort to violence, terrorism and killing are not acquainted with this religion” and only used Islam to attain their evil goals.
Addressing that issue, Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said the Afghan war had presented momentous economic and security challenges to his country, which was hosting 3 million Afghan refugees. The only path to lasting peace, and for those refugees to return home, was a dialogue between the Government in Kabul and the Afghan Taliban.
President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana noted that extremist forces in many parts of the world had hijacked dialogue. With available technology being used to spread anxieties and arouse base emotions, hate speech was becoming common and xenophobia had taken over rational thinking.
“In the vote on ‘Brexit’, the spectre of a flood of refugees had been used to help propel an exit from the European Union,” he observed. Now, nearly 30 years after President Ronald Reagan called for the Berlin Wall to be torn down, new walls were springing up everywhere.
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council of the European Union, said building a global strategy to fight terrorism was key to both preventing attacks and undermining terrorist financing. He urged the international community to make better use of the United Nations to fight the scourge together.
He noted that no challenge highlighted the power of fear and conflict more clearly than refugee protection and massive displacement across borders, as had occurred in the European Union. Stressing that the Union’s efforts to tackle that crisis had been driven by empathy and a readiness to help those in need, he said its commitment to assist would remain a top priority.
The need for Security Council reform in tackling global insecurity was also called to the fore of the all-day debate, with President Hage G. Geingob of Namibia urging that such reform make the world body more democratic and transparent. His country was committed to the African common position that the Council should reflect the United Nations diversity, a stance echoed by several speakers, including Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan.
However, examples of progress and successful resolutions of conflict were proffered as well. Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, told the Assembly that “now, once again, it is a time of determined hope” for her country. “The only path that will lead us to our goals is the path of peace, the path that we must follow with hope and determination.”
For a country that had experienced over six decades of internal armed conflict, nothing was more important than achieving a lasting peace and national reconciliation, she said. In that respect, the core principles of human rights and respecting diversity could not be ignored. “Our planet is a place to be shared by all.”
President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Colombia, referring to the long-term conflict his country had experienced, announced that the Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict would be officially signed in Cartagena on 26 September and approved by the plebiscite on 2 October.
The accord marked the first time that a Government and an illegal armed group had agreed to a resolution through a system of transitional justice and not through external imposition, he noted. It also meant that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC-EP) would become a political movement in the country, with greater guarantees to the opposition. With that Agreement in place, the oldest armed conflict in the Western hemisphere would come to an end.
Also speaking were Heads of State and Government, ministers and other senior officials of Finland, Zimbabwe, Chile, China, Ukraine, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Montenegro, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, Federated States of Micronesia, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guinea-Bissau, Czech Republic, Bolivia, Mozambique, Estonia, Nauru, Honduras, Gambia, Ethiopia, Romania, Bangladesh, Georgia, Australia, Thailand and Austria.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of India and Pakistan.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 22 September, to continue its general debate.
SAULI NIINISTO, President of Finland, said the international community must work together to find sustainable solutions to better control borders and safeguard the rights of refugees seeking international protection. Thousands of people were being displaced every day due to conflict, persecution and natural disaster or were seeking a better life.
Stressing that current conflicts required urgent humanitarian action, he added that the underlying causes were long-term. Economic, social and political progress was vital in addressing them. Humanitarian action alone would never compensate for the inability to address the root causes of forced migration. The ultimate responsibility lay with the respective peoples and their Governments; local ownership was the key.
The United Nations could help defuse latent conflict through prevention, mediation and preventive peace operations, he said. In that regard, there was a need to foster closer cooperation between different actors, such as traditional and religious leaders, and draw more participation from civil society. For its part, Finland, along with Turkey, had taken the lead in efforts to strengthen United Nations-based mediation and was pleased that progress was being made on that front, as evidenced by the recent adoption of the General Assembly resolution on mediation.
Reflecting on milestones made in the area of sustainable development, he highlighted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The true test, however, would be in their implementation. His Government was focused on establishing partnerships with the private sector, universities and civil society, while encouraging all citizens to get involved. Gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women were key drivers in sustainable development and in combating climate change, he said, emphasizing those areas as vital in Finland’s rise from poverty to prosperity. Nevertheless, the United Nations had a long way to go to meet the target of gender equality.
ROBERT MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, said that, while compromises were unavoidable in developing the 2030 Agenda, half-measures had no place in its implementation. “We need sincere, genuine and total commitment by all,” he stressed. For its part, Zimbabwe had established multi-stakeholder and multisector structures to implement the Agenda, alongside the national Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socioeconomic Transformation. Indeed, domesticating the new Agenda had been less challenging in that its vision was basically the same as the national agenda.
However, he noted, the biggest impediment to his country achieving the 2030 Agenda was the burden of sanctions, notably imposed by the United States and other Western countries for 16 years. For exercising a principle enshrined in the United Nations Charter — sovereign independence — “we are being punished for doing what all other nations do,” he said, “responding to and looking after the basic interests of our people.” As long as those economic and financial sanctions remained, Zimbabwe’s capacity to implement the 2030 Agenda would be curtailed and he called on the United Kingdom, United States and their allies to remove them.
While there had been commendable efforts to make the selection of the next Secretary-General transparent, the General Assembly’s greater involvement did not mask the opaqueness of the process in the Security Council, he said. The United Nations was no closer to achieving Council reform than 20 years ago and he urged States to redress that injustice. Furthermore, Palestinians had lived under occupation for 49 years and it was high time for the Council to implement resolutions 181 (1963), 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). The two-State solution, based on pre-1967 borders should be pursued within set parameters and timelines.
Finally, he said, the United Nations was obliged to work towards fully realizing the rights of self-determination for the people of Western Sahara and he urged that an independence referendum for Saharans be held without delay. He also welcomed the Secretary–General’s leadership in mobilizing the international community to partner with Africa in stopping the Ebola epidemic, which had claimed thousands of lives.
MICHELLE BACHELET JERIA, President of Chile, said world economics had led to a global slowdown, depriving the world’s population with the well-being it desired. Yet, thanks to new technology, people today were more aware and empowered, and were expressing in their daily lives, places of work and families’ health the negative effects of inequitable development. That was the main basis for discontent in various parts of the world.
The world was also facing an environmental crisis with economic and climatic effects, she said. In addition, violence and armed conflict in many parts of the world had increased precariousness, displacement and migration. People were disillusioned about promised development, which was still beyond reach. There was a growing schism between the representatives and the represented, as well as a lack of trust in national Governments and multilateral forums, which were failing to tackle the priorities of common citizens in a timely or in-depth manner.
The Sustainable Development Goals illustrated that the international community knew it must make far-reaching changes and implement them with concrete actions, she stated. Now political will in each country and multilateral forums must be summoned to overcome inertia and individual interests. Multilateral dialogues at regional and global levels must be engaged, calling for realistic but demanding commitments.
Chile was a medium-sized country that was not yet fully developed, but was sitting at the edge of modernity, she said. At regional and international levels, it was seeking a common agenda that would give Latin America strength as a bloc and region. Her Government was working on integration with Mexico, Colombia and Peru in the Pacific Alliance, which already had 49 observer States. The two integration mechanisms, the Pacific Alliance and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), aimed to promote a better Latin America, strengthening cooperation and insisting on the importance of both national development and international relations.
HAGE G. GEINGOB, President of Namibia, said the world’s people had implored the United Nations to increase its efforts in more spheres of activity, locations and challenging circumstances than in the Organization’s history. Implementation of the new 2030 Agenda would require coherence and complementarity among global, continental, regional, national, local and other platforms. In addition, the success of the Sustainable Development Goals would require efforts to integrate economic growth, social justice and environmental stewardship. “We need to talk now about inclusive growth that would translate to decent jobs for our citizens,” he said, urging a shift away from the current growth models.
To make a dent on poverty, Namibia had to grow at a higher level, he said, stressing his country’s commitment to responsibly managing the economy. There was no risk it would not honour its near- and medium-term debt obligations. The private sector had a crucial role to play in stimulating growth. On the social justice front, he expressed concern about the current refugee crisis, which required immediate and collective action. Notably, factors that forced people to flee needed to be addressed, rather than just addressing the symptoms of the problem.
Today, Namibia had ratified the Paris Agreement, he said, stressing that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Sendai Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction were the central frameworks for cooperative action in that regard. Among the world’s driest countries, Namibia had taken mitigation and adaptation measures to staunch losses due to climate change, including through the development of solar, wind and hydroelectricity. He emphasized his support for the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in that regard, adding that Namibia also had offered to host the African regional hub of the Green Climate Fund.
Turning to the United Nations, he said the Security Council was too important an organ to be left to the interests of a few and he called for its reform to make it more democratic and transparent. Namibia was committed to the African common position from a belief that the Council should reflect the United Nations’ diversity. “Fairness and justice warrant that Africa be part of the equation,” he said, also calling for implementation of all relevant resolutions on Palestine and urging support for Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination. Recalling Morocco’s support in helping Namibia achieve independence, he urged implementation of all resolutions calling for a referendum on Western Sahara so that people there could freely express themselves.
LI KEQIANG, Premier of the State Council of China, noted that China had been among the first countries to submit to the United Nations its national plan for implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Sustainable development was at the heart of issues ranging from poverty to the current refugee situation. However, development would not be sustainable if it was imbalanced; if it widened the gap between the global North and South; if driven by high consumption and pollution; or if economic and social progress were not well coordinated. Rather, it must be inclusive and interconnected. To be sure, world economic recovery was lukewarm and momentum for sustainable development was weak, with recurrence of major diseases and natural disasters. “Difficult moments called for stronger confidence,” he said, urging the international community to see itself in a shared future of interconnected interests and to make efforts to tackle global challenges.
Urging that the United Nations Charter be upheld, he called for States to support the Organization’s lead role in global affairs, support reformed global governance mechanisms that reflect the changed international landscape, and take part in a global partnership that featured dialogue over confrontation. Elucidating on several matters, he also said the international community should urge parties in Syria to end the fighting. In addition, he advocated denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and seeking solutions to maintain the non-proliferation regime. While economic globalization, including trade and investment, had been a driving force for growth, it had also taken a toll on certain industries and required measures to address such problems while keeping the bigger picture in mind. Globalization was in line with interests of all countries. He cautioned against protectionism and voiced support for the open trade regime of the World Trade Organization (WTO), among other things. Redoubled efforts to support Africa and the least developed countries were needed. Developed countries should make good on their official development assistance (ODA) pledges, while developing countries must pursue self-development and find paths suited to their national conditions.
On his country’s economic growth, he said it had registered 6.7 per cent in the first half of the year, with 9.5 million jobs created in the first eight months. A developing country, with a long way to go before achieving modernization, China would promote development through deepening reforms and opening its doors to the outside world, as closed door policies had only led to stagnation. China would also pursue cooperation with all countries on the basis of the five principles of peaceful co-existence. Maritime territorial disputes should be resolved through compromise and negotiation. His Government, as well, would provide $300 million in humanitarian assistance to relevant countries and international organizations. With 1.3 billion people, “we need to run our own affairs well”, he said “and take our international responsibilities”. China would boost cooperation with other developing countries, and increase its assistance to others as its economy grew. It would also increase its annual contributions to United Nations agencies by $100 million over its 2015 level by 2020.
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, President of Colombia, announced that the Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict would be officially signed in Cartagena on 26 September and approved by the plebiscite on 2 October. Noting that the announcement was occurring on the International Day of Peace, he pointed out that, with the agreement, the oldest armed conflict in the Western hemisphere would come to an end. The accord marked the first time that a Government and an illegal armed group had agreed to a resolution through a system of transitional justice and not through external imposition. The agreement meant that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army (FARC-EP) would become a political movement in the country, with greater guarantees to the opposition.
In addition to the benefits peace would bring to Colombia’s people and its democracy, he also noted that it was an important step forward for its environment and for ending drug trafficking. Those who once protected illicit coca crops would now work together with the State for their eradication, and land, once deforested for coca plantations, would be regenerated. Waterways would no longer be polluted by millions of barrels of oil resulting from attacks on infrastructure. “We will be able to better take care of and preserve the natural lung that is the Amazon,” he declared.
He went on to thank the international community for its support for peace, in particular Cuba, which hosted the dialogues, and Norway, which was guarantor of the peace negotiations. He also thanked Chile, Venezuela, the United States, Germany, the European Union and the Secretary-General for their support.
Finally, he expressed his solidarity with other nations that were suffering from global terrorism, voicing his wish that the attainment of peace in Colombia after more than five decades would give them hope. He called for the international community to take in and protect the victims of war, and pledged his country’s continued support for the Organization’s reason for being: achieving world peace.
JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA, President of Ghana, noted that extremist forces in many parts of the world had hijacked dialogue. With available technology being used to spread anxieties and arouse base emotions, hate speech was becoming common and xenophobia had taken over rational thinking. In the vote on “Brexit”, the spectre of a flood of refugees had been used to help propel an exit from the European Union. Nearly 30 years after President Ronald Reagan called for the Berlin Wall to be torn down, new walls were springing up everywhere. Yet, the world had the resources to guarantee each person a decent life. With a significant share of the world’s arable lands and natural resources, along with a youthful labour force, a reordering of economic relations could create opportunities and keep young Africans at home.
Some young Ghanaians who had hazarded the desert and Mediterranean Sea to cross to Europe were young poultry farmers or other entrepreneurs, he continued. Selling their shops, they had undertaken the journey because they could no longer compete with tons of frozen chicken dumped on African markets annually, along with an adverse business environment. Africa needed a fair chance to trade with the rest of the world and among neighbouring countries. Commending progress towards creating a Continental Free Trade Area, he said it must be fast-tracked. Raising intra-African trade alone from the paltry average of 15 per cent would create better opportunities for the continent’s youth.
Africa, he noted, was often seen as a homogenous unit and treated as such, without recognizing it as a whole continent with different aspirations, cultures, democracies and economic development. Human progress was not a seamless movement forward, but included periods of reversal, mistakes, fumbling and falling. All regions of the world had been through such a process, learning from their mistakes, picking themselves up after a fall and continuing to move. Africa must be allowed the same latitude.
There were many success stories in Africa, including Ghana, he said. Since adopting the 1992 Constitution, his country had not looked back. Successive elections with power occasionally swinging between opposing political forces had established Ghana’s democratic credentials in the world. The country has a fiercely independent media with hundreds of newspapers and radio stations. Bold measures in effecting structural reforms had yielded a more stable and resilient economy with a gross domestic product (GDP) target of 4.9 per cent this year. With a stable currency, business confidence was rising and foreign direct investment remained strong. In collaboration with development partners and increased offshore oil and gas prospects, Ghana was expected to clip along from next year at 8 per cent GDP growth per annum.
SARWAR DANESH, Vice-President of Afghanistan, while noting that his country had inherited a legacy of conflict and inequality, emphasized that “we believe democracy is the best solution to these problems, as it offers the only foundation to foster justice and allow political groups to be adequately represented”. Among the achievements of the two-year old Government of National Unity, gains had been made in reducing maternal and child mortality, improving basic freedoms, enhancing the telecommunications and information sectors, and improving the rule of law and human rights. Efforts were ongoing to carry out judicial reforms, empower women and achieve Government accountability and transparency in its contracts through the creation of a national procurement committee. Afghanistan was also cooperating with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to combating narcotics. In July, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had pledged $1 billion to support Afghan defence and security forces through 2020. The Resolute Support Mission had been extended beyond 2016 and he thanked the United States for providing the largest share of support.
Concerning the undeclared war against Afghanistan, he said more than 10 terrorist groups, sent to obstruct democracy and State-building, were fighting against his country. Journalists were being threatened and he requested the United Nations to appoint a Special Representative for the safety of journalists. Recent attacks in Kabul by the Taliban and Da’esh had been organized from inside Pakistan, while the Taliban sought more control of Kunduz and Helmand Provinces. He urged implementing international commitments and avoiding a distinction between good and bad terrorists. “Where are the previous leaders of Al-Qaida and the Taliban hiding,” he asked, further questioning how and from where terrorists were being trained, equipped and financed. Pakistan had been requested to destroy safe havens, but the situation remained unchanged. His Government reserved the right to do what was necessary for the defence of its people. It had kept open to negotiation with the Taliban and armed groups, urging them to renounce violence and adhere to the Constitution. A peace accord would be signed with one particular group.
More broadly, he said the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States) could remain a useful platform as long as Pakistan acted in good faith to meet its commitments. He welcomed efforts of any Islamic country to promote peace in Afghanistan. “Those individuals and groups resort to violence, terrorism and killing are not acquainted with this religion,” he said, and only used Islam to attain their evil goals. He pressed the United Nations to hold a conference on combating radicalism, which would introduce a new legal set-up to combat terrorism. He supported European countries that had welcomed Afghan refugees, and requested the United Nations to take a new approach by helping origin countries overcome war, poverty and illiteracy. He supported a comprehensive solution to the Syrian conflict, a peaceful solution to the conflict in Yemen, and to Palestinians’ rights. The agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme was constructive to regional and world peace, while North Korea’s nuclear tests had endangered it.
DONALD TUSK, President of the European Council of the European Union, said that his organization had always promoted a free world governed by the rule of law and peace, rather than one beset by conflict, mistrust and fear. No challenge highlighted the power of fear and conflict more clearly than refugee protection and massive displacement across borders, a crisis, which, over the past few months, the European Union had confronted. The Union’s actions had been driven by empathy and a readiness to help those in need and its commitment to assist would remain a top priority. Having spent billions of euros in humanitarian assistance, it would spend much more in years to come.
The European Union’s main goal had always been peace, he said, whether such peace was being threatened by civil wars in Africa or by nuclear testing in Asia. Peace on Europe’s own borders had been compromised, as well, when the Russian Federation attacked Ukraine. Libya, Syria and Afghanistan themselves were also in danger. In a few weeks, the European Union, together with the Afghan Government, would host an international conference on Afghanistan in Brussels, where the world could show support for stability in the country and region as a whole.
Building a global strategy to fight terrorism was key to both preventing attacks and undermining terrorist financing, he said, noting the efforts of the Union in that regard. He urged the international community to make better use of the United Nations to fight the scourge together. The Union was also one of the largest donors of development aid that addressed various problems, including insecurity, poverty, climate change and uncontrolled migration. In addition, with a policy in place for four years, the Union was fully committed to fighting climate change. Two countries with the highest emissions had already ratified the Paris accord, demonstrating that an early readiness to take responsibility for a common future. Expressing the wish that such an attitude would prove contagious, he said it brought back a sense of direction, confidence and hope.
PETRO POROSHENKO, President of Ukraine, said that never since the end of the cold war had international norms been unilaterally defied on such a scale. Never had a Security Council member been a major violator of the United Nations Charter, and instigator of and participant in a conflict in which it was also a mediator. “This is actually the biggest threat facing humanity,” he said. “Our future depends on how we manage to overcome it.” The international community could face the problem or turn a blind eye and leave the United Nations future to the mercy of one player who blatantly violated its Charter. The price for the latter would be in human lives. Furthermore, the Security Council could not remain deadlocked on key issues of peace and security. Veto suspension in cases of mass atrocity and where a permanent Council member was party to a dispute should be “a rock solid rule”. The United Nations must be able to act against aggression and bring justice to perpetrators.
Over the last year, Ukraine had become a testing ground for hybrid warfare, he said, with effects seen in Europe and beyond. Propaganda, electoral interference, cyberattacks and misuse of diplomacy were methods of that undeclared war and it was time for the Council to address it. Turning to the matter of the Korean Peninsula, he expressed concern for the non-proliferation regime, as his country had voluntarily dismantled its nuclear arsenal. “Let’s be frank, we failed to pass the exam with the Budapest Memorandum [on Security Assurances],” he said. Council action in response to the North Korean nuclear test was another test. “We must not allow plunging the world into a new nuclear arms race,” he said. The next Secretary-General must be uncompromising on respect for the United Nations Charter and ready to use all tools, including under Article 99.
Terrorism, he said, could only be confronted through joint efforts and must include the protection of crucial infrastructure, noting that banking, air and rail transport, and water supply were at all risk. He welcomed the United Kingdom initiative to convene a ministerial meeting to confront such threats. Furthermore, resolution 2166 (2014) must be implemented regardless of the Russian Federation’s veto against the creation of an international tribunal. The Joint Investigation Team must set up a mechanism to bring the perpetrators to justice. Since 2014, the terrorist component of the undeclared hybrid war against Ukraine had become a daily routine in Donetsk and Lugansk, with evidence of Russian involvement in the financing, sponsorship and coordination of terrorist groups. There were 38,000 illegal military forces in Donbass, mercenaries from and armed by the Russian Federation, which sent manpower daily across the border. The Russian Federation had insisted it had nothing to do with such activities and that Russians were not in Ukraine. “They are there,” he said, adding that a sham referendum had been conducted at Russian gun point.
In the third year of aggression against Ukraine, the death toll had reached 10,000 people and hundreds were being unlawfully held, he went on to say. The Russian Federation had backed illegal armed formations in Donbass and had taken children as hostages. He urged the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to prevent abuses of those children, stressing that in the past year, Ukraine had shown its readiness to advance implementation of the Minsk agreement and the peace plan agreed in September 2014. It was time for the Russian Federation and its proxies to free captives and withdraw weapons from regular and irregular units. As well, repressive policies were being carried out in Crimea, where judicial and penitentiary systems had been turned into a tool for the Russian Federation against Tatars and Ukrainians. He cited the ban against the Mejlis activities in that regard and detention of its deputy head in a psychiatric facility. He urged the Russian Federation to allow human rights groups access to Crimea and Donbass, cautioning against a repeat of the genocide of Crimean Tatars. Ukraine would submit a draft resolution on the human rights situation in Crimea to the General Assembly, and he appealed to all Member States to not recognize the legitimacy of the recent election in occupied Crimea. The Russian Federation had used Crimea to protect its aggression policy in Ukraine and in Syria, where such policies went hand-in-hand with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
WILLIAM RUTO, Vice-President of Kenya, said that his country had continued to play an active role in the global community’s commitment to sustainable development. In the course of the year, it had hosted three international conferences that sought sustainable solutions to global challenges. The Sustainable Development Goals had the potential to transform societies, improve environmental conditions and achieve sustained economic growth. At the same time, the international community must eradicate poverty by building a fairer global trading system and a more equitable distribution of wealth.
Touching on the situation in Somalia, he said that his country had provided a safe haven for many Somali refugees and had invested resources in combating Al-Shabaab, helping to significantly weaken the group. The country had also committed significant financial support towards the repatriation of more than 400,000 Somali refugees in Kenya.
Sadly, the efforts of Somalia’s neighbours had not been matched by the international community. He implored the Security Council to take the matter seriously and align the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to match current threats. The failure of solidarity has placed a disproportionate burden on Somalia’s neighbours and risked undermining the credibility of international institutions, he warned.
MOHAMMED BIN ABDULAZIZ AL-SAUD, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, said Saudi Arabia was the first country to condemn the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks and sought to uproot terrorism in all its forms. Security forces in the Kingdom had uncovered over 250 plots, including against friendly neighbours and allies. Yet, there were efforts in the United States to rectify a law that protected another nation’s sovereignty, he said, emphasizing that fighting terrorism required utmost international cooperation. Towards that end, he urged the international community to support the Islamic Military Coalition which aimed to combat terrorism. The international community should also end the suffering of the Palestinian people so that their legitimate rights be restored and a State be established, adding that Israel’s construction work threatened the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa mosque. In Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition there sought to help the Yemeni people, adding that his country was the biggest humanitarian supporter to Yemen.
The unprecedented crisis in Syria must be brought to an end, he continued, pointing out that Saudi Arabia had “opened its doors” to hundreds of thousands of Syrians, providing them with health care, as well as employment and educational opportunities. He called on Libya to continue to build their State, as well as fight terrorist groups. Iraq had to also rid its territories of terrorist groups. Earlier in the year, the Saudi embassy in Tehran was ransacked, he said, calling on Iranian authorities to carry out their responsibilities. Good relations based on good neighbourly relations and non-interference in other countries’ affairs was still possible.
He also called on Governments to adopt policies that would reduce greenhouse‑gas emissions. In that regard, Saudi Arabia had invested in developing new technology aimed at preserving the environment. Saudi Arabia had also launched its 2030 Agenda, specifically based on its Islamic and Arabic principles while taking into account its geographical location. It was also working with the private sector to provide health care and education for all. His country would continue to seek to reform United Nations agencies in order for those bodies to be able to respond to future challenges in a sufficient manner.
SHEIKH JABER AL-MUBARAK AL-HAMAD AL SABAH, Prime Minister of Kuwait, called upon the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen to intensify efforts on resuming peace talks. He also strongly condemned the intentional targeting of residential areas, civil and medical facilities in Syria, demanding that those responsible of perpetrating war crimes be brought before the international justice system. To support the delivery of humanitarian relief to the people of the war-torn country, Kuwait had hosted three donor conferences with total pledges exceeding $7 billion, $1.3 billion of which had been contributed by his country.
On the matter of international terrorism, he stressed that “no one country by itself, no matter how much it tries, can confront or eliminate it”. Emphasizing that terrorism to any nationality or religion was “morally impermissible”, he noted that Kuwait continued to support Iraq and commended the progress made by the Iraqi Government in retaking territory. However, the conflict between Israel and Palestine was having a destabilizing effect on the region as a whole. It was incumbent upon the Security Council to compel Israel to implement the relevant resolutions so that the Palestinian people could attain their legitimate political rights.
In regards to Kuwait’s relations with Iran, he said that he looked forward to cooperating with the country. Their constructive dialogue should be based on mutual respect for the sovereignty of States and the principle of non-interference, he emphasized. In light of that, Iran should end the occupation of the three Emirati islands and aim to resolve the lingering issue either through direct negotiations or resorting to the International Court of Justice.
MUHAMMAD NAWAZ SHARIF, Prime Minister of Pakistan, said that his country’s successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda hinged on internal peace and stability. However, tens of thousands of Pakistani citizens had been killed or injured in attacks by terrorist networks, funded by external sources. Despite those losses of human life, his country had successfully pursued targeted operations against terrorists, enabling Pakistan to “turn the tide against terrorism”.
On a global scale, the same efforts to counter terrorism should be conducted multilaterally and “not by the passage of laws with extraterritorial application targeted against certain countries”, he said, adding that the war in neighbouring Afghanistan had presented momentous economic and security challenges to his country, which hosted 3 million Afghan refugees. He iterated that the only path to a lasting peace, and for those refugees to return home, was a dialogue between the Government in Kabul and the Afghan Taliban.
Turning to his country’s conflict with India, a normalization of relations could only be realized with a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. India’s occupation forces continued to repress Kashmiris. His Government would share with the Secretary-General a dossier containing detailed information and evidence of gross and systematic violations of human rights committed by those forces. Pakistan supported the Kashmiri people’s demand for self-determination, as promised to them by several Security Council resolutions. The United Nations should work to demilitarize Jammu and Kashmir in dialogue with India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people. Pakistan was not engaged in an arms race with India, he said, but added: “We cannot ignore our neighbour’s unprecedented arms build-up and will take whatever measures necessary to maintain credible deterrence.”
AUNG SAN SUU KYI, State Counsellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, said that “now, once again, it is a time of determined hope” for her country, adding: “The only path that will lead us to our gaols is the path of peace, the path that we must follow with hope and determination.” The people of Myanmar had long been deprived of their inherent right to live peacefully. For a country that had experienced over six decades of internal armed conflict, nothing was more important than the achievement of a lasting peace and national reconciliation.
Acknowledging that over the last few years, the world had focused its attention on the situation in Rakhine State, she stressed that “we do not fear international scrutiny”, and underscored that Myanmar was committed to finding a holistic approach peace. To boost those efforts, her Government had established the Advisory Commission in Rakhine State, which focused on humanitarian, development, basic rights and security issues. While there had been persistent opposition from some, Myanmar would remain determined to achieving peace and prosperity in that part of the country “by standing firm against the forces of prejudice and intolerance”.
While talking about building peace and development, the core principles of human rights and respecting diversity could not be ignored, she went on to say. Migrant workers had and would continue to contribute to their host countries. “Our planet is a place to be shared by all,” she said, adding that a lack of purpose and a sense of direction in life could drive many into the snares of radical ideology that offered a sense of certainty. She emphasized the need to establish a nuclear-free world. “I have seen too much anger and hatred,” she said. There was now a need to create and uphold a world of giving rather than demanding. “Where, but in this gathering of nations, can I make such an appeal to stand up against anger, hatred and fear?”, she asked the General Assembly.
SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister of Japan, underscored the threat that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal posed to his country and to global peace and security, and reminded the General Assembly of the reasons Japan had joined the Organization more than 60 years ago: world peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons. Japan, as a member of the Security Council, would lead discussion on confronting North Korea in a united way.
He also recalled that Japan was the second largest donor to the Organization over the past 30 years. His country had been able to achieve its prosperity thanks to free and open trade and investment — factors that had benefitted the entire Asian region, which now had the greatest number of people living under democracy.
Reaffirming his country’s pledge of 1.3 trillion yen of assistance to developing countries in 2020 and its commitment to accelerating work toward the early conclusion of the Paris Agreement on climate change, he emphasized the need for Security Council reform. The lack of satisfactory representation for Africa and Latin America required urgent rectification. In particular, he said, it was high time that Africa receive permanent representation on the Council.
MILO ÐUKANOVIĆ, Prime Minister of Montenegro, said that too often the international community was not able to stop bloodshed, with the situation in Syria serving as the most tragic illustration. It was unacceptable that the world was at peace with atrocities carried out in that country, he said, adding that those crimes could not go on without the punishment of the perpetrators.
There was also a clear link between global sustainable development goals and the fight against terrorism, he said. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda was the world’s best chance to protect societies from unconventional threats. Social and economic programs should specifically focus on youth, their empowerment and inclusion in the job market, and he called for Member States to intensify their efforts integrating the 2030 Agenda into their national plans.
His country had been among the first countries to completely integrate the goals of the 2030 Agenda into its national strategy and had participated in the first round of voluntary national reviews at the High-Level Political Forum in New York in July, he pointed out. Also showing its commitment to the Paris Agreement, Montenegro had aimed for the ambitious goal of reducing its greenhouse gases by 30 per cent. His country was small, but its contributions to sustainable growth displayed its commitment to the global international community. More States should push for enhancement of global social and economic rights, so that “no one is left behind or neglected”, he said.
KOLINDA GRABAR-KITAROVIĆ, President of Croatia, said that climate change was a “powerful weapon of mass destruction” and that it was getting out of control. The phenomenon was also a risk multiplier of other global security challenges, fuelling large migratory flows and regional instabilities. Consequently, she underscored the importance of the Paris Agreement entering into force as soon as possible.
On the subject of the refugee crisis, she especially pointed out the plight of over 50 million children who had been displaced, in addition to the 60 million who did not have access to primary education. States were therefore confronting a monumental challenge, as they had to decide whether to opt for open or closed societies. The double standards of the international community and its “hypocritical approach to the tragedy” in Syria must end, she emphasized. The response from Member States to that crisis should be two-fold, focusing both on improving conditions in host countries and for the populations who had been left behind in countries of origin.
In a distressed world, gender inequality created great obstacles for women and girls in all social realms, she went on to say. That inequality was the most pervasive form of global inequality, and the 2030 Agenda would not succeed without the inclusion of women in economic, political and social life. That inclusion would ultimately signal to the global community that women were agents of peace and security. To that end, an increase in the number of female peacekeepers would help enhance the work of the United Nations in the areas of conflict resolution, peacekeeping and combatting sexual violence.
Going forward, the international community must reinvigorate its determination to become a nuclear-test-free world, as “large parts of the UN disarmament machinery are stalled,” she noted. The 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty review remained a case in point.
DANILO MEDINA SÁNCHEZ, President of the Dominican Republic, said that while rapid economic growth of the past several decades had lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, many of those people remained vulnerable to a series of unforeseen events that could ruin their outlook for the future and return them to poverty in just a short time. That population was particularly important in Latin America and the Caribbean, where most people earned between 4 and 10 dollars a day. The challenge was to place those people in a position where they not only developed their own lives but also participated in the development of their countries. To that end, it was important to strengthen safety nets and sectors of health and education.
The 2030 Agenda was a good road map to find solutions to the many challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean, he went on to say. Thus, it was important to develop strategies that ensured “the way out of poverty is a path of no return”. Those goals required adopting a series of formulas and indicators, including in the sectors of trade and financial flows. “The rules of the game between rich and poor countries must be revised,” he added. Trade should be mutually beneficial and in many cases it actually was. However, there were certain instances when large countries engaged in hypocrisy. Those countries “refuse to reduce protectionism within their borders, while in free trade agreements they would require the same from their counterparts in developing countries,” he pointed out.
“They want us, the developing countries, to eliminate the protection of industrial goods, but they do not eliminate agricultural subsidies,” he continued. The agricultural protectionism practiced by rich countries allowed them to influence the market in their favour, while tariffs and trade barriers routinely excluded products from developing countries. He called on developed countries to take concrete steps to practice the ideal of free and fair trade. Industrialized countries must also agree to significantly reduce their protectionism and subsidies during current trade negotiations and ensure increased funding for rural development.
The Dominican Republic would benefit, like all nations, from more stable, more predictable and better regulated financial markets, he stated. It had recently adopted anti-money-laundering recommendations, including measures on establishing greater supervision of financial institutions and greater transparency. He said that the recent ruling by the European Union, sentencing the Apple technology company for 13 billion euros in evaded taxes, demonstrated a reality many had been aware of long ago. The lack of regulation had been paving the way for evaders and making the work of tax administrations more complex.
MAITHRIPALA SIRISENA, President of Sri Lanka, said that before he came to power the people of his country lived in fear. His main goal as President was to guarantee a free society for all of Sri Lanka’s people. “My intention is to make the people of Sri Lanka the happiest people on Earth,” he added, outlining various steps taken towards democracy and alleviating poverty. Sri Lanka was committed to taking the necessary steps to achieve sustainable development, including protecting its environment. It would also implement all development programmes and economic policies, new innovations and “green economy” policies.
As an island, Sri Lanka planned to develop its fisheries industry based on solid research, he continued. It would also focus its development agenda on providing its people with health services, education and new technologies. He stressed the importance of having a society based on “good morals”. As a Buddhist country, Sri Lanka could tap into that knowledge and spirituality to solve its own issues, a process of which the wider world could take note.
Sri Lanka had taken steps to strengthen rule of law and democracy as well as the necessary steps to prevent another war, as Sri Lanka had had “enough experience with a brutal war,” he said. Peace reconciliatory programmes had been established and he called for the international community to help Sri Lanka on its path of achieving long-term peace. There were “authentic visions” that applied to every single country in the world which should be taken into account when policies were implemented.
“We move ahead with diligence, but I need your help to achieve this goal,” he said, urging international support. His goal was “to arm the new generation with knowledge and reconciliation”. Sri Lanka would carry out its security and development duties responsibly, but it needed assistance from the international community.
PETER CHRISTIAN, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, focused on the challenge of climate change, which, he said, posed an existential threat to his country and other small island developing States. He regretted that funds pledged to the Green Climate Fund had been slow in coming to needy States, thus contributing to delays in the implementation of mitigation and adaptation projects. In addition to climate change, the stability of the small island States had been put at risk by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “provocative actions and rhetoric,” which, he warned, could turn the Pacific Ocean into a battleground.
On Security Council reform, he said that it was not only important for the Organization to be fit for purpose — it must be dynamic and able to keep in step with changing world circumstances. For the sake of the Council’s credibility and effectiveness, it needed to be empowered and supported by Member States. As such, it was important that the Group of Four (G4) countries be made permanent members of the Council. He also emphasized that the whole United Nations membership be involved in the appointment of a new Secretary-General so as to ensure that the head of the Organization was responsive, responsible and effective for and on behalf of all Members and not just a select group of elite nations.
He hoped that climate and security would become a regular focus of the Security Council — a position long advocated by the Pacific small island developing States. He reminded the Assembly that the group had submitted a proposal to the World Humanitarian Summit calling for a Special Representative in the United Nations system dedicated to the issue of climate and security, and said that he hoped the Secretary-General would appoint one before his term in office came to an end.
Finally, he informed the Assembly of a statement released earlier in the month by the Pacific Islands Forum — the Pohnpei Oceans Statement — which reaffirmed the importance of the ocean for Pacific livelihoods and urged the timely and comprehensive conclusion of the Preparatory Committee process established to make substantive recommendations to the General Assembly. The Forum also called for action to end illegal unreported and unregulated fishing and associated activities, including high seas bunkering, human trafficking and illicit trade.
RAIMONDS VEJONIS, President of Latvia, said the migration crisis could not be addressed by the most affected countries alone. It would require joint efforts and shared responsibility. While military and security measures were necessary to combat Da’esh and similar groups, it was critical to address the root causes that drove people to turn to violence. “We need to think of novel ways to prevent extremism and radicalization,” he said, calling for an international plan to build resilience in communities that for years had suffered the barbaric rule of Da’esh. In the same vein, local populations must have the power to shape their future based on rule of law and human rights. They must also work to counter extremism and terrorism.
Security challenges in the Middle East were marked by a high degree of complexity, spill-overs and refugee flows, he continued, stressing that the attacks in Syria against civilians, medical facilities and schools were unacceptable. A nationwide ceasefire and improved humanitarian access were a prerequisite for the resumption of talks. In Libya, an institutional vacuum had created a breeding ground for terrorist groups; cohesion between rival parties was critical to long-term stability. He commended Iran’s cooperation with the Atomic Energy Agency. However, North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests undermined global security. As well, there was no alternative to the two-State solution in the Middle East and long-term stability in Afghanistan was critical for global and regional security.
It was a “very turbulent time” in Europe’s security landscape, he said, emphasizing that various protracted conflicts should remain high on the international agenda. The Russian Federation had undermined the foundations of international law by changing borders of sovereign States through the use of force. Latvia would continue to stand for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, he said, calling for an end to the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. His country would also continue to support Ukraine in its reform process and humanitarian needs.
The United Nations capacity to address global challenges depended on the political will to move forward with Security Council reform, he said, expressing support for several initiatives including the Council’s Code of Conduct against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Addressing the issue of climate change, he said Latvia would “strive” to ratify the Agreement as soon as possible. Achieving the 2030 Agenda would not be easy but it clearly outlined a better world worth reaching for.
BAKIR IZETBEGOVIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that the world was facing its worst forced displacement crisis since the Second World War. Sixty million people forced to seek a better future in other countries were not “faceless statistics” but human beings with rights to hope and opportunity. The crisis required both a humanitarian response and a sustainable political solution, but national interests too often impeded necessary joint efforts. Hundreds of thousands of his country’s citizens had been forced out of their homes in the past, so it attached great significance to addressing the challenge.
As a newly elected member of the Economic and Social Council, he said Bosnia and Herzegovina would play an active role in implementing the 2030 Agenda. However, development must not come at the expense of habitat, and his country was adapting to climate change, with the aim of becoming a viable and advanced “green economy” by 2025. He went on to say that the Agenda was “not the answer to all our problems”, and human rights must be placed at the centre of actions.
Turning to terrorism, he said no State or society was immune from its threat, and no nation alone could counter it. Those who perpetrated, organized or inspired terrorist attacks and claimed to do so in the name of Islam wanted to “turn Islam into an ideology of global fear”. Violent extremism was unacceptable from the view of any religion, including Islam, undermining its universal teachings of tolerance and coexistence. States’ response must be holistic, applying a wide range of policies tackling economic and social conditions conducive to the spread of violent extremism.
He added that humanitarian aid could not serve as a substitute for solutions addressing the root causes of conflict nor create conditions for lasting peace. The main causes of modern conflicts were discrimination, failures of Government, impunity, poverty and lack of opportunity aggravated by climate change. Past failures had come at a very high human cost, and should have been instructional in how to better prevent and end conflicts. But the scenes from Syria or Mediterranean shores were a reminder that those lessons had not been learned. Using the advantages of its geopolitical position as a “bridge between the East and the West and a meeting point of civilizations”, his country wanted to advance dialogue and forge partnerships. The previous year had seen a renewed sense of unity and unprecedented levels of commitments, taking the form of the Sendai Framework, the Addis Ababa Action Plan, the Paris Agreement, and others.
“Peace is not merely absence of violence,” he said, adding that it represented a freedom from fear and insecurity. There could be no lasting peace and security when injustice and inequality were an everyday experience for millions as the resulting grievances made States unstable and societies vulnerable.
JOSÉ MÁRIO VAZ, President of Guinea-Bissau, said the General Assembly’s current session was an opportunity to strengthen commitments in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for financing development. Those commitments must be respected. Guinea-Bissau was strongly committed to doing its part. Its National Development Plan was in line with many of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, adding that it was the political will of the nation’s leaders to adjust their strategic plan to fully accommodate all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Discussing the political situation in Guinea-Bissau, he said a recently signed agreement to overcome roadblocks in Parliament — concluded after mediation by the Heads of State of Guinea Conakry and Sierra Leone — marked an important step towards easing political tensions and ensuring stability. Its endorsement by the Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the international community opened a window of hope. He requested the United Nations to support national reconciliation, the participation of Guinea-Bissau’s armed forces in peacekeeping missions and the implementation of security sector reforms, including funding for the reintegration of demobilized troops.
He expressed solidarity with victims of terrorism, noting that West Africa figured in the geography of terrorism. Calling for implementation of the Paris Agreement, he said climate change was an emerging risk for Guinea-Bissau, where rising sea levels threatened much of its territory. The country was therefore highly interested in participating in the high-level United Nations conference to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 that would be held in New York in 2017.
He welcomed rapprochement between the United States and Cuba, and called for implementation of a two-State solution in the Middle East. He went on to thank the Secretary-General, the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission for monitoring the situation in Guinea-Bissau even amid the multiple challenges facing the world. His country was counting on its partners’ help in making economic development an engine for peace and stability. He also reiterated appreciation for the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), the role of which had been indispensable.
MILOŠ ZEMAN, President of the Czech Republic, reminded the plenary that in his statement before the General Assembly in 2015 he had warned the international community that there would be an increase in terrorism. He asked what had happened since then and recalled all terrorist attacks over the past year. He stressed the increase in Islamic terrorism in particular. He called terrorism a “Muslim cancer” which had spread, and asked what the international community could do, beyond condolences and declarations. He noted the increased risks that came with changes in Government, including in Afghanistan, and highlighted the danger of a strengthened Al-Qaida.
He outlined the risk of radicalization, even in societies that were considered to be peaceful and democratic. Providing the example of Germany, he described the complete radicalization of a civilized society that turned into the horrors of national-socialism. That should serve as a reminder to the international community that more had to be done.
The Czech Republic was engaged across the world to combat violence and terrorism, despite its small size, he said. Calling for an increased international response that scourge, he was critical that there had been no international platform for concerted action against terrorism.
There needed to be strengthened cooperation between national security agencies and the increased use of drones, he said. It was vital that the nerve centre of international terrorism be hit. He expressed hope that the Security Council would adopt a resolution on the fight against terrorism. Furthermore, there was a need to develop international tools to combat terrorism to be able to address challenges of failed States and new terrorist groups.
EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, said that, according to United Nations data, 94 per cent of global wealth was concentrated in the hands of 20 per cent of the world’s population, a reality that was “the true face of capitalism”. He added that 2016 had been the hottest year on record, every year was hotter than the one before it and Bolivia was suffering from one of the worst droughts in its history. He called for States to remain alert to prevent the “barbarism of the capitalism”, which would transform the Paris Agreement into one used for blackmail.
Walls had been constructed everywhere, he continued, and one out of every 100 people was a refugee or was displaced because of imperial invasions, wars or global warming. Israel’s expansionist and war-mongering policies were one of the greatest expressions of barbarism in the modern world. The United Nations needed to “fully recognize the State of Palestine” and stop the “brutal genocide” against the Palestinian people. His country vigorously rejected the sanctions against Cuba and he stressed that it was not enough to restore diplomatic ties. The United States must indemnify Cuba from the blockade and restore Guantanamo to Cuban territory. He commended the peace agreement signed in Colombia and Cuba’s leadership in facilitating it. The agreement was in compliance with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States’ agreement to create a single peace zone in the region.
Bolivia, he said, led Latin America in economic growth, achieving it alongside public investment and a significant reduction in poverty while building equality. That could not have been possible without steps such as nationalizing natural resources and strategic businesses. He warned that imperialist interests were creating political destabilization in the region and condemned such foreign interference in Venezuela, hailing the people’s revolutionary struggle under Nicolás Maduro.
He expressed concerned over the rejection of actions of the Organization of American States’ Secretary General, which represented a breach of United Nations policies. That Organization must represent Latin America and not serve as a spokesperson of the United States. He went on to observe that, in Bolivia, where there were no military bases, there was far less drug trafficking without American interference. He said that “terrorism and drug trafficking are twins,” serving North American interests around the world.
On relations between his country and Chile, he said that Bolivia had in good faith trusted legal commitments put forth before the International Court of Justice over returning it to its maritime state. The solution should be resolved in a peaceful manner to allow true integration of the people from the two countries. He invited Chile to put an end to one of the longest conflicts in Latin American history, which would also contribute towards an integration of Latin America.
FILIPE JACINTO NYUSI, President of Mozambique, noted the early progress made in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and reminded the international community that a new era of development had begun. Noting the transformative power of the 2030 Agenda, he stated that Governments needed to create conditions conducive to the eradication of poverty and the achievement of sustainable development.
It was crucial to address the challenges of overall alignment, financing, monitoring and evaluation and inclusiveness, he said. Another challenge in implementation was the effective recognition of the nexus between peace and development and the indivisibility of those two pillars. Only when those pillars were integrated would States be able to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies. To achieve that, the United Nations system had to be repositioned.
He said that his country had adopted a 2015–2019 Five Year Programme to fully implement sustainable development. A National Reference Group which consisted of all stakeholders was established to mainstream, monitor and report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The aim was to make the implementation more inclusive, consistent and transparent for the whole country.
Furthermore, he reiterated the commitment of his Government to provide adequate financing for development, recalling the agreements of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. He highlighted the need to honour commitments made and to revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.
TOOMAS HENDRIK ILVES, President of Estonia, said that this was his tenth and final time addressing the General Assembly. His first address had focused on climate change, conflict and cyberattacks, and today the issues were largely the same, only the sense of urgency had been ratcheted up. Estonia firmly believed in a rule-based international order, and the only international organization global enough to achieve that was the United Nations.
Estonia had warned after Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 that international law could not be applied selectively, he continued. Six years later, the world had witnessed a repeat performance in Ukraine, and Russian aggression in that country continued. For the first time since the Second World War, borders in Europe had been changed by force. Unless the United Nations did more to enforce international law, it would over time lose relevance. The Organization had to be the first place to come for a solution, not the last stop when all other options had been exhausted.
The issue of migration was today a crisis, but it was not unprecedented as some had claimed, he said. In the Europe of 1946, Germany alone had 12 million internal refugees and another 12 million displaced persons of 20 nationalities, and many of its neighbours were in scarcely better shape. And yet, humanity had prevailed. In three years, the United Nations had spent the equivalent in today’s sum of €50 billion to resolve that crisis, which took political will and courage and far more money than the world today was willing to spend. Today, the root causes to the complex problem of migration had to be addressed and nations had to fulfil their obligations.
If the world did not act on ongoing conflicts, those conflicts would breed terrorism without boundaries, he noted. For that reason, Estonia participated in the global coalition to counter Da’esh, supported the International Criminal Court, and believed in the critical importance of countering impunity. In 2005, United Nations Member States had committed to the principle of the responsibility to protect, but a solution to the Syrian conflict had proven beyond the Organization. Much of the blame was laid at the feet of the Security Council. Reform of that body’s working methods was important, especially to represent small nations who were so often the victims of conflict. Estonia, for example, had never served on it.
Continuing, he said that free media, especially in the digital age, was an integral, inseparable part of a modern democratic society, yet around the globe opposition voices faced reprisals, jail and violence. “The right to freedom of expression online and offline is for Estonia a fundamental issue,” he said. The digital technology was a liberating force, yet some would use it to control their citizens. The protection of human rights and the rule of law must keep pace with technological advancements.
BARON DIVAVESI WAQA, President of Nauru, said the world was at a crossroads. The seventy-first session of the General Assembly would decide which path to choose, with the Samoa Pathway, the 2030 Agenda, the Paris climate agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Sendai Framework serving as road maps. Translating words into action would require directing resources where it mattered, but some international funding mechanisms excluded small countries like Nauru or proved impossible to access. Private investment was unreliable and rarely available for basic services and critical infrastructure, while promising financial models for small developing countries — like direct access and direct budgetary support — were rarely an option. That needed to change in order for small countries to benefit from the historic agreements that had been reached.
Implementation of Goal 14 regarding the sustainable use of the oceans and marine resources was a high priority, he said. The upcoming United Nations Oceans Conference would be a much-needed opportunity to foster a shared vision for healthy, productive and resilient oceans. Noting that Nauru was among the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement, he said climate change was, for his small island nation, its greatest humanitarian crisis. “It is our war,” he said, calling for the appointment of a United Nations Special Representative on climate and security. He went on to support Security Council expansion, with India, Japan, Germany, Brazil and others becoming permanent members. “It is time to reflect the geopolitical realities of today, not 70 years ago,” he said.
He said Nauru was deeply concerned by the situation in West Papua, including alleged human rights abuses. It was important to have an open and constructive dialogue with Indonesia on that matter. His country was also concerned by growing tensions provoked by recent actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Pacific region had seen far too much violence and suffering in the twentieth century and it could not allow the scourge of war to return. There was no place in a sustainable world for nuclear proliferation, he added.
Taiwan was a close friend of Nauru, he said, adding that the 23 million people of the Republic of China should enjoy the fundamental rights set out in the United Nations Charter. Taiwan had contributed to the World Health Assembly and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It was also promoting the Sustainable Development Goals and helping to lead the way to a low-carbon economy. It was a key stakeholder in the international community “and we should make efforts to regularize their participation throughout the United Nations system” so that all Member States could benefit from its substantial contributions.
JUAN ORLANDO HERNÁNDEZ ALVARADO, President of Honduras, said that the world had emerged in 2009 from a profound economic crisis which had resulted in implications especially for the most vulnerable of his people. The country had suffered in many ways, including a crisis of confidence in institutions and being seen as unsafe by the rest of the world. With effort, democracy had been restored, and less than three years ago, the country had embarked on the right path. Economically, it had seen an almost 5 per cent reduction in its fiscal deficit with sustained economic growth while larger Latin American economies were stagnating. Tax collection had increased and its credit and risk rating had improved. It had launched a national development programme — “Honduras 2020” — to double private investment and jobs created in strategic sectors over the next five years.
With regards to citizen safety, he said Honduras had dismantled major drug cartels, which had been responsible for the most tragic violence, and broken up criminal gangs. It had made its intelligence capacity more robust, fighting impunity and corruption. The battle had resulted in a notable decrease in violence, with a 26 per cent decrease in homicides. Close international cooperation had assisted them in combating organized crime, bringing corrupt public servants and others to justice and extraditing people accused of drug trafficking or organized crime. According to the Global Peace Index, Honduras no longer ranked in the top five most dangerous countries.
Turning to climate change, he said that Honduras had suffered a drought that endangered food safety for almost 200,000 families, as well as the proliferation of a destructive insect which was destroying a sixth of its forests. His country had received support from the United Nations and allies, including relevant technical assistance. It was developing an integrated policy to pay special attention to land, forest and waters and meet the enormous challenge that climate change represented for small countries.
Honduras was also tackling the main root causes of migration abroad, he said. Those problems were transnational in nature and needed to be solved in a transnational manner. Due to its geographic position, Honduras had seen a flow of migrants, with the number increasing 300 per cent in one year, which demonstrated that migration was a global issue with global interests and a global solution. Finally, he spoke about the rights of victims of violence, saying that the use of force and terror had become exalted, with criminals using victims’ images to highlight violent events. Countries which had experienced such violence, including Honduras, had a feeling of injustice when victim rights were not respected.
ISATOU NJIE-SAIDY, Vice-President and Minister for Women’s Affairs of the Gambia, said the world was at a crossroads and wars had intensified in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and elsewhere. “History will only judge us kindly if we are magnanimous and devoted to the welfare of our people,” she said. It was past time for Israel to heed the overwhelming international consensus for a two-State solution as the only viable solution to the Palestinian issue. The threat of terrorism undermined the fragile peace the world enjoyed, but this was no excuse for certain “rogue politicians and pseudo-intellectuals” to use the actions of a few to create a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West, or Islam and the other Abrahamic religions.
She added that it was necessary to focus not just on security but global economic conditions as well, and a world of zones between the affluent and the poor could not be stable. Her country had made significant progress on the Millennium Development Goals, including eradicating hunger, and welcomed the theme of this year’s General Assembly, the Sustainable Development Goals. Africa was losing its young population because of migration, with thousands perishing at sea and many more languishing in detention centres in Europe. International cooperation to create jobs to keep young Africans at home was needed.
Turning to Security Council reform, she said it was necessary, as the current composition was undemocratic and akin to minority rule. It was an anachronism for five countries with the veto to dictate the political and economic agenda of the world. Her country renewed Africa’s legitimate demand for two permanent seats with the veto, and also expected the next Secretary-General to represent the people of the world, not just the Permanent Five.
Finally, she said that a failure to address and settle the age-old injustices of slavery and colonialism were responsible for many of the problems in the world. Her continent had been plundered and pillaged and its citizens forced to build Western nations while facing discrimination. Yet some questioned the merits of reparations. Such restitutions had been paid by many countries, including by Germany, Japan and the United States, while Iraq had paid reparations to Kuwait. “Why then should Africans and people of African descent be ineligible for reparations?” she asked. The African Group at the United Nations had prepared a resolution on slavery which would be tabled, and all nations were encouraged to support it.
HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said that the world had not yet emerged from its “crisis mood” and increasing inequality was creating frustration, paving the way for a resurgence of populism. Social media offered a platform to enhance popular participation, but misinformation could go viral and mislead, especially the youth. It had empowered extremists to exploit genuine concerns and spread messages of hate. While countries must “own their problems” rather than externalizing the sources of setbacks, it was still important to emphasize that some countries had been targets for destabilization activities by people and groups given shelter by States with whom Ethiopia had no problems.
He went on to say that his country was trying to escape from “the poverty trap” towards the path of sustainable growth and needed the policy space to make mistakes and learn from them. Current challenges also needed a collective, coordinated response in partnership with others in the region and beyond. Peace and security in the Horn of Africa was critical, and his country had been making efforts to assist South Sudan in resolving its internal problems. The events in July had been a serious setback in the implementation of the peace agreement that South Sudanese parties had signed under the auspices of Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) Plus. Those in the IGAD region had met and made a concrete proposal, subsequently supported by the African Union and the United Nations. He expressed hope that the South Sudanese parties would heed such calls and restore peace for the sake of those who had suffered and for the region’s stability.
Ethiopia had also been making efforts to fight terrorism and pacify Somalia, he continued. Despite challenges, that country had come a long way. The recent IGAD Extraordinary Summit in Mogadishu was symbolically significant. He expressed hope that smooth elections in coming months would consolidate the gains made and lay the foundation for a peaceful and stable Somalia. Finally, Ethiopia was honoured, he said, to be elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2017-2018, and expressed appreciation to Member States for their support and confidence.
DACIAN CIOLOŞ, Prime Minister of Romania, said the world, more than ever, was confronting challenges which demanded global solutions. There could be no peace and security without development. The Sustainable Development Goals set out an ambitious programme of action for the coming years, but greater integration was needed with regard to climate change, development, humanitarian assistance, economic growth, peacebuilding and the eradication of hunger. Romania was concentrating its efforts on climate change and the environment with the aim of establishing a green economy, he said, adding that a cross-cutting approach was essential for achieving the Goals.
Developments in Eastern and Southern Europe over the last two years were a step backwards from sustainable development, he said. Frozen conflicts around the Black Sea threatened stability in the region and beyond. The use of hybrid warfare tactics and the illegal annexation of territories were troubling. Growing instability in the Middle East, with its epicentre in Syria, needed to be tackled with determination and more thought should be given to post-conflict reconstruction. Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be a turning point. Noting Romania’s participation in 10 United Nations peacekeeping missions and two special political missions, he said peace and security could not be sustained if weapons of mass destruction continued to proliferate.
Terrorist groups could not be countered by military means alone, he said. The root causes behind the development of such groups needed to be addressed. Preventing radicalization was key. He commended progress in the fight against Da’esh in Libya, Iraq and Syria, but liberated areas needed reconstruction and stabilization. He emphasized a proposal by Romania and Spain for an international court against terrorism to be established. He went on to note Romania’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the 2020‑2021 term, saying his country was committed to devoting political, diplomatic, human and financial resources to regional and global stability in support of United Nations efforts.
SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said the end of poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy and unemployment was in sight. Yet the world was not free from tension and fear, she said, citing the situation in Syria. The outcome of the Summit for Refugees and Migrants should help redefine perceptions and realities of human mobility. Turning to the Sustainable Development Goals, she said internationally agreed commitments for the least developed countries must be fulfilled. Noting that broadband connectivity was a key enabler of economic development that should reach every citizen in the world, she invited world leaders and others to join hands to make that possible.
Bangladesh had seen one of the world’s fastest poverty reduction rates, but climate change threatened many development gains, she said, adding that she hoped large carbon-emitting countries would ratify the Paris Agreement soon. States had a shared responsibility to ensure the judicious and equitable use of water. Sustainable development would not be tenable without the participation of women, who in Bangladesh were increasingly becoming an integral part of development endeavours.
No country seemed immune from terrorism, she said. Terrorists had no religion, caste or creed. Root causes needed to be identified, and strong action taken against the mentors, masterminds, abettors, financiers, arms supplies and trainers of terrorists and extremists. As a victim of terrorist attacks herself, she said she had a zero tolerance approach to the problem. With the rise of certain international terrorist entities, it appeared that some local fringe elements in Bangladesh had regrouped and rebranded themselves. “We are now in battle with this new wave of terrorism,” she said, with her country undertaking programmes to awaken people against radicalization. Women, youth, families and communities could be vanguards in offsetting extremism and radicalization, she said, urging the world community to plug the sources of funding, weapons, and moral and material support for militants and terrorists.
GIORGI KVIRIKASHVILI, Prime Minister of Georgia, noted that his country had promoted the values of the United Nations since regaining independence 25 years ago, emerging from civil war to become a dynamic European democracy. His nation had made great progress in building strong and effective state institutions, and was proud to be ranked the fifth freest economy in the world. Georgia was an Associated Country of the European Union and an aspirant to NATO, and in the last few weeks, both organizations as well as the United States had taken actions to emphasize that Georgia’s future lay with the European and Euro-Atlantic community. His country was also working with China and others along the Silk Road connecting East and West.
Turning to the 2030 Agenda, he said it was impressive, but observed that the international community had been unable to live up to the blueprint of the Millennium Development Goals. Focusing on Goal 16, Georgia had made a clear break from the past by prioritizing good governance. Its goal was to ensure maximum inclusion of all stakeholders, including by outreach to civil society. It was further liberalizing its tax code to encourage business and investment, including the abolition of a profit tax on undistributed earnings, and its poverty and unemployment rates continued to decline.
The most important resource every nation had was its people, he said. Education and health were therefore among his country’s top priorities. For the first time, all Georgians had health insurance, thanks to a flagship programme for universal health care, and the country was on track to becoming one of the first countries to eliminate hepatitis C. The Government had also taken steps to bolster the rule of law, overhauling the court systems, the prosecutor’s office, judicial ethics, attorneys’ responsibilities and had taken steps to correct past violations, particularly in prisons.
Finally, he said that Georgia was reminded every day that 20 per cent of its territory was occupied by foreign troops. Barbed wire fences installed by the occupiers divided Georgian families and communities, and constant ethnic discrimination and human rights violations continued. His country had been seeking a workable solution with the Russian Federation, and reaffirmed that the conflict must be resolved peacefully and with full respect to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
MALCOLM TURNBULL, Prime Minister of Australia, said that, although millions of people had been lifted out of poverty, threats remained globally. Conflicts and crises were an ongoing threat to development and growth. Other successes included the adoption of international instruments, including on climate change. Strength was necessary to respond to crises and to avoid further escalation, and compassion was needed for those less fortunate.
To address migration, he said, strong border controls, an adequate humanitarian response and international cooperation were needed. Governments must maintain control over their national borders. Australia was only able to accept more displaced persons because of its effective border controls. His country was an immigrant nation and the most diverse society defined by common political values and aspirations, he said, with many success stories serving as examples. Strong borders and vigilant agents were the ingredients of successful multicultural societies, and a more effective implementation of border controls could contribute to a better humanitarian response. Secure borders removed the clients of smugglers and represented an effective strategy towards addressing human trafficking and other illegal activities.
Turning to the crises in the Middle East and Africa, he said they took an unnecessary and unacceptable toll on civilians. The international community must do everything in its power to combat violence and terrorism. Along with its partners, Australia sought reform of the international peacebuilding architecture and was in favour of sanctions against perpetrators. The fight against terrorism, climate change and the eradication of poverty required enhanced partnerships. International obligations also provided new opportunities for economic growth. Australia remained committed to meeting its international obligations.
PRAYUT CHAN-O-CHA, Prime Minister of Thailand, said that 2016 held special meaning for his country as it marked its seventieth anniversary of United Nations membership. One year after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, he noted that sustainable development could not be realized without peace, security and human rights. Such development was a shared responsibility, and related challenges had to be addressed in a coordinated manner. The international community must work together to achieve peaceful coexistence based on respect and non-discrimination in full compliance with international law.
He went on to say that Thailand was honoured to serve as the Chair of the Group of 77 and China. To advance sustainable development, Thailand had shared a philosophy of “sufficiency economy” which presented an alternative and people-centred approach to development. His country had also initiated the “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy for SDGs Partnership Programme” as a platform for knowledge management and sharing, and had expressed its continued commitment to strengthening regional cooperation. He pointed out that there could be no “one size fits all” model. Instead, the international community should aim to utilize global diversity to achieve harmonised unity.
To implement the Goals effectively, he continued, Thailand had established a National Committee on Sustainable Development which paid particular attention to improved health care, education, women’s rights and the protection of vulnerable groups. The country had also democratically adopted a draft constitution which demonstrated the Government’s commitment to inclusive, democratic processes.
SEBASTIAN KURZ, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, said he belonged to a generation born into a globalized world, and that globalization was not a threat, but a fact of life that had brought enormous benefits. However, it had also created new challenges. Events which took place in other parts of the world could have a direct impact on everyone, and the world had seen a dramatic rise in threats and instability. The more the world became interconnected, the more everyone had a responsibility not to look away from the events elsewhere. The world needed the United Nations, the European Union, and the Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to achieve security and stability. As chair of the OSCE in 2017, Austria would seek to rebuild trust and defuse conflicts in Ukraine, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria.
Conflicts further afield were also a concern, he said. Austria was outraged by attacks on medical facilities on aid convoys in Syria, and called for those responsible to be brought to justice. Violent extremism abroad was a serious threat. Thousands of Europeans who had joined Da’esh posed a threat when they returned home. It was essential to fight and defeat Da’esh in Syria, Iraq and Libya, for without doing so, there would be no safe havens in the world.
Nuclear disarmament remained “the number one unfinished business”, he said. Recent nuclear tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea served as a warning signal. It was necessary to get rid of all nuclear weapons, and the first step to eliminate weapons of mass destruction was to prohibit them through legally binding norms. Together with other Member States, Austria would table a draft resolution to convene negotiations on a legally binding comprehensive instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017. But that was not enough: it was also necessary to put an end to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, which overwhelmingly targeted civilians. Austria planned to convene a meeting in October to support that goal and hoped for everyone’s support.
Right of Reply
Exercising her right of reply, the representative of India stated that Pakistan had a long-standing policy of sponsoring terrorism. Only a few days prior, the international community had honoured again the victims of 11 September, the trail of which had led all the way to Abbottabad. While Pakistan preached of human rights and self-determination, it established itself as the global epicentre of terrorism, a terrorist state which diverted money to train terrorist groups as militant proxies against its neighbours. Terrorist entities and their leaders, including many designated by the United Nations, continued to roam the streets freely in Pakistan, operating with State support and raising funds openly. India stood firmly resolved to protect its citizens from all acts of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. “We cannot allow terrorism to prevail,” she said.
In response, and exercising his right of reply, the representative of Pakistan said that the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir could not be “wished away”. His country would continue to stand by the people of that region, and extend diplomatic support to their movement. The recent “cold-blooded murder” of Burhan Muzaffar Wani had sparked spontaneous protests, but those peaceful protesters were mercilessly fired upon, blinded and critically injured. The right to self-determination that had been promised them through a series of Security Council resolutions had still not been realised, but time had weakened neither their resolve nor their aspirations. The people of Indian-occupied Kashmir should be allowed to hold a free and fair plebiscite to enable them to decide their future. No amount of verbiage could obfuscate that reality.