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Seventy-second Session,
19th to 22nd Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Differing Views on How to Preserve Stability amid Existential Threats, as General Debate Considers Security, Human Rights, International Law

Small Island States Concerned about Access to Financial Markets, Illegal Fishing

Security, human rights and international law took centre stage at the General Assembly today, with States diverging over how best to preserve their stability in the face of existential threats, as the 193-member body entered the fifth day of its annual high-level debate.

Despite broad agreement that terrorism and organized crime menaced the safety of civilians around the globe, opinions were split over how to combat such threats.  Some speakers underlined the primacy of human rights and others spotlighted security and the rule of law as the most pressing concerns.  Meanwhile, nearly all delegations stood united in condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests as flagrant violations of international law, an allegation that the country’s Foreign Minister denied.

Ri Yong Ho, Foreign Minister of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, underlined his country’s right to self-defence under the United Nations Charter, saying article 10 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons stated that the supreme interests of States stood above nuclear non-proliferation.  He described claims that Pyongyang’s possession of a hydrogen bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles constituted a global threat as lies akin to those told by the United States in 2003 about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Pointing out that the United States had been the first country to produce and use nuclear weapons, he said that country had also been the first to introduce them to the Korean Peninsula after the Korean War.  It was for those reasons that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was compelled to possess nuclear weapons, he explained.  “The possession of nuclear deterrence by the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is a righteous self-defensive measure” intended to establish a balance of power with the United States, he continued.  That country and its followers would now have to “think twice” before launching a military provocation.

Walid al-Moualem, Syria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, expressed optimism about the de-escalation zones resulting from the Astana process, saying that pledges to join it by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Nusrah would be the true test of their commitment and that of their Turkish sponsors.  He also reaffirmed Syria’s commitment to the Geneva process, while pointing out that it had yet to bear fruit in the absence of a national opposition that could be a partner in Syria’s future.  Influential countries, including permanent Security Council members, had blocked any meaningful progress in Geneva, he added.

He said those behind the war had falsely accused the Government of Syria of using chemical weapons, yet the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had confirmed the elimination of its chemical weapons programme.  Such claims were a pretext for continued aggression against Syria, he said, noting that the “so-called” international coalition led by the United States and allegedly created to fight ISIL, had in fact killed many more Syrian women and children while destroying vital infrastructure.  It had also used phosphorous bombs and other internationally prohibited weapons, he added.

Sushma Swaraj, India’s External Affairs Minister, referred to the dispute between her country and Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir, saying the latter had forgotten that under the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, they had agreed to settle all outstanding issues bilaterally, subsequently deciding, in 2015, to enter into a comprehensive bilateral dialogue.  Pakistan must now answer as to why that proposal had withered since it was responsible for aborting the peace process.  In the Assembly this week, she recalled, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had accused India of State-sponsored terrorism and human rights violations.  Those listening had had one observation:  “Look who’s talking.”  India had risen despite being the principal destination for Pakistan’s “nefarious” export of terrorism, she emphasized.  “What has Pakistan offered to the world, and indeed its own people, apart from terrorism?” she asked.  Making pious declarations about combating terrorism had become a ritual for some in the Assembly, she noted, declaring:  “The fact is that when we are required to fight and destroy this enemy, the self-interest of some leads them to duplicity.”

Elvin Nimrod, Grenada’s Foreign Minister, noted that small States were forced to battle threats to their ability to access financial markets.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently noted the decrease in correspondent banking relationships had decreased, which had had a negative effect on global trade and economic activity.  Added to that was the unilateral and often unfounded blacklisting of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) institutions as money-launderers and the bloc’s member countries as tax havens.  However, Grenada had signed tax information exchange agreements with 14 countries since 2010, he said, adding:  “It pains us as policymakers when we expend our limited resources to comply with rules only to face arbitrary punishments when we are quite evidently doing our best.”

Yosiwo George, Vice-President of the Federated States of Micronesia said that since fisheries were a mainstay of Pacific island economies, steadfast efforts were needed to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.  He expressed concern over the lack of recognition and respect that coastal States exhibited in managing fisheries in their exclusive economic zones.  Some developed fishing nations had advocated flag-based rights in regional fisheries management organizations, which would undermine zone-based management measures and erode the ability of small islands — as resource owners — to exercise their sovereign rights.  He called for the withdrawal of all such proposals, and urged support for efforts to increase benefits from the sustainable management of fisheries in exclusive economic zones.

Adel Ahmed al-Jubeir, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, vowed that his country would continue to counter terrorism and extremism in all their forms and manifestations.  Qatar’s financial support for terrorism and dissemination of violent hate speech was unacceptable, as was its policy of providing safe haven to those who violated the law.  The position taken by the four States was intended to demand that Qatar follow the principles of international law in fighting terrorism, he emphasized.  As for Yemen, he said, Saudi Arabia was attempting to save the neighbouring country’s people so they could recover their State.  That undertaking had followed sustained political efforts to preserve Yemen’s safety and stability, as well as its independence and territorial integrity.

Taban Deng Gai, South Sudan’s First Vice-President, described national efforts to ensure unhindered humanitarian access and reverse the famine situation in parts of the country.  He emphasized that saving livelihoods — not just lives — was also important.  “The old paradigm of humanitarian intervention first and development later is not a viable policy option in the case of South Sudan,” he said.  “It is our expectation that a smart combination of development and humanitarian support is needed.”

Osman Mohammed Saleh, Eritrea’s Foreign Minister, called upon the Security Council to lift unfair and unjust sanctions in place for the past nine years.  “There is no justification for them to continue and they do not serve any useful purpose,” he said.  The Council must also ensure an end to Ethiopia’s 15-year-long occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory, which was a violation of international law and several United Nations resolutions, he added.

Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Djibouti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, urged Eritrea to accept mediation efforts to demarcate the disputed common border between the two countries, foster dialogue and stop actions that had destabilized his country.

Ibrahim Ahmed Abd al-Aziz Ghandour, Sudan’s Foreign Minister, said his country opposed the politicization of international justice and considered the International Criminal Court to be manipulating the law for political objectives.

Also speaking today were the Heads of State and Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Dominica.

Ministers from the Bahamas, Philippines, Singapore, Bahrain, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Ireland, Iraq, Suriname, Marshall Islands, Oman, Trinidad and Tobago, Chad, Jamaica, Maldives, Burundi, Niger, United Republic of Tanzania and Saint Kitts and Nevis also participated.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were Qatar, Pakistan and Bahrain.

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


JOSEPH KABILA KABANGE, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that, for the past year, his country had fallen victim to terrorist attacks aimed at destroying peace and reversing the process of finding consensual solutions on the national level, while also undermining development efforts.  In the Kasï, a militia was using civilians, including children, as human shields and had carried out attacks against public buildings representing State authority.  He deeply lamented the barbarity that had led to the killing of two United Nations experts in March.  He was determined to ensure that light was shed on the exact circumstances of their deaths and that such horrendous acts did not go unpunished.  An open, public court process had been taking place over the last several weeks, he said, following the arrest of those suspected of that crime.

Reconciliation must involve justice, he said, as there could be no true lasting peace without it.  His country remained open to all forms of collaboration that involved dialogue.  Restorative justice had reversed dangerous trends regarding the security situation in the centre of the country, while in the east, national defence and security forces had advanced with laudable efforts, which had allowed for the containment of terrorist attacks.  Subregional cooperation between South Sudan and the Central African Republic would allow for the push back of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) terrorist threat.  On combatting sexual exploitation and abuse, he welcomed the remarkable progress made by the country’s court, which had condemned and sentenced many perpetrators of such crimes.  No one had been spared from justice, irrespective of their military rank, he stressed.

Two years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it was not too early to begin monitoring its implementation, he said, noting that the Democratic Republic of the Congo had started prioritizing, fleshing out and implementing its national development plan.  In support of the global action plan for education, the Government had expanded access and improved the quality of teaching and learning, as well as governance in the education sector.  As climate change threatened the fundamental rights of mankind, his country — and every other country in the Congo Basin — had worked to improve life on the planet.

Political stability was a national priority, he said, noting that, for nearly a year, the country had engaged in a dialogue process.  He commended all political forces that had signed the 31 December 2016 agreement, aimed at holding elections, stressing that for more than a year, efforts had been made to populate the electoral list, with 42 million people — of a projected 45 million voters — already registered.  While he expected the electoral calendar and timelines to be published soon, great challenges in organizing the elections remained, both on the logistical level, and the financial, security and legislative levels.  Nevertheless, the country was moving towards credible, transparent and peaceful elections, an irreversible process that should take place without external dictates and interference.

He said strategic dialogue on the future of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) was taking place with a view towards determining the speed with which those forces should be reduced until the Mission’s full withdrawal.  It was clear that MONUSCO could not seek to stay in his country indefinitely, or exercise its mandate in the same format without drawing lessons from weakness that had been identified.  He called for a re-dimensioning of MONUSCO’s mandate and its reorientation towards the country’s development needs, stressing the importance of respecting the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s sovereignty.

TABAN DENG GAI, First Vice-President of South Sudan, commended the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), the African Union and international partners to shun and isolate political actors that sought power through violence.  “Nonetheless, we do not wish to delude ourselves that peace, unity and development can be achieved overnight,” he said, adding that “the realization of peace takes time”.  Attaining peace in South Sudan required collective efforts, he said, adding that its Transitional Government of National Unity had embraced the full implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan as the only instrument pivotal to achieving those ends. 

The Government had stood by its commitment to the unilateral ceasefire announced by President Salva Kiir in May, he said, calling on estranged opposition groups to reciprocate.  Noting that it was also working to implement key transitional security arrangements, such as security sector reform and cantonment of forces, he said several grass-roots intercommunal peace processes were also under way with a focus on women and youth.  Outlining similar initiatives being carried out by the Government, religious leaders, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other partners, he said South Sudan was optimistic about the return of peace.  Refugees and internally displaced persons were beginning to return to their villages.

In that context, he continued, the National Dialogue Initiative was making strong and steady progress on the release of prisoners and journalists, expansion of the steering committee to include all relevant stakeholders, outreach to opposition figures and the declaration of the unilateral cessation of hostilities.  South Sudan enjoyed cordial relations with its neighbours including Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, with those countries hosting South Sudanese refugees, providing corridors for humanitarian access and supporting South Sudan’s development.  On Abyei, he reaffirmed the Government’s willingness and readiness to implement the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel’s 2012 proposal, and hoped both South Sudan and Sudan would soon resume cooperation on its implementation.  The Government was also cooperating with the Regional Protection Force associated with UNMISS, and would work towards its smooth operationalization.

Describing South Sudan’s efforts to ensure unhindered humanitarian access, as well as to reverse the famine situation in parts of the country, he stressed that saving livelihoods — not just lives — was also important.  “The old paradigm of humanitarian intervention first and development later is not a viable policy option in the case of South Sudan,” he said, calling for efforts to incentivize peace and stability through a balanced approach to development and embracing a new way of working.  “It is our expectation that a smart combination of development and humanitarian support is needed” to maintain positive momentum.  Expressing support for efforts that would lead to free, fair and credible elections in his country, he called for adequate preparation and the allocation of necessary resources.  Such work could be sustained if, and only if, all political actors continued to respect and reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire.  Finally, he urged the international community to make progress on such critical issues as Security Council reform, tackling climate change and ensuring that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea complied fully with all Council resolutions on denuclearization.

YOSIWO GEORGE, Vice-President of the Federated States of Micronesia, pressed the global community to better combat climate change, which was among the most serious threats to global peace and security and must be at the top of the Assembly’s agenda.  He called for the appointment of a Special Representative on Climate Change and Security, stressing that mitigation efforts were essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Paris Agreement on climate change provided an avenue to enhance cooperation and he called on all States to implement that accord, support the Green Climate Fund and contribute to innovative climate solutions.  He recalled the success of the Montreal Protocol and its Kigali Amendment to regulate hydrofluorocarbons, pressing the remaining parties to ratify that agreement before the next meeting in November.

Expressing support for the 2017 Ocean Conference, held in June, he said his country would support the organization of a second conference in 2020.  At the Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting in Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia had endorsed “the Blue Pacific Identity” as a driver of collective action in the region.  To tackle the mounting threats to the Pacific Ocean, the special case of small island developing States must be enshrined in the implementing agreement under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, and he welcomed the successful conclusion of the Preparatory Committee.  It was now urgent to launch and conclude the intergovernmental conference to draft and adopt a new legally binding agreement.

As fisheries were a mainstay of Pacific island economies, he called for steadfast efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.  He expressed concern over the lack of recognition and respect that costal States had in managing fisheries in their exclusive economic zones.  Some developed country fishing nations had advocated flag-based rights in regional fisheries management organizations, measures that would undermine zone-based management measures and erode small islands’ ability — as resource owners — to exercise their sovereign rights.  He called on those partners to withdraw all such proposals and support the efforts to increase benefits from the sustainable management fisheries in exclusive economic zones.

He commended the Secretary-General’s proposed reforms to create a more transparent, efficient and effective United Nations, stressing that they must not disadvantage small island developing States.  The countless hours the Federated States of Micronesia had spent stating its positions on Security Council reform had resulted in little progress.  Provocative and aggressive actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a threat to regional security, and he called on the Council — and countries with power — to help resolve the crisis and ensure peace was achieved on the Korean Peninsula.  “We will all fail our nations and our peoples unless we work together for the common good,” he said.  Multilateralism and the United Nations were more important than ever.

SHER BAHADUR DEUBA, Prime Minister of Nepal, said a big geopolitical transformation was in the making, as inward-looking tendencies in some countries marked by populism on both the left and the right had created confusion in world politics.  The path to peace and decent life for all would remain elusive without resources and commitment to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, noting that only a small fraction of the trillions of dollars spent on arms could help countries in need do so.

As the host to the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament for Asia and the Pacific, Nepal had signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said, underlining the need to reactivate the regional disarmament deliberations under the “Kathmandu Process”.  Nepal strongly condemned the defiance of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to disarm and urged that country to abide by all relevant Security Council resolutions.

Noting that Nepal had contributed more than 130,000 peacekeepers to the world’s most challenging theatres, he said it was prepared to provide more troops and civilians to that “noble cause”.  He pressed the United Nations to help build the capacity of peacekeeping institutions, noting that Nepal was host to the region’s world-class training centre and the Organization should make the best use of it.  Further, protection of civilians should be at the core of peacekeeping, he said, advocating for sexual exploitation and abuse to “move from zero tolerance to zero case scenario”.  The protection of human rights was enshrined in Nepal’s Constitution, especially for disadvantaged communities including women, Dalits, Muslims, Madhesis and indigenous peoples, he said, noting that Nepal had also banned the death penalty and had presented its candidacy to the Human Rights Council for the 2018-2020 term.

He said Nepal looked forward to a successful outcome of the 2018 Global Compact for Migration and called for national, regional and international efforts to ensure the process created a win-win situation for all.  Stressing that poor countries suffered from climate change despite their negligible role in greenhouse‑gas production, he said the Paris Agreement should be implemented in combination with the 2030 Agenda.  Also, least developed countries and landlocked developing countries had not benefited from globalization and required reliable financing, partnerships and technology transfer to overcome structural impediments.  Nepal sought to project a road map to prosperity and its geographic proximity to India and China provided a rare opportunity to benefit from unprecedented economic transformation in its neighbourhood.

Nepal believed in nonalignment, he said, and judged every issue on its merit without fear or favour.  It also firmly believed in the indispensable role of the United Nations in multilateral affairs and global governance. The under‑representation of developing countries in the Security Council should be addressed.  After a decade of armed conflict and successful transition to democracy, Nepal offered an example of a home-grown and nationally driven peace process, which featured a “culture of dialogue and accommodation”.  As the vast majority of United Nations members were small countries, a stable, rules-based and just world order could not be built without addressing their concerns.

PETER PAIRE O’NEILL, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, said the country had recently held its tenth national election and the Government was determined to increase its focus on free education, universal health care and infrastructure, policies underpinning its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.  However, the best intentions to advance the country had been greatly influenced by the globalizing world and actions of others.  Global economic uncertainty, depressed commodity prices and political instability undermined growth in developing countries.  He condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear detonations and missile tests that threatened everyone, and especially in the Pacific region.

Climate change, he pointed out, was among the greatest threats to humanity and had already taken lives and destroyed communities.  Papua New Guinea and other Pacific island nations were highly vulnerable to its adverse impacts, such as extreme tropical storms, severe drought and seawater flooding.  Such phenomena stemmed from the enhanced development of the powerful nations, which had harmed the chances for development in smaller ones.  “In Papua New Guinea, and around the world, our people are dying as a consequence,” he declared, calling for increased action and a strong commitment to the Paris Agreement.

Papua New Guinea, an island nation, relied on resources in the oceans and seas, he said, expressing extreme concern over their declining health.  Global fish stocks were being decimated and ecosystems destroyed by uncontrolled and poorly regulated human activities, such as illegal and unregulated fishing, pollutants and plastics causing marine debris.  Papua New Guinea’s integrated national oceans policy sought a coherent national approach to ocean governance.  He welcomed the first-ever Oceans Conference in support of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

Turning to the refugee crisis, he said the responsibility for accommodating refugees and migrants lay with the countries whose actions had led to their displacement.  A more sensible and humane approach was needed to address the mobility of people, as the privilege of free travel was held only by a “lucky few” born in developed countries.  “All too often, the concept of human rights is just the theme of convenience,” he said.

He expressed full support for United Nations reform which should make the Organization “fit for purpose”.  There was broad agreement on the importance of such issues, but the main challenge centred on how to carry it out and actually deliver.  Reform of the Security Council should make that body more broadly representative, transparent, accountable and effective.

WALID AL-MOUALEM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, warned that the world faced a standoff between two sets of forces — those seeking to dominate nations and their riches by re-establishing a unipolar global order, fuelling war and violating international law — and those working tirelessly to create a more balanced, secure and just world that respected the principles of sovereignty and self-determination.  Countries embracing the former view falsely believed they could use terrorism to satisfy their greed and advance ill-conceived agendas.  “No people has suffered at the hands of terrorism more than the Syrian people,” he said, who, for six years, had fought against terrorists pouring in from all over the world.  Expressing Syria’s commitment to eradicate that threat, he said the Government had followed two main tracks since the start of the war:  combating terrorism and working towards a political solution to end the bloodshed.

On the counter-terrorism front, he said that while the Syrian Arab Army and its allies were uprooting terrorists, that threat persisted.  “Terrorism and the underlying Takfirist extremist ideology will continue to spread like a tumour throughout the world” unless all parties confronted it together.  Any such endeavour must respect the sovereignty of States and give up the illusion that terrorism could be used as a tool for political gains.  On the political front, President Bashar al-Assad’s amnesty decrees had facilitated local reconciliation efforts, allowing tens of thousands of internally displaced persons and refugees to return to improved living conditions. 

Expressing support and optimism about the Astana process and its resulting de-escalation zones, he recalled pledges by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Nusrah to join that process, which would be the true test of how committed they and their Turkish sponsors were.  “Turkey under [President] Erdoğan has persisted in its aggressive policies towards the Syrian people and has continued to labour under the illusion that terrorism will help serve its subversive agenda,” he said, underscoring the stark contrast between that position and the constructive role played by the Russian Federation and Iran.  Syria reserved the right to respond to any violation by any party, stressing that the de-escalation zones were a temporary arrangement that must not violate its territorial integrity.

Reaffirming Syria’s commitment to the Geneva process — which had yet to bear fruit in the absence of a national opposition that could be a partner in Syria’s future — he said countries with influence, including permanent Security Council members, had blocked meaningful progress.  For decades, Israel had occupied Arab territories in Palestine and the Syrian Golan, committing crimes against innocent civilians.  It had provided support to Takfirist terrorist gangs, bombed Syrian Army positions and offered unlimited support to terrorists in Syria.  His country would never forget its inalienable right to recover the occupied Syrian Golan along 4 June 1967 lines.

For more than six years, States and parties behind the war in Syria had falsely accused the Syrian Government of using chemical weapons, he said, yet the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had confirmed that Syria had fully eliminated its chemical programme.  Describing those claims as excuses for continued aggression against Syria, he said the “so-called” international coalition led by the United States, created to allegedly fight ISIL, had, in fact, killed many more Syrian women and children and destroyed vital infrastructure.  It also had used phosphorous bombs and other internationally prohibited weapons.  Any presence of foreign troops in Syria without the Government’s consent was a form of occupation and violated international law, he said, adding similarly, that unilateral coercive measures were a clear sign of hypocrisy on the part of those countries employing them.

ROOSEVELT SKERRIT, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Public Service of Dominica, said that he had come to the Assembly from the front lines of climate change.  In the past, his country would prepare for one serious storm a year, and that before the current century, no one generation had seen more than one Category 5 hurricane in their lifetime.  Yet now, two such storms had formed in the Atlantic in only a few weeks.  Neither Dominica, nor the region, had started this “war against nature”, he said, declaring: “This war has come to us.”  There was little time for action.  While big countries talked, small island nations suffered.

The Caribbean did not produce greenhouse gases or sulphate aerosols, he said, nor did it pollute or overfish the oceans.  The region did not contribute to global warming, yet it was among the main victims.  The reality was pure devastation, as Dominicans bore the brunt of climate change.  “We dug graves today in Dominica.  We buried loved ones yesterday.  And I am sure that as I return home tomorrow, we shall discover additional fatalities,” he said.  Dominica had come to the Assembly to declare an international humanitarian emergency.  The time had come for the international community to take a stand and decide whether it would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those suffering the ravages of climate change.  The call for urgent action was increasing and all countries — big and small, developed and developing — must come together to save the planet. 

He recalled that the Green Climate Fund had been created to help put in place mitigation measures, but much more must be done to help countries bearing the brunt of climate change.  The World Bank had established the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility to assist countries impacted by natural disasters, and while helpful, the funds were usually grossly inadequate to rebuild infrastructure or maintain economic and social development gains that had been made following past storms.  Substantially more funds must be made available to vulnerable countries, he stressed, calling on the World Bank facility to recapitalize for greater coverage by using funds already committed from the Green Climate Fund.

SUSHMA SWARAJ, Minister for External Affairs of India, described two ways to work towards the eradication of poverty — the traditional method of incremental aid and “hand-holding”, and the more radical route of economic empowerment adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  All of India’s economic programmes centred around the goal of empowering the poor, she said, citing the Jan Dhan plan — the world’s largest financial inclusion scheme — as one example.  Demonetization was another courageous decision taken to challenge the “black money” resulting from corruption.  While rising nations such as India were generating change, developed countries must become active partners in assisting those still mired in poverty to attain the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

While India was fighting poverty, she said, its neighbour Pakistan “seems only engaged in fighting us”.  This week at the Assembly, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had accused India of State-sponsored terrorism and violating human rights.  Those listening had had one observation: “Look who’s talking,” she said.  “A country that has been the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity became a champion of hypocrisy by preaching about humanity from this podium.”  Pakistan had forgotten that under the Shimala Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, the two countries had agreed to settle all outstanding issues bilaterally and decided in 2015 to enter into a comprehensive bilateral dialogue.  Pakistan now must answer why that proposal had withered, as it was responsible for aborting the peace process.  India had risen, despite being the principle destination for Pakistan’s nefarious export of terrorism. “What has Pakistan offered to the world, and indeed its own people, apart from terrorism?” she asked.

Condemning such activities, she warned that making pious declarations to combat terrorism had become a ritual for some in the Assembly.  “The fact is that when we are required to fight and destroy this enemy, the self-interest of some leads them to duplicity.”  While India had proposed the creation of a convention against international terrorism as early as 1996, the United Nations still had not been able to agree on a common definition of terrorism.  She pressed the Assembly to stop seeing that evil “with self-defeating and indeed meaningless nuance,” adding that “evil is evil” and cautioning against differentiating between “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists”.  On climate change, she stressed that just before the start of the Assembly, nature had sent a warning in the form of hurricanes and earthquakes.  “The developed world must listen more carefully than others, because it has more capacity than others,” she said, voicing support for the Paris Agreement and requesting assistance for developing countries through technology transfer and green climate financing.

MAHMOUD ALI YOUSSOUF, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Djibouti, said that while there was disagreement regarding climate science, climate change was an undeniable truth that had created one crisis after another.  Collective and resolute action was needed to ensure that such challenges were overcome, including through the full and timely implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Africa and the least developed countries should be a priority for the United Nations, as they were the “battleground” where the Development Goals would be won or lost.  Increased and innovative financing was required. 

For their part, developed countries must uphold their official development assistance (ODA) pledges, he said, calling for a global trading system that was people-centred and climate-friendly, and the creation of proper evaluation tools to determine progress in the pursuit of sustainable development.  The absence of peace was the biggest obstacle to development.  Stressing that conflicts gave rise to food insecurity, he pressed the United Nations to step up its efforts on conflict prevention and peaceful dispute resolution.  The emergence of terrorist groups had led to unprecedented violence and the spread of ideologies that weakened social fabric.  He hailed the creation of the new United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office in that context.

Welcoming the dynamics created by the election of a new President and formation of a new Government in Somalia, he underscored the need for greater international support to that country, expressing regret over proposals to reduce funding for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  He also expressed regret over the slow implementation of the 2015 peace accord in South Sudan, reiterating that there was no military solution to the conflict there and advocating for inclusive dialogue to foster a return of peace.  More broadly, he expressed great concern about tragedies taking place in Yemen, including famine, cholera and the grave political deadlock.  Only dialogue would bring peace back to Palestine, he said, where people had suffered for too long.  He said Djibouti lamented the fate of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, and went on to urge Eritrea to accept mediation efforts to demarcate the disputed border, foster dialogue and stop actions that had destabilized the country.

ADEL AHMED AL-JUBEIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the most protracted in the region’s history and had led to a great deal of human suffering.  Nothing could justify the continuation of that conflict, particularly when there was widespread agreement over the two-State solution.  International determination was needed to make that solution a reality.

On Yemen, he said his country was attempting to save the Yemeni people so they could recover their State.  That undertaking had only come following sustained political efforts to preserve the safety and stability of Yemen, as well as its territorial integrity and independence.  Saudi Arabia fully supported the political process in Yemen, he said, and would stand by the United Nations and its Special Envoy to arrive at a political solution, in line with resolution 2216 (2015).  Saudi Arabia was aware of the scope of the humanitarian suffering in Yemen and had spared no effort to help Yemenis, having contributed $8 billion in humanitarian and medical assistance.

Strongly condemning the policy of repression and forced displacement that Myanmar was carrying out against the Rohingya, he said that tragedy required an urgent response to bring it to an immediate end.  Saudi Arabia continued to provide humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya minorities, he said, adding that his country also hosted more than half a million of those refugees.  Furthermore, the King had personally intervened with neighbouring States and worked with Bangladesh to help ensure safe passage and decent living conditions for those refugees.

The threat of terrorism was among the most serious challenges facing the international community, he said.  Saudi Arabia would continue to work to counter terrorism and extremism in all forms and manifestations.  The crisis in Qatar had jeopardized his country’s policy of cutting off funding to terrorists and extremists.  Doha’s financial support of terrorism, dissemination of violent hate speech, was unacceptable, as was its policy of providing safe haven to those who violated the law.  The position taken by the four States was meant to demand that Qatar follow the principles of international law in fighting terrorism.

DARREN ALLEN HENFIELD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas, said recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria had wreaked havoc on several small island developing States in the Caribbean, including the Bahamas, where its southern Ragged Island was now uninhabitable, and where the northern islands of Bimini and Grand Bahama had experienced considerable damage from tornadoes.  He thanked international partners for their support, noting, however, that Cuba had not enjoyed such assistance despite also having been hit by Hurricane Irma.  He called on the United States to lift legislative barriers and allow Cuba to develop to its full potential.

Recognizing the threat posed by climate change, he said the Bahamas had introduced measures to create a more sustainable and resilient island community.  The Government aimed to protect the environment through use of renewable energy and smart technologies, including solar energy, and the introduction of sustainable water purification systems.

He called for greater efforts to help nations that were especially vulnerable to external shocks, emphasizing the need to move away from using gross domestic product and gross national product to measure wealth and economic development.  Those one-dimensional instruments prevented those countries most in need from receiving assistance and should be replaced by a more realistic metric.  Meanwhile, international banking institutions had pulled out of the Caribbean over fears that they would be fined for being connected to illicit money laundering and terrorist financing.  Despite such challenges, the Bahamas was committed to pursuing sustainable development and had introduced measures targeting corruption, protecting human rights and improving its education system.

ALAN PETER S. CAYETANO, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said his country was committed to addressing national threats and attaining regional peace and stability, while protecting the human rights of all its citizens.  The Government had integrated the human rights agenda into its development initiatives with the aim of protecting the most vulnerable from violence and anarchy.  It had launched a massive campaign to restore the rule of law by fighting corruption, crime and illegal drugs, aimed at protecting the safety and human rights of a population that felt unsafe in the face of rising drug-driven criminality.  “The Philippines comprehensive campaign against illegal drugs is a necessary instrument to preserve and protect the human rights of all Filipinos,” he stressed, adding that it was “never an instrument to violate any individual group’s human rights”.

Voicing his country’s expectation that its sovereignty would be respected, as would its democratically-elected Government’s assessment of national threats and ways to address them, he said all responsible leaders were obliged to serve their own citizens first.  The Philippines’ illegal drug trade had become an epidemic, penetrating at least 59 per cent of its 42,000 Government units.  “Where is sovereignty in a country where vast numbers are addicted to drugs and enslaved to their suppliers?” he asked.  Noting that President Rodrigo Duterte would always have zero tolerance for abusive police officers, he nevertheless warned that accusations before investigation did not constitute proof.  “We can no more live with drugs than with terrorism,” he stressed, noting that the Philippines had seen a symbiotic relationship between the illegal drug trade, terrorism and poverty. 

For example, he said terrorists had rallied a group of extremists, criminals, mercenaries and foreign fighters to take control of the southern city of Marawi, as part of a “grand plan” to establish an extension of their shattered Middle Eastern caliphate, but the attempt had failed.  Outlining his Government’s view of territorial claims, sovereignty rights, security and sustainable development, he said those intertwined matters could be better addressed by cooperation.  The Philippines had built strong relationships through the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — whose chairmanship it currently held and which would begin negotiations on the long-overdue code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea.  “We should never tolerate human rights abuses, but neither should we tolerate misinformation, fake news on and politicization of human rights,” which undermined collective efforts to uphold the universality of human rights and the dignity of human life.  Security and human rights were not incompatible.  Rather, he said, “the first is our duty to the other”.

VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, pointing to old but active fault lines of race, language and religion, said that, while new conflicts had emerged in many regions of the world, long-standing conflicts had not been resolved.  He condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s missile and nuclear tests and called on the country to avoid further provocative action.  Recalling his meeting with Myanmar’s State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, last week, he added that she was deeply troubled by the religious and ethnic tensions in the Rakhine State.  Singapore was committed to working with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to help Myanmar find long-term solutions to restore stability in Rakhine.

“No nation can solve transboundary problems alone”, he emphasized.  The United Nations played a critical role for being a platform for cooperation.  It was also the universal body best placed to address problems in global norms.  Adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development had showed that multilateralism could respond to new challenges.  However, the Organization must also stay relevant and effective by being able to deal with emerging challenges such as cybersecurity, counter-terrorism and economic disruption caused by digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence.  The Secretary-General’s initiatives to reform and restructure the United Nations were welcomed, as they would optimize synergies to meet those new challenges. 

Regional organizations also played important roles in establishing effective multilateralism, he continued.  In South-East Asia, ASEAN had not only fostered regional economic integration but also secured regional peace and national resilience.  Achieving growth and sustainable development would require putting in place an open and global architecture. “An open, rules-based multilateral trading system allows every country to prosper,” he said.  The World Trade Organization and the Group of 20 were crucial in that aim.  While hard work and self-reliance were also core to achieving sustainable growth, more jobs must be created, ensuring that no one be left behind.  That included establishing policies that made sure vulnerable populations received the help they needed.  Noting that the digital revolution had changed the way the world worked, communicated and lived, he added “we need to restructure our economies to create new and better jobs for our people”.

SHAIKH KHALID BIN AHMED AL-KHALIFA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said that his country firmly believed that the maintenance of stability and securing the Middle East required a strong and common political will, as well as serious collective efforts to guarantee respect for the basic principles underlying relations among States.  Terrorism was no longer confined to terrorist organizations that could be confronted and eliminated.  Rather, that menace had become a tool in the hands of States determined to create crises in other countries in pursuit of their own agenda.  It was no longer acceptable to allow rogue countries to occupy others’ territories, violate the sovereignty of States, threaten international peace and security, support terrorism and spread hate and anarchy.

It was also no longer possible to allow those countries to become parties to efforts to bring an end to struggles, resolve conflicts and put an end to complex humanitarian tragedies when they were behind the aggravation of those situations, he continued.  Against that backdrop, his country, together with other countries in the region, availed themselves of their sovereign right under international law to sever relations with Qatar.  If Qatar wanted to engage in a dialogue and reclaim its place, it must respond positively and with transparency and commit itself to the just demands of Bahrain and others.  Regimes that constantly sought to disseminate anarchy and evil were instruments of destruction and would be the biggest losers as they drifted away from the values of collective cooperation among nations.

That was the case in Iran, where the people suffered from oppression, misery and poverty, he said.  Establishing normal ties with Iran would require that country to drop its hegemonic, sectarian and ideological policies.  Iran must respect the national values of people and refrain from exporting its revolution based on a theocratic system or Government.  On Yemen, he reiterated his country’s firm support for the legitimate Government of that country, while on Syria, he urged the international community to exert greater efforts towards protecting civilians and saving lives.  Turning to Libya, he applauded the liberation of several major cities from the hands of terrorist groups and affirmed full support for the implementation of the political agreement signed in Skhirat.  Further, he reiterated his country’s continued support for the Palestinian people and their legitimate aspirations to enjoy their rights, including an independent State.

SALEUMXAY KOMMASITH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, underscoring the importance of the 2030 Agenda, called for greater collaboration to attain peace and security and for reform of the United Nations.  He expressed hope of creating a world without nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction, reiterating support for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The best way to settle disputes was through peaceful and diplomatic means, and as such, he welcomed the establishment of relations between the United States and Cuba in hopes it would foster an end to the embargo. He also expressed hope that the Palestinian issue would be resolved through the creation of two independent States with internationally recognized borders.

ASEAN had achieved gradual progress on peace and security, he said, primarily through partnerships and cooperation, gains made possible thanks to the founding principles of consultation and consensus, which his country would continue to uphold.  The Lao People’s Democratic Republic had streamlined the Goals into its five-year national development plan.  The country would also take part in the 2018 Voluntary National Review of the high-level political forum on sustainable development, demonstrating its aim to graduate from the list of least developed countries by 2020.  Among several efforts made in that respect was the adoption of a National Sustainable Development Goal 18 on “Life Saved from Unexploded Ordinance”.

Despite the challenges of being least developed and landlocked country, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic nonetheless sought to become a high middle-income country by 2030, he said, and to that end had pursued greater connectivity with the region to enhance its infrastructure, transport networks, and construction of the North-South and East-West economic corridors.  He urged the international community to ensure that development brought equal benefits to all countries, ensuring his country’s strong commitment to work closely to realize the 2030 Agenda.

SIMON COVENEY, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, said that ever since becoming a Member State sixty years ago, Ireland held faith in the United Nations.  Due to its troubled past, his country always saw the advantages of a rules-based order in international affairs.  When properly mobilized, the United Nations delivered extraordinary results, such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  Indeed, the recent 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a “stand-out achievement” that could break the walls between the three pillars of the United Nations - development, human rights, and peace and security. 

However, the Security Council did not reflect the world that had evolved since its founding in 1945, he said, pointing out the obvious need to increase the size of that body and include stronger African representation as well as a seat for the small island developing States.  He also added that as long as the use or threat of the veto remained in place, the work of the Security Council would be impeded, resulting in failures to prevent mass atrocity crimes, as seen in Syria.  The case for reform was not an “academic or institutional question”, but rather a deeper question of “legitimacy and effectiveness”.

Ireland’s commitment to peacekeeping remained strong, being the highest per capita European Union contributor of troops, he continued.  His country was also determined to double the number of women in the defence forces and increase female participation in peacekeeping.  Noting his country’s dedication to the case for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, he condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the recent missile and nuclear weapons testing.  Ireland also supported refugees and vulnerable host communities, responding generously to the Syria and Yemen crises with $100 million in humanitarian aid.  He called for a peaceful and lasting solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and condemned the violence of Myanmar in Rakhine State.  “We are convinced that in today’s globalized world we must live in each other’s shelter, not shadow,” he concluded.

RI YONG HO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, referring to the recent speech by the President of the United States, said those reckless and violent words had forced him to respond in a corresponding tone.  President Donald Trump’s eight months in office had turned the White House into a “noisy marketing place full of the crackling sounds of abacus beads”.  Now, he was trying to turn the United Nations into a gangster’s nest where money was respected and bloodshed was the order of the day.  That “mentally deranged person”, full of megalomania and complacency — and who employed threats and frauds to acquire a patch of land — now held the nuclear button.  “These are what constitute the gravest threat to international peace and security today,” he stressed, adding that through his insults, President Trump had ensured that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “rocket” would inevitably visit the United States mainland.  “In case innocent lives in the United States are lost because of this suicide attack, Trump will be held totally responsible.”

Emphasizing that President Trump would bear consequences “far beyond his words”, he said the high-handedness and arbitrariness of one big Power had jeopardized the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.  Indeed, the most rampant violation of international justice was now being seen on the Korean Peninsula.  The unprecedented imposition of harsh sanctions on a victim —simply because it had stood up to the offender — had been openly committed in the name of the United Nations.  The United States had been the first country to produce nuclear weapons, and the only one to use them, he said, recalling that it had first introduced such weapons to the Korean Peninsula after the Korean War.  It was for those reasons that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must possess nuclear weapons.  “In the United Nations, unjustifiable resolutions which illegalize justice as injustice are randomly adopted,” he said, emphasizing that justice could only be achieved through the strength of anti-imperialist countries.

“The possession of nuclear deterrence by the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is a righteous self-defensive measure,” he said, pointing out that it had recently conducted a successful test of a hydrogen bomb mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, entering a new phase in its nuclear programme.  The goal was to establish a balance of power with the United States.  That country and its followers would now have to “think twice” before launching a military provocation against Pyongyang.  “We do not need anyone’s recognition of our status as a nuclear-weapons State,” he said, adding that the United Nations failure to achieve genuine international justice was related to the Security Council’s old and undemocratic practices.  The fact that Council reform had come before the Assembly year after year with no progress demonstrated how deeply its five permanent members held their anachronistic vested interests.

He said the Council had fabricated illegal resolutions based on double-standards to prohibit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from launching satellites for peaceful uses, or exercising its right to conduct nuclear tests, which belonged to every State, since international law on that matter had not yet entered into force.  Emphasizing his country’s right to self-defence under the United Nations Charter, he said Article 10 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty stated that the supreme interests of States stood above nuclear non-proliferation.  “After all, the United States itself impeded the international efforts for non-proliferation by not giving up the nuclear threat against the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea],” he said.  Claims that Pyongyang’s possession of a hydrogen bomb and ICBMs constituted a global threat were lies tantamount to those made by the United States in 2003 about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

IBRAHIM ABDULKARIM AL-JAFARI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, describing Iraqi forces’ recent success in liberating Mosul and ending the so-called terrorist governance in various towns, thanked those States that had supported such efforts.  Although post-conflict reconstruction efforts had been taking place for more than three decades, ISIL had been destroying the country’s heritage sites and its natural environment.  Iraq’s comprehensive vision for the future centred on restoring peace, providing basic services, allowing people to return to their homes and facilitating post-conflict reconstruction.  The Government was also protecting the victims of terrorism as well as houses of worship.  All parties should respect the spirit of citizenship and avoid giving cover to terrorists seeking to return to Iraq.  Among other national priorities, Iraq was re-establishing its national security forces and rule of law, as well as continuing to combat corruption, which provided fertile ground for terrorists and crime.

State institutions must be protected from narrow interests, he stressed.  Iraq was a sovereign State that was following democratic processes which enabled all its people to participate in society.  Rejecting the so-called referendum planned by the regional government of Kurdistan, he said the latter was trying to force the Iraqi Government to make decisions in order to preserve its unity.  Iraq had appealed to the Supreme Court to reject that referendum, planned for late September.  His country was a plurinational State and it would organize its own elections in early 2018 aimed at consolidating stability and economic progress.  Iraq had always respected Council resolutions relating to its relationship with Kuwait, especially resolution 1958 (2010) on the oil for food programme.  In addition, through resolution 2379 (2017), the Council had mandated a joint investigative mechanism to collect and preserve evidence about ISIL actions in Iraq, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.  States should provide the necessary support and financial resources to fund that mechanism. He also called for support from countries to help his country develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes, in accordance with the rights provided under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. 

Religious and social leaders were crucial to the development of peaceful coexistence, he said.  The adoption of the Takfiri school system and the distribution of materials aimed at imposing that group’s mistaken ideas were threats to peace and security.  Furthermore, the number of displaced Iraqis that had fled areas formerly occupied by ISIL added to the country’s burden of already low oil prices, he said, calling for international assistance to help respond to the needs of those displaced persons.  Peace in the Middle East called for the complete withdrawal of Israel from Palestinian lands and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.  On Syria, he said Iraq supported a political solution, not a military one, and had adopted a policy of non-interference in the affairs of other States.  Finally, he called on Member States to provide support to Iraq’s reconstruction efforts, adding that it was working to increase investment opportunities in the country.

OSMAN MOHAMMED SALEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, said the world was increasingly fragile, unjust and unequal.  The majority of nations and their citizens had no power, no voice, no means for a decent life and, often, no peace and security.  “We may be called the United Nations, but the reality is that we are divided nations and societies,” he said.  Developing countries and marginalized peoples owed it to themselves and future generations to build solidary and strive for a better world.

While there had been some progress in Africa, talk of an “African renaissance” with fast-growing economies was misplaced and premature, he said.  Only when its economies, its institutions and its quality of life better reflected its great potential could Africa be said to have taken its rightful place in the world.  Eritrea was a young, strategically located nation with significant human and natural resources, he said, but it had faced the full brunt of an unjust international order.  It had been demonized, ostracized and severely tested.  Nevertheless, it was quietly engaged in comprehensive nation-building, pursuing an ambitious development programme that relied first on its people and domestic resources.  Eritrea was confident that it would meet the Sustainable Development Goals ahead of time, he said.

Emphasizing that Eritrea would engage with all countries, including those with which it differed, he said that its political, economic, social and diplomatic path would be smoother and easier if external obstacles were removed.  In that regard, Eritrea called on the Security Council to lift unfair and unjust sanctions imposed for the past nine years.  “There is no justification for them to continue and they do not serve any useful purpose,” he said.  The Council must also ensure an end of Ethiopia’s 15-year occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory, which was a violation of international law and several United Nations resolutions, he added.

YLDIZ POLLACK-BEIGLE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Suriname, said her country had entered a period of national unity.  Being no stranger to foreign intervention, Suriname called for an end to detrimental military incursions across the world.  Interventions in the Middle East had only served to foster greater divisions, she said.  Through experience, Suriname was aware that dialogue and mutual respect were the roads to peace and recovery.  Without the support of civil society, prosperity would be elusive.  Suriname was concerned with the rise of right-wing extremism across the world, she said, pointing to her country as a model for diversity and integration.  Nuclear proliferation was a great destabilizer, she said, calling on all Member States to follow the example of South America and the Caribbean in remaining a nuclear-free zone.

Political conflicts were coinciding with the onslaught of adverse climate patterns, she continued.  The devastating hurricane season in the Caribbean had shown that some affluent nations had inward-looking policies and ignored truly global problems.  Nations had to proportionally contribute at the global scale to mitigate risks.  The status of “middle-income country” was hurting Caribbean nations, she said.  Classification criteria ignored vulnerabilities posed by climate change.  She called for accessible development financing from a diverse array of mechanisms.  Recognizing her country’s reliance on the extractive sector, she said Suriname was investigating initiatives to expand its economy and focus on environmental conservation.

Development had to be inclusive, she said.  Suriname recognized the “utmost importance” of youth involvement in the public and private sectors.  A “youth-adult partnership” programme had been launched to mentor future politicians and business leaders.  Suriname was also implementing initiatives to ensure the involvement of women at the “highest levels of political decision-making”.  Inclusion must also extend to the international community, she said, calling for an end to the unilateral sanctions imposed on the people of Cuba and urging dialogue to resolve the situation in Venezuela.  The achievement of the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals called for United Nations reform.  She affirmed Suriname’s full support for the Secretary-General’s initiatives.

IBRAHIM AHMED ABD AL-AZIZ GHANDOUR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, said his country looked forward to playing an effective role in the United Nations.  Implementation of an exit strategy for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), as set out in Security Council resolution 2363 (2017), demonstrated that Sudan had turned the page on conflict and embarked on a new era of peace and stability.  Going forward, it hoped to benefit from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, as well as the World Bank and its mechanisms as its Government implemented the results of national dialogue and encouraged remaining armed groups to join the quest for peace, he said.

Recalling that the Government had extended its unilateral ceasefire until October, he expressed Sudan’s deep concern at the lack of strict action by relevant United Nations entities and the international community vis-à-vis rebel groups operating from Libya and South Sudan.  He welcomed the report of the Panel of Experts on the Sudan established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1591 (2005) and called for the recommendations of its Chairman to be supported.  That Panel had commended the Government’s cooperation and stressed that Darfur had regained stability and security.  He went on to say that Sudan opposed the politicization of international justice and considered the International Criminal Court to be an organization that manipulated the law for political objectives.

He emphasized the Government’s efforts to fight terrorism, human trafficking, drug trafficking and cybercrime, as well as its assistance to 3 million refugees from neighbouring countries and beyond.  On a recent visit, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees commended Sudan for opening its borders when others were closing theirs.  Sudan was committed to working with IGAD and the African Union towards peace and security in South Sudan and to help address the humanitarian crisis there.  Having met all technical conditions, Sudan looked forward to having its outstanding foreign debt forgiven, in line with the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, he said.

JOHN SILK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Marshall Islands, said that recent events regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its growing nuclear threat must serve as an obvious mandate for strong and urgent global cooperation and effective action.  He condemned recent nuclear tests because his nation knew the impact of such actions first hand.  The 67 nuclear tests conducted between 1946 and 1958 had produced a legacy burden which he hoped no other nation or people should ever have to bear.  He supported those nations who were able to affirm the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and he was committed to a close and inclusive examination of his country’s own participation in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

On climate change, he said that no credible scientist would be able to say that it was not real.  What he saw with his own eyes in the low-lying Marshall Islands revealed a real and present threat to its survival and security as a nation and member of the United Nations.  He welcomed the Paris Agreement’s entry into force.  It was a truly lasting, ambitious, long-term agreement, and confidence in it should not be shaken by any short-term bumps.

The recent United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 was a “watershed moment of political will”, he said.  Pacific small island developing States had sounded the alarm on the condition of the world’s oceans.  The Marshall Islands, as a party to the Nauru Agreement Concerning Cooperation in the Management of Fisheries of Common Interest, had the potential to effect a change in the world tuna market, which would aid the country’s economic trajectory and boost global food security along the way.

YOUSUF BIN ALAWI BIN ABDALLAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Oman, said his Government’s foreign policies were centred on supporting dialogue and close cooperation among all nations.  His country was committed to the principles of right, justice and equality, as well as non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States.  Dialogue was crucial in achieving peace and the United Nations had the responsibility for moving the peace process forward.

However, recent events had showed shortcomings of the international system, he continued.  Political and economic conflicts revealed a failure of the international system to support least developed countries, resulting in “global migration, chaos, upheavals, trouble and instability in many parts of the world,” he said.  Furthermore, the economic slowdown and a drop in global trade exacerbated problems in the developing world.

Ultimately, peace and sustainable development could only be achieved if Member States adhered to the principles of the United Nations Charter and avoided unilateral decisions and policies, he said.  It was crucial that the United Nations take the lead in moving peace processes forward and its agencies should play a more active role in development.

DENIS MOSES, Minister for Foreign and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, said his region was experiencing the impacts of climate change on an “unprecedented scale”.  Rebuilding efforts required the resources and collaboration of the international community.  Trinidad and Tobago joined other Caribbean nations in calling for increased access to development assistance, regardless of income classification.  That would have to include debt relief efforts.  For its part, his country was committed to a 30 per cent decrease in transport-related emissions.

Trinidad and Tobago had mapped its development goals in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.  As a small island nation, it was focusing on Goal 14 on ocean conservation and the development of a legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.  Properly managed oceans were central to future prosperity.  Inclusive approaches to development required the active participation of women, he said, echoing the Secretary-General by saying “Women’s rights are human rights.”  Trinidad and Tobago had recently outlawed child marriage, he added.  Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would require a more “flexible and tailored” United Nations development system, and reforming it could help ensure coordinated and cost-effective action.

Migration, nuclear proliferation and the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons were among the greatest destabilizing factors of the time, he said.  Trinidad and Tobago remained committed to the Arms Trade Treaty and the prohibition of nuclear weapons.  He reiterated his country’s “unequivocal commitment” for an end to the embargo on Cuba.  Sovereign equality of States was a cornerstone of the United Nations Charter, he said.  As a “forefather” of the International Criminal Court, Trinidad and Tobago resolutely supported the Court’s mandate and objective to end impunity for the perpetrators of the most heinous crimes.

BRAHIM HISSEINE TAHA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Integration and International Cooperation of Chad, said climate and environmental challenges were, for developing countries, no less important than terrorism and falling export prices.  Drought and desertification were endangering ecosystems, he said, warning that the drying up of Lake Chad would prompt massive displacement and increased pressure on limited national resources.  Lake Chad’s disappearance would be a disaster for the 50 million people who depended on it, he said, adding that the economic and financial crisis in developing countries was hindering their implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The security situation in the Sahel and Sahara countries was deteriorating, he said.  Terrorist attacks, including those against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), demonstrated the determination of their perpetrators to wage war to the end.  “We must respond,” he said, emphasizing the role to be played by the Group of Five for the Sahel (Sahel G-5) joint force and calling on the Security Council to provide it with a robust mandate.

Turning to the humanitarian situation, he said Chad called on the international community to invest more in alleviating the suffering of refugees, displaced persons and host populations.  Massive investment in development programmes in countries of origin was needed to curb mass migration of African youth to Europe.  In the Central African Republic, the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation was a major opportunity that all parties to the conflict must embrace, he said.  In Libya, Chad supported reconciliation efforts by the United Nations and African Union; however, the solution was ultimately in the hands of that country’s political actors.  South Sudan was a wound on Africa where the protagonists had a moral obligation to end the intolerable suffering of the people.  Concluding, he said United Nations reforms must include a permanent seat for Africa on the Security Council.

KAMINA JOHNSON SMITH, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, said that for those in the Caribbean, climate change was an existential issue, not a philosophical concept.  She said she was mindful of the responsibility to strengthen resilience, but the ability to do so was hindered by new catastrophic events that had caused social dislocation and severe misalignment of economies.  She wondered how small States would be able to mobilize the financing required to build climate resilient frameworks.  She called upon the United Nations to establish a mechanism to provide support and compensation to vulnerable countries affected by natural hazards.

Jamaica was deeply concerned about the heightened menace to international peace and security arising from the threat of nuclear weapons.  Her country had a long-standing commitment to the goal of achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world.  She condemned the recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which posed a grave threat to international peace and security.  She urged that country to immediately and fully comply with its international obligations under all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and to resume dialogue on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

She reiterated Jamaica’s call to an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.  That embargo had restricted the ability of a hard-working and self-reliant people to engage in legitimate trade, to travel and to undertake international financial transactions.  On the Middle East, she said that the best solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis rested on a negotiated political settlement based on a just, lasting and comprehensive agreement that guaranteed the security of Israel and provided for a Palestinian State within internationally recognized borders.

MOHAMED ASIM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, said old and new wars, changing needs and growing population were shaping global interactions.  Far too many deaths were occurring due to conflict, he said.  Palestinians still lived without permanent peace or hope.  In Syria, the most inhumane treatment had been normalized.  In Myanmar, Rohingya Muslims faced ethnic cleansing.  Those actions had to end and those responsible had to be brought to justice, he said, adding that the world was witnessing “the worst side of humanity”.  As terror groups continued to wreak havoc, he commended the formation of the new Office of Counter-Terrorism.  The “twisted reasoning” of terrorist groups had to end.  Nuclear proliferation was also a grave concern as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear ambitions could lead to the path of destruction.

Cultivating a culture of human rights was the goal at home and abroad, he said.  Equality for women in all realms of society was enshrined in law in the Maldives.  Those laws were the “framework for every Maldivian to be a promoter of gender equality”, he noted.  Support was being afforded to people with disabilities and the elderly, he added.  Accessible health care and education were ensuring development efforts would reach even the remotest regions of the Maldives.  The Constitution also recognized access to affordable housing as a fundamental right.  Yet, as a middle-income country, the Maldives was now encountering obstacles to development assistance.

The link between human rights and the environment was clear, he said, assuring humankind faced no bigger threat than climate change.  The Maldivian economy was intrinsically linked to the well-being of the oceans.  Noting that adverse climate patterns had become the norm, he reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.  Mitigating the adverse effects of climate change required the “equality of representation” of every Member State.  Based on the belief that a nation’s size did not determine its value, he announced that the Maldives would seek a seat on the United Nations Security Council for the term 2019-2020.

ALAIN AIMÉ NYAMITWE, Minister for External Relations and International Cooperation of Burundi, said patience was a virtue that climate change did not respect.  No State could shirk their responsibility to implement their commitments under the Paris Agreement, regardless of their size or place on the map.  Action must be taken today because tomorrow would be too late.  For his country, achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Vision Burundi 2025 programme depended on cooperation from friendly States and other international partners.  Unfortunately, European Union sanctions on Burundi were depriving it of considerable resources.  Sanctions imposed unilaterally on developing States, particularly those in Africa, must be prohibited, as they perpetrated traditional injustices and violated the sacred principle of sovereignty, he said.

Joint efforts must be made to tackle the root causes of population displacement, particularly by young people, from the South to the North, he said.  The reasons underlying apocalyptic scenes on the Mediterranean must be understood, he said, expressing regret that such migration was being accompanied by a resurgence of racism.  Emphasizing that all Member States were sovereign, he called for restraint on the part of some States which, in the twenty-first century, still believed they were entitled to intervene in the internal affairs of other States, particularly those in development.  Burundi thanked the Security Council for reaffirming, through its resolutions and presidential statements, respect for the country’s sovereignty.  Non-interference in internal affairs, and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of States, were pillars of an equitable international system.  They conformed with the principles of the United Nations Charter and they were non-negotiable, he said.

For some time, human rights had been another tool of domination, used by some States in a way that risked diverting the Human Rights Council away from the objectives assigned to it by the General Assembly, he said.  In that regard, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi was the latest demonstration of the way some cliques of States manipulated the Council’s mechanisms.  On refugees from Burundi, he reiterated his Government’s call for them to return, thanked the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for helping to facilitate returns, but called for some UNHCR staff to refrain from indoctrinating some refugees against returning.  Noting that Burundi was the second-largest troop contributor to AMISOM, he said his State was troubled by a continued reduction of support for that Mission.  Concerning United Nations reform, he said it was time to correct past injustices and permit the equitable participation of all continents on the Security Council.

IBRAHIM YACOUBOU, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, African Integration and Nigerians Abroad of Niger, said the Sahel and Saharan region was surrounded by instability.  Niger was facing a three-front battle with terrorist and trafficking networks.  Instability in Libya was contributing to the free flow of illicit arms, he said, calling for concerted international efforts to return stability to Libya.  While Boko Haram’s capabilities had been curtailed, the group still held pockets of influence in the Lake Chad Basin.  Boko Haram’s suicide attacks and sexual exploitation of women remained a primary concern for Niger.  The terror-trafficking nexus in northern Mali remained the main source of instability in the Sahel, he said, adding the Sahel G-5 joint force needed the backing of the United Nations Security Council in order to become fully operational.

Increased development assistance was needed to consolidate progress made in the face of security threats, he said.  Those threats, exacerbated by climate change, meant vulnerable nations required the assistance of wealthy countries.  Niger was implementing a new national development strategy and was planning to host a donors’ conference to secure assistance from Government and private sector partners.  Without greater cooperation, the Sustainable Development Goals would be “unattainable”, he said.  Member States had to recognize the strides made by Sahel countries to combat instability.  At stake was peace and security in the region and abroad.

Turning to the United Nations reform process, he said peacekeeping operations had to learn from their failings.  Current operations had not adapted to the asymmetric threats they now faced.  He called on the mandate of peacekeeping missions to be reviewed and modified.  Efforts had to be redoubled to assist the people of Palestine and end the abuses facing Rohingya Muslims.  To achieve those goals the United Nations and Security Council had to be revitalized and become more representative, he concluded.

ELVIN NIMROD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Grenada, imploring the international community to recognize, without delay, the collective responsibility to assist all those affected by natural hazards, emphasized that the reality of climate change, as seen in recent activities, could not be disputed.  In fact, 97 per cent of climate scientists had agreed that climate-warming trends over the past century were due to human activities.  As Chair of the World Bank’s Small States Forum, Grenada had lamented the recent withdrawal of a key partner in the Paris Agreement.  His country was aiming to be the “beacon of sustainable development” for maritime States around the world, an achievable project due to its small size.  CARICOM had called for measures to develop sustainable ocean-based economies in the Caribbean.

Small States like Grenada and other CARICOM countries had to battle with threats to their access to financial markets, he continued.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently noted that correspondent banking relationships had decreased with a resulting negative effect on global trade and economic activity.  Added to that was also the unilateral and often unfounded blacklisting of the Community’s institutions as money-launderers and those countries as tax havens.  However, Grenada had signed tax information exchange agreements with 14 countries since 2010.  “It pains us as policymakers when we expend our limited resources to comply with rules only to face arbitrary punishments when we are quite evidently doing our best,” he said.  Progress had been made with his country’s successful structural adjustment programme.  As well, investment, both foreign and local, was at its highest levels in recent years.

Condemning the proliferation of nuclear weapons, he pointed out that $105 billion had been spent each year on nuclear weapons, and called for a shift from destruction to sustainable construction.  He said that Grenada remained preoccupied by the recent developments in Venezuela.  In his capacity as Chair of CARICOM, Grenada’s Prime Minister had offered in helping to mediate discussions between the Government of Venezuela and the opposition.  Grenada’s approach must be impartial, and would encourage meaningful dialogue on the premise that the Venezuelan people could come together to safeguard their future.

AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, East Africa, Regional and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania, said that climate change had become an existential challenge to the planet.  In his country, it was disheartening to witness the epic snows and glaciers of Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, melting.  He expressed his sympathies to those in the Caribbean, South Asia, Mexico, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the United States who had recently been the victims of climate change.  It was a wakeup call and a reminder that climate change had no boundaries, he said, and could potentially wipe out economic and development achievements in the blink of an eye.

Violent conflicts continued to plague the world, he said, noting that the United Republic of Tanzania had recently lost a soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo following an attack from the Allied Democratic Forces.  He condemned that cowardly act in the strongest possible terms.  His country had been intermittently receiving and hosting refugees from the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo for decades.  He said that there would be a full implementation of the 31 December peace agreement with the promise of timely elections in that country.

After the cold war, there were new and bright prospects for both conventional and nuclear disarmament, he continued.  The doctrine of nuclear deterrence was becoming absolute, nuclear arsenals were being reduced and progress was being made towards a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing.  However, recent developments in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had shattered those prospects, and the world was being dragged back to nuclear brinkmanship.  The United Republic of Tanzania commended the recent adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

MARK ANTHONY BRANTLEY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said that the carnage caused by hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria was unimaginable.  He also remembered the victims of the two horrific earthquakes in Mexico, and those in Japan and New Zealand.  The time had come for the world to treat those phenomena not as natural disasters but as the man-made disasters that they were.  The science was irrefutable.  Oceans continued to get warmer due to the continued abuse of the planet.  Warmer oceans fed and created storms like Irma and Maria.  Now more than ever, the world bore witness to the compelling need to support the call for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and all other actions and behaviours that aggravated the effects of climate change.

He condemned the “sterile analysis” of GDP per capita that had been used by international agencies to tell small island developing States that they were now middle- and high-income countries, and therefore locked out of accessing developmental assistance or affordable financing.  It was a travesty and a tragedy for the world community to witness such destruction caused by forces entirely out of the control of Caribbean nations, and then refuse to allow those nations access to the necessary resources to rebuild.  There had to be a more sensible and just model which considered the special vulnerability of small island States.

Condemning actions that had led to heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, he called upon all countries to respect and honour their solemn commitments under international law.  His country joined the international community in demanding diplomacy and dialogue instead of “sabre rattling and war mongering”.  Saint Kitts and Nevis stood proudly with its Caribbean and Latin American neighbours as a “zone of peace,” and he exhorted all members of the community of nations to expend every effort to create and promote peace.

Right of Reply

The representative of Qatar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that in their statements, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain had accused his country of terrorism, when Qatar in fact had an excellent record in countering terrorism.  Those countries participating in the unlawful campaign against Qatar were frustrated and using commercial means to put pressure to bear on it.  Rather than accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism, it should follow its example, he said, adding with regard to Bahrain that fabricating problems with Qatar to obscure internal problems would not yield results.

The representative of Pakistan described India’s statement earlier in the day as an “orgy of slander” against her country.  Jammu and Kashmir was not a part of India, but a disputed territory, and India’s occupation was illegal.  She called for the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions and for a Special Envoy to be appointed to ensure India’s adherence to its legal obligations, adding that Pakistan was committed to openness and dialogue with India so long as it ended its campaign of subversion.

The representative of Bahrain said the measures taken by her country and three others vis-à-vis Qatar were legal and in line with international practice.  Taking those steps was within their sovereign rights.  Bahrain had evidence that Qatar had violated agreements and interfered in internal affairs, as well as spread allegations of human rights violations, she said, adding that Qatar was trying to exploit international forums for its political interests.

The representative of Qatar, taking the floor a second time, said it was regrettable that Bahrain was attacking his country.  The unjust measures taken against Qatar ran counter to the global anti-terrorism strategy, which was based on respect for human rights.  There was no substantive evidence that Qatar had funded terrorism, and allegations that his country had interfered in the internal affairs of the four countries were false.  Concluding, he said that as he could not take the floor a third time, further comments would be submitted in writing.

For information media. Not an official record.