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Seventy-sixth Session,
81st & 82nd Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/12425

Highlighting Strong Link between Multilingualism, Multilateralism, General Assembly Adopts Resolution Urging Parity among United Nations Six Official Languages

Delegates Also Conclude Debates on Use of Veto in Security Council, Progress towards Implementing HIV/AIDS Political Declarations, Commitments

Spotlighting the strong connection between multilingualism and multilateralism, delegates in the General Assembly today adopted a resolution reaffirming the equality of the six official languages of the United Nations and urging the Organization to ensure parity among them in its communications and publications.

Adopted without a vote, the text, titled “Multilingualism”, requested the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to ensure that multilingualism is not undermined by the measures taken in response to the liquidity situation and the coronavirus disease.  Further, it regretted the delays in the development of a Secretariat-wide coherent policy framework on multilingualism.

Other terms of that resolution emphasized the importance of making use of all the official languages of the United Nations in all the activities of the Department of Global Communications, with the aim of eliminating the disparity between the use of English and the five other official languages.  It also urged the Secretary-General to strengthen efforts to develop and maintain United Nations websites in all the official languages.  Further, it requested continued efforts to ensure the availability of staff training opportunities in the six official languages.

Introducing that text, the representative of Andorra said it celebrates the role of multilingualism as an enabler of multilateral diplomacy.  Stressing that the value must be respected during crisis situations, she noted that the text, which sets goals for an operational plan of action in the Department of Global Communications, aims to eliminate the gap between the use of English and the five other official United Nations languages.

Echoing those words, the representative of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Spanish, voiced concern that despite repeated appeals, the Organization has not achieved linguistic parity among the six official languages.  Given that it has been more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, he called for the full implementation of interpretation and translation services across all intergovernmental meetings, and original content in the six official languages across the Organization’s websites and social media accounts.

Several delegates pointed to the role of languages as repositories of culture, with Morocco’s delegate reminding the Assembly that languages are not just means of communication — they are also archives of culture and history.  Welcoming the appointment of a Coordinator of Multilingualism, he urged the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management as well as the Department of Global Communications to ensure linguistic parity in their virtual meeting tools.

Highlighting the large number of languages that are on the verge of extinction, the representative of Bangladesh called on the international community to work together to preserve languages around the world.  As much as 40 per cent of the world’s population does not have access to education in a language they can understand.  Her country works to promote education in its main five tribal languages, she said, emphasizing the relationship between language and heritage.

Delegates also concluded a historic debate on the use of veto in the Council, the first ever implementation of a 26 April Assembly resolution which established a standing mandate for a debate in the 193-member organ when a veto is cast in the 15-member body by one or more of its permanent members. 

The current debate, which began on 8 June, was triggered after China and the Russian Federation vetoed a Council draft resolution on 26 May aimed at tightening the sanctions regime against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The representative of Lithuania noted that the draft was unsuccessful even though it was supported by 13 Council members, and was building on the earlier unanimous agreement to impose further sanctions should there be more provocations from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

However, Venezuela’s delegate, stressing that sanctions are not solutions and drawing attention to the joint military exercises by the United States and the Republic of Korea in the Korean Peninsula, recalled the explanations provided by China and the Russian Federation regarding their vetoes.  Libya’s delegate, highlighting the double standards in the denuclearization agenda as well as use of veto, noted that the Council is endangering international peace instead of guaranteeing it. “Don’t be surprised that peoples want to reform the Council,” he said.

Finally, the Assembly turned to the implementation of the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2021 Political Declaration on ending AIDS by 2030, with delegates reaffirming commitment to this health goal.  Armenia’s delegate shared his country’s experience with decentralizing the battle against AIDS by integrating HIV services with primary health care.  However, in order to deliver more targeted interventions, the country needs increased investments, he noted.

A representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) offered Member States useful recommendations that ranged from placing communities and local organizations at the centre of HIV/AIDS strategies to bolstering social protection and public health systems.  He also stressed the importance of reaching people on the move, including in humanitarian and fragile contexts.

Prior to the general debate, the Assembly elected 18 members to the Economic and Social Council to replace those whose terms are expiring on 31 December 2022.  First, it elected Liechtenstein to fill the seat for Western European and other States, relinquished by Austria.  Next, in one round of voting, it elected Botswana, Cabo Verde, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea for African States; China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Qatar and Republic of Korea for Asia-Pacific States; Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica for Latin American and Caribbean States; and Denmark, Greece, New Zealand and Sweden for Western European and other States.  It also elected Slovakia and Slovenia for Eastern European States in one round of voting, but was unable to fill a third seat earmarked for that region, despite conducting six rounds of voting, because neither North Macedonia nor the Russian Federation attained two-thirds majority.  Further voting for that seat will take place at a later date.  All terms of office will begin on 1 January 2023 and end on 31 December 2023. 

Also speaking today were the representatives of Colombia, India, Canada, El Salvador, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Philippines, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Ukraine, Hungary, Viet Nam, Kenya, Israel, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Belarus, Samoa, Cambodia, Honduras, Slovakia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Cuba, Bahrain, Spain, Tunisia, Lebanon, Bolivia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Russian Federation and Iran, as well as a representative of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

The representatives of Iran, Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in the exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 21 June, to consider the interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Multilingualism

ELISENDA VIVES BALMAÑA (Andorra) introduced the draft resolution titled “Multilingualism” (document A/76/L.57) which was co-sponsored by 80 countries.  She said it celebrates the contribution that multilingualism makes as another tool for the United Nations.  Multilingualism is a fundamental value and an enabler of multilateral diplomacy and brings tolerance and dialogue among countries.  It is a pillar of the United Nations and improves the Organization’s efficiency.  It must be respected during crisis situations.

The resolution also sets goals for an operational plan of action in the Department of Global Communications, she said, adding that through the text the Assembly urges that efforts be redoubled to ensure all plans are fully implemented.  The text also aims to eliminate the gap between the use of English and the five other official United Nations languages, she said, stressing the importance for the Secretary-General to ensure that guidelines on the use of official languages are followed, and that guidelines be established for language requirements and the development of staff language skills.  In addition, she called for tools to promote the equal use of the six official languages and recognized the importance of unofficial languages used in the United Nations. 

The representative of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Spanish, reiterating the role of multilingualism as a cornerstone of multilateralism, noted that it is enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations as a core value.  By facilitating diplomacy and dialogue, multilingualism shores up the three pillars of the Organization, he said, adding that the United Nations universality is achieved by ensuring communications between Member States.  Stressing the importance of harmonizing terms across languages, he called for original content in the six official languages across the websites and social media accounts of the Organization.  Urging the Secretariat to establish action plans to effectively implement multilingualism as a cross-cutting principle throughout the work of the United Nations, he said these plans must be implemented in a harmonious way.

Expressing concern that despite repeated appeals, the Organization has not achieved linguistic parity among the six official languages, he stressed the need “to eradicate the clear preference given to certain languages over others”. Pointing out that it has been more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, he called for the full implementation of interpretation and translation services across all inter-Governmental meetings, both virtual and in-person, formal and informal.  Calling on the Secretariat to comply with the principle of linguistic parity, he acknowledged the challenges confronting it and urged it to seek alternative mechanisms that will uphold security standards as well as build the capacity to cover all meetings in an agile and cost-efficient manner.  The Group is ready to work with all other members for the benefit of the Spanish-speaking community, he added.

The representative of Colombia, associating himself with the Group of Friends of Spanish, noted that his delegation co-facilitated negotiations on the draft resolution.  Noting that efforts to fully implement multilingualism since 1945 have made it possible to reconcile differences and helped the United Nations fulfil its mandate, he said languages are a central component of human rights and fundamental freedoms and an essential tool to achieve sustainable development.  Languages and multilingualism contribute to building inclusive societies and are the key tool of the multilateral system.  His delegation is pleased that the UN News website experienced a remarkable growth in page views during the COVID-19 pandemic, from 20 million in 2019 to 70 million in 2020.  UN News Spanish witnessed a 265 per cent increase and was the most visited of nine language websites in 2021.  Indeed, Spanish webpages attracted 30 million visitors, accounting for 26.7 per cent of the total visits to all the United Nations websites worldwide.  However, some challenges remain, he said, citing the trend towards monolingualism, the scarce availability of resources in the Secretariat to ensure language parity, the rapid advance of misinformation and the deepening of gaps in information and communications technologies (ICTs).

The representative of India said multilingualism is a core value of the United Nations and, for the first time, the resolution before the Assembly mentions the Hindi language and encourages the Department of Global Communications to disseminate communications in Hindi.  Adding that the text also mentions the Bengali and Urdu languages for the first time, he recalled that, since 2018, India has provided extrabudgetary funds to provide communications in Hindi.  The “Hindi@UN” project was launched to spread greater awareness of news around the world, he said, noting that the United Nations cannot achieve its purposes unless people are informed of its messages.

The representative of Canada, noting that multilingualism is a fundamental value of the United Nations, said it permits delegates to share ideas with each other and debate in the six official languages.  Thanking all the interpreters and translators for their hard work, he noted that multilingualism at the Organization has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, with meetings offered without interpretation services, thereby preventing the full participation of all delegates.  Urging the Secretariat to draw lessons from that experience, he called for disaggregated data by language in order to ensure evidence-based policymaking.  Noting that one in five Canadians were born outside Canada, he pointed to his country’s rich linguistic heritage.  With language comes culture, insights and knowledge, he said, reaffirming multilingualism’s contributions to the success of the United Nations work.

The representative of El Salvador, associating himself with the Group of Friends of Spanish, said multilingualism is a fundamental value of the United Nations and a crucial component of multilateral diplomacy, while underscoring the value of adopting the resolution before the Assembly today.  Multilingualism is also necessary for the smooth functioning and sustainability of the United Nations, he said, calling for linguistic parity among the Organization’s six official languages and noting that the principle is still not upheld.  Against that backdrop, it is imperative to disseminate information in various languages to bolster support for the United Nations, he said.

The representative of Bangladesh said there are many challenges to multilingualism and many languages face extinction.  About 40 per cent of the world’s population does not have access to an education in a language they can understand.  Languages are a part of a people’s heritage, she said, noting that a commitment to multilingualism is rooted in the history of the United Nations.  Bangladesh works to promote education in its main five tribal languages.  The international community must work together to preserve languages around the world, she said, stressing that the United Nations should promote the use of multilingualism in its activities and use its communications tools to reach the global population at large.  Commending the Department of Global Communication’s efforts to disseminate materials in non-official languages, including Bengal, she said this work needs to be strengthened.

The representative of Morocco, reaffirming the core value of multilingualism as enshrined in Article 1 of the Charter, said the draft resolution under consideration has clear goals and a strong methodology to promote that value.  The Organization needs multilingualism in order to serve people around the world, he said, welcoming the Secretary-General’s tireless efforts to consolidate this principle, including through the appointment of a Coordinator of Multilingualism.  Stressing the need for linguistic parity, he noted the increased demand for virtual work at the United Nations during the pandemic, and commended the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management and Department of Global Communications for their efforts and urged them to ensure linguistic parity while using virtual tools.  These Departments must be supported with the necessary financial resources, he said, also stressing the role of civil society and other stakeholders in consolidating multilingualism.  Recalling his country’s role as a “bridge” between regions and cultures, he reminded delegates that languages are not just means of communication, they are also archives of culture and history.

The representative of United Republic of Tanzania said Kiswahili is among the ten most spoken languages worldwide, with more 200 million speakers.  Pointing out that 7 July has been designated as World Kiswahili Language Day, she said it is the first time that the language will be celebrated at the United Nations and invited all to an event to be held on that day.

The draft resolution was then adopted without a vote.

Strengthening of United Nations System:  Security Council Special Report

The Assembly then resumed is consideration of strengthening of the United Nations system, taking up a special report of the Security Council on non-proliferation/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (document A/75/853), and pursuant to Assembly resolution 76/262.  (For background, see Press Release GA/12423 of 8 June).

The representative of Uruguay said this is the first time the Assembly has convened since the adoption of the veto resolution, which is a breakaway from past practice.  Noting that the practice set in motion by the text is an accountability mechanism, he said Uruguay always favours practices that encourage accountability.  The use of the veto should be suspended regarding matters concerning human rights violations, he said, stressing that the Council should not be hindered in its work.  The veto should be used responsibly by permanent Council members, he said, urging Council members to use dialogue to find solutions to the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He condemned the missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and appealed for stringent compliance with Council resolutions that have been adopted unanimously.

The representative of Philippines, condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, described it as a reckless action that threatens the safety of all nations and undermines peace on the Korean Peninsula as well as the whole world.  There is “no military solution to a fraternal conflict”, he said, adding that the pursuit of lasting peace on the Peninsula is the collective responsibility of the entire region.  His country will continue to play a constructive role in advancing a peaceful and denuclearized Korean Peninsula through confidence-building measures among stakeholders, both bilaterally and through cooperative mechanisms, he added.

The representative of Lithuania aligning himself with the European Union, urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply fully with all its obligations under Council resolutions and engage in meaningful discussions with all relevant parties with a view to building a basis for sustainable peace and security.  The misuse of the veto power by two permanent Council members — the Russian Federation and China — has prevented the body from fulfilling its responsibility to maintain peace and security, he said.  Noting that draft resolution S/2022/431 was rightly supported by 13 members of the Council, he said it proved not to be sufficient for a decision to follow on the earlier unanimous agreement by the Council to impose further sanctions should the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launch a ballistic missile system capable of reaching intercontinental ranges.  She therefore welcomed today’s meeting triggering, for the first time, Assembly resolution 76/262 giving the Assembly a standing mandate for a debate when a veto is cast in the Security Council.

The representative of Guatemala said that due to the vetoes cast by two permanent members, the Security Council failed to discharge its mandate in taking timely measures against ballistic missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Describing it as unacceptable for Pyongyang to have launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ones, he urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to uphold the core provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and condemned Pyongyang’s actions, which disregarded environmental and humanitarian consequences.  Against that backdrop, he also urged Pyongyang to prioritize economic and social development over its nuclear programme.

The representative of Chile said today’s meeting is being held to ensure transparency.  Chile supports the initiative put forth by France and Mexico to suspend the use of the veto in cases of mass atrocity crimes, as the use of the veto can disable the United Nations from achieving its higher mission to ensure peace and security.  Describing that proposed mechanism as one which can make a real contribution to dealing with crises that cannot be left in limbo, he went on to describe the recent launch of ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a serious threat to international security.  A peaceful and diplomatic solution to such challenges is the prime function of multilateralism, he added.

The representative of Argentina, reaffirming commitment to the Charter, expressed regret that due to the veto cast by a permanent member, the Security Council was not able to take action despite a grave challenge to international security.  The right to veto is a privilege which undermines the principle of sovereign equality of States, she said, adding that it must be abolished.  Reiterating her country’s position against the veto and in favour of Council reform, she stressed that this organ must become more democratic and more transparent.  Expressing alarm at the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile on 24 March, she called it an act of provocation towards the international community.

The representative of Venezuela condemned unilateral measures imposed against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by the United States, as they negatively impact the human rights and lives of the people in the country.  Sanctions are not solutions, but attempts are made to expand such measures, which affect the most vulnerable people. He outlined three key actions that could lead to the denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, stressing that the Security Council must take purposeful and inclusive action in that regard. It is imperative to alleviate human suffering by granting humanitarian exemptions on sanctions and putting an end to unilateral measures, he stressed, adding that dialogue and negotiations are the only way to achieve tangible results.  Bearing in mind the dynamics and reality of the situation in the Korean Peninsula, China and the Russian Federation explained why they voted against the resolution, he said, pointing to joint military exercises by the United States and the Republic of Korea, and the nuclear-powered submarines deal among the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

The representative of Ukraine expressed regret that the Security Council has yet again failed to exercise its primary responsibility, when an important resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes was vetoed by the Russian Federation and China.  While discussing the nuclear and ballistic missile threats stemming from Pyongyang, attention must be drawn to the ongoing aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, he stressed.  Russian troops have been attacking Ukrainian territory with cruise and ballistic missiles and other types of conventional weapons.  On 3 March 2022, the Kremlin put on high alert its nuclear deterrent forces and started to threaten the international community with nuclear weapons.  Russian armed forces also attacked and seized Ukrainian nuclear power plants and other facilities, thus creating an unprecedented nuclear threat to Ukraine and the international community.  The Council’s failure to adopt the resolution on the new sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as other cases of the use of veto in recent years, reaffirms the need for comprehensive reform of the United Nations.

The representative of Hungary, associating herself with the European Union, expressed deep concern over the unprecedented number of missile tests conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since the beginning of 2022.  Urging Pyongyang to comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions by abandoning all its nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles and nuclear weapon programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner — and by immediately ceasing all related activities — she also noted Hungary’s support for the diplomatic efforts of the Republic of Korea, the United States and regional partners, which are aimed at preserving peace on the Korean Peninsula and enhancing regional stability.

The representative of El Salvador said the convening of today’s debate demonstrates the Assembly’s desire for effective multilateralism and is a step towards accountability and transparency throughout the Organization.  The dialogue recognizes the role the Assembly plays in international peace and security in line with the Charter.  El Salvador champions disarmament and is gravely concerned with the launching of missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, especially in May, he said, adding that this is a pattern that increases tensions on the Korean Peninsula and undermines and threatens international peace and security.  It threatens the non-proliferation regime.  He appealed to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with its international obligations, including international humanitarian law.  He also urged countries to follow due diligence and ensure their territories are not being used to launch cyberthreats, while also calling for the application of international law in cyberspace.

The representative of Viet Nam, stressing that the issue at hand should be treated with care, expressed support for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  Underscoring the importance of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula as well as the vital need for dialogue between the relevant parties, he said peace and sustainable development in the region should be the top priority.  Calling on all parties to exercise utmost restraint and resume negotiations in order to build on their hard-won achievements, he emphasized that differences should be resolved through peaceful means, in line with international law.  The international community’s efforts should take into account the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises on the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he pointed out, asking international partners to assist that country on the basis of its needs.

MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) said no one is safe from the scourge of war if a conflict risks use of weapons of mass destruction.  Noting that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s launches of ballistic missiles violated Council resolutions, he deplored the recent veto against a binding resolution the world needed, adding that the Council therefore failed to send a clear message that missiles are unacceptable.  The vacuum created by that inaction is leading to a dangerous arms race, he said, recalling that just days ago Pyongyang launched eight more missiles using ballistic technology.  The Council should not remain immobilized when the risk to the world is so clear and present.  As the conflict in Ukraine and its impact on all economies and peoples shows, the fates of the Assembly’s 193 Member States are all deeply connected.  While some have cast doubt over the utility of today’s debate because the Assembly does not have the power to compel States to act, Kenya believes that the “moral force” of humanity’s aversion to war is the fundamental underpinning of effective multilateralism, and is seeking a better balance of competence between the Assembly and the Council.

The representative of Israel condemned in the strongest possible terms the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, stressing that the work of preventing groups from acquiring these weapons must be at the top of the Assembly’s agenda.  Calling for the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said it is a rogue State that possesses weapons of mass destruction and its proliferation of these weapons to other States and rogue actors is a threat to international peace and security.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has supplied weapons to Syria.  More recently, the ongoing relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran pose a critical threat to the security of Israel, the Middle-East region and the world.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea consistently helps Iran to bolster its deadly nuclear programme.  This is a violation of Council resolutions and must be stopped today, he said, calling for the Council to speak in one voice on these matters.  He called for the full implementation of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Organization must also remain aware of Iran’s violations of Council resolutions, he said, pointing to Iran’s deception this week with its removal of 27 cameras from their nuclear facilities.  Such deception must end, he stressed.

The representative of Libya, stressing the importance of avoiding the use of the veto, called on the Council’s five permanent members to remember their responsibility to the international community.  Recalling that the right to veto was put in place more than 75 years ago, when the world was a completely different place, he highlighted the way it has been used to inflict historical injustices on Africa.  He underscored the need for comprehensive reform, stressing that Africa must be represented appropriately in the Council.  Members of the Council must work together to reach consensus on issues before they are presented for a vote, especially when there is a real chance of failure.  Also expressing support for nuclear non-proliferation, he pointed to double standards and said the Middle East must also be free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.  Nuclear States must provide safeguards to non-nuclear States, he stressed, adding:  “Don’t be surprised that people want to reform the Council” when that body, instead of guaranteeing international peace and security, is becoming a threat to it.

ANA PAULA BAPTISTA GRADE ZACARIAS (Portugal), noting that the present debate is fundamental, requested that the special report of the Security Council on the use of veto and the summary of the debate be included in the Council’s annual report.  Noting that the recently cast veto blocked the Council’s response and hampered its responsibility for international peace and security, she said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s repeated and unprecedented ballistic missile tests violate Council resolutions and undermine the global nonproliferation regime and the international rule-based order.  The international community has a role to play in implementing sanctions.  She urged Pyongyang to cease all its illegal destabilizing activities, comply with resolutions, abandon its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction programmes, sign and ratify the Test Ban Treaty, return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and resume dialogue.  While the Assembly provides a forum for many voices to be heard, there is another forum — the Council — that should speak in one voice when it comes to peace, she added.

MAJID KHAMIS GHARIB ALNAKHI AL ALI (United Arab Emirates) noted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has launched at least 26 ballistic missiles, including some of intercontinental range, each in violation of Security Council resolutions.  Strongly condemning those repeated violations and provocations, he pointed out that on 5 June alone, Pyongyang launched eight such missiles from three different locations, putting neighboring countries and the wider region at imminent risk and threatening regional and international peace and security.  Emphasizing that the Council is strongest when it is united, he called on members to find common ground so the organ can fulfil its primary responsibility to maintain peace and security.

ANOUPARB VONGNORKEO (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said his country is party to several international instruments on disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, and maintains a consistent policy towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons and any weapons of mass destruction, as well as the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  He called for the international community to continue creating an environment conducive to advancing diplomatic negotiations and refrain from any action that will escalate tensions. 

ALEKSANDRA SHMAT (Belarus), expressing scepticism about the present meeting, said it is unhelpful in determining the reasons why the Council cannot reach agreement.  Belarus dissociated itself from resolution A/76/262, as it duplicates work in the Assembly that is being done in the Council and will only dilute the latter’s mandate and undermine its role.  It might seem Belarus is opposed to any discussion of Council items, but that is not the case.  The newly created Assembly mechanism will use up the United Nations time, resources and personnel.  Noting that the veto power is a Charter responsibility borne by the Council’s permanent members, she said Belarus is satisfied with the explanations provided by the Russian Federation and China, who exercised their veto powers in the case being discussed today.  Belarus shares the concerns of the international community about tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but the sanctions regime is not a good solution. Instead, she advocated for options aimed at de-escalating tensions in the region.

MATILDA BARTLEY (Samoa), expressing solidarity with those delegates who condemned the launch of the ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, called on that country to refrain from further provocations.  As members of “this august family of nations,” she said, all Member States must strive for the collective good.  Urging Council members to abide by that organ’s decisions and act with commitment and transparency, she said that small island developing States such as hers look to the collective wisdom of the Security Council to lead the international community on the path of peace and stability.

SOVANN KE (Cambodia), expressing deep concern over the recent development in the Korean Peninsula, urged all parties concerned to exercise their utmost self-restraint and refrain from taking any further counter-productive actions, which could lead to further escalation of tension in the region.  Calling upon all parties concerned to resume dialogue to find an enduring solution to the conflict and to promote the necessary conditions for creating an environment conducive for peaceful denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula, he expressed concern regarding the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a consequence of the negative impacts of sanctions and COVID-19, which have undermined social progress and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the country.  Sanctions and unilateral coercive measures do not contribute to any solution to conflict, but rather negatively affect innocent lives, he said.

YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras) condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic missile launches in the vicinity of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which endangered peace and security of the region in clear violation of Security Council resolutions.  Urging Pyongyang to respond positively to calls for dialogue and to establish peace in the Korean Peninsula, she said Member States have given the Security Council the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  As such, vetoes must be exercised with due consideration of that responsibility.  

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, strongly condemned the unprecedented series of ballistic missile tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since the beginning of 2022, which totaled 31 overall.  Slovakia is convinced that it was necessary for the Security Council to take measures through a new resolution in light of the rapid and illegal development of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile activities, he said, expressing deep regret that the veto was exercised against the draft resolution.  Highlighting the importance of unity of the international community in addressing this challenge, he pointed out that Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes divert resources not only from necessary investments into social and economic development and reform, but also those responding to the severe COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua) reiterated that at the international level, it is crucial to initiate multilateral measures to reverse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning with an immediate end to unilateral coercive measures.  Those illegal actions affect nations with over 2 billion inhabitants and, during a pandemic, amount to crimes against humanity.  Citing the fortitude of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — despite the unjust abuse of so-called sanctions — and recognizing their rights to life, sovereignty, security and peace, he voiced support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and urged the parties to resume dialogue aimed at easing tensions, building peace, promoting stability and development, and reunifying the peninsula.

MOHAMMAD AAMIR KHAN (Pakistan) encouraged dialogue and negotiations to foster peace in the Korean Peninsula, supporting dialogue that will provide equal security for all States in the region.  He said his Government is opposed to any action that will destabilize the region.  Pakistan supports adherence to all relevant Council resolutions and the earliest possible revival of the Six Party Talks.  Noting the grave humanitarian situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, he called for humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of the people of that country.  Both security and humanitarian challenges can best be addressed through dialogue, he said.

PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba), reiterating his delegation’s concern regarding Assembly resolution A/RES/76/262, which establishes the standing mandate for a debate when the veto is used in the Council, said it should not be limited only to cases where the veto has been used.  “This would be a very restrictive and selective approach,” he said, adding that the veto must not be considered separately from the other issues that are under the mandate of the group of Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform.   Cautioning that this could prevent a comprehensive and thorough reform of the Security Council, he also noted the detrimental humanitarian impact of sanctions.  The United States policy of maximum pressure is an obstacle to dialogue in the Korean Peninsula, he pointed out, calling for more dialogue and international cooperation.

JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said the world has witnessed numerous missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.  Urging Pyongyang to adhere to international law, he said that includes compliance with Security Council resolutions.  He also called on the international community to develop a unified strategy to denuclearize the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and preserve peace and security in the region and beyond. 

MARÍA BASSOLS DELGADO (Spain) said her delegation voted for the resolution to open a new forum for transparency, where all Member States can express their positions on use of the veto in the Council.  The Assembly cannot remain passive in view of threats to international peace and security, and instances when the Council is prevented from acting by use of the veto.  With the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea conducting more than 30 missile tests in the first half of 2022, including one with nuclear capacity, she noted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports the country is preparing a new test — in flagrant violation of multiple Council resolutions.  Despite the support of 13 Member States, vetoes by the Russian Federation and China prevented adoption of the resolution, which would have made possible new and effective sanctions — which, she added, are perfectly in line with Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.  She called on Pyongyang to end its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and heed calls to engage in good faith political dialogue towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and for the Russian Federation and China to join condemnation of that country.  Use of the veto represents the failure of the Council, she stated.

TAREK LADEB (Tunisia) reaffirmed his delegation’s commitment to the full implementation of all Council resolutions pertaining to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, as well as all efforts towards peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  Urging Pyongyang to refrain from any new missile tests and to fully abide by its international obligations, he called for the swift resumption of dialogue and negotiations for a complete and verifiable denuclearization.  It is equally crucial for the Council to speak with one voice on the issue and adopt a consensual forward-looking product.  Expressing concern over the humanitarian situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — which was serious even before the pandemic — he noted that improving the situation can promote reconciliation, peace, stability and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.  He further called for adequately addressing the issue of the abducted nationals, which can only reinforce trust and cooperation in the region.

Mr. HITTI (Lebanon) noted that the mechanism put in place by resolution 76/262 constitutes an important step towards further accountability, transparency and an enhanced role for the General Assembly.  The veto or threat to use the veto has often undermined attempts to settle conflicts and bring about genuine progress to achieve peace, he said, acknowledging that this debate gives, for the first time, the opportunity for the wider United Nations membership to discuss pressing matters pertaining to international peace and security, particularly in a situation as to which the veto was cast.  Calling for prioritizing diplomacy and a political solution in the Korean Peninsula, based on international law, including the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, he also urged universal adherence to the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty and its entry into force. 

JUAN MARCELO ZAMBRANA TORRELIO (Bolivia) said Bolivia is a pacifist country that calls for the abandonment of nuclear and ballistic missiles in an irreversible fashion.  Actions that increase tensions which endanger international peace and security should be avoided, he said, supporting compliance with all Council resolutions.  He appealed for the avoidance of any act of provocation.  He rejected the use of sanctions, which are a flagrant violation of international law and can violate the territorial integrity of a State.  He also called for avoiding the escalation of tensions in the region and rejected military alternatives or threats of use of force.

Right of Reply

The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected the statement made by Israel’s delegate, noting that a regime famous for its apartheid policies is making false accusations against Iran.  Underscoring his country’s support for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he noted that Iran proposed the idea of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East in 1974, whereas Israel has refused to adhere to any disarmament regimes, in addition to conducting attacks against the innocent people of Palestine.

The representative of Syria, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said it is ironic that Israel’s delegate denounced the use of veto in the Council, while Western members have used that power to shield the country for decades.  Indeed, the veto has provided Israel an umbrella of immunity allowing it to continue its attacks, including the ongoing aggression against Syria, he said, adding that Israel launched an attack on various locations in his country just this morning.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also exercising the right of reply, categorically rejected allegations made by Israel’s delegate against his country.  As a responsible State, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains firmly committed to non-proliferation.  Such claims by Israel are a last-ditch effort to deceive the international community and divert attention from its heinous crimes of proliferation and atrocities in the Middle East.  The United States and Western countries are alarmingly patronizing Israel’s nuclear ambitions and terrorist activities, he said, describing those actions as a typical example of double standards.  Israel is the cancer of the Middle East peace process and a rogue State which undermines the global non-proliferation regime and commits all kinds of terrorist acts, he stressed.

Implementation of Commitment/Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS

FNU IMANUEL (Indonesia) said HIV continues to foster inequalities within and among countries, and efforts must be enhanced to curb the rate of new infections and AIDS-related deaths.  His country’s policies at the national, subnational and community levels are guided by a comprehensive and harmonized national plan of action, and have led to innovations in Jakarta in connecting people living with HIV with the appropriate health services.  Online delivery services have increased access to antiretroviral therapy by more than 30 per cent, he said — an achievement shared with other cities in South-East Asian countries.  While political and Government commitments are essential, he noted multi-stakeholders and multisectoral parties also play a significant role.  Recalling Government support for the role of a national commission of health featuring actors from the health, education and social development sectors, he further called for international solidarity and cooperation in reaching infection reduction targets.

KARLITO NUNES (Timor-Leste) noted that while HIV/AIDS infection in his country is currently at a low level, the number of people who live with the virus has been increasing exponentially.  Young people are most vulnerable due to a lack of relevant knowledge and information.  Referring to the country’s National Health Strategic Plan (2011-2030), he highlighted strategies aimed at strengthening the National AIDS Commission to monitor and oversee national HIV/AIDS programme; strengthening monitoring and evaluation, and capacity-building of human resources; preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections through awareness and promoting behaviour change; establishing high quality counselling, testing and diagnostic facilities; and providing treatment and care to all HIV-affected and infected individuals.  To date, there are more than 11 voluntary and confidential counselling centres available, he noted, reiterating the Government’s commitment to tackling inequalities to end the AIDS pandemic.

IVAN G. KONSTANTINOPOLSKIY (Russian Federation) said reaching the important goal of eliminating HIV by 2030 is especially important against the backdrop of the pandemic, since people with HIV are a priority group for vaccinations.  The Russian Federation supports an international dialogue to eliminate this public health issue, he said, noting that between now and 2030, his country is broadening the scope of its testing.  About one third of the Russian population now go for testing every year.  A federal register helps provide clinical monitoring of people with HIV.  Medications and therapy are provided for those living with the virus.  Critical transmission of the infection has been virtually eliminated, he said, also pointing to the Russian Federation’s mass information campaigns about prevention and treatment.  The Russian Federation is also working on the international level to combat HIV, he noted.  Since 2012, it has provided about $62 million to countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to help them reduce their incidents of infection and increase testing.  Refugees from Ukraine are being provided with health care and testing for HIV.  When the infection is detected, they receive the same assistance as Russian nationals.

TIGRAN GALSTYAN (Armenia) said that in January 2022, his country’s new 2022-2026 National Programme on HIV/AIDS Prevention was adopted, setting the conditions for ending AIDS by 2030.  That new programme is a continuation of previous national plans, and aims to address the priority challenges of service delivery among key populations and specific population sub-groups with a higher vulnerability, such as labour migrants and young people.  Extensive measures are currently being undertaken to decentralize and integrate HIV services at the level of primary health-care facilities around the country.  Service disruptions due to the COVID‑19 pandemic and response have led to a declining number of newly diagnosed cases in 2020, which is likely the result of a decrease in HIV testing.  Armenia’s goal remains to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.  However, increased investments are needed to reduce the rate of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths and to step up localized, timely and more targeted interventions, he said.

ZAHRA ERSHADI (Iran), drawing attention to the compounding issues that have evolved as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, said it is crucial to address the underlying barriers to equitable access to health-care services.  Noting her country’s remarkable achievements in controlling HIV/AIDS, she stressed the importance of eradicating mother-to-child transmission and highlighted the pivotal role played by UNAIDS.  The latest medicines and health technologies for HIV prevention, testing and treatment — including a future HIV vaccine — must be rapidly made available and affordable for developing countries, she said, pointing out that unilateral coercive measures, in the form of the financial and banking sanctions imposed against her country, have violated the Iranian people’s right to health.  Noting in particular the impact on populations living with HIV/AIDS, she stressed that sanctions prevent timely and effective access to diagnostics, medicine, vaccines, medical equipment, technologies and other crucial supplies.

Mr. THOMAS, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), made three recommendations.  First, communities and local organizations must be placed at the centre of HIV/AIDS strategies.  Local groups are not only best equipped to identify and respond to the specific challenges and opportunities of their communities, but also to reach people in the last mile.  Second, AIDS cannot be ended as a public health threat without effectively reaching all communities, including people on the move and mobile populations.  Programmes to support people living with or affected by HIV, including in humanitarian and fragile contexts, need to consider the needs of migrants, refugees and crisis-affected and other mobile populations in all their diversity.  Third, HIV services need to be bolstered by robust social protection and public health systems that reduce vulnerability to HIV, tackle stigma and discrimination and account for the needs of populations at higher risk of HIV.

MICHAEL M. ESPIRITU, Sovereign Order of Malta, said AIDS is still responsible for more than 13,000 deaths every week.  An estimated 1.5 million new HIV infections and 680,000 deaths from AIDS-related causes occurred over the past year, with 38 million people living with HIV worldwide — 2.78 million of whom are under the age of 19.  He expressed concern that each day, approximately 850 children became infected with HIV and approximately 330 die from AIDS-related causes, with two fifths of infants and children living with HIV going undiagnosed, and half of the children living with HIV in 2020 not benefiting from antiretroviral therapy.  As reaching the target of eliminating HIV/AIDS by 2030 cannot be accomplished without addressing the inequalities which perpetuate the pandemic, the Sovereign Order continues to aggressively reach out to the poorest, most isolated, and most marginalized, including in South Africa, Kenya, Mexico and Myanmar, and has medical facilities and relief corps in 120 countries.  Stressing the need to tackle the inequalities that hamper access to HIV prevention, care and treatment, he noted the Sovereign Order has 100,000 volunteers and 80,000 employed relief and health professionals worldwide at the service of the suffering.

For information media. Not an official record.