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Seventy-seventh Session,
6th & 7th Meetings (AM & PM)

Warning of Its Global Threat on Multiple Levels, World Leaders Stress Urgency of Ending Ongoing Conflict in Ukraine, as General Assembly Debate Continues

Ukrainian President Outlines Formula for Peace Which Punishes Aggressor, Provides Security Guarantees

Against the backdrop of a world menaced by manifold crises including food and fuel insecurity, financial instability, terrorism and climate change, Heads of State and Ministers from around the world today stressed the urgency of ending the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which threatens Europe and the entire world on multiple levels, as the General Assembly high-level debate entered its second day.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, addressing the Assembly via a pre-recorded video statement, stressed that “a crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment” for its stolen territory, its murdered, tortured people and the catastrophic turbulence that the Russian Federation has inflicted on his country and the entire world.  He stated that there is only one entity “who would say now, if he could interrupt my speech, that he is happy with this war — his war”.  Outlining a five-element “formula for peace”, he cited sanctions against and isolation of the aggressor within international institutions, and visa restrictions.  There must also be a special tribunal on the Russian Federation to send a signal to all would-be aggressors.

While the General Assembly is speaking today, 445 bodies are being exhumed from a mass grave in the Ukrainian city of Izium — and the only difference between this and what the world saw in Bucha was the actual burial, he said.  Moscow wants to spend the winter preparing its forces for a new offensive — “for new Buchas, new Iziums”.  “None of you will find a vaccine against radiation sickness,” he stressed, underscoring that the Russian Federation’s “radiation blackmail” should concern everyone.  “We must finally recognize that Russia is a State sponsor of terrorism at all levels”, he stated, calling for security guarantees — the right of every nation, not only the largest and most-fortunate.  “What is not in our formula is neutrality,” he said, noting that those who speak of neutrality when human values and peace are under attack “mean something else”.

Egils Levits, President of Latvia, said “today, we learn that partial mobilization has been declared in Russia, as their once-mighty army is overwhelmed,” — citing the defence mounted by Ukraine and calling the “blitzkrieg” envisaged President Vladimir Putin “a long nightmare”.  He further warned against Moscow’s plans to hold illegal referenda in the coming days on the annexation of the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk to the Russian Federation.  Latvia will not recognize the legitimacy of these referenda, he asserted, calling for the establishment of a special tribunal, whose main task would be to investigate the responsibility of the Russian Federation in the crime of aggression.

This war is about erasing the sovereign State from the map and extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist, cautioned United States President Joseph R. Biden.  Just before the invasion, President Putin asserted that Ukraine was “created by the Russian Federation” and never had “real statehood”.  Furthermore, the Russian Federation is pumping out lies trying to pin the blame for the food crisis on the sanctions imposed by many in the world for the aggression against Ukraine.  “Our sanctions explicitly allow Russia the ability to export food,” he stressed, adding only the Russian Federation can end food insecurity.

Katalin Novák, President of Hungary, reminded the Assembly that the work of “waging peace” is both difficult and only possible through interdependence.  According to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Conflict Tracker, there are currently 27 ongoing conflicts worldwide, all of which are described as either “worsening” or “unchanging”.  Recalling Soviet tanks rolling on the streets in Budapest 11 years after the Second World War ended, she noted “ethnic Hungarians living across the borders also shed their blood” in Ukraine.  Hungary is implementing its largest humanitarian operation in recent history, providing economic, social and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as well as shelter to nearly 1 million refugees.  “A war only has victims,” she stressed.

However, Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, firmly rejected the claim that the conflict in Ukraine is the first conflict on European soil after the Second World War.  That the territorial integrity of Serbia, which did not attack any other sovereign country, was violated is constantly unspoken.  He asked for “a clear answer to the question I’ve been asking my interlocutors, leaders of many countries for years — what is the difference between the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia?”  Serbia has not stepped on someone else’s territory — yet that did not prevent NATO from attacking without the Council’s decision, nor did it prevent many Western countries from unilateral recognition of the independence of the so-called “Kosovo”.  “We shall keep advocating for the consistent observance of the principle of inviolability of borders, respect for sovereignty and integrity of all other UN Member States,” he stated.

Also rebutting the narrative, Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of Iran, stressed events in Europe offer a “mirror image” of what has been happening in Western Asia for the past few decades — as his country has been faced with coup d’état attempts, oppressive sanctions and hegemonic interventions.  Turning to nuclear weapons, he highlighted that while only 2 per cent of world nuclear activities are taking place in Iran, it has been subject to 35 per cent of nuclear inspections.  Calling sanctions “a weapon of mass destruction”, he said the United States left the agreement, not Tehran, and “the knot of the nuclear deal must be opened from the same place they managed to tie this knot together”.

Through a different lens, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, stressed that the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, besides causing dismay in Europe, is a war “we are feeling directly in our lives in Africa.  Every bullet, every bomb, every shell that hits a target in Ukraine, hits our pockets and our economies in Africa”.  As inflation reaches records worldwide, Ghana is experiencing the highest rate for 21 years, with high food prices hurting the poor, especially in urban areas the most.  “It has become clear, if ever there was any doubt, that the international financial structure is skewed significantly against developing and emerging economies like Ghana,” he said, adding that the avenues opened to powerful nations enabling them to take steps to ease economic pressures are closed to small nations.

Similarly, Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte D’Ivoire, expressed regret that only 17 per cent of wheat exported from Ukraine since the July agreement has been earmarked for African countries.  He again requested that priority be given to them.   He further emphasized missions in Africa including the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) — as the fight against terrorism continues.  With the Assembly session being held as the energy crisis following the war means certain industrialized countries are increasing the use of carbon-based fuels, he stressed developed countries must drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and honour their commitments to mobilize $100 billion per year for developing States.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as Ministers of Nigeria, Mongolia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Suriname, Ecuador, Zambia, Madagascar, Libya, Moldova, Namibia, Slovenia, Kenya, Gabon, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Estonia, Cabo Verde, Eswatini, Monaco, Dominica, Lebanon, Czech Republic, Cuba, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Palau and United Kingdom.

The representatives of Algeria and Iran also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 22 September, to continue its general debate.


MUHAMMADU BUHARI, President of Nigeria, said that the world is now more severely tested by enduring and new global challenges, such as conflicts driven by non-State actors, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, malignant use of technology, climate change and disparities in opportunities for improved standards of living, among others.  In particular, the war in Ukraine will have adverse consequences for all, hindering capacity of collective action to resolve conflicts elsewhere, especially in Africa, Middle East and Asia.  That conflict has caused difficulties in tackling the perennial issues that feature each year in the deliberations of the General Assembly, such as nuclear disarmament, the right of the Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, and the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for Statehood.  He added that the danger of escalation of the war in Ukraine further justifies Nigeria’s resolute calls for a nuclear-free world and a universal Arms Trade Treaty, which are necessary measures to prevent global human disasters.

Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, he highlighted Nigeria’s health‑care agencies for forming effective management and engaging in international partnerships with multinational initiatives like COVAX and private organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  “With COVID-19, we saw very clearly how States tried to meet the challenge of a threat that could not be contained within national borders,” he observed, adding that cooperation among stakeholders facilitated solutions that saved countless lives and eased the huge burden of human suffering.  He also drew attention to his country’s efforts in mitigating climate change and achieving global net-zero aspiration, including the National Adaptation Plan focusing on climate change mitigation in a sustainable manner that was adopted last year.  More so, he underscored the importance of pursuing “climate justice”, pointing out that African nations and other developing countries produce only a small proportion of greenhouse‑gas emissions, compared to industrial economies.  Yet, they end up being most affected by the consequences of climate change, such as witnessed by the sustained droughts in Somalia and the recent floods of unprecedented severity in Pakistan.

Nigeria, like many other countries, had many unsavoury experiences with hate speech and divisive disinformation, he continued.  States must come together to defend freedom of speech and work for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities to keep the most vulnerable from harm and protect communities from the scourge of disinformation and misinformation.  As well, multifaceted challenges facing most developing countries have placed a debilitating chokehold on their fiscal space.  There is a need to address the burden of unsustainable external debt by a global commitment to the expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to countries facing fiscal and liquidity challenges, as well as outright cancellation for countries facing the most severe challenges.

“The wheels of democracy turn slowly,” as it can demand compromises that dilute decisions, he noted.  However, it is a democratic culture that provides a Government with the legitimacy it needs to deliver positive change.  His Government has worked to strengthen democracy by supporting and promoting the rule of law in the subregion.  In this regard, Nigeria has helped to guarantee the first democratic transition in the Gambia since its independence; has stood by the democratically elected Government in Guinea-Bissau when it faced munity; and joined forces with other neighbouring countries and international partners to stabilize Chad and encourage its peaceful transition to democracy.

SEYYED EBRAHIM RAISI, President of Iran, underscored his country’s fight against injustice and called for globalization of justice.  Rejecting some of the double standards of certain Governments vis-à-vis human rights, he described unilateralism as a tool that has been used to hold many countries back.  On a selective basis, the United States cannot accept that certain countries have the right to stand on their own two feet, he asserted.  What is happening in Europe is a mirror image of what has been happening in Western Asia in the past few decades.  It shows that the United States has pursued its own interests at the expense of many other countries.  The Islamic revolution in his country was the beginning of the movement of the great nation of Iran to seek its own place in the world.  However, Iran has been faced with coup d’état attempts, oppressive sanctions and hegemonic interventions.  None of the successes of the Iranian nation have been acceptable to the great Power, he emphasized, recalling the time that Saddam Hussein tore up the Algiers accord and attacked Iran in an unprovoked manner, as well as the time when the United States trampled upon the nuclear accord.

The previous President of the United States announced that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Da'esh (ISIL) was created by his country; for Iran, it makes no difference which Administration is responsible for the creation of the group.  What matters is that a Government on the other side of the planet has decided to bring havoc and chaos to the region at the expense of the lives and blood of women and children, he said.  The leader that descended into the arena of the fight against terrorism was General Qasem Soleimani, he recalled, describing his death as a “savage, illegal and immoral crime”.

Underlining that the history of Iran is that of a nation that has learned to not depend on anyone else, he said Iran has learned its lesson:  despite announcing its neutrality during both world wars, it was subject to foreign occupation.  After the nuclear accord was signed and accepted within the framework of the Security Council, it was trampled upon unilaterally.  Regardless of the oppressive sanctions, Iran has become a strong country with many impressive goals in the field of knowledge and technology, he stressed, pointing also to the attempt to bring a universal health-care coverage to 85 million people.

He underscored that war is not the solution to crises and called for dialogue and negotiations.  Regional security must be born from within, not from the outside.  In this context, he recalled that the region has not seen an occupying Power as savage as the Zionist regime, which has managed to form the world’s biggest prison in Gaza.  The illegal settlements on Palestinian territory and the killing of Palestinian children show that seven decades of Israeli occupation and savagery has not ended.

He went on to elaborate on the double standards used to describe nuclear science capacities of Iran.  Stressing that Iran is only pursuing peaceful endeavours, he said his country is not seeking to build or obtain nuclear weapons.  Iran has been subject to 35 per cent of nuclear inspections while only 2 per cent of world nuclear activities are taking place in his country, he underscored, adding that it was the United States that left the agreement, not Tehran.  Calling sanctions “a weapon of mass destruction”, he said “abiding by those is helping oppression take place”.  The maximum pressure policy has suffered an embarrassing defeat, he asserted, adding that “the knot of the nuclear deal must be opened from the same place they managed to tie this knot together”.

KHURELSUKH UKHNAA, President of Mongolia, said that, according to a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report, even in difficult times, when countries were closing their borders and imposing restrictions and quarantines during the pandemic, the world military expenditure continued to grow in 2021, reaching an all-time high of $2.1 trillion.  “It is time for all of us to reflect on what progress could have been achieved if this huge amount of money had been spent on combating global warming and climate change,” he underscored.  The “Pax Mongolica”, established by Chinggis Khan, was an important contribution of Mongols to world history and laid the foundation for diplomacy and exchange of envoys.  Its progressive ideas could form the basis of collective efforts to maintain peace and stability, he said, calling on the international community to manage conflict through peaceful dialogue.  Noting his country’s declaration of itself as a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, he urged all Member States to exert political will to build a world free of such arms.

The year 2022 marks the twentieth anniversary of Mongolia’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said, noting that, during this period, more than 20,000 of its military personnel have served in the United Nations and other international peacekeeping operations in hot spots around the world.  Mongolia sent its first female officer to the Organization’s peacekeeping operations in 2006 and ranks among the top 20 troop-contributing countries in the number of female peacekeepers.  Firmly committed to implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security and the United Nations call to increase the number of females serving in its peacekeeping operations to 15 per cent by 2027, his country recently hosted an international conference on “Strengthening the Role of Women in Peacekeeping”.  The conference brought together female peacekeepers from more than 30 countries and representatives of international organizations, to exchange knowledge, experiences and lessons learned.  Mongolia has put forward an initiative to host this conference every five years, he said, calling for United Nations and troop-contributing countries’ support for the proposal.

Turning to efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, he said his country organized in June the seventh international conference of the “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security” where a broad range of issues, including regional security, power grid, green development, humanitarian cooperation and post-COVID economic recovery, were discussed.  Given the frequency of natural hazards and communicable diseases, the creation of an integrated regional infrastructure for disaster risk reduction and humanitarian assistance is becoming one of the most pressing security issues in North-East Asia, he added.  In that regard, his country put forward an initiative to establish an integrated platform for disaster risk reduction for the North-East Asian region in Mongolia in 2018.  On the pandemic, he said 70 per cent of Mongolia’s population are fully vaccinated, its domestic restrictions removed and borders opened.  His Government’s new recovery policy, developed in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, focuses on improvement of road, railway and border point infrastructure, increase of energy sources and intensification of industrialization, among others.  To accelerate digital transition, his country adopted laws on digital development.  The e-Mongolia platform streamlines public service delivery to citizens and entities, to reduce corruption and bureaucracy, increase information security and promote good governance.

His country — one of the most affected by climate change — has launched the “Billion Trees” national movement to plant, grow and protect trees, he said, noting that the Secretary-General personally joined and supported the movement.  Mongolia will be hosting the seventeenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in 2026.  Noting the scarcity of pastures due to shrinking space for nomadic livestock, he warned that nomadic civilization is facing the danger of extinction.  “We, Mongolians, are nomadic and pastoralist people.  The lives of over 200 million people, raising livestock and living in harmony with nature like us, are at risk now due to climate change, land degradation, desertification, drought and extreme winter calamities,” he underscored.  To protect their interests, improve pasture management and use, preserve ecosystem balance, and provide global food security and supply, his country initiated a General Assembly resolution proclaiming 2026 as the “International year of Rangelands and Pastoralists”, which was adopted on 15 March.

PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda, stressed that the world is in a state of turbulence, with intersecting crises growing in scale and severity.  Challenges including climate change, rising food prices, conflicts and uncontrolled migration, require multilateral cooperation.  Yet, he continued, the perception that the international system is no longer up to the task has only deepened, particularly when the interests of powerful States are at stake.

Turning to the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he noted that recent setbacks have highlighted that the security situation in the country is “fundamentally no different than it was 20 years ago when the largest and the most expensive United Nations peacekeeping mission was first deployed”.  This has exposed neighbouring States, notably Rwanda, to cross‑border attacks that are preventable, he added.  He stressed the need to address the root causes of destabilization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  “The blame game does not solve the problems,” he stressed.  He went on to say that finding a solution to this challenge would ultimately be much less costly in terms of both money and human lives.

As an example of international cooperation successfully addressing the issues that matter to all, he pointed out that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has helped countless lives in Africa and beyond.  He expressed hope that all countries will sustain their commitments at the seventh Replenishment Pledging Session happening later today.  Outlining his country’s efforts in working with partners to bring vaccine manufacturing to the African continent, notably through collaboration with BioNTech and with strong support from the European Union, he stressed that this is critical to increase resilience against future pandemics.  He went on to underscore the importance of digital technologies, stressing that “the future is digital”.  To ensure that the international community equally benefits from the digital transformation, it must continue investing equitably in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

On peacebuilding and counter-terrorism, he mentioned that regional and bilateral initiatives can complement the work of the Organization.  Citing the initiative in northern Mozambique which was undertaken by Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to contain violent extremism, he stressed that the same approach would “make a difference” if tried properly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  However, sustaining such efforts require consistent financial support from the international community.  “We cannot anticipate or prevent every crisis, but we can be better prepared to react quickly and effectively when needed — especially when we work together,” he said.

ŠEFIK DŽAFEROVIĆ, Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, pointed out that the global order is experiencing tectonic changes as the security architecture of Europe and the wider international framework become “a thing of the past”.  He recalled that the United Nations system was unable to prevent or stop the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-1995.  “Unfortunately, that happened again with Ukraine,” he said.  His country supported the resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly on aggression against Ukraine.  That text expressed support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and unequivocally referred to the actions of the Russian Federation as aggression.  “Although this resolution does not have the power to stop the war, it does have the power to stop the lies,” he said.

The war in Ukraine, as well as the consequences of the pandemic, led to drastic changes in all spheres of life caused by the energy crisis, inflation and threats to supplies, especially in the food sector.  Global markets and international free trade enable enormous progress in all corners of the world.  Strong economic, security and political interrelations produce an increasingly integrated global framework, where everyone relies on one another in different spheres.  Such interdependence of different parts of the world, however, is the source of vulnerability to the global community.  This became obvious during the pandemic which caused a blockade of traffic and supply channels.  Similarly, in light of the current crisis in Ukraine, wheat exports were blocked in that country’s ports, which endangered developing States in Africa and Asia facing hunger.  Most of his continent is now facing an energy crisis, due to dependence on Russian gas.  “The answer to the energy crisis in Europe is in diversification, in finding new, multiple channels of gas supply and other energy sources,” in addition to increasing international cooperation between States, he said.

He remarked that Bosnia and Herzegovina has a long tradition of multiculturalism, as it has been home to many peoples, cultures and religions for centuries.  “We are proud of our Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Roma and other communities, as well as the culture of living together and mutual respect that we have developed over the centuries,” he said.  Yet, policies based on the idea of impossibility of living together and the necessity of confrontation led to a terrifying war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995, that culminated in the genocide in Srebrenica.  Today, there are parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina that belong to the broad wave of right-wing populism in Europe and claim that it is not possible for Muslims and Christians to live together.  Yet, the “majority of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina want to live in peace with their differences”, he said.

The foreign policy goals of Bosnia and Herzegovina are to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), he continued.  In 2022, the European Council began the process of considering his country as a candidate for membership in the European Union, provided certain conditions are met.  Bosnia and Herzegovina has made progress on this front and has also been a part of NATO Membership Action Plan.  He pointed out that regional cooperation is among one of its most important foreign policy goals, as the country aims to maintain good relations with its neighbours through mutual appreciation, respect and the principle of reciprocity.

CHANDRIKAPERSAD SANTOKHI, President of Suriname, called for the world’s leaders to build a better world for those living today and for generations to come, stating that “it is time for real action”.  Slow post-pandemic economic recovery, the worsening climate crisis, biodiversity loss and collapse of ecosystems, rising levels of poverty and hunger, and a humanitarian crisis are a threat to all.  Reflecting collectively on the world’s actions, he added “we can conclude that we are not ready and have not taken all the necessary measures” to prevent future pandemics, lift the most vulnerable out of poverty and protect them from the climate crisis.  Expressing a firm commitment to international principles and law, he urged the United Nations to use its important role to address global challenges through meaningful dialogue and constructive engagement.

Suriname, just one of only three carbon-negative countries in the world, is also affected by the climate crisis, as “no country is immune”.  Excessive rainfalls cause floods which lead to loss of agricultural land, economic downfall and food insecurity.  The Secretary-General visited the country in July, calling the Caribbean “ground zero for the global climate emergency”.  This underscores the need for the $100 billion climate finance commitment to be delivered upon.

Multilateral and bilateral support for especially vulnerable Caribbean small island developing States is critical, as are greater research, adaptation finance, capacity-building technology transfers and concessionary finance.  Expressing appreciation for the adaptation finance initiatives by the Secretary-General, he called for the establishment of a loss and damage facility under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to provide States with resources to finance loss and damage resulting from climate change.  Underlining that “finance is the backbone of sustainable development”, he called for real reform of the global financial architecture while taking unique and inherent vulnerabilities of small economies into account. In that vein, he welcomed the appointment of the high-level panel of the multidimensional vulnerability index.

Sustainable development and upholding democratic values, good governance and respect for human rights are inextricably linked, he continued.  Drawing special attention to the political, economic and humanitarian crisis in Haiti, he said Suriname, as current Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chair, is committed to dialogue with all stakeholders to ensure that a Haitian-supported and -owned plan will safeguard peace and security.  Similarly, the longstanding embargo against Cuba must be lifted, he added.

Drawing attention to young people, he commended the Secretariat for its plan to establish a youth office and efforts made domestically and regionally in youth programmes.  He also praised young people themselves who “not only demand a seat at the table, but also show up consistently”.  While his country is facing hardships due to external and unforeseen shocks, new conversations will be started with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to adjust programmes and minimize costs.  Concluding, he noted that “effective and consensus-based multilateralism is the only option for solving the interlocking challenges our world faces today”.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, President of the United States, said in the last year, our world has experienced great upheaval.  Growing crisis and food insecurity, record heat, floods and droughts, COVID-19, inflation and a brutal needless war chosen by one man.  A permanent member of the Security Council invaded its neighbour and attempted to erase the sovereign State from the map, he cautioned, adding that the Russian Federation has shamelessly violated the core tenants of the Charter of the United Nations.  Just today, President Vladimir Putin has made nuclear threats against Europe in disregard to the non-proliferation regime; furthermore, the Russian Federation is calling up more soldiers to join the fight and the Kremlin is organizing sham referenda to try to annex parts of Ukraine.  Mr. Putin claims he had to act because his country was threatened; however, no one threatened the Russian Federation and no one other than Moscow sought conflict.  In fact, the United States warned it was coming.  Just before the invasion, Mr. Putin asserted that Ukraine was “created by the Russian Federation” and never had “real statehood”.  Spotlighting attacks on schools, railway stations, hospitals and centres of Ukrainian history and culture, he stressed that this war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a State.

Drawing attention to massive humanitarian aid and direct economic support his country provided to Ukraine, more than $25 billion to date, he highlighted that more than 40 countries have contributed billions to help Ukraine defend itself.  “We chose liberty.  We chose sovereignty.  We chose principles to which every party to the United Nations Charter is beholding.  We stood with Ukraine,” he asserted.  Ukraine has the same rights that belong to every sovereign nation, he said, rejecting the use of war to conquer nations and expand borders through bloodshed.

Calling for greater inclusiveness, he said members of the Security Council should defend the Charter and refrain from the use of veto except in extraordinary situations to ensure the organ remains credible and effective.  To this end, he expressed support for increasing the number of both permanent and non-permanent representatives of the Council, including permanent seats for countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.  The United States is opening an era of relentless diplomacy to address challenges such as tackling climate change, strengthening global health security and feeding the world.  On his climate agenda, he spotlighted rejoining the Paris Agreement, convening two major climate summits, helping get two thirds of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) on track to limit warming to 1.5°C and now signing a historic piece of legislation that included the greatest climate commitment the United States has ever made:  $369 billion towards climate change.

Turning to global crises, he recalled much of Pakistan is still under water while the Horn of Africa faces unprecedented drought.  “This is the human cost of climate change and it is growing,” he said.  On global health, he commented that the United States delivered more than 620 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 116 countries around the world, all free of charge.  With 193 million people around the world experiencing acute food insecurity, he announced another $2.9 billion in support for lifesaving humanitarian and food security assistance for 2022 alone.  Meanwhile, he continued, the Russian Federation is pumping out lies trying to pin the blame for the food crisis on the sanctions imposed by many in the world for the aggression against Ukraine.  “Our sanctions explicitly allow Russia the ability to export food,” he stressed, adding only Moscow can end food insecurity.  “Nothing else matters if parents cannot feed their children,” he underscored, calling on all countries to refrain from banning food exports or hoarding grain while so many people are suffering.

He went on to underscore the commitment by the United States to work with every nation, including its competitors, to solve global problems like climate change.  Addressing the competition between the United States and China, he said his country does not seek conflict or a cold war.  Seeking to uphold peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, the United States remains committed to its One China policy, which has helped prevent conflict for four decades, he said, adding that his country will continue to oppose unilateral changes in the status quo by either side.  He further urged a Venezuelan-led dialogue and a return to free and fair elections, expressed his support for Haiti as it faces politically-fuelled gang violence and an enormous human crisis and reiterated his commitment to continue to back the United Nations mediated truce in Yemen.  “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” he asserted, voicing concern over disturbing trends introduced by the Russian Federation, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and China.  “China is conducting an unprecedented, concerning nuclear build-up without any transparency,” he said, stressing that the United States “will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon”.

EGILS LEVITS, President of Latvia, stressing that starting a war of aggression is the gravest threat to world peace order, said that for seven months the Russian Federation has been waging an unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine, a sovereign United Nations Member State.  This is not just a regional security issue.  “In the twenty-first century, Russia maintains a nineteenth century ideology of imperialism, colonialism and racism,” he asserted, recalling that the Russian Federation invaded Georgia in 2008, illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014, and has used increasingly aggressive rhetoric towards other neighbouring countries.  Voicing concern over the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine, he reported that one third of the population has been forced to leave their homes.  Furthermore, Moscow is using its position in the energy market to exert pressure; high energy prices maintain high levels of global inflation, which affects the world's most vulnerable populations.

Underscoring Moscow’s limited ability to finance the war against Ukraine, he called for strengthening global sanctions in the fields of finance, trade, transport and energy, as well as restrictive measures against individuals and legal entities.  He also underlined that Belarus is equally responsible for enabling Moscow's military aggression against Ukraine.  “We stand with the brave people of Ukraine,” he exclaimed, noting that, since the beginning of the war, Latvia has spent over 0.8 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on military, economic, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

“Today, we learn that partial mobilization has been declared in Russia, as their once-mighty army is overwhelmed,” he said, citing the defence mounted by the people of Ukraine and calling the “blitzkrieg” envisaged by the Russian Federation’s President, Vladmir V. Putin “a long nightmare”.  He further cautioned against Moscow’s plans to hold illegal referenda in the coming days on the annexation of the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk to the Russian Federation.  This is a blatant contravention of both Ukrainian and international law, he pointed out, stressing that Latvia will not recognize the legitimacy of these referenda and calling on the international community to do likewise.

Underscoring the importance of accountability, he drew attention to proceedings of the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights on the Russian war against Ukraine.  However, a legal gap remains as no international court has jurisdiction over the main issue — the starting of a war of aggression — the gravest violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law.  To this end, he called for the establishment of a special tribunal, whose main task would be to investigate the responsibility of the Russian Federation in the crime of aggression.  The special tribunal could be part of an international reparations mechanism, he added.

Turning to sustainable development and climate change, he described the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the overarching goal of Latvia's development cooperation policy.  On the issue of global justice, he expressed the view that the greatest polluters should also bear a greater burden for the protection of the climate.  Commenting on the digitization — one of the most important agents of change — he warned against attempts to turn the digital space into a battlefield, where international law is challenged and basic rights are ignored.  In this context, he supported the proposal of the Secretary-General on elaborating a global digital compact, which should reduce the digital gap between developed and developing countries.

GUILLERMO LASSO, President of Ecuador, recounted the story of Mateo, a young man from Colombia, who was going about his daily activities and pursuing a medical degree at the Zaporizhzhia National University, when his dream turned into a nightmare due to the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine.  Mateo came very close to the most dangerous military actions, but with his ingenuity and the help of others, was able to go to the nearest border.  At the same time, Ecuador was in the process of establishing a national crisis committee, he said, highlighting that it fulfilled its goal of repatriating 730 Ecuadorian citizens on board humanitarian flights.  Mateo, whose sister is Ecuadorian, was able to join one of those flights and today Mateo’s Colombian parents now live in Ecuador thanks to special humanitarian visas granted by the Government of Ecuador.  Colombian, Peruvian other Latin Americans and even Ukrainians also managed to escape the war thanks to the enormous diplomatic effort led by his country, he said, stressing that:  “Ecuador is there to help the world.  Ecuador leaves no one behind.”

He went on to say that for most of his life he has cultivated a very simple idea:  “The only way to generate value is by always and in every activity putting human beings at the centre.”  This is vital because any institution or political system derives its legitimacy from the well-being it creates for its citizens.  “International institutions sponsor some of the threats that bring us here today,” he pointed out.  To keep those threats away, the international community must clearly point to the “ugly face of authoritarianism” and create a world order in which all citizens feel included, connected and represented, and where opportunities flow freely from one corner of the planet to the other.  In so doing, it becomes harder for would-be dictators to blame their failures on supposed “asymmetries” of the global order, he said, warning against the pretext of a false notion of sovereignty that is in reality arrogance.

Today, his country is engaged in an unprecedented fight against drug trafficking, he said, noting that the World Drug Report 2022 ranks it third in the world in terms of the most cocaine seized.  His country is stepping up activities to maximize the seizure of drugs and dismantle the transnational organizations that transport them.  He said this “monster” has various faces:  human trafficking, money laundering, illegal weapons trafficking and even illegal mining.  It is calculated that transnational crime moves an amount of money that oscillates between $1.6 and $2 trillion — figures that exceed the entire economy of a country like his.  However, it would be a mistake to quantify the consequences of transnational crime only in economic terms.  They must be measured especially in terms of irreparable losses, lives lost and dreams destroyed, he underscored, recounting that just two days ago, in the city of Guayaquil where he was born, a prosecutor was assassinated by organized crime hitmen.  The prosecutor was an official whose investigations included major cases involving transnational mafias.  Transnational crime requires a transnational solution, he stressed, calling on united efforts and increased cooperation.

In the area of human mobility, Ecuador is maintaining its long history as a transit country and a refuge for migrants, he continued, noting that it has traditionally been the biggest host country of refugees in the entire Western hemisphere.  Beyond welcoming them, Ecuador makes special efforts to guarantee the rights and, above all, the integration of migrants, particularly families whose countries of origin do not offer alternatives for a better life, and who have no option other than to flee.  With half a million Venezuelans living in Ecuador today, his country is one of the three main destinations of migrants from Venezuela.  Despite its budgetary difficulties, his country attends to that population with health care and other social services.  Moreover, it has begun the process of regularizing their status, he said, voicing hope that fellow Member States will support his country in that endeavour.

Turning to the climate crisis, he said that, although Ecuador’s greenhouse gas emissions represent barely 0.18 per cent of the global emissions, it has decided to transform itself as the first country in Latin America and the fourth in the world to adopt a cross-cutting policy towards the environmental transition, including creating a special ministry for this.  For that reason, almost a year ago, in the framework of the climate conference in Glasgow, he announced the creation of a new marine reserve in the Galapagos Islands called “Hermandad” or “Brotherhood”, which increased by 60,000 square kilometres the protected area of that natural heritage site.  Also in 2021, he signed the Declaration for the Conservation of the Marine Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific, together with the Presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama.  This joint effort gives a new dimension and political impetus to the goals of the marine corridor, opening new opportunities for cooperation, financing and technical assistance for the conservation not only of Ecuadorian or regional biodiversity but also of global biodiversity.

HAKAINDE HICHILEMA, President of Zambia, stressed that the current challenges that the world faces, including the pandemic, climate change, the war in Ukraine and its effects on supply chains, food insecurity, high commodity and energy prices, as well as the overall high cost of living, have cast a dark shadow over the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.  In this context, his country welcomed the Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda report, while also endorsing the call to convene the “Summit of the Future”.  He called for the attainment of a “Pact for the Future” that underwrites a new form of multilateralism — where major challenges are faced together in solidarity, within a context of a rules-based international order.

Turning to the pandemic, he called for the establishment of an international public health regime that will be “devoid of hoarding vaccines and related technologies to guarantee rapid deployment of supplies from a global reserve”.  Expressing concern over the re-emergence of polio, he outlined his country’s participation in supplementary immunization activities along with other nations in Africa.  While stressing that the fight against cholera must continue, he also emphasized the need to remain alert to possible outbreaks of monkeypox, Ebola virus disease and other threats.

On the economy, he noted that, despite the external environment, his country’s recovery is on track with its GDP growth expected to surpass 3 per cent within one year of his taking office.  To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, he urged countries that are off-track to renew commitments towards eradicating poverty, tackling “energy poverty” and supporting debt restructuring and enhanced concessional finance.  He also noted that Zambia reached in principle an agreement with creditors to restructure its national debt and has reached a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) based on its economic transformation plan.

Regarding climate change, he outlined that one half of his country experienced total crop failure due to extreme drought, while the other experienced floods during the same season.  He called for enhanced efforts in addressing climate change, which should include increased financial support for countries with limited resources to mitigate and adapt to its effects and impact.  Turning to gender equality, noting that women’s empowerment and poverty alleviation are positively correlated, he stressed the need to dedicate efforts to ensure that gender disparities are curtailed.  He went on to inform the Assembly that Zambia, Canada and other partners held an event earlier today to galvanize support and renew commitment towards this issue.

Expressing concern over the war in Ukraine, he added that “a few months of war can erase decades of progress”.  He urged all parties involved to pursue diplomatic solutions to the conflict.  Noting that global ambitions towards peace and security largely depend on the effectiveness of the Security Council, he continued to state that the “inadequacies” of its current structure have become increasingly pronounced with “ceding of decision-making on matters of global peace and security to the General Assembly, that otherwise would have been its preserve”.  He stressed the need for the “long-overdue” reform of the Security Council.

ANDRY NIRINA RAJOELINA, President of Madagascar, said that the General Assembly annually convenes to raise the banner of our aspirations, which should always be universal peace.  Solidarity is more important than ever now that we have entered the third year of the pandemic and are facing its consequences.  In this time, Madagascar placed its trust in science and the natural riches of the lands.  While the apocalypse of Africa was predicted, Madagascar showed that difficulties can be transformed into opportunities, and what it has accomplished has flown in the face of all statistics.

However, before the world fully re-emerged, the conflict in Ukraine sowed further instability, heightened inequality and caused soaring inflation, he said.  “Dialogue is the only way to bring about peace,” he said.  Calling for international solidarity and highlighting the crucial role of the United Nations in promoting multilateralism and finding equitable solutions, he pointed out that conflicts ultimately end with developing countries paying the highest price both in economic and social terms.

In the face of these challenges, countries must review their development strategies.  “There are more powerful weapons than bombs, tanks and missiles.  They are our lands, our raw materials, our natural resources and our people,” he explained.  Industrialization, innovation, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, political vision and political will all strengthen and protect people.  Elevating Madagascar to the level of newly emerging country is the goal — and the plans to double or even triple the production capacity of renewable energy from water, the sun and wind will help achieve that as well as self-sufficiency.  For example, while in 2022 more than 600 million Africans still live in houses only lit by candles and kerosine, the Government of Madagascar will subsidize solar kits to its people.  Then, it will become among the first on the continent to have brought light to all its people, he said.

Equally alarming and dangerous to world peace, security and future generations is climate change.  While stressing the unfairness that the least polluting countries are paying the highest price, he stated that access to the annually committed $100 billion of the Green Climate Fund has been “painfully slow”.  Urging Member States to turn words into actions, he said:  “Today, I carry the cries and the voice of the African continent in general and of Madagascar in particular.”  At this moment, infrastructure projects, including roads, schools, health-care centres, hospitals, dams, courts prisons, and sport and cultural facilities, are being built in Madagascar.  Moreover, it is investing in family planning programmes to transform a dependent population into an active and economically productive population, he said.  As such, education is a national priority.

He said that he was pleased that the France-Malagasy Joint Committee is working towards the implementation of General Assembly resolutions from 1979 and 1980 relating to the issue of des Iles Éparses.  “The Africa of tomorrow must be autonomous, independent and prosperous,” he concluded.

MOHAMED YOUNIS A. MENFI, President of the Presidential Council of the State of Libya, said that his country has gone through a decade of suffering and hope and is still trying to build national institutions and consolidate the principles of democracy.  Its people have demonstrated to the world that it represents a unified nation in spite of its challenges.  The people have used tolerance and patriotism to keep working for a unified country.  The situation today is one in which individual interests of different countries, proxy wars and divergent views exist and do not give Libya the opportunity to develop its own national path.  These very negative interventions offer contradictory solutions, which have pushed the country to armed confrontation and led to intransigent political positions that do not accept any concessions and middle ground, he noted.

He said the Libyan Presidential Council represents the unity of the country, oversees the Commander in Chief of the army and leads the efforts of national reconciliation that are inclusive and pave the way for parliamentary and presidential elections.  He thanked the African Union for helping Libya launch the project of national reconciliation to lead to peace and stability.  This is an important pillar.  These responsibilities force the country to work in an impartial and balanced effort.  The Presidential Council is trying to resolve political disputes.

Noting that the Presidential Council has closely followed the dialogue between the Parliament and the Council of State, he said that they still have not agreed on the rules to follow to establish elections.  The Presidential Council stresses that these rounds of dialogue should not continue indefinitely and it stands ready to intervene to help overcome the impasse.  It economically supports all efforts to restore the production of gas and oil in all Libyan regions.  This will support international markets and the countries that are major consumers of energy.  Based on its balanced position, the Presidential Council supports fair and transparent management of oil revenues, which belong to all Libyans.  The funds should not be a source of conflict but benefit all Libyans in all regions of the country, he said.  Achievement of this goal would reduce the current conflict for power and create a favourable climate for democratic transitions.

Libya considers the role of the United Nations in a positive light, despite its slower rate of intervention recently.  He still expects an active role through the new leadership of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).  He called for the Mission’s continuation and support of inclusive national reconciliation to overcome the impasse, which has opened the road for individual initiatives that risk the country’s achievements.  He called for new momentum in the country’s economic development, including areas such as the transparent and just management of oil resources, financial controls and combating corruption.

The world today is on the threshold of a new international order.  Reminded of the suffering of humankind at the beginning of the twentieth century, he said:  “We thought the errors of the past would not be repeated… Now is the time for human consciousness to speak out in favour of peace.”  The world needs to uphold the United Nations principles of sovereignty of States and resolve conflicts by peaceful means.  He called for the right of people to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in compliance with criteria defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  He also called for renewed efforts to fight terrorism, which does not spare anyone, and said Libya is fulfilling its responsibility to fight the financing of terrorism.

MAIA SANDU, President of the Republic of Moldova, addressed the General Assembly in her national capacity “as a future member of the European Union” and expressed gratitude to the 27 European Union member States for their unanimous support.  “By applying to join the European Union, we want the world to know:  We choose democracy over autocracy, liberty over oppression, peace over war and prosperity over poverty,” she stressed.  European Union candidate status gives the Republic of Moldova a clear sense of direction, a unifying goal, an anchor and a strong sense of belonging to the free world.

She underscored that the war in Ukraine is not just an attack on a neighbouring country but an attack on the rules-based international order, nuclear safety and food supplies to countries in the Middle East and Africa.  She firmly condemned the war against Ukraine, as well as the recently announced additional mobilization of troops by the Russian Federation, as she expressed the utmost admiration of the people of the Republic of Moldova to all Ukrainians for their courage, resilience and inner power to continue the fight for survival, justice and freedom.  Stressing that it is a moral duty of the international community to continue supporting Ukraine, she emphasized that that country is fighting today “to keep all of us safe, to keep Europe safe”.  A country of less than 3 million people, the Republic of Moldova sheltered more than half a million refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.  At the peak of the inflow, its population grew by 4 per cent.  She expressed gratitude to all Moldovan families who showed unprecedented solidarity with refugees by opening their homes and hearts to those in need.

The Republic of Moldova knows what it means to be a country divided by conflict:  in 1992 it faced a brief but tragic war in the Transnistrian region.  As the Russian Federation launched its war against Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova started to work harder than ever to maintain peace on both banks of the Nistru River, ensuring that its citizens, including those residing in the breakaway region, continue to enjoy peace.  She underscored that the illegal presence of the Russian military troops in the Transnistrian region infringes on her country’s neutrality and increases its security risks.  Thus, she called on the complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops and on the destruction of ammunition from the Cobasna [ammunition] depot in Transnistria, which poses a security and environmental threat to the region.

Abnormally high prices for natural gas and Moscow’s attempts to weaponize gas and oil supplies to Europe triggered an unprecedented energy crisis, she continued.  Moldova is one of the most vulnerable countries in the face of this crisis, yet it is determined to diversify its energy sources and decrease dependence on fossil fuels.  The Republic of Moldova plans to increase its share of renewable electricity supplies from 3 to 30 per cent in the next 3 years, which will make the country stronger and the environment healthier and safer, she said.

The Republic of Moldova is pressing ahead with its reform agenda by building a stronger and more democratic State.  In 2021, it improved 49 positions in the Press Freedom Index, ranking fortieth in the world.  She said that justice reform and the fight against corruption lays at the core of her country’s transformation agenda, as it works hard to become a better place for investors — to create jobs, boost the economy and bring greater prosperity to its people.  The Republic of Moldova is also investing in connectivity with Europe to bring the country closer to European standards.  “We are determined to bring Moldova into the [European Union]”, she underscored, “so that every Moldovan can have better living standards and more economic opportunities at home”.

HAGE GEINGOB, President of Namibia, said that during the period of his country’s independence, it built a strong foundation for governance architecture with an emphasis on strengthening processes, systems and institutions.  In Namibia, the presence of women in line of succession in the Government is a demonstration of the strides the country made in gender equality.  Currently, women representation accounts for 40 per cent in the National Assembly, whereas 90 per cent of Namibia’s banks are chaired by women.

Namibia supports convening the Summit of the Future, proposed by the Secretary-General “at the earliest opportune time”.  The education sector in Namibia has consistently been prioritized through allocation of resources, and its consistent prioritization of policy development.  Thus, that sector receives the largest share of budgetary support, equivalent to 8 per cent of the country’s GDP and almost a quarter of the total national budget.  His country offers free primary and secondary education, which demonstrates its commitment to prioritizing and expanding access to education for all.  Furthermore, Namibia set up the Fourth Industrial Revolution Task Force to strengthen its domestic capabilities and derive optimal gains from the next industrial revolution.

As a Chairperson of SADC, he called for peaceful general elections in Lesotho on 7 October and added that he commenced a process of dialogue with the leaders of Eswatini, Lesotho and Mozambique to ensure the successful implementation of SADC decisions, for peace and stability in the region.

“Self-determination is a human right,” he said, urging the Assembly to start implementing the two-State solution as the only viable alternative that can end inequality and bring peace to the peoples of Palestine, Israel and the whole region.  He also expressed concern about the lack of progress in implementing United Nations resolutions on Western Sahara.  “Namibia pledges un unwavering solidarity for nations that continue to bear the heavy brunt of sanctions,” he said, reiterating its longstanding call for lifting of the unjust embargo against Cuba.  “It is time that the sons and daughters of Cuba are given their right to a decent life, free from an embargo that denies them their right to develop their own country,” he said.  He then called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe, noting that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and that country’s people made laudable progress and reforms.

Like many developing countries, Namibia remains vulnerable to the asymmetrical impacts of climate change.  At the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference  the country plans to announce major developments in its ambitions to decarbonize global hard-to-abate sectors through the production of green hydrogen.  The first hydrogen-to-power project in Africa is expected to be operational by 2024 in the town of Swakopmund.  Namibia remains ready to work with the international community to ensure the most optimal utilization of its natural resources to combat climate change.  In this regard, his Government launched a national Sovereign Wealth Fund, Welwitschia Fund, to demonstrate the country’s commitment to fiscal prudence and sustainable resource management for current and future generations.

BORUT PAHOR, President of Slovenia, noted that the cry of “never again” has echoed around the world after the Second World War, and except for the war in the Balkans, even the major geopolitical changes in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been peaceful.  However, he stated, the hope of building a lasting peace has been shaken by the “Russian aggression against Ukraine”.

The international community must not leave its children a world in perpetual fear of war, he emphasized.  He also highlighted that the war, which has put international security at risk, is threatening the already fragile stability of the Western Balkans as well as international food and energy security.  In that regard he commended the Secretary-General and Türkiye for their support to reach an agreement on the Black Sea Grain Initiative.  It is the obligation of world leaders to resolve outstanding issues in a spirit of compromise and mutual understanding, he underscored.

He went on to stress that nurturing and strengthening good relations between countries is necessary if current challenges are to be met, especially climate change, which he described as “undoubtedly one of the most pressing”.  He pledged support to Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific in their efforts against biodiversity loss, stress on water and climate damage.  He outlined his country’s efforts in contributing to the “Least Development Countries Fund”’ of the Global Environment Facility, and to initiate the Green Group, working together with like-minded countries in the promotion of green policies.  He thanked the General Assembly for the recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, noting that Slovenia was one of its original proponents along with Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco and Switzerland.  The upcoming United Nations conferences on climate change, biodiversity and water will serve as an excellent opportunity for the international community to commit to do more and better, he said.  Commending the Secretary-General for putting forward the Our Common Agenda report, he also expressed support for the proposed Second World Summit for Social Development to be held in 2025, expecting it to address the challenges of structural inequalities.  “We should be attentive to all signs of human rights regression and should act accordingly,” he emphasized.

Recalling that rules-based order is a “sine qua non” for maintaining peace and security, as well as a just and balanced international system, he stressed that his country has proved itself an honest broker engaged in a genuine dialogue and constant search for creative and collaborative solutions to common challenges.  “Slovenia has no enemies, but only friends all around the globe,” he added.  Touching on his country becoming a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2024, he outlined the following as the task of Slovenia — striving for peace, justice, mutual understanding and reconciliation; respect for ethnic, national and religious diversities; and promotion of sustainable development and solidarity.  He noted that this is the international community’s common task as well.

WILLIAM SAMOEI RUTO, President of Kenya, called his presence at the General Assembly, following his country’s peaceful, free and fair electoral process in August, a testimony to the universal power of democracy.  It shows the world’s shared aspiration towards stronger nations, robust institutions, effective constitutions and the rule of law.  At the same time, the world is faced with multiple grave challenges, like regional conflicts, the pandemic, food insecurity and a triple planetary crisis.  The theme of the seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly, “A watershed moment:  transformative solutions to interlocking challenges”, reflects this moment in time.

Similarly, these challenges give the international community a window of opportunity.  The pandemic stripped them from illusions and showed a global solidarity deficit.  Exclusionist nationalism among other things, he continued, impairs the resolve of the international community to guarantee fundamental rights and freedom for the people — especially the vulnerable bottom billion.  Stressing that no one must be left behind, he proposed to augment “building back better” into “building back better from the bottom”.  Including the world’s marginalized majority into the economic mainstream will harbour their ingenuity, industriousness and build prosperity.

The world is facing the consequences of climate change.  In Kenya, 1.3 million residents have become food insecure.  Lowered agricultural output, water scarcity and starvation are looming.  Referring to the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he called upon Member States and stakeholders to not waste time to demonstrate political will to cooperate and share technologies — to jointly usher in a “new paradigm in multilateralism”.  Stressing how the agricultural sector is a fundamental vehicle for economic growth, he echoed the Secretary General’s call to solve fertilizer deficit issues and shared how Kenya is investing in climate change resistant agriculture.

Furthermore, now that education, health care and other public services have become reliant on digital access, more investments and global partnership are needed to take this “short cut to poverty reduction” and bridge the divide between the global South and North.  Besides that, building on the experience of the March 2022 United Nations Environment Assembly meeting in Nairobi, he proposed a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.  This relates to another vital sector, the blue economy.  Kenya remains a strong advocate of making the blue economy a development priority, as it has the potential to end hunger, spur economic growth and clean waters, he stated.  Finally, he called upon international financial institutions and the Group of 20 (G20) to use all financial instruments available to provide debt relief to the worst-hit countries and payment extension to middle-income countries in this post-pandemic, conflict-ridden world facing climate change.

During its time on the Security Council, Kenya has been committed to prioritizing regional peace and security, climate security and countering terrorism and extremism, he said.  However, the Council’s “relevancy, legitimacy and moral authority will remain deficient” without proper reform, democratization and inclusivity.  It is only one example of “the African exception from worldwide solidarity” and “particularly repugnant” he continued.  Kenya calls for the strengthening of multilateralism as the only path to peace and security in a prosperous world for all its citizens, he concluded.

ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, stated that the emergence of new “centres of influence” requires the international community to prioritize dialogue over power struggles.  In the face of rivalry between powers and multifaceted challenges, it would be “dangerously naïve to continue to opt for power struggles over unilateral positions.”  With less than eight years before the deadline of 2030 to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, he emphasized the need to evaluate progress considering the threat which COVID‑19 has posed on economies.  While noting that Gabon has subsidized certain commodities to tackle inflation, he also mentioned that it needs to be overcome together with a sense of solidarity.

He went on to say that humanity faces a “triple” environmental crisis — climate change, biodiversity crisis and pollution notably by plastics.  With 88 per cent of its land covered by forest which absorbs over 100 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, he stressed that his country has already achieved the objective of carbon neutrality set by the Paris Agreement on climate change.  He expressed hope that a carbon market will be created to enable his country to maintain this performance through 2050 and beyond.  He then stated that the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties will be a “decisive moment for humanity”, adding that the time has come to mobilize 1 per cent of global GDP for nature.  He then stressed the need to adopt a binding international agreement on plastic pollution, as well as a high seas treaty.

Turning to peace and security, he underscored that restricting armed groups’ access to arms will be at the heart of his country’s priorities during its presidency of the Security Council in October.  He reiterated his call for a robust partnership to ensure greater security in the Gulf of Guinea.  He also noted that many countries face humanitarian crises exacerbated by armed conflicts, such as the case in Ukraine, which has led to a worsening of existing food shortages.  “Gabon, which has never experienced an armed conflict, will continue to advance and favour dialogue and negotiation over confrontation,” he continued.

Stressing that access to education for children should be considered “sacred”, he expressed support for making schools into sanctuaries, particularly during armed conflicts.  “To compromise education is to place a mortgage on future generations,” he said.  In this regard, he explained that his country made the promotion of women and young people a key priority, recalling the launch of the decade of the Gabonese women in 2015.

With internationalism at a turning point, he highlighted the need to reform the United Nations to ensure better consideration of the aspirations of Africa, particularly at the Security Council.  “Africa has waited long enough, and we will not wait any longer,” he added.  Stressing that it is crucial to put an end to the use of sanctions, he reiterated his call for the total lifting of the embargo which has affected the Government and the people of Cuba.  On the Middle East, he stated that the two-State solution is the only way to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and achieve peace and security.

MOHAMED IRFAAN ALI, President of Guyana, noting the unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and widening inequalities between the rich and poor as a result, stressed that there must be an immediate re-examination of the financing gap and the debt portfolio of developing countries to open fiscal space and create an opportunity for recovery and attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.  The World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned that acute food insecurity would worsen in 20 hunger hotspots in June to September 2022, he said, detailing related issues such as surging food prices, supply chain constraints, hike in energy costs and the war in Ukraine.  Noting dire projections on production and food import costs, he said the reversal of export bans on rice and wheat and freeing up of grains could help that situation.  He urged world leaders to “find the balance now” and to work collectively to prevent the widening of inequalities and social and economic havoc.

According to the World Bank and Global Trade Alert, between January — June 2022, 135 policy measures were announced or implemented that affected trade in food and fertilizer, he said.  During the same period 34 nations imposed restrictive export measures on food and fertilizers.  He asked whether globalization is only applicable under normal conditions, or opportunistic in its application such that when a crisis arises “we lock ourselves in and forget about multilateralism and globalization”.  The evidence is glaring, he said, pointing to the COVID-19 vaccination and access to food and fertilizer.  He welcomed FAO’s Global Food Import Financing Facility, which seeks to respond to the prevailing soaring food import costs and addressing the needs of the most exposed.  However, there is need to revise the eligibility criteria to accommodate countries beyond the categories of low-income and lower-middle-income groups, he said, pointing out that that narrow grouping heightens the chance that many at-risk, economically vulnerable countries, such as the Caribbean with large food and food import needs, will be excluded.

Turning to the climate crisis, he said the costs of adaptation are most likely to be higher than the predicted range of $140–300 billion annually by 2030 and $280–500 billion annually by 2050 for developing nations, citing the Adaptation Gap Report 2021:  The Gathering Storm.  He underscored that:  “The paltry $100 billion pledge and the failure to meet it must be viewed in the context of the likely costs of climate action for mitigation, adaptation and addressing loss and damage.  It is not enough.”  The adoption of broad rules on carbon markets in Glasgow has the potential to unlock critical resources for forest-rich countries, he said, noting that forested countries, like his own, can potentially earn billions of dollars accessible through the voluntary carbon markets.  However, the current approximate price is $10 per ton on the voluntary market, while according to an IMF report, the price should be closer to $70 per ton.  In that regard, the twenty-seventh Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) must make progress in refining the rules for the implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and make decisions that would increase the price of carbon traded in voluntary carbon markets.

Turning to the energy crisis, he said that according to the International Energy Agency, global electricity demand grew by 6 per cent in 2021 and is projected to grow by 2.4 per cent in 2022, of which only 50 per cent is expected to be met from renewables.  As such, the other 50 per cent would have to be met from non-renewable energy sources.  “In this energy transition, fossil fuel remains necessary,” he said, pointing out that “new entrants” like his country must be part of this balanced approach.  Even as a new entrant, Guyana proposed the removal of subsidies from fossil fuel production and advocated the need for a strong global carbon price.  However, new entrants should not be punished by removing access to financing and increasing costs of financing, he said, noting that that would protect an existing monopoly, drive up the costs of investments and deliver a higher priced product.

To reduce the country’s food import bill and increase food security, his Government is cultivating and investing in new technology and smart agriculture.  It aims to position the country as a leading food producer in the Caribbean community, providing incentives, capital, land and opportunities for youth and women to participate in the agriculture transformation.  To that end, it has earmarked 35 per cent of all new agrobusiness to be led by women and have increased youth participation in agriculture with the use of technology by more than 40 per cent.  Turning to climate change and biodiversity loss, he said his country’s forests — the size of the United Kingdom — store 19.5 gigatons of carbon with a deforestation rate of less than 0.05 per cent.  It intends to continue the sustainable management of its forests as a key national and global good.  Having already achieved net-zero status, it is working steadfastly in its transition from a 2020 status of 95 per cent dependence on heavy fuel oil and diesel to an energy mix which includes hydropower, solar, wind and natural gas.  From that, more than 500 megawatts of new generating capacity will come on stream; of which 87 per cent of this generated energy will be from clean and renewable sources.

KATALIN NOVÁK, President of Hungary, quoting Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in a 2010 speech she made to the General Assembly, reminded the body that the work of “waging peace” is both difficult and only possible through interdependence.  She congratulated fellow Hungarian Csaba Kőrösi, who is serving as President of the Assembly for the seventy-seventh session.  Emphasizing her own position as the first female President of Hungary as well as a wife and mother, she expressed her own feeling of responsibility for preserving an environment of security and comfort for all future generations and reaffirmed Hungary’s commitment to Article I of the Charter of the United Nations, on maintaining peace and security.

She noted that according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Conflict Tracker, there are currently 27 ongoing conflicts worldwide, all of which are described as either “worsening” or “unchanging”.  “Right now, there’s not a single conflict described as ‘improving’,” she said, also pointing to the intensive increase in the number of wars and armed conflicts since the Second World War.  Recalling Soviet tanks rolling on the streets in Budapest 11 years after the Second World War ended, and war in neighbouring countries following the peaceful regime change in 1989, she expressed particular concern over the war now raging in Europe, again in a neighbouring country, where “ethnic Hungarians living across the borders also shed their blood”.

She firmly condemned the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine and described it as a security risk not only for Ukrainian citizens living in the war zone but for all people, citing the threat of escalation as cause for further worry and action.  “Since the beginning of this conflict, Hungarians have stood with the victims,” she said, explaining that the country is implementing its largest humanitarian operation in recent history, providing economic, social and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as well as shelter to nearly 1 million refugees.

Invoking historical lessons, she said:  “War is evil and leads nowhere.  A war only has victims,” and called for an investigation into war crimes committed against civilians in the strongest possible terms.  “These crimes must be documented, investigated and prosecuted by the relevant international institutions.  No crimes committed can go unpunished,” she stressed.  Dismissing the idea that “winning any war” should be the goal of the United Nations, she urged fellow Member States to declare peace as the major priority in the present conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

In a context of war, energy and food crises, she emphasized the importance of all global organizations set up to avoid war and preserve peace, but also to aid in preventing the dissemination of disinformation.  Quoting Winston Churchill in 1953, she said:  “Those who can win a war well rarely make a good peace, and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war,” urging the General Assembly to “make a good peace”.

ALASSANE OUATTARA, President of Côte d’Ivoire, noted that the war in Ukraine — with the risk of recourse to nuclear weapons — continues to undermine world peace, with serious economic, financial and social consequences for African countries.  The rise in the price of oil and the difficulties in supplying the markets with cereals and fertilizers have led to generalized inflation, an increase in interest rates on international markets and in the prices of basic necessities and cases of famine, due to their dependence on cereals and fertilizers from Ukraine and the Russian Federation.  His Government has had to subsidize the prices of petroleum products and wheat and to temporarily cap prices.  Expressing regret that only 17 per cent of wheat exported from Ukraine since the July agreement has been earmarked for African countries, he again requested that priority be given to them, issuing an urgent appeal to international financial institutions and development partners to mobilize necessary resources to support fragile States.

He noted that his country has hosted the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), one of the largest peacekeeping operations in Africa, and welcomed the country’s participation in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) — citing those Ivorian soldiers who died to serve the cause of peace in Mali.  Unfortunately, he said 46 Ivorian soldiers deployed within MINUSMA have been unjustly detained there since 10 July 2022, calling for their immediate release.  He encouraged Malian authorities to focus efforts on the fight against terrorism and on implementing the various stages of the transition schedule and political reforms in view of presidential elections scheduled for February 2024.  With terrorism still representing a major threat to international peace and security, States must strengthen collective instruments in the fight against this scourge.  He welcomed the decisive action of France and its European partners in the Sahel and reiterated the call for greater involvement of other major Powers in the fight against terrorism there and in the Gulf of Guinea, in support of national armies, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Accra Initiative. 

The Assembly session is being held as the energy crisis following the war in Ukraine undermines progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions — in particular due to the return, in certain industrialized countries, of the use of carbon-based fuels.  Time is running out to implement all commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change, he stressed, to stem global warming below the threshold of 1.5°C.  Developed countries must drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and honour their commitments to mobilize $100 billion per year for developing States.

He pointed to the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference — Twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP27 — to be held in Egypt in November, which will offer a new opportunity to renew the political commitment of all stakeholders in financing the fight against global warming.  Côte d’Ivoire will respect its commitments under the Agreement and work to protect its forest cover and rich biodiversity — which is the whole meaning of the Abidjan Legacy Programme.  Citing the exceptional mobilization and financial support of development partners for the Abidjan Initiative, which has quickly raised more than $2.5 billion, he also called for an in-depth reform of the Security Council, within which Africa would find its rightful place.

JULIUS MAADA BIO, President of Sierra Leone, in noting the effects of repurposed global development and international finance, disrupted production and supply chains, increased food and energy insecurity and slowed economies and adverse climate change impacts on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development called for fair innovation in development financing which is free of stringent restrictions and high transaction costs.  As aid must align with domestic development priorities, multilateral financial institutions can de-risk the investments that are critical for sustainable economic development.

Turning to the impact of climate change, he urged consistency on meeting international commitments to address the phenomenon.  “Beyond the usual declaratives, we must collaborate on and coordinate mitigation efforts, improve infrastructure for early warning systems, invest more in improving the management of water resources, promote disaster risk management, and enhance the conservation and protection of natural habitat,” he said.  Fair and accessible multilateral climate financing should catalyse global and country-specific measures and innovation and must also include the roles and interests of women and young people.  In reaffirming his country’s full commitment to the Treaty on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, he stressed that the Treaty must prioritize conservation measures, fair and equitable benefits sharing, meaningful capacity development and marine technology transfer.

Speaking as co-Chair of the High-Level Steering Committee on Sustainable Development Goal 4 and as a champion of the Transforming Education Summit, he urged concerted global action on addressing the learning crisis by, among other things, mobilizing innovative financing models, underwriting universal access to education, especially for girls and learners with disabilities, addressing infrastructure deficits, supporting school feeding programmes, and funding technical and vocational training as well as other education needs.  He echoed the urgent call to scale up financing to support agriculture and irrigation, enhance food systems and nutrition for vulnerable populations and social protection for at-risk populations — all vital to addressing the global food crisis that is disproportionately affecting least developed countries.  He also joined the call to address global supply constraints for fertilizers, rice and other agricultural commodities while noting that the establishment of agricultural development banks can promote self-sufficiency and greater resilience. 

Expressing Sierra Leone’s commitment to putting women and girls at the centre of development, he stressed:  “We cannot deliver on the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development without the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment.”  His Government has taken extensive legislative and administrative actions to address sexual and gender-based violence since declaring rape as a national emergency in 2019.  Recalling that Sierra Leone sponsored the General Assembly resolution adopted on 2 September 2022 entitled “International Cooperation for Access to Justice, Remedies and Assistance for Survivors of Sexual Violence”, he called on all to implement access to justice and other remedies and to ensure dignity for all survivors.

Recognizing the diligent contributions of small States as the strongest advocates for the rules-based international system, he announced Sierra Leone’s candidacy for a non-permanent Security Council seat for 2024-2025.  In reaffirming the United Nations Charter and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, he called on all parties to continue their “good faith and firm commitment to a conclusive and durable resolution of all sovereignty disputes”.  Speaking in his capacity at the Coordinator of the African Union Committee of Ten (C-10) on Security Council reform, he commended progress in intergovernmental negotiations and attributed them to the Assembly’s acknowledgement of the “wider recognition of and broader support by Member States for the legitimate aspiration of African countries to play their rightful role on the global stage.”  He urged Member States to demonstrate renewed commitment and political will towards correcting the historical injustice done to Africa by making the Council more inclusive.

ALAR KARIS, President of Estonia, supporting the goals of the Secretary General’s Our Common Agenda report for the next 25 years of global cooperation, said that it is a herculean task as the international community is witnessing a constant, brutal violation of the United Nations Charter’s principles in every continent, with the Organization itself being transformed in a battlefield.  While holding up to the Charter as a reference to advance fundamental rights, he said:  “it is not a choice but our collective responsibility (to make sure that) peace, justice and human rights prevail”.

The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, including the illegal occupation of Crimea, and other land grabs in neighbouring countries demonstrate Moscow’s disrespect for international law and the rules-based order, he said.  Defining such unjustified aggression as “the most brutal since the end of World War II”, he stressed that it undermines the security of all members of the international community.  While “some colleagues are hesitant to take sides”, and other States see the issue as something between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, he said he sees an aggressor and a victim.  The Russian Federation’s war makes finding solutions to other crisis — in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Yemen, Syria, Sahel and the Horn of Africa — more difficult.  “I visited Ukraine two months after the invasion began.  The site was horrific.  I lack words to describe the brutality,” he said, condemning war crimes in the strongest term.

Citing reports by the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General on Human Rights of credible allegations of forced transfers of unaccompanied children to Russian occupied territory, or to the Russian Federation, and pointing to mass graves of tortured civilians, he asked:  “I wonder, are we living in the twenty-first century?”  He also paid tribute to the immensurate resilience of the people of Ukraine.  “Helping Ukraine to protect its right to exist is our collective obligation,” he added, disturbed by the Council’s paralysis in that regard.  He called it shameful that since 24 February it has adopted only one statement on Ukraine, whereas the General Assembly has been active and decisive, with its 2 March resolution condemning the Russian Federation’s aggression and urging it to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops from Ukraine.  A strong proponent of curbing the absolute veto power in the Council, “even more so when used to cover war crimes and crimes against humanity”, he said notwithstanding the Assembly’s landmark veto-initiative to step in when the Council is unable to act, “the question remains, how can we accept that aggressor has a veto power in the Security Council?”

Noting that 40 per cent of Ukraine’s population needs urgent humanitarian assistance, he said so far Estonia has mobilized €20 million in aid and called on other States to support the country’s reconstruction.  The Russian Federation’s war of aggression has also pushed the total number of refugees worldwide to over 100 million.  Estonia has welcomed 55,000 refugees from Ukraine, and opened The Freedom School to provide Ukrainian children with education, shaping that country’s future leaders and rebuilders.  He also touched on disinformation, which makes it “easy for any aggressor to put forward its false narratives”.  Turning to Afghanistan, he praised the women in that country protesting against the Taliban to fight for their rights and called on the de facto leaders to stop harassing Afghan female staff at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Stressing the impact of climate change, he cited Estonia’s aids to those severely affected by flooding in Pakistan.  The Russian aggression has brought further pain, triggering the global food and energy crises, as well as destroying Ukraine’s grain supplies and burning warehouses, he said, welcoming the Black Sea Grain Initiative.  Deeply concerned about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, he called for it to be demilitarized without delay, the return of its full control to Ukraine and unhindered access to the facility for IAEA experts.  He expressed regret that Moscow “shamelessly blocked” consensus on an outcome document at the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference.  He stressed the need to elevate cybersecurity as a key component of the United Nations international peace and security agenda.  He supported independent and effective investigations into atrocity crimes, in Ukraine, and other areas like Syria and Ethiopia, to bring those responsible for genocide to trial.  Supporting all initiatives fostering accountability, he urged States not to “fall into indifference”, leveraging an opportunity for the Organization to “emerge from this watershed moment more relevant and united than before”.

NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, President of Ghana, said that “the world is not in a good place”, with the World Bank reporting the steepest global economic slowdown since 1970.  By 2021, COVID-19 had pushed Africa into the worst recession for half a century, determining a slump in productivity and revenues, and increasing pressures on spending and spiralling public debts.  In addition, he said the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, besides causing dismay due to the deliberate devastation of cities and towns in Europe, is a war “we are feeling directly in our lives in Africa.  Every bullet, every bomb, every shell that hits a target in Ukraine, hits our pockets and our economies in Africa”.  As inflation reaches records worldwide, Ghana is experiencing the highest rate for 21 years, with high food prices hurting the poor, especially in urban areas the most.

As central banks increase interest rates to combat inflation, global investors are pulling money out of developing economies to invest in bonds in the developed world.  “It has become clear, if ever there was any doubt, that the international financial structure is skewed significantly against  developing  and emerging economies like Ghana,” he said, adding that the avenues opened to powerful nations enabling them to take steps to ease economic pressures are closed to small nations.  Moreover, the quick downgrading of African economies by credit rating agencies has worsened the financial situation, denying smaller countries access to cheaper borrowing, pushing them deeper into debt, he said, called for reform of the financial system that operates on rules designed for the benefit of rich and powerful nation.

He called for urgent solutions to pressing issues ranging from energy transition and security to economic and political turmoil and climate change. Pointing to the destabilizing conflict in the Sahel, he stressed that the unrest has moved to the West African coastal countries.  “All of Ghana’s neighbours have suffered terrorist attacks, and some have lost territorial space to the invading forces,” he said, adding that the terrorist pressure has provided a pretext for the reappearance of military rule in three Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries.  Fighting terrorism has forced African countries to divert financial resources from education and infrastructure to security.  “This is a global problem, deserving the attention of the world community for a global solution,” he said.

Paying tribute to the country’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, who contributed to the birth of a united Africa, he stressed the importance of unity in the continent and renewed commitment to industrialization and economic integration, while calling on African leaders to see the current geopolitical crisis an opportunity to rely less on food imports  and better use the continent’s 60 per cent global share of arable lands to increase food production.  Still, the continent needs help, he said, telling the global investment community that:  “Africa is ready for business,” billing it as “the new frontier for manufacturing, for technology, for food production”.  To this end, he launched six years ago a “One District One Factory” policy, which has led to the establishment of 125 factories across the country and the awareness that many imported goods could be produced in Ghana or elsewhere in Africa.

Noting that the African Continental Free Trade Area, whose secretariat is in Accra, Ghana’s capital, is driving intra-Africa trade, he reaffirmed the importance of industrialization in various fields, and marked progress made by Ghana in multiple areas.  In line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, “Africa’s ambition is to transform our food systems over the next decade, anchored in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme and the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth”, he said, reiterating his call for investments and encouraging the Organization to review the work by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and its partners to ensure greater achievements, in the framework of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (2016-2025).

JOSÉ MARIA PEREIRA NEVES, President of Cabo Verde, said his country encompasses the inhabitants of 10 islands, as well as an immense diaspora, representing the eleventh island scattered throughout the four corners of the world.  As an active and useful Member State, Cabo Verde will champion multilateralism to advance the progress and well-being of humanity.  Small island developing States face structural limitations, such as geographical remoteness; dependence on imports and high costs; and vulnerability to external shocks, whether climate, economic, pandemics or geopolitical conflicts.  In the past 15 years, Cabo Verde weathered the 2007-2008 financial crisis just as it graduated from the list of least developed countries.  The COVID-19 pandemic then caused a recession in 2020 of 14.6 per cent, he said.

Yet like other small island developing States, Cabo Verde aims to become a small island developed State and must progressively overcome its vulnerabilities and increase its resilience. For this, it needs to count on external sustainable financing.  “Although this is not a new narrative, it is, nevertheless urgent that it be implemented,” he said, noting there are less than eight years remaining to achieve the 2030 Agenda targets.  Cabo Verde has applied to host, in 2023, the regional preparatory meeting of the small island developing region of the Atlantic and India oceans and the South China Sea, to which it belongs.  It is prepared to support the process through the general conference’s conclusion in 2024.  He welcomed the Assembly President’s decision to establish a United Nations High-Level expert panel to conduct work that would lead to the use of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index, inside and outside the United Nations.

Since 2015, Africa's cultural, natural, material and immaterial heritage has been celebrated around the world to raise awareness of the importance of its preservation.  For the year 2021, the African Union proposed the theme “Arts, Culture, and Heritage:  Levers to Build the Africa We Want.”  He advocated investing in the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage of Africa and reflect on the best ways to promote climate justice and equity in Africa, and for Africa.

Referring to the worldwide movement of Creolization and Creole cultures as World Heritage, he said he had accepted the role of sponsor and spokesperson.  Cabo Verde is the first Creole society in the world.  This is a civil society-led initiative, which wants Creole countries to use one voice to promote their intangible heritage as well as peace, friendship between peoples, and development cooperation.  This initiative would be based on the values that Creolization has brought to civilization.  It would be a new ethos based on tolerance, diversity and the fusion of cultures, he said, and called for strong political support and engagement from the officials from Creole countries.

While the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and its global goals was a high point for multilateralism, multilateralism has not progressed at the desired level on the various fronts.  Unfortunately, global challenges remained as crises emerge and create obstacles to progress.  Cabo Verde advocates for an effective, inclusive, preventive and cooperative multilateralism.  “A multilateralism that calls for less confrontation between blocs and more cooperation among Member States in the construction and delivery of global public goods to all, such as peace and security, human rights and sustainable development,” he said.

MSWATI III, King of Eswatini, welcoming that the countries of the world united to fight the COVID-19 pandemic — and that the United Nations was instrumental in these efforts — pointed out that, despite challenges, some positive developments also occurred.  Eswatini, for its part, was compelled to develop testing laboratories and oxygen-storage facilities, which will help combat other health issues.  It has also made great strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS — achieving the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS’ 95-95-95 testing and treatment targets — and is now focusing on ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic as a global health threat by 2030.  Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the collapse of many economies, the shutdown of industries and the disruption of projects designed to alleviate poverty, he stressed that, as COVID-19 is subsiding, the international community must renew its focus on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, which will play a crucial role in helping countries to develop.

He also emphasized that financial institutions must assist countries in the recovery process, as many face challenges in raising the necessary resources.  Urging such institutions to remain open to supporting countries in need and reviving development programmes, he expressed hope that the world will come together to resolve some of these problems.  Eswatini continues its efforts to attract investment and support small- and medium-sized enterprises and, in doing so, realizes the need for reliable energy to help achieve investment goals.  It also focuses on remaining highly competitive, and the Government has implemented fiscal-support measures to reduce the costs of establishing and initially operating a business through both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.  Further, Eswatini is well-positioned as a launchpad for the African Continental Free Trade Area, which seeks to boost intra-Africa trade in a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of $2.2 trillion.

He went on to say that ensuring food security is a priority for his country and, to this end, that the Government has increased budget allocations, distributed emergency food aid and provided cash transfers to the elderly, the vulnerable, schools food programmes and other support services for disadvantaged populations.  Public investment has also driven agriculture projects, including the acceleration of water harvesting and irrigation development.  It has also created market-growth opportunities for small and emerging farmers to enhance their livelihoods, built more dams to counteract the negative effects of climate change and established input subsidies for staple food crops.  The combination of these efforts, he noted, has increased the production of maize by 30 per cent in the 2021-2022 farming season — only 9 per cent short of the national target.

“With global stability at stake, Africans have recognized the need to guard against opportunists who seek to take advantage of fragile economies to advance their agendas,” he said, turning to Security Council reform.  Africa must have permanent representation in that organ, as societies are founded according to different cultural norms and values and the United Nations must incorporate the perspective of the African polity.  He also pointed out that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan was unable to access some of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) programmes and implement remedies that required approval by the same.  He therefore urged that Taiwan be considered for full participation in United Nations agencies, also calling on the United Nations to make the necessary arrangements for Taiwan to significantly participate in relevant specialized United Nations mechanisms.

“Eswatini remains confident in the global body’s capability to confront and overcome the challenges we face, because most of them are manmade,” he said, noting that this can be achieved through full commitment to the ideals of the Charter of the United Nations.  Success hinges on unity and respect for all, he added, emphasizing that:  “Despite our diversity, we are one big family”.  In this, the international community must give the people of the world hope and confidence that the United Nations has the mandate to play its role in global issues that affect all of mankind.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, President of Ukraine, addressing the Assembly via a pre-recorded video statement, underscored that:  “A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment”.  The crime has been committed against Ukraine’s borders, the lives and dignity of its people and the values held by the community of States comprising the United Nations; therefore, Ukraine demands just punishment for its stolen territory, its murdered, tortured and humiliated people and the catastrophic turbulence that the Russian Federation has inflicted on Ukraine and the entire world with its illegal war.  Stressing that Ukraine, Europe and the world want peace, he said that there is only one entity “who would say now, if he could interrupt my speech, that he is happy with this war — his war”.  “We did not provoke this war,” he underlined, recalling that his administration held 88 rounds of talks in various formats to prevent it.  However, the Russian Federation — instead of ceasing its crimes of aggression that began in 2014 — decided on full-scale invasion.  Speaking as a State forced to defend itself, he outlined Ukraine’s “formula for peace”, which has five elements.

The first item of the peace formula, he said, is comprehensive punishment for the crime of aggression.  Sanctions against the aggressor form a part of this, as does isolating the aggressor within international institutions — especially those in which it is party to decision-making.  Further, a full package of personal restrictions should be applied to propogandists who seek to justify aggression, and citizens of the aggressor State should not be allowed to enjoy tourism or shopping in the territory of those who value peace.  Through visa restrictions, they will then be encouraged to oppose the aggression of their own State.  He also emphasized the need to create a special tribunal to punish the Russian Federation for its aggression against Ukraine, which will send a signal to all would-be aggressors that “they must value peace or be brought to responsibility by the world”.  Ukraine has prepared precise steps to establish such a tribunal, and will present them to all States, along with appealing to the General Assembly to support an international compensation mechanism to force the Russian Federation to pay for this war.

Protection of life is the second part, he noted, spotlighting it as “the most concrete item of the peace formula”.  While the General Assembly is speaking today, 445 bodies are being exhumed from a mass grave in the Ukrainian city of Izium, and the only difference between this and what the world saw in Bucha was the actual burial — the Russian army was in Izium for a longer time, and therefore buried the bodies, rather than scattering them on the street.  Underscoring the need to protect life against that backdrop, he said that every State suffering armed aggression needs the opportunity to protect life and liberate its territory, and whatever it needs to do so should be provided — be that materiel, finances or intelligence data.  He stressed that the Russian Federation wants to spend the winter preparing its forces for a new offensive — “for new Buchas, new Iziums” — and carrying out military mobilization at home.  “We cannot agree to a delayed war,” he said, calling for defensive support to liberate Ukrainian land — above all, air defence — along with financial support to maintain internal stability.

He went on to say that the third item of the peace formula is restoring security and territorial integrity, pointing out that the Russian Federation is undermining maritime, food, radiation and energy safety.  “None of you will find a vaccine against radiation sickness,” he stressed, underscoring that the Russian Federation’s “radiation blackmail” should concern everyone.  Further, the international community must respond to that country’s energy blackmail by capping the prices at which the Russian Federation is able to export its energy resources.  He urged that, after the Russian Federation’s missile terrorism, after the massacres, after Mariupol, after the burning of prisoners of war in Olenivka, after strikes on nuclear power plants, “we must finally recognize that Russia is a State sponsor of terrorism at all levels”.  The fourth element of the formula is security guarantees, and he emphasized that every nation has the right to such guarantees — not only the largest and most-fortunate.  The fifth, he said, is determination — “something without which the other four items will not work”, calling for the world to “unite around the one who fights against armed aggression and call to order the one who threatens all”.

“What is not in our formula is neutrality,” he said, stressing that those who speak of neutrality when human values and peace are under attack “mean something else”.  Sympathizing only for protocol’s sake creates the conditions of war, and this must be corrected to create the conditions for peace.  “Mankind and international law are stronger than one terrorist State,” he urged, stating that the Russian Federation will be forced to end this war that it has started.  However, any settlement must be based on the Ukrainian peace formula.  He noted that, if his words today are followed by new Russian missile strikes or acts of terrorism, then this will only prove the Russian Federation’s weakness and the need to implement the five elements of the Ukrainian peace formula as soon as possible.  “We are ready for peace, but true, honest and fair peace,” he said, “and that is why the world is on our side”.  Also thanking the 101 countries that voted in favour of allowing his video address today — which was not only a vote about format, but also about principles — he pointed out that only seven “responded to principles with a red button” and that these numbers mean that peace will prevail over any aggression.

ALEKSANDAR VUČIĆ, President of Serbia, said the General Debate is being held during a period of undermined world peace that has not been seen since the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations.  The global challenges are threatening to radically change the international security architecture and jeopardize the established international legal order.  “Such complex times demand a lot of wisdom and unity, in order to preserve peace as the absolutely most important heritage woven into the foundations of the United Nations Organization,” he said.

He said the current global developments show the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes has no alternative.  This principle is best described in the Charter preamble.  Serbia supports the territorial integrity of all Member States, including that of Ukraine.  Many speakers, in discussing the stories about the aggression and violation of that country’s territorial integrity, say this is the first conflict on European soil after the Second World War.  Yet the truth that the territorial integrity of Serbia, which did not attack any other sovereign country, was violated is constantly unspoken.  “We ask for a clear answer to the question I’ve been asking my interlocutors, leaders of many countries for years — what is the difference between the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, which was grossly violated, and for which you provided international recognition and legitimacy?”  he asked, adding that no one has ever provided a rational answer to that question.

Serbia has not stepped on someone else’s territory or endangered the territorial integrity of a single sovereign State, so that anyone might intervene or carry out aggression against it, the way it was done in 1999.  Yet that did not prevent NATO from attacking a sovereign country without the Council’s decision. The signing of the agreement with NATO, whose provisions envisaged adoption of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), and which confirmed and guaranteed partial sovereignty and full territorial integrity of Serbia, did not prevent many Western countries from unilateral recognition of the independence of the so-called “Kosovo” and from violating, once again, Serbia’s territorial integrity.  Even though Serbia still experiences the consequences of the gross violation of basic provisions of international public law, the country has not given up on the United Nations founding principles.  “We shall keep advocating for the consistent observance of the principle of inviolability of borders, respect for sovereignty and integrity of all other UN Member States,” he said.

He said he was especially grateful to all Member States, now comprising most of the Assembly, who support Serbia’s territorial integrity, particularly in the space and territory of Kosovo and Metohija.  He said he is searching very patiently, and with much good will, for a compromise regarding Kosovo and Metohija, under the auspices of the European Union and within the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.  While it has been a difficult process for more than 10 years, he sees no alternative.  “It is better to negotiate for a hundred years, than to wage war for a single day,” he said, adding the goal was a long-lasting peace to provide for a prosperous life for Serbs and Albanians in the region.

There are many unprecedented challenges facing countries this century, including energy security, the financial safety of developing countries and distortions in the food supply chains.  Energy security is an inseparable part of national security and key for economic development and progress in Serbia, he said.  He is working to provide for the country’s continuous energy supply. Another important challenge is finding efficient solutions to the food supply security situation.  Serbia will continue to be a reliable partner in achieving the common goals defined within the United Nations framework.

PRINCE ALBERT II of Monaco said that the COVID-19 crisis revealed fault lines in the multilateral system, requiring the international community to take extraordinary social and economic measures to protect populations and mobilize the global monetary system.  Humanity’s frenetic existence makes it forget that, in the northern hemisphere, Earth Overshoot Day arrives earlier every year, he said, stressing this “should remind us that we are imposing an unrelenting exhaustion of natural resources on our own planet.”  He stressed the need to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in order to ensure humanity’s survival.  He pledged Monaco’s full support for the preparation for the Water Conference, the Sustainable Development Goals Summit and the Summit of the Future in 2024.  Recalling his great Grandfather, Prince Albert I, who advocated for the role of science to drive political progress and decision, he said Monaco will continue in this tradition to preserve the planet.

Globalization has accentuated humanity’s interdependence and its relationship with nature, he said, noting that ecosystems cannot regenerate today due to humankind’s production methods based on the frantic consumption of natural resources.  The pause in global ecosystem degradation during the COVID-19 pandemic was a stark lesson about how much humankind consumes, but also a lesson about what it is are able to accomplish in an emergency:  the production of vaccines and equitable access to prevention and care.  In cooperation with WHO, the international community must establish global crisis management based on verified science, he said, especially to avoid repeating the mistakes made at the beginning of the pandemic.

Three decades have passed since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned about the irreversible, disastrous effects of climate change, he pointed out.  Urging a move from words to action, he said that while extreme weather events affect all nations, they particularly punish the most vulnerable.  “We must make strengthening and adaptation measures our priorities,” he said.  He highlighted the people of Pakistan who are currently suffering the consequences of flooding.  Every country must radically transform its economy in order to decarbonize and contain temperature rise, he said, pointing out that Monaco’s energy transition is aimed at cutting emissions 55 per cent by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.  The Intergovernmental Panel’s latest assessment report makes clear that “the tools and solution to build and sustain a future already exist but we must implement them”, he said, calling for solidarity to ensure a sustainable energy transition in line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity.  “Failure is simply unacceptable,” he said.

Recalling Monaco’s historical role in diplomacy, he said that the military aggression against Ukraine flagrantly flouts international law, and the United Nations Charter, and undermines global security.  The suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian people is a reminder of the darkest hours of human history.  Welcoming the Black Sea Grain Initiative, he called on all parties to respect its terms.  The “terrifying” number of conflicts and civil wars in the world today requires a strengthening of the global peace agenda.  Turning to cyberspace, he said it cannot become a zone for clashes, but should be an opportunity for cooperation.  Condemning the proliferation of hate speech and disinformation, he added that artificial intelligence should benefit humankind and not manipulate its behaviour, way of thinking, or compromise or destroy democracies.  Re-establishing trust between nations and effective, inclusive multilateralism involving young people and women are the most effective ways to address global crises, he said, citing Monaco’s intention to continue working toward that end through its partnership with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).

CHARLES A. SAVARIN, President of Dominica, reiterated his country’s condemnation of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine without reservation while noting its adverse effects, from skyrocketing prices of oil and petroleum to the shortage in the world’s grain supply.  Expressing the view that the invasion and its ensuing war could have been avoided through negotiation and arbitration, he stood with others in calling for the immediate cessation to the conflict raging in Ukraine.  In welcoming the grain deal brokered between Ukraine and the Russian Federation by Türkiye and the Secretary-General, he then called upon all parties to continue their commitments and urged the United Nations to continue its efforts in ushering in a wider agreement and the end to the war.

Turning to the pandemic, he highlighted the ongoing threat to the global community, the limitations of health systems and the unequal access to vaccines and lifesaving medicines.  The challenge now, he posited, is to create better and strong mechanisms which will respond more effectively to future pandemics while ensuring the poorest that they will have access to vaccines and medicines.  Reflecting on this year’s theme, he emphasized the challenges that small island developing States face in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and asked, “to what extent has tangible support been forthcoming?”  The international community must go beyond promises, commitments and pledges to effectively deliver and implement.

On climate change, he implored the international community to “talk less and start taking those concrete and sustainable actions needed in order to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere.”  In reminding the General Assembly of the immense impact tropical storms, hurricanes, droughts, warming seas and rising sea levels have on Dominica as a small and vulnerable island State, he championed the call for collective global action on building the resilience of small island developing States and on protecting the progress achieved over the past two decades.  Developed partners must recognize and accept responsibility and must commit to providing funding on grant and concessional terms for small States to become climate resilient.  Warning of the eventual disappearance of some small island States and the destruction of others, he reiterated the call for the disbursement of climate financing to those States at the upcoming COP27.

On the 2030 Agenda, he shared Dominica’s progress, which was also presented through its first Voluntary National Review, and called on all States to adopt a multilateral, transformative and resilient approach.  Urging countries to support each other, he commended China for its commitment to add $42 billion to the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund.  He also spoke of Dominica’s work on strengthening its agriculture sector to reduce the vulnerability of farmers and fisherfolk.

Recounting Dominica’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in June 2022, he called upon all States with nuclear weapons to abide by international law.  Echoing others, he strongly urged the immediate lifting of sanctions on Cuba, the removal of Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism and the full integration of the Cuban people into the global and financial trading system.  He then called for the immediate lifting of sanctions on Venezuela and stressed the responsibility of all to provide short and long-term solutions and opportunities for Venezuela.  Acknowledging the recent meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Trinidad and Tobago on Haiti, he implored the United Nations to forge an effective, unified response that brings the necessary resources to alleviate the suffering of the Haitian people.

MOHAMMAD NAJIB AZMI MIKATI, President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon, expressed thanks for all efforts in helping to country to alleviate the consequences of its stifling economic crisis, as well as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for their sacrifices and efforts in order to maintain stability in southern Lebanon, in close coordination with the Lebanese armed forces.  Turning to the demarcation of its maritime borders, he cited the mediation of the United States, under the auspices of the United Nations, affirming Lebanon’s absolute commitment to its sovereignty, rights and wealth in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.  Calling for a long-overdue negotiated solution, he stated Lebanon is well aware of the importance of the promising energy market in the eastern Mediterranean, for the prosperity of all countries in the region.  He further welcomed efforts to reach an international understanding to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction in implementation of General Assembly resolution 73/546.

Lebanon has been facing the worst socioeconomic crisis in its history, driving most of its population below the poverty line and causing a brain drain of its best young people.  Citing the collapse of the exchange rate of the national currency to its lowest historical level, and the closures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, he further referred to the tragedy of the Port of Beirut explosion — as the country remains in pursuit of the truth of that matter.  Lebanon has also been dealing with an unprecedented political crisis, a minefield requiring efforts to appropriately emerge from the situation.  However, the Government has achieved many goals, including notably holding parliamentary elections on time — but the road ahead for Lebanon remains long and arduous.  Beirut has signed a preliminary agreement with the IMF and will advance all necessary legislative and administrative reforms to overcome the present plight.

Citing its Arab affiliations and the Taif Accords, which ended the bloody civil war that afflicted the country, he stressed that a capable and prosperous Lebanon is urgently needed for peace and security in the region and the world.  Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Lebanon has adopted an open border policy to address the humanitarian considerations by hosting a massive number of displaced people.  However, after 10 years, he stressed that the displacement crisis has overwhelmed Lebanon’s capacity to bear the burden.  He emphasized that the Lebanese Constitution and the consensus of all Lebanese people prevent the integration or settlement on its lands — and that the only realistic and sustainable solution is to achieve a safe and dignified return for Syrians to their country, in the context of a road map with the cooperation of all parties.

He further stressed that it is time for the injustice done against the Palestinian people to end, with a sovereign and independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, and implementation of all international resolutions in that regard, including the return of refugees.  Emphasizing the centrality of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in mitigating Palestinian suffering, he expressed deep concern over the accumulated deficit in its budget, jeopardizing delivery of services.

 Despite current difficulties, his Government aims for Lebanon to be a forum for convergence rather than division — a space for dialogue and not competition, a spiritual custodian that brings together all religions for truth and justice.  He further called for the international community not to involve Lebanon in conflicts and crises in the region.

JAN LIPAVSKÝ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, said the Russian Federation’s unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal invasion in Ukraine has fundamentally shaken the international order and threatened European security  He called on Moscow to immediately cease its military actions and voiced support for Ukraine’s right to defend its territorial integrity according to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.  Furthermore, the Czech Republic “will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea” and condemns “in the strongest possible terms the upcoming sham referenda in parts of the Ukrainian territory”, he said.  Rejecting attempts to create spheres of influence instead of equal partnerships, he said that acquiring territories by force must end for while today it is Ukraine, tomorrow, “it could be any of us.”  Listing atrocities such as the “filtration” camps, the horrors in Mariupol, Bucha, Irpin, Izyum as well as Ukrainian citizens deported to the Russian Federation, he said reports on Russian military conduct must be independently investigated.  He supported the referral to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor to open an investigation into the situation on the ground in Ukraine and called for a special international tribunal to prosecute “the crime of aggression committed by Putin’s Russia.”

Highlighting the Czech Republic’s support for Ukraine, he said it hosts the highest number of Ukrainian refugees per capita, over 400,000, and provides volumes of humanitarian aid.  “We support stabilization, recovery and reconstruction efforts of the Ukrainian government.  Not only with words, but with action,” he said.  Expressing the Czech Republic’s concern for human rights globally, he regretted that such rights in the Russian Federation has worsened enormously, while also voicing concern about alarming violations against Uyghur Muslims in China, and the situations in Afghanistan, Cuba, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Venezuela and Iran, among other places.

As the current President of the European Union, the Czech Republic’s priorities are defending Ukraine, ensuring energy and food security, and promoting democracy and human rights, he said.  Pointing to climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss, he said comprehensive humanitarian-development-peace-based responses are needed to address crises, including pandemics, as are sustainable food systems and climate resilience.  Turning attention to the digital space, which carries both risks and opportunities, he said the Czech Republic promotes the concept of “digital humanism” and for free, open, safe and secure cyberspace in an age of cyber-attacks, Internet shutdowns and terrorism.  He reminded the Russian Federation that the Czech Republic still expects an official response from that country concerning its exploded ammunition depot in 2014, also decrying the Russian Federation’s occupation of and armed attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.  He also called on Iran to fulfil its legal obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and clarify all outstanding issues.

BRUNO EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ PARILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, in speaking of the unprecedented inequality in wealth, science, and technology and the immense suffering of people from hunger, stunting, unemployment, illiteracy, and the pandemic, pointed out that pharmaceutical multinationals earned $850 billion while the external debt of countries is still growing despite having been paid several times over.  Military expenditure, he continued, has exceeded $2 trillion.  While championing the universalization of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he also questioned, “How much more could we maybe do if these resources were devoted to promoting health and development?  How many deaths as a result of COVID and other diseases might have been avoided?  How many boys and girls would be spared hunger and preventable illnesses?”  Warning countries that they cannot ignore the alarm bells of imminent climate disaster, he urged action without delay.  The philosophy of war and plundering and capitalism’s unreasonable pattern of production and consumption will lead to the apocalypse.

In sharing his observation that international relations are moving along a dangerous path, he decried the United States for its offensive of economic, military, political and diplomatic coercion.  Recalling the General Assembly’s adoption of the resolution to end the embargo against Cuba 30 years ago, he denounced the United States for the “act of economic war in times of peace,” for ignoring the resolution, creating material shortages, pressuring banking institutions and damaging the Cuban people.  In criticizing the United States’ “unfair inclusion” and “slanderous classification” of Cuba as a sponsor of terrorism when Cuba “has been a victim of state terrorism”, he called out the United States for its double standards, inconsistency, selectivity and manipulation including on human rights.  Urging the United States to address the issues fuelling irregular migration, he commended the return of visa processing at the United States embassy in Havana and reiterated Cuba’s readiness to move towards better relations with the United States but only on the basis of mutual respect, sovereign equality and no attempts at undermining sovereignty and independence.

Expressing solidarity, he denounced the sanctions imposed on Venezuela and the attempts to destabilize Nicaragua.  Standing in full solidarity with the nations of the Caribbean, he voiced support for their claims for reparations.  He then reaffirmed his country’s historic commitment to the self-determination and independence of the people of Puerto Rico and called for the international community to settle its debt with Haiti through a special contribution for its reconstruction and development.  Expressing solidarity with the Vice President of Argentina and the Sahrawi people, he also reaffirmed his country’s commitment to peace in Colombia, urged the international community to provide support to the African Union on Agenda 2063 and advocated for a just, broad and lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East.  Condemning the sanctions against Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation along with the foreign interference in Belarus, he reiterated his country’s support for the “One China Policy”.  On Ukraine, he called for a serious, diplomatic, constructive and realistic solution which respects international law and guarantees the security and sovereignty of all.  He concluded by pledging his country’s continued resistance to the attempts at hegemonism and domination.

GRACE NALEDI MANDISA PANDOR, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said that the international community is facing diverse, immense, yet interconnected challenges, which no country can resolve alone. While the COVID-19 pandemic and Eastern Europe have been drawing particular attention, for South Africa, the real inflection point will be the world attending fully to the needs of the marginalized and forgotten. “Our greatest global challenges are poverty, inequality, joblessness and feeling excluded”, she said, encouraging States to act on Our Common Agenda to address underdevelopment as well as safeguard human rights for all.  Though the pandemic has showed the international community how to address issues collectively — the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is an example of that, promoting a fairer distribution of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics — she noted that States have grown apart in facing energy and food insecurity, climate change, conflict-induced devastation and the existential threat of nuclear weapons”, encouraging them to work in solidarity.

She stressed the need to create and support research and innovation capacity in Africa for vaccine production, invest in strengthened public health systems and produce thousands more professional health workers.  “This requires sustainable investment in higher education research institutions and in global research cooperation,” she said, adding that “it will be a tragic indictment on all of us as leaders if future pandemics found the poorest as unprepared as many were for COVID-19”.  South Africa has established the first mRNA global technology transfer hubs that will contribute to the secure supply of life-saving medication for African countries and other developing countries, she underlined.  With regards to energy shortages, she suggested the implementation of cleaner, more accessible solutions and stressed that South Africa is working with partners to develop its transition plan to reduce emissions.  Welcoming education as one of the most important drivers to end inequality, she reaffirmed the country’s commitment to make it affordable and noted measures already put in place to guarantee access to education for the most vulnerable as well as foster scientific research.  “The multilateral trading system must be strengthened so that we genuinely create a conducive environment for fair trade that also provides opportunities for developing economies,” she said.

It is unacceptable that 77 years after its establishment, five nations wield disproportionate decision-making power in the United Nations system as a whole, she added, calling for revitalization of the General Assembly and reform the Security Council.  Touching on countries’ different responsibilities with regards to climate change, she urged States to agree on a mechanism for loss and damage, and summed up South Africa’s policies to meet related targets. “While we work to address contemporary conflicts, we should not ignore long-standing ones, such as Palestine,” she added, asking that Israel be held accountable for its destructive actions impairing a two-State solution.  She also pointed to Western Sahara’s struggle for self-determination and called for an end to the embargo against Cuba and coercive measures against Zimbabwe.  Calling on States to address discrimination, promote girls’ education and women’s empowerment — including by having “more women speak at the Assembly”; protect the vulnerable — including women journalists in conflict situation; and empowering youth, she highlighted the new era of trade, commerce and productivity in Africa and reaffirmed the country’s commitment to seek greater alignment between the agendas of the United Nations and the African Union.

ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ GIL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, urged the international community to recognize that the United Nations requires significant reform to “rouse it from the complacency that has coloured its work”.  A greater role must be granted to the General Assembly to reduce cases of abusive use of the veto in the Security Council, particularly on issues involving human-rights violations and support for humanitarian assistance.  Also spotlighting the importance of addressing climate change, he said that his country is fully aligned with other small island developing States in demanding that countries contributing the most to global warming provide financing for adaptation and mitigation to those suffering most acutely from the effects of this phenomenon.  Additionally, he stressed that peace requires avoiding conflicts that jeopardize the planet’s existence, noting that his country will deposit its instrument ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 22 September.

Turning to the situation in Haiti, he welcomed the Council’s extension of the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) until July 2023, along with the fact that the Office includes a unit to combat sexual and gender-based violence.  Efforts to stabilize Haiti must focus on urgently establishing peace and political dialogue to combat the violence and chaos.  Noting that criminal gangs are suffocating the people of Port-au-Prince and that the Haitian National Police have not been able to address this issue, he called on the Haitian authorities to control and end gang activity.  He also underscored the need to prohibit the transfer and illicit trafficking of small arms, light weapons and munitions to any party that participates in gang activity, criminal violence or human-rights abuses in Haiti.

He went on to stress the need for all parties to reach urgent political agreement on organizing legislative and presidential elections.  These must feature the full participation of all Haitian people, particularly women, young people and civil society.  Asking which has been a greater tragedy for the Haitian people — the 2010 earthquake that claimed the lives of 220,000, or the current situation that can be defined as a “low-intensity conflict” — he stressed that, despite the tragic suffering caused by the earthquake, the current situation is more desperate.  Recalling that the world came to Haiti’s aid in 2010, he said that, now, Haiti’s resilient people feel abandoned to their fate while they wait in despair for the international community’s aid.  “We must act with a sense of responsibility, and we must act now,” he stressed.

ARNALDO ANDRÉ-TINOCO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica — pointing to the 30.3 per cent COVID-19 vaccination rate, a climate crisis hitting “mercilessly and without distinction” in Pakistan, Puerto Rico the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, as well as the Russian Federation’s invasion in Ukraine, — said that “a maelstrom of challenges shakes the foundations of this building.”  The invasion of Ukraine not only violates the principles of the United Nations Charter, it also has triggered a humanitarian, fuel, financial and food crisis which has renewed divisions between geopolitical and economic blocs.  Calling for unity instead of division, he urged the Assembly not to forget about other crises, such as those in Yemen, Mali, Myanmar, Syria, Haiti, Tigray, the Sahel, Israel-Palestine, and Nicaragua, which requires a rights-based response.  Costa Rica has risen to the challenge of global migratory flow, becoming the fourth-largest receiving country of refugee applications per capita.  He welcomed the establishment by the Assembly this year of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, which corresponds with the human right to clean water.  Demonstrating its commitment to human rights, Costa Rica announced it candidacy for membership in the Human Rights Council for the 2023-2015 period, he said, requesting the Assembly’s support.

Stressing that human security is the key to global security, he expressed shock at vaccine and food disparity in poorer nations while wealthier nations prioritize armaments at the expense of climate, health and equitable recovery.  Noting that in 2021 global military spending increased for the seventh consecutive year to a record high, he called for its reduction and for prioritizing the lives and well-being of people and the planet over profits made from weapons and war.  Peace and security are possible without resorting to nuclear weapons, he stressed, urging other States to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and adhere to the Vienna Declaration and action plan.  He went on to urge the Russian Federation to stop attacking Ukraine, and condemned in the strongest possible terms the “nuclear coercion” taking place at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, calling on both parties to ensure respect for international human rights law.

Calling for transformation in the global financial system, he pointed out that middle-income countries face significant inequalities that limit growth.  While Costa Rica is home to the highest percentage of poor people and migrants in the world, it is not granted access to official development assistance (ODA) or concessional financing on favourable and fair terms.  He stressed the need to revisit the parameters for allocation of aid, investment and international cooperation, going beyond GPP per capita to take into other aspects such as climate risk, market fluctuations and fiscal stability into account.  Stressing that the threefold crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution must be addressed, he said Costa Rica leads, with France and the United Kingdom, the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, which seeks to protect or conserve at least 30 per cent of the planet — both land and sea — by 2030.  Costa Rica supports the Global Ocean Alliance and has fulfilled the Ocean Conservation Pledge nine years ahead of schedule.  Reiterated the ocean’s role as a resource necessary for the continuity of life on earth, he called for the adoption of a Declaration of Peace for the Ocean, stressing that without a healthy ocean, the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved.  Further he called for promoting An Agenda for Peace; renewing social contracts anchored in trust, inclusion, protection, gender parity and empowerment of women and girls; and for building a more resilient, transparent multilateral system.

GUSTAV N. AITARO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Palau, said that — while war may be viewed as a “heart attack” — “the climate crisis has been like diabetes, insidious and wearing us down”.  In Palau, the Government has been unable to buy new textbooks or improve nutrition programmes because so much of the country’s fiscal resources and energy are dedicated to addressing disaster relief.  However, despite the challenges of the last year, there is hope in the fight against climate change as the youth, the private sector and civil society are more engaged than ever.  Further, the Glasgow Climate Pact was adopted, and large emitting countries such as the United States and Australia have passed significant legislation to shift domestic policy.  He pointed out that the energy crisis, driven by the Russian Federation, has demonstrated that energy independence and renewable energy sources build resilience in economies and that Palau, which has felt the strain of skyrocketing energy costs, intends to achieve a complete transition to renewable energy.

Recalling a Palauan saying that roughly translates to the English idiom “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”, he stressed the need for people to look at their own actions before criticizing those of others.  In that vein, Palau’s President has committed to transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2032 and the country hosted the seventh Our Ocean Conference in April to show people from all over the world first-hand the challenges that small island developing States face.  Underscoring that there cannot be a sustainable solution to ocean issues without management and rules for the high seas, he expressed disappointment that a treaty relating to biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction was not concluded and stressed that the opportunity to establish regional marine protected areas, build maritime-surveillance capacity and facilitate the transfer of marine technology should not be further delayed.  He went on to say that the adoption of a multidimensional vulnerability index “cannot just be discussed in financial boardrooms”, as it has real impact on the lives of island peoples.

Noting that small island developing States are more vulnerable than their income level would suggest, he said that adoption of such an index facilitates climate action and could bring equity to global financing.  He then turned to his country’s free association by compact with the United States, in which the latter country promised to help Palau with its development needs following its independence.  While some development has occurred, it is too little, and he expressed hope that the relevant envoy appointed by the President of the United States will convince that Government to, at least, meet Palau’s minimum needs “so that our people can attain a decent standard of living without having to leave”.  In this, what Palau needs most are Government measures and public and private investment to grow its economy, along with concrete action to enable its people and hospital to move from land that regularly floods to higher elevation.  He added that, just as most Member States accept Taiwanese passports, so too should the United Nations system recognize and incorporate the Taiwanese people.

ELIZABETH TRUSS, Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, noted the new era of geopolitics as “one that requires those who believe in the founding principles of the United Nations to stand up and be counted.”  In speaking also of the new era in the United Kingdom, she paid tribute to the service of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and welcomed the new Carolean age under His Majesty King Charles III as one of hope and progress which defends the values of individual liberty, self-determination and equality before the law; ensures freedom and democracy prevail for all people and delivers on strong ideals through political will.

Attributing the strengthens of her nation to its foundations of freedom and democracy, she underscored the difference between democracies and autocracies, adding that “a country where Artificial Intelligence acts as judge and jury, where there are no human rights and no fundamental freedoms, is not the kind of place anybody truly wants to live. And it’s not the kind of world that we want to build.”  Acknowledging the struggle that exists, democratic societies, she warned, will fall behind unless they deliver on the economy and the security which citizens expect.  She expressed her determination to delivering on progress at home by growing and building a British economy which rewards enterprise and attracts investment, securing affordable and reliable supplies of energy through transitioning to a future of renewable and nuclear energy and safeguarding the security of its economy.  The free world must have economic strengthen and resilience to win in the new era of strategic competition against authoritarian aggression.

As countries must do this together, she recounted the efforts to build new partnerships around the world.  The United Kingdom has fortified its security alliances in Europe and beyond through NATO and the Joint Expeditionary Force, deepened links with democracies like India, Israel, Indonesia and South Africa, built new security ties with friends in the Indo-Pacific and the Gulf, demonstrated leadership on free and fair trade through agreements with Australia, New Zealand and Japan among others, acceded to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and strengthened partnerships like the Group of Seven (G7) and the Commonwealth of Nations.  In calling for the extension of friendship to the parts of the world which have been left behind and left vulnerable to global challenges, she offered the United Kingdom’s provision of funding and security capabilities as examples.

In applauding the resolute international response to Ukraine for its decisive collective action, she attributed its success to partnerships, alliances and the willingness to use new instruments:  sanctions, diplomatic action and rapid military support.  Urging the use of these instruments in a more systematic way to counter the economic aggression of authoritarian regimes, she said “the G7 and our like-minded partners should act as an economic NATO, collectively defending our prosperity.”  Citing the G7’s $600 billion Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment as an example, she called for more action on “friendshor[ing]” supply chains and ending strategic dependence to build collective security, strengthen resilience and safeguard freedom and democracy.

Promising “we will not rest until Ukraine prevails,” she committed 3 per cent of the United Kingdom’s GDP to defence by 2030 and pledged sustained if not increased military support for as long as needed.  At this decisive moment in history, she noted” “this must be a new era where we commit to ourselves, to our citizens, and this institution that we will do whatever it takes — whatever it takes to deliver for our people and defend our values.”

Right of Reply

The representative of Algeria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply to address statements made by Morocco’s representative, said that country exploited the rostrum to spread propaganda and lies regarding the situation in the Western Sahara.  Stressing that this has always been an issue of decolonization, he said that Morocco has exploited round-table negotiations to turn the question of decolonization into one of bilateral conflict.  Noting that Algeria is hosting refugees in Tindouf as the result of Morocco’s illegal occupation of the Western Sahara, he stressed the need for a comprehensive referendum that would allow the people of the Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination under international law.  “There is no statute of limitations for this right,” he said.  On Morocco’s propaganda concerning the links between refugees and terrorist groups, he said this represents yet another attack on the Sahrawi people, who are simply trying to exercise their right to self-determination.

The representative of Iran, in response to the “baseless allegations” made by the Czech Republic’s delegate against certain countries, reiterated his Government’s commitment to promoting and protecting the human rights of all its people, particularly women and girls.  That delegation supports a regime that systematically undermines the rights of the Palestinian people, and he urged the same to avoid politicizing human-rights issues, as advocacy for human rights should not interfere with the sovereign rights of States.  He also invited that delegation to respect the Charter of the United Nations and avoid interfering in the internal affairs of other Member States.  He added that, as one of the original signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Iran supports that instrument, is in full compliance with it and will continue working with the IAEA.

For information media. Not an official record.