Speakers Call for Vaccine Equity, Climate Justice, Institutional Reform, on Day Three of General Assembly’s Annual Debate
The deepening of inequalities and lack of fair representation in multilateral financial and economic institutions is impeding the international community's effective response to global challenges, the General Assembly heard today as it continued its annual general debate, with speakers echoing calls for vaccine equity, climate justice and institutional reform.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia, said the COVID-19 pandemic painfully illustrated how far apart the world was in its ability to respond to crisis, with rich nations able to invest in life-saving vaccines more rapidly for their citizens while developing countries, like his own, waited for whatever was available and they could afford, or what they were gifted by international partners. Noting the annual floods and droughts in his country, he said the people of Somalia have long lived harmoniously with nature and barely contribute to greenhouse gas emissions but are the ones paying with their lives today. He urged joint, quick and effective global action to address the climate crisis.
Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of Botswana, said many countries in the Global South, especially in Africa, had not met the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 70 per cent vaccination rate by mid-2022, stressing the urgent need for vaccine equity. In a sign of promise, he said 60 per cent of Botswana’s population was now fully vaccinated. Moreover, his Government has approved the manufacturing of the patent-free COVID-19 vaccine Corbevax and construction of a vaccine manufacturing plant has already commenced. He said the facility would produce cancer treatment and next-generation cell-based immunotherapy, in partnership with health institutions.
Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe, voiced concern about inadequate financing that could threaten the effective and just transition to renewable energy among developing countries. Underscoring that the international trade architecture under the World Trade Organization (WTO) remained indifferent to the needs of developing countries, he said an increasingly unsustainable debt burden, the prohibitive cost of borrowing, illicit financial flows, and the exploitation of natural resources from developing States “have all combined to relegate developing countries to the periphery of the global financial system”. He called for a just and more inclusive global financial system responsive to those challenges.
Echoing that sentiment, Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister, Minister for National Security and the Public Service, and Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment of Barbados, asked whether the time has come for a review of the settlement of the Bretton Woods institutions, stressing the need to not only eradicate poverty but also equally to protect global public goods. She also called for reform of the Group of Seven (G7) and Group of 20 (G20) countries, noting their exclusion of the people of Africa. “Fairness will mean something only when it is reflected in the international community,” she stressed.
Addressing calls for climate justice, Jonas Gahr Støre, Prime Minister of Norway, said his country has listened to the concerns of developing countries and has decided to double its climate finance to those countries by 2026. Within that target, Norway aims to at least triple its funding for climate adaptation and resilience. Stressing that the fight against climate change requires new, innovative approaches, he pointed out that the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet brings together private and public resources. As co-chair, Norway will work with partners across the global South to support renewable energy transitions, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase clean power, and create green jobs.
During the Assembly’s afternoon session, David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, said anthropogenic climate change is the most enduring security threat facing his Pacific island country, urging developed countries in particular to provide adequate, accessible and concessional finance for climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as for loss and damage. Speaking to the leaders of the United States and China, who have a special responsibility, he stressed: “Your capacity to cooperate on climate change is necessary towards ensuring our world is habitable for future generations, and does not suffer from civilizational collapse”.
Micheál Martin, Taoiseach of Ireland, voiced concern over the threat of widespread global hunger and food insecurity and the devastating impacts of climate change. Those who bear no responsibility for the causes of climate change are being most affected. Noting the blatant disregard for international law, he said it is not the international community’s systems or structures, nor its Treaties or Charters, that are fundamentally failing humanity but the lack of political will to implement and uphold them. As an elected member of the Security Council, Ireland has seen first-hand that political will and a commitment to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations can deliver results. Yet he voiced his deep frustration at the Council’s failure to adopt a resolution on climate and security, a text supported by 113 countries and vetoed by the Russian Federation.
José Gabriel Carrizo, Vice-President of Panama, said the current development model needs to be transformed and he called for considering the value of biodiversity while seeking healthy and sustainable ecosystems. In acknowledging the harsh criticism from young people over the climate summits against the backdrop of rising emissions, deforestation and water pollution, he asked the international community “how can we gain the trust of new generations while the planet on which we live and on which our descendants will have to live is being decimated before their eyes? How many more lives must be lost? How many more natural disasters unfurl?” Wondering when the ecocide will end, he called out the large emitters of gasses, promoters of deforestation and chemical polluters and called for the establishment of an international body which demands accountability from those who damage the planet.
Echoing many speakers alarm about the conflict in Ukraine, Marcelo Luis Ebrard Casaubón, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said just as the world was recovering from COVID-19, the war in Ukraine created suffering and the loss of human lives, impacting access to food and fuel and disrupting the world economy. With the Council unable to implement measures to halt the armed aggression or launch a diplomatic process for a solution, Mexico has stepped in, presenting the Assembly with a proposal to create a caucus of Heads of State and Government to support the Secretary-General’s efforts to build trust and move the Russian Federation and Ukraine towards a peaceful resolution within the Charter’s framework.
Abdullatif Bin Rashid Alzayani, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said that armed conflicts and shared economic challenges, if left unresolved, along with the increased threat of terrorist organizations in various parts of the world, would lead to wider conflict with greater destruction, killing, misery, human deprivation and displacement of innocents. “In order for us to avoid or prevent future conflicts, we must do everything in our power to resolve disputes or disagreements before they turn violent,” he said, emphasizing the role of the Organization in that regard.
Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as Vice-Presidents and Ministers of Niger, Gambia, Yemen, Kiribati, Guinea-Bissau, Comoros, Liberia, Burundi, Sudan, Israel, Papua New Guinea, Georgia, Malawi, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Portugal, Armenia, Malta, Kuwait, Spain, Jamaica, Austria and Denmark.
The representatives of Iran and Morocco also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Friday, 23 September, to continue its general debate.
MOKGWEETSI ERIC KEABETSWE MASISI, President of Botswana, said Member States should look no further for solutions to global challenges than to already existing key multilateral frameworks. Among them are the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals therein, the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the outcomes of the Organization’s major meetings. Botswana is an upper-middle-income country, he said, adding that it is proud of this status given that when it attained its independence only 56 years ago it was among the poorest in the world. It was fortunate to discover what has turned out to be the largest diamond reserve across the Kimberley Belt. Noting that his country turned its discovery of diamonds into a story of development, he said: “Botswana would not have been able to realize its development had it not held onto its belief in the principles of democracy centred on the rule of law, good governance and the protection and enjoyment of basic human rights by its people.”
However, Botswana is facing an uphill battle to attract investors to diversify its economy away from a dependence on diamonds, he said, pointing out that that resource is still the bedrock of its economy. He voiced support for the Secretary-General’s call for a world in which power, wealth and opportunity were shared more broadly and fairly at the international level. His country advocates for the Kimberley Process, he said, highlighting that: “Botswana’s story is unquestionable proof and living testimony that diamonds with good governance are for development.” Diamonds are a serious matter of livelihoods, he added, noting that later today his delegation is hosting a side event on diamonds for development. It aims to further broaden conversations with partners including the United Nations, Governments, civil society and the private sector, to ensure that Botswana would also be part of the United Nations family espoused around shared power, wealth and opportunity as it endeavours to realize the 2030 Agenda.
Many countries in the Global South, especially in Africa, have not met the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 70 per cent vaccination rate by mid-2022, he pointed out, stressing the urgent need for vaccine equity. Vaccine hesitancy must also be addressed by countering misinformation and raising awareness of the science, safety and effectiveness of vaccines. As his country has procured enough vaccines to administer to all eligible groups, 60 per cent of its population is now fully vaccinated. Moreover, his Government has approved the manufacturing of the patent-free COVID-19 vaccine Corbevax. Noting that construction of a vaccine manufacturing plant has already commenced, he said the facility would produce cancer treatment and next-generation cell-based immunotherapy. The initiative is being undertaken in partnership with NantWorks, the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and the Baylor College of Medicine, he said, noting that the partnership will enhance Botswana’s capacity in human vaccine production, contribute to its goal of building a knowledge-based economy and help in preparation for future pandemics.
He went on to say that Botswana’s recovery plan includes strengthening its protection system to ensure the inclusion of vulnerable groups and persons living with disabilities. As adequate financing is needed to achieve sustainable development, the effective mobilization of domestic and international financial resources, as well as their prudent use, are imperative. He called on development partners to scale up and fulfil their official development assistance (ODA) commitments. His Government is accelerating digitization in the delivery of services and the country’s people are demonstrating conceptual agility to do things differently. He expressed solidarity with fellow Member States in special situations. He called for the removal of unilateral coercive measures targeting Zimbabwe, voicing concern that such actions were not advancing its people’s livelihoods, nor the cause of the Sustainable Development Goals. Turning to the climate crisis, he said his country remains committed to its target of a 15 per cent carbon emissions reduction by 2030 indicated in its nationally determined contribution.
MOHAMED BAZOUM, President of Niger, stated that due to climate change the African continent is being exposed to worsening food insecurity, displacement of populations, recurring droughts and pressures on water resources. He welcomed that the international community has recognized that the upcoming Conference of the Parties will be a unique opportunity to redress this imbalance. In this regard, he expressed his country’s commitment to the proposal brought forth by African negotiators towards a new goal of allocating $1.3 billion by 2025 to face climate change in the Sahel.
Turning to security issues, he mentioned that the situation in the Sahel has worsened in recent years. Since the fall in 2011 of the Libyan regime, he continued, the State has never been able to exercise authority through a stable Government. The south of Libya has become a platform for transnational organized crime, and “we see a blossoming of trafficking in arms, drugs, fuels and migrants,” he noted. He also stated that Mali has never been able to recover from the violence coming from Libya, and in turn has become a breeding ground for terrorism.
The Sahel has been deeply affected by climate change, he continued, threatening the practice of industrial farming in the region. Many young shepherds have turned to terrorism. He emphasized that violence has led to the recent fall of democratically elected Governments in Mali and Burkina Faso. His country also faces another terrorist threat around the Lake Chad Basin, where groups belonging to the Boko Haram operate. In that context, he stressed that his country’s experience of organizing transparent elections and handing over power in a democratic fashion has shown that “the best way to ward off the effects of terrorist violence is to strengthen the democratic system, and nothing else.” He went on to thank France, the United States and Germany for their support towards his country’s fight against terrorism. Meanwhile, he stressed that the commitment of the international community to fight terrorism in the Sahel still shows “great gaps”. He emphasized that it is high time that the great Powers in the region, as well as the international community, worked together towards effective actions in fighting drug- and arms-trafficking in the Sahel.
He went on to emphasize that demography, insecurity and terrorism are closely linked in his country. Highlighting that Niger sees an annual population growth rate of 3.9 per cent, an average fertility rate of seven children per woman, and the first pregnancy for around half of the girls happening before the age of 15, he stressed that his country is committed to improve access to education as well as its quality, which in turn slows down the rate of population growth. Becoming emotional and speaking about terrorist violence will not be enough. “We have to act by investing in the resources that we need in education in order to fight the violence of today and prevent the violence of tomorrow,” he said.
ADAMA BARROW , President of Gambia, said that the current cost-of-living crisis around the world requires an immediate global response to alleviate the suffering. He welcomed the establishment of the Global Crisis Response Group, expressing hope in concrete action-oriented recommendations and solutions. Amid current socioeconomic challenges, such as a decrease in its tourism sector, heightened inflation and food and energy insecurity, and only modest economic growth, Gambia is developing its National Development Plan 2022-2026. The new plan will advance the pursuit of national priorities, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
Despite its size and economic status, Gambia is at the forefront of fighting climate change through ambitious national action plans. “As a continent, our collective goal is to have a peaceful Africa where the people enjoy the dividends of peace, stability and prosperity,” he said. Africa must be provided with adequate equipment and the means to fully play its peace enforcement role on behalf of the international community. As a longstanding troop– and police–contributing country, it will continue to support the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative. He went on to emphasize the importance of addressing the frequency in deadly attacks against peacekeepers by giving those missions realistic mandates.
The complexity of the challenges in the Sahel requires forward-looking solutions, he continued. Contending parties on the ground in Libya will enable its people to live and coexist in peace. He reaffirmed his country’s strong support for the Moroccan autonomy initiative, which “serves as a realistic compromise in accordance with the United Nations resolutions”. Underscoring that developments in the Horn of Africa continue to be a source of serious concern, he called on the leaders of the region and the international community to explore new options to restore peace in the area. Turning to other regions, he called for ending the longstanding embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States, and also for the revival of the Arab Peace Initiative, emphasizing that the Palestinians deserve a State of their own. Speaking on the “plight of the Rohingya”, he said that it remains a matter of grave concern and called on the Government of Myanmar to comply with the rulings of the International Court of Justice and end all human rights violations against the Rohingya. He reiterated that his country considers Taiwan as part of China and advocated for the adoption of the One China Policy.
He underscored that the cost-of-living crisis, “biting” inflation and food and energy insecurity continue to devastate economies and frustrate pandemic recovery efforts in Africa and elsewhere. He said that the debt burden has reached crisis levels and called for general debt relief. “We implore Russia and Ukraine to heed the global plea for political dialogue and end the war,” he said. “Africa is simply asking for global peace and friendly relations. Our survival and progress depend on global peace and stability,” he added.
RASHAD MOHAMMED AL-ALIMI, President of the Presidential Leadership Council of Yemen, recalled that his country had entered the ninth year of its conflict and denounced the actions of militias and terrorist groups. He welcomed the support and unity of the international community on the Yemeni issue, as it supported the transfer of power based on the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and its implementation mechanism in 2011, and the start of the National Dialogue Conference with the participation of all categories of Yemeni society, including the Houthi. It led to a reference document guaranteeing people’s broad participation, their aspirations for democracy, justice, equality and citizenship, as well as freedom of thought and belief.
“This dream is very short lived,” he lamented, as the Houthi terrorist militias turned against the national consensus that emerged from this comprehensive dialogue. The militia prevented a new constitution, tried to invade the capital city and created obstacles to a national agreement and harmed the work of several of the country’s institutions. This was the beginning of a long-running destructive war, which lead to a loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, hundreds of thousands of refugees and to displacement of more than 4 million people. He also stated that floods and droughts, caused by the climate change, cause death and destruction.
Since 7 April, he continued, “a new era has started” in Yemen with the establishment of the Presidential Leadership Council as the sole legitimate representative body of the Yemeni people. Over the past six months, Yemen worked closely with the Saudi-led coalition, the United Arab Emirates, and regional and international partners to set up a reform programme urgently needed and improve the delivery of basic services, as well as to stem the effects of acute inflation and the global food crisis. The Presidential Council acts today in line with the Charter of the United Nations and in cooperation with the Organization’s agencies and political missions to guarantee the political, social and economic rights of women to bring an end to child exploitation. “We want a lasting peace,” he emphasized. He stated that there were also many commitments undertaken by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom to finance many processes in Yemen. Nonetheless, his country continues to experience a real gap in funding and therefore required humanitarian emergency assistance and rapid response from humanitarian organizations.
He underscored the importance of acting against the Houthi militias and to address the Safer oil tanker situation, which might lead to a particularly serious environmental disaster. Furthermore, he called for greater efforts to bring an end to the situation that is being used by the militias as a tool to exert pressure. “We are calling upon all countries of the world to ensure free navigation in international waters,” he added.
TANETI MAAMAU, President of Kiribati, welcomed the recent establishment of the Organization’s multi-country office for the Northern Pacific region, describing it as a “symbolic notion of bringing the United Nations closer for effective and tailored delivery of United Nations services”. He also thanked the countries that have pledged support for and made contributions towards the two initiatives that his country had proposed in relation to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: establishing a voluntary trust fund to assist those affected by nuclear testing and creating a scientific advisory body to help provide the science needed to address health and environmental problems arising from nuclear tests. “Humanity should be free now and forever from the tests and use of nuclear weapons,” he added.
He went on to state that a cloud of uncertainty and fear continued to loom over humanity due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, climate change and the war in Ukraine. On the pandemic, he stressed that solidarity had underscored the sustainability of science and its advances, as shown through the production of vaccines, which have saved millions of lives. However, he continued, that solidarity was still lacking for climate action, which continued to be the “stumbling block” to address the global climate change emergency. The targets agreed upon in the Paris Agreement continued to remain “out of reach”. The war in Ukraine had added to the despair and uncertainty through the unnecessary loss of lives, scarcity of food grains and increases in food and fuel prices, he added.
He emphasized that these challenges, along with many others that have caused much human suffering in the past seven decades, had been “curated” by people in positions of power and influence. “Broken humanity cannot be fixed by wonderful speeches, meetings, resolutions, nor international instruments, but an interplay of greater compassion and solidarity,” he continued, adding that the escalating geostrategic competitions meant that regionalism and solidarity were at risk of being used to serve specific national interests.
Furthermore, he underscored that his country’s efforts to prepare for its graduation from the least developed country status, as recommended by the Organization, were being “scrutinized”. Though Kiribati had been committed to driving its development agenda and ensuring sustainability, it had continued to be “oppressed by neo-colonial thinking that does not take into account our needs, our priorities and our national context”. He continued to state that a system of “global thinking” remained steeped with legacies of environmental destruction that his country’s peoples had inherited, as in the case of the mining of Banaba Island. He called on the international community to work together to ensure that the solutions and actions to correct such legacies work hand in hand with those for today’s interlocking challenges.
EMMERSON DAMBUDZO MNANGAGWA, President of Zimbabwe, said that, despite all the illegal economic sanctions against his country, it has successfully implemented a COVID‑19 national response strategy. Furthermore, it has made significant strides towards ending poverty and hunger, implementing various policies and programmes to support and empower communal and small-scale farmers, which contributed to household and national food and nutrition security. Noting that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement “should remain the primary platforms for negotiating collective global response to climate change”, he expressed concern about inadequate financing for those initiatives, which leaves the scope for effective and just transition to renewable energy among developing countries under serious threat. He hoped that the upcoming 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference would deliver more concrete action on adaptation, loss and damage, climate specific finance, technology transfer and capacity-building. “Zimbabwe is making concerted and deliberate efforts to integrate climate action into national policies,” he said.
Zimbabwe is implementing an ambitious programme to increase its number of dams for irrigation, designed to create greenbelts across the country to reduce dependence on rain-fed agricultural activities and increase its export-led production and productivity, he continued. In addition, the country’s comprehensive Agriculture Transformation Strategy has increased production and productivity across its agriculture sector. That has resulted in his country being self-sufficient in its wheat production as well as allowing it to export its horticulture. The “Zimbabwe is open for business mantra”, he said, “has fostered strong partnership between the Government and the private sector for inclusive and sustainable development”. Massive infrastructure development projects, such as dams, energy plants and roads, have broadened its national economic asset base and enhanced regional connectivity and integration.
An increasingly unsustainable debt burden, the prohibitive cost of borrowing, illicit financial flows, and the exploitation of natural resources from developing States “have all combined to relegate developing countries to the periphery of the global financial system”, he said. Accordingly, he called for a just and more inclusive global financial system responsive to those challenges. Underscoring that the international trade architecture under the World Trade Organization (WTO) remained indifferent to the needs of developing countries, he highlighted the role the African Continental Free Trade Area played in stimulating the continent’s economic growth and development. He further on called for the liberalization of services and strengthening of competition policies and intellectual property rights, along with the adoption of digital trade.
“More work needs to be done globally to close the gender gap,” he said, underscoring that proportional representation for women in Parliament is enshrined in Zimbabwe’s Constitution. To further strengthen participatory democracy and good governance, the Government introduced a 30 per cent quota for women in local authorities. Zimbabwe is modernizing, industrializing based on local resources and its human capital base, as it also continues to entrench democracy, good governance and the rule of law. Despite this success, the ongoing effects of illegal sanctions continue to hamper the country’s progress, including being able to realize sustainable and inclusive development. Zimbabwe’s engagement and re-engagement policy underpins the principles of mutual understanding and respect, he said, noting his country’s desire to be “a friend to all and an enemy to none”.
ÚMARO SISSOCO EMBALÓ, President of Guinea-Bissau, said that in the past two years, political stability in his country has increased, reaffirming its role both on the African continent and in “the concert of nations”. However, he expressed concern over the current state of world affairs, namely the war in Ukraine. That war has not only set back the Sustainable Development Goals, it has also resulted in higher food and energy prices.
Given his country’s specific context as an island nation particularly affected by climate change, he expressed hope that the upcoming twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties in Egypt will deliver concrete strategies to minimize the negative impacts of climate change.
As Chair of the Authority of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), he underscored the specific security challenges the subregion faces, which are obstacles to the development and well-being of the people. He cited the threat of insecurity as a result of terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime. While ECOWAS plays a major role in resolving political and institutional crises, the challenges are becoming too numerous to overcome, he said, while also calling for international assistance to stop the spread of terrorism in West Africa and the Sahel region.
Addressing diseases, he focused on malaria, noting that “96 per cent of malaria deaths occur in Africa” and that the continent “has not achieved the established goal of reducing malaria incidence and mortality by 40 per cent by 2020”. Turning to the pandemic, he reminded States that they must adopt appropriate measures to protect all people from infectious diseases everywhere and called on all involved actors to replenish the Global Fund. Finally, speaking about solidarity, he called on the United States to immediately end its embargo on Cuba. His country remains committed to maintaining peace, stability and security, and is a firm supporter of multilateralism, dialogue and cooperation.
AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros, acknowledging the already difficult reality of managing the fallout from the pandemic which wrought serious damage upon the economy, he lamented the invasion of Ukraine, which displays the not only the fragility of multilateralism but also how quickly food insecurity and risk of famine can arise if that fragility is disturbed. He condemned the invasion in Ukraine in the strongest terms and lauded the Istanbul agreement to export Ukrainian grain as an example of dialogue as a tool to find solutions to avoid the world from “falling into chaos and misery”. Suggesting that the States continue to use dialogue as a tool, he expressed the need for a Palestinian State with its capital as West Jerusalem side by side “in peace and harmony” with the State of Israel. Comoros recognizes the “Moroccan nature” of the autonomous region of the Sahara and Morocco’s sovereignty over it and believes the conflict has lasted too long, he said, encouraging dialogue with its neighbour, Algeria, to achieve peace in the region. Furthermore, he expressed his country’s position that Taiwan is a province of China and called on all Governments to express sensitivity and restraint on the matter. Lessons from the Sahel region teach us that if tensions are allowed to develop on territories, they become fertile ground for terrorist activities, he said, adding that Al-Shabaab poses a threat not only to his Government but to all of Africa. He reminded the Assembly that as Islam is a religion of peace, he cannot consider these groups that threaten peace to be Muslims despite their claims.
Recalling the important role that diplomacy will play in future conflicts, he brought up his country’s own territorial dispute concerning the island of Mayotte. He maintained the position that, in accordance with international law, the island of Mayotte is Comoran in nature and that its sovereignty was removed during decolonization. Though this is a painful dossier that has been open for 40 years, he is glad that dialogue with France is open.
On climate change, he issued a warning that it would bring about the disappearance of whole regions while others would face climate phenomena such as floods, droughts, loss of coastline and acidification. Though all regions are affected, great attention must be paid to small island nations such as Comoros who are disproportionately affected. Other dangerous phenomena that threaten peace and order are piracy, illegal fishing, pillaging of marine resources and drug and human trafficking and reminded the Assembly that its strategic position in the Indian Ocean requires security and stability.
Focusing on social cohesion, Comoros held a national political dialogue which united citizens around the common goals of peace, security and lasting economic and social development. His country is committed to human rights, multilateralism and to finding solutions “to the problems of our time”, he concluded.
GEORGE MANNEH WEAH, President of Liberia, stated that the challenges confronting the world today require immediate collective action, with the United Nations at the centre, in search of solutions. In so doing, he continued, the international community must give special consideration to the needs of developing countries, particularly those least developed, in line with the Doha Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries.
Noting that more than 60 per cent of his country’s population consists of young people, he highlighted the launch of a youth rehabilitation and empowerment programme, as well as a $13 million fund for the same purpose. As the country’s “Feminist-in-Chief”, he continued, empowering women and promoting gender equality remain key priorities of his Government. Women must be given equally deserved attention, support and “a place at the leadership and governance tables in our society”. Aside from developing a legal framework for this purpose, he underscored that his country is implementing the Spotlight Initiative, in support of the European Union and the United Nations, to end violence and harmful traditional practices against women and girls. He further noted that Liberia is implementing a $50 million project funded by ECOWAS to enhance the capacity of female entrepreneurs.
Turning to the pandemic, he noted that Liberia is on its way to achieving “herd immunity” by the end of 2022, with 67 per cent of the population fully vaccinated. On climate change, he reiterated his country’s commitment to achieve its target of reducing its carbon emissions by 64 per cent by the year 2030. He expressed anticipation that the upcoming Conference of the Parties will provide the opportunity to accelerate actions towards the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Stressing that sustainable development can only take place in a peaceful and secure environment, he recalled Liberia’s status as a troop-contributing country, with its troops serving in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). He then noted that the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest appraisal of the ongoing programme in his country is “very positive”, stressing that there are now better prospects for economic growth despite the negative effects of the pandemic.
On domestic issues, he noted that, after years of civil upheavals, Liberia is becoming a “stronghold of peace and a safe haven for democracy”. Spotlighting that his country eradicated legislation that tended to suppress free speech, he further emphasized that “there is no political prisoner in Liberia”. He added that his nation has constantly and consistently pleaded for a strict adherence to constitutional term limits and for a return to democratic civilian rule in cases of military takeovers. The forthcoming elections in 2023 will be crucial to consolidating his country’s democracy, he continued. “We must let the people decide, and then we must respect their decision,” he stressed.
HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD, President of Somalia, said the pandemic showed how unprepared the world was for such shocks and disruptions. In addition, it painfully illustrated how far apart the world was in its ability to respond to such a crisis through the top-down distribution of vaccines, with rich nations able to invest in life-saving vaccines more rapidly for their citizens while the developing countries, like his own, waited for whatever was available and they could afford, or what they were gifted by international partners. He thanked all dedicated medical professionals on the front lines, and the trilateral and multilateral partners who supported his country’s efforts to vaccinate its people and provide protection for their livelihoods. “Today we must ensure that the global inequality of the COVID‑19 vaccine is not replicated in the looming food security crisis,” he underscored. “We, as a community of nations, must be more optimistic and closely work together rather than retreat to nationalistic isolation, which does not and cannot serve our global citizenry in this new age of interconnectivity and interdependence,” he pointed out.
Somalia was working tirelessly to transition from more than two decades of devastating conflict, droughts, famine and developmental stagnation to a new age of stability, progress and prosperity, he said. However, despite its continuing efforts, his country and its people were facing some of the most complex crises in the world. This included ongoing regional droughts, which directly threatened lives in Somalia’s most vulnerable communities. His Government has called on all of its business community, diaspora and international partners to work with Somalia to do everything possible to avert a potential looming famine and provide immediate support and relief to its most affected communities. Moreover, the international community must meet its commitment to invest in and adequately finance climate adaptation in the most affected and vulnerable regions of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa, he said. Key areas of investment must be sustainable water management, biodiversity protection, climate-smart agriculture, resilient infrastructure and renewable energy, he added.
He went on to highlight that, for the first time, Somalia has established a new Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to lead the urgent process of addressing the devastating impact of its national and regional environmental deterioration. Somalia is caught between floods and droughts on an annual basis, because of climate change and poor infrastructure. “Our people, who have a long tradition of living harmoniously with nature and who barely contribute to poisonous emissions warming the Earth, are the ones paying with their lives today,” he stressed. “We are therefore taking the matter of protecting our environment seriously because we know that climate change is real, and we are living with the evidence of its destructive and painful reality today,” he said. The global climate crisis must be addressed jointly, quickly and effectively, because “our whole way of life depends on the climate”.
Turning to the issue of terrorism, he said international terrorists or terrorism can neither be contained nor degraded; they need to be comprehensively defeated. Somalia was actively fighting terrorist groups in the country, he said, noting that such groups criminally misrepresent the beautiful and peaceful Islamic religion and values. The unprovoked violence and senseless actions of Al-Shabaab against innocent civilians across Somalia in recent weeks had highlighted the urgent need for an expedited and united response to defeating them permanently. At the height of the humanitarian crisis, that group, which falsely claims to be Islamic, blew up desperately needed water wells and water catchments, banned transport carrying food and killed innocent people who were already struggling to leave due to the severe impact of drought in the country. His Government, with the support of the people, was defeating terrorist groups in major localities where they remained, he pointed out, noting that as recently as August, more towns and villages were recovered. At the policy level, his Government would continue to work with all its partners, including the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), in the fight against global terrorism.
EVARISTE NDAYISHIMIYE, President of Burundi, said that his country was well on its way to socioeconomic development. He requested the involvement of the United Nations to track down terrorist groups that are beginning to infiltrate the subregion. He stated that his country is working closely with the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United Republic of Tanzania to achieve an ambitious Uvinza-Musongati-Gitega-Bujumbura-Uvira-Kindu railway project to link the three countries.
Turning to education, he said that in Burundi it is free of charge, which has significantly increased school attendance and reduced dropout rates. To transform young people into agents of peace and inclusive development, Burundi created an ambitious Economic Empowerment and Employment Programme. To support this programme, the Government created a young persons investment bank and a support and guarantee fund to facilitate their access to credit. He underscored that an investment bank for women was created as the Government continues to improve health and education for females. The Office of the First Lady of Burundi opened a hospital to treat obstetric fistula. Together with development partners, the office continues to innovate to improve the standard of living of Burundian women.
“Enhancement of economic development of the country particularly includes the development of the agricultural sector”, he stated. To this end, the Government christened 2022 as the “year of agriculture in Burundi”. The development programme includes changing peoples’ mindsets and current practices by encouraging them to reach higher and not simply be content with just producing, developing and consuming locally, but also focusing on exports. In the framework of the environment, Burundi is learning to be resilient towards climate change, not only through practicing sustainable irrigation, but also through activities to protect soil, marking out contour lines, and reforesting land as part of Government-initiated projects.
He went on to say that his country is progressively developing infrastructure and supports production. The Government has undertaken a vast project to develop the energy sector and seeks to develop a technical and financial partnership in the field of exploration, exploitation and processing of mining and geological products. Lastly, after mentioning the strengthening of national anti-corruption mechanisms, he said that the coastline of Lake Tanganyika is being developed for tourism.
ABDEL-FATTAH AL-BURHAN ABDELRAHMAN AL-BURHAN, President of the Transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan, shared his country’s political developments, including its commitment to a peaceful transition, establishment of a real democracy, and free and transparent elections. The end of that transition period will culminate in a civilian regime representing all Sudanese people. In addition, it was decided in a recent communiqué that the military institution would withdraw from that dialogue and that the revolutionary political forces would be allowed to form a civilian Government that would implement the rest of the requests from the transition period. Reiterating his commitment to cooperate with the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and its mandate set forth by the Security Council, he affirmed that cooperation would continue with UNISFA.
He welcomed public dialogue during the transition period, particularly with youth, community leaders and signatories of the Juba Peace Agreement, noting that such talks would foster national unity. However, though progress had been made, thanks to the tripartite mechanism led by UNITAMS, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union, the mechanism did not conclude, he said, noting that this made debates on national consensus complicated. Following the December revolution, the Juba Peace Agreement was signed, calming conflict in Darfur and increasing stability in the region. He called upon Abdul Wahid Al Nur and Abdel Aziz al-Hilu to join the “caravan of peace”. He also highlighted community reconciliation and the increased rate of voluntary return of civilians to Darfur.
Sudan continues to rise to challenges in the region, he continued. Some achievements included a peace agreement with South Sudan; cooperation with the Government of Somalia; the coordination of a peace agreement in the Central African Republic; and participation in meetings to promote peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name a few. Noting progress on efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the Government adopted a strategic document to reduce poverty between 2021 and 2023. However, he pointed out that Sudan’s progress is limited by external debt. He urged the international community to honour the commitments made in Paris in 2020 and Berlin in 2021, especially in the context of soaring food and energy prices. He also asked for help through the transferring of agricultural technology, capacity-building and the support to build a centre of agricultural research. Though a country of limited resources, Sudan now hosts 4 million refugees from across the continent and he called on the world to remember its duty to provide humanitarian assistance.
Spotlighting other projects on the horizon, he said that Sudan will prioritize disarmament with a focus on combatting the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Like all developing countries, Sudan is suffering from this scourge which has only been made more complicated through competition over water, pastoral and mineral resources. He also underscored that he supported the African position on Security Council reform. It is through this reform that Sudan, like other States, wishes to address negative practices such as “unilateral wording and the hegemony of penholders”, he said.
YAIR LAPID, Prime Minister of Israel, recalling the “historic” Negev Summit which in March brought together representatives from the United States, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and his country, underscored that his nation has been able to prosper because it chose the future over the past, peace over war, and partnership over seclusion and isolation. He further noted that his country is a vibrant democracy, where Jews, Muslims and Christians live together in “full civic equality”.
He went on to stress that there are two major threats hanging over the head of his country, as well as of the world. The first is the nuclear threat, he continued, with the fear that “terrorist States and terrorist organizations will get their hands on the nuclear weapons”. The second threat is the demise of truth, where reckless politicians, totalitarian States and radical organizations are undermining the perception of reality. Raising an example of “fake news” about Israel, he asked the international community: “Why are you listening to people who have invested billions of dollars in distorting the truth?” He underscored that his country will not be silent against efforts to spread lies about it.
Pointing to Iran, he stressed that “there is only one Member State in the United Nations that openly states its wish to destroy another.” Noting that not only has the country “founded the largest terrorist organization, Hizbullah” while funding Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, he further noted that Iran is making efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon. He called on the international community to make clear to Tehran that the world will not respond with words but with military force if it does. “We will do whatever it takes. Iran will not get a nuclear weapon,” he added.
To resolve the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, he stressed that an agreement with the Palestinians based on the two-State solution is the “right thing” for his country’s security, economy and its children, adding that many Israelis support this solution. “War is a surrender to all that is bad. Peace is the victory of all that is good,” he pointed out. He further noted that there is one condition for this solution, which is that the “future Palestinian State” needs to be a peaceful one and not become another terror base that threatens the well-being and the very existence of Israel.
Particularly in Gaza, he emphasized that his country did everything the world had asked it to do, such as dismantling its settlements and military bases, when it left the area 17 years ago. However, he continued, in less than a year Hamas came to power, replacing such facilities with terrorist training camps and rocket launch sites. “Since we left Gaza, over 20,000 rockets and missiles have been fired at Israel,” he highlighted. He stated that his country is ready to lift the restrictions placed on Gaza, on the condition that the firing of rockets and missiles are stopped. “The burden of proof is not on us,” he continued, adding that his country keeps its word and fulfils its promises, proven by peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, the Abraham Accords and the Negev Summit.
JAMES MARAPE, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, urged the Assembly to act decisively for the collective good as “the alternative is to condemn ourselves to a future of doom and gloom”. Welcoming Our Common Agenda and the Transforming Education Summit, he stressed that for his country, education was “a key priority and is guided by our policy of leave no child behind, supported by our Education Sector Development Plan 2023-2027”. Further, citing the “Summit of the Future”, scheduled for September 2024, he said that finding solutions to the multiple crises the international community is facing should “be not defined by the lowest common denominator but rather be more ambitious, yet realistic and workable”. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to engage in this process, and touched on a set of policies and legislative measures set in place by his Government which are geared towards making Papua New Guinea a middle-income country by 2050.
Reporting on his Government’s priorities for the next five years, ranging from industrializing the country’s economy to protecting its immense natural resources and biological diversity, he called on foreign investors to join the country in partnership in various sectors of renewable resources development. Stressing that the existing global economic and financial architecture is “weighed against developing countries” such as his, he urged for structural change. To this end, he supported fellow small island developing States’ calls for their development financing needs to be considered, by taking into account their dimensions of vulnerability rather than their gross national income and urged the international community to support the proposed SIDS Multi Vulnerability Index.
Touching on his Government’s initiatives in agriculture to foster revenue, empower communities and answer to global markets’ needs, he encouraged international partnerships in the field. Ahead of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, he underscored how climate change affects “coastal communities, including displacement and loss of identity as a people… in his own country and across the Pacific region and beyond, as the carbon emission level continues its destructive spiral out of control”. Reporting on his country’s efforts at implementing its Paris Agreement commitments, he called for an urgent global focus on conservation, preservation and sustainability of the world’s forests, especially with the support of those who produce the greatest carbon footprints. “It is Papua New Guinea’s humble view that the atmospheric balance of oxygen and carbon should be ranked the number one focus of all mankind,” he said. He supported Vanuatu’s initiative to seek an International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on this existential threat.
Recognizing the importance of empowering and involving youth in decision-making, he welcomed partnerships in the sector and stressed that the country is a main sponsor and strong supporter of the Youth Office in the Secretariat. Combating gender-based violence is “a top priority for my Government”, he added, referring to the work done. Calling for global peace and stability, he urged upholding the Charter. On the Bougainville peace process, he said that “peace by peaceful means underpins this national priority”. He thanked the United Nations for its role in the Papua New Guinea-Melanesian conflict resolution. Finally, he “welcomed and supported the Emergency Special Session measures, invoked under the General Assembly with respect to the situation in Ukraine and to ensure the Security Council is accountable for their actions”.
IRAKLI GARIBASHVILI, Prime Minister of Georgia, recalled that in 2008 his country was attacked by the Russian Federation, which currently occupies 20 per cent of its territory. “The world’s democracies must act as one to ensure that freedom and peace prevail,” he said. Since the Government came to power in 2012, it implemented an ambitious reform agenda on closer collaboration with the United States, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United Nations. As Georgia continues its unequivocal path towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration, its aspirations are “backed by actions and real results”, he said referring to the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreement with the European Union and visa-free travel within the Union. “The prospect of acceding to the European Union is a strong motivation,” he added.
He underscored that his country developed a long-term development strategy, Vision 2030, along with a new national Strategy for Human Rights for 2022-2030. The latter aims to further improve human rights protection standards and is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. “We are working with the world's leading firms and brightest minds to transform Georgia into a true multidimensional regional hub,” he said. The country’s financial services sector is globally recognized and attracts attention of international investors, its start-up ecosystem is thriving, and its logistics and energy potential is being realized. “We are creating opportunities and giving all the necessary tools to our citizens, including those living in Georgia’s occupied territories,” he confirmed.
He went on referring to the ongoing full-scale war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, reiterating that “Georgia stands with Ukraine”. Since the beginning of the war, the Government provided substantial humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and allocated more than 1,000 tons of humanitarian aid. Georgia provides financial assistance and accommodation to over 32,000 Ukrainians currently residing in the country, whereas more than 1,500 Ukrainian students are enrolled in its educational system.
Conforming to the report of the United States State Department on the investment climate in Georgia, the National Bank of Georgia and Georgian financial institutions act fully in accordance with the financial sanctions imposed by the United States and others on the Russian Federation. Georgia also aligned with restrictive measures of the European Union against Crimea and Sevastopol, “and for this year, with restrictive measures on Donetsk and Luhansk,” he added. As the conflict in Ukraine has shown, the wider security of the Black Sea is at the forefront of the Euro-Atlantic security agenda, and Georgia, as an indivisible part of the regional architecture, is ready to increase its contribution to common security. Predictability is a crucial precondition for sustainable economic development. “The more predictable the Black Sea region becomes, the more we can unlock its economic potential for the benefit of our people and the global economy”, he said. For that reason, Georgia is developing strategic transport corridors connecting Asia with Europe and participates in several international initiatives to facilitate reliable and efficient commerce across the Black Sea.
JONAS GAHR STØRE, Prime Minister of Norway, stressed that the Russian Federation bears responsibility for the war in Ukraine and is responsible for bringing it to an end. Citing an under-pressure energy supply, soaring inflation and dramatically increased food insecurity as repercussions of the war, he emphasized that ordinary people across the globe are paying the price. The war is amplifying other crises and compounding the impacts of climate change and armed conflict in other parts of the world: The Horn of Africa is faced with its worst drought in more than four decades. Pakistan is contending with devastating floods. More than 300 million people affected by conflicts and humanitarian crises need humanitarian assistance and protection. No continent is more vulnerable to the combined effects of climate change, conflicts and growing food insecurity than Africa. In solidarity with the people grappling with those interlocking crises, his country has allocated more funding to humanitarian assistance and development cooperation in 2022 than ever before.
He went on to say that, together with a strong alliance of partners, his country is standing with Ukraine and aids its self-defence. “As Europe’s largest supplier of energy, we do what we can to enhance Europe’s resilience,” he added. Norway is standing up for human rights and fundamental freedoms elsewhere, and will continue to promote civic space, protect human rights defenders and support media diversity and independent journalism worldwide. Women’s and girls’ participation in society and their right to decide over their own bodies are essential for democratic and sustainable development. As such, safeguarding these human rights remains among his country’s top priorities. “While supporting Ukraine, we must not forget conflicts elsewhere,” he urged, noting that his country is continuing its peace diplomacy and peacebuilding efforts in major conflicts across the globe. As part of its longstanding engagement in the Middle East, Norway is pushing for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a guarantor country, Norway remains committed to Colombia’s quest for peace, and to supporting the parties in that endeavour.
In all the peace processes Norway is engaged in, it promotes active involvement and participation by women in line with the women, peace and security agenda, he continued. He said: “We talk to all parties as we work to achieve peaceful conflict resolution. Without dialogue, we have no opportunity to influence the parties and encourage them to move in a more positive direction.” His country also strongly supports the good offices of the Secretary-General in conflicts worldwide, he said, commending him and his team for their important work on the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and Türkiye for its important contribution. “If the global community does not act swiftly, the current food price crisis will develop into a food availability and food supply crisis,” he warned. Together with fighting climate change, his country has placed food security at the top of its development agenda. In 2022, it is allocating more than $300 million in funding for food security initiatives alone. The international community must increase humanitarian assistance and enhance social safety nets; promote local food production in the global South; secure access to seeds, fertilizers and technology for small-scale farmers; and accelerate the transformation to climate-resilient and sustainable food systems. In all of this, the international community must ensure that the needs of women and girls are adequately integrated.
Turning to climate change, he said Norway will honour its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to play a key role in the green transition. It has listened to the concerns of developing countries and has decided to double its climate finance to those countries by 2026. Within that target, Norway aims to at least triple its funding for climate adaptation and resilience. Stressing that the fight against climate change requires new, innovative approaches, he pointed out that the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet brings together private and public resources. As co-chair, Norway will work with partners across the global South to support renewable energy transitions, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase clean power and create green jobs. He pointed out that the oceans can be a vital part of the solution to climate change, food insecurity and poverty. If adequately managed and protected, the oceans hold the key to reaching many of the Sustainable Development Goals. The High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, co-chaired by Norway, is an initiative by world leaders committed to ocean health and ocean wealth, in support of the 2030 Agenda. The Panel members have committed to sustainably manage 100 per cent of the ocean areas under their national jurisdiction.
MIA AMOR MOTTLEY, Prime Minister, Minister for National Security and the Public Service, and Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment of Barbados, underscored that: “A Security Council that retains the power of veto in the hands of a few will still lead us to war.” Therefore, the reform of the Council must not simply be in its composition but also be in the removal of that veto. Moreover, the recognition of the Group of Seven (G7) and Group of 20 (G20) countries as the informal subcommittee of governance in the world, if it is to be fair, must include the people of Africa and African descent. “How can a world have at its core a subcommittee that excludes more than 1.4-1.5 billion people of the world and expect it to reflect fairness and transparency in its decision-making,” she asked. Fairness will mean something only when it is reflected in the international community.
She went on to say that the international community must fight for reform so that citizens are not made victims of poverty as a result of the triple crisis of climate, pandemic and of the conflict that is leading to inflationary pressures. Voicing concern for the people of Haiti and the situation in the country, she stressed that any attempt to increase fuel prices in any part of the world by 150 per cent would have been met with great consternation by populations with fixed income. Similarly, she urged the same transparency to occur with respect to removal of the 60-year blockade against Cuba. Addressing the people of the United States, she said: “…there is nothing that justifies further hardship to people because of ideological differences.”
Noting that some are even benefiting from crisis disproportionately and egregiously, she asked whether the time has come for a review of the settlement of the Bretton Woods institutions that no longer serve the purpose in the twenty-first century that they served in twentieth century. “The century in which we live not only demands the eradication of poverty but also equally the protection of global public goods,” she said.
“If companies, multinational companies have contributed to the global public risk or benefit from the solutions from global public goods then they ought to contribute, through a small portion of their profits, funding the needs of countries whether on issue of climate resilience adaptation, biodiversity protection, public health, she added, noting other areas. She commended IMF for its rapid financing mechanism at the beginning of the pandemic and for the to be launched Resilience and Sustainability Trust — the first recognition that middle-income countries should be able to access funding irrespective of per capita income and dependent on climate vulnerability.
LAZARUS MCCARTHY CHAKWERA, President of Malawi, said climate change is a global problem that would never be solved unless all nations solve it together. “Yet months after Malawi and its Sustainable Development Goals gains were set backwards by two tropical storms in quick succession, we have been left behind,” he asserted, spotlighting other global issues that called for global cooperation: pandemics, regional insecurity and food shortage. As a result of collective negligence, the global economy was now a house on fire, and some nations were left in the burning building, he continued, rejecting any attempts to politicize human suffering.
Addressing the current global food crisis, he noted that his country had just joined the Feed the Future initiative, providing access to new financing in the next few years to use Malawi’s vast arable land and large volumes of fresh water to develop mega-farms that will feed the world and lift millions of their farmers out of subsistence living. “Malawi’s economic rise is imminent,” he stressed, citing the recent discovery in his country of the largest deposit of rutile in the world as well as the agricultural revolution that is coming to Malawi.
On climate change mitigation and adaptation, he said disasters such as floods, drought, pests, and cyclones were reversing years of developmental gains. Cyclones Ana and Gombe alone destroyed strategic infrastructure, community assets, and displaced thousands of households. And now, one fifth of Malawi’s population was at risk of acute food shortage, as 3.6 million Malawians were facing hunger from next month until March. Although Malawi and other least developed countries contribute the least to climate change, they remain committed to the global climate agenda, he said, recalling Malawi’s own ambition to cut carbon emissions by half before the year 2040.
Underlining the importance of access to COVID-19 vaccines and strengthening health systems to build resilience against future pandemics, he called for investments in health infrastructure and research. To this end, he welcomed the news that six African States have been chosen to produce messenger RNA vaccines in Africa, as well as Malawi’s role as a co-pioneer of the Accord for a Healthier World announced by Pfizer in Davos four months ago, aimed at bringing quality medicines to 1.2 billion people in low-income countries.
He went on to highlight one problem in desperate need of a solution for the most vulnerable least developed countries: the unsustainable debt levels and distress they bear. In this context, he welcomed the recent call of the IMF Managing Director on the world’s major lenders to relieve vulnerable countries of the debts that are shackling them, as even loans that were given and received in good faith have become unsustainable in the current climate of unforeseen external shocks. He commended China for fulfilling the pledge to forgive interest-free loans owed by 17 African countries. “Let this be the beginning of breaking the chains holding vulnerable countries back,” he asserted. United States President Joseph Biden’s recent call to defend the rights of smaller nations as equals of larger ones “must not only be applauded, it must be uploaded,” he added, calling for a reformed United Nations that uses its multilateral muscle to give equal attention to public health, food insecurity, climate change and conflict, regardless of where they emerge or whom they affect. “We are one humanity facing the same storm in the same boat,” he concluded.
DAVID W. PANUELO, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, said that his country’s foreign policy is to be a “friend to all and an enemy to none.” Expressing support for Ukraine, he strongly encouraged Member States, particularly those with greater influence and means, to firmly stand with that country’s people and Government and show that aggressive, violent behaviour won’t be tolerated, as “an infringement on the rights of one is an infringement on the rights of us all”. Amid traditional security concerns, anthropogenic climate change is the most enduring security threat facing his Pacific island country, he underscored, urging the international community, especially developed countries, to commit to the Paris Agreement goals by providing adequate, accessible and concessional finance for climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as for loss and damage. To that end, he called for the adoption of an agenda item for the Twenty-seventh Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on a Loss and Damage Response Fund, the establishment of that Fund in the Conference, and its full operationalization to be completed in the twenty-eighth Conference.
Current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are wholly inadequate, as many actors continue to engage in the worst emitting activities, he said. Noting that carbon dioxide reduction alone will not cool the planet in the near-term, he urged all countries to commit to the Kigali Amendment and the Global Methane Pledge of a 30 per cent reduction in methane emissions from 2020 levels by 2030. He called on the United States and China to resume cooperation on tackling climate change, stressing: “Your capacity to cooperate on climate change is necessary towards ensuring our world is habitable for future generations, and does not suffer from civilizational collapse”.
The Organization’s Pacific Multi-Country Office (MCO) in the Federated States of Micronesia has added value to his country’s COVID-19 response and access of available funding sources and technical support through the United Nations system, he said. “Small Island Developing States such as Micronesia are in dire need of support from our partners to support our country-driven development strategy,” he said, noting that distance remains challenge in providing service delivery and commending United Nations agencies for reaching every island in the country and in the subregion, including vulnerable outlying islands.
Despite the successful conclusion of the ocean conferences in Palau and Lisbon, critical works remains to fully protect ocean resources, which are a common heritage of mankind, he said, stressing that his country looks forward to the resumption and conclusion of the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction Treaty negotiations very soon. A member of the Alliance of Countries for a Deep-Sea Mining Moratorium, the Federated States of Micronesia believes that deep seabed mining in the International Seabed Area should not occur until the precautionary principle, ecosystem approach and the “polluter pays” principle have been implemented, or until a set of exploitation regulations by the International Seabed Authority are finalized. With some of the largest fishing grounds in the Pacific, spanning 1.1 million square miles, and one of the most productive tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific, he said his country’s maritime zones are exposed to threats of transnational crimes and illegal activities. He therefore called on partners to support the country’s efforts to build law enforcement capacity in maritime surveillance to address money laundering and terrorist financing, drug trafficking and other transnational crimes. To this end, he thanked Australia, Japan and the United States for the support provided, and invited other States to offer more aid.
He expressed the country’s “gravest concern” about Japan’s decision to discharge, starting next year, nuclear-contaminated water, otherwise known as Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) water, into the ocean. “We cannot close our eyes to the unimaginable threats of nuclear contamination, marine pollution, and eventual destruction of the Blue Pacific continent,” he underscored. Touching on key structural reforms undertaken by the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, he called on all countries who engage with the Pacific to support and respect the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
HUSSEIN ABDELBAGI AKOL AGANY, Vice-President of South Sudan, speaking on behalf of South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, said the Revitalized Peace Agreement signed on 12 September 2018 between the Government and opposition groups ended the internal conflict in South Sudan. The parties are committed to implement the peace accord, which has improved the country’s security. The Government is working to resettle internally displaced persons and refugees are now returning to their homes. The command structure of the National Unified Forces has been established, which is a major leap towards transformation and regularization of the forces. Since the unification of the command structure in April 2022, there has been a de-escalation in clashes between the South Sudan Peoples’ Defence Forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition. In addition, the first batch of 53,000 National Unified Forces successfully graduated on 30 August 2022 and parties to the peace accord have agreed on a roadmap to complete the agreement’s remaining tasks. This will pave the way for free, fair, and credible election at the end of the transitional period.
With targeted actions, South Sudan has contained the spread of COVID-19 and as of 9 May 2022, it had only 17,513 confirmed cases, including 138 deaths since the pandemic’s start, he said. The current vaccination campaign is effective, with 45 per cent of the entire population over the age of 18 vaccinated. South Sudan ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change in April 2016 and is coping by building nature-based solutions, green infrastructure and fostering socioeconomic recovery. The impacts of climate change and global warming are real in South Sudan. For example, more than 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the country has been impacted by floods over the last three years. Food insecurity is another issue and between February to March 2022, about 6.83 million people, or 55.3 per cent of the population, were facing acute food insecurity.
Surrounded by countries afflicted by conflict, South Sudan is working to promote peace and stability in the region and has successfully mediated the armed conflict in Sudan, which led to the signing of Juba Peace Agreement in 2020. South Sudan stands ready to mediate the current conflict between the army and the Forces of Freedom and Change in Sudan, so that Sudan can finally enjoy lasting peace, he said.
Recently, South Sudan offered to mediate tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia over their disagreement on the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, he continued. By promoting regional peace and stability, South Sudan has shown it is a reliable partner in that regard. The current war between the Russian Federation and Ukraine is very unfortunate, devastating to the citizens of both countries and beyond, while leading to severe humanitarian crises. “From the moral point of view, South Sudan Government is calling on Russia and Ukraine to cease all forms of hostilities and resolve the dispute through diplomatic and constructive dialogue to avert further consequences,” he said.
PHILIP ISDOR MPANGO, Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania, said human greed, selfish desire and unilateralism were the root causes of conflicts and geopolitical tensions, the pandemic’s devastating effects, food and energy insecurity, extreme climate change, stubborn poverty and barriers to shared prosperity. Referencing the Kiswahili proverb, “Where there are problems, ingenuity increases,” he called upon the international community to uphold a caring spirit to ensure the needs and happiness of other peoples and nations and to adhere to the credo of multilateralism and collaboration.
Focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic, he underscored the need for national and global health systems to be better prepared through investments in building health infrastructure, expanding the health workforce and enhancing national and regional capacity to manufacture drugs, supplies, vaccines and medical equipment. While the late provision of support and financing highlighted the need for African countries to work together on developing indigenous solutions, he acknowledged and thanked development partners for their support on pandemic response and recovery.
Expressing appreciation for the upscaling of mitigation and adaptation efforts under the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement on climate change, the most vulnerable countries, he noted, continued to be disproportionately affected and without the capacity to effectively respond. While the United Republic of Tanzania has committed to ambitious adaptation and mitigation targets, there must be “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”, he said, to limit global warming. He called on the international community to ensure reliable access to climate finance, abide their commitments to the Paris Agreement, enhance capacity-building and technology transfer, support adaptation and mitigation measures and create a financial facility on independent loss and damage. In emphasizing Africa’s need for a just transition to renewable energy, he also called for the opposition to global financing and the implementation of hydrocarbon projects to be lifted as “our Sovereign rights to pursue transformative projects should be respected.” Carbon credit markets must be transparent and must benefit Africa fairly.
On international peace and security, he pleaded for continued focus on the safeguarding of human lives and well-being, especially those of children and women. Citing the disruptive effects on global supply chains, he reminded all of their responsibility to pursue the peaceful resolution of conflicts by leveraging their abundant resources and human capabilities. As the United Republic of Tanzania is proud of its participation in five of the existing 16 peacekeeping missions, he offered additional contributions if requested. Reaffirming his country’s continued and active participation in regional peace initiatives as a member of the African Union Peace and Security Council, East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC), he called upon the United Nations to enhance its support to regional peacebuilding and peacekeeping efforts.
As the credibility of the United Nations rests on a well-represented and responsible Security Council, he reiterated the common African position for the long-awaited reforms. Echoing the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, he said: “it is well past time the United Nations Security Council reflected the present-day realities of the United Nations membership and not that of the 1940s.” In acknowledging the first global celebration of the Kiswahili language on 7 July while commending the efforts of the United Nations in promoting multilingualism as a core value, he reaffirmed the United Republic of Tanzania’s resolve to uphold peace and security, development and human rights. All Member States, he urged, must renew their commitment and prioritization of actions especially on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
JESSICA ALUPO, Vice-President of Uganda, called for strengthening international solidarity and cooperation to address common challenges, such as poverty, health, food insecurity, climate change and biodiversity loss. The need to revitalize the Organization is stronger than ever and multilateralism is crucial for meeting the common challenges faced by all countries. It is also essential to scale up the production of the world’s vaccination capacity to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. She thanked the many partners that have helped Uganda in this matter. Stressing that achievement of the global goals is crucial for the world and the institutional architecture must be strengthened to keep countries on track to achieve them by 2030, she said her Government has mainstreamed the global goals into its national development plan and works with other stakeholders to ensure collaboration with all actors. This requires support in the areas of technology transfer, capacity-building and financing.
Climate change is one the greatest challenges of all time and Africa suffers disproportionately, she said. Uganda is experiencing many problems, including drought, the melting of ice caps and floods. It is regrettable and hypocritical that some of the regions and nations that have mismanaged the environment and are disproportionately responsible for global warming have embarked on a rigorous campaign to thwart the efforts of other countries to responsibly and sustainably develop the oil and gas sectors. Development should be environmentally friendly, inclusive and provide benefits for all. “It should leave no one behind,” she said. Uganda has scaled up its investments in climate adaption, for example, increasing its access to clean energy and expanding the forest and wetland covers. Her country is playing a vital role in helping developing countries to meet challenges and it will keep strengthening North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation with the United Nations.
As the world faces many challenges, the conflict in Ukraine is causing more destruction, she said, expressing deep concern about loss of life and suffering. She supported a dialogue to reach a peaceful end to the conflict that ensures the safety of all. Turning to terrorism, she said no region of the world has been safe from the scourge of and Uganda supported all global and regional counter-terrorism efforts. Peace, security and development are linked and should be pursued together. The Ugandan Government plays a part in regional groups to build peace, including the African Union and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. Stressing the refugee situation is a crucial regional issue, she said Uganda had 1.5 million refugees, the largest refugee population in Africa and the third-largest in the world.
Turning to reform of the Security Council, she said equitable reform was more necessary than ever before and Africa, which has more than 1 billion citizens and is the topic of 70 per cent of Council agenda items, is not represented. This balance needs to be taken care of with comprehensive Council reform, which she hopes can be achieved in the inter-governmental process. The Non-Aligned Movement is a strong pillar to address global challenges and Uganda remains committed to working with other countries in this group. Her Government looked forward to hosting the nineteenth Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Kampala in December 2023, she added.
JOSÉ GABRIEL CARRIZO, Vice-President of Panama, in fully aligning his country with the themes of the seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly, called for the promotion of creative solutions, greater solidarity and science as an ally to address future challenges, saying “it is a selfish act to concentrate rather than to share knowledge.”
Elaborating on Panama’s focus on saving lives, avoiding the collapse of the health system and maintaining social order, he highlighted his Government’s work in addressing unacceptable levels of inequality, consolidating democracy and strengthening the independence of the justice system which included Supreme Court appointments based on merit, the majority of whom are women. Panama, he continued, demonstrated creativity and innovation in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing technology tools to directly provide care and implement centralized tracing and monitoring systems. In preventing the disruption to schooling, Panama also guaranteed free Internet access including for remote communities. He then spoke of a platform under development on real-time medicine availability, location and competitive pricing and offered to share Panama’s experiences and advances with the international community. Expressing his steadfast belief that dialogue, civic participation and consensus build social peace, he highlighted Panama’s response to protests and the broad consultations and national agreements on addressing the rising costs of food, medicine and gasoline. For the global context, he stressed, “dialogue is the only way to shrink the space available to extremism.”
On the manufacture, supply and distribution of medicines, he lamented the mercantile and mercenary situation in which millions of people do not have access adding “such a system which is shameful to humanity cannot continue. It is everyone’s responsibility and its global implications must be examined and addressed.” In calling for access to medicines to be valued as a human right, Panama proposed the adoption of a global initiative to resolve excessively high prices and the lack of access. Turning to migration, he noted the situation includes and conceals criminal organizations engaging in human trafficking. In referencing Panama’s state policy on helping migrants out of solidarity and humanity, he stressed the involvement of recipient and host countries. Countries of origin must also be involved by addressing the poverty and social marginalisation fuelling irregular migration.
Expressing his country’s belief that the current development model needs to be transformed, he called for considering biodiversity’s value and seeking healthy and sustainable ecosystems. In acknowledging the harsh criticism from young people over the climate summits, fora and declarations which have occurred against the backdrop of rising emissions, deforestation and water pollution, he asked the international community “how can we gain the trust of new generations while the planet on which we live and on which our descendants will have to live is being decimated before their eyes? How many more lives must be lost? How many more natural disasters unfurl?” Wondering when the ecocide will stop, he called out the large emitters of gasses, promoters of deforestation and chemical polluters. In advocating for the establishment of an international body which demands accountability from those who damage the planet, he reiterated Panama’s continued commitment to building a new world that ensures human health and life on the planet, a world with more solidarity and peace.
ANTÓNIO COSTA, Prime Minister of Portugal, in referencing the “unjustified and unprovoked” invasion of Ukraine, said “the gravity of the acts committed makes an independent, impartial and transparent investigation imperative so that the crimes committed do not go unpunished”. Reiterating Portugal’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of while urging others to condemn the Russian Federation’s aggression, he called upon the latter to cease hostilities and allow for a serious, sustained ceasefire- and peace-oriented dialogue noting that “this is not the time for Russia to escalate the conflict or to make irresponsible threats to resort to nuclear weapons.” In welcoming the efforts of the Secretary-General and the entire United Nations system in resolving the conflict and mitigating its effects, Portugal reiterated its solidarity with all peoples who are suffering, particularly in Africa. Sanctions, he warned, must not directly or indirectly affect the production, transportation and payment of cereals and fertilizers.
Through calling for a representative, agile and functional Security Council whose actions are scrutinized by other members of the United Nations, he stressed a comprehensive view of security that recognizes climate change as an accelerant of conflict. The Council should have permanent seats for the African continent, Brazil and India and should represent small countries more fairly. In referencing the Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace, he emphasized a global vision of security which focuses on conflict prevention and ensures adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for peacebuilding. Turning to Africa, he said the international community had a duty to support stability in African nations and African solutions to African problems. The Sahel requires a concerted and multidimensional effort that ensures humanitarian assistance. States must respond in a targeted, effective manner to the global terrorist threat, especially in Mozambique, the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea and must address the root causes of radicalization. Recalling Portugal’s current presence in four peacekeeping operations, particularly in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), he expressed pride over international recognition of his country’s contributions to crisis and conflict management on all continents.
Elaborating on the undeniable link between climate and security, he expressed hope that the upcoming twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties would lead to an inclusive transition and ensures a balanced allocation of climate finance on mitigation and adaptation. Pledging to accelerate Portugal’s commitments to decarbonization, he promised continued strong investment in renewable gases and in solar, wind and ocean energy. He welcomed the active participation of all States in the second Oceans Conference which was co-organized with Kenya and reiterated Portugal’s commitment for 100 per cent of Portugal’s maritime space to be in good environmental status by 2030. Advocating for a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework which enshrines the 30 by 30 goal, he urged progress on the treaty on Marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond Natural Jurisdiction by the end of the year.
As the transition to a prosperous, green and digital future must not leave anyone behind, social policies “must be at the heart of our action, of the development of our economies, of the fight against climate change”, he said. He supported the Secretary-General’s proposed Social Summit and called for the adoption of a global pandemic treaty. Respect for, protection and promotion of human rights was Portugal’s top priority, he said, pledging continued dedication to the universal abolition of the death penalty. Portugal supports the women, peace and security agenda. It will also continue its constructive participation on migration and its support on the integration of migrants and the promotion of pathways for labour mobility. Reaffirming Portugal’s leading role on the Youth Agenda, he called for the United Nations to have the tools to ensure the participation of young people in decision-making processes. Emphasizing that the Organization must become more efficient, fairer and more representative, he said Portugal “will not miss this call” and stands ready as a candidate for the Security Council seat for 2027-2028.
NIKOL PASHINYAN, Prime Minister of Armenia, said that on 13 September Azerbaijan launched an unprovoked military aggression against Armenia: its armed forces shelled 36 residential areas and communities, including the towns of Goris, Jermuk, Vardenis, Kapan, and Geghamasar. This was not a border clash, it was a direct attack against the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Armenia, he underscored.
Detailing the Azerbaijani attack that deliberately targeted the civilian population and vital civilian infrastructures, he said all the residents of Jermuk are displaced while overall number of people temporarily displaced from Gegharkunik, Vayots Dzor, and Syunik regions is more than 7,600, mostly women and elderly, among them 1,437 children and 99 persons with disabilities. He said 192 houses, three hotels, two schools, and one medical facility were destroyed, and seven electrical infrastructure systems, five water infrastructure systems, three gas pipelines and one bridge were damaged. The Kechut water reservoir was targeted and shelled, as were journalists and ambulances. As a result of the aggression, the number of victims and missing persons exceeded 207, he said, citing cases of torture, mutilation of captured or already dead servicemen, extra-judicial killings, and ill-treatment of Armenian prisoners of war. The dead bodies of Armenian female military personnel were mutilated and then video-recorded with cruelty by the Azerbaijani servicemen.
Warning that Azerbaijan intends to occupy more territories of Armenia and the risk of new aggression remains very high, he recalled that Azerbaijan is keeping under occupation tangible territories of Armenia. “Could you show the map of Armenia, that you recognize or are ready to recognize as the Republic of Armenia?” he asked the President of Azerbaijan, a country that “will continue to use delimitation process for territorial claims against Armenia”. On the opening of regional transport communication links, he said Armenia — despite being portrayed by Azerbaijan as a “destructive side in this discussion” — is ready to open its roads for Azerbaijan in the framework of its national legislation.
He went on to underline that the most recent Azerbaijani aggression is happening while the humanitarian consequences of the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh had not been addressed yet. In this context, he drew attention to the post-war rehabilitation of Nagorno-Karabakh, the psycho-social issues of the displaced population, and the repatriation of Armenian prisoners of war. The Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh need the support of the international community, he stressed, calling for unhindered access of United Nations humanitarian agencies to Nagorno- Karabakh. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the independent fact-finding mission of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) should have access to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, he asserted. Unfortunately, he continued, Azerbaijan has been blocking both missions. He concluded by reiterating his country’s determination to defend its democracy, independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity by all means.
MICHEÁL MARTIN, Taoiseach of Ireland, voiced concern over the threat of widespread global hunger and food insecurity. Drawing attention to the devastating impacts of climate change, with those who bear no responsibility for its causes being most affected, as well as the most blatant disregard for international law, he said it is not the international community’s systems or structures, nor our Treaties or Charters, that are fundamentally failing humanity. It is the lack of political will to implement and uphold them.
As an elected member of the Security Council, Ireland has seen first-hand that political will and a commitment to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations can deliver results. On Syria, he reported that Ireland had twice renewed the United Nations cross-border operation, which provides crucial aid to 4 million people in the country’s north-west. Recalling progress on the women, peace and security agenda, Ireland has ensured that the role of women as peacebuilders, and as agents of change, is at the heart of United Nations peacekeeping missions. Reiterating his country’s commitment to the protection of civilians, he called the Political Declaration on the use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas “a significant milestone”. However, he voiced his deep frustration at the Council’s failure to adopt a resolution on climate and security, a text supported by 113 countries and vetoed by the Russian Federation. In this context, he expressed concern over the looming humanitarian catastrophe and the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Tigray.
He went on to underscore that Israeli settlement-building undermines the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian State, and jeopardizes a two-State solution. On Afghanistan, since the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Ireland has resolutely defended the human rights of the Afghan people, particularly women and girls, and has increased its humanitarian aid and pushed for accountability for the Taliban’s actions. The international community witnesses the ongoing erosion of the rights of Afghan citizens, particularly women and girls, but also those of ethnic and religious minorities and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and questioning (LGBTQI+) community.
Furthermore, he continued, the heightened nuclear risks arising from the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and the threats to nuclear security resulting from military activity in and near civilian nuclear facilities in that country, were unprecedented. Moscow’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine carried dark echoes of Europe’s past, he asserted, voicing concern over an expansionist power brutally invading and occupying a peaceful neighbour. “In Ukraine in July, I heard first-hand accounts from civilians of the brutality and violence visited upon men, women and children by occupying Russian forces,” he recalled, citing wanton destruction, and the uncovering of mass civilian graves, such as in Bucha and more recently in Izium.
He highlighted that the impact of Moscow’s aggression reaches far beyond Ukrainian or European shores and borders: from the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, and beyond, food insecurity has reached a critical tipping point. Combined with the impact of climate change, and of conflict, severe drought and other extreme weather events, the world faces a crisis that needs urgent action. To that, Ireland has responded by increasing its humanitarian aid. This has included direct humanitarian support of €78 million for the Horn of Africa, and sustained and early funding to other severely affected countries and regions, including Yemen, Afghanistan and the Sahel. And yesterday, Ireland committed an additional €50 million over 3 years specifically to tackle acute child malnutrition. Ending world hunger and ensuring the right to food must be placed firmly at the top of the political agenda, he asserted.
ROBERT ABELA, Prime Minister of Malta, said that as an island State in the Mediterranean, his country has witnessed first-hand the effects of conflicts in its southern area. Citing neighbouring Libya, he called for the international community to put aside vested interests in the country — which is what the Libyan people deserve and what’s best not just for the region, but for the Mediterranean continent and the African continent in general. Citing the threat to global food supplies and energy markets, mostly because of the war in Ukraine, he noted those pressures impact small islands like his harder due to their insularity and other specificities. “The right to food is a recognized human right,” he stressed, with number of poor globally estimated to have increased by over 70 million people. In a related vein, his country is a firm believer that international fair trade is a key element for the development of nations and particularly important for smaller economies. Citing the unprovoked aggression on Ukraine, he noted Malta would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians and condemn tactics and recent statements that do not augur well.
For decades, globalization has been hailed as the next frontier of economic growth — by enabling human, financial and capital resources to find their best possible deployment, and fostering jobs through international trade, he said. However, it is imperative that during these trying times, the international community avoid any temptation to put climate on the backburner. “Make no mistake, the future is green. The future is digital,” he stated. Malta has invested heavily in the digital economy in public administration and in the business and social spheres — now ranking first in the European Union in eGovernment, and fifth on the European Union Digital Economy and Society Index. In parallel to the digital transition, the international community must work on the green one. Citing climate and environmental disasters in Pakistan, China, California, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, he called for efforts to keep the 1.5°C target alive, and to continue working towards building decarbonized nations and societies. As Malta prepares to embark on its two-year term on the Council, his delegation will do its utmost to keep climate change on the international peace and security agenda.
With Malta one of the founding members of the Alliance of Small Island States, he noted that water scarcity will be one of the biggest impacts of climate change. His country’s practices in water management, particularly through the sourcing of water through desalination and recycling of wastewater, can serve as a model for addressing the world’s future water needs. Drawing on its maritime legacy, he affirmed that Malta is aware the ocean plays a vital role in combating climate change, but is also vulnerable to its impact — which is why as a member of the Council, his delegation will place particular emphasis on bridging the gap between science, policy and law-making to address global security concerns, especially for the ocean — the planet’s single largest habitat. As a member State of the European Union, located between two continents, Malta is committed to promoting dialogue and keeping security, sustainability and social justice at the very heart of efforts and priorities. He noted his 10-year-old daughter, present in the audience, wished him to pass on the message: “I would like the world leaders to be an example to us children and leave behind a beautiful Earth”.
SHEIKH AHMAD NAWAF AL-AHMAD AL-SABAH, Prime Minister of Kuwait, reaffirmed his commitment to the multilateral system and the principles and aims of the United Nations Charter, which aims to serve humanity using mediation and preventive diplomacy and spare future generations form wars and conflicts. The world is watching the developments in Ukraine and its impact on international security and stability. He affirmed adherence to the principles of international law and the Charter, which reject the use of force, the threat of force, or even waving such a threat, to resolve conflicts between countries. He supported all United Nations endeavours and international efforts to de-escalate the conflict, achieve a ceasefire and find a peaceful solution “because the experiences of contemporary history have proven that peace and its related mechanisms of mediation and dialogue was, and still is, the optimum choice for resolving conflicts, no matter how long they last”.
The Question of Palestine is a central and pivotal role in the Arab and Muslim worlds, he said. Tensions and instability will remain unless the Palestinian people can obtain their legitimate rights and Israel ceases its continuous violation of international humanitarian law. He emphasized the need to re-launch negotiations, within a fixed time frame, to achieve a just and comprehensive peace, using the references of the peace process, the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative. This would end the Israeli occupation and establish an independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, along the borders existing before 4 June 1967. Regarding the situation in Syria, he said there is no military solution to this crisis. He stressed the need to reach a political settlement, in accordance with all relevant Council resolutions, particularly resolution 2254 (2015).
Turning to the crisis in Yemen, he welcomed the truce agreement between the Yemeni sides, emphasizing the need to execute all of its provisions and commending the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen in strengthening compliance with the truce. He renewed a call to Iran to take serious, trust-building measures to begin a dialogue built on respect for State sovereignty and non-interference as well as the reduce tensions in the Gulf region, and to preserve safety, security and freedom.
Kuwait is approaching its sixtieth anniversary of membership in the United Nations, he said. During that time, the invasion and liberation of Kuwait was a success story for the Organization. This included strict implementation of the resolutions of international legitimacy, including resolutions of the Council and Assembly. This shows the importance of multilateral international action to achieve a world of security, stability and prosperity. In November, the Arab region will host the FIFA World Cup, organized by Qatar. It is the first Arab and Muslim country to host such an international competition and the event confirms the region’s economic and cultural renaissance and its ability to host such major tournaments.
PEDRO SÁNCHEZ PÉREZ-CASTEJÓN, President of Spain, noting that the Organization’s foundations have rarely been shaken as strongly “as in the early hours of 24 February when cities throughout Ukraine felt the terror of Russian bombardment”, said that now — more than six months later — the world still witnesses the horror of an invasion “that takes us back to times we believed we had left behind in Europe”. He condemned the announcement of annexation referendums in the occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson, which would constitute a new violation of international law by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pointing out that the war’s economic and social consequences threaten global prosperity, he said that a food crisis is unfolding – together with an energy crisis provoked by an autocrat who will stop at nothing to stay in power – that threaten to leave the world’s poorest even poorer. “It is not hard to understand why many people feel that they have had enough,” he said, but underlined his trust in the international community to overcome any adversity and his confidence in the strength of the United Nations to address global challenges.
Urging the international community to learn from its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that — while the development of a vaccine represented the “triumph of the human spirit over adversity” — there is an outrageous degree of inequality in access to it. For its part, Spain will be a part of the solution to global health challenges by contributing €15 million to the World Bank’s Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, and will also allocate more than €237 million of its ODA to health-related issues. It will also mobilize €151 million in donations — and further €85 million in loans — over the next three years to address the food crisis, which has been heightened by the Russian Federation’s blockade of grain exports from Ukraine and by selfish decisions to erect barriers to trade in agricultural products and fertilizers. Through these efforts, Spain is committed to combatting poverty and inequality around the world, and he further noted that his country will allocate 0.7 per cent of its gross national income to ODA by 2030.
He went on to say that the current energy crisis required investment in sustainable energy and energy independence, not only to respond to climate change, but also to prevent countries from using their energy resources as a weapon of war. On that point, he said that “the Putin regime believes that it has the right to blackmail the entire planet”, stoking inflation and jeopardizing economic recovery from the pandemic. For its part, Spain has promoted far-reaching regulatory reforms to reduce the impact of rising gas prices, and it also worked to overhaul the electricity sector throughout the European Union, limiting and distributing the costs and benefits of price increases more fairly. Turning to the digital transformation and its impact on the future of education and employment, he said that his country would play a leading role in this sphere too, by hosting the United Nations technology centre for the digitalization of education in Barcelona. Further advances in human rights require supporting the right to education for all, but especially for girls, because school is where the path towards gender equality and empowerment starts.
On that topic, he pointed out that global threats to women’s sexual and reproductive freedom were yet another example of how slowly the world is moving towards guaranteeing full equality. Worse still is the fragility of past social gains, he stressed, noting that they have fallen victim to backsliding in certain advanced democracies. For its part, Spain has enacted legislation that will help ensure that its public-health service continues to meet women’s health needs throughout the country. It will also contribute €100 million over the next three years to organizations working for gender equality, especially in the area of reproductive and sexual rights. Inviting those present to look at images from past decades, he pointed out the “inexcusable discrepancy” between the presence of women in family photographs and their absence from public images, reflecting the political and economic realities of those times. While great progress has been made in gender equality, much remains to be done and nothing is guaranteed. On that point, he spotlighted the Taliban’s recent return to power in Afghanistan.
Recalling a recent visit to Bogotá, he went on to stress that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have a fundamental role to play in the world and, to that end, Spain will work to tighten relations between the region and the European Union during its presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2023. Stressing the need to “leave behind the conflicts of the past century”, he supported a mutually acceptable political solution for the Western Sahara and said his country will continue its support to the Sahrawi population as the main international donor of humanitarian assistance in this context. He also expressed hope that the European Union and the United Kingdom will soon reach an agreement in relation to Gibraltar, which must respect Spain’s legal position with regards to the sovereignty and jurisdiction thereof. Adding that humanity will always find a way to overcome the blows it is dealt and move forward, he stressed that what mattered was “how we heal the wounds inflicted upon us along the way, while at the same time protecting the most vulnerable”.
ANDREW HOLNESS, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Economic Growth and Job Creation of Jamaica, highlighted that his country celebrates 60 years of independence and membership in the United Nations this year. While every country has been negatively impacted by overlapping crises: “Indeed, recovery has been uneven, and there has been further widening of pre-existing development inequalities”. Solutions, he stressed, should acknowledge the differentiated needs and vulnerability of each State. Particularly vulnerability to climate and external economic shocks, he said to survive them and recover lost and damaged infrastructure, small island developing States are forced to borrow, only to be confronted again in a few years with another round of natural disasters, which could wipe out significant infrastructure and add to already high debt. “As I speak, I am monitoring a tropical system that is threatening in the Caribbean,” he underlined, calling for a targeted approach to access development finance and fully supporting the work of the High-Level Panel developing the Multi-Dimensional Vulnerability Index. “Without the acknowledgment of vulnerability as a basis for access to finance, SIDS will continue to struggle and will be unable to achieve the SDGs,” he warned. He also touched on governmental policies to drive the debt downward and innovative financial tools.
Despite small island States’ best efforts to improve fiscal management and debt sustainability, “a single climate generated event could wipe out 100 per cent of our economy in a few hours”, he continued, emphasizing that concerted action to slow down and halt global temperature rise is literally a question of their survival. Ahead of the upcoming twenty-seventh United Nations Climate Change Conference, he called on all countries to meet their commitments and contributions to climate targets and on the developed States to increase commitments in financing, particularly for adaptation and for loss and damage. He also stressed Jamaica’s commitment to safeguard ocean and marine resources, including through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Noting that the country lagged far behind in digital access, penetration, and capability, he said that bridging the digital divide, both within and between countries, must be a priority. As an even more digitally engaged future awaits, effective steps are needed to protect cyberspace and its physical infrastructure”, calling for international cooperation in that regard and expressing support for a cybercrime treaty and cyber security guidelines. Touching on governmental initiatives to address crime and foster public health as a tool to address violence, he highlighted the influx of illegal and unregistered small arms, the availability of which is driving an ever-increasing homicide rate. “Jamaica does not manufacture guns,” he affirmed, adding that “in the same way there is concern about illegal drugs on the streets of the rich countries, there must be concern about guns on the streets of developing countries like Jamaica”. He also expressed support for a Haitian-led process to arrive at sustainable solutions to the local challenges and urged the discontinuation of the embargo against Cuba.
Reaffirming the country’s “determination to further the call for the international recognition of reparatory justice as a necessary path to healing, restoration of dignity, and progress for people of African descent,” he said that the world cannot turn a blind eye to the systemic imbalances which persist after centuries of exploitation. “The arc of international morality would not have completed its bend for the peoples of the African Diaspora, without open and inclusive exchanges on the dispensation of reparatory justice”, he added, recognizing the complexities associated with this sensitive issue, yet asking to take bold and creative steps to meet the moment.
Citing the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, he said that “we must never return to the days when military might is considered a right”, and strongly cautioned against actions which could signal the demise of a peaceful multilateral order. Further, Member States must also address long-outstanding issues of reform and restructuring, including of the Security Council, he said, noting that a rotating seat for small island developing States would increase representation. As a highly tourism-dependent country, Jamaica has invested in building resilience in the sector, he said, proposing the official designation of 17 February as Global Tourism Resilience Day and encouraging States to work together to have such commemoration in 2023.
ALEXANDER SCHALLENBERG, Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, in referencing war’s return to Europe and the Russian Federation’s attempt to “redraw borders using tanks and rockets” and “explicit nuclear blackmail and fake ‘referenda’ in a clear violation of international law”, lamented the illusions of the European peace project in preventing war and resolving crises and tensions through dialogue and diplomacy. Firmly rejecting the narrative that Europe’s strong reaction is only because of geographic and cultural proximity or that Ukrainians resemble Europeans, he said: “Russia’s attack was like a geopolitical ice bucket thrown at our face, brutally tearing us from our daydreams of a post-historical, post-national Europe”.
Decrying the war as “an assault against the rules-based international order” and as a breach of the United Nations Charter, he questioned the foundations of security and stability noting that the replacement of the rule of law with the “law of the jungle” threatens all especially smaller countries such as Austria. Recalling former United States President Harry Truman’s 1945 address to the San Francisco Conference, he said that the “bombs and bayonets” have not lost their truth and validity, pointing out as the Russian Federation has not only targeted Ukrainians but also the world’s most vulnerable countries through the triple crisis in food, energy and finance. Urging all to not confuse cause and effect, he rejected the narratives connecting shortages with the sanctions imposed by the European Union stating: “there are no sanctions whatsoever on the exports of grain, oilseeds or any other foodstuff, on the exports of fertilizers or on gas to third countries! Instead, it is actually the Russian Federation which is cynically using food and energy as a weapon, pushing millions of vulnerable people around the planet into poverty, hunger and debt.”
In advocating for rapid national and global countermeasures to the pandemic, global food and energy shortages, soaring costs of living, rapid technology change, climate change and “a very bumpy road” for the world economy, he reiterated Austria’s commitment to increased spending on development assistance and humanitarian aid for this year and next. Reminding all of the validity and application of international law especially on the protection of civilians and the respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights, he denounced the unacceptable use of hunger as a weapon and called for accountability for war crimes “whether they happen in Bucha or in Aleppo”. Expressing Austria’s pride for hosting the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, he pledged continued active support to the International Criminal Court and announced Austria’s candidacy for the Security Council in 2026. In admitting that the world faces “the most challenging time in our political generation,” he also expressed confidence and hope urging all to “not give in to fear, self-doubt and defeatism.”
MARCELO LUIS EBRARD CASAUBÓN, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said the just as the world was recovering from COVID-19, the war in Ukraine has created suffering and the loss of human lives, impacting access to food and fuel and disrupted the world economy. Mexico has presented the Assembly with a proposal of dialogue and peace for Ukraine. The Security Council has been unable to fulfil its Charter responsibilities and implement measures to halt the armed aggression in Ukraine or launch a diplomatic process for a solution through dialogue or negotiations. Moreover, it was unable to make sure necessary humanitarian assistance was delivered or support the Secretary-General’s efforts to manage access to grains and fertilizers, produced by the Russian Federation and Ukraine. For these reasons, he proposed creation of a caucus of Heads of State and Government to support the Secretary-General’s efforts to build trust and move the Russian Federation and Ukraine towards a peaceful resolution within the Charter’s framework. Circulated to the Secretary-General in recent days, the proposed caucus includes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis.
Turning to Security Council reform, he said Mexico has worked to develop different categories of membership and make the body more transparent and flexible. The paralysis in the Council is the result of misuse of the so-called veto right by some of its permanent members. The proposal by Mexico and France to restrict the use of the veto to cases of mass atrocities has been supported by 106 Member States. The Assembly also created a mechanism for accountability through resolution ES-11/2 which requires the Assembly President to convene a formal meeting within 10 working days of the casting of a veto by one or more permanent members of the Council. It is now time to take the subsequent steps to prevent continued paralysis in the face of massive human suffering, he stressed.
He regretted the lack of political will, particularly on the part of the nuclear-weapons States to reach agreement on containing such weapons, even though the risks of nuclear proliferation are more real every day. “My country agrees with the Secretary-General's vision that a more secure and peaceful world must be based on international law, cooperation and solidarity and not on the incessant accumulation and modernization of nuclear and conventional arsenals,” he stressed. It was precisely this vision that led the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to establish the first nuclear-weapon-free zone in a densely populated area through the Treaty of Tlatelolco. “Our country will continue to promote multilateralism, international solidarity, and cooperation, as the best way to face global challenges,” he said, adding: “The current international tensions are not going to be resolved by force.” The international community must ensure political understanding and confidence-building mechanisms, he said, calling on all nations to work together to create a post-pandemic society that includes the needs and priorities of all countries and places people at its centre.
ABDULLATIF BIN RASHID ALZAYANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said that armed conflicts and shared economic challenges, if left unresolved, along with the increased threat of terrorist organizations in various parts of the world, would lead to wider conflict with greater destruction, killing, misery, human deprivation and displacement of innocents. International partnership and joint coordination, at the bilateral and multilateral levels, as well as constructive cooperation between great powers are key addressing these threats. “In order for us to avoid or prevent future conflicts, we must do everything in our power to resolve disputes or disagreements before they turn violent,” he said, emphasizing the role of the Organization in that regard.
Bahrain has always stressed the need for brotherly relations, respect for State sovereignty and non-interference in their internal affairs, giving priority to dialogue and diplomatic solutions, and peaceful coexistence among all religions, civilizations and cultures. “The Kingdom of Bahrain has prioritized strengthening integration between the countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf and their people and building on the achievements made in following up the outcomes of the Al-Ula Summit”, he said. Achieving a just, comprehensive peace in the Middle East region depends primarily on settling the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in accordance with a two-State solution, resolutions of international legitimacy, and the Arab Peace Initiative, he said, highlighting Bahrain’s initiatives to this end. He welcomed the existing truce in Yemen. He also expressed support for the legitimate historical rights of Egypt and Sudan to the waters of the Nile river, supporting their endeavours to reach a binding legal agreement on filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in a way that benefits all parties, and renewed his country’s solidarity with Morocco in preserving its security and territorial integrity. Aiming at establishing friendly, balanced relations with all countries in the Middle East, he called on Iran to fully cooperate with IAEA to make the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
Citing his country’s successful actions to tackle the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic, he said Manama was designated the first “healthy city” in the Middle East by WHO. He also touched on its economic recovery plan and initiatives to counter climate change, including a commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2060, doubling green spaces and enhancing the effective use of energy and renewable energy sources, and expressing support for the Green Middle East initiative. He pointed to the upcoming parliamentary and municipal elections this November on Bahrain’s democratic path as well as instruments and projects to promote human rights. Finally, he urged the permanent Security Council members to de-escalate and to work on resolving disputes through dialogue and diplomatic means.
JEPPE KOFOD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, said that the General Assembly has had many perspectives on Russian aggression over the last few days — including those of Member States, geographically remote from the war, that are concerned about being caught in a new cold war and are being affected by increased prices for food and energy. Stressing that these issues are caused by Russian aggression, not international sanctions, he pointed out that he heard no one — apart from a few self-interested voices — deny the evident; namely, that Russian aggression against Ukraine is a direct violation of the Charter of the United Nations. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s blatant imperial ambitions and horrifying allusions to the use of nuclear weapons pose a threat not only to Europe, but to international peace and security. He therefore appealed to those present to fight back against “an international disorder where might makes right”. While pointing out that the war being waged by a permanent member of the Security Council will tap a great deal of Europe’s resources and political focus, he stressed that this does not mean other crises and global challenges will be neglected.
Developing countries have been unjustly hit the hardest by the global crises of our times, he said, spotlighting the COVID-19 pandemic’s continued infliction of human and economic wounds on the societies of the global South. Collectively, more must be done to address the fundamental imbalances present in the world, as no country can navigate pandemics or counter climate crises alone. “And nor should we,” he stressed, noting that the international community’s shared future depends on solidarity. The industrial world must acknowledge its responsibility to deliver on the climate crisis, which requires climate financing. For its part, Denmark has made major global commitments in this regard by scaling-up climate grants and, further, it intends to contribute at least one percent of the collective target of $100 billion. This is “way above” Denmark’s relative share, he noted, stressing that, if a small country like Denmark can do this, then so can the members of the G20.
He went on to note that the United Nations’ most essential task was to save the world from the scourge of war, which meant providing the space for difficult conversations, restoring trust and finding common ground on issues where Member States stand far apart. However, stressing that the Organization “is only as good as what Member States put in”, he called on those present to put in the work to ensure that tensions do not grow deeper. “We cannot freeride on multilateralism,” he said. Noting that Denmark is running for a seat on the Security Council for 2025-2026, he said that, if elected, his country will bring its long history of “being a bridge builder” to the organ, along with its knowledge that working with others is necessary to achieve anything. Turning to United Nations reform, he stressed the need for a United Nations system not only fit for the future, but also able to deliver effectively for today. On this point, he spotlighted the predictable payments initiative supported by his country that, while only a small step, would pave the way for a United Nations that is better able to act as a result of predictable, transparent payment patterns.
Right of Reply
The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply to respond to “unfounded accusations made by the representative of the Israeli regime”, said that the same again misused the United Nations platform to make false claims designed to conceal the regime’s malicious policies and terrorist activity. While that representative falsely accused Iran of being a threat to regional security, the Israeli regime continues its apartheid policies against the Palestinian people and works with terrorist groups to further its sinister political agenda in the region.
He went on to say that, despite that representative’s claims that Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme threatens regional peace and security, the true threat thereto is the Israeli regime’s development and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction. It is the only one in the Middle East that has yet to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and the international community must oblige it to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and cease its destructive activities in the region. To the representative of Bahrain, he said that the term “Persian Gulf” has been the correct appellation for the body of water situated between the Arabian Peninsula and the Iranian Plateau “since 500 years before Christ and will remain so forever”.
The representative of Morocco, responding to statements made by Algeria’s delegate, underscored that the dispute over the Moroccan Sahara is about the territorial integrity of her country. While Morocco has responded to all proposals made by the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy on this matter, Algeria has refused the latter’s framework. Further, it is taking diplomatic measures against countries that support Morocco’s initiative on this subject and has created and provided the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente POLISARIO) separatist army with weapons and diplomatic support.
Reiterating that — despite Algeria’s erroneous assertions — this is an issue of Morocco’s territorial unity and not of decolonization, she pointed out that the “referendum” continuously referred to by Algeria is no longer referred to by the Security Council. It is dead and buried, she stressed, and Algeria will not be able to resuscitate it “because we cannot bring the dead back to life”. Calling on Algeria to return to round-table negotiations, she said that the people of the Moroccan Sahara enjoy all social, political and civil rights. She also detailed proven links between Frente POLISARIO and terrorism.