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Seventy-seventh Session,
10th & 11th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/12450

Spotlighting Long-Standing Regional Conflicts, World Leaders Call for Strict Adherence to International Law, United Nations Charter, as General Assembly Debate Continues

Small Island Developing States Urge Rights-Based Approach, Funding for Loss, Damage to Address Existential Threat of Climate Change

Under the shadow of war in Ukraine, world leaders today cast a spotlight on long-standing conflicts in other parts of the world, as the General Assembly continued its annual general debate, with speakers calling for strict adherence to international law and the Charter of the United Nations, while others sounded the alarm on the existential threat of climate change.

Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus, decrying the “dismal lack of effectiveness” of the United Nations, said that if the Organization had been able to implement its decisions and resolutions, then threats to Member States’ sovereignty, as well as unresolved conflicts and crises, could have been addressed.  Following the Turkish invasion in 1974, numerous General Assembly and Security Council resolutions describe Cyprus as a single sovereign nation with two communities and zones.  Yet Türkiye President Erdoğan insists that there are two distinct States and two distinct peoples on the island today.  For peace to prevail, Member States must unwaveringly adhere to international law and the Organization’s Charter.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, said more than 5 million of his people have been living under the Israeli military occupation for over 54 years.  Israel ignores the resolutions of international legitimacy and imposes a status quo by force and aggression, destroying the two-State solution.  Who is protecting Israel from being accountable, he asked, stressing that it is “the United Nations.  And on top of the United Nations, the most powerful of the United Nations.”  He emphasized that “We have had enough resolutions and enough words,”  urging the Israeli Government to return to the negotiation table immediately.

Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, said sustainable peace and stability in South Asia remains contingent upon a just and lasting solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute — which began in 1947.  “India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 to change the internationally recognized ‘disputed’ status of Jammu and Kashmir and to alter the demographic structure of the occupied territory further undermined the prospects of peace and inflamed regional tensions.”  He urged India to take credible steps to create an enabling environment for constructive engagement.

Echoing delegations’ concerns about change-induced threats to territorial integrity, he described first-hand the catastrophe that has pushed one third of his country under water after a 40-day flood.  “Pakistan has never seen a more stark and devastating example of the impact of global warming,” he stressed.  Hotspots like his country are on the list of the 10 most climate-vulnerable countries yet emit less than 1 per cent of the greenhouse gases that are burning the planet.  “What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan,” he stressed, warning that unless world leaders act now “there will no earth to fight wars over”.

Throughout the day, a large number of small island developing States echoed the alarm on the issue, calling for urgent action before it is too late for them and the entire international community.

Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni, Prime Minister of Tonga, underscored that climate change continues to be the single greatest existential threat facing the Blue Pacific, noting that the adverse impacts of climate change make his country the third most vulnerable in the world.  Calling for the issue to be a permanent item on the Security Council’s agenda, he said that the consequences of climate change, whether it is sea-level rise, loss of territory, or mass migration, is a trigger for violence and a threat to peace and security.

Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, warned that at current global warming trends, the international community is destined to miss the Paris Agreement target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.  “This clearly means that Tuvalu will be totally submerged within this century”, he stressed — but the country may well become uninhabitable in the next two to three decades.  While other Pacific islands may have a few decades longer, they all face “the near certainty of terminal inundation”, though their carbon emissions combined amount to less than 0.03 per cent of the world’s total.  “Tuvalu is an acid test of leadership; because if the international community allow an entire country to disappear from climate change, what hope will be possible for anyone else?” he asked.

Small countries “have talked ourselves hoarse since the 1980s”, stressed Gaston Alphonso Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda — yet while promises were repeated year after year, on the evidence, they were meant to “placate and divert, but not to perform and deliver” on climate change.  The stage now seems set for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt to fail, as the Group of 20 (G20) did not produce a joint statement on the issue.  This sends an ominous signal that, yet again, the Conference will be “long on words, but very short on deeds”.  He underscored, however, that small States would attend the Conference and argue strenuously to establish a new fund for loss and damage response.  He stressed that, even if industrialized nations remained reluctant to curb emissions for the sake of the most-vulnerable globally, “they should be motivated by the perils for their own people”.

Abdulla Shahid, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, warned that for his small island developing State “the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is death.”  Recalling Maldives’ work on Human Rights Council resolution 7/23 of 2008, he reaffirmed his country’s continued advocacy for and leadership on a rights-based approach to climate action.  His delegation also supports the global initiative to protect 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.  Reminding partners of their pledges during the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and the agreements of the 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact, he urged them to redouble adaptation finance and make financing assessments fairer by utilizing alternative measures to gross domestic product (GDP).

Turning to another scourge — terrorism — Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, Prime Minister of Iraq, stated that despite the difficult circumstances, his country employed the “spirit of hope” embodied by its people to fight that threat and defeat it on behalf of the world.  His people have made enormous sacrifices to liberate their land from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Da’esh (ISIL) and its ideology.  Renewing his call to continue confronting international terrorism, he reiterated that the country must not be used “under the pretext of combating terrorism or protecting the national security of other countries in a manner that endangers our security and stability.”

Simeón Oyono Esono Angue, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Equatorial Guinea, cited the Central African concern over maritime piracy activities in the Gulf of Guinea — whose perpetrators are increasingly acquiring more sophisticated methods that allow them greater autonomy in the open sea, threatening the entire subregion.  Welcoming the recent resolution adopted by the Council urging the countries of the Gulf of Guinea to criminalize piracy and armed robbery at sea according to their national laws, he further called on them to investigate, prosecute or extradite the perpetrators of such crimes and those who incite, finance or facilitate them.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as Ministers, of Timor-Leste, Burkina Faso, Vanuatu, Fiji, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Cambodia, Saint Lucia, Belgium, Andorra, Mauritius, Greece, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Croatia, Samoa, Montenegro, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Belize, Australia, Liechtenstein, Togo and Chad.

The President of the European Council of the European Union also spoke.

The representatives of India, Türkiye and Pakistan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Saturday, 24 September, to continue its general debate.

Statements

JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA, President of Timor-Leste, said that while his country only faced a minimal direct impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic in terms of hospitalizations and fatalities, it suffered from policies undertaken to prevent the spread of the virus.  He expressed his gratitude to COVAX for the initial shipment of vaccines and commended New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, the European Union, Portugal and the United States for their generous support — in kind and in cash.

He further said that Australia proved to be a true sisterly neighbour, promptly delivering every assistance “our fragile health system” required.  He went on to say that in a world plagued by conflicts and human-made catastrophes, from Myanmar to Afghanistan, Yemen and Ukraine, Timor-Leste is an oasis of tranquillity.  “We do not have organized crime,” he stated.  All faiths — Catholics, Protestants and Muslims — live side by side in harmony.  “Timor-Leste does not have a single case of ethnic or religious-based tension and conflict,” he said.

Touching upon what he called matters of profound concern, he cited a number of issues, including the serious food crisis affecting millions of people in Africa and Asia, as well as floods in Pakistan that were causing widespread destruction and inflicting suffering on more than 30 million people, with more than 7 million displaced.  It is “crisis on top of crisis”, he said, emphasizing that aid to poorer countries of the South should not be cancelled out by being reallocated to address the refugee crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.  “We must ensure that the Ukrainians are supported, but not at the expense of unity with the many struggling people in other nations,” he said.  He noted that it is difficult to receive the same level of compassion and wisdom towards the poorer South, since “some seem to feel that we are not really equal.”

Speaking about the war in Ukraine, he noted that Western countries started off “on high moral ground in confronting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”, however they may end up losing the support of the developing world, which accounts for 80 per cent of the global population.  “They should pause for a moment to reflect on the glaring contrast in their response to the wars elsewhere,” he said, referring to double standards.  “Our public opinion does not see the Ukraine war the same way it is seen in the North,” he stated.  Rising costs of living for the poor resulted in riots in Sri Lanka, Peru, Kenya and, most recently, Haiti.  Low-income countries could only spend a fraction of the amounts spent by high-income countries on COVID‑19 stimulus packages, which caused their debt to increase.  “The number of developing countries in debt distress or at high risk has doubled since 2015, to 60 per cent,” he said.

Turning to Myanmar, he said that the people there “feel abandoned, betrayed, by the so-called international community”.  He went on to say that “extremely generous support for Ukraine’s resistance” is contrasted with a “muted reaction to the war waged against the people of Myanmar”, who are still fighting and dying every day.  Noting that escalation of the Myanmar conflict would impact the security and stability of neighbouring countries, he called for dialogue by all parties involved in the conflicts in Ukraine and Myanmar, as well as in other crises around the world.  “In the Ukraine conflict, Russia and Ukraine should clear their ports and sea routes and allow normal resumption of permitted international shipping activities,” he said.

PAUL HENRI SANDAOGO DAMIBA, President of Burkina Faso, Head of State and President of the Council of Ministers of Burkina Faso, pointed out that for some time now there has been a resurgence of nationalism and an inward-looking approach across the globe, a reversal of liberty and democracy, and a will on the part of some countries to impose their vision of the world.  “Members of the international community are talking about their great vision of a unipolar, single coloured world, in line with their ideology and their interests,” he stressed, urging the international community to stand up to this and ensure the spirit of solidarity.  Member States must move beyond individual interests, which often lead to crises, he added, calling on all in the international community, no matter their political, economic or military power, to join in that movement.  To resolve the questions that have been returning to the Assembly’s agenda for several years — the questions of Palestine, Western Sahara, debt, climate change, the embargo against Cuba, and Security Council reform, as well as the war in Ukraine — Member States must ensure the pre-eminence of the rule of law, justice and equity, and the triumph of common sense.

Turning to the situation in his country, he said that on 24 January, a group of “young patriots had to assume their responsibilities in the public management of State affairs […] by setting up a democratically elected but chaotic regime”.  He underscored that:  “While the movement of 24 January is illegal in absolute terms, and perhaps reprehensible in terms of the principles held dear to the United Nations and the international community, we do believe that this interruption of the constitutional order, given the prevailing situation, was necessary and indispensable.”  “It was above all an issue of survival for our nation,” he stressed, pointing out that the movement was met with enthusiasm and public support, which still prevails for the transitional authorities that he has been leading for eight months.  The recent events that have caused upheaval in its democratic process are due to a lack of response to the security crisis and “disastrous” political governance.

He went on to say that such lack of response has led to 1,520,012 displaced people by 31 August — the greatest number of internally displaced persons in the political history of the country and the subregion.  It has also led to a humanitarian and food crisis unprecedented in its history; the closure of several thousand schools and half a million students deprived of education; and an economic abyss caused by the slowdown or halting of several economic activities, such as mining, tourism, agriculture and transport, he added.  Those difficulties are part of a subregional security context that is affected by attacks by numerous terrorist groups operating in the Sahel, particularly in the Central Sahel, which includes Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.  To tackle this problem, the Transitional Government has established a plan of action based on four strategic objectives:  combating terrorism and restoring the integrity of the territory; responding to the humanitarian crisis; restructuring of the State and improving governance; and national reconciliation and social cohesion.

However, his country needs the international community’s support to produce lasting effects in the fight against terrorism, especially because Burkina Faso’s geographic position makes it a linchpin for the expansion of terrorism towards coastal countries such as Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, he continued.  The stability, security and peace of the Sahel are not just a matter for the countries of this region, but a problem which imperils international peace and security, given the migration of the phenomenon of terrorism from the north to the south of the continent.  Given the reality on the ground, efforts made so far fall below expectations, he said, welcoming the joint strategic evaluation mission between the African Union and the United Nations on security in the Sahel.  He called on partners to support the transitional action plan adopted on 6 May, to close the gap of approximately $4.5 billion out of a total budget of just over $18 billion.  The transitional authorities in his country will not evade their responsibilities to the Burkinabé people and their duties to the international community, he stressed.

In that regard, he said that the transitional authorities reached a commitment with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regarding a timeline for the transition, set at 24 months beginning from 1 July and the need to set up a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the transition based on security indicators, as well as the return of State services to occupied areas and the return of displaced persons.  Significant progress in those areas will allow for favourable conditions for holding credible and transparent elections with a view to return to normal constitutional order.  He thanked all partners for their support and called on others who have not yet done so to support his country’s reconstruction.  Turning back to the Sahel, he warned that:  “If nothing is done to come to the aid of the countries of this region decisively and urgently, we run the risk of a resurgence of terrorism in the countries of the Gulf of Guinea and then in the rest of the world, starting in Europe, the continent closest to Africa.”  He called for solidarity, as well as assistance, which allows them to move away from aid, and that is in line with their convictions and respects their dignity.

NICOS ANASTASIADES, President of Cyprus, decried the “dismal lack of effectiveness” of the United Nations.  If, in fact the Organization had been able to implement its decisions and resolutions, threats to the sovereignty to Member States, long-standing unresolved conflicts, the number of refugees from conflict or poverty, the challenges to the Sustainable Development Goals’ and devastating climate change could have been addressed.  Describing his address as “outside the bounds of diplomatic etiquette”, he stressed the need to speak plainly about the factors leading to the Organization’s loss of credibility.  Some of those factors include how international law is preceded by financial or other interests of powerful Member States, cold war-era alliances and resurgence of some States’ aspirations of empire-building, as well as a lack of consequences when resolutions are violated.  These problems not only embolden offending States, but also create “new precedents outside the framework of legality”, he said.

He went on to propose that the root causes that lead to unnecessary rivalries and conflicts be identified.  The called-for reform to modernize the United Nations into an efficient multilateral governance system is all the more urgent in light of the imminent new world war, following the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.  Further, he spotlighted the division that continues today in Cyprus following the Turkish invasion in 1974, referring specifically to Türkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s refusal to implement or respect numerous General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.  Detailing those texts, he said the documents describe Cyprus as a single sovereignty nation with two communities and zones.  Instead, President Erdoğan has chosen to insist that there are two distinct States and two distinct peoples on the island today.

He pointed out that 37 per cent of the territory of Cyprus, a European Union member State, remains under military occupation.  As well, after the Turkish invasion in 1974, Greek Cypriots were displaced by “implanted” Turkish nationals.  Thus, Türkiye established an illegal entity in Cyprus and violated the relevant resolutions.  He also stressed that Ankara adopted an arbitrary interpretation of international law that reduced the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus by 44 per cent.  This was to the detriment of Greek and Turkish Cypriots and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  When resolutions and decisions of international law are neither implemented nor enforced, it allows for such violations to continue — even “rewarding” the offending States.

Despite compromises by the Greek Cypriot side, all efforts on reaching a settlement failed as a result of the intransigent stance and irrational demands of Türkiye, he stressed.  He recalled a productive conference at Crans-Montana in 2017 where the two sides had essentially solved the key issue of effective participation.  However, Türkiye restarted negotiations at a Geneva meeting in 2021 where another agreement, this time to appoint an Envoy, was not upheld.  Giving an overview of the continuous negotiations on the matter, he spotlighted the letter sent to the Turkish Cypriot leader in May conveying constructive proposals for the adoption of win-win confidence-building measures.  Those measures were immediately rejected by the Turkish Cypriot side, which, in turn, submitted counterproposals in line with their aim for a two-State solution.

Reflecting on his decade-long presidency, he emphasized that the only way forward in resolving conflicts and for peace to prevail is none other than the unwavering adherence to international law and the Charter of the United Nations, not as arbitrarily interpreted by those who seek to disguise their revisionist aspirations.  Though he was not able to witness a united Cyprus with Greek and Turkish Cypriots living in peace and stability during his tenure, he expressed hope that he will see a better and more stable future for humanity in his lifetime.

NIKENIKE VUROBARAVU, President of Vanuatu, said that as the world recovers from the pandemic, it faces a profusion of mounting challenges, such as rising debt levels and looming inflation caused by supply chain disruptions and the rise of fuel and food prices resulting from the Russian Federation-Ukraine crisis.  These challenges are supplemented by existential climate crises that require more ambitious action.  “The time is up — action is required now,” he stated, adding that the nations of the Blue Pacific continent are leading a global initiative to bring climate change to the International Court of Justice.  “We believe that legal clarity from the world’s highest court will help to spur even greater climate action and strengthen the Paris Agreement,” he said.  As the leaders of the Pacific islands community continue to demonstrate higher levels of climate ambition and collective action, he called on all States to join the group of nations that propose to include the crime of ecocide in the Rome Statute.  “The future of tomorrow — we are the guardians of that future,” he said.  He further called for the development of a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty to phase down coal, oil and gas production in line with the goal of limiting warming to no more than 1.5°C.  “It is critical that the States must revise and enhance their nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement, as Vanuatu has completed last month,” he said.

Recognizing that nuclear risk is increasing because of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the other geopolitical tensions rapidly evolving, he underscored that lack of consensus on the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review makes it difficult to achieve nuclear disarmament.  “This division reveals that the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a central pillar of international rules-based order is not seen as a priority by certain nuclear Powers,” he said.

He noted that, like most countries in the world, Vanuatu was affected by the pandemic, which triggered a decline in its economic activity and severely affected the livelihoods of its people.  He underscored that labour mobility programmes supported by Australia and New Zealand helped to keep his country’s economy afloat.  Having accumulated budget surpluses over the years, the Government managed to implement several stimulus packages and provide financial support to the business sector to avert economic decline and social hardships.

On lessons learned during the pandemic, he underscored the importance of prioritizing digital inclusion.  He noted that during the pandemic, many students in Vanuatu and other developing countries had difficulties accessing online education due to a lack of connectivity.  “This is why I believe digitalization requires a concerted global response and action,” he said.  As Vanuatu is gradually recovering from COVID‑19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold, its economic growth is expected to constitute 3 per cent in 2022.  However, the recovery remains undermined by growing inflation caused by soaring fuel and food prices and climate change.  He underscored that fragile economic recovery is common for most small island developing States and developing countries, and called for complementary international support on this path.  “One way to do this is to ensure that small island developing States can have access to concessional financing,” he said.

Referring to the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific continent, he stated that the document sets out a long-term vision for the region and describes its aspirations.  “At this juncture,” he said, “one issue that remains gratuitously complex since the birth of our nation is the unjustifiable and continuous colonial claim over our traditional sovereign waters.”  He stressed that the rights of indigenous people and their entire territorial waters within the region must be regained to enable solutions to numerous ever-rising complexities. He also recalled that his country still faces a major security and political issue with the illegal claim of the Matthew and Hunter islands.

MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, said more than 5 million of his people have been living under the Israeli military occupation for more than 54 years.  Israel, ignoring the resolutions of the international legitimacy, has decided against partnership in the peace process:  from undermining the Oslo accords to its current premeditated and deliberate policies, Israel is destroying the two-State solution.  Imposing a status quo by force and aggression, Israel is not in contractual relations with Palestine, he asserted, pointing to Israel’s frantic campaign to confiscate Palestinian lands, build settlements and dilute his State’s resources “as if this land is empty and has no owners”.

He warned that Israel is giving total freedom to the army and to the terrorist settlers who are killing the Palestinian people in broad daylight, looting their land and their water, burning and demolishing their homes, compelling them to pay for the demolition or forcing them to destroy their homes with their own hands.  Furthermore, the Israeli Government has authorized the establishment of Jewish racist terrorist organizations exercising terrorism against the Palestinian people, he cautioned, urging the international community to list these terrorist organizations on the international terrorist list.  “Israel did not leave us any land on which we can establish our independent State,” he stressed, noting that the settlements constitute 25 per cent of the total population in the West Bank.

Spotlighting other violations, he said Israel is killing Palestinian people with impunity, as it did with the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was deliberately killed by a sniper.  In this context, he called on the United States to prosecute those who killed her.  Israel is targeting Palestinian sacred sites, especially in Jerusalem, he recalled, showing photos of the Muslim and Christian holy sites that are being targeted daily by Israel without any justification.  Israel is also imposing falsified curricula in Palestinian schools in occupied Jerusalem, changing the content and subsequently imposing the curricula on Palestinian children, he said.  Moreover, Israel is disrupting the presidential and legislative Palestinian elections by forbidding Palestinian citizens in Jerusalem to take part in the process, he said, adding that this practice took place in 1996, 2005 and 2006.  Israel — enacting racist laws — is an “apartheid regime”, he exclaimed, asking why it is not held accountable for violating international law.  “Who is protecting Israel from being accountable?” he continued.  “The United Nations.  And on top of the United Nations, the most powerful of the United Nations.”  On double standards, highlighting that Palestine is not treated equally, he said Israel has recently closed the headquarters of six Palestinian human rights groups that it considers terrorist organizations.

He went on to underline that Israel has committed more than 50 massacres since 1948; during the most recent one — against Gaza, targeted with missiles — 67 children were killed, according to the New York Times.  He urged Israel to recognize its responsibility, apologize for committing these massacres and displacing the Palestinian citizens, and bear legal, political, moral and material responsibility.  “We are the only people on this planet still living under occupation.  Why?” he asked, stressing that the United Nations has adopted hundreds of resolutions on Palestine — 754 General Assembly resolutions, 97 Security Council resolutions, 96 resolutions from the Human Rights Council — while none were implemented.

Expressing disappointment that the international community was unable to end the occupation and Israeli heinous aggression, he asserted:  “We will not resort to weapons, we will not resort to violence, we will not resort to terrorism, we will fight terrorism with you.”  He warned against protecting Israel from accountability as Israel would not be able to pursue its hostile policies without the support of other States.  He concluded by reiterating his request for full-fledged membership for Palestine in the United Nations.  “We have had enough resolutions and enough words,” he asserted, urging the Israeli Government to go back to the negotiation table immediately.

CHARLES MICHEL, President of the European Council of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, called choosing hope in a time of horror the promise of the United Nations, the foundation of the Union and what those on his continent want for the whole world.  Every war, he said, is a denial of humanity and all suffering deserves the same involvement — whether it is in Yemen, Ethiopia, Sahel, Myanmar or Ukraine.  The Kremlin has started a war against the Ukrainian people and hundreds of millions all over the world are threatened with famine, left without heat or crushed by energy prices.  “It is a hybrid war.  It combines the violence of weapons with the poison of lies,” he continued.  The lie that the Russian Federation’s security was threatened by “the West”.  The lie that the war aims to prevent a genocide of Russian speakers in Ukraine and aims to “de-nazify” the area.  The lie to call the aggression against Ukraine a ‘special operation’ and not a war.  The lie is that sanctions cause food and fertilizer shortages.  In fact, even before the war, the Russian Federation unilaterally reduced exports that led to price volatility.  The Russian militarily blocked the Black Sea ports and European Union opened Solidarity Lines. The Secretary General’s agreement opened the navel corridor, but the Kremlin threatens not to extend it.  And once again, he emphasized, the most vulnerable countries were main victims.

The foundation of this war of colonization is imperialism and revisionism, which tramples international law and the Charter to the point of threats of nuclear weapon use and the actual use of Europe’s largest nuclear plant as a military base.  In that regard, he supports the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to restore security around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.  While the European Union asks no one to choose between the East or the West or the North or the South, there is a choice to make between an order based on rules and one based on the rule of the strongest, he said.  Today, the Kremlin is a blackmailer, bringing war to Europe.  The European Union, he said, while detailing the levels of cooperation with different regions in the world, extends its hand to the world to jointly tackle challenges like the pandemic, natural hazards and protecting human rights — “multilateralism is the DNA of the European Union”.  Moreover, he promised never to close his eyes for human rights abuses, especially in Xinjiang or Hong Kong.  Besides that, he proposed that if a permanent member of the Security Council starts an unprovoked and unjustifiable war, that their membership be automatically suspended.  He also spoke about the European Union’s commitment to the Group of Five for the Sahel joint force, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, women’s rights worldwide, a ceasefire in Yemen, a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace in the Southern Caucasus.

On climate change and energy, he said that the bloc will campaign for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and going beyond that at the upcoming twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to ensure a fair and equitable transition.  More is needed, he emphasized, more coordination, more money, more sovereignty, including food sovereignty in Africa. In coordination with the World Health Organization (WTO), the idea of a treaty on pandemics was launched to strengthen global health security.  Lastly, he reiterated that the Union, just like the United Nations, was founded on a project of hope and on the horrors of two world wars.  He called upon world leaders to live up to their responsibility and give hope and stop horror.

JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs, Sugar Industry, Foreign Affairs and Forestry of Fiji, said that in this year of challenge, he condemns not one, but three great global conflicts.  First, he said was the Russian Federation’s war of aggression on Ukraine, “a scourge that reflects a brutal mentality of conquest and empire”.  Spotlighting the Pacific people’s experience with the horror of nuclear fallout, he wholly denounced Russian Federation President Vladimir V. Putin’s threatened use of nuclear weapons and appealed to him to bring the war to a speedy close.  Second, he spoke of the climate war that humanity is waging on itself, ecosystems and oceans.  “This war is not fought with bullets and bombs, but apathy, denial and a lack of courage,” he said, calling upon the world, including multilateral banks, to answer the calls of the small, least responsible States that stand to lose the most.  Third, he condemned “the cold war of difference against citizens of small islands and States” who bear the brunt of global shocks most.

Next, he drew attention to the lives, progress and aspirations of those threatened as a result of the inaction of world leaders.  In Fiji, a new constitution was adopted that echoes the spirit of the Charter’s promise to uphold equal rights for all peoples, regardless of their background, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, physical ability or province, he said.  Equal identity and citizenship are guaranteed; strong institutions established; the right to a clean and healthy environment and indigenous land ownership protected.  Economic progress, investments in infrastructure and an education revolution.  Primary and secondary education is free and accessible to all, and today Fijian women outnumber men in universities.  Explaining how the pandemic negatively impacted the country’s economy, he stressed that exactly in times of crisis its constitutional commitments to every Fijian have served and protected them best — not slashing a cent of pensions and payments to the elderly and disabled and achieving a near universal vaccination rate.  He expressed optimism over the period ahead, pointing to predictions of double-digit growth that finds its basis in good policy that prepared the country for the post-pandemic recovery.  The Government is now able to help the most vulnerable meet the globally rising cost of food, fuel and other essentials.

Pointing to the future, he called the period until 2030 the most defining ever for his country’s people and the planet’s future.  The crisis of a warming planet will imperil every gain that every nation has made, and if the world’s leaders fail to halt global temperature rise, they will crush any hope of improving citizens quality of life.  Since 2014, 14 cyclones hit Fiji, stealing lives, levelling homes, destroying schools and traumatizing many, particularly the young.  He challenged leaders from high-emitting nations to name a greater global injustice than the price that young Pacific islanders pay for climate change.  While building back better to the standards demanded by a warming world requires borrowing millions, the archaic architecture of multilateral development banks and global financial services give little access to grants or concessional climate and climate adaptation financing.  Where Fiji legislated a net-zero commitment by 2050, the world’s collective commitments remain trifling, he said, urging developed nations to deliver on their three-year overdue $100 billion climate finance commitment at the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties in Egypt.  He warned them to only come if they arrive true to their current climate finance commitments and ready to agree to a $750 billion loss and damage mechanism, with 10 per cent dedicated for small island States.  The Fijian story is that of David versus Goliath, he said — a small State against nations, corporations and interests far bigger than it.  He called upon the world to join them as “this is not the time for words, this is the time for will and a time for courage”.

XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, recalling the theme of this year’s General Assembly, underscored that the world is indeed at a watershed moment.  He condemned the Russian Federation’s large-scale aggression in Ukraine and the role of Belarus in it, adding that the war is unprovoked, unjustified, and that it resurrects the spectre of world war. Spotlighting the Secretary-General’s condemnation of the Russian Federation, as well as the Assembly’s three resolutions condemning the war, he hailed the Member States’ unity despite the Russian Federation’s use of veto and the Security Council’s paralysis.  He also expressed disappointment that, after his efforts to negotiate with Russian representatives at the United Nations, the Russian Federation declared new measures.  Recounting his visit to Ukraine and his witnessing of horrific war crimes, he said:  “Nobody can condemn a country or a generation or kill innocent people.”

Luxembourg has taken in more than 1,000 Ukrainian students, he said, also expressing admiration for the resilient women and men of Ukraine who have started to rebuild their liberated cities.  He also saluted the courage of Russian citizens who are saying “no to war” despite repression.  The Russian Federation will not know impunity for their war crimes or crimes against humanity, nor for the crimes of genocide and aggression, he stressed.  Further, the war began just as the world was starting to recover from the crisis brought on by COVID‑19, and has exacerbated food insecurity affecting Africa and the Middle East.  Citing blocked grain shipments in Ukraine and the spreading of false narratives in Africa that European sanctions were making the food crisis worse, he placed blame squarely on the Russian Federation and hailed the negotiations of the Secretary-General and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the Black Sea Initiative.

 Highlighting his country’s support for the World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), he said Luxembourg will continue to allocate 20 per cent of its humanitarian budget to that end.  Also detailing its financial allocation strategies, he noted that Luxembourg will dedicate 1 per cent of its annual gross revenue to official development assistance (ODA).  “We can all hold meetings about commitments, but we need to fulfil our commitments,” he emphasized, adding that the Government increased its climate financing to €220 million between 2021 and 2023.  This is in addition to its yearly budget, half of which goes to climate change adaptation in developing countries.  Luxembourg will also offer material resources to African countries for renewable energy, as it has done in Cabo Verde, he said.

Redoubling efforts to tackle the climate emergency, the Government has also established a citizen council to create a platform of exchange on the subject, as citizens’ ambitions often surpass those of Governments, he said.  He reiterated that States agreed upon a 1.5°C cap, underscoring that small island nations are the first threatened by sea-level rise.  Turning to his Government’s commitment to gender equality, he evoked the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran and questioned why — depending on where someone is born, their sexuality, gender or religion — that their rights differ. It is for this reason that “we must continue to hold independent international conventions of inquiry with regard to the violation of human rights”, he said.

Responding to those that criticize the United Nations as weak, he said: “The United Nations is whatever we make of it.” He highlighted successful negotiations such as those with Bangladesh that produced the first declaration of progress on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, as well as Liechtenstein’s adopted initiative on the Security Council veto, which establishes a mandate for the General Assembly to hold a debate if there is a veto in the Council.  This is why Luxembourg is a candidate for the Security Council 2030-2032.  Urging humanitarian aid for the Sahel region, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, he voiced his wish that this time next year, the current atrocities in Ukraine would be a part of history.

MARK RUTTE, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, said that growing up in Europe as a child of the cold war, he remembered vividly when the first breaches in the Iron Curtain began to appear.  Referring to Mikhail Gorbachev who, although coming from a dogmatic, undemocratic and oppressive system, had the courage to choose freedom and humanity, he pointed out that people always have a choice.  He said that his message today was that working together under the laws of justice is and will remain the only path to a safe and prosperous world.  In that regard, the Russian Federation’s aggression must be stopped:  “Russia is not the victim here, it is the aggressor.  And the whole world knows it.”  Moreover, the war is bigger than Ukraine, it’s about a sovereign people’s right to choose its own path and thus about the freedom of everyone, he added.  The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union are more united than ever — as should all Member States be in condemning this unprovoked war, this assault on the Charter, the international rules-based order, security and the very foundations of United Nations partnership.  President Putin’s speech this week shows that he is losing his own ill-thought war and clutches to his delusionary narrative full of lies and deceit.  The nuclear threats are meant to show division, but instead there is growing unity.

Appealing to all Member States to stand firm until peace, freedom and territorial integrity are fully restored in Ukraine, he also pointed to the period that would follow that, namely the rebuilding and achieving of justice.  He recalled his visit to Bucha and the evidence of atrocities in Izium, saying that the crimes of sexual violence, deportation, torture, random killing and others must not go unpunished.  On that point, he said that the Netherlands and the The Hague — the legal capital of the world — feel a special responsibility in that regard.  Dutch forensic experts were sent to Ukraine in fact-finding missions and in July the Ukraine Accountability Conference was hosted in The Hague in close cooperation with the International Criminal Court where 45 countries agreed on key priorities in guaranteeing justice for Ukraine.  Preparing Ukraine for a long and painstaking process and pledging the Netherland’s support during that process, he explained how it for the last eight years has worked on holding the Russians responsible for the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

Worldwide cooperation on the other great global issue — climate change — is an absolute must, he said.  Explaining that the Kingdom of the Netherlands is made up of four different countries and experiences heavier rainfall and drought on the European side as well as severe hurricanes and rising sea levels on the Caribbean part, he stressed that small island developing States are at the forefront of the world’s climate adaptation strategies.  Continuing, he said that 90 per cent of all natural hazards manifest themselves through water, via flooding, drought or pollution, showing that water is at the heart of many global problems.  To address this issue, the Netherlands, together with Tajikistan, will host the 2023 United Nations Water ConferenceBesides that, he stated that European Union member States remain fully committed to a 55 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and a swift transition to clean energy, and that the Netherlands combats deforestation and helps the world meet the $100 billion climate finance pledge.  Currently, 50 per cent of all money the Netherlands spends on international climate action already goes to climate adaptation and resilience.  Calling cooperation the only way forward with the United Nations as a vital tool, he urged the global community to come together to address the major issues faced today.  “Now is the time to speak out.  Now is the time to be on the right side of history,” he concluded.

MANASSEH SOGAVARE, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, recalled that the right to establish diplomatic relations between sovereign nations is a universal principle shared by all members of the United Nations.  He expressed his concern over “a barrage of unwarranted and misplaced criticisms, misinformation and intimidation” that his country was subject to as it formalized diplomatic relations with China.  “Our decision to establish relationship with the People’s Republic of China is consistent with United Nations 1971 Resolution 2758”, he said, reiterating a call for respect of his country’s sovereignty and democracy.  “We will not align ourselves with any external Power or security architecture that targets ours or any other sovereign country or threatens regional and international peace,” he underscored.

Furthermore, he noted that his country joins others in the Blue Pacific continent, who signed the Rarotonga Treaty, to maintain a nuclear-free Pacific.  He then encouraged nuclear power States, signatories of the Treaty, to ratify it, reiterating a call for the total elimination of nuclear material, nuclear weapons and atomic-powered military assets in the Blue Pacific.  He echoed concerns expressed by other Pacific countries on the proposal of Japan to discharge nuclear water treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean, stressing on potential transboundary and intergenerational implications of such action.

Speaking about maritime boundaries and the United Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), he informed the Assembly that his country has legally formalized the delimitation of all five of its maritime boundaries with Australia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, France, and Fiji.  “With the completion of all five maritime boundaries, our rights and obligations are protected under UNCLOS in perpetuity,” he said.  He went on speaking about his country embarking on the ‘digital transformation journey’ to enhance and modernize its telecommunication infrastructure.  “Together with Australia and Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands commissioned its first submarine cable in 2019,” he underscored.  The geographical reach of the cable will be expanded with the installation of about 170 telecommunication towers under a Belt and Road Initiative.  This will link 80 per cent of the country and provide its rural population with access to reliable, accessible and affordable telecommunication services.

“For least developing countries like the Solomon Islands, vulnerability is a key hindrance to sustainable development,” he said, referring to inadequacy of indicators to measure vulnerability.  He thus called on all States and partners to support the development and adoption of a multidimensional vulnerability index.  “Pacific Island countries including the Solomon Islands are in a constant mode of recovery from disasters,” he said, calling on the establishment of global financial mechanisms for disaster recovery to provide support to the most vulnerable countries.  Considering these challenges, the Pacific region has declared a ‘state of climate emergency’.  “Sadly, we are seeing more resources spent on wars than in combating climate change,” he lamented.

JACINDA ARDERN, Prime Minister of New Zealand, highlighting the devastating impact of COVID‑19, said that while the world is entering a period where the crisis is subsiding, the lessons cannot.  Those lessons are in many ways the same as the lessons of climate change, she stressed, pointing out that climate action will only ever be as successful as the least committed country, as such countries pull down the ambitions of the collective.  On pandemic preparedness, she added her support for efforts to develop a new global health legal instrument and to strengthen international health regulations.  Whether it is climate, trade, health crisis or seeking peaceful solutions to war and conflict, New Zealand has always been a believer in multilateral tools, she said.

She then referred to Moscow’s illegal war, asking:  “What country, who claims to be a liberator, threatens to annihilate the very civilians they claim to liberate?”  The people of Ukraine need the global community to ask one simple question:  “What if it was us?”  Yet the ability of the global community to answer that question swiftly, collectively and with confidence has been severely undermined.  In March, when the world most needed the Security Council to act in the defence of international peace and security, it could not.  It did not fulfil its mandate because of one permanent member who was willing to abuse its privileged position.  In this context, she championed the veto initiative, which provides an opportunity to scrutinize the actions of a permanent member who casts a veto.  For the United Nations to maintain its relevancy, the veto must be abolished and permanent members of the Security Council must exercise their responsibility for the benefit of international peace and security, rather than the pursuit of national interest, she asserted.

Calling for a global response to the use of nuclear weapons, she pointed to her country’s history of championing not just non-proliferation, but a prohibition on nuclear weapons.  “It was in our region that these weapons of war were tested,” she noted, adding that those tests have left a mark on the people, lands and waters.  The only way to guarantee people safety from the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons is for such weapons not to exist.  “Nuclear weapons do not make us safer,” she added, rejecting the wisdom of mutually assured destruction.  Calling nuclear disarmament an enormous challenge, she advocated for meaningful progress on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The face of war has changed and with it the weapons used, with traditional combat, espionage and the threat of nuclear weapons now accompanied by cyberattacks, prolific disinformation, and manipulation of whole communities and societies.

Turning to terrorism and extremism, she recalled the horrific terrorist attack on her country’s Muslim community on 15 March 2019.  During the attack — which was livestreamed on a popular social media platform in an effort to spread hate — more than 50 people were killed as they prayed.  In response to the attack, the Government created the Christchurch Call to Action; the Call community has worked together to address terrorism and violent extremist content online.  “We’ve improved crisis reactions, stymieing the ability to livestream attacks.  We have crisis protocols that kick in to prevent proliferation,” she noted.  She went on to stress the importance of prevention and understanding the interactions between the online environment and the real world, which can lead to radicalization.

MUHAMMAD SHEHBAZ SHARIF, Prime Minister of Pakistan, describing first-hand the scale and magnitude of the climate catastrophe that has pushed one third of his country under water in a super storm no one has seen in living memory, said: “For 40 days and 40 nights, a biblical flood poured down on us, smashing centuries of weather records, challenging everything we knew about disaster, and how to manage it.”  Today, huge swathes of the country are still underwater.  In this ground zero of climate change, 33 million people, including women and children are now at high risk from health hazards, with 650,000 women giving birth in makeshift tarpaulins, he added.  More than 1,500 people have perished in the great flood, including over 400 children and far more were in peril from disease and malnutrition.  Millions of migrants continue to look for dry land with heart-breaking losses to their families, futures and their livelihoods.  A million homes have been destroyed and another million damaged, he said, detailing other estimates on damage.

“Pakistan has never seen a more stark and devastating example of the impact of global warming.  Life in Pakistan has changed forever,” he said, noting that people in Pakistan ask why this has happened to them, especially when the calamity had not been triggered by anything they had done.  “Our glaciers are melting fast, our forests are burning and our heat waves have crossed 53°C, making us the hottest place on the planet,” he reported, warning that “what happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan”.  Hotspots like his country fall in the list of ten most climate-vulnerable countries yet emit less than one per cent of the greenhouse gases that are burning the planet.  He expressed gratitude for the Secretary-General’s visit to his country and his assurance of support and assistance and thanked every country that has sent help in Pakistan’s “most trying hour”.  Pakistan has mobilized all available resources towards national relief efforts and repurposed all budget priorities to the rescue and first order needs of millions, among other efforts.  The dual costs of global inaction and climate injustice are crippling both its treasury and its people.  Unless world leaders act now, “there will no earth to fight wars over”.

His country’s urgent priority is to ensure rapid economic growth and lift millions out of destitution and hunger, he continued.  For that, Pakistan needs a stable external environment.  Sustainable peace and stability in South Asia remain contingent upon a just and lasting solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.  “India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 to change the internationally recognized ‘disputed’ status of Jammu and Kashmir and to alter the demographic structure of the occupied territory further undermined the prospects of peace and inflamed regional tensions,” he said.  Detailing India’s other actions in that regard, he urged that country to take credible steps to create an enabling environment for constructive engagement.  he also said his country has led the humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan, and he urged the international community to respond to the Secretary-General's appeal for $4.2 billion in humanitarian and economic assistance and release Afghanistan’s financial reserves. 

Pakistan over the last two decades has suffered more than 80,000 casualties and over $150 billion in economic losses due to terrorist attacks, he noted.  While its armed forces, with the support of its people, have “broken the back of terrorism” within Pakistan, it continues to suffer terrorist attacks from across its borders, sponsored and financed by its regional adversary.  Further, the officially sponsored campaign of oppression against India’s over 200 million Muslims is the worst manifestation of Islamophobia.  He voiced hope that the Assembly’s adoption earlier this year of the landmark resolution designating 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia will lead to concreate measures to combat that and promote interfaith harmony.  Also expressing concern about the numerous conflicts across the Middle East, including in Syria and Yemen, he called on Israel to put an immediate end to the blatant use of force against the Palestinian people.  Regarding Security Council reform, he urged the addition of 11 new non-permanent members to make it more representative of the international community.

SAMDECH AKKA MOHA SENA PADEI TECHO HUN SEN, Prime Minister of Cambodia, said that the world has been destabilized by armed conflicts, an arms race, and technology and trade wars.  Further, the mounting threats to multilateralism and the war in Ukraine have complicated things worldwide.  He brought attention to the impending nuclear test on the Korean Peninsula as well as United States-China tension over Taiwan.  Describing Cambodia’s current peacetime as “hard-earned”, he expressed the importance of cooperation with the United Nations in upholding international peace and security.

Recounting lessons learned from the pandemic, he advocated for improved vaccine distribution and shared responsibility to prevent future outbreaks.  Turning to climate change, he called for States to honour their commitment to limiting temperature rise to below 1.5°C, allocate appropriate financing and provide technology transfer.  He further expressed concern that the mounting rivalry between the United States and China could hinder economic growth and urged the World Trade Organization (WTO) be strengthened to reduce trade barriers and ensure value chains.

Expressing pride that Cambodia will chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2022, he hoped that Timor-Leste would soon become its newest member.  Recognizing that the crisis in Myanmar is complex and deep-rooted, he said “Cambodia is fully committed to helping Myanmar resolve the crisis and all our efforts are aimed at seeking for the cessation of violence, the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need, and the pursuit of building trust among all parties concerned to enable an inclusive political dialogue, as mandated by the ASEAN 5-Point Consensus.”

Reporting on successes of his country, he said that Cambodia is one of the countries with the highest rates of COVID-19 vaccination globally.  In this context the country has resumed all previously paused socioeconomic activities.  He thanked countries that provided vaccines through bilateral and multilateral frameworks.  Next, he spoke of how his Government worked with development partners to scale up a cash-for-work programme to improve community infrastructure and employment and a cash-transfer-programme to alleviate poverty.  The Government also implemented several new economic laws and trade agreements with China and the Republic of Korea, and signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership  treaty.  He added that his country held free and transparent elections in June.  Speaking about cooperation with the United Nations, he noted that Cambodia upheld the life-sentence of the former Khmer Rouge Head of State, charged with the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity.  Justice was made possible through cooperation between Cambodia and the United Nations, he said, and thanked all actors who provided financial resources during the difficult national reconciliation process.

PHILIP JOSEPH PIERRE, Prime Minister, Minister for Finance, Economic Development and Youth Economy of Saint Lucia, emphasized that developing countries, already saddled with debt, must be provided with the means to tackle climate change.  “We must act together to save our people and our planet,” he said.  He lamented that ‘recent political differences’ between two of the biggest polluting countries led to halting their cooperation on climate issues.  “For decades we have called on global financial institutions to carve out a special regime that takes into account the ‘smallness’ and our vulnerabilities to climate change,” he said.  “A single hurricane, which destroys our entire agricultural crop or destroys our tourism plant and infrastructure”, he said, can set the country back by decades.  As such, he requested that these vulnerabilities be considered when financial obligations for development assistance of countries are being negotiated.  He called for inclusion of vulnerabilities of small States while calculating the value of their economies.  “This is a matter of survival for our people”, he added.

Turning to ocean governance, he expressed disappointment that negotiations to adopt the first ever multilateral maritime biodiversity treaty delayed acting “because the developed countries of the North were once again unwilling to accommodate the needs of the developing world of the South”, he said.  The protection of oceans is imperative, and an agreement on sharing and sustainable use of the marine resources beyond national jurisdiction is essential.  Bearing in mind, that these areas do not belong to one country but constitute a heritage of all mankind, he urged for a resumption of the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Conference on conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction to consider the special circumstances of small island developing States.

While his country and the rest of the Caribbean are not manufacturers of conventional weapons, they have been plagued by a proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons.  This resulted in a surge in criminal activity and gun violence.  “Saint Lucia has always been a strong advocate of the international frameworks, such as the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects and the Arms Trade Treaty,” he said.  Therefore, he called on the major manufacturers, exporters and importers of conventional weapons in his hemisphere to live up to their commitments:  to lend the necessary expertise and technical assistance and cooperate in good faith to stem the tide of unregulated conventional arms and ammunition.

ALEXANDER DE CROO, Prime Minister of Belgium, said that people are living in one of the darkest moments since the birth of the United Nations.  The mission was never again war in Europe, but today gross violations of everything the United Nations stands for are taking place in Ukraine, with the mass graves and torture chambers in Izium as the latest signs of utter brutality in this unnecessary and illegal war, he added.  Calling upon the United Nations to fulfil its calling in the face of aggression and war crimes, he stated that there is no room for neutrality.  Moreover, making peace requires the global community to place the principles of the Charter, now trampled upon by a founding Member, at the forefront again, particularly the principles of territorial integrity and national sovereignty.  Declaring that the war will have consequences for those that waged it and that “there will never be peace without accountability”, he voiced his country’s continued support for the International Criminal Court.  Specifically, he called attention to the fight against sexual violence, calling it one of the most destructive weapons of war, and said that all victims deserve truth, justice and reparation.

This war is not only affecting Ukraine, but it endangers the lives of hundreds of millions in Africa, Asia and Latin America through food insecurity.  He thanked the Secretary General, Türkiye and the African Union in making the Black Sea Grain Initiative possible and shared that Belgium has increased its humanitarian budget to meet the most urgent needs.  This food crisis, he continued, forces the world to address structural weaknesses in agrifood systems and to focus on sustainable and resilient systems through research and development.  Besides food, the Russian Federation’s war is also causing a deep energy crisis.  In this wartime, Belgium is helping its citizens and businesses, calling on their solidarity and strengthening energy independence, particularly by focusing on nuclear and green, renewable energy, he said.  Bringing innovative solutions and expertise to the table with world-leading universities and research centres to the Conference of the Parties in November, he said Belgium will help the world change and adapt, because climate change is the biggest challenge of our time.

In the fight for human rights and democracy, on the eve of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, he announced that Belgium is running for a seat on the Human Rights Council for 2023-2025.  This reflects his country’s commitment to multilateralism, support for the international order and rule of law and respect for human rights without distinction, he emphasized.  Promising to not back down on democratic principles or individual rights, outlining the challenges ahead, like the war in Ukraine and the energy and food crisis, he called upon other Member States to respond to the call of millions of people and act.

XAVIER ESPOT ZAMORA, Prime Minister of Andorra, said that the world is experiencing an “accumulation of crises” made worse by an economy that uses raw material excessively.  “The planet is exhausted,” he said, describing the triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.  Further, the war in Ukraine threatens the world order as well as that country’s civilian population, causing one of the worst refugee crises in Europe since the Second World War.  The current war has also resulted in a food and energy crisis.  Though the situation is not hopeful, he stressed the need for multilateralism to prevail over unilateralism.

Despite its small size, Andorra can act as a role model on a global scale.  It is active in numerous multilateral organizations and understands that recovery and positive change can only occur through collaboration and dialogue.  In fact, in 2023, Andorra will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary of joining both the United Nations and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  The Government will use the occasion to introduce multilateralism and its importance to its citizens.

Turning to climate change, he said that Andorra submitted its national contribution to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015 and that his country’s Parliament unanimously approved to declare a state of climate emergency as well as the Law on Promoting Energy Transition and on Climate Change.  Further actions include establishing an ecotax that taxes industries that have the greatest impact on the environment.  The tax proceeds have been used to fund ecological transition as well as provide free public transportation to the country’s citizens.  The Government also passed a law aimed at putting the country on track to a circular economy by 2035.

He said that this General Assembly should serve as a moment “to renew solidarity among peoples” and “renew a social contract on human rights”.  Warning that “we cannot afford to look back and see how our inaction led to catastrophic and irreversible damage to our planet and to humanity,” he expressed Andorra’s will to be a part of the global solution.

PRAVIND KUMAR JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, underscored that the pandemic has brought to light the role of information and communications technology (ICT) as a crucial enabler of economic and social development.  The socioeconomic vision of his country and its multicultural and societal values take into account and encourage the pursuit of a secure and safe digital world for all “as we strive to undermine disinformation with accurate information,” he said.  In this vein, he reiterated support for the elaboration of a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICT for criminal purposes.  In addition, despite insularity and limited means, his country is striving to increase opportunities for young people.  “Providing social protection and promoting social justice remain a key priority for our Government,” he pointed out.  The empowerment of women, promoting gender equality and ensuring fair and equal treatment for all is at the heart of various policies adapted by his country.

In regard to the Chagos Archipelago, he noted that despite the United Nations resolution which required the colonial administration to withdraw within six months of the date of its adoption, a part of the territory remained occupied.  This situation further delays the implementation of his country’s resettlement programme, in particular for those Mauritians of Chagossian origin who were forcibly removed from there in the 1960s.  “It ill behoves to the U.K. to call on Mauritius and other African countries to respond to other allegations of illegal occupation when it illegally occupies a part of Africa,” he said.  The new Government of the United Kingdom has an opportunity to place itself on the right side of history and end this dark chapter of history involving the last colony in Africa and the last it ever created as well as the forcible displacement of people.  He urged the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to work collectively to implement General Assembly resolution 73/295 and support the decolonization of Mauritius, including the resettlement of the former inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago.

Furthermore, he expressed concern over the decision of the North Indian Ocean Hydrographic Commission, that violated its legal obligations by failing to recognize the legal entitlement of Mauritius which satisfies all the criteria for full membership of that organization.  In this regard, he detailed his country’s decision to suspend its participation in future activities of the Commission until its legal entitlement to full membership of that regional organization is fully recognized.  Regarding, Tromelin, which also makes an integral part of the territory of Mauritius, he expressed hope for an early dispute resolution with France “in the spirit of friendship”.

SIAOSI ‘OFAKIVAHAFOLAU SOVALENI, Prime Minister of Tonga, called for urgent action to overcome the severe economic, financial and social impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic, as well as accelerate action on climate change, ocean health, energy transformation, and the sustainable use of natural resources, among others.  Calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine, he said despite being far away from the conflict, Tonga feels its ripple effects through higher costs of fuel, food, and basic supplies.  Inflation is double-digit, he cautioned, noting that his country has not experienced such inflation rates in decades.  The existential threats from climate change, pandemics, and conflict have increased, he warned, adding that the international community must keep its promises to small island developing States.

Already three decades have elapsed since small island developing States called for an index recognizing their special circumstances and vulnerabilities, he continued.  However, the international financial system has used measures not necessarily adapted to those islands’ special challenges, and their ecological and economic vulnerabilities.  “This has limited our access to appropriate financing, debt relief and aid,” he asserted, pointing out that Tonga — like many of its Pacific neighbours — has faced natural disasters of unprecedented severity and frequency.  All Tongans will forever recall 15 January 2022 when the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted.

The explosion was of an intensity so great that some research compares it to the impact of a nuclear explosion, he continued.  Plumes of hot gas, ash, and water vapour were projected into the atmosphere, reaching a height of 36 miles.  The ensuing tsunami devastated Tonga’s economy.  Several islands were completely or severely destroyed; people were displaced and then evacuated to neighbouring islands.  The volcanic eruption and tsunami cut access to basics for people and cut its communications — a lifeline for an island nation.  The widespread socioeconomic damage and loss of lives is estimated by the World Bank at 36.4 per cent of Tonga’s gross domestic product (GDP).  In this context, he reiterated his commitment to reduce the risks and the harmful effects of natural disasters, particularly through risk-informed development efforts and enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response.

Highlighting that Tonga has one of the world’s highest rates of non-communicable diseases, he noted that cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases account for approximately 80 per cent of deaths in Tonga.  In that regard, he drew attention to his Government’s goal of reducing such deaths by one third by the year 2030.  More so, climate change continues to be the single greatest existential threat facing the Blue Pacific.  The adverse impacts of climate change make Tonga the third most vulnerable country in the world, he stressed, spotlighting threats to his country’s territorial integrity, land, water, health, infrastructure, food security, biological diversity, livelihoods, and ecosystems.  Calling for this issue to be a permanent item on the Security Council’s agenda, he said that whether it is sea-level rise, loss of territory, or mass migration, this is a trigger for violence and a threat to peace and security.

On ocean protection, he underscored the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources, as 99 per cent of Tonga’s sovereign territory is the ocean.  Highlighting his Government’s aspiration to fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities, he spotlighted the Tonga Ocean Management Plan 2021.  Underscoring the threat posed by sea-level rise to the Blue Pacific, he stressed that climate change-induced sea-level rise must not challenge the maritime zones delineated under 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as reflected in the 2021 Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of Climate Change-Related Sea-Level Rise.

KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, Prime Minister of Greece, said Europeans have stood by Ukraine, equipping it with means to defend itself against the aggressor and imposing punitive sanctions that are beginning to take a toll on the Russian economy.  “It is imperative to send a clear message to other authoritarian leaders that open acts of aggression which violate international law shall not be tolerated by the global community of democratic States,” he underscored.  Noting that the Russian Federation has weaponized its natural resources to cause pain on European societies and destabilize democratically elected European Governments, he said:  “We will support our citizens to cope with high energy prices.  We will pool European resources to promote energy efficiency and rapidly diversify away from Russian oil and natural gas.  And we will further accelerate the push towards renewable energy.”

Ukraine is not the only country in post-war Europe to have been brutally attacked, he continued, noting that for nearly 50 years, Cypriots have lived on a divided island as the result of an illegal invasion and a military occupation.  Ankara and the Turkish-Cypriot leadership continue to insist upon unacceptable demands for a two-State solution and refuse to resume negotiations for an agreed settlement based on successive Security Council resolutions.  Voicing support for the Secretary General’s efforts to resume negotiations for a mutually acceptable settlement, and the confidence-building measures proposed by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, he said the international community must not ignore illegal Turkish attempts to impose a new fait-accompli on Cyprus, in particular in the fenced area of Varosha, as well as new and repeated violations of Cyprus’ maritime zones and airspace.  He reaffirmed his openness to dialogue and to the settling of differences in an open, respectful manner, and in accordance with international law.

Türkiye has great capacity to play a constructive role, he said, noting its recent efforts that led to a successful brokering of a grain exports deal between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.  At the same time, however, Türkiye continues to play a destabilizing role in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Caucasus, he pointed out, highlighting that it is the only country in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that is not implementing sanctions against the Russian Federation.  Describing the growing intensity of Türkiye’s threats against his country, he said Turkish claims over the sovereignty of Greece’s islands are baseless and unacceptable.  Addressing the Turkish leadership and Turkish people and urging them to move forward in a spirit of cooperation, he said:  “Greece poses no threat to your country.  We are not your enemy.  We are neighbours.  We value the many friendships between ordinary Greeks and Turks.”  Noting that Türkiye has been instrumentalizing migrants since March 2020, he stressed that Greece will continue to protect its borders, with full respect to fundamental rights.

Turning to climate change, he said the green transformation sits at the heart of his Government’s reform programme and its national climate law aims to mobilize all sectors of the economy for a transition to net zero by 2050.  The conversion of a number of Greek islands into green innovation hubs is up and running.  Noting its battle to protect cultural heritage, he said that his country, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), has launched “Addressing Climate Change Impacts on Cultural and Natural Heritage”.  As the world’s leading shipping nation, his country understands the paramount importance of the marine environment’s sustainability.  For this reason, Greece in 2024 will be hosting the ninth International “Our Ocean Conference”, building on its ambitious plans to promote sustainable fishing and protect 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030.  His country is also taking the lead in making sure that European countries cooperate more effectively in the field of civil protection through the RescEU program.

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, recalled that the five victorious nations of the Second World War assigned to themselves permanent Security Council membership, assuming the responsibility to implement the Charter of the United Nations — both for their own interests and those of the nations that had no option but to trust them.  “The state of today’s world does not readily inspire such trust,” he said, asking on behalf of small countries like his own what happened to the commitments chiselled on the Charter as binding obligations on all.  The nations of the world are now gripped with economic instability, the worry of expanded warfare, escalating inflation, food shortages, high prices and increasing debt.  However, pointing out that the worst effects are being suffered by “the poor and powerless, the small and exposed”, he stressed that small nations now felt unprotected by a weakening international legal order that was their first, last and only defence against aggression.  Concerted Council action is necessary to prevent major human-rights violations, stop ongoing breaches and address global conflicts and, if this fails to happen urgently, the General Assembly may have to initiate and implement its own global actions.

Underscoring that “peace in the world is not a commodity to be traded”, he said that this observation was also pertinent to the issue of climate change, which poses an existential threat to small island States and countries with low-lying coastlines.  Although global warming is universal, its burden falls mostly on the poor in small developing nations, such as Antigua and Barbuda.  Urging the General Assembly to act on behalf of the small and powerless in the interest of global justice, he spotlighted a resolution that will be proposed by Vanuatu in the coming months.  It will request the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory opinion clarifying the legal obligations of States to protect human rights and environments from climate change, and nations concerned about the ravages of climate change should support the text.  He also noted his own country’s initiative — together with Tuvalu and Palau — to launch the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, which will seek an opinion from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea regarding State obligations to mitigate the effects of their greenhouse gas emissions.

He went on to note that, while small countries “have talked ourselves hoarse since the 1980s”, promises were repeated year after year that, on the evidence, were meant to “placate and divert, but not to perform and deliver”.  The stage now seems set for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt to fail, he noted, as the Group of 20 (G20) failed to produce a joint statement on climate change.  This sends an ominous signal that, yet again, the Conference will be “long on words, but very short on deeds”.  He underscored, however, that small States would attend the Conference and argue strenuously to establish a new fund for loss and damage response.  Further, he insisted that those States most responsible for this dire situation respect their obligations to halt global warming and provide compensation to its victims.  Also detailing the devastating effects of climate change on industrialized nations in 2022, he stressed that, even if those Governments remained reluctant to curb emissions for the sake of the most-vulnerable globally, “they should be motivated by the perils for their own people”.

Turning to other international conditions that have unfairly delayed economic development and social progress in small island developing States, he said that the United States’ unjust embargo on Cuba is undermining that country’s efforts to eliminate poverty and improve living standards.  Urging the United States to immediately lift the same, he also said that his country looks forward to normalized relations between the United States and Venezuela.  He also pointed out that his country has been denied access to concessional financing due to a single criterion, applied by international financial institutions, that classifies some small island developing States — like Antigua and Barbuda — in the same category as the United States, Japan and Germany.  This criterion — per-capita income — fails to take into account structural limitations such as limited natural resources or the reality that small island developing States are forced to import a large percentage of goods for consumption.

He therefore called on the General Assembly to stop penalizing small island developing States for good performance, noting that climate disasters and inability to obtain concessional financing have resulted in high, unsustainable debt for many such States.  Underscoring that the international community must change the way in which it responds to small island developing States, he spotlighted the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States that his country will host in 2024 and called on all Member States to begin the process of recommitting to small island States to offer lasting solutions to their needs.  Adding that the world is now dominated by a conflict in the developed world — not the developing one — he called on the parties to the war in Ukraine to end the globally debilitating conflict.  Interconnected challenges demanded meaningful international cooperation, he stressed, urging those present to “turn words into collective action”.

MUSTAFA AL-KADHIMI, Prime Minister of Iraq, stated that despite the difficult circumstances, his country employed the “spirit of hope” embodied by its people to fight terrorism and defeat it on behalf of the world, adding that his people made enormous sacrifices to liberate their land from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Da’esh (ISIL) and its ideology.  He renewed his country’s call to continue confronting international terrorism, expressing hope that Iraq will receive further support from the United Nations.  He further reiterated its calls for its territories to not be used “under the pretext of combating terrorism or protecting the national security of other countries in a manner that endangers our security and stability,” also stressing the need to respect the sovereignty of States.

On domestic issues, he stated that despite the success of its past elections supported by the Organization, “the political forces could not agree on the Government’s formation, leading to a political impasse.”  Stressing that his Government is working to build the State and maintain its stature based on coexistence among all its people, he also noted that his country is keen to be a source of stability — regionally and internationally.  For instance, he continued, the Baghdad Conference on Partnership and Cooperation held in August last year witnessed “remarkable” participation by its neighbouring countries and resulted in important recommendations.

Underscoring that his country is the “fifth most vulnerable country to climate change,” he highlighted that it was grappling with a scarcity of water resources due to a change of course of rivers that it shared with neighbouring countries.  He called on the countries in the region to enter a dialogue to solve water issues in accordance with international law and treaties.  He highlighted Iraq’s efforts, as an oil-producing country, to promote clean energy and other areas related to the green economy.  Further on domestic issues, he stressed that education and culture remained his country’s top priorities and outlined its strategy to upgrade the standards of public and higher education, as well as an initiative to reduce the illiteracy rate in his country.

Turning to the situation in the Middle East, he asserted its stance on the “Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” continuing to stress the need to preserve the historical status of Jerusalem and its holy sites.  On Syria, he expressed support for the political talks between all Syrian parties as well as the efforts by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions.  “Iraq believes that regional crises and wars have consequences for all countries of the world, and that that ordinary people always pay the price for these wars,” he said.

ISMAIL SABRI YAAKOB, Prime Minister of Malaysia, expressing concern over the number of worsening and unaddressed challenges, urged the United Nations to establish an international monetary cooperation mechanism to build a more effective and just system for global development.  Cooperation and coordination among countries needed to be “stepped up,” he elaborated, to achieve economic well-being for all.  As policies affect other countries, domestic monetary decisions must adjust for developing countries’ realities and needs.  He also called for the guarantee of sufficient food resources for all.

Reiterating Malaysia’s opposition to violations of international law, sovereignty and territorial integrity, he stressed that “when a conflict erupts, all parties hold the responsibility of easing tension and giving priority to the safety and lives civilians.  At the same time, the conflicting parties need to return to the negotiating table to stop the conflict as soon as possible.”  He then registered his disapproval over the isolation of countries from international organizations as a hinderance to multilateralism and dialogue.

On the situation in Ukraine, he welcomed the creation of the sea route corridor and warned against the creation of isolation blocks, stressing:  “that will only push the world towards a cold war.”  On the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he expressed disappointment over the denial of basic rights for the Palestinian people and the violation of international law and Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), saying “the major powers need to be honest in resolving the issue of cruelty faced by the Palestinian people”.  The United Nations should quickly remedy the crisis with the same speed with which the international community responded to the situation in Ukraine, he said, and   called upon Israel to stop its apartheid.

As a multiracial, multicultural and multi-religious country, Malaysia always supports and strives for peaceful coexistence.  Turning to Malaysia’s proactive role in remedying crises and conflicts in Southeast Asia, he expressed continued disappointment over the situation in Myanmar and the junta’s lack of progress in implementing ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus.  Commenting that “some even see the Security Council as having washed its hands of and handing the matter over to ASEAN,” he underscored the need for a new, redefined framework with a clear timeframe and goal which fulfils the aspirations of the Myanmar people.  As Malaysia has accepted nearly 200,000 Rohingya refugees on humanitarian grounds, he called upon parties to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol to accept more refugees.  The world must also address the root cause of the crisis.  He attributed the lack of progress in resolving conflicts and crises to the Security Council as “the debility of the global governance system and the [United Nations].”  Advocating for the abolition of the veto, he explained that it “is most often misused to favour the world powers that have it.  It is not democratic and violates the principles of democracy.”

Pointing to Malaysia’s losses from climate change in 2021, he reminded countries that climate is a universal problem which affects all.  Developed countries must fulfil their annual commitments to provide $100 billion unconditionally.  He then called for developing countries to have new, fair, inclusive and affordable technology which facilitates their greener and more sustainable socioeconomic development.  Referencing the national measures implemented by Malaysia, he renewed his country’s commitment to environmental conservation and sustainability and welcomed the 2023 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said that the Russian Federation-Ukraine conflict has plunged the world further into a grave uncertainty, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities.  “Antagonism like war or economic sanctions, counter-sanctions can never bring good to any nation,” she added, pointing to mutual dialogue as the means to solve crises and stressing her participation in the United Nations Global Crisis Response Group.  Citing Bangladesh’s founding father’s dictum on foreign policy of “friendship to all, malice towards none”, she affirmed that her country has been pursuing this principle of non-alignment since its independence and stressed the impact of war on women, children and refugees.

Touching on national strategies to counter the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic, she highlighted that Bangladesh is one of the five fastest-growing economies in the world, ranking forty-first in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), and tracked progress in terms of poverty reduction and economy’s expansion.  However, the Russian Federation-Ukraine war, economic sanctions and counter-sanctions have disrupted the supply chain and led to an exorbitant price hike of fuel, food and consumer goods, causing “tremendous pressure” on the economy and inflation, she added.  Noting that in 2026, Bangladesh will graduate from the least developed countries category to a developing country, she highlighted goals for 2041 and 2100.  She also pointed to significant progress made in areas ranging from education to infant and maternal mortality reduction and the social safety net.  The Padma Multi-purpose Bridge, a self-funded asset to road communications system, will facilitate Bangladesh's local and international trade and regional connectivity, foreseeing at least 1.23 per cent growth in national income.

During its Presidency of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, Bangladesh launched the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan to foster climate change resilience, while making policies on natural disaster gender responsive. Further, she reiterated support to other vulnerable countries to develop their own prosperity plans and called on States to promote inclusive climate actions.  Noting that migrants continue to face precarious situations in their journeys and are denied their rights, she said the Global Compact on Migration and its Progress Declaration are excellent roadmaps to overcome this situation.  Many developing countries need targeted support to tackle the impacts of global crises and bridging the digital divide is a priority.  She urged development partners to provide enhanced and tailored support and welcomed the Doha Programme of Action in that regard.

After the peaceful settlement of maritime boundaries with the neighbouring countries, Bangladesh is committed to working with global partners for the sustainable use, conservation and management of its marine resources to accelerate its socioeconomic development, including on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  She also called on Member States to conclude a treaty on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.  Noting Bangladesh’s full commitment to complete disarmament and peacekeeping operations, she pointed out it contributes to the highest number of troops and police to United Nations peacekeeping missions.  Bangladesh has a zero-tolerance policy on terrorism and violent extremism, “we do not allow our territory to be used by any party to incite or cause terrorist acts or harm to others”, she said, also pointing to cybercrimes and actions to promote human rights.

She reiterated Bangladesh’s unequivocal support for a two-State solution based on pre-1967 borders and the establishment of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.  She underscored that despite her country’s bilateral engagements with Myanmar, “not a single Rohingya was repatriated to their ancestral homes” and hoped that the United Nations will play an effective role in this regard.  Prolonged presence of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh has caused serious ramifications in her country.  “Cross-border organized crimes including human and drug trafficking are on the rise.  This situation can potentially fuel radicalization” and affect the stability of the entire region, and beyond, she said.  Calling for an end to the Russian Federation-Ukraine war, she noted that it puts the lives and livelihoods of the people of all nations in greater risk and infringes their human rights.

ANDREJ PLENKOVIĆ, Prime Minister of Croatia, citing the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine — with partial mobilization in effect and sham referenda — noted that three decades ago, his country was war-ravaged and in jeopardy, facing armed aggression with almost a third of its territory occupied.  The Croatian people know what it means to be under attack and what it takes to defend their homeland.  Today, it is an exporter of peace and stability, a humanitarian donor worldwide, a popular tourist destination, and produces the fastest electric car in the world.  Success was possible, he affirmed, if one was determined and had a vision of the future.  Croatia immediately and unequivocally extended support and solidarity to Ukraine — political, humanitarian, economic and military — as to do otherwise would be a betrayal of the principles and values its people hold dear.  This time around, he noted, Europe and its partners came together to stand up to aggression.

While democratic systems are challenged by the fallacious and dangerous thesis that autocracy is ultimately a more efficient and pragmatic way to govern — and national dialogues are distorted by disinformation, fake news and hybrid attacks — “on the cross-road between democracy and autocracy, our choice should remain clear,” he stressed.  The international community must stand united and step up efforts in reorganizing energy supply lines.  “We cannot accept extortion, and we cannot be held hostage over food and energy,” he stated.

Croatia is contributing by its liquefied natural gas terminal on the Adriatic island of Krk — and beyond ensuring its own needs, is now able to supply its neighbours and other countries in Central Europe.  Almost half of the country’s electricity production is already coming from renewables.  Citing the intolerable imbalance in greenhouse gas emissions — the richest 1 per cent in the world are responsible for 15 per cent — he noted his Government was working to alleviate the burden of the energy crisis for households and businesses, schools and hospitals, implementing a national package worth more than 6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Ahead of the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Egypt, the international community must strengthen cooperation to find mechanisms and financial resources to fight climate change on national, regional and global levels.  He further stated that in the coming months, Croatia would join a group of only 15 other countries that are members of the European Union, NATO, the Eurozone and the Schengen area.  Croatia also pays special attention to Southeast Europe, a region still not fully integrated into the European Union.

He voiced support for a prosperous and functional Bosnia and Herzegovina, progressing firmly on the path to membership.  However, as Bosniak political leaders have publicly admitted they had no true intention to come to a deal over electoral reform in line with the Constitutional Court verdict, the only way forward remains for High Representative Christian Schmidt to use his powers to ensure legitimate representation and equality of Bosnian Croats in the country’s institutions.  As the least numerous among the constituent peoples, he stated the Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina demand no favours, only equality.  On the international scene, “we must build, protect and defend, and stand up to those who destroy, lie and loot,” he stressed.  As the world witnesses aggression and atrocities on European soil again, and the rule of power threatens to bring the world order down, “we owe it to future generations to be on the right side of history.”  The international community must foster unity and stand with Ukraine in the fight for its own existence.

FIAMĒ NAOMI MATA’AFA, Prime Minister of Samoa, referring to crises such as the war in Ukraine and climate change, stressed that though distanced from the “centres of conflict”, the escalation in fuel and food prices as well as threats of nuclear weapons have reached her country.  “No one empathizes with the war.  Climate is waging a toll on islanders watching their maritime boundaries disappear fast with sea level rise,” she stated.  She further noted that small island developing States face a unique set of vulnerabilities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, also noting that both the global financial and governance systems are “desperately in need of reform.”  The multidimensional vulnerability index for small island developing States will allow for the inclusion of more than just income-based criteria to assess eligibility for concessional finance, she stated.

Noting that for Pacific communities the main challenge concerning climate change is “securing action for survival”, she called on all parties to commit to more ambitious nationally determined contributions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Referring to the upcoming twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, she stressed that the achievement of a 50‑50 split between mitigation and adaptation funding was of “paramount importance” to Samoa and its neighbouring countries.  Describing Goal 14 [Life Under Water] of the Sustainable Development Goals as the “most underfunded,” she stressed the need to attract and retain sustainable investment toward it.

On peace and security, she noted with concern the “ongoing geopolitical posturing in our region” and urged for its national and collective interests to be placed at the forefront.  She also expressed concern over the “serious shortfalls” in the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, noting that States with nuclear weapons have spent billions of dollars on modernizing and maintaining their nuclear arsenals, rather than spending on helping victims of past use and testing of nuclear weapons and focusing on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Noting that the proposed monitoring framework for the SAMOA Pathway was a necessary tool for an effective resource allocation and accountability regarding the Goals, she added that outstanding issues relating to the framework must be resolved with urgency.

The pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns emphasized the importance of digitalization for small island developing States, she said, adding that investment in digital technologies was key to stimulating business opportunities and increasing productivity and growth in traditional sectors such as agriculture and tourism.  She further stressed that the international community should not lose sight of the fact that digitization may end up “creating disparity between those who can and cannot access and afford these solutions.”

DRITAN ABAZOVIĆ, Prime Minister of Montenegro, pointing out that the world “walks from one crisis to another” – from the COVID-19 pandemic to another war — underscored that his country’s position on Russian aggression against Ukraine is simple:  “We stand with the people of Ukraine”.  He recalled that his country — along with others in the region — knows much about humanitarian and refugee crises, ethnic conflict and the use of military force.  However, he stressed that, in the twenty-first century, “humanity should be smarter”, and that war should not be used to solve political problems.  For its part, Montenegro will continue to support Ukraine and follow European Union policy in this regard in its entirety, including sanctions against the Russian Federation.  Underlining that this is not a question of economics — but of principles — he said that, while today witnesses aggression in Ukraine, tomorrow it could be some other State that is attacked.  Montenegro has received 10,000 refugees from Ukraine — which, given its size, is equal to around 2 per cent of its population — and it will continue to open its doors to those in trouble.  “They are welcome,” he said.

Turning to another crisis — that of energy — he said that, while today this crisis was one of economics, tomorrow it could be one of security.  While the war in Ukraine has destabilized the energy market and caused prices to soar, climate change is also stoking this problem.  He emphasized the need to solve this issue for future generations, pointing out that his country is the only one that, by its Constitution, is a “dedicated ecological State”.  It seeks to be a green destination — the water from the river in northern Montenegro is still potable — and the international community must similarly protect nature, promote green projects and address pollution.  This is not just a question for one country and, without international solidarity in this regard, a bigger problem lies ahead.

He went on to highlight the importance of transitional justice, recalling past conflict and ethnic strife in the Western Balkans.  While Montenegro is trying to build a modern European society, this is impossible without transitional justice.  “There are two types of peace,” he continued — negative and positive — noting that the former is represented by a lack of conflict, but the existence of weak, politicized institutions.  Montenegro desires more positive peace in the region, which means establishing independent institutions and combatting organized crime and nationalism.  Noting his country’s efforts to fight organized crime – which, being transnational in nature, is not only a problem for Montenegro – he detailed Government actions against the smuggling of cigarettes and cocaine.  Corruption lies behind the nationalism in the Western Balkans, and fighting it will lead to less tension and more economic progress.

On Montenegro’s foreign policy, he noted that his country made a good decision to join NATO in 2017, given the crisis currently unfolding.  However, he stated that his country’s desire to join the European Union was even greater — emphasizing that Montenegro “wants to be a part of the big European family” — and that it would do everything to achieve this as soon as possible.  “The Western Balkans should not be the black hole of Europe,” he said, also spotlighting his country’s efforts to build bridges in the region.  Montenegro desires Serbia and Kosovo to find common agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina to find internal agreement and for all States in the region to be productive.  It does not, however, want to be successful while its neighbours are not; rather, the States of the Western Balkans should be successful together.

“Deglobalization is not sustainable,” he stressed, and the problem of one country can easily become the problem of another.  As such, solutions must be found together and, for its part, Montenegro will always be a partner in initiatives to create peace, progress and stability.  The international community must work to promote more ethics in global politics and less populism; more concrete action and less rhetoric; and more justice and less support for authoritarian regimes around the world, he said.  Also underscoring the need to preserve democracy, he stressed that no one could say “it’s not important for me”, as every voice is needed to advocate for democracy and universal values.

TERRENCE DREW, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, pledged his country’s “unswerving support” while speaking of the shifting tectonic plates of geopolitics and global stability particularly the pandemic, fragility and vulnerability of global supply chains, reform of the United Nations, advancements in technology, and rise in nationalism.  Echoing the words of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan that “no nation can defend itself against the threats to development entirely on its own," he asked the international community:  “do we want to be the body that abdicated our responsibility to protect the planet?  Or the body that debates and postures as the world around us submerges beneath cascading crises?”

For small island developing States and vulnerable peoples, he noted there is no international security without climate security and pressed the international community to foster true resilience and risk mitigation by providing tailored responses.   He humbly urged countries to honour their financial commitments by doubling their contributions to adaptation financing by 2025, adding that “a delayed response to these commitments would further imperil our developing nations.”  Climate financing, resiliency and environmental conservation must be integrated into national development policies and must be at the forefront of our global development agenda.”  He joined the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in calling for the development and adoption of a multi-dimensional vulnerability index which provides special consideration for small island developing States, allows for redistributed development assistance and enables access to concessional financing.

In speaking about education as a great equalizer, he welcomed the Transforming Education Summit and reaffirmed his country’s commitment to education as a human right and the foundation of sustainable development and thriving societies.  Saint Kitts will reform its education system on the basis of equality, access and inclusion and has already decided to introduce free tertiary education for all.  It will also incorporate science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics specialist spaces in all schools, reintroduce the i-Literacy one-to-one laptop programme and strengthen technical and vocational education through alternative programming and scholarships.

Reaffirming that women and youth would continue to be at the forefront of social development, he pledged support for the Declaration of Future Generations and the Summit of the Future.  As its leader, he reiterated his country’s active commitment to meeting Sustainable Development Goal 5 and surpassing the goals of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women.

Global solidarity, international cooperation and strong and meaningful partnerships continued to be necessary he said, noting “we are stronger therefore in the company of our friends, particularly those which share our democratic principles and values!”  Recalling the friendship and partnership of Taiwan and Cuba, he re-emphasized his country’s support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the United Nations system and called for the end to the embargo against Cuba.

JOHN A. BRICEÑO, Prime Minister of Belize, said that while the Russian Federation’s illegal, unprovoked attack on Ukraine has “shaken the foundations of the multilateral system”, the consequential crises the international community faces are not confined to the battlefield in Europe.  Democratic norms and human rights are being rolled back, poverty is increasing, climate change is destroying the planet, and international cooperation has been supplanted by nationalism and unilateralism.  Further, global food and petroleum prices have reached historic highs, and the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and persistent supply-chain disruptions have contributed to skyrocketing inflation.  These realities are exacerbating an already acute social situation in Belize, he said, where poverty has risen an estimated 10 per cent between 2018 and 2021 and an estimated 45 per cent of Belizeans are food insecure.

These realities also heighten climate risk, he said, underscoring that his country is “but one hurricane away from catastrophe”.  Spotlighting woefully inadequate climate financing and crisis-level global debt, he called for a bold reimagining of the global financial architecture, rather than a “tinkering at the edges to conceive of additional programmes that are based on the same false logic”.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is largely devoid of ways to quantify climate impacts on public debt and countries’ capacity to pay, and its obstinate focus on primary balances and debt-to-GDP ratios “ignores the empirical evidence that nature is in revolt”, he said.  The world needs a new financial architecture that is willing and capable to identify systemic threats like debt and climate risk and then devise tools commensurate to the challenge.

While noting that Belize reduced its debt-to-GDP ratio from 133 per cent to 108 per cent last year through an innovative debt-for-nature swap — resulting in over $250 million in debt-service savings — he said that global forces are nevertheless determined to diminish his country’s aspirations for economic rebound.  Over the last seven years, financial flows to small island developing States have declined and, paradoxically, those countries most vulnerable to climate change — and least able to fiscally adapt — do not qualify for concessionary financing.  He therefore called on international financial institutions, multilateral development banks and development partners to use the multidimensional vulnerability index after it is finalized later this year.  This will unlock financing for vulnerable countries, supporting their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, adapt to climate change and build resilience.  Vulnerable countries also need debt relief, he stressed.

Recalling that colonialism transported trillions in plundered wealth to the oppressors, he asked how much longer this new “climate colonialism” would punish the victims while sparing the victimizers.  In this vein, he also called for the immediate lifting of the embargo on Cuba.  Turning to Haiti, he called on the international community to advance a robust, comprehensive programme of support for the people of that country.  Also calling for Taiwan to take its rightful place among the community of nations, he stressed that the outdated policy imposed on Taiwan to promote its exclusion must “yield to the greater good”.  Additionally, Belize supports the realization of an independent Palestinian State.  Recalling that Belize and Guatemala have been pursuing final resolution of the latter country’s claim to Belizean territory before the International Court of Justice, he said that his country continues to count on the international community’s support as the judicial process proceeds and, when it concludes, for the demarcation exercise that will be conducted.

Small island developing States, he observed, had great expectations for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.  However, rather than world leaders meeting their commitments to deliver $100 billion annually, such States left Glasgow with a finance roadmap.  “Another paper promise,” he pointed out.  Instead of delivering a loss-and-damage mechanism, such States left with more words.  “Let’s try this again,” he urged, calling for less talk and more decisions at the upcoming United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montréal and the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt.  These must include agreeing on a framework that accounts for the economic costs of biodiversity, along with commitments to close the emissions gap, provide adaptation financing and establish a financing facility to substantively address loss and damage.  “Anything less is a failure,” he stressed, and small island developing States do not have that option.

KAUSEA NATANO, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said that it was regrettable that the Republic of China (Taiwan), with its notable partnerships on a wide range of development issues, continued to be kept out of the United Nations system, and supported its readmission into the Organization, asking not to sideline the country.  He also defined regrettable the ongoing economic blockade of Cuba.  Further, he expressed the region’s strong concerns of the potential threat of nuclear contamination to the health and security of the Blue Pacific and emphasized that the United Nations decolonization process is critical to the protection of human rights.

“Climate change and its consequential sea level rise, remains the single greatest existential threat my country faces,” he affirmed, underscoring the urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Citing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report issued last year and its warning that at current global warming trends the international community is destined to miss the Paris Agreement target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, he added:  “This clearly means that Tuvalu will be totally submerged within this century”.  Tuvalu could become uninhabitable in the next two to three decades.  While other Pacific islands may have a few decades longer, they all face “the near certainty of terminal inundation”, though their carbon emissions combined amount to less than 0.03 per cent of the world’s total.  “The existential threat we face is not of our making, but it will remake us,” he stressed.  “Tuvalu is an acid test of leadership; because if the international community allow an entire country to disappear from climate change, what hope will be possible for anyone else?”

In many places, water security is severely compromised, he said, pointing out that a rising ocean brings increasing storm frequency, intensity and devastation, and it compromises food security.  As the ocean warms and acidifies, the precious coral that supports the region’s tourism and nurtures its fish-stock perish and the cost of eking out an existence increases, pushing citizens to leave and the nation becomes increasingly inchoate.  “This is how a Pacific atoll dies.  This is how our islands will cease to exist.  This is not about some future scenario.  It is what we are living with now,” he said, stressing that there was still space for intervention and that collective inaction would make these sovereign countries uninhabitable.

Current international instruments such as the Convention on Statelessness, the United Nations efforts to address climate change, including the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, “say nothing” on the looming uninhabitability of these States.  On 22 September, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands launched the Rising Nations Initiative to foster awareness, legal framework and political commitment.  Stressing that “this is about sovereignty, dignity, and integrity”, he underlined the need for a global settlement to guarantee the permanent existence of island States, which must co-create and enact it together.

Such a settlement includes the protection of the island States’ rights to their land and ocean, safeguards their heritage and the relocation of its people.  “We do not seek to move out of our homeland.  We seek fair and amicable treatment of displaced people so we do not become a burden,” he added, asking they be not “fobbed off with a wasteland”.  While Tuvalu can continue to support itself economically, “a situation globally caused must also have a globally just and equitable solution”, he concluded, stressing that through no fault of their own, the Pacific peoples would soon have to abandon the oceans and urging for generosity of spirit, support, and justice that recognized their reality and grave concern on the potential eradication of their atoll nations.

ABDULLA SHAHID, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, in pressing the Assembly to reflect on a more just, resilient world, called for countries to address the climate.  For small island developing States, he explained, “the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is death.”  Recalling Maldives’ work on Human Rights Council resolution 7/23 of 2008, he reaffirmed his country’s continued advocacy for and leadership on a rights-based approach to climate action and announced Maldives’ candidacy for a Human Rights Council seat from 2023 to 2025.  If elected, Maldives will prioritize addressing climate change as an integral part of global human rights discourse.  At the national level, Maldives launched the Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the global goal on adaptation this year and will continue to pursue net-zero by 2030.  It also supports the global initiative to protect 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.  For countries to address the climate crisis, there must be sustainable, reliable financing.  Reminding partners of their pledges during the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and the agreements of the 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact, he urged partners to redouble adaptation finance, make access easier for all and make financing assessments fairer by utilizing alternative measures to GDP.  Maldives looks forward to the swift implementation of the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index.

Gender equality, he continued, must be at the forefront of the global agenda and stated “this injustice cannot continue.  We cannot solve the challenges facing all of humanity while half of humanity is denied their full potential.”  As women deserve an equal seat at the table, Maldives has allocated 33 per cent of its local council seats to women, appointed women as Supreme Court Justices and has half of its ambassadors as women.  In calling upon the international community to work harder in stopping conflicts and flagrant violations of international norms, he pleaded “the people of Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar, among other countries plunged into conflict and bloodshed, deserve peace.  They deserve an end to the ongoing tragedies upending their lives.  As do the people of Palestine.”  He reiterated Maldives’ position of a two-State solution based on pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine as the only meaningful solution for peace.  In advocating for addressing terrorism as a priority, he condemned terrorism in all its forms and confirmed Maldives’ commitment to combatting terrorism and violent ideologies.

Pointing out that “[the world] cannot apply old solutions to new challenges”, he called for a reform of the multilateral system to better equip the United Nations in meeting contemporary and future challenges.  He welcomed the resolution to establish the United Nations Youth Office and committed to constructive follow up on the Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda report.  The Security Council, he continued, must increase the number of permanent and non-permanent seats and ensure equitable geographic representation.  In welcoming the recent adoption of the veto initiative, he then expressed support for increasing the substantial role and moral authority of the General Assembly.

PENELOPE WONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, noted her country is home to people from over 300 different ancestries and to the oldest continuous culture on the planet.  The Parliament she serves in is enriched by diversity, with a Government determined to make real progress on the national journey of healing with Indigenous Australians, the First Peoples of that continent.  She cited Senator Patrick Dodson, the “Father of Reconciliation”, a Yawuru man from the remote north-west, tasked with responding to a call from First Nations people for a constitutionally enshrined voice to the Australian Parliament, as well as treaty and truth-telling.  She further noted the ambition of an Australian who helped shape the United Nations Charter, former foreign minister and the third President of the Assembly, Herbert Evatt.  At the 1945 San Francisco Conference, Mr. Evatt challenged the great powers who wanted a strong Security Council that had control over the Assembly.  He did not succeed in his fight against the great powers’ veto within the Council, but he did ensure that the Assembly has the ability to decide its own course — understanding that small- and medium-sized countries must be able to maintain their sovereign choices, protected by a stable framework of rules.

She expressed alarm that for the first time, the United Nations Human Development Index had declined for two consecutive years, in 2020 and 2021, with nearly half a billion women and girls now living in extreme poverty.  Further, over 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, 345 million people face acute food insecurity and 50 million people across 45 countries are on the brink of famine — a growing scale of human suffering that threatens untold global instability.  Australia is therefore increasing its contribution to development assistance by over $1 billion.  Turning to the environment, she noted that the world has experienced disasters and conflict in the past, but the intensity and confluence of today’s challenges are without precedent.  Within this decade, 83 per cent of Australia’s energy supply will be renewable and “Australia will be a renewable energy superpower,” she said.  The country is increasing its official development assistance (ODA) to the Pacific by over half a billion dollars, and an additional $470 million in development assistance in the Indo-Pacific.

The world cannot accept a situation where large countries determine the fate of smaller countries, she affirmed — which is why the Russian Federation’s illegal, immoral invasion of Ukraine cannot be normalized or minimized.  It is an assertion that a larger country is entitled to subjugate a smaller neighbour, to decide whether another country can even exist.  Council veto power was never intended to be used to enable unchecked abuse of the Charter — by the very countries that were given that veto.  Aside from terrible damage and loss of life in Ukraine, the invasion is propelling the global crisis in food and energy security, she said “small- and medium-sized nations like my own:  we are more than just supporting players in a grand drama of global geopolitics, on a stage dominated by great powers.”  Her delegation therefore seeks Council reform, with greater permanent representation for Africa, Latin America, and Asia, including India and Japan.  History teaches that “the alternative to what we have built here is conflict and chaos,” she stated.  Humanity has benefited from the multilateral system — from the rules that have underpinned an unequalled period of human development.  “Humanity will pay the price if we allow it to flounder,” she stressed.

SIMEÓN OYONO ESONO ANGUE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Equatorial Guinea, speaking on behalf of the country’s President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, noted that traditional conflicts and emerging challenges such as transnational crime, cybersecurity, biosecurity, climate change and piracy are increasingly prominent, urging countries immersed in current conflicts and all Governments that are directly or indirectly involved to prioritize dialogue and inclusive negotiations in a realistic, pragmatic way.  The African continent must remain a priority, he stressed, with financial commitments for Sustainable Development, along with financial support for peacekeeping to deal with terrorism, emigration, human trafficking, piracy and mercenaries.  The Heads of State and Government of the African Union held an extraordinary summit last May and a donors’ roundtable to provide the support necessary to face the current humanitarian challenges facing Africa, exacerbated by the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic and disasters across the continent.  In that context, he welcomed the initiative for global security presented by China.

His country is committed to promoting human rights with a wide range of national strategies and regulations.  Reiterating the need to reform the United Nations system, he specified the Council, whose structure represents one of the great injustices within Organization.  For more than 15 years, Africa has demanded that reform, assigning two permanent seats and two additional non-permanent seats in the Council.  He further called for the commercial, economic and financial embargo imposed against Cuba six decades ago to be lifted once and for all, as the country “deserves the opportunity to play its part on the world stage as a sovereign country”.

Central Africa remains deeply concerned by the persistent crisis caused by maritime piracy activities in the Gulf of Guinea, whose perpetrators are increasingly acquiring more sophisticated methods that allow them greater autonomy in the open sea, threatening the subregion.  Welcoming the recent resolution adopted by the Council urging the countries of the Gulf of Guinea to criminalize piracy and armed robbery at sea according to their national laws, he further called on them to investigate, prosecute or extradite the perpetrators of such crimes and those who incite, finance or facilitate them.  He called for a summit on the Gulf of Guinea, as has been done with the Gulf of Aden, to devise a strategy to stop all terrorist activities and attempts to threaten regional and international peace and security.

DOMINIQUE HASLER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, stressed that the act of aggression against Ukraine, which has been carried out with “complete disregard for the most basic rules of international law”, is a test to the international community’s resolve to stand up for the international order.  Underscoring the importance of holding the political and military leaders that initiated the aggression criminally accountable, she noted that addressing the crime of aggression is a powerful deterrent which helps defend the international order reflected in the Charter of the United Nations.

While affirming that the Organization has played a critical role in the current global challenges in humanitarian assistance, global public health, nuclear safety or food security, she said it “continues to disappoint,” especially in the maintenance of peace and security.  Recalling the veto initiative, which her country put forward to the Assembly and was adopted earlier this year, she underscored her country’s commitment to being part of the change required to have the Organization at the centre of this cause.  “The veto, indeed, is no longer the last word,” she said.  Highlighting that the international community had witnessed how impunity has led to even more serious atrocities and to crimes against humanity in countries such as Myanmar and Syria, she stressed that the war in Ukraine was the most recent illustration of this pattern.  She emphasized that this was an opportunity to support an International Criminal Court that does its work independently, across the globe, and fully in line with its founding treaty — the Rome Statute.

Turning to climate change, while stating that progress in the negotiations on this issue has been insufficient, she stressed that collective action through the framework of the Conference of the Parties remains instrumental.  She said her country is open to working with States that are also contemplating legal avenues to fight climate change.  “Protecting the planet and saving the livelihoods of future generations are the biggest challenges of our time, and the ultimate test of our ability to be truly ‘United Nations’,” she added.

ROBERT DUSSEY, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and Togolese Abroad for Togo, said that Africa has become the sanctuary of terrorist groups, as threats long confined to the Sahel spilled over into the western part of the continent.  That is why his country’s President continues to invest and mediate for peace, especially to end the crisis between Côte d'Ivoire and Mali.  Pointing to the recent terrorist attacks in the north of Togo, he added that the use of sophisticated means by the jihadists was a great concern to his delegation, welcoming the consensual adoption of the annual progress report of the Working Group on Digitalization in the context on international and national security and reaffirming its determination to drive criminals out of Togo’s borders.  Highlighting his country’s commitment to address cyberthreats, he welcomed efforts by the ad hoc committee for elaborating a comprehensive convention on countering the use of information and communications technology for criminal purposes and encouraged all stakeholders to establish this legal instrument.  Also on security, he affirmed the “important need to fully revise our Organization and spare no effort to achieve reform of the Security Council”.

Turning to the environment, he said:  “It is all the more concerning that climate change indiscriminately affects all countries, including non-polluting countries like Togo”.  He pointed to a series of programmes and commitments undertaken by his Government to build resilience, the sustainable management of his country’s resources, protect the ecosystem, combat desertification, and promote reforestation and clean energy.  Other mechanisms have been established to address other challenges, ranging from social protection to end’s discrimination against women and gender-based violence, including by fostering empowerment.

On Security Council reform, he asked States to work to make the body more reflective of present-day realities, which have changed profoundly since 1945.  Reiterating the need for the continent to secure two permanent seats in addition to two non-permanent seats for African States, he noted the reluctance of certain permanent Council members, indicating that some countries see Africa as “a purely instrumental entity for the services of their causes”.  When a resolution is under discussion, then Africa is “subject to pressure by both sides”.  As the continent increasingly speaks in a single voice, he emphasized that many African countries were no longer bound by colonial history and were keen to work with new partners, which should shift their approach.  “Africa expects more equality, respect, equity and justice in its relations and partnerships with other powers, regardless of who they may be,” he stressed.

AWATIF ALTIDJANI AHMED KOIBORO, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Chad, while stating that humankind is experiencing numerous unprecedented challenges, emphasized that the international community needed to continue to promote and strengthen multilateralism, which has real impact on peoples’ lives — particularly in poor countries — and not a “sham multilateralism” that boils down to hollow statements.  She underscored that any trend toward reducing ODA or other economic and financial initiatives is counterproductive, because it would risk further worsening the crises around the world.  Noting that debt continues to be too heavy a burden for developing countries, she reiterated her country’s support for appeals and initiatives to cancel or restructure debt for such countries.

On domestic issues, emphasizing that Chad’s political transition process since April 2021 is making satisfactory headway, she added that its Inclusive and Sovereign National Dialogue should lead to democratic, free and transparent elections.  All of Chad and its society was being represented in the Dialogue, she said, calling it a historic opportunity for Chadians to make decisions on reforms with full sovereignty.  The security situation in the Sahel is “just as worrisome as ever,” and continues to worsen due to institutional changes, climate change, a breakdown in military arrangements to tackle terrorist threats, unchecked illegal migration, and uncurbed forms of illegal trafficking.   She further stressed that terrorist activities in the Sahel are spreading to neighbouring regions such as West Africa and the Horn of Africa.  In this regard, while welcoming the initiative of the United Nations and the African Union to conduct a joint strategic assessment in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel), she expressed regret over Mali’s recent withdrawal from G5 Sahel.  “We will not be able to defeat terrorism without a common fight and without pooling our resources,” she added.

Concerning the situation in Libya, while noting that she is worried about that country’s political deadlock which led to the confrontations in Tripoli in August, she urged its political actors to favour dialogue to save the peace process and to implement the electoral calendar to which they had agreed.  She encouraged the international community, particularly the United Nations and the African Union, to foster political dialogue conducted by people in Libya.  On Cuba, she called for lifting of sanctions imposed by the United States, which continues to weigh heavily on its population.  Turning to the Security Council reform, she urged Member States to move from rhetoric to action, in order to make this reform a reality and correct the historical injustice toward the African continent.

Right of Reply

The representative of India, speaking in exercise of the right of reply to “the false accusations” by Pakistan, expressed regret over the misuse of the United Nations platform to obfuscate misdeeds in Pakistan and justify unacceptable actions against India.  A polity claiming peace, he noted, would never sponsor cross-border terrorism, shelter planners of the Mumbai terrorist attack, make unjustified territorial claims, covet their lands and seek illegal integration.

Adding that the false claims also concern human rights, minority rights and basic decencies, he questioned the mindset underlying the abduction of young women from minority communities.  While the desire for peace, security and progress on the Indian subcontinent is real and widely shared, he continued, it can only be realized when cross-border terrorism ceases, Governments “come clean with the international community and with their own people”, minorities are not persecuted and these realities are recognized before the Assembly.

The representative of Türkiye, responding to the statement made by Greece’s representative, said that the same was yet another example of distorted facts and a hostile narrative against his country.  Türkiye supports sanctions mandated by the Security Council, and it is a double standard for Greece to make accusations while it circumvents other sanctions through the practice of tanker-to-tanker oil-transfer operations.  Stressing that his country does not challenge Greece’s territorial integrity, he called on that country to participate in meaningful dialogue to address all legal disputes concerning the Aegean Sea.  Current negative bilateral relations between the two countries results from Greece’s deliberate choice of provocative action and escalatory rhetoric over cooperation and good neighbourliness.  He went on to note that Greece’s degrading treatment of migrants in the Aegean Sea is well-documented, urging that country to cease its inhumane pushback practices.  He added that Türkiye would continue to support the Cypriot people in their inherent right to sovereign equality and equal international status.

The representative of Pakistan, responding to the statement made by India’s delegate, drew attention to the reality of state-sponsored terrorism experienced by the people in Jammu and Kashmir.  India was a sponsor and perpetrator of terrorism and aggression, she said, citing unilateral, illegal and oppressive actions which include extrajudicial killings, artificial demographic change, gerrymandered elections and curtailed religious freedom, media and Internet.  Last year presented concrete evidence of massive human rights violations, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide being perpetrated by Indian occupation forces with impunity, she said, expressing fear that the discoveries since 1989 were only “but the tip of the iceberg.”

She referenced two reports of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and the description by several special procedures and mandate holders of the human rights situation as a “freefall.”  Noting India’s “witch hunt” against those who report crimes, she called upon that country to grant human rights mechanisms access to the occupied territories, accept a United Nations inquiry commission and implement the relevant Security Council resolutions on the right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir.  The pandemic of Islamophobia, she said, has “penetrated into the very foundation of the Indian state” and pointed to the persecution of other minorities including Christians, Sikhs and Dalits.  Emphasizing that the will and courage of the Kashmiri people cannot be broken, she urged India to “reflect upon the deeply troubling trajectory their state has embarked upon rather than deploying weapons of mass disinformation against Pakistan.”

For information media. Not an official record.