Humanity Must Act Urgently to Avert Total Global Catastrophe, Secretary-General Warns General Assembly, Outlining 2023 Priorities for United Nations
Transformative Change Key to Tackling Multilevel Crises, Delegates
Say as Climate Crisis, Developing Countries’ Struggles Top List of Concerns
With the so-called “Doomsday Clock” at 90 seconds from midnight — or total global catastrophe — amid a host of multilevel global crises, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres laid out his critical priorities for 2023 to the General Assembly today, urging Member States to seize the moment and act before it is too late.
After expressing his condolences to the people of Türkiye and Syria, noting the United Nations is mobilizing a humanitarian response to the earthquakes there, the Secretary-General presented his annual report on the work of the Organization (document A/77/1), stressing that the clock now affirms humanity is near its darkest hour, closer than even during the height of the cold war. “We need to wake up — and get to work,” he urged, with the Assembly acting in systemic, transformational ways.
Spotlighting strife-torn areas around the world, he said the Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine is inflicting untold suffering on the Ukrainian people, with profound global implications. The world needs peace — in Palestine and Israel, Afghanistan, the Sahel, Myanmar, Haiti and elsewhere — for the 2 billion people in countries affected by conflict and humanitarian crises. With many of its peacekeeping missions under-resourced and under attack, the United Nations will increase its commitment to reform through the Action for Peacekeeping+ initiative. Imploring nuclear-armed countries to renounce any use of these unconscionable weapons, he also said the New Agenda for Peace must include international bans on cyberattacks on civilian infrastructure and internationally agreed limits on lethal autonomous weapons systems.
Turning to poverty, he noted that developing countries are forced to pay five times more in borrowing costs than advanced economies, and the richest 1 per cent have captured almost half of all new wealth over the past decade. The global financial architecture needs radical transformation, he stressed, with a new commitment to place developing countries’ dramatic needs at the centre of the global financial system and a new debt architecture that encompasses debt relief and restructuring to vulnerable nations.
On climate, he warned the world is at immediate risk of hurtling past the 1.5ºC temperature increase limit and is moving towards a deadly 2.8ºC. With “humanity taking a sledgehammer to our world’s rich biodiversity” and “vampiric overconsumption draining the lifeblood of our planet — water”, he called for game-changing action: halving global emissions this decade. Developed countries must make good on the $100 billion promised to developing countries, deliver on the loss and damage fund agreed in Sharm El-Sheikh and double adaptation funding. Citing a Climate Ambition Summit on the pathway to the upcoming Twenty-Eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December, he stressed that if Governments, business or civil society cannot show accelerated action in this decade, “please don’t show up”.
Shedding light on the state of human rights worldwide, he noted that antisemitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, the persecution of Christians, racism and white supremacist ideology are on the march — while many other vulnerable minority communities are increasingly targeted for hate, online and off. “Stop the hate,” he urged. On gender equality, he said that half of humanity is held back by widespread human rights abuse. Women and girls in Afghanistan have every aspect of their lives controlled by men. At the current rate, it could take 286 years for women to achieve the same legal status as men. He noted he commissioned an independent review of the United Nations capacity around gender equality across all pillars of its work.
Further, human rights activists are targeted for harassment, and the number of journalists and media workers killed last year skyrocketed by 50 per cent. He pointed to next year’s Summit of the Future, as “there is no greater constituency to champion that future than young people”. Stressing the ultimate priority — a safer, more peaceful, more sustainable world — he called for decisive action before it is too late, as “the clock is ticking”.
Likewise, Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary) said the international community must act in a crisis management mood and assume full responsibility for all consequences of its actions or inactions. This is a watershed moment in history, and a business-as-usual approach will not produce the necessary solutions. The Secretary-General’s annual report aligns with Assembly priorities, particularly preparations for the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September, the Summit of the Future in 2024, and the United Nations Water Conference in 2023. Urging all United Nations bodies to bring about the transformational change that is expected by its 8 billion stakeholders, he spotlighted the veto initiative as a master class on the importance of the Assembly’s work.
In the ensuing debate, delegates universally expressed condolences to the people of Türkiye and Syria, going on to echo the Secretary-General’s warnings on the multilevel and interlocking crises threatening peace and security, food security and any prospects for development. Others voiced serious concern over enduring financing gaps between developed and developing countries, as well as the triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
The representative of Malawi, speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, stressed that those States are facing the cascading impacts of multiple and mutually exacerbating crises driven by issues including climate change and rising geopolitical tensions. She called upon development partners to come forward by showing solidarity and not austerity. The Sustainable Development Goal Summit and the Summit of the Future should bring about transformative changes in the lives and livelihoods of the 1.1 billion people in least developed countries, she insisted.
South Africa’s delegate recalled that, while the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have largely abated for many, its disproportionate impact on developing countries remains and the distribution of vaccines continues to be unequal and inadequate. He warned about an increase in military spending to a staggering $2.1 trillion — the highest level since the cold war — and called for Council reform. On climate action, he urged efforts to prioritize the Global Goal on Adaptation, respond to loss and damage and set new goals for financial support to developing countries.
The speaker for Sri Lanka — spotlighting the lack of debt restructuring, development and climate finance for these countries — noted they remain in a state of development and are waiting for the day when they can rear their heads, breathe free and tell themselves that they can now live in peace and dignity. The failure of the United Nations system to deliver is not an intrinsic weakness, he said, but attributable to Member States which pay lip service to its ideals and yet conduct their activity with impunity and crass disregard for the United Nations Charter.
In another register, the Russian Federation’s representative spotlighted the attempts by a number of States to impose the “right of the might” and replace universal norms of international law with a rules-based world order tailored to geopolitical interests. The United Nations is unable to fulfil its task, she said, citing the deep split in the Assembly and the Council. The politicization of aid by donor countries in Afghanistan, Cuba, Syria and Myanmar was unacceptable and immoral, and the current food crisis — whose roots preceded the events of 2022 — is being worsened by the unilateral actions of Western countries.
Syria’s representative, thanking delegations for their expressions of condolence, requested the lifting of all restrictions imposed as part of unilateral coercive measures, which constitute major obstacles to emergency aid. He joined others in supporting the right to development and citing an “immense gap” between developed and developing countries, underlined the importance of the principles of national sovereignty — noting that exclusionary policies, including sanctions by the United States and other countries, undermine peace and security.
In other business, the Assembly adopted a text, introduced by Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, proclaiming 17 February as Global Tourism Resilience Day, as well as a draft decision accrediting the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, and invited it to participate as an observer in the work of the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries Conference.
The Assembly took note of two letters addressed to its President informing that, since the issuance of his 17 January letter, Dominica and Equatorial Guinea have respectively made the payment necessary to reduce arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of United Nations Charter.
Also speaking were the representatives of Malaysia, Liechtenstein, Pakistan, Japan, Belarus, Côte d’Ivoire, Qatar, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Papua New Guinea, Kazakhstan, India and Kiribati.
The representative of Pakistan spoke in right of reply.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Assembly observed one minute of silence for those in Türkiye and Syria affected by the earthquakes.
Scale of Assessments for Apportionment of United Nations Expenses
Opening the meeting, the General Assembly took note of two letters addressed to its President from the Secretary-General — dated 25 January (document A/77/702/Add.1) and 3 February (document A/77/702/Add.2) - informing the Assembly that, since the issuance of his 17 January letter (document A/77/702), Dominica and Equatorial Guinea have respectively made the payment necessary to reduce arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations.
Report of Secretary-General on Work of Organization
CSABA KŐRÖSI (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, stressing that the international community is in a watershed moment of history, pointed out that a business-as-usual approach — even with the best intentions — will not take the world to the necessary solutions. The Assembly must think and act in a crisis management mood; seek ways for transformation; be focused, pragmatic and impact-oriented, and assume full responsibility for all consequences of its actions or inactions, he said. “History will not offer today’s moment again,” he warned. “Any late reaction, any hesitation and any missing of the strategic focuses would come with an increased price.”
The Secretary-General’s report aligns coherently with the Assembly’s priorities, he continued before noting that the organ has embarked on 16 negotiation processes aimed at transformation across several of the Secretary-General’s priorities. Chief among them are preparations for the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September — the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — and the efforts to shape the Summit of the Future in 2024. The United Nations Water Conference in 2023, he further noted, is a critical opportunity to move towards proactive and sustainable water management for all, a “Paris moment” of water actions that the world can achieve if it builds on real gamechangers. As the international community embarks on such efforts, it must view these processes holistically with a full understanding of how the Secretary-General’s priority areas are both interconnected and interrelated, he insisted.
He then cautioned that failing to pave the way for economic growth and sustainable development will have a direct bearing on prospects for international peace and security. To achieve the desired transformative change, the international community will have to refresh its thinking on development, go beyond gross domestic product (GDP) and utilize science’s evidence and methodology to shape decisions. Urging all United Nations bodies to work in sync to bring about the transformational change that is expected by its 8 billion stakeholders, he spotlighted the veto initiative for offering a master class on the importance of the Assembly’s work and for opening the door for greater collaboration and accountability across the system to deliver solutions. “It is now on us to manage and prevent crises, build solidarity and pursue solutions at national, regional and global levels, anchored in the universality of human rights, that lay a solid foundation for sustainable and transformative change,” he stressed.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, expressed his condolences to the people of Türkiye and Syria, noting the United Nations is mobilizing a humanitarian response to the earthquakes there. Turning to his agenda, he cited the “so-called Doomsday Clock”, created 75 years ago by atomic scientists including Albert Einstein — which measures humanity’s proximity to midnight or self-destruction. In 2023, they surveyed the state of the world — the Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine, runaway climate catastrophe, rising nuclear threats and undermining of global norms and institutions — and concluded that the clock is now 90 seconds to midnight, or total global catastrophe: the closest ever to humanity’s darkest hour, closer than even during the height of the cold war. “We need to wake up — and get to work,” he stressed.
Given multiple crises, the current path is a dead-end requiring course correction, he said, but “the good news is that we know how to turn things around” on climate, finance, and conflict resolution. Politicians and decision makers are hobbled by a bias in political and business life to cling to power. The near-term thinking that “the future is someone else’s problem” is immoral and self-defeating. The Assembly must act in deep, systemic ways, driving a transformation grounded in everything that guides its work. Looking at human rights in the broadest sense, he cited “a road map out of the dead end”. The Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine is inflicting untold suffering on the Ukrainian people, with profound global implications, and he voiced fear that the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war — “it is doing so with its eyes wide open”. The world needs peace, including in Palestine and Israel, where the two-State solution is growing more distant by the day; in Afghanistan, where the rights of women and girls are being trampled; in the Sahel, where security is deteriorating at an alarming rate; and in Myanmar, Haiti, and elsewhere for the 2 billion people who live in countries affected by conflict and humanitarian crises.
He called for a holistic view of the peace continuum that identifies root causes, investing in prevention to avoid conflicts in the first place. The New Agenda for Peace must seek to address all threats. With many of its peacekeeping missions under-resourced and under attack, the Organization will increase its commitment to reform through the Action for Peacekeeping+ initiative. But the New Agenda for Peace must recognize the need for a new generation of peace enforcement missions and counter-terrorist operations, led by regional forces, with a Security Council mandate under Chapter VII, and with guaranteed, predictable funding. Nuclear-armed countries must renounce the first and any use of these unconscionable weapons, he warned. The world is at the highest risk in decades of a nuclear war and it must end the threat posed by 13,000 nuclear weapons held in arsenals worldwide. The Agenda for Peace must further include international bans on cyberattacks on civilian infrastructure, and internationally agreed limits on lethal autonomous weapons systems, with human agency preserved at all costs.
On poverty, he noted that when developing countries are forced to pay five times more in borrowing costs than advanced economies and the richest 1 per cent have captured almost half of all new wealth over the past decade, something is fundamentally wrong with the economic and financial system. The global financial architecture is failing and needs radical transformation, and it is time for a new Bretton Woods moment: a new commitment to place the dramatic needs of developing countries at the centre of the global financial system, and a new debt architecture that encompasses debt relief and restructuring to vulnerable countries. Multilateral development banks must massively leverage their funds to attract greater flows of private capital to help developing countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Citing the Sustainable Development Goals Summit, he urged the Group of Twenty (G20) countries to agree on the global Sustainable Development Goal Stimulus to support countries of the Global South.
On climate, he stressed the world is at immediate risk of hurtling past the 1.5ºC temperature increase limit and is moving towards a deadly 2.8ºC. With “humanity taking a sledgehammer to our world’s rich biodiversity” and “vampiric overconsumption draining the lifeblood of our planet — water”, he called for game-changing climate action, ending greenwashing and the bottomless greed of the fossil fuel industry, with a focus on two urgent priorities: halving global emissions this decade and achieving climate justice. By September, all businesses, cities, regions and financial institutions that took a 2050 net zero pledge should present their transition plans with credible and ambitious targets for 2025 and 2030. If fossil fuel producers and their enablers scrambling to expand production and raking in monster profits cannot set a credible course for net-zero, he stressed, “you should not be in business”.
Developed countries must at minimum deliver on commitments and make good on the $100 billion promised to developing countries, deliver on the loss and damage fund agreed in Sharm El-Sheikh and double adaptation funding. In September, he will convene a Climate Ambition Summit on the pathway to the Twenty-Eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December — however, if Governments, business or civil society cannot show accelerated action in this decade, “please don’t show up”, he stated. Action on oceans means new partnerships and tougher efforts to tackle marine pollution, end overfishing and safeguard marine biodiversity, and the Water Summit in March must result in a bold Water Action Agenda that gives the world’s lifeblood the commitment it deserves.
Calling for respect for diversity and the universality of cultural rights, he noted those rights become meaningless if one culture or group is elevated over another. Antisemitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, the persecution of Christians, racism and white supremacist ideology are on the march, while ethnic and religious minorities, refugees, migrants, Indigenous people and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex-plus community are increasingly targeted for hate, online and off. He called for action from everyone with influence on the spread of mis- and disinformation on the Internet. “Stop the hate. Set up strong guardrails,” he urged.
While gender equality is both a fundamental human right and a solution to some of the greatest global challenges, half of humanity is held back by widespread human rights abuse. Women and girls in Afghanistan are exiles in their own country, with every aspect of their lives controlled by men. “As one young woman said: ‘We are dead, and yet alive’,” he observed, stressing that gender discrimination is global and chronic, with less than one quarter of countries having reached gender parity in upper secondary education. At the current rate, it could take 286 years for women to achieve the same legal status as men, and some Governments are opposing even the inclusion of a gender perspective in multilateral negotiations. He said he is frequently confronted with all-male panels — so-called “manels” — on issues that affect women and girls just as much as men and boys. These should be banned. He said he commissioned an independent review of the United Nations capacity around gender equality across all pillars of its work, and will double down on support for measures including quotas to close gaps in women’s representation, from elections to board rooms and peace tables.
While freedom of expression and participation in political life are crucial, he noted they are under threat as democracy is in retreat in many parts of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic was used as cover for a pandemic of civil and political rights violations, human rights activists are targeted for harassment, and the number of journalists and media workers killed last year skyrocketed by 50 per cent. He cited efforts to help realize his Call to Action for Human Rights, through stronger support for laws and policies that protect the right to participation and the right to freedom of expression, including a free and independent media. Addressing future generations that are “barely an afterthought”, he pointed to next year’s Summit of the Future, as “there is no greater constituency to champion that future than young people.” Stressing that “a rights-rooted approach is central to achieving our ultimate priority: a safer, more peaceful, more sustainable world”, he called for decisive action before it is too late, as “the clock is ticking”.
AGNES MARY CHIMBIRI MOLANDE (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and aligning herself with the statement delivered by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China during the informal part of the meeting, stressed that 2023 is a critical year for the international community. Least developed countries, she noted, are facing the cascading impacts of multiple and mutually exacerbating crises related to the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, devastating impacts of climate change and rising geopolitical tensions. High inflation, serious supply chain disruptions and high food and energy prices are affecting these countries seriously and disproportionately while putting the 2030 Agenda at great risk. With least developed countries needing international support more than ever before, she called upon development partners to come forward by showing solidarity and not austerity. As a key partner to these countries, the United Nations development system must have increased support to enable them to deliver scaled-up support for them and for other vulnerable countries, she added.
Turning her attention to upcoming conferences and events, she underscored the need for firm commitment and support from the Secretary-General and the Organization’s membership on the timely implementation of the Doha Programme of Action. Holding a principals’ meeting at the upcoming fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Doha will be crucial to ensure the full engagement of the United Nations system, she said as she welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts in that regard and voiced her support for his “Our Common Agenda” proposals and recommendations. The Sustainable Development Goal Summit in 2023 and the Summit of the Future in 2024 should bring about transformative changes in the lives and livelihoods of 1.1 billion people of least developed countries through renewed and reinvigorated development partnerships, she insisted.
YASEEN LAGARDIEN (South Africa) said that, while the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have largely abated for many, its disproportionate impact on developing countries remains and the distribution of vaccines continues to be unequal and inadequate. “Solidarity is needed to address these impacts as they undermine the attainment of the [Sustainable Development Goals],” he said, spotlighting such initiatives as the COVID-19 tools Accelerator (ACT-A), which was co-chaired by President Ramaphosa of South Africa. He voiced concern, against that backdrop, over an increase in military spending to a staggering $2.1 trillion — the highest level since the cold war — and underscored the importance of reforming the Security Council to address heightened geopolitical tensions. The New Agenda for Peace must chart a path forward on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, he said, also calling for more synergies between the 2030 Agenda and Africa’s Agenda 2063. Meanwhile, on climate action, he urged efforts to prioritize the Global Goal on Adaptation, respond to loss and damage and set new goals for financial support to developing countries. South Africa also remains deeply concerned by the slow fulfilment of nuclear disarmament commitments, and by the second consecutive failure of the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
NORDIANA BINTI ZIN ZAWAWI (Malaysia), aligning herself with the statement delivered by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during the informal part of the meeting, emphasized that the Secretary-General’s report reflects the Organization’s centrality in the maintenance of international peace and security. She called on the international community to support the close engagement between the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar and ASEAN and voiced her hope that the same impetus can be given towards finding a just and peaceful solution to the Palestinian conflict. The Organization was established not to serve certain regions only but rather all of humanity, she underscored, adding that “we are far from living up to the ideals enshrined in the Charter”. She then pledged her Government’s continued alignment of its development priorities with the Global Goals, reaffirmed its commitment towards nuclear disarmament and reiterated its stance on reforming the United Nations to be more inclusive, transparent and accountable, including through adequate funding and resources for the Secretariat.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) expressed regret that there was nothing interactive about the morning’s informal meeting. Citing a deep and interlocking network of crises, he emphasized the importance of keeping the triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution at the centre of the Assembly’s work. The Security Council’s collective failure to pass a thematic resolution on climate change and security is not a good sign; however, he noted the Assembly adopted a resolution in 2022 on the human right to a clean, safe environment. Turning to the Russian Federation’s aggression on Ukraine — the backdrop of much of the work of the past year — he stressed it has challenged the ability of the United Nations to respond to that brazen violation of the Charter. However, the Assembly spoke on the matter with a clear, collective voice. While commending the Secretary-General for the Black Sea Initiative, he stressed that the aggression’s impact on food security, disarmament and nuclear security has seriously undermined progress towards the 2030 Agenda. He expressed regret that an aggressor can veto any Council response, which short-circuits the principle of collective responsibility on which the organization is meant to function. The Assembly’s veto initiative of April 2022 is therefore a decision of crucial relevance — if its potential is used to the fullest, including through additional steps.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) welcomed that the Secretary-General’s report now covers a range of new and emerging challenges facing the international community, including the climate crisis, escalating tensions between major powers, spiralling inflation, high debt levels and slowing economic growth. The current threats to peace and security emanate mainly from the violations of the United Nations Charter’s core principle requiring the non-use or threat of use of force, as well as deprivation of people’s right to self-determination. That volatile environment is further exacerbated by a rising tide of xenophobia and hate, while climate change has added another layer to those crises. Against that backdrop, he called for efforts to ensure consistent and universal respect for the core principles of the United Nations Charter, Security Council resolutions and international law. Emphasizing that those must be equitably considered in the Security Council and - when that is not possible, in the General Assembly — he also voiced concern over proliferating restrictions on trade, with devastating consequences for developing countries. Meanwhile, global efforts to eliminate terrorism have fallen short, and more attention is needed to the rising tide of right-wing extremism, neofascism, hate speech and intolerance. Efforts are also needed to address State terrorism and State-sponsored terrorism, to ensure human rights protections while fighting terrorism, and to avoid language that conflates terrorism with any particular religion. Finally, he said, the right to self-determination has not yet been achieved for all people — certainly not for the people of Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir.
SHINO MITSUKO (Japan), emphasizing the imperative to restore the Organization’s credibility, urged all Member States to return to the visions and principles of the Charter, unite for the rule of law and break away from rule by force. It is also important to build a resilient society through human security by investing in people, she continued before spotlighting her Government’s work and stressing that empowered people will be the best contributor to achieving and sustaining peace and development. She then called on the international community to renew its commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation; maintain and strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; and deepen its discussions on addressing new challenges in the fields of emerging technologies, cyberspace and other spaces. There is also an urgent need to strengthen the Organization as a whole — including through reforming the Council and reinforcing the role of the Assembly, Secretary-General, Peacebuilding Commission and other bodies — and make it more relevant to the needs of the times, she added.
PAVEL EVSEENKO (Belarus) underscored that the efforts to restore sustainable development in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic are only possible through a properly functioning multilateral system and coordination with national Governments. In agreeing that the United Nations development system needs sufficient and predictable funding, he voiced concern over the emerging trend towards a decrease in the financing of the regular budgets of the Organization’s development agencies, the failure of donor countries to fulfil their obligations and the politicization of certain fora. This not only affects countries individually but also the overall achievement of the Global Goals as it contradicts the core principle to leave no one behind, he underlined. He then spotlighted the Organization’s work and contributions to special political missions, the armed conflict in Ukraine, humanitarian responses, nuclear non-proliferation and counter-terrorism, to name a few. This important work however is only a part of the Organization’s vast potential whose efforts can and should be more effective in the face of contemporary challenges, he pointed out.
GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the African Group and Group of 77 and China, echoed warnings over the resurgence of geopolitical tensions, the expansion of terrorism and violent extremism, and the risk of the use of weapons of mass destruction. He called on Member States to implement their commitments, particularly with regard to financing climate action and sustainable development, further urging reform of global financial governance, particularly the initiative aimed at promoting effective international cooperation in fiscal matters to help developing States mobilize domestic revenue to finance development programmes. The international community must intensify efforts and pool resources to curb the expansion of terrorism in the Sahel and in West Africa — a scourge that threatens international security and hampers States’ development. He reaffirmed his country’s attachment to multilateralism and commitment to working with the Secretary-General and all stakeholders to meet the multifaceted challenges that seriously affect the ideal of safeguarding the planet and building a world of peace, prosperity and progress.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria), thanking delegations for their expressions of condolence to his country for the devastating earthquake that took place at dawn today, said his Government has mobilized to support all those affected. Requesting support from multilateral partners, he asked in particular for the lifting of all restrictions imposed as part of unilateral coercive measures, which constitute major obstacles to emergency aid. Turning to the work of the Organization, he joined others in voicing support for the right to development and citing an “immense gap” between developed and developing countries, which is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today. He underlined the importance of respecting the principles of national sovereignty, noting that some countries continue to pursue exclusionary policies — including sanctions — which undermine peace and security and pose a serious threat to development. For example, the United States and other countries continue to impose sanctions against his country, which have only exacerbated the suffering of the Syrian people. Regarding the fight against terrorism, he said many States remain hesitant to repatriate foreign fighters who are nationals of their countries. Meanwhile, terrorism is being used as a pretext to justify the presence of the international coalition led by the United States in Syria, he said, also rejecting any politicization of humanitarian aid.
SHARIFA YOUSEF A. S. ALNESF (Qatar) said the Secretary-General’s report clearly shows the outcomes of the Organization’s activities in the priority areas of sustained economic and sustainable development, peace and security, development in Africa, promotion and protection of human rights, effectiveness of coordinated humanitarian assistance, promotion of justice and disarmament, among others. She then welcomed his efforts to set out strategies for a new generation of resources for the United Nations in the twenty-first century. Despite the challenges linked to the pandemic and deep-seated and interlinked crises, the international community can make advances under the Secretary-General’s leadership, she stressed, as she reiterated her country’s support to his actions within the context of Our Common Agenda. Such actions are necessary to achieve a more equitable, flexible and sustainable world by 2030, she underscored.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) spotlighted the attempts by a number of States to preserve the unipolar world order by all means, conduct dialogue from a position of superiority, impose the “right of the might” and replace universal norms of international law with a rules-based world order and multilateral mechanisms with clubs of countries tailored to their geopolitical interests. Against this serious test of sustainability and effectiveness, the United Nations is unable to fulfil its task, she said as she offered the deep split in the Assembly and the Council and commonplace provocative actions regarding the security interests of other stakeholders as examples. On the Our Common Agenda report, she stressed the need for an incremental and intergovernmental discussion on that report’s initiatives and underlined the need to avoid overlaps and duplication while preventing the substitution of Member State-mandated processes. She also urged developed countries to increase their financial support to the Organization’s development system through the regular budgets of its agencies and called for the progressive implementation of climate commitments. Regarding the Organization’s humanitarian responses, she said that the politicization of aid by donor countries in Afghanistan, Cuba, Syria and Myanmar, to name a few, was unacceptable and immoral; drew attention to the lack of results and the report’s silence on the normalization of her country’s agricultural products and fertilizers; and pointed out that the current food crisis — whose roots preceded the events of 2022 — is being worsened by the unilateral actions of Western countries. The only way out of the current global crisis is through multilateralism and the construction of a truly multipolar world, she stressed, calling for the United Nations to focus not on symptoms but rather the elimination of the root causes of crisis within international affairs.
CARLOS EFRAÍN SEGURA ARAGÓN (El Salvador) called for innovations and adjustments in the global financial architecture, from access to resources for development, urging Member States to show solidarity and international cooperation beyond rhetoric, helping to build capacity and transfer technology. The international financial system must recognize the challenges faced by developing States including middle-income countries like El Salvador, providing access to concessional resources and favourable terms, looking beyond per capita calculations. On the arms threat, he called for strengthening international systems on nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms, which must go hand-in-hand with full disarmament, and to further address small arms and light weapons and their ammunition. The full participation of women in decision-making is crucial to maintaining international peace and security. As a troop- and police-contributing country, El Salvador supports all United Nations efforts in that domain, and he further urged Member States to work towards revitalizing the work of the Assembly during the session.
MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said poverty, inequality, climate change, migration and the global refugee crisis — as well as natural and manmade disasters — continue to threaten global efforts to attain sustainable development. Those crises have worsened structural vulnerabilities of the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, eroding their prospects of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and achieving the 2030 Agenda. Praising the Secretary-General’s calls to reform the international financial architecture to ensure adequate concessional financing for the most vulnerable economies, he also encouraged enhanced collaboration between the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other institutions for that purpose. He welcomed the convening of the Sustainable Development Investment Fair to scale up long-term finance and investment in developing countries and better align the finance and investment ecosystem with the Sustainable Development Goals, stressing that developed countries must fulfil their official development assistance (ODA) and climate commitments. Among other priorities, he also welcomed progress on the development of a Global Digital Compact to bridge the digital divide, calling for more action on that front, and urged more United Nations efforts to find a lasting solution to the Rohingya displacement crisis, noting that Bangladesh has long hosted over a million Rohingya minorities who fled Myanmar in the face of mass atrocities and persecution.
TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the cornerstone of all efforts “is, and must remain, the State”, and that respect for the sovereignty and integrity of the same is crucial for preventing conflicts; restoring and maintaining peace; building bonds of peaceful mutual benefit among nations; enhancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; protecting human security; and promoting sustainable socioeconomic development. He also said that the United Nations must continue mobilizing the world against racism and confronting hate speech, disinformation and incitement to fragmentation, violence and extremism. Further, providing support to States affected by conflict and to those engaged in post-conflict peacebuilding, reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration is, and must remain, a critical commitment of the entire United Nations system. Azerbaijan’s experience of nearly 30 years of illegal occupation of its sovereign territories by Armenia illustrates the need to do more to prevent and resolve conflicts, ensure respect for State sovereignty and territorial integrity, confront hatred, and build and sustain peace. Detailing the consequences of the aggression against his country, he went on to state that the legal name of the area of Azerbaijan that Armenia’s representative earlier referred to as “Nagorno-Karabakh” is now the “Karabakh Economic Region”. Additionally, Armenia’s claims of a closure or blockade of the Lachin-Khankandi road are false, and he urged the international community to support bilateral and result-oriented talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan based on agreed principles and commitments.
FRED SARUFA (Papua New Guinea), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the statement delivered by the Alliance of Small Island States during the informal part of the meeting, said the Secretary-General’s report is a timely call to all nations, rich or poor, weak or strong, small or large, to do their part in good faith. Humanity stands at a critical juncture, he said, noting the shared global challenges posed by COVID-19 and other diseases, climate change, financial crises, rising inequality and increasing mistrust in Government. Expressing appreciation to the United Nations system in his country for its pragmatic and constructive contributions to many priority areas of sustainable development, he highlighted its work in health, education, human rights, good governance, disaster risk reduction and post-conflict peacebuilding in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Reaffirming commitment to maintaining global peace and security, he recalled Papua New Guinea’s experience as a post-conflict country. Echoing the Secretary-General’s call to overhaul the unfair and unjust global financial and economic architecture, he said it is not adequately set up to address the compounding global challenges. Small island developing States’ efforts over the last three decades for a multidimensional vulnerability index are an example of such a shortcoming, he said.
RUSLAN BULTRIKOV (Kazakhstan), while acknowledging the Secretary-General’s achievements, said that stark financial shortfalls in every area call for the “solidarity of burden-sharing” and multilateral action from all stakeholders. Supporting the Organization’s wider paradigms of human security, resilience, sustainable infrastructure and long-term crisis protection to complement social protection, he said that the Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda and the “New Agenda for Peace” serve as Kazakhstan’s compass in deciding its priorities. In that vein, he called for disarmament, implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, peace mediation for Syria and enlarged peacekeeping deployments with special units. Also high on Kazakhstan’s agenda are food, energy and water security; climate change; countering terrorism, crime and extremism; human rights; and the empowerment of women, youth and other vulnerable groups. He went on to propose that a United Nations regional centre for the Sustainable Development Goals for Central Asia and Afghanistan be established in Almaty to integrate development, humanitarian aid and social-justice efforts in the region and, thereby, contribute to global security.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka) urged all to give the precious commodity of peace primacy of place. The failure of the United Nations system to deliver is not an intrinsic weakness in the system itself but rather, to a large measure, attributable to Member States which pay lip service to the ideals of the Organization and conduct their activity with impunity and crass disregard to the Charter and its spirit, he said. Spotlighting a number of issues affecting developing countries, including the lethargy in debt restructuring and lack of development and climate finance, he pointed out that those countries continue to remain in a state of development and are waiting for the day when they can rear their heads, breathe free and tell themselves that they can now live in peace and dignity. “It has been a long wait, my dear friends, without any silver lining to a rainbow that has been looming over our skies from time immemorial,” he emphasized before voicing his prayers that the Secretary-General will continue to be their voice in the global cry to address the challenges they face.
RAJESH PARIHAR (India), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, noted he was constrained to respond to frivolous remarks made by the representative of Pakistan against his country — which deserve sympathy for the mindset displayed. In setting the record straight, he stated that the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were, are and will always be an integral an inalienable part of India. The delegation of Pakistan harbors a deep sense of insecurity and an orchestrated hatred for India and its secular credentials and values.
JOSEPHINE MOOTE (Kiribati) welcomed the Organization’s support of small island developing States, pointing out that critical socioeconomic vulnerabilities, environmental degradation and, recently, the COVID-19 pandemic have converged to make the Pacific a “disaster hotspot”. Against that backdrop, she supported proposals to strengthen capacity and resilience programmes, mobilize investment in sustainable infrastructure systems and combat inequality in all its forms. Noting a “shift in the wind” regarding the recognition of climate change, she underlined the need for accelerated global climate action and full implementation of agreements made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Further, Kiribati calls on its partners to support and find additional resources for mitigation, adaptation and loss-and-damage measures to ensure that climate change does not erode collective chances to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. She went on to state that a peaceful planet requires members of the United Nations family to respect one another, stressing that sovereignty and territorial integrity remain fundamental to regional and global peace and security. Adding that her country’s experience as a nuclear-testing site illustrates that eliminating nuclear weapons is critical to sustaining peace, she underscored that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons must be an element of the “New Agenda for Peace”.
Right of Reply
The representative of Pakistan, speaking in exercise of her right of reply in response to her Indian counterpart’s reference to Jammu and Kashmir, stressed that the repetition of a wrong position does not make it acceptable. The right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination has been recognized and promised to them by the Council through its resolutions, she reminded before highlighting India’s efforts to prevent the exercise of this right through force and fraud. That country has imprisoned the entire Kashmiri leadership, illegally detained Kashmiri youth, executed young boys, violently put down protests and burned down entire neighbourhoods and villages. Although India has also deployed close to 900,000 security forces to Jammu and Kashmir, making it the most militarized zone in the world, such measures only strengthen the resolve and resilience of the Kashmiri people, she stressed. She then pledged that Pakistan will continue to expose Indian brutality and inform the international community of Kashmir’s plight.
Follow-up to Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries
The Assembly, following its earlier decision to allocate “Groups of countries in special situations: Follow-up to the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries” to the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), decided to consider that sub-item directly and immediately in a plenary meeting to enable expeditious action on a document before it. It then adopted without a vote a draft decision entitled “Accreditation and participation of an intergovernmental organization in the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries” (document A/77/L.50), which accredited the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and invited it to participate as an intergovernmental organization in the work of that Conference as an observer.
Eradication of Poverty and Other Development Issues
The Assembly, following its earlier decision to allocate “Eradication of poverty and other development issues” to the Second Committee, also decided to consider that agenda item directly and immediately in a plenary meeting to enable expeditious action on a document before it.
EDMUND BARTLETT, Minister for Tourism of Jamaica, introducing the draft resolution entitled “Global Tourism Resilience Day” (document A/77/L.43), underscored the importance of recovery and resilience-building for an increasing number of tourist-dependent countries, especially in light of the intricate link to social stability and enhanced economic growth. Recognizing and commemorating a Global Tourism Resilience Day will encourage broad-based examination and pursuit of such resilience-building efforts; raise awareness, ambition and action of global tourism stakeholders towards strengthening the industry’s capacity to effectively mitigate, manage and recover quickly from major disruptions; and encourage stakeholders to plan for and undertake actions to ensure that destinations are prepared to manage crises threatening the travel and tourism sector, he said. Adopting the resolution will continue the momentum of the Assembly’s first high-level thematic debate on tourism, which it held on 4 May 2022, by increasing the international community’s widespread support to other complementary processes within the United Nations system, he added. In that vein, Jamaica has already established eight Global Tourism Resilience Centres across the world; will continue to advocate for the establishment of other centres; and will convene the inaugural Global Tourism Resilience Day Conference in Kingston from 15 to 17 February 2023.
Adopting “L.43” by consensus, the Assembly decided to proclaim 17 February as Global Tourism Resilience Day. By its terms, it also invited all to observe that day in an appropriate manner and in accordance with global, regional and national priorities, including through education and activities aimed at raising awareness of the importance of sustainable tourism; encouraged the holding of further high-level thematic events on tourism to be convened by the Assembly’s President and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO); and stressed that the costs of all activities arising from the resolution’s implementation should be met through voluntary contributions, including from the private sector.