Seventy-eighth Session,
12th & 13th Meetings (AM & PM)

Alarmed by Risk of Nuclear Escalation among Major Powers, Speakers in General Assembly Warn Growing Distrust, Divisions Are Driving Multilateral System towards Dysfunction

Powerful countries are pushing the world closer to the brink of nuclear conflict as mounting distrust and divisions corrode the bedrock of international cooperation, driving the multilateral system towards gridlock and dysfunction, world leaders warned today, as the General Assembly high-level debate concluded its fifth day of discussions.

Several Heads of State and Government, as well as ministers, voiced their concerns about the world’s current trajectory as it emerges from the most significant health emergency in a century amidst deepening conflicts and increasing instability.  A fractured global political economy, skyrocketing food and fuel prices, looming climate crisis and heightened arms races have collectively led to widespread feelings of disillusionment, indifference, and cynicism among millions of people. 

Nanaia Mahuta, Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, said that for the first time in several generations, the world faces the very real possibility of conflict between major Powers.  “The stakes for all of us are simply too high,” she warned.  The international rule of law and the United Nations Charter must mean something to a growing generation that is becoming more sceptical.  The Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine last year was a direct attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a UN Member State.  The war has also highlighted geostrategic tensions and heightened nuclear risks.  “Playing politics with innocent lives is cruel and immoral,” she stressed. 

Enrique A. Manalo, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said that humanity remains in danger from too many destructive and disruptive weapons in existence.  Thousands of nuclear warheads, which are still present, and now new ways of warfare have transformed the strategic landscape in the twenty-first century.  “The rule of law must reign all the more,” he stressed, echoing the calls of many for a stronger UN to help bring back sense to the global community. 

Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that in 2021, Moscow’s proposals to conclude treaties on mutual security guarantees in Europe without changing the non-bloc status of Ukraine were “rudely rejected”.  The United States and its subordinate “Western collective” continue to generate conflicts that artificially divide humanity into hostile blocs.  Describing a series of recent joint exercises between the United States and European North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, he also reported that they included testing scenarios for the use of nuclear weapons in the Russian Federation.

From a related angle, Osman Saleh Mohammed, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, stressed that the futile attempts to impose a unipolar world order over the last 30 years are increasingly pushing the international community towards a much more perilous catastrophe.  The African continent remains marginalized, compelled to shoulder the brunt of these destructive policies — and in this context, the resistance movements unfolding there are the continuation of the struggle against colonialism.  They are defiant reactions to “modern slavery”, unremitting plunder and domination.

Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Djibouti, observed that instead of fostering an integrated multilateralism there is a tendency to “group together into clubs”.  This “minilateralism” results in implacable resistance to change in international institutions, compounded by fossilizing inequality and worsening geopolitical competition.  While this is not irreversible, it requires massive investment to create a multilateral system that would account for current geopolitical realities.

Leaders repeatedly echoed calls for solidarity in the international community, emphasizing that the pandemic spotlighted glaring inequalities that must that be dealt with before another global crisis hits.  Many small island developing States reiterated their calls on industrialized countries to abide by their obligations and commitments to developing nations for financing adaptation and mitigation measures. 

Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa, Prime Minister of Samoa, said the first half of 2023 was characterized by worldwide record temperatures, intense water temperatures in various ocean basins, droughts in parts of Africa, Europe and Asia, severe flooding and cyclones, and devastating wildfires in Greece, north-eastern Canada and Hawaii.  “We will continually face these ever-worsening disasters if we continue to deny addressing their root causes,” she stressed.  Scientists have warned of imminent, more frequent and extreme weather events.  Reducing global emissions, moving towards green resilient economies, tackling deforestation, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and protecting nature must be a priority. 

Terrance Micheal Drew, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said that developing countries are groaning under the weight of burgeoning challenges not of their own making, some of which have been inherited as a result of colonization and the transatlantic slave trade.  “It is past time for reparatory justice,” he said, echoing the sentiment of several speakers.  Industrial countries and companies push small island developing States to the front lines of climate change, he added, pointing out that they accept little responsibility. 

Delegates also accented the importance of respect for human rights, both as a cornerstone of decency and in building stability and prosperity — with some lamenting that this central principle of the United Nations is being eroded in countries around the world.

Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister for International Development of Norway, affirmed that her Government engages the de facto authorities in Afghanistan as if this can help to address the dire human rights situation, “especially for women and girls, who are being deprived of education and a future — it is worth the attempt”.  Human rights are at the core of the UN, and “societies prosper when women and girls participate on an equal footing”.  The international community should “be concerned that standards are slipping in many places”, she affirmed:  “This has to stop.” 

Eamon Courtenay, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize, noted that despite calls by the Global North for the respect of human rights, it remains outside the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers, resulting in “deaths and inhumane treatment of migrants at the southern borders of the Western world” continuing with impunity. With only 12 per cent of the SDGs on track for attainment, the global human development index has, for the first time, experienced a two-year consecutive downward trend, with poverty and insecurity on the rise.


RALPH E. GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that large numbers of people, globally, feel a sense of futility, a routinization of indifference — even cynicism.  “It is widely acknowledged that the global political economy is broken and needs fixing, not by tinkering here or there, but through fundamental restructuring of a kind that endures for the benefit of all humanity, especially those who are disadvantaged, dispossessed or marginalized,” he stressed.  It is also acknowledged that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be attained by 2030; indeed, there will be a significant deficit for practically every developing country.  Similarly, it is widely recognized that the climate change agenda is stalling, and in some respects, reversing, with dire consequences for humanity.  Meanwhile, contemporary drivers of insecurity and conflict are all jostling in an “invidious march to infamy” and human misery, he said.

Powerful countries and blocs of like-minded States are unwilling or unable to fashion inclusive modalities, through genuine multilateralism, to address the extant global challenges facing humanity, he said. Their reflex actions in quest of a continuing imperium or an emergent hegemony are dressed up as self-serving calls for a “New World Order” — all sauce and gall but of little or no substance.  “From the tough trenches of the periphery, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines poses, yet again, in response, three haunting queries:  What’s new?  Which world? And who gives the orders?” he asked. “It is evident to all right-thinking persons, devoid of self-serving hypocrisy, that the struggle today between the dominant Powers is centred upon the control, ownership and distribution of the world’s resources,” he said.

He urged the United States, “our friend, the most powerful and economically dominant country since the dawn of human civilization”, to end unilateral sanctions against Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.  It is “plain silly” to label Cuba a sponsor of State terrorism — a label prompted by partisan domestic politics of South Florida. “Surely, Taiwan’s quest for participation in relevant specialized agencies of the United Nations is reasonable and ought to be accommodated,” he added.  Turning to climate change, he said poor, vulnerable, climate distressed and resource-challenged developing countries are absolutely fed up with the unfulfilled perennial promises of the developed world on climate financing. “The time for reparations has come,” he went on to say, underlining that “Africa, the Caribbean, our diaspora and others who hanker for a just world insist on it”.

Turning to Haiti, he said that the Security Council cannot “stand askance” as criminal gangs, some with links to the Government and National Police, essentially control the capital city and major productive centres in the country.  Huge economic assistance — a veritable Marshall Plan — financed by the international community, must be mounted in tandem with political, security and humanitarian initiatives.  The United States, the Caribbean and Latin American Governments must work together to stop the massive flow of guns and bullets into Haiti.  Moreover, the terrible situations in Ukraine, the State of Palestine, several countries in Africa and elsewhere also cry out for peaceful settlements between warring parties.  He further expressed support for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to follow the African Union into membership of the Group of 20 countries.  “The days of masters and vassals are over; the days of imperialism are drawing nigh,” he stressed.

FIAMĒ NAOMI MATA'AFA, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Samoa, spotlighting the impact of climate change, said the first half of 2023 was characterized by worldwide record temperatures, intense water temperatures in various ocean basins, droughts in parts of Africa, Europe and Asia, severe flooding and cyclones and devastating wildfires in Greece, north-eastern Canada and Hawaii.  “We will continually face these ever-worsening disasters if we continue to deny addressing their root causes,” she stressed, adding that scientists have warned of imminent, more frequent and extreme weather events. Reducing global emissions, including through investing in clean and affordable energy, as well as moving towards green resilient economies, tackling deforestation, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and protecting nature must be a priority.  She also highlighted the importance of operationalizing the Loss and Damage Fund as quickly as possible.

“For all Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) members, maintaining global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius is a point of no return.  Crossing this threshold spells the end of many of our island societies,” she asserted. Calling for the better protection of biodiversity, she said more than 1 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods and land.  Further, the ocean absorbs more than half of all carbon emissions and requires responsible stewardship that is integral in maintaining the Pacific identity.  “The ocean is in us, and we are the ocean,” she declared, urging Member States to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Pacific region, which deprives small island developing States of needed revenue in a time of increased fiscal stress.  In that regard, the adoption of the new treaty protecting biodiversity on the high seas is an important milestone in sustainably managing the high seas and oceans resources.  Spotlighting her country’s engagement in the ongoing negotiations on a treaty to end plastic pollution, she underlined the need to address the global plastic pollution problem, especially in the marine environment.

Non-communicable diseases — a priority area for Samoa and the blue Pacific continent — are currently overtaking communicable diseases as the dominant health problem and are the leading causes of mortality, morbidity and disability, she continued.  At the national level, they account for almost half of the deaths in Samoa, which has one of the highest obesity rates, particularly among children. Current data, however, shows some positive trends in falling rates of alcohol drinkers and smokers and an increase in people who are physically active.  These statistics are a catalyst for programmes to promote healthier lifestyles. The Government has made people-centred health services and non-communicable diseases control a priority in its Pathway for the Development of Samoa 2019-2025.  To help address the rise of non-communicable diseases, it is important to return to locally produced, quality, fresh foods with less reliance on processed imported foods.

Detailing the unique vulnerabilities impeding small island developing States’ ability to achieve sustainable development, she pointed to high indebtedness, which is compounded every time there is rebuilding after a natural disaster.  “And we know that natural disasters will increase in frequency and severity as long as climate change remains unaddressed,” she added.  A multidimensional vulnerability index, therefore, will allow for the inclusion of more than just income-based criteria to assess eligibility for concessional finance.  Highlighting opportunities which arise from an increasingly digitized world, especially in connecting people in remote areas, she warned against the very real threats from cyberfraud and cyberattacks.  Samoa needs assistance in ensuring that its infrastructure and financial institutions are safeguarded against cyberthreats and that it can build its capacity to address and combat these threats, she said.

TERRANCE MICHEAL DREW, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, pointing to the lack of trust in government, global organizations, traditional media and the political class, said that the United Nations and its Member States must show inclusion, respect and dignity for all.  Developing countries are groaning under the weight of burgeoning challenges not of their own making, some of which have been inherited as a result of colonization and the transatlantic slave trade.  “It is past time for reparatory justice,” he declared. Also noting that industrial, behemoth countries and companies push small island developing States to the front lines of climate change, he pointed out that they accept little responsibility for financing adaptation and mitigation measures.  Consequently, countries unable to access concessionary funding are forced to fix the climate crisis by obtaining loans at exorbitant rates from the countries where those problems originated.

Spotlighting the need to address gaps and shortfalls of the current international financial architecture through multilateral sovereign debt mechanisms, governance reform of the international financial institutions and access to financial resources, he welcomed the Bridgetown Initiative. His Government has adopted a vision of transforming the country into a sustainable island State by 2040, made strides towards geothermal energy production and used loans from the Caribbean Development Bank for national development projects.  Moreover, it has strengthened health-care delivery and management, while also investing in more participatory governance and implementing programmes for the most vulnerable and marginalized.  “We want to ensure that Saint Kitts and Nevis leaves no one behind,” he underscored.

Saint Kitts and Nevis cannot win the fight against the proliferation of illicit weapons, he continued, commending the support of the United States in tackling guns trans-shipments and buttressing the country’s national security apparatus.  Spotlighting global inequalities, he observed that, while others benefit from the access to Venezuela’s natural resources, its Caribbean neighbours are denied it due to the sanctions imposed on that county.  As well, he also called for ending the embargo on Cuba and removing it from the list of State sponsors of terrorism.  Turning to Haiti — the first free Black republic in the Western Hemisphere — he underscored the need for a political solution and measures to revise its legacy of underdevelopment.  “We cannot move forward on the acceleration of Agenda 2030 if we continue to knowingly and deliberately leave some people behind,” he stressed.

Noting that the emerging spheres of influence are challenging the rules-based order, he reported that new currencies are being internationalized, novel trade routes are taking shape and new political and economic blocks emerge to drive geopolitical advantage.  “The voice of the Global South is growing bolder with increasingly louder rumblings among powerful blocs calling for change,” he said, highlighting the importance of enhancing the role and presence of developing countries in the Security Council.  The reform is critical to reflect contemporary geopolitical realities, he observed, adding:  “We stand at the juncture of ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’.  We know what is.  We understand what could be.  Ours is the challenge to ensure peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all.”

JOSÉ ULISSES CORREIA E SILVA, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, emphasized that the international community must mobilize towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.  The world has experienced a period of intense crises, including a resurgence of populism and extremism, attacks on democracy, coups d’état in African States and the war in Ukraine.  Condemning the overthrows of Governments and the Russian Federation’s aggression, he declared that Cabo Verde stands for values and principles of freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as liberal constitutional democracy. While two thirds of Africans prefer democracy, only 38 per cent are satisfied with how this system of government works in their countries, he observed, pointing to a disconnect between the authorities and the citizens.  Nevertheless, the latter’s preference for democracy is an opportunity for good governance, more citizen empowerment, fighting corruption, achieving transparency and enacting policies that create trust and hope.

Credible and trustworthy electoral and judicial systems, freedom of the press promoting pluralism and strong institutions are key to preventing conflict and strengthening democracy, he stressed.  Cabo Verde is thus committed to working with all States to address insecurity in West Africa and beyond.  Expressing hope that creating a safer world is possible, he emphasized that joint efforts are vital to overcome current complex threats to international security. To that end, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction are integral parts of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  As challenges to meeting those Goals have expanded, he urged world leaders to accelerate reforms, investments, financing, partnerships and solidarity. In this regard, he called for the reform of the international financial architecture, operationalization of climate and environmental funding instruments and enhancement of special drawing rights, as well as debt relief to least developed countries.

African countries should have a fair and relevant representation in the Security Council and the international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he continued.  The world also needs to move forward on the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index and its application as a criterion for accessing low-cost and long-term financing for small island developing States.  While external factors play a significant role, development is only achievable with a strong dedication of Governments, citizens, companies and civil society organizations in each country.  More so, Africa must be more integrated into the global economy to produce, export, create well-paid jobs, eradicate extreme poverty and ensure happiness of its people.  The continent thus requires a focus on human capital and structural economic transformation to diversify economies, increase competitiveness, reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen connectivity.

In order to produce a significant impact, long-term transformative investments require concessional funding, predictability, scale-up effects and adequate execution time, he noted.  However, the weight of foreign debt, the levels of sovereign risks and the financing conditions for African countries and companies block their path towards development.  Drawing attention to one of the solutions, he announced that Cabo Verde and Portugal recently signed an agreement to convert bilateral debt into climate and environmental financing.  This can free up resources for investments that increase resilience, reduce exposure to external shocks, lower carbon emissions, protect biodiversity, generate investment opportunities for the private sector and create skilled job opportunities for youth. Reiterating his country’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda, he reported that its implementation is guided by a second national plan for sustainable development.  Cabo Verde is determined to eradicate poverty by 2026, accelerate energy transition and transform into a digital nation, he stated.

HAMZA ABDI BARRE, Prime Minister of Somalia, called for the renewal and acceleration of actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of our interconnected world, but it has also showed the power of solidarity and cooperation during difficult times,” he said, calling for establishing platforms to coordinate policies at the global and regional levels and for restructuring the global financial order.  “Today, our world faces unprecedented challenges as we witness the unprecedented increase in violence,” he said, noting that new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are causing new and terrifying threats.  Also spotlighting the noticeable increase in armed conflicts and military coups, especially in the African continent, he added that such conflicts lead to displacement and poverty.  He called for an immediate and comprehensive secession of violence and protection of constitutional systems that guarantee civil liberties.

Condemning the racial discrimination and oppression that is targeting Muslim communities in many areas of the world, he stressed that the State of Palestine continues to be a source of shame.  “Somalia will continue to defend the right of the Palestinian people for self-determination,” he said, voicing support for the two-State solution.  He called on world leaders to work together to reform multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, its Security Council and development banks, to make them more inclusive, transparent, accountable and fit for purpose.

“Climate change is an existential threat to humanity, and it is a challenge that knows no borders,” he continued, adding that it must be addressed through a unified will.  “In the past years, Somalia has been the victim of a vicious cycle of prolonged droughts and destructive floods that have killed thousands and displaced millions,” he reported, pointing out that Somalia is the country that has the least to do with carbon emissions globally but bears the breadth of the negative effects of climate change.  He also reported on his country’s tangible progress towards peace and stability, adding that the principle of living in peace with the rest of the world is a cornerstone of Somalia’s policy.  “We have dealt with an iron fist with extremism,” he reported, highlighting that his country managed to clear more than 45 per cent of the areas that were previously occupied by terrorists.

He went on to call for the establishment of a similar approach to dealing with terrorists worldwide, commending the bravery and sacrifices made by the African Union’s Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and thanking those countries that contributed their troops to the Mission. “Somalia is committed to the full implementation of the security transition plan and taking over the full security responsibility once ATMIS forces depart by the end of December 2024,” he stated, reiterating his country’s calls for the complete and unconditional removal of the arms embargo imposed by the Security Council in 1992. “It is the longest lasting and the widest and most comprehensive arms embargo in the world,” he pointed out, adding that Somalia now has the necessary administrative systems which are strict in controlling the possession, use and storage of firearms.  Thus, lifting this embargo would allow his country to combat terrorism more effectively and build a peaceful and prosperous future for its people, he said.

SALEUMXAY KOMMASITH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, observed that the international community is currently facing multiple crises, following the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing extreme poverty, external debt and an unjust international financial architecture, as well as natural calamities in many parts of the world, including those that recently occurred in Morocco and Libya. Such challenges are compounded by regional tensions and unilateral measures, which hamper developmental progress. Against this backdrop, he called for unified and collective actions guided by the Charter and for the resolute avoidance of confrontation and division among Member States.

To this end, he called for the reform of the United Nations, enhancing its relevance and effectiveness and enabling it to address challenges to international peace, security and sustainable development. Global conflicts and disputes must be resolved through peaceful means, he said, calling for an immediate end to the conflict in Ukraine through peaceful dialogues to avoid its impacts on the world from continuing.  As well, he called for a peaceful solution to be reached to the Middle East problem, with a view to solving the long-overdue Palestinian issue through the establishment of two sovereign States in line with relevant United Nations resolutions. In addition, he joined the global call for the lifting of the economic embargo on Cuba and for that country to be removed from the list of State sponsors of terrorism.  On sustainable development, he noted that many countries lag in implementing the 2030 Agenda as its midpoint approaches.

Collective efforts must be strengthened, including through harnessing science and technology to accelerate innovation-driven growth, he continued, adding that this message was echoed by the leaders of developing countries at the recent “Group of 77” developing countries and China summit. Further, he called for greater coordination on the part of the United Nations development system, its partners and the international financial system to scale up the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, with the United Nations helping coordinate resource mobilization to ensure that the needs of countries in special situations are met.  Insufficient financing is a key obstacle in implementing the Goals, he emphasized, echoing Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for the reform of the global financial system who had described the system as “biased, morally bankrupt and skewed to benefit wealthy countries”.  Against this backdrop, he called for the participation of developing countries to be strengthened in international decision-making and norm-setting.

Turning to national development, he noted that his country intends to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, to which it has added an eighteenth:  “Achieve lives safe from unexploded ordnance”.  He called on the international community to help his country achieve this goal.  His Government is carrying out its third voluntary national review to assess which Sustainable Development Goals require more attention; it will present this review at the 2024 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.  Turning to his country’s graduation efforts from the least developed countries category, he highlighted its national Smooth Transition Strategy, focused on development priorities.  He also called for an enhancement of climate finance and technical assistance for developing countries, pointing out that the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is among those who contribute the least to global emissions, while facing the brunt of climate change impacts.

DEMEKE MEKONNEN HASSEN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, said that, in the face of multiple challenges facing the world, the uncomfortable truth is that policy choices are escalating tensions, poverty and hunger are rising, and progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is off track.  Further, climate change continues to have a devastating global impact, with Africa enduring its disproportionate adverse effects, he said, pointing out that the target of mobilizing $100 billion by 2030 to support developing countries’ mitigation and adaptation efforts has not been achieved.  The threat of nuclear weapons is also a matter of grave concern, he said, calling for cooperation to ensure that new technologies such as artificial intelligence are used responsibly.  He called on States to recommit to the Charter of the United Nations, underlining the need for an inclusive multilateral system.  “Maintaining the status quo will not advance our shared interest of ensuring peace and prosperity,” he declared.

Turning to global security, he underlined the need for a system that respects the sovereignty of Member States and prevents conflict, stressing: “Reforming the Security Council is not a choice, but an absolute necessity.”  Allocating permanent seats for Africa, as set out in its continental common position, is politically and morally justified.  Commending the Secretary-General’s efforts for financing African Union peace support operations through assessed contributions, he underscored that national ownership of security responsibilities is imperative.  Voicing his opposition to unilateral coercive measures imposed on developing countries, he called for their unconditional removal.  Further, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda should be fully implemented to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, noting that his country has aligned its 10-year development plan to that aim.  On the climate crisis, he spotlighted his country’s national “Green Legacy Initiative” to ensure development through rural and urban green programmes.

On the domestic security front, he spotlighted the Pretoria Peace Agreement — which ended a two-year conflict in northern Ethiopia — as “a practical embodiment of ‘African solutions to African problems’”.  Its continued successful implementation, despite some delays in carrying out the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, demonstrates the Ethiopian Government’s commitment to resolving political differences through dialogue and constitutional means, he noted.  Moreover, Ethiopia is finalizing its transitional justice policy to ensure accountability and is initiating inclusive dialogue through the National Dialogue Commission to address past and present concerns.

Turning to regional peace and security concerns, he called for a regional approach to addressing conflict-induced crises in the Horn of Africa.  On the difficult situation facing Sudan, to which Ethiopia has extended support, while respecting that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, he underscored the need to ensure all peace initiatives are coordinated.  He also called for regional cooperation to address legitimate development aspirations, such as the completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.  To this end, he welcomed the resumption of trilateral talks with Egypt and Sudan.  More broadly, he underscored the need to mobilize resources to help Africa implement its Agenda 2063.  To this end, he called for the reform of the international financial architecture with special consideration of the continent’s needs and priorities, underscoring the need for a fast-tracked resolution of Africa’s debt crisis and the provision of additional development finance.

JOHN ROSSO, Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, voiced concern over compounded crises such as climate change, the socioeconomic and supply-chain adverse impacts of the war against Ukraine and the financial and economic burdens arising from the existing unfair and archaic international financial system.  “Mere rhetoric talkfest and hollow-sounding promises are what we must avoid,” he asserted, declaring:  “Let us use this opportunity to ensure that we put in place concrete, result-oriented and workable ways and means that will help support effective, timely and sustained delivery of the basic needs of our citizens and the development aspirations of our countries while protecting our environment.”

Detailing his Government’s pragmatic leadership to address Papua New Guinea’s development challenges in critical areas such as economic growth, health services, education, law and justice sector, he pointed to the new five-year (2023-2027) Medium-Term Development Plan Four.  This national development plan, together with the country’s overall long-term Vision 2050 strategic development road map will enable Papua New Guinea to become an upper middle-income country by 2030 and to improve its human development index global ranking by 2050.  His Government has prioritized health, as a core national development agenda, he said, underlining its commitment to universal health coverage by focusing on people and their environment, engaging with social partners and increasing access to quality and affordable health services. Major health challenges remain in the prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.

Financing for development remains a serious challenge for developing countries, he continued, highlighting the growing divide between countries that can access affordable financing for development and those that cannot.  In this context, he strongly supported the call by the Secretary-General for a $500 billion annual Sustainable Development Goals Stimulus to support developing countries.  If realized, accessing such funding support to developing States should be at speed and scale and less onerous.  Papua New Guinea needs $26 billion in the next five years to grow its national economy and reach its development aspiration of $57 billion-per-year economy.  According to the international financial system, the country is rated to be at a high-debt risk.  Accordingly, his Government is taking ownership of domestic resource mobilization through measures such as tax reforms and enhanced internal revenue collection, strengthening governance laws and policies to tide illicit financial flows, addressing systemic issues on foreign exchange and incentivizing public-private partnership.  He strongly supported the Bridgetown Initiative as a part of the reform of the global financial system to improve the response to the climate crisis and development challenges such as access to affordable financing and debt relief.

Turning to the climate crisis, he sounded alarm over natural disasters, droughts, sea-level rise and food insecurity, as well as their impact on his country’s economy.  Citing climate change as a “the single greatest existential threat” to the lives and livelihoods of Pacific Islanders, he underscored the urgency to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius through rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  “This is critical to the survival of small island nations,” he said, highlighting national progress on the climate change front, including the political commitments to use his country’s marine and terrestrial natural resources to address climate change.  At the Pacific regional level, he urged the international community to contribute to the Pacific Resilience Facility, a regional financing facility set up to address disasters and climate change threats in the Pacific continent, also commending the adoption of the new global treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond natural jurisdiction.

JEYHUN BAYRAMOV, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, underscored that his country — in its national capacity and as a Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement — consistently contributes to peace, security and the sustainable development agenda through promoting international solidarity and multilateralism.  In this vein, he spotlighted that his Government has spearheaded the establishment of the Movement’s Youth Organization, Women’s Platform and Parliamentary Network. Further, recalling that his country has been at the forefront of a global response to the pandemic, he reported that the President of Azerbaijan, in his capacity as the Movement’s Chair, unveiled two global calls to support the post-pandemic recovery of Africa and small island developing States.  Azerbaijan responded to these calls by becoming the first donor.  More so, since 2020, his country has provided humanitarian, economic and technical assistance worth $300 million to more than 130 nations.

On sustainable development, he said that, in less than two decades, poverty in Azerbaijan decreased from 49 to 5 per cent and the external public debt for the current year is expected to be around 10 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) — one of the lowest globally.  Azerbaijan also voluntarily pledged to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 40 per cent by 2050 and is also planning to become an exporter of green electricity to Europe and is a key player in developing transregional connectivity projects.  Turning to relations with Armenia, his country initiated normalization and peace efforts based on mutual recognition of and respect for each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders.  However, Armenia continues to imitate talks, backtrack from agreements, commit provocations, ignite tensions and interfere into Azerbaijan’s internal affairs.

This week, following mine planting by an “Armenian sabotage group” that caused the deaths of Azerbaijani citizens, his country launched a counter-terrorism operation to neutralize illegal armed formations, he reported, adding that all measures were limited, proportionate and in compliance with humanitarian law.  Embarking on the practical implementation of disarmament and demobilization, he reiterated that his country is determined to reintegrate ethnic Armenians residing in the Karabakh region as equal citizens.  Reaffirming Azerbaijan’s readiness for a genuine dialogue with Armenia, he urged international actors to impartially support the negotiations.  Also expressing concern over contamination of Azerbaijani territories with landmines, he called for international assistance in humanitarian mine action capacity.  Ensuring accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity is key for normalization and reconciliation, he said, noting that Azerbaijan initiated judicial proceedings against Armenia.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that a new world order is being born “right in front of our eyes”, while the rejection of the principle of equality, along with its total inability to negotiate has long been a “calling card” of the collective West. “As President [Vladimir V.] Putin pointed out, the West is truly an ‘empire of lies’,” he said, recalling the concrete political assurances given to Moscow regarding the non-expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  “In 2021, our proposals to conclude treaties on mutual security guarantees in Europe without changing the non-bloc status of Ukraine were rudely rejected,” he noted, adding that the West continued the militarization of the Russophobic Kyiv regime which was brought to power as a result of a bloody coup and was used to wage a hybrid war against the Russian Federation.  Also describing a series of recent joint exercises between the United States and European NATO allies, he reported that they included testing scenarios for the use of nuclear weapons in the Russian Federation.

Such organizations as BRICS (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, are on the rise, he pointed out.  However, the United States and its subordinate “Western collective” continue to generate conflicts that artificially divide humanity into hostile blocs.  The West still believes it is superior to the rest of humanity, he noted, recalling acts of burning the holy Qur’an, insults to the Torah and persecution of Orthodox clergy in Europe.  He also demanded the end of the blockade of Havana and the policy of economic suffocation of Venezuela by the United States, as well as the lifting of sanctions on Syria.  “Any measures circumventing the Security Council must be ended,” he emphasized. Welcoming the return of Syria to the Arab family, he also noted that Palestinians have been waiting for over 70 years for their State.  In addition, he expressed hope that, with the assistance of the United Nations, Libya can prepare for the general election.  He added:  “The tragic development of the situation in Sudan is nothing other than the West’s failed experiments.”

He also spotlighted the deteriorating situation in the Serbian province of Kosovo and the attempts by Brussels to impose so-called mediation services on Azerbaijan and Armenia.  Underscoring the West’s commitment to provide developing countries with $100 billion annually to finance climate-mitigation programmes, he called for these broken promises to be compared with the amounts that the United States, NATO and the European Union have spent “supporting the racist regime in Kyiv — an estimated $170 billion since February 2022”. Also highlighting the increasing need to expand the Security Council, he called for solely eliminating the underrepresentation of the countries of the world majority — Asia, Africa and Latin America — and appealed for fair ways of forming the United Nations Secretariat so that citizens of NATO and European Union countries stop their excessive dominance.

RETNO LESTARI PRIANSARI MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia said that global solidarity and collective responsibility are the only answer to trust deficit and global inequality.  The principles of the 1955 Bandung Conference reminded countries of their equal rights and mainstreamed win-win cooperation and solidarity, she noted, spotlighting that her country has brought along the “Bandung spirit” to its Chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2023 and its presidency of the Group of 20 (G20) in 2022.  “The Bandung spirit enabled Indonesia to listen and become a part of the solution,” she noted, emphasizing that global leadership should be about building bridges and treating all nations equally. Emphasizing that the world is at a strategic crossroads — as in 1955 — she observed that “we do not walk the talk”.  To this end, she called for collective global leadership, underscoring that the fate of the world cannot be defined by the “mighty few”.

She further noted that respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of States will ensure that disputes be settled on the negotiating table, rather than at the battlefield.  This collective responsibility is needed to save the people of the State of Palestine and Afghanistan, she stressed, reiterating that Indonesia will not back an inch in supporting Palestinian Statehood.  While every country has the same right to develop and grow, she expressed regret that the current global architecture only benefits the “selected few”.  Also pointing to trade discrimination against developing countries, she reported that the global supply chain is being monopolized by certain countries. Industrial down-streaming must not be an exclusive call of developing countries, she declared, calling on the developed countries to fulfil their responsibilities on climate financing, green investment and technology transfer.  “Technology and innovation should not be exclusive for the selected few,” she added.

Regional institutions should be net contributors and building blocks for global prosperity, she continued, recalling that, as ASEAN Chair, Indonesia had to navigate the Association through geopolitical dynamics in the region.  Emphasizing that South-East Asia must be an “epicentrum of growth”, she emphasized: “We sent a clear message that we will not let our region to be a pawn of rivalries.”  As well, she pointed to ASEAN’s union and its long-term vision — ASEAN 2045 — spotlighting its partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum and the Indian Ocean Rim Association.  While the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific has been translated into concrete cooperation, she underlined that the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus remains the main reference for Myanmar.  “ASEAN will spare no effort to ensure the people of Myanmar are not left alone,” she asserted.

ALICIA BÀRCENA IBARRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, highlighted the many formidable challenges facing the world, including 50 armed conflicts, the climate crisis, the forced migration of millions of people and a spike in poverty, with 165 million people falling into poverty in the past three years.  Thus, a growing number of people are questioning the relevance of multilateralism and its institutions.  International action loses legitimacy when resolutions do not translate into concrete benefits for the people and the planet, she noted, calling for urgent efforts to be undertaken to rescue the 2030 Agenda.  While the COVID-19 pandemic impeded progress towards its achievement, the world was not on an encouraging trajectory before it, she observed, underlining the need for a major shift in action in the development paradigm to reduce the gaps between the rich and the poor in and between countries.

Against this backdrop, she said Mexico is implementing transformational structural policies to benefit all people, especially the poor. It has succeeded in lifting 5 million people out of poverty over the past few years, with the help of a sharp increase in minimum wage and other social programmes.  Underscoring the need to move towards green and blue policies and to reduce the environmental footprint, she noted that her country has signed the Escazú Agreement, among other instruments.  On climate change, which she described as the greatest market failure, as well as the greatest global risk, she underlined the need for financing to be put in place to help vulnerable countries carry out adaptation measures.  She also called for a wholesale reform of the international financial architecture, including the redistribution of special drawing rights and for “debt-for-climate” swaps.  To this end, she voiced support for the Bridgetown 2.0 initiative put forth by Barbados.

Turning to international security, she said Mexico, in support of the peaceful resolution of disputes, has acted as the guarantor country between Colombia and the National Liberation Army.  On Ukraine, Mexico’s position is “unambiguous”:  it condemns the invasion of that country by the Russian Federation, which violated the Charter.  Underscoring the need for nuclear non-proliferation and for steps to be taken to combat the illicit trafficking in firearms, particularly by manufacturing countries, she pointed out that 200,000 firearms are trafficked into her country annually from its neighbour in the north.  On migration, she called for more humanizing policies to address this “unprecedented phenomenon that concerns everyone”.  She also called for greater investment in tackling structural causes and for countries to ensure to adopt policies that protect their human rights and facilitate their integration into the labour market.  In this context, she noted that migrants from Mexico in the United States contributed $5 million in taxes annually.

ENRIQUE A. MANALO, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said the UN spirit calls upon all to decisively respond to existential threats such as global warming, degrading ecosystems, diseases and food insecurity.  “We must configure our work to the realities of our time, placing people and communities at the heart of our agenda, refocusing consensus through differences and recognizing the agency of many voices, not only the powerful few, in shaping our shared future,” he added.  The Philippines advocates for the peaceful settlement of disputes, in accordance with international law, he emphasized, adding:  “This has always been our position with respect to the disputes in the West Philippine Sea, inasmuch as we are prepared to defend our sovereignty, sovereign rights and territorial integrity.”

Humanity remains in danger from too many destructive and disruptive weapons in existence, he continued.  With thousands of nuclear warheads still present and the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty unrealized, heightened arms races and new ways of warfare - including in the cyber and space domains — have transformed the strategic landscape in the twenty-first century.  “The rule of law must reign all the more,” he stressed.  Advocating for the peaceful uses of outer space and greater responsibility among States to reduce space threats, he also stressed that new technology cannot be weaponized or misused in any way that subverts democracy and freedom, challenges international humanitarian law, exploits the vulnerable and violate human rights.

Further, he called for industrialized countries to abide by their obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  The continued reform of the UN Development System is key to ensuring that the Organization delivers transformative development outcomes.  “Solidarity sets the ground for international cooperation as we reinforce the global health-security system, following the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he emphasized, reiterating calls for equity in the provision of vaccines.  “We must never again witness a global emergency of such scale wherein those in most need will be provided for last,” he added. The Philippines will continue to advocate for the human rights of vulnerable groups, especially women, children, Indigenous Peoples, migrants, persons with disabilities, refugees and older persons, he declared.

NANAIA MAHUTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, said that “no matter where or who we are from around the world, we are bound by a shared spirit of humanity”.  World leaders are indeed meeting at a time of sharply increasing danger for people and the planet.  “As we emerge from the worst health emergency in the past hundred years, our efforts to ‘build back better’ have faltered in the face of accelerating ecological and planetary crises, deepening conflict and instability,” she pointed out. Mounting distrust and division are eroding the foundation of international cooperation and steering the multilateral system towards deadlock and dysfunction.  For the first time in several generations, the world faces the very real possibility of conflict between major powers.  “The stakes for all of us are simply too high,” she warned. The international rule of law and the UN Charter must mean something to a growing generation that is becoming more sceptical. 

The Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine last year was a direct attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a UN Member State, she continued.  To witness a permanent member of the Security Council launch an unprovoked attack on a sovereign State, attempting to annex its territory and waging war on its civilian population was and remains shocking, she said.  This war has also highlighted geostrategic tensions and heightened nuclear risks.  Nuclear weapons must never be used.  “The dangers of nuclear weapons and their toxic legacy — which are visible in our own blue Pacific region — have been with us for decades,” she said.  Moreover, food insecurity is threatening the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe.  Pervasive drought in the Horn of Africa, and instability and violence in the Sahel, Afghanistan, Syria and Myanmar has left millions in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.  “Playing politics with innocent lives is cruel and immoral,” she stressed.

International financial institutions must evolve to better serve the demands of the current era, she emphasized, also underscoring that climate change is the greatest existential threat facing the planet. The countries of the Pacific are on the front lines and are already experiencing irreversible damage. Limiting warming to 1.5°C is vital to achieve the shared development goals.  “Every increment of a degree and every ton of emissions matters,” she said.  There is a narrow and rapidly closing window to secure a sustainable and liveable future for all.  For its part, New Zealand is investing in Pacific resilience, mobilizing climate finance and supporting Pacific partners to respond to climate-driven events.  Indigenous Peoples, businesses, financial institutions, local governments, youth, communities and individuals all have crucial roles to play, she said, spotlighting that “at home, we choose to embrace difference” as a source of strength for resolving challenges rather than as a wedge to divide.  Addressing the General Assembly, she declared: "We must weave all our aspirations and our common and shared humanity together."  Joined by the New Zealand delegation from their seats, she sang in Te reo Māori a song of hope and peace.

NABIL AMMAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Migration and Tunisians Abroad of Tunisia, expressed regret that the image of today’s world is distant from the goals and values of the United Nations.  Unwavering respect for the Charter, international law and human rights without politicizing them are key to achieving security, peace and development, he stated, welcoming the Secretary-General’s initiative to set up the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance.  In this context, he recalled the appeal by the President of Tunisia during the Food Systems Summit to create a strategic stockpile of grain that the world could use when necessary.  He also spotlighted the international financial system and its contribution to widening the gap between developed and developing countries, pointing out that the latter now dedicates resources to repaying debts rather than serving their citizens.  He thus advocated for the reform of global economic governance — an essential priority for sustainable development.

He urged all parties to share responsibility by providing climate funding to most affected countries.  Due to the impact of climate change, inadequate development, conflict and illegal migration have intensified in North Africa, and criminal networks are exploiting the situation.  To tackle this, the international community should build on the 2023 International Conference on Development and Migration — a Tunisian-Italian initiative. His country has always dealt with this phenomenon within its possibilities and human rights obligations, he said, condemning the exploitation of illegal migration for political purposes.  Turning to internal affairs, he reported that Tunis will continue to enact reforms, enhance good governance and combat corruption.  In July 2021, Tunisians expressed their will to put an end to political manipulations by strengthening democracy and State institutions.  At the same time, the country is continuing its transition to green and blue economy while providing social protection to its citizens.

He went on to say that the Palestinian people’s suffering is morally and legally unacceptable and he called on the Security Council to assume its responsibility to force the occupying Power to respect international law. He expressed hope for the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital and called for its full membership in the United Nations.  In addition, Tunisia is committed to assisting the Libyan parties in overcoming their differences and achieving a political solution based on intra-Libyan dialogue with the help of the United Nations.  In this vein, he voiced his rejection of a military solution, as well as outside interference into Libyan internal issues.  To achieve a political solution in Syria and Yemen, convergence of global efforts is required, he added, also demanding hostilities cease in Sudan and that the crisis be overcome through dialogue. More so, he called on the international community to help Africa overcome its crises.

THÓRDÍS KOLBRÚN REYKFJÖRD GYLFADÓTTIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, thanked all people who work in the name of the United Nations, from office cleaners to translators to security guards to diplomats, as everyone has a role to play and all roles are important.  She said that multilateralism is in serious crisis, with only 15 per cent of the Sustainable Development Goals currently on track for completion by 2030 and the Paris Agreement in jeopardy. Highlighting increased naturals disasters, food insecurity, poverty and hunger, she said:  “This is an existential threat to us all.”  Recalling that Iceland had formally presented its candidature to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2025–2027 term, she said that, if Member States do not live up to the values and commitments in the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there need to be consequences.  “This is why the General Assembly rightly voted in favour of suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council because of atrocities committed in Ukraine,” she said.

“Freedom of expression is for human beings, not for programmed bots that spread hate, lies and fear.  Human rights are for human beings,” she said, spotlighting the serious degradation of human rights around the world, including in Afghanistan where women and girls cannot go to school, in Iran where authorities continue to deny women freedom and punish those who dissent, and in many countries where the LGBTI+ communities are deprived of their rights.  “Iceland is fortunate enough to be a society that has developed from being among the poorest in Europe to one of the most prosperous since we became an independent republic almost 80 years ago,” she said, underlining that equality and her country’s prosperity are strongly linked.

She also pointed out that, in Belarus, opponents of the regime have been jailed and exiled while the rulers aligned themselves with the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine.  Observing that, around the world, people are being punished for challenging authorities, she noted that the Russian Federation’s war is not only a brutal assault on Ukraine and its people, but also an unprecedented affront to the international system.  “This madness has been ongoing for over 18 months and is the sole responsibility of a permanent member of the Security Council, which should be acting on behalf of the United Nations membership as a guardian of international peace and security,” she said.  Every country of the world and humankind as a whole stand to lose if the international community allows wars of neo-colonial conquest by large powers against their neighbours.  “Russia is the aggressor and must be stopped.  Ukraine is rightly defending its land, and by extension, our international system, and Ukraine must be supported,” she stressed.

SAMEH HASSAN SHOUKRY SELIM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, said his country, which has made civilizational contributions throughout history, was at the forefront of the United Nations and has contributed to its goals and principles.  In a world of interdependence and globalization, “no region is stable unless all regions are stable”, he added.  Pointing to the repercussions of Ukraine’s conflict, he pointed out that Egypt — together with other Arab and African neighbours — has created the Arab Contact Group and has participated in the African Leaders Initiative to find a peaceful settlement.  Spotlighting structural deficiency in addressing political, socioeconomic and security crises, he said that “major Powers” are monopolizing decision-making in “total indifference” to the aspirations of peoples and communities. In this regard, he called for the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration to be the basis upon which to expand Africa’s representation in the Security Council.  “Only the granting of two permanent seats for Africa, with full rights and privileges, is sufficient to correct this injustice done to our continent,” he declared.

Further, he underscored the need for reforming the international financial structure to assist developing countries in achieving sustainability, calling for enabling more concessional loans and grants, creating sustainable debt mechanisms for low- and middle-income countries, and re-structuring the debt structure by swapping debts through development projects. Pointing to the scarcity of drinking water, he spotlighted Egypt’s water crisis, adding:  “It is one of the least rainy countries, whereas its population exceeds 105 million people.”  The country needs to re-use water and import “virtual water” — for $15 billion annually — in the form of food.  He recalled that Ethiopia has unilaterally —and without previous impact studies — built a Grand Renaissance Dam, noting that Cairo is trying to reach a binding agreement on the rules of its operation, while also taking into consideration interests of the neighbouring countries.

Warning against Islamophobia, including Qur’an burning, he reported that Egypt has launched national strategies on human rights, women’s empowerment and combating violence against women.  He also pointed out that the Government empowers youth and disabled people, fights against discrimination and protects religions freedoms, recalling that Egypt was first to make peace in the Middle East. Spotlighting the country’s efforts towards creating peace in Sudan, Libya and Syria, he highlighted Cairo’s anti-terrorism activities in Africa through its co-presidency of the Global Counterterrorism Forum.  As well, the Government has launched a summit for Sudan’s neighbouring countries to settle the current crisis, while working towards a ceasefire.  Reiterating Egypt’s support for Libya’s political solution conforming to the principle of national ownership, he underscored the importance of overcoming the transitional period and conducting presidential elections.

FAISAL BIN FARHAN AL FURHAN AL-SAUD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, stated that human rights are of crucial importance, as his country aims to ensure a comprehensive and lasting recovery based on the individual.  New and amended laws exist to ensure the dignity of citizens and protect decent livelihoods.  Affirming that security in the Middle East requires acceleration of a just, comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue, he reiterated the call for an independent State based on pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Striving to implement the principle of collective action, Saudi Arabia has hosted joint regional summits as part of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab League.  Noting that a resolution to the Syrian crisis would help stabilize the region and the world, his Government led negotiations with Iran, culminating in the Beijing Agreement on resuming diplomatic ties and communication between the countries.

Turning to Yemen, he noted that Saudi Arabia is working to alleviate the crisis and the suffering of its people. On Lebanon, he called for all parties to initiate political and economic reforms to allow it to overcome the current crisis; similarly, Iraq’s security and stability are essential for entire region. He voiced deep concern over the escalation between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces, calling for de-escalation, noting that his Government hosted parties to conflict in Jedda, while working with the United States to provide aid to the population, and helping to evacuate people by sea.  In parallel, Riyadh presided over a high-level donor conference, resulting in commitments to provide more than $1.5 billion in aid.  All foreign interference in Libya’s internal affairs must end.  Afghanistan should not serve as a refuge for terrorist organizations, he said, adding that women in that country should be permitted to access education and employment. The international community must honour commitments to rid the world of nuclear weapons, especially in the Middle East.

On human rights, he noted that the international community has made great strides in ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism and extremism, which runs counter to all religions, beliefs and races.  Calling for the international community to counter hate and Islamophobia and prevent the burning of the holy Qur’an, he warned “against the gravity of these acts”. He further welcomed the adoption by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a resolution on “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence, against persons based on religion or belief” (document A/HRC/28/47).  Saudi Arabia is focusing on collective cooperation with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to promote the reliability and stability of global crude oil markets. On climate, he called for a transition to clean energy, citing the launch of the Green Saudi Arabia and Green Middle East initiatives, aiming to achieve carbon neutrality.

MAHAMOUD ALI YOUSSOUF, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Djibouti, noting omnipresent lack of trust and suspicion impacting international cooperation, observed that — instead of fostering an integrated multilateralism — there is a tendency to “group together into clubs”.  This “minilateralism”, he said, results in implacable resistance to change in international institutions, compounded by fossilizing inequality and worsening geopolitical competition.  While this is not irreversible, it does require massive investment to create a multilateral system that would account for current geopolitical realities and reinforce close cooperation.  Further, such a system would be fair and representative — where both the powerful and less-powerful alike can find their place — and feature an Organization that can credibly respond to the challenges of the moment.  “We must not give into the temptation to give up,” he urged, calling for improved debt sustainability, reform of multilateral development banks and a strengthened global financial-security net.

He then reported that, despite a deteriorating global economic situation, Djibouti has made notable progress in reducing malnutrition, managing the pandemic and aligning national policy with the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Government also prioritizes poverty-reduction, sustainable economic growth and access to potable water and sanitation.  Additionally, as a country in a region vulnerable to climate change, Djibouti is investing in renewable energy and adaptation.  In addition to large-scale projects in geothermal energy, the country inaugurated its first wind park, which will provide 60 megawatts of clean energy.  This is the first international investment project of note in the national energy sector, and he said it should serve as a model for future private investment in this area.  He also detailed Government efforts to improve health-care services and education opportunities — particularly in remote areas — along with investment in transportation infrastructure to strengthen regional connectivity and trade.

Turning to regional issues, he underlined the importance of the battle being waged to liberate Somalia from Al-Shabaab.  Somalia is at a critical stage, he stressed, calling for the provision of international support to that country “commensurate with what weighs on it”. Welcoming the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement in South Sudan, he called for its accelerated implementation. In Yemen, the Security Council must find a sustainable way out of the crisis and facilitate the conclusion of an inclusive peace agreement.  He nevertheless welcomed the transfer of oil from the Safer tanker as an example of model international cooperation, stating that the coasts of the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula would have been “completely polluted” if the region and the world had not acted quickly.  He also called for immediate action to address increasing despair and uncertainty over the lack of a political horizon for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and underscored his country’s commitment to find a peaceful settlement to the border dispute with Eritrea.

SERGEI ALEINIK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, stated that the Ukrainian people “have become a pawn in the great game of the West to preserve its own global hegemony”.  By increasing weapons deliveries to Ukraine, he said, the West is determined to continue this war of attrition down to the last Ukrainian.  However, Ukraine does not need or want this.  Belarus “has always supported peace” in its neighbouring country and “has taken all possible measures”.  His Government continues to “be prepared to do everything” in its power towards this end.

Noting a “power shift from the West to the rest of the world”, he stated that “the best way” to keep this process on a peaceful track is to expand the Security Council’s permanent membership.  With three of the five permanent members representing the West, the Council does not reflect today’s political realities, he stressed. These members are “not interested in changing the world’s status quo”, and the Council does not fulfil its functions to support international peace and security as a result.  He called for major developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America to be included as permanent members.  Moreover, he urged Member States to “stop the policy of ostracism” in the UN with insults and disrespectful rhetoric, such as “using the word regime to describe legitimate Governments of Member States”.  All members are equal according to the UN Charter, he emphasized, appealing members to treat each other respectfully and equitably. He also called for “certain countries” to refrain from trying to restrict the participation of other Member States in the work of the United Nations, which he characterized as a direct violation of the UN Charter.

Furthermore, he underscored that certain Member States must cease attempts to turn the United Nations and its entities into a tool serving their foreign policy, because “politicizing the UN only discredits it in the eyes of ordinary people”.  The Organization was created for cooperation and the interests of people, “not for settling scores between States”.  He stressed that “bilateral issues should not be dragged into international organizations as an apple of discord.” In particular, to resolve the global food crisis, he urged the West to lift unilateral illegal sanctions against countries not desirable to them or to obtain any competitive economic advantage. These sanctions, he said, “limit the export of food and fertilizer to developing countries which need them.”  Common sense and the common interests of all people demands the removal of unilateral coercive measures imposed by the West, directly or indirectly against virtually all other States.

SAYYID BADR BIN HAMAD BIN HAMOOD ALBUSAIDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Oman, said dialogue is a core principle and effective approach of the country’s foreign policy, which is based on peace and reconciliation between nations.  He reaffirmed Oman’s deep attachment to the international community and a system based upon peace, justice, international order and respect for international law.  He also supported the sovereignty of States and non-interference in international affairs.  He appealed to the international community to stay committed to the United Nations and settle disputes through dialogue and negotiation, as this will serve as a path for a world of prosperity, dignity and security.

Voicing support for all fair and just causes, he said the Palestinian plight is an injustice that has lasted more than 70 years.  The Palestinian people stand firm despite the brutal Israeli occupation and its violation of international law and Council resolutions.  The United Nations has a moral and legal duty to find a fair, equitable solution that ends their suffering and restores their legitimate rights.  He called for Israel’s withdrawal from the territories occupied since 1967 and the creation of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Turning to the Ukraine conflict, he said that, in addition to the humanitarian fallout, the conflict has created significant challenges to international peace and the proper functioning of supply chains around the world.  He invited the parties involved in the conflict to begin peace negotiations.

Turning to his country’s work on climate change, he said Oman has a plan to encourage investment in renewable energy projects, based on a strategy of zero carbon emissions between now and 2050, and it will actively participate in the twenty-eight Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in November.  The Oman Vision 2024 focuses on sustainable development and modernizing the country’s education system.  “Education is key to promoting the development of people and [ensuring] they can contribute to economic development,” he said.  Condemning all acts that incite violence or hatred and lead to discrimination, based on religion, creed or race, he called on the international community to adopt legislation and criminalize these acts, which are threats to the national security of States and society.  Today’s complex global challenges, including climate change, global epidemics, the trafficking of human beings and conflicts, require global cooperation.  The principles of international law must be implemented without any double standards.

EAMON COURTENAY, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize, underscored the foundational importance of trust and solidarity to the multilateral system, noting that both values are regrettably “in diminishing supply at a time when the capacity of Planet Earth to sustain human life is in grave peril”.  He listed unmet or abandoned global commitments over the years to include the 0.7 per cent of national income for official development assistance (ODA) target agreed in 1970; the COP15 commitment by developed countries of an annual $100 billion commitment for climate action by 2020; and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of 2015 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, a failure which saw a subsidy surge to a record $7 trillion last year.  Despite calls by the Global North for the respect of human rights, it remains outside the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers, the consequence of which “deaths and inhumane treatment of migrants at the southern borders of the Western world continue with impunity.”

He lamented the “hoarding of COVID-19 vaccines by developed countries and their continuing refusal to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines”.  This has occasioned extended suffering for developing countries, with some of them still below global vaccine targets.  With only 12 per cent of the SDGs on track for attainment, the global human development index has, for the first time, experienced a two-year consecutive downward trend, with poverty and insecurity on the rise.  Global average temperatures for the last three months have been the highest on record, with attainment of the below-1.5°C threshold “slipping from our grasp”.  To restore trust and foster solidarity, he therefore put forward his Government’s position along three broad areas, which covered the need for urgent reform of the international financial architecture and the Security Council; the imperatives of honouring unmet commitments, particularly concerning the Paris goals and the SDGs; and reparatory justice for slavery in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and climate change for small island developing States.

He also spotlighted certain countries that deserve global attention on their current situations, saying that “too many of our Member States continue to be oppressed by systematic but entirely repairable injustices”.  Commending the Kenyan Government for its offer in leading a multinational force for security assistance to Haiti, he pledged his Government’s support, together with other CARICOM countries in joining the mission.  The “evil and pernicious” designation of Cuba as a State sponsor of terrorism by the United States attracts its condemnation, and economic sanctions against the country should be immediately lifted.  Belize also supports the “realization of an independent State status for Palestine” and likewise calls for “Taiwan’s full inclusion in the international system”.  He also called for ending the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine.

OSMAN SALEH MOHAMMED, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, said that the futile attempts to impose a unipolar world order over the last 30 years — and the crises spawned by reviving defunct alliances and military blocs — are increasingly pushing the international community towards a much more perilous catastrophe.  Within this calamitous global reality, the African continent remains marginalized, compelled to shoulder the brunt of these destructive policies.  He stressed that in this context, the resistance movements unfolding in Africa — manifested in different variants — are the continuation of the struggle against colonialism.   They are defiant reactions to “modern slavery”, unremitting plunder, and domination. Another dimension often glossed over is that Al-Qaida, Da’esh, al-Shabaab and other offshoots are criminal enterprises “propped up and funded by the same forces of domination for political ends”, he stated.  They are ruthlessly instrumentalized to foment crises and provide plausible pretexts for military intervention. 

His country, he noted, has not been spared — and “I am not referring to the 1950s, in which Eritrea’s inalienable right to decolonization was sacrificed on the altar of geostrategic interests.”  More recently, the sanctions imposed on Eritrea from 2009 until 2018 marked another act of transgression and deceit, which requires full redress and accountability.  He pointed to vigorous and persistent resistance by the peoples of the world, which have deterred the emergence of the intended unipolar world order for global domination and hegemony.  The invigorated resistances mushrooming in parts of the world “indicate that we are on the cusp or threshold of a new reality,” he stressed.  The desired new global order will have to be accompanied by far-reaching structural changes in the world’s governance architecture, and various international and regional organizations.  However, he warned that “cosmetic and nominal measures” will only engender false hope and apathy in the peoples and countries of the world.

In tandem, he called for the United Nations to undergo the requisite structural changes — while the much-vaunted reform of the Security Council should not amount to nominal tampering, limited to increasing the number and geographical representation of new members.  The veto power and other institutional distortions — which incapacitate the Council from exercising its responsibilities with impartiality and objectivity — must be examined with the historical track-record as a template.  “Political horse-trading and the misuse of Council membership to advance narrow national interests are not compatible with the solemn responsibility that they are entrusted with,” he stated.  The criterion of membership should not be determined by mere political and economic clout or population size; rather, it must reflect the wide spectrum of Member States.

ARARAT MIRZOYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said that eroding multilateralism — along with its foundations of international law, human rights and cooperative security — is not just a “theoretical influence, but the reality with which the Armenian people in the South Caucasus are coping for the last three years”.  Azerbaijan’s repetitive aggression against Armenia’s sovereign territory and military attacks against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh significantly disrupt regional peace and stability, violate human rights and represent an existential threat for Armenians.  While the Armenian Government has made significant, recorded efforts, he pointed out that “we do not have a partner for peace, but a country who openly declares ‘might has right’ and constantly uses force to disrupt the peace process”.  Spotlighting the recent, large-scale offensive against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh — “it happened this week, and the timing was not accidental” — he said it demonstrates Azerbaijan’s open disregard for the international community gathered in New York.

That country’s message is clear, he stressed:  “You all can talk about peace and we can go to war and you will not be able to change anything.”  The offensive — cynically defined as a local counter-terrorist operation — claimed hundreds of lives, including those of women and children.  Further, Azerbaijan’s actions over the last nine months demonstrate the pre-planned nature of this mass atrocity.  On 12 December 2022, Azerbaijan blockaded the Lachin Corridor — the lifeline connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and the world — in blatant violation of its obligations.  The blockade was further consolidated by the installation of an illegal checkpoint on 23 April and the complete cessation of any movement through the corridor — even for humanitarian aid — since 15 June. Underscoring that the “chronology of truly devastating developments” proves that issues cannot be addressed merely with statements, he noted that, despite Armenia’s repeated warnings, “the United Nations failed to come to the rescue”.

However, he stated that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh still hope that prevention will “not remain a feature of language, but will become a line of action”.  He therefore called for the immediate deployment of an inter-agency UN mission to Nagorno-Karabakh to monitor and assess the human-rights, humanitarian and security situations on the ground.  Additionally, Azerbaijan must finally adhere to its legally binding obligations and ensure the freedom of movement of persons, vehicles and cargo in line with orders from the International Court of Justice. Among other measures, he also underlined the need for a sustainable, viable international mechanism to prevent the ethnic cleansing of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh and to ensure dialogue between its representatives and Baku.  He added that Azerbaijan’s “hidden agenda” of forcefully imposing on Armenia an extraterritorial corridor — passing through its territory but out of its control — is unacceptable.

BASSOLMA BAZIÉ, Minister of State of Burkina Faso, stressed that his country, Mali and Niger are dealing with a war imposed on them by imperialism under the pretext of terrorism.  While these countries and others organized along their common borders and pulled together forces to combat terrorism, France “came out of nowhere” to impose the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5-Sahel).  He noted that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced a $2 billion contribution to establish an intervention force to re-establish democracy, but only $25 million was allocated until its dissolution and the creation of the G5- Sahel.  He urged other countries to deliver weapons that Burkina Faso needs to defend and protect its people from being killed, and he asserted that Burkina Faso will work in a sovereign manner with the partners it wants and buy from the countries it wants. The Russian Federation, Iran, Türkiye, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Nicaragua, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Burkina Faso will buy and sell their goods freely, he stressed, without any intermediary or authorization from whomever.

“To take our destiny in our own hands,” he affirmed, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso formed the Alliance of Sahel States, securing their countries through a treaty with revised authority for development.  “We have decided to say no to all these so-called friends who want our so-called good or who threaten us with war to impose their friendship.”  Niger is en route to becoming a second Libya, he said, strongly condemning the “underhanded manoeuvre” of forbidding Niger’s leaders from accessing United Nations Headquarters.  He also denounced Africa’s lack of permanent membership or veto rights in the Security Council as a “State crime” and “a crime of the UN”.  ECOWAS, the African Union, and the UN must become “true organizations of peoples instead of structures used by a minority of Heads of State”.  Inequality throughout the world is deliberate, he emphasized, condemning the true wounds that poison coexistence as the lies of States, diplomatic hypocrisy, thirst for power, the frenetic quest for profit, the diabolical spirit of domination, and exploitation of man by man.

In Burkina Faso, his Government has vigorously adopted a new action plan for stabilization and development with four priorities:  fighting terrorism and restoring territorial integrity, responding to humanitarian crisis, restoring the State and improving governance, and national reconciliation and social cohesion.  The Government seeks to provide the Burkinabe population with better living conditions and invites partners, with the condition that the partnership fits the vision of a transition represented by these four pillars.  “We African peoples,” he affirmed, “are profoundly democratic” and “our attachment to human dignity goes beyond democracy”. Rather, “what we refuse is the lesser democracy, this trap of democracy,” he said, “which turned out to be a way of controlling our States through playing musical chairs with the leaders who are often impostors and corrupt, who steal and rape.”

DATO ERYWAN PEHIN YUSOF, Second Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, said that in July, his Government presented its second voluntary national review report, which shows it is on track across several SDGs and in line with its National Vision:  Wawasan Brunei 2035.  This plan aims to create a dynamic and sustainable economy with a high quality of life for all citizens, even as the country grapples with a lack of reliable data, which hinders accurate monitoring and evaluation of its progress towards achieving the SDGs.  To meet this challenge, his Government is working with ASEAN, which recently launched the ASEAN Centre for Climate Change in Brunei Darussalam.  The Centre will help collect data concerning the challenges of climate action and serve as a regional hub and research facility to enhance countries’ capacity to mitigate and combat climate change, he said. 

As a new global order emerges in a multipolar world, small States like Brunei Darussalam recognize the United Nations important role in maintaining international peace and security through a rules-based order, he said.  The Government upholds the principles the Organization was founded upon nearly eight decades ago:  sovereign equality, territorial integrity and the political independence of all States.  “Brunei Darussalam is ready to forge a new global consensus that preserves these values while addressing emerging issues and resolving existing challenges,” he said.  In an increasingly interconnected modern world, trust and solidarity can only be achieved with tolerance and respect.  He expressed dismay about the increased acts of intolerance and disrespect, particularly acts of religious hatred, directed at the Islamic faith.  These deliberate actions, such as the burning of the holy Qur’an, provoke disharmony and undermine efforts for a sustainable peace.  He called for increased action against religious hatred, especially Islamophobia and anti-Islam sentiments.

Turning to the State of Palestine, he said the situation there is an example of the international community’s collective failure as the Palestinian people have been denied their fundamental freedoms safeguarded under the Charter.  The seventieth-fifth anniversary of the Nakba earlier this year showed how the Palestinian people have been deprived of their rights to self-rule and peace.  “We stand firmly in solidarity with them, to truly ensure that ‘no one is left behind’,” he said, urging the United Nations to uphold its commitment to the two-State solution as the viable path towards a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.  The world is at a crossroads as it faces humanitarian crises and global mistrust of international institutions and between States.  “Therefore, to ensure a better future for generations to come, it is crucial that we refuse to accept actions that divide us or conflicts that oppress us,” he said.  “Above all, Mr. President, we must not let mistrust overpower our unity.”

YVAN GIL PINTO, Minister of the People’s Power for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, reminded the Assembly of a call, 18 years ago, by Commander Hugo Chávez to the United Nations “on this stage” advocating a restructuring of the Organization.  He said the United Nations has not fulfilled the purpose for which it was founded, adding that “we now face even more serious challenges.”  The same applies to the Organization’s agencies, funds and programmes.  It is therefore necessary to end the “zero-sum mentality” and promote “a win-win vision that allows us to effectively address collective interests through cooperation, tolerance, and understanding”, while advancing a reform of the Security Council, with a particular objective of correcting historical imbalance and providing greater representation for “our mother Africa”, he said.  He also called for a reform of the international financial architecture, spotlighting the debt owed his peoples on account of colonization and slavery.  He therefore reiterated his Government’s strong support for Argentina, Mauritius and Comoros in their sovereignty disputes over the Malvinas Islands*, the Chagos Archipelago, and Mayotte Island; as well as Palestine, Puerto Rico and Western Sahara in the quests for self-determination.

He berated the United States Government for unilaterally intervening in an over 200-year long dispute Venezuela has with Guyana over the Guayana Esequiba territory, saying that the United States Government seeks to appropriate his country’s oil resources through Exxon Mobil “which has incorporated the Government of Guyana into its ranks.”  He further denounced the United States for its intention to militarize the situation.  Turning to cybersecurity, he pointed out that fighting cybercrime and regulating the information technology space must become a strategic priority for the United Nations.  “We cannot accept the use of these new technologies to destabilize legitimate Governments and destroy social harmony and peace,” he said.  Expressing concern over political extremism and the culture of hatred as recently exemplified in the 2018 assassination attempt on his country’s Head of State and Government as well as on Argentinian Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, he also called on countries to reject persecution of diplomats. 

Concerned about the rapidly increased military spending in recent months, he said such resources “would have greater benefits for humanity if they were used not only in financing development agendas or fighting poverty but also in addressing the food crisis and the climate crisis that currently threatens the world”.  He expressed his country’s support for the convening of a World Conference for Peace in Ukraine and Palestine as proposed by Colombian President Gustavo Petro and stated commitment to the Declaration of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.  On climate, he said:  “We are facing an existential climate catastrophe for millions of people, especially for our brothers and sisters from small island developing States.”  On international migration, he said Member States must disallow migrants from being stigmatized and criminalized.  Further, he stated his country’s interest in joining the BRICS (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China, South Africa) group and applauded the efforts of countries that contribute to global peace, dialogue and understanding.

ANNE BEATHE TVINNEREIM, Minister for International Development of Norway, stated that the Russian Federation — “our neighbour” — is seeking to deny another UN Member State’s right to exist through an unprovoked and illegal war, while occupying the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, risking a grave nuclear incident.  The war against Ukraine has exacerbated a global, negative economic spiral; however, she noted Norway’s efforts to counter those manifold crises.  Her Government will cut emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and is investing heavily in offshore wind, carbon capture and storage.  Meanwhile, Norway has provided more than $5 billion to tropical forest countries, and on food security, is providing $500 million this year for developing countries to offset the global ramifications of the war.  She further noted that the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction Agreement shows that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea can adapt to evolving challenges. 

Noting that COVID-19 was “a global wake-up call”, she called for better preparation better for the next pandemic, voicing support for a pandemic accord at the World Health Organization (WHO).  The international community is familiar with the dividends of peace, yet “as a community, we have long underestimated the value of conflict prevention,” she said.  Dialogue is at the heart of diplomacy, and Norway welcomes renewed regional dialogue in the Middle East, as well as signs of de-escalation and intensified diplomatic activity among the countries in the region.  Her Government remains committed to seeking peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, despite concerning developments, and — in this thirtieth anniversary of the Oslo Accords — encourages greater efforts towards creating a viable Palestinian State.  Norway supports the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the ongoing negotiations between the Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), and maintains its engagement in the Horn of Africa.

In Afghanistan, Norway engages the de facto authorities in Kabul, as “if this can help to address the dire humanitarian situation — especially for women and girls, who are being deprived of education and a future — it is worth the attempt”, she stated.  Human rights are at the core of the UN, articulating a binding agenda for fulfilling human potential — and are integral to the Sustainable Development Goals. Particularly, she stressed, “societies prosper when women and girls participate on an equal footing and are free to exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights.”  The case for human rights is solid, whether approached from values, from the law, or more instrumentally.  “We should therefore all be concerned that standards are slipping in many places,” she affirmed:  “This has to stop.”  Human potential is the most precious resource of Governments and must not be wasted.

ABDOULAYE DIOP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, also speaking on behalf of Abdourahamane Tchiani, President of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland of Niger — “who has been prevented from speaking here” — said that peace and security remain priorities for the people of Mali and the Sahel.  He denounced certain Powers’ interference, which continues to facilitate the criminal activities of terrorist groups in that country and region. On 15 August 2022, the Government alerted the Security Council to France’s hostile activities and — rather than ceasing such actions — that permanent Council member continued with full impunity.  He also said that, after being present in Mali for 10 years, the international response to the country’s security challenges was not “commensurate to the threats”.  Further, the expectations of the people — expressed by national authorities — were often ignored, and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has not been able to help re-establish national territorial control.

Rather, he reported that the security situation has only deteriorated, and that the insecurity previously contained to Mali’s north when the Mission was deployed in 2013 has now reached its south and centre. It “became unacceptable”, he said, for the Government to allow MINUSMA to aggravate tensions between communities through the instrumentalization of human rights for political ends. Therefore, in June 2023, the Government requested the Mission’s withdrawal, and is now working towards such exit by 31 December pursuant to Security Council resolution 2690 (2023). The Government “does not envisage extending this deadline”, he stated, while adding that the Mission’s withdrawal does not mean the end of cooperation between Mali and the United Nations.  He underscored, however, that — in the current geopolitical context — “Mali does not want to be a theatre of confrontation or competition for foreign geopolitical interests”.  He also rejected the policy of certain States to “exercise neo-colonial dominion and subject other peoples and nations”.

He went on to state that the Government is “closely tracking the situation in Niger”, denouncing the imposition of sanctions and coercive measures against another nation — particularly when they are illegal and inhumane, as in the case of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) sanctions against Niger.  Mali also opposes any military intervention by ECOWAS, which would have disastrous consequences for Niger and the region.  “We will not stand idly by,” he stressed, urging that past errors not be repeated.  On that, he said that NATO’s 2011 intervention in Libya — authorized by the Council — violently destabilized that country and the region, serving as the “origin” of terrorism’s expansion through the Sahel.  He therefore called on the international community to “avoid reproducing in Niger the errors committed in Libya”, also calling for changes in global economic, financial and political governance to craft fair conditions for Africa’s participation in multilateral institutions.  Mali is committed to a multilateralism “where each nation counts”, he added.

REEM AL HASHIMY, Minister of State for International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, emphasized the importance of maintaining an international order based on respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of States.  International relations must be governed by international law, including United Nations resolutions.  “Resorting to the use of force instead of relying on political solutions, and dividing the world into an ‘us against them’ mentality, leads to further chaos and withers our diplomatic tools,” she said, underscoring the importance of respecting diversity, political differences and development disparities.  She stressed the need to enhance the effectiveness of international organizations, particularly the United Nations, the first line of defence to prevent the multilateral arena from becoming polarized when political rifts between major countries occur.  Regional organizations, such as the League of Arab States and the African Union, play a critical role with their understanding of local contexts.

Stressing that the best way to resolve crises is through peaceful means, particularly in a region ravaged by weapons and extremist ideologies, she renewed her Government’s demand to Iran to end its occupation of the three United Arab Emirates islands:  Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa.  Her country maintains its legitimate right to these islands and continues to seek a resolution, either through direct negotiations or the International Court of Justice.  She then stressed the Gulf Cooperation Council’s position that calls on Iraq to urgently address the negative consequences of a recent ruling of the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court regarding the agreement between Kuwait and Iraq on the regulation of maritime navigation in the Khor Abdullah waterway.  This action should be completed to serve neighbourly relations, in line with international law and agreements signed between the two countries, she stressed.

Her Government’s ultimate goal is to push for the “Zero Problems with Neighbours Principle”, refusing to accept that conflicts in the region are inevitable, and it believes that security, stability and prosperity will be restored in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Iraq and Lebanon.  Her Government also supports an independent Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Noting the climate crisis is an important juncture for the global community, she said Dubai is hosting COP28 in two months and will focus on intensifying international cooperation to achieve the highest ambitions possible.  “We must restore hope and be optimistic regarding our ability to confront climate change,” she said, adding that the energy sector’s transformation will provide a great opportunity to enhance and sustain human and economic development.  Financing, she added, is an essential tool in this process.

Right of Reply

The representative of China, responding to an earlier statement by the Foreign Minister of the Philippines, said the United Nations is not the right forum to discuss issues related to the South China Sea, yet he feels compelled to respond to erroneous rhetoric.  The arbitration tribunal’s award in the South China Sea case perverted the law and was in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The so-called ruling was illegal, and the Chinese Government has repeatedly stated it does not participate in the arbitration case or recognize its ruling.  China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea will not be compromised by said ruling, he stressed.  China and the Philippines are maritime neighbours and China stands ready to continue searching for solutions and keep the maritime situation stable.

The representative of Guatemala, responding to the statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belize, spotlighted the consistent reports of the Observation Mission of the Organization of American States, in the Adjacency Zone, which show the work to promote the culture of peace by both his country and Belize.  Additionally, he highlighted the joint work of the armed forces of both countries in combating drug trafficking.  However, Guatemala has been a systematic victim of radical, social, independentist Belizean groups, which year after year try to cause instability in the Sarstoon River zone, thus violating his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  He reiterated his Government’s commitment to collaborate closely with Belmopan to continue developing the Adjacency Zone.

The representative of Iran expressed regret that the representative of the United Arab Emirates resorted to the same “fabrications” and “baseless claims” regarding the three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf. Such islands continue to be an integral part of Iranian territory, and he emphasized that Iran’s territorial integrity — along with its sovereignty over such islands — is “not negotiable”. On the statement made during the general debate by the representative of Kuwait, he said that issues concerning the delimitation of maritime borders and the exploitation of common hydrocarbon resources should be addressed through dialogue and bilateral negotiations.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates, responding to the representative of Iran, said Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa are part of the territory of the United Arab Emirates.  Her delegation rejects the continued Iranian occupation of the three islands and has repeatedly called for a peaceful resolution to this conflict.  Yet Iran refuses to comply.  She reiterated her delegation’s call for Iran to abide by international law and the United Nations Charter to reach a peaceful settlement.


* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media. Not an official record.