ReliefWeb Latest Reports for Country Office

World: Senior Officials in General Assembly Voice Fears over Climate Change, International Banking Regulations, as Annual Debate Continues

Sudan - ReliefWeb News - 2 hours 3 min ago
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Burundi, Congo, Gabon, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

GA/11831

SEVENTY-FIRST SESSION, 20TH, 21ST & 22ND MEETINGS (AM, PM & NIGHT)

Decrying ‘Lip Service’ to United Nations Ideals, Speakers Declare Time for New Direction, Embracing Era of Engagement While the United Nations had been founded on the belief that States could solve problems collectively, the time had come to move in a new direction, the General Assembly heard today, as speakers underlined the need to embrace a new era of engagement based on common needs, innovative ideas and mutual respect.

During the day-long discussion, speakers representing several developing and least developed countries as well as small island States said they remained marginalized from the world’s bounty, pointing out that the current global order paid only lip service to the universal principles and ideals of the United Nations.

Indeed, it was time to recognize that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, said Prime Minister Gaston Alphonso Browne of Antigua and Barbuda. The latest challenge facing the Caribbean region was the withdrawal by global banks of correspondent banking regulations for its financial institutions, a practice known as “de-risking”. The region would be cut off from the world trading system, which would lead to economic collapse as well as rising poverty, crime, refugee numbers and human trafficking. Huge opportunities for money-laundering and terrorism financing would be created, he said, warning that no country would be immune from those consequences.

Prime Minister Allen Michael Chastanet of Saint Lucia declared: “We must decide whether the United Nations can continue to be a place where we lament our outdated grievances or a place where we begin to forge common ground.” Although Saint Lucia’s voice was supposed to be equal to the voices of other countries, realpolitik had proven the contrary, he said. There was no need to perpetuate a world order that elevated one group of nations over others.

Nepal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said that international finance and trade must be responsive to the needs and concerns of least developed and landlocked developing countries. Echoing that sentiment, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh of Viet Nam said developing countries were suffering amid weak global economic recovery, protectionism in major economies, climate change and epidemics.

A number of speakers expressed concern about the impact of climate change and the lack of sustainable climate financing. Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini of Swaziland said: “The negative impact of climate change has become a thorn in our economy.” It had depleted the country’s limited financial resources, killed an alarming number of livestock and destroyed most of the ecosystem. A serious reduction in the amount of water had exacerbated food insecurity, compelling the Government to declare the drought a national disaster.

Similarly, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of Malaysia pointed out that climate-related disasters, such as landslides and coastal erosion, had affected livelihoods, economic activity and the safety of populations. “If left unchecked, I am afraid climate change could, in fact, constitute the greatest threat multiplier for global security,” he warned.

Prime Minister Timothy S. Harris of Saint Kitts and Nevis reinforced that point, saying that a single climate event could wreak havoc on every aspect of life. Calling for a strategy to promote climate financing, he declared: “It means nothing to say that billions of dollars are available for climate financing if the mechanisms for accessing them are opaque, prohibitive and extremely difficult to penetrate.”

The economic impact of environmental damage was dire, a number of speakers said, stressing that more urgent and wide-ranging action was needed to ensure the survival of their countries. Francine Baron, Dominica’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, recalled that Tropical Storm Erika had killed 30 of her fellow citizens and caused economic damages estimated at $483 million, the equivalent of 90 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Also taking the floor today, Walid Al-Moualem, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said that his country’s citizens had paid dearly for terrorist crimes, but would not relent in their fight. Their belief in victory was even greater now that the Syrian Arab Army — with the support of the Russian Federation, Iran and the National Lebanese Resistance — had made great strides in the war. He welcomed international efforts to fight terrorism in Syria, but emphasized the need to coordinate with the Government. Uncoordinated action would be considered a breach of sovereignty and a violation of the United Nations Charter. Speaking critically of a number of States, he reiterated his Government’s commitment to moving forward with the Geneva peace talks, under the auspices of the United Nations.

Also participating in today’s debate were speakers representing Timor-Leste, Tonga, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Ireland, Iceland, Tajikistan, Congo, Kyrgyzstan, Gabon, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Cambodia, Barbados, Burundi, Somalia, Maldives, Bhutan, Grenada and Mauritania.

Representatives of Turkey, Indonesia, China and the Philippines spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Monday, 26 September, to conclude its general debate.

Statements

RUI MARIA DE ARAÚJO, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, said that promoting intergovernmental coherence while strengthening the Peacebuilding Commission and partnerships would improve the United Nations system. “Our joint efforts need to be able to respond more effectively to the challenges facing our nations and peoples,” he said, expressing concern over inequality and conflicts. International peace and security could only be maintained if countries became an integral part of solutions to problems. Regional integration generated opportunities for economic development and contributed to national and regional peace and stability, he said, adding that his country aspired to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the opportunity to fulfil the dreams of its people.

“Without peace and stability, we cannot think of development,” he continued, reiterating his commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2015, Timor-Leste had joined a group of eight other countries to serve as models for implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and the Government had formed an inter-ministerial working group to map indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals. It had selected 20 targets to monitor their implementation. Among other things, Timor-Leste would convene a high-level international conference in March 2017 to discuss ways to advance the 2030 Agenda under the most difficult circumstances, he said. “We are committed to show our youth how important their role is in achieving these Goals,” he said, calling upon all stakeholders to contribute. While it was not an easy exercise, the Government was working towards harmonizing the Goals with national activities and budget.

He went on to note that the situation of refugees and migrants remained unresolved and deserved further focused attention and support. “We need to establish a frank political dialogue and international partnerships to ensure continued respect for human rights and humanitarian assistance,” he said. Having experienced conflict, Timor-Leste knew only too well the high price of war and was ready to contribute to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, it had ratified the relevant conventions and strengthened its commitments to fight terrorism and organized crime. Turning to the issue of maritime boundaries, he emphasized that, even 14 years after Timor-Leste had become the 191st Member State of the United Nations, it had not defined its maritime boundaries with Indonesia and Australia. “The delimitation of our maritime borders will ensure our sovereign rights and give us certainty with respect to what belongs to us,” he said. Delimitation was also essential in order to ensure economic stability and self-sufficiency, and to create a better future for Timor-Leste’s people. For that reason, the Government had started a process of compulsory conciliation in April in order to resolve disputes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he said, adding that he was confident the panel of experts would contribute to an amicable solution.

ALLEN MICHAEL CHASTANET, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service of Saint Lucia, said “old habits and old arguments” were irrelevant to the challenges of today, and called upon the United States to lift its embargo against Cuba. Most of the world’s challenges stemmed from the denial of access to basic human rights, such as education, health care, justice and security. The very format of engaging in a “general debate” was a contradiction because, while many spoke, few “stayed around to listen” and far fewer responded, he pointed out. “We wonder how and why this entity is so negatively perceived by the persons we are elected to serve?”

As a small island State, Saint Lucia’s voice was meant to be equal, but realpolitik had proven the contrary, he continued. Instead of being invited to participate in a solution to the world’s challenges, small islands had been forced to adopt programmes created by more advanced States, only to be criticized by the very same countries and branded as tax havens. “We are left to dance between the raindrops,” he said, noting that, while deeply affected by the 2008 financial crisis, they had not participated in the solutions.

The Group of 20 had a legitimacy problem because it was unofficial and non-inclusive, he said, adding that many of its members championed the very financial and economic systems that had created the crisis, he said, emphasizing that there was no need to perpetuate a world order that elevated one group of nations over others. Recalling that the United Nations had been founded on the belief that nations could solve problems collectively, and rooted in the hard lessons of war, he said the time had come to move in a new direction. With the advent of the technological revolution, there was a need to embrace a new era of engagement based on common needs, innovative ideas and mutual respect, he stressed. “We must decide whether the United Nations can continue to be a place where we lament our outdated grievances or a place where we begin to forge common ground.”

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance of Antigua and Barbuda, expressed support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and disappointment that many of its goals remained aspirational, lacking legally binding funding commitments. “We are realistic enough not to reject the good for the perfect,” he said, adding that his Government would continue to advocate for fairness and equity in pursuing the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Earlier this week, Antigua and Barbuda had deposited its instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change and urged other nations to do the same. “Time is not on our side,” he said, warning that, even at a temperature rise of 1.5°C, many countries — or parts of them — would be washed away. The ravages of climate change would also generate many refugees and displaced persons.

He said that, as a solution to those challenges, his country had repeatedly proposed debt swaps for climate change adaptation and mitigation. That plan included the provision of soft loans to stop further debt accumulation, while helping to build resilience to global warming and sea-level rise. International financial institutions and donor Governments must stop using per capita income as the criterion by which nations qualified for loans, he emphasized, while noting that such pleas had long fallen on deaf ears. Year after year, Heads of Government of small States had called on the Assembly to address those challenges to no avail. “We remain trapped in the reality of a narrow tax base, high debt, large trade deficits, small underdeveloped domestic financial markets, small private sectors and fragile banking systems,” he said, adding that the latest challenge facing the Caribbean region was the withdrawal by global banks of correspondent banking regulations for its financial institutions — known as “de-risking”.

As a result of that practice, he continued, the region would be cut off from the world trading system, which would lead to economic collapse, as well as rising poverty, crime, refugee numbers and human trafficking. Huge opportunities for money-laundering and terrorism financing would be created. Warning that no country would be immune from those consequences, he said that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) had decided to convene a high-level conference on the matter, to be held in Antigua on 27 and 28 October. In that regard, he called upon the Assembly to recognize the substantial and dangerous threat posed by de-risking and work to address it constructively. Pointing out that developing countries and small States remained marginalized from the world’s bounty, he said the current global order paid only lip service to the universal principles and ideals of the United Nations. Indeed, it was time to recognize that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, he stressed.

TIMOTHY S. HARRIS, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said many global problems stemmed from years of social neglect and economic inequalities. Solving them would require greater partnership and finding common ground. Critical to transforming the world was the empowerment of young people, and significant intervention would be required to feed their sense of leadership and civic responsibility. Saint Kitts and Nevis had focused on job creation, skills enhancement, entrepreneurship and support for teen mothers. Small arms and light weapons had also had devastating effects on young lives, and while the Government had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, it needed support, he said.

Indeed, given the country’s small size, one climate event could wreak havoc on every aspect of life, he said, calling for a strategy to promote climate financing. “It means nothing to say that billions of dollars are available for climate financing if the mechanisms for accessing them are opaque, prohibitive and extremely difficult to penetrate,” he pointed out, urging “common sense cooperation”. Small islands were also being marginalized in the global financial system, he said, noting that 16 banks across five countries had lost all or some of their correspondent banking relationships in the first half of 2016, placing their financial lifelines at great risk.

Urging the Group of Seven, the Group of 20 and international financial bodies to re-evaluate how and whether a country qualified for concessional support, he said that the arbitrary classification of some small States as middle-income countries could never make sense when one could grow at 4 to 6 per cent one year only to see nearly 100 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) wiped out by a tropical storm. Noting the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, he called for lower treatment costs for non-communicable diseases. Saint Kitts and Nevis had forged durable partnerships that had been integral to its efforts to modernize its economy, he said, adding that Cuba’s support in the areas of education and training, health care, agriculture and heritage development had dwarfed the assistance provided by many advanced economies. Support from Taiwan had also been remarkable, he said, welcoming new opportunities for that country’s integration into the international community. He also decried the nuclear tests carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in violation of Security Council resolution 2270 (2016).

BARNABAS SIBUSISO DLAMINI, Prime Minister of Swaziland, said that his country had started mainstreaming and popularizing the Sustainable Development Goals through awareness-raising campaigns, education and training at all levels. In addition, the country had integrated the Goals into the national development framework. In that regard, appropriate institutional arrangements had been put in place to monitor the 2030 Agenda’s implementation. Both the executive and legislative arms of Government were fully involved and progress was periodically reported to the Cabinet and to Parliament. Among other things, the Government had translated its national “Vision 2022” into practical and feasible targets so as to expedite economic growth while improving health care, service delivery, infrastructure and governance, as well as fighting corruption.

Turning to climate change, he expressed commitment to fighting global warming, pointing out that Swaziland had participated in all the negotiations that had culminated in the adoption and subsequent signing of the Paris Agreement. “The negative impact of climate change has become a thorn in our economy,” he said, adding that it had depleted the country’s limited financial resources, killed an alarming number of livestock and destroyed most of the ecosystem. At the same time, drought had led to a serious reduction in the amount of water required for crop production, human use and consumption, and exacerbated food and nutrition insecurity. In view of that situation, the Government had declared drought a national disaster, he said.

Noting that his country continued to be a big and active player in promoting regional and continental integration, he recalled that in August, Swaziland had hosted the thirty-sixth Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government Summit — under the theme “resource mobilization for investment in sustainable energy infrastructure” — which had focused on inclusive industrialization. Furthermore, Swaziland was a signatory to a number of trade integration arrangements, ranging from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to the Tripartite Free Trade Area. Those arrangements had opened up preferential market access opportunities to maximize trade at the regional and international levels, he said.

SAMIUELA 'AKILISI POHIVA, Prime Minister of Tonga, said that his country continuously advocated for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its natural resources. Tonga attached great importance to Sustainable Development Goal 14 and believed it could be attained through set targets and indicators. In that regard, the country looked forward to the first United Nations conference on Goal 14 as an opportunity to see where the international community stood in terms of conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources. Regarding the exploitation of biological diversity, he said that regulation of areas beyond national jurisdictions was yet to be realized. In accordance with the 2014 decision of Pacific Island Forum leaders, Tonga supported the ongoing process of preparatory meetings.

He said that his country paid close attention to the interaction of the ocean with climate, noting that Tonga had signed and ratified the Paris Agreement. “We cannot face the challenges of climate change alone,” he emphasized. Calling attention to his country’s clear and unambiguous links to international peace and security, he called upon the Special Representative on Climate and Security, as well as the Security Council, to raise the issue in the necessary platforms. “Tonga is the third most vulnerable country in the world to the adverse impacts of climate change,” he said, stressing that their seriousness could not be underestimated.

Noting that the maintenance of international peace and security would be determined by the issue of disarmament, he said the proliferation of weapons in all their forms not only threatened international peace and security, but demonstrated the sheer waste of financial resources. Those funds might be better spent on international sustainable development initiatives and improving people’s lives, he pointed out. Part of the challenge of ensuring equitable development was preventing unfair economic dominance by one country over another, which had resulted in the suffering of innocent people, and was not acceptable. In that regard, he congratulated the United States on its incremental easing of restrictions on its economic interactions with in Cuba. Among other things, he expressed concern about the welfare of the Pacific peoples in West Papua Province of Indonesia. Regarding human rights abuses in that province, he called for an open and constructive dialogue with Indonesia on the status and welfare of West Papuans.

PHAM BINH MINH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said the Sustainable Development Goals were within reach, with reform, innovation, creativity and economic restructuring setting countries on a prosperous path. Yet, developing countries were suffering amid weak global economic recovery, protectionism in major economies, climate change and epidemics. Of particular concern were conflict and terrorism in many regions.

He called for strengthening multilateralism and the operation of multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, given the Organization’s indispensable role in coordinating responses to global challenges. The Security Council must be reformed to ensure greater equality, democracy and transparency, while the development system should be better resourced, he emphasized. Viet Nam supported the broadest participation of countries in the formulation of resolutions, he said.

“International law remains the linchpin of a stable international security architecture,” he said, while noting that unilateralism had created tensions. Peace could be achieved through a comprehensive approach that harmonized the interests of all stakeholders, he said, welcoming the positive developments between Cuba and the United States in that regard. He urged all parties involved in recent developments in the South China Sea to exercise self-restraint and to resolve disputes peacefully.

WALID AL-MOUALEM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said his people had paid dearly for the crimes of terrorists who had undermined their security, stability and livelihoods. It was no secret that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had played a role in spreading terrorism throughout Syria, promoting their Wahhabist ideology and equipping mercenaries with sophisticated weapons. Meanwhile, Turkey had opened its borders and provided logistical support to tens of thousands of terrorists from around the world, he said.

In spite of that, Syrians would not relent in the fight, he vowed, saying that their belief in victory was even greater now that the Syrian Arab Army — with the support of the Russian Federation, Iran and the Lebanese national resistance — had made great strides in the war. While welcoming international efforts to fight terrorism in Syria, he emphasized the need to coordinate with the Government, warning that any uncoordinated action would be considered a breach of sovereignty and a violation of the United Nations Charter. As such, the Syrian Government strongly condemned the attack on a Syrian army site near Deir ez-Zor Airport by United States warplanes on 17 September, he said.

He went on to condemn Turkey’s incursion into Syrian territory, calling for an end to “this flagrant aggression”. Any solution to the crisis must follow parallel counter-terrorism and political tracks through the intra-Syrian dialogue, which would enable Syrians to determine the future of their country without foreign interference. Despite hurdles created by regional and Western States on behalf of the self-proclaimed “Syrian opposition”, the Government had always been open to a political track that would stop the bloodshed and end the prolonged suffering of Syrians. On that note, he reiterated his Government’s commitment to moving forward with the Geneva peace talks, under the auspices of the United Nations.

AHMAD ZAHID HAMIDI, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, said that his Government’s national development plan was based on three pillars — increasing incomes, focusing on inclusiveness and promoting sustainability. Malaysia had initiated several programmes that would provide technical and vocational training to facilitate the entry of young professionals into the labour market, and to establish the country as the start-up capital of Asia, he said. However, sustainable development could be hampered by the devastating impacts of climate change, as witnessed by various small island developing States. The phenomenon presented “an existential threat to their subsistence”.

He went on to point out that the world had witnessed an increase in the intensity and frequency of climate-related disasters, such as landslides and coastal erosions, which had affected livelihoods, economic activity and the safety of populations. “If left unchecked, I am afraid climate change could, in fact, constitute the greatest threat multiplier for global security,” he warned. The international community must follow through with the commitments made in Paris, he said, noting that Malaysia had committed to reducing its greenhouse-gas emission intensity of GDP by up to 45 per cent by 2030.

Turning to peace and security, he noted that the international community continued to witness horrific acts by non-State actors. However, the fight against extremists would not be won exclusively through the use of force or punitive measures, which was why Malaysia had focused on de-radicalization and rehabilitation programmes to change the mindsets of radicalized individuals, in addition to complementary forms of humanitarian assistance to help them reintegrate into society. The success rate of those programmes had been around 97.5 per cent, he said, adding that the Government was prepared to share its experience with other countries since “no nation is immune to the threat posed by international terrorism”.

PASQUALE VALENTI, Minister for Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino, described the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as one of the most important moments in the Organization’s history. The 2030 Agenda defined the planet’s future and the vision of the world “we want to live in”. In particular, San Marino appreciated the commitment shown by Member States to reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 2020, and attached great importance to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the monitoring mechanism identified during the High-Level Political Forum.

Emphasizing the need for all international stakeholders to play their part, he said that his country had made several humanitarian contributions in recent months. Apart from its financial contribution to international programmes, San Marino had joined the humanitarian corridor project supported by Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and had hosted some migrants. San Marino recognized that a culture of understanding and peaceful coexistence among different people was the only way to face the challenges of globalization and build a planet for all, he said.

AURELIA FRICK, Foreign Minister of Liechtenstein, said migration should be a choice not a necessity. Exploiting fears for political gain was cynical and unproductive, while preventing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes would eliminate one of the main reasons why people were forced to flee their homes. The Security Council had an opportunity to enter a new phase of its historical engagement in crises. “The world is looking to this Organization to provide this engagement, and it is too often disappointed,” she said, reminding leaders that, for 70 years, it had been illegal to engage in armed conflict except in narrowly defined circumstances. Accountable institutions, access to justice for everyone and significant reduction of corruption were all key ingredients of sustainable development. “Only if it is clear that nobody is above the law can the law prevail,” she said, adding that it was, therefore, crucial to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes under international law.

She said she looked forward to the completion of the Rome Statute, which would give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over the crime of aggression and criminalize the most serious forms of the illegal use of force. While the Court was the strongest symbol that impunity was no longer an option, it was not a solution to all problems. Noting that more than 45 million people lived in conditions that qualified as modern slavery, generating billions of dollars, she said modern slavery was the biggest human rights scandal of modern times. To combat one of the biggest illegal business models, Liechtenstein would focus on disrupting financial flows and using relevant data for criminal prosecutions. It would also work towards greater involvement of international justice mechanisms where national judiciaries systematically failed. While the best person for the job should be appointed the next Secretary-General, she said it would make her “very happy if this person was to be a woman”.

CHARLES FLANAGAN, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, said the Sustainable Development Goals had the capacity to address many of the root causes of mass migration, including poverty, inequality and climate change. In tandem with long-term development efforts, a multilateral response was needed to address the more urgent needs of migrants and refugees, he said, noting that his country was doing its part through a €60 million pledge in support of the Syrian people, and its participation in a European Union resettlement programme. In addition to humanitarian relief, greater investment was needed in conflict prevention and post-conflict reconciliation, he said, emphasizing the importance of ensuring greater representation of women in those and other activities — a goal that Ireland would prioritize during its membership of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2017.

He welcomed the French initiative to revive the stalled Middle East peace process and reaffirmed his support for United Nations efforts to bring an end to the conflict in Syria through dialogue and diplomacy. Turning to Africa, he called for a “transparent, accountable and human-rights-based resolution” of the continent’s numerous conflicts, which were undermining sustainable development efforts. While reaffirming Ireland’s commitment to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he emphasized his country’s absolute condemnation of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. “Ireland calls for an end to impunity for these crimes,” he said, stressing his country’s commitment to hold its own troops accountable for their behaviour while deployed overseas. Finally, he called for Security Council reform and for African representation, in particular.

LILJA DÖGG ALFREÐSDÓTTIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, addressed a number of her country’s key priorities, including the migration crisis, climate change, minority rights and the protection of international law. Recalling the mass migration of Icelanders to North America at the end of the nineteenth century, she called upon the international community to “step up to the plate” in response to the current migration crisis, saying Iceland would have taken in 100 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. In proportion to its size, that number would have been equivalent to 100,000 refugees in the United States, she observed. Emphasizing the need to resolve several protracted conflicts in the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the crisis in Syria and the dispute over Western Sahara, she said injustice and the failure of governance were driving them.

She said education was a precondition of good governance and a key pillar of her country’s development cooperation. On the issue of minority rights, she stressed the need to protect the rights of women, as well as those of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. Pointing out that she was one of only 30 female foreign ministers around the world, she underlined how far the world still had to go and welcomed in that regard the strong field of female candidates for the position of United Nations Secretary-General. Regarding climate change, she said her country planned to ratify the Paris Agreement soon and would review its progress in two years’ time. Finally, she expressed concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, saying it was in violation of international law and threatened the security of its own people, the wider region and the world. “For a small and peaceful country like mine, international law is our sword, shield and shelter,” she said.

SIRODJIDIN ASLOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, said that, while the global community had recently made headway in the area of development, it had been less successful in addressing issues of peace and security. In particular, combating international terrorism and violent extremism had become a top priority. There was a need to develop national, regional and international mechanisms aimed at eliminating military infrastructures, financing channels, logistical support, recruiting and propaganda of violence, as well as the use of modern information and communications technology (ICT) for purposes of terror. Preventing illicit drug trafficking, which had turned into a breeding ground for terrorism and organized crime, also required concerted joint action. Tajikistan stood for a comprehensive settlement of the crises in the Middle East, which would help to enhance global security, he said, while also expressing support for the international strategy for a comprehensive settlement and post-conflict reconstruction in neighbouring Afghanistan.

With the setting of the 2030 Agenda, the world had begun a process of transformation, he said. “It is obvious that the path towards sustainable development is not going to be easy and smooth,” he said, noting that both traditional and emerging challenges presented additional and complex tasks, seriously undermining security and stability around the globe. The response required regional cooperation and political will, reinforced by adequate means of implementation. It was crucial to remember that countries in special situations — including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States — would begin implementing the 2030 Agenda under less favourable conditions and required special support. Underlining the importance of water in the 2030 Agenda, he warned that climate change, urbanization and population growth would exacerbate water-related challenges. In that regard, countries must work together on a new water agenda, particularly in cases of waters shared among various sectors, such as health, agriculture, energy and navigation.

PRAKASH SHARAN MAHAT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, said the international community’s failure to agree a comprehensive convention on terrorism was highly frustrating. He called for speedy resolution of the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, and expressed support for lasting peace in the Middle East. Nepal would remain committed to fulfilling its international obligations and providing additional troops and civilians to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said. For peace missions to be successful there must be unity of purpose in mobilizing the Security Council’s political capital, clearly defined mandates and adequate resource back-up, he emphasized. Troop-contributing countries must have fair opportunities to serve in leadership positions, both in the field and at Headquarters, and human rights must not be used as tools to serve hidden political objectives.

Nepal’s new Constitution contained a list of human rights measures, he said, noting that the country had abolished the death penalty and put legal and institutional measures in place for the realization of all human rights. On migration, he said the welfare of migrant workers must have priority in the countries where they worked. As the source country for more than 3 million migrant workers, Nepal called for concerted efforts at the national, regional and international levels to ensure their well-being. International finance and trade must be responsive to the needs and concerns of least developed countries and landlocked developing countries, he said, adding that climate justice must be based on common but differentiated responsibilities, with special attention to climate-vulnerable countries, particularly mountainous countries. The success of Nepal’s peace process could be a good example for countries transitioning from conflict to peace, he said, adding that his country’s constitution guaranteed equal opportunity and protection for every citizen. Women were guaranteed at least one-third representation in Parliament and 40 per cent in local government, he added.

JEAN-CLAUDE GAKOSSO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Congo, said the 2030 Agenda had heralded a new era of sustainable development. Recalling that his country had allocated many resources on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, he said it would now turn its attention to the implementation of the new agenda. However, it would require the international community’s support, including through mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. Pledging to ensure that each Congolese citizen lived in dignity and that no one was left behind, he underscored the significance of the recent Group of 20 decision to support industrialization in developing countries, especially in Africa. The continent would not be able to develop sustainably without first industrializing and gaining better access to energy. Recalling that, five years ago, the world had welcomed the birth of its newest nation, he said it was regrettable that South Sudan had rapidly plunged into a fratricidal conflict. All parties to that conflict must demonstrate political will and commit in good faith to implementing the 2015 peace agreement. Calling for the deployment of a regional stability force under a Security Council mandate, he said the time had come to put an end to the bloodbath in South Sudan, which imperilled global security.

Noting that the Central African Republic had, not long ago, been caught up in another serious crisis, he said that country had been able to successfully implement a political transition with the help of its international and regional partners. Deploring the tragic events that had rocked Kinshasa almost a week ago, he invited the Democratic Republic of the Congo to seek peaceful solutions through an inclusive dialogue. Turning to Gabon, where a post-electoral crisis had led to violence, he said the country should aim to emerge reconciled from that painful ordeal. In his own country, he cited a number of recent institutional developments following last year’s referendum. Those had led to the adoption of a Constitution that strengthened the principle of the separation of powers, abolished capital punishment, provided for gender equality, recognized the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples and provided a blueprint for participatory democracy.

ERLAN ABDYLDAYEV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, celebrated the conclusion of his country’s October 2015 parliamentary elections, and thanked the Secretary-General for his support during that process. He called upon the United Nations and partner organizations to support the country’s upcoming elections in 2017. He expressed his support for the Sustainable Development Goals, which included a number of priorities for his country, including poverty reduction, high-quality education, health care, economic growth and environmental protection. On that note, he announced that he had signed the Paris Agreement outside the General Assembly hall the preceding day. Enumerating the many environmental stresses Kyrgyzstan faced, he called for international support to help his country adapt to climate change. Particularly concerning was the rapid rate of glacial melting, shrinking biodiversity and uranium mining sites, which despite having been addressed under General Assembly resolution 68/218, now required a high-level international meeting.

Turning to issues of security and stability, he expressed concern about tensions in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Ukraine, and noted that terrorism, extremism and religious intolerance afflicted his country like so many others. Observing that the “confrontational position of some countries” was hindering the international community’s ability to tackle those threats, he called for world Powers to set aside their disputes and undertake joint efforts to counter threats to international security. There needed to be a General Assembly resolution on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation for peace. Concerned about his country’s electricity shortage, he called for Central Asia to reach a common understanding on the rational use of energy resources and an expeditious resolution of border disputes. He added his voice to others calling for Security Council reform, and welcomed recent procedural changes in the election of the Secretary-General. Finally, he expressed his concern about the involvement of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in the case of Azimjan Askarov, who had been convicted by the Kyrgyz Supreme Court. Such interventions were liable to destabilize his country.

EMMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, said the present General Assembly session was taking place following a disputed presidential election in his country. Yesterday, the Constitutional Court had reaffirmed the victory of Ali Bongo Ondimba as President and Head of State. Recalling that the Government had institutionalized the use of biometric data to draw up its voters lists, and that it had welcomed over 1,200 observers and 200 foreign journalists to ensure the election was fair and democratic, he said there had nevertheless been several violent incidents and loss of life associated with the election. President Ondimba had called for an inclusive dialogue as well as reconciliation and national unity, which were now among the country’s main goals. Citing a number of recent international successes, including the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba and the signing of the Paris Agreement, he said the latter now required implementation. Gabon had begun its ratification procedure, and it looked forward to the next Conference of States Parties.

In that regard, he stressed that a major challenge that remained to be addressed was that of ensuring energy across Africa. Noting that two thirds of Africans still lacked access to energy, he said environmental issues were at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and required sustained enthusiasm as well as concrete action. Calling for the greater mobilization of human, financial resources and more direct involvement of the private sector, he stressed that “we must redouble our creativity” and explore new pathways of development. For its part, Gabon had established a new Government agency to design and implement a sectoral approach to the environment, as well as other key priority issues. It also participated actively in the fight against terrorism. Emphasizing that more efforts were needed to cut off financing to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he said addressing the terrorist threat also meant resolving the crises in Libya, Syria and elsewhere.

FRANCINE BARON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and CARICOM Affairs of Dominica, said that realizing the Sustainable Development Goals was not about ticking boxes, but about making a real difference. The international community must sharpen its focus on the impact of climate change on small island developing States. They had seen agricultural production dramatically reduced, leading to prolonged drought and soil erosion. The economic impact of the environmental damage was dire, and “more urgent and wide-ranging action is needed in fighting against climate change to ensure our very survival”. Dominica had been painfully reminded of that in 2015, when Tropical Storm Erika had killed 30 of its citizens, she recalled.

That event had caused economic damage estimated at $483 million, the equivalent of 90 per cent of national GDP, she recalled. Dominica had since made great strides in building more climate-resilient and adaptive infrastructure in a process facilitated by the support of bilateral and multilateral partners, she said. Still, the country continued to suffer the “disproportionate burdens and impacts of climate change”, which hampered its efforts to develop in a sustainable manner, she said, adding that resources intended for sustainable development programmes had instead been shifted to post-disaster rehabilitation efforts. Dominica, therefore, continued to call for the establishment of an international natural disaster risk fund, she said, describing the Caribbean Risk Fund and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Disaster Recovery Facilities as “good starting points”.

PERFECTO R. YASAY, JR., Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said that after his country’s hard-fought and hard-won independence, it zealously valued and guarded its rights and liberties through democracy and a system of checks and balances. Five months ago, the people had elected new President Rodrigo Roa Duterte with an unprecedented and resounding electoral mandate. For far too long, the Philippines had been unable to fully advance due to corruption, worsening crime, and the prevalence of illegal drugs, and corruption had become the breeding ground for the illegal drug trade. The Government was determined to eradicate illicit drugs and their manufacture, distribution and use. The rule of law and strict adherence to due process fully governed the campaign against corruption and criminality. Noting that the Government’s actions had grabbed national and international attention for all the wrong reasons, he urged everyone “to allow us to deal with our domestic challenges in order to achieve our national goals, without undue interference”. Extrajudicial killings had no place in Philippine society, and the Government did not and would never empower its law enforcement agents to shoot-to-kill any individual suspected of drug crimes, though police had the right to defend themselves when their lives were threatened.

The goal of the Government was to “leave no one behind” in its development strides, he said. The Philippines continued to enhance the delivery and quality of social services, including in health, education, food, water and housing. As one of the most disaster-prone and vulnerable countries to the adverse effects of climate change, the Philippines reiterated its call for climate justice and the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in the implementation of obligations under the Paris Agreement. The country remained committed to the rule of law and to peace, including the recent decision on the Arbitral Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague with regard to the disputes in the South China Sea. Noting the final and binding nature of the Arbitral Award, the Philippines reaffirmed its commitment to pursuing peaceful resolution to regional disputes.

SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, said that several countries in the region were facing multiple crises and conflicts ignited after 2011. A number of Arab countries had descended into internal fighting and the plight of the Palestinian people continued under Israeli occupation without a just solution on the horizon. Countering terrorist groups was a right and duty of all; however, resorting to “blindly placed laws”, such as the United States Congress’ Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, ignoring the effective roles played by a number of nations, would lead to further arbitrary policies and destabilize relationships between allies. He went on to observe that Iran, with expansionist regional policies and interference in its neighbours’ internal affairs, had played the greatest role in causing regional tension and instability. Despite the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1, he said, that country had continued its efforts to undermine regional security through aggressive rhetoric and by developing its ballistic missile programme.

With regards to Libya, he said that his country welcomed the Skhirat Agreement and the formation of the Government of National Accord. On Syria, the United Arab Emirates saw no possibility of resolving the crisis through military force. “Bandaging the wounds” by repeating charitable humanitarian efforts or holding international conferences were no substitutes for resolving such crises. His country had built mechanisms to protect youth by establishing the Hedayah Centre to combat extremism and the Sawab Centre with the United States. It had also established the Muslim Council of Elders and the Forum for the Promotion of Peace in Muslim Communities to demonstrate the true face of Islam. However, regional crises should not distract from his country’s core issue — its sovereignty over three islands, Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, occupied by Iran against the provisions of international law and the Charter. The United Arab Emirates had called on Iran to return the islands, particularly through international justice or arbitration, and would continue to do so. He affirmed that his country would never give up its right over those islands.

IBRAHIM AHMED ABD AL-AZIZ GHANDOUR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, stressed the need to reform the United Nations and its various structures. He expressed hope that countries calling for such reform would be heeded to ensure the Organization became a platform for implementing principles of international legality and justice. He also emphasized that the fight against impunity through international mechanisms should be depoliticized. The International Criminal Court, rather than dispensing justice, hampered efforts to achieve peace. Many African States were threatening to withdraw from the Court due to its politicization.

His country would knock on every door in pursuing peace, stressing that dialogue was the only means of strengthening the social fabric, he said. Darfur had now become a peaceful and secure region, with the United Nations as a witness. His Government reiterated its call for the withdrawal of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Its considerable forces could be better employed elsewhere. He also called for the removal of sanctions against his country and the writing off of its billions of dollars in foreign debt, which was hampering Sudan’s economic capabilities and ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

PRAK SOKHONN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, noted that despite progress made in the areas of development and technology, there had been challenges in areas of peace and security. The latter would need to be addressed with actions, not words alone. New tensions were reason for great concern as well, especially in the Middle East. That required a more effective international response, including a more equitable representation of countries among the members of the Security Council. He stated his intention to work with all constructively to achieve lasting peace. The root causes of terrorism, most notably inequality and discrimination, had to be addressed. There must be peaceful coexistence among religions and countries, and radicalization had to be addressed.

He urged that equality must also be pursued in international trade and economic development. The Paris Agreement must be implemented without delay to avoid serious consequences. With regard to the Sustainable Development Goals, he noted the responsibility of the developed countries to work in close partnership with developing States. He recounted the terror his own country had to experience, which depleted all its resources. Only Viet Nam responded during that dark period and accepted displaced persons. That past continued to weigh upon citizens and society as a whole. Despite the challenges, progress has been made in Cambodia in terms of development and reconciliation. His State had gained expertise in demining and supported other countries in the removal of such devices. Concluding, he said that mass terror and violence had to be prevented.

MAXINE PAMELA OMETA MCCLEAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, said it was necessary to act now to make the vision of Agenda 2030 a reality, and that this was particularly true for the small island developing States. She was proud to have participated in the launch, in Barbados, of the Caribbean Human Development Report 2016, and noted the three central issues it highlighted for low-lying coastal Caribbean States: vulnerability, resilience and sustainability. The existential threat which climate changed posed for island States was well-documented. The Prime Minister of Barbados had participated in the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement in April, and deposited the instrument of ratification on the same occasion. Barbados had developed a National Climate Change Policy Framework, and recognized the potential of sustainable ocean exploitation as an important component of its future development.

In 50 years since its independence, Barbados had achieved a significant level of human development, she said, but the country was concerned that international development agencies were penalizing it for its progress, while ignoring its obvious vulnerabilities. Another obstacle was “the persistent and unwarranted attacks” on the country’s international financial services sector. Barbados welcomed the progress towards the normalization of bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States of America, and looked forward to the dismantling of the final vestiges of the long-standing embargo.

ALAIN AIMÉ NYAMITWE, Minister for External Affairs of Burundi, acknowledged the importance of the Inter-Burundi Dialogue, but said it should not replace or undermine the country’s Constitution. His Government believed that peaceful political stakeholders should discuss the country’s future but must adhere to its policies. In reacting to recent conflict in the country, citizens of Burundi had called for several important reforms, which could not be ignored, and the Government had maintained an unwavering commitment to human rights. The Government had reiterated its commitment to ensure the safety of all citizens, irrespective of ethnicity. It was imperative that any human rights assessment of the country be executed with caution, as falsified information and reports on social media had all been used to place the country under a bad light. His Government rejected any politicized or falsified reports on human rights in the country and would produce a comprehensive counter-report.

Turning to global security, he said terrorism was now affecting all regions of the world. Some progress had been made to combat it, but international efforts or a common strategy had not yet yielded the desired results. His Government condemned terrorism and believed the fight against it must continue with greater determination. Since 2007, Burundi had been contributing troops to fight terrorism, based on an ironclad commitment against the scourge and in support of global peace. Burundi was determined to help its brothers and sisters recover their dignity and freedom. He called on the United Nations to fill in the financial gap left by a reduction in the European Union budget for AMISOM.

ABDUSALAM HADLIYEH OMER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Somalia, noted that after almost two decades of instability, his country had permanently turned the corner towards prosperity. The Government had made tangible progress on elections, State formation, security and economic development. Somalia was also winning the war against terrorism at home and contributing to creating a safer world by cooperating with international partners. With the support of its national security services and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Al-Shabaab had been militarily defeated. Today, that group controlled less than 10 per cent of the country’s territory. In recent months, many of its key leaders had been killed while others had defected, and it had turned to small-team asymmetric warfare tactics to conduct terror attacks against “soft targets” in Somalia and its neighbours.

He continued to say that his country was grateful to nations which had contributed troops to the AMISOM, as well as to international partners. But the only way to achieve long-term stability and development was to have trained, equipped and funded Somali national security forces, he said, expressing hope that the aim could be achieved ahead of the Mission drawdown in 2018. The President had recently launched the National Strategy and Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, which would provide a holistic framework for addressing security threats. In addition, the Government was determined to ensure a smooth and inclusive electoral process for a peaceful democratic transition in November, championing a 13 per cent quota for women in Parliament. Through diverse partnerships, it was also working on successfully returning Somali refugees home from Kenya voluntarily and with dignity so they could actively participate in their nation’s rebuilding efforts.

MOHAMED ASIM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, said that the adoption of the 2030 Agenda provided a rare opportunity for the whole world to come together in a moment of collective agreement. The Maldives was focused on investing in health and education. The country sought to deliver easily accessible health care, a feat that was challenging for a population of 338,000 dispersed over 188 islands. “Investing in our people will put us on the right path, and no investment has higher returns than when we invest in women and girls,” he said. As a small island developing State, the Maldives was susceptible to economic, environmental and institutional shocks. It was necessary to re-evaluate development status beyond simply GDP per capita, a metric which disadvantaged smaller countries with small populations. Vulnerability needed to be a factor in those assessments. “Evaluate our progress relatively, not against inapt benchmarks,” he said.

Climate change was an existential threat to the Maldives, he said, and his country had long advocated urgent action on that issue. As a lone voice, it could not go far, but today, together with 43 members of the Alliance of Small Island States, it could accomplish much more. The Maldives was among the first to ratify the Paris Agreement. His nation was also concerned about the sustainable use of the oceans, an issue that needed a collective response. On Syria, he said that a military solution was never the answer. “Fences and wires don’t stop violence […] compassion and tolerance do,” he said. Condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, he warned against the rising tide of hatred, Islamophobia and xenophobia in the name of security, which could only lead to more violence.

LYONPO DAMCHO DORJI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bhutan, noted with concern the occurrence of recent acts of terrorism, and protracted and new conflicts which had resulted in massive and unprecedented levels of displacement. To achieve sustainable peace, much remained to be done with regard to the arms trade. He went on to address other major global challenges the international community had to address, including poverty, child mortality, gender equality, inequality and climate change. The latter had the most serious impact on the most vulnerable countries, such as small island States and least developed countries.

He stated that Bhutan aligned the Sustainable Development Goals with national priorities. He also noted that the Goals were consistent with the national framework of Gross National Happiness. With regard to successful implementation, he stressed the importance of the support of Bhutan’s development partners. Partnerships and a strengthened multilateral system were crucial for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.

ELVIN NIMROD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Grenada, expressed the commitment of his country to the full and inclusive implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Grenada was particularly committed to conserve and promote the sustainable use of the oceans and all marine resources. He stressed the importance of securing adequate resources to protect marine resources, and he shared an innovative approach in that field. During Blue Week 2016, a “shark tank” approach was used to allow local and international ocean entrepreneurs to pitch project ideas for funding. According to research carried out by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Wildlife Fund, the ocean economy has an estimated $24 trillion asset value. Furthermore, he urged small island, Caribbean and Pacific States to be lead advocates on the issue of oceans and climate change. On climate change, he urged leaders to ratify the Paris Agreement by the end of 2016, noting that small island and least developed States would require ongoing technical assistance and capacity-building in the areas of climate change, renewable energy and sustainable development.

Regarding peace and security, he reiterated that the sovereignty of countries had to be respected, and he did not condone the embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States. He also expressed his support for a two-State settlement for Israel and Palestine and the self-determination and protection of the Palestinian people. At home, Grenada continued to strengthen democratic values and practices, including through a reform of the Constitution.

ISSELKOU OULD AHMED IZID BIH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mauritania, said his country played a crucial role in regional peace and security. Against the backdrop of a complex regional situation, it had successfully fought against several terrorist organizations. It had beefed up security and defence without undermining individual freedoms. Mauritania believed that security and development were two sides of the same coin, he said, noting the country’s efforts in such areas as tackling corruption and providing safe drinking water in shanty towns.

Mauritania adhered to a policy of neutrality with regard to conflicts in its region, he said, noting its support for United Nations efforts to resolve the conflict in Western Sahara and its contribution to United Nations peacekeeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire and Central African Republic. He emphasized the right of Palestinians to have their own State with East Jerusalem as its capital, adding that ongoing violations of Palestinians’ rights by Israel only fanned the flames of terrorism and violent extremism worldwide. He urged Yemen, Libya and Syria to “choose the path of wisdom” and recognize it was not possible to end conflict militarily. On climate change, he drew attention to Mauritania’s efforts to limit desertification and hoped that all parties to the Paris Agreement would respect their commitments.

Right of Reply

In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Turkey expressed dismay over certain contents of the Syrian regime’s statement, which had contained baseless accusations at Turkey. She was confident that those responsible for the destruction of Syria would be held responsible for their crimes. Until then, her country would stand behind the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.

Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of Indonesia spoke in response to statements made by the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and echoed by others regarding Papua, a province of Indonesia. She rejected the insinuating statements they had made, which reflected an unfortunate lack of understanding of history and progressive developments in Indonesia, including in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. Their politically motivated statements were designed to support separatist groups which had engaged in inciting public disorder and armed attacks on civilians and military personnel. It was regrettable and dangerous of States to use the United Nations and the Assembly to advance their domestic agenda and divert attention from problems at home. Indonesia’s commitment to protecting human rights was unquestionable. It was a founding member of the Human Rights Council and had initiated the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Commission on Human Rights. It had a full-fledged functioning democracy, coupled with the protection of human rights at all levels. Thus, it was impossible for any human rights allegations to go unnoticed and unscrutinized. Domestic mechanisms were in place at the provincial levels in Papua and West Papua, and Indonesia would give focus to the development of those provinces and to the best interests of all.

The representative of China, speaking in exercise of the right of reply and in response to the Philippines, said his country had already made statements on its position on the Arbitral Tribunal findings. Its awards were null and void and had no binding force. Territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea should not be affected by those awards, and China would never accept any claim or action based on them. It would continue to abide by international law as enshrined in the Charter including with respect to State sovereignty and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

In response, the representative of the Philippines said its position had been exhaustively discussed at the 12 July arbitration. Both his country and China were State parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and thus the awards should be final and complied with by all parties. His country had allowed China to move forward on dispute resolution and preliminary talks were ongoing. The award of the Arbitral Tribunal should be a starting point. The award was now a significant part of jurisprudence, and could not be ignored in terms of the maritime entitlements of both countries together with their respective rights and obligations. The Tribunal did have jurisdiction over the dispute. In October 2015, it had found that its jurisdiction applied to China even if that country chose not to participate in proceedings. On 12 July, it had rendered an award on the merits. Some of its points included finding that China’s claims to historic maritime rights ran contrary to the Convention and exceeded geographic limits. Under the convention ruling, none of the islands could sustain human habitation and accordingly should have no economic zone or continental shelf; they were all rocks. The Tribunal had also found that China’s artificial island building had caused devastating and long-lasting damage on the marine environment and that it had not cooperated with other States bordering the South China Sea.

The representative of China said unilateral arbitration was aimed not at resolving the dispute or maintaining peace and stability, but at denying Chinese territorial sovereignty and maritime rights. The Tribunal’s conduct contravened the practice of international arbitration. Currently, thanks to China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, the situation in the South China Sea was progressing in a positive direction.

In response, the representative of the Philippines said China’s actions were the cause of destabilization in the South China Sea, and not the arbitration procedures initiated by the Philippines. Arbitration had been an attempt by the Philippines to resolve the issue on an equal footing. He said his country was ready to talk with China on the basis of the arbitration award. China’s non-acceptance of the arbitration decision would have grave consequences for international law and the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

For information media. Not an official record.

World: Senior Officials in General Assembly Voice Fears over Climate Change, International Banking Regulations, as Annual Debate Continues

Somalia - ReliefWeb News - 2 hours 3 min ago
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Burundi, Congo, Gabon, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

GA/11831

SEVENTY-FIRST SESSION, 20TH, 21ST & 22ND MEETINGS (AM, PM & NIGHT)

Decrying ‘Lip Service’ to United Nations Ideals, Speakers Declare Time for New Direction, Embracing Era of Engagement While the United Nations had been founded on the belief that States could solve problems collectively, the time had come to move in a new direction, the General Assembly heard today, as speakers underlined the need to embrace a new era of engagement based on common needs, innovative ideas and mutual respect.

During the day-long discussion, speakers representing several developing and least developed countries as well as small island States said they remained marginalized from the world’s bounty, pointing out that the current global order paid only lip service to the universal principles and ideals of the United Nations.

Indeed, it was time to recognize that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, said Prime Minister Gaston Alphonso Browne of Antigua and Barbuda. The latest challenge facing the Caribbean region was the withdrawal by global banks of correspondent banking regulations for its financial institutions, a practice known as “de-risking”. The region would be cut off from the world trading system, which would lead to economic collapse as well as rising poverty, crime, refugee numbers and human trafficking. Huge opportunities for money-laundering and terrorism financing would be created, he said, warning that no country would be immune from those consequences.

Prime Minister Allen Michael Chastanet of Saint Lucia declared: “We must decide whether the United Nations can continue to be a place where we lament our outdated grievances or a place where we begin to forge common ground.” Although Saint Lucia’s voice was supposed to be equal to the voices of other countries, realpolitik had proven the contrary, he said. There was no need to perpetuate a world order that elevated one group of nations over others.

Nepal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said that international finance and trade must be responsive to the needs and concerns of least developed and landlocked developing countries. Echoing that sentiment, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh of Viet Nam said developing countries were suffering amid weak global economic recovery, protectionism in major economies, climate change and epidemics.

A number of speakers expressed concern about the impact of climate change and the lack of sustainable climate financing. Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini of Swaziland said: “The negative impact of climate change has become a thorn in our economy.” It had depleted the country’s limited financial resources, killed an alarming number of livestock and destroyed most of the ecosystem. A serious reduction in the amount of water had exacerbated food insecurity, compelling the Government to declare the drought a national disaster.

Similarly, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of Malaysia pointed out that climate-related disasters, such as landslides and coastal erosion, had affected livelihoods, economic activity and the safety of populations. “If left unchecked, I am afraid climate change could, in fact, constitute the greatest threat multiplier for global security,” he warned.

Prime Minister Timothy S. Harris of Saint Kitts and Nevis reinforced that point, saying that a single climate event could wreak havoc on every aspect of life. Calling for a strategy to promote climate financing, he declared: “It means nothing to say that billions of dollars are available for climate financing if the mechanisms for accessing them are opaque, prohibitive and extremely difficult to penetrate.”

The economic impact of environmental damage was dire, a number of speakers said, stressing that more urgent and wide-ranging action was needed to ensure the survival of their countries. Francine Baron, Dominica’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, recalled that Tropical Storm Erika had killed 30 of her fellow citizens and caused economic damages estimated at $483 million, the equivalent of 90 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Also taking the floor today, Walid Al-Moualem, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said that his country’s citizens had paid dearly for terrorist crimes, but would not relent in their fight. Their belief in victory was even greater now that the Syrian Arab Army — with the support of the Russian Federation, Iran and the National Lebanese Resistance — had made great strides in the war. He welcomed international efforts to fight terrorism in Syria, but emphasized the need to coordinate with the Government. Uncoordinated action would be considered a breach of sovereignty and a violation of the United Nations Charter. Speaking critically of a number of States, he reiterated his Government’s commitment to moving forward with the Geneva peace talks, under the auspices of the United Nations.

Also participating in today’s debate were speakers representing Timor-Leste, Tonga, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Ireland, Iceland, Tajikistan, Congo, Kyrgyzstan, Gabon, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Cambodia, Barbados, Burundi, Somalia, Maldives, Bhutan, Grenada and Mauritania.

Representatives of Turkey, Indonesia, China and the Philippines spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Monday, 26 September, to conclude its general debate.

Statements

RUI MARIA DE ARAÚJO, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, said that promoting intergovernmental coherence while strengthening the Peacebuilding Commission and partnerships would improve the United Nations system. “Our joint efforts need to be able to respond more effectively to the challenges facing our nations and peoples,” he said, expressing concern over inequality and conflicts. International peace and security could only be maintained if countries became an integral part of solutions to problems. Regional integration generated opportunities for economic development and contributed to national and regional peace and stability, he said, adding that his country aspired to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the opportunity to fulfil the dreams of its people.

“Without peace and stability, we cannot think of development,” he continued, reiterating his commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2015, Timor-Leste had joined a group of eight other countries to serve as models for implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and the Government had formed an inter-ministerial working group to map indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals. It had selected 20 targets to monitor their implementation. Among other things, Timor-Leste would convene a high-level international conference in March 2017 to discuss ways to advance the 2030 Agenda under the most difficult circumstances, he said. “We are committed to show our youth how important their role is in achieving these Goals,” he said, calling upon all stakeholders to contribute. While it was not an easy exercise, the Government was working towards harmonizing the Goals with national activities and budget.

He went on to note that the situation of refugees and migrants remained unresolved and deserved further focused attention and support. “We need to establish a frank political dialogue and international partnerships to ensure continued respect for human rights and humanitarian assistance,” he said. Having experienced conflict, Timor-Leste knew only too well the high price of war and was ready to contribute to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, it had ratified the relevant conventions and strengthened its commitments to fight terrorism and organized crime. Turning to the issue of maritime boundaries, he emphasized that, even 14 years after Timor-Leste had become the 191st Member State of the United Nations, it had not defined its maritime boundaries with Indonesia and Australia. “The delimitation of our maritime borders will ensure our sovereign rights and give us certainty with respect to what belongs to us,” he said. Delimitation was also essential in order to ensure economic stability and self-sufficiency, and to create a better future for Timor-Leste’s people. For that reason, the Government had started a process of compulsory conciliation in April in order to resolve disputes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he said, adding that he was confident the panel of experts would contribute to an amicable solution.

ALLEN MICHAEL CHASTANET, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service of Saint Lucia, said “old habits and old arguments” were irrelevant to the challenges of today, and called upon the United States to lift its embargo against Cuba. Most of the world’s challenges stemmed from the denial of access to basic human rights, such as education, health care, justice and security. The very format of engaging in a “general debate” was a contradiction because, while many spoke, few “stayed around to listen” and far fewer responded, he pointed out. “We wonder how and why this entity is so negatively perceived by the persons we are elected to serve?”

As a small island State, Saint Lucia’s voice was meant to be equal, but realpolitik had proven the contrary, he continued. Instead of being invited to participate in a solution to the world’s challenges, small islands had been forced to adopt programmes created by more advanced States, only to be criticized by the very same countries and branded as tax havens. “We are left to dance between the raindrops,” he said, noting that, while deeply affected by the 2008 financial crisis, they had not participated in the solutions.

The Group of 20 had a legitimacy problem because it was unofficial and non-inclusive, he said, adding that many of its members championed the very financial and economic systems that had created the crisis, he said, emphasizing that there was no need to perpetuate a world order that elevated one group of nations over others. Recalling that the United Nations had been founded on the belief that nations could solve problems collectively, and rooted in the hard lessons of war, he said the time had come to move in a new direction. With the advent of the technological revolution, there was a need to embrace a new era of engagement based on common needs, innovative ideas and mutual respect, he stressed. “We must decide whether the United Nations can continue to be a place where we lament our outdated grievances or a place where we begin to forge common ground.”

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance of Antigua and Barbuda, expressed support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and disappointment that many of its goals remained aspirational, lacking legally binding funding commitments. “We are realistic enough not to reject the good for the perfect,” he said, adding that his Government would continue to advocate for fairness and equity in pursuing the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Earlier this week, Antigua and Barbuda had deposited its instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change and urged other nations to do the same. “Time is not on our side,” he said, warning that, even at a temperature rise of 1.5°C, many countries — or parts of them — would be washed away. The ravages of climate change would also generate many refugees and displaced persons.

He said that, as a solution to those challenges, his country had repeatedly proposed debt swaps for climate change adaptation and mitigation. That plan included the provision of soft loans to stop further debt accumulation, while helping to build resilience to global warming and sea-level rise. International financial institutions and donor Governments must stop using per capita income as the criterion by which nations qualified for loans, he emphasized, while noting that such pleas had long fallen on deaf ears. Year after year, Heads of Government of small States had called on the Assembly to address those challenges to no avail. “We remain trapped in the reality of a narrow tax base, high debt, large trade deficits, small underdeveloped domestic financial markets, small private sectors and fragile banking systems,” he said, adding that the latest challenge facing the Caribbean region was the withdrawal by global banks of correspondent banking regulations for its financial institutions — known as “de-risking”.

As a result of that practice, he continued, the region would be cut off from the world trading system, which would lead to economic collapse, as well as rising poverty, crime, refugee numbers and human trafficking. Huge opportunities for money-laundering and terrorism financing would be created. Warning that no country would be immune from those consequences, he said that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) had decided to convene a high-level conference on the matter, to be held in Antigua on 27 and 28 October. In that regard, he called upon the Assembly to recognize the substantial and dangerous threat posed by de-risking and work to address it constructively. Pointing out that developing countries and small States remained marginalized from the world’s bounty, he said the current global order paid only lip service to the universal principles and ideals of the United Nations. Indeed, it was time to recognize that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, he stressed.

TIMOTHY S. HARRIS, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said many global problems stemmed from years of social neglect and economic inequalities. Solving them would require greater partnership and finding common ground. Critical to transforming the world was the empowerment of young people, and significant intervention would be required to feed their sense of leadership and civic responsibility. Saint Kitts and Nevis had focused on job creation, skills enhancement, entrepreneurship and support for teen mothers. Small arms and light weapons had also had devastating effects on young lives, and while the Government had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, it needed support, he said.

Indeed, given the country’s small size, one climate event could wreak havoc on every aspect of life, he said, calling for a strategy to promote climate financing. “It means nothing to say that billions of dollars are available for climate financing if the mechanisms for accessing them are opaque, prohibitive and extremely difficult to penetrate,” he pointed out, urging “common sense cooperation”. Small islands were also being marginalized in the global financial system, he said, noting that 16 banks across five countries had lost all or some of their correspondent banking relationships in the first half of 2016, placing their financial lifelines at great risk.

Urging the Group of Seven, the Group of 20 and international financial bodies to re-evaluate how and whether a country qualified for concessional support, he said that the arbitrary classification of some small States as middle-income countries could never make sense when one could grow at 4 to 6 per cent one year only to see nearly 100 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) wiped out by a tropical storm. Noting the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, he called for lower treatment costs for non-communicable diseases. Saint Kitts and Nevis had forged durable partnerships that had been integral to its efforts to modernize its economy, he said, adding that Cuba’s support in the areas of education and training, health care, agriculture and heritage development had dwarfed the assistance provided by many advanced economies. Support from Taiwan had also been remarkable, he said, welcoming new opportunities for that country’s integration into the international community. He also decried the nuclear tests carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in violation of Security Council resolution 2270 (2016).

BARNABAS SIBUSISO DLAMINI, Prime Minister of Swaziland, said that his country had started mainstreaming and popularizing the Sustainable Development Goals through awareness-raising campaigns, education and training at all levels. In addition, the country had integrated the Goals into the national development framework. In that regard, appropriate institutional arrangements had been put in place to monitor the 2030 Agenda’s implementation. Both the executive and legislative arms of Government were fully involved and progress was periodically reported to the Cabinet and to Parliament. Among other things, the Government had translated its national “Vision 2022” into practical and feasible targets so as to expedite economic growth while improving health care, service delivery, infrastructure and governance, as well as fighting corruption.

Turning to climate change, he expressed commitment to fighting global warming, pointing out that Swaziland had participated in all the negotiations that had culminated in the adoption and subsequent signing of the Paris Agreement. “The negative impact of climate change has become a thorn in our economy,” he said, adding that it had depleted the country’s limited financial resources, killed an alarming number of livestock and destroyed most of the ecosystem. At the same time, drought had led to a serious reduction in the amount of water required for crop production, human use and consumption, and exacerbated food and nutrition insecurity. In view of that situation, the Government had declared drought a national disaster, he said.

Noting that his country continued to be a big and active player in promoting regional and continental integration, he recalled that in August, Swaziland had hosted the thirty-sixth Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government Summit — under the theme “resource mobilization for investment in sustainable energy infrastructure” — which had focused on inclusive industrialization. Furthermore, Swaziland was a signatory to a number of trade integration arrangements, ranging from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to the Tripartite Free Trade Area. Those arrangements had opened up preferential market access opportunities to maximize trade at the regional and international levels, he said.

SAMIUELA 'AKILISI POHIVA, Prime Minister of Tonga, said that his country continuously advocated for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its natural resources. Tonga attached great importance to Sustainable Development Goal 14 and believed it could be attained through set targets and indicators. In that regard, the country looked forward to the first United Nations conference on Goal 14 as an opportunity to see where the international community stood in terms of conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources. Regarding the exploitation of biological diversity, he said that regulation of areas beyond national jurisdictions was yet to be realized. In accordance with the 2014 decision of Pacific Island Forum leaders, Tonga supported the ongoing process of preparatory meetings.

He said that his country paid close attention to the interaction of the ocean with climate, noting that Tonga had signed and ratified the Paris Agreement. “We cannot face the challenges of climate change alone,” he emphasized. Calling attention to his country’s clear and unambiguous links to international peace and security, he called upon the Special Representative on Climate and Security, as well as the Security Council, to raise the issue in the necessary platforms. “Tonga is the third most vulnerable country in the world to the adverse impacts of climate change,” he said, stressing that their seriousness could not be underestimated.

Noting that the maintenance of international peace and security would be determined by the issue of disarmament, he said the proliferation of weapons in all their forms not only threatened international peace and security, but demonstrated the sheer waste of financial resources. Those funds might be better spent on international sustainable development initiatives and improving people’s lives, he pointed out. Part of the challenge of ensuring equitable development was preventing unfair economic dominance by one country over another, which had resulted in the suffering of innocent people, and was not acceptable. In that regard, he congratulated the United States on its incremental easing of restrictions on its economic interactions with in Cuba. Among other things, he expressed concern about the welfare of the Pacific peoples in West Papua Province of Indonesia. Regarding human rights abuses in that province, he called for an open and constructive dialogue with Indonesia on the status and welfare of West Papuans.

PHAM BINH MINH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said the Sustainable Development Goals were within reach, with reform, innovation, creativity and economic restructuring setting countries on a prosperous path. Yet, developing countries were suffering amid weak global economic recovery, protectionism in major economies, climate change and epidemics. Of particular concern were conflict and terrorism in many regions.

He called for strengthening multilateralism and the operation of multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, given the Organization’s indispensable role in coordinating responses to global challenges. The Security Council must be reformed to ensure greater equality, democracy and transparency, while the development system should be better resourced, he emphasized. Viet Nam supported the broadest participation of countries in the formulation of resolutions, he said.

“International law remains the linchpin of a stable international security architecture,” he said, while noting that unilateralism had created tensions. Peace could be achieved through a comprehensive approach that harmonized the interests of all stakeholders, he said, welcoming the positive developments between Cuba and the United States in that regard. He urged all parties involved in recent developments in the South China Sea to exercise self-restraint and to resolve disputes peacefully.

WALID AL-MOUALEM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said his people had paid dearly for the crimes of terrorists who had undermined their security, stability and livelihoods. It was no secret that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had played a role in spreading terrorism throughout Syria, promoting their Wahhabist ideology and equipping mercenaries with sophisticated weapons. Meanwhile, Turkey had opened its borders and provided logistical support to tens of thousands of terrorists from around the world, he said.

In spite of that, Syrians would not relent in the fight, he vowed, saying that their belief in victory was even greater now that the Syrian Arab Army — with the support of the Russian Federation, Iran and the Lebanese national resistance — had made great strides in the war. While welcoming international efforts to fight terrorism in Syria, he emphasized the need to coordinate with the Government, warning that any uncoordinated action would be considered a breach of sovereignty and a violation of the United Nations Charter. As such, the Syrian Government strongly condemned the attack on a Syrian army site near Deir ez-Zor Airport by United States warplanes on 17 September, he said.

He went on to condemn Turkey’s incursion into Syrian territory, calling for an end to “this flagrant aggression”. Any solution to the crisis must follow parallel counter-terrorism and political tracks through the intra-Syrian dialogue, which would enable Syrians to determine the future of their country without foreign interference. Despite hurdles created by regional and Western States on behalf of the self-proclaimed “Syrian opposition”, the Government had always been open to a political track that would stop the bloodshed and end the prolonged suffering of Syrians. On that note, he reiterated his Government’s commitment to moving forward with the Geneva peace talks, under the auspices of the United Nations.

AHMAD ZAHID HAMIDI, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, said that his Government’s national development plan was based on three pillars — increasing incomes, focusing on inclusiveness and promoting sustainability. Malaysia had initiated several programmes that would provide technical and vocational training to facilitate the entry of young professionals into the labour market, and to establish the country as the start-up capital of Asia, he said. However, sustainable development could be hampered by the devastating impacts of climate change, as witnessed by various small island developing States. The phenomenon presented “an existential threat to their subsistence”.

He went on to point out that the world had witnessed an increase in the intensity and frequency of climate-related disasters, such as landslides and coastal erosions, which had affected livelihoods, economic activity and the safety of populations. “If left unchecked, I am afraid climate change could, in fact, constitute the greatest threat multiplier for global security,” he warned. The international community must follow through with the commitments made in Paris, he said, noting that Malaysia had committed to reducing its greenhouse-gas emission intensity of GDP by up to 45 per cent by 2030.

Turning to peace and security, he noted that the international community continued to witness horrific acts by non-State actors. However, the fight against extremists would not be won exclusively through the use of force or punitive measures, which was why Malaysia had focused on de-radicalization and rehabilitation programmes to change the mindsets of radicalized individuals, in addition to complementary forms of humanitarian assistance to help them reintegrate into society. The success rate of those programmes had been around 97.5 per cent, he said, adding that the Government was prepared to share its experience with other countries since “no nation is immune to the threat posed by international terrorism”.

PASQUALE VALENTI, Minister for Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino, described the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as one of the most important moments in the Organization’s history. The 2030 Agenda defined the planet’s future and the vision of the world “we want to live in”. In particular, San Marino appreciated the commitment shown by Member States to reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 2020, and attached great importance to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the monitoring mechanism identified during the High-Level Political Forum.

Emphasizing the need for all international stakeholders to play their part, he said that his country had made several humanitarian contributions in recent months. Apart from its financial contribution to international programmes, San Marino had joined the humanitarian corridor project supported by Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and had hosted some migrants. San Marino recognized that a culture of understanding and peaceful coexistence among different people was the only way to face the challenges of globalization and build a planet for all, he said.

AURELIA FRICK, Foreign Minister of Liechtenstein, said migration should be a choice not a necessity. Exploiting fears for political gain was cynical and unproductive, while preventing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes would eliminate one of the main reasons why people were forced to flee their homes. The Security Council had an opportunity to enter a new phase of its historical engagement in crises. “The world is looking to this Organization to provide this engagement, and it is too often disappointed,” she said, reminding leaders that, for 70 years, it had been illegal to engage in armed conflict except in narrowly defined circumstances. Accountable institutions, access to justice for everyone and significant reduction of corruption were all key ingredients of sustainable development. “Only if it is clear that nobody is above the law can the law prevail,” she said, adding that it was, therefore, crucial to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes under international law.

She said she looked forward to the completion of the Rome Statute, which would give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over the crime of aggression and criminalize the most serious forms of the illegal use of force. While the Court was the strongest symbol that impunity was no longer an option, it was not a solution to all problems. Noting that more than 45 million people lived in conditions that qualified as modern slavery, generating billions of dollars, she said modern slavery was the biggest human rights scandal of modern times. To combat one of the biggest illegal business models, Liechtenstein would focus on disrupting financial flows and using relevant data for criminal prosecutions. It would also work towards greater involvement of international justice mechanisms where national judiciaries systematically failed. While the best person for the job should be appointed the next Secretary-General, she said it would make her “very happy if this person was to be a woman”.

CHARLES FLANAGAN, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, said the Sustainable Development Goals had the capacity to address many of the root causes of mass migration, including poverty, inequality and climate change. In tandem with long-term development efforts, a multilateral response was needed to address the more urgent needs of migrants and refugees, he said, noting that his country was doing its part through a €60 million pledge in support of the Syrian people, and its participation in a European Union resettlement programme. In addition to humanitarian relief, greater investment was needed in conflict prevention and post-conflict reconciliation, he said, emphasizing the importance of ensuring greater representation of women in those and other activities — a goal that Ireland would prioritize during its membership of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2017.

He welcomed the French initiative to revive the stalled Middle East peace process and reaffirmed his support for United Nations efforts to bring an end to the conflict in Syria through dialogue and diplomacy. Turning to Africa, he called for a “transparent, accountable and human-rights-based resolution” of the continent’s numerous conflicts, which were undermining sustainable development efforts. While reaffirming Ireland’s commitment to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he emphasized his country’s absolute condemnation of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. “Ireland calls for an end to impunity for these crimes,” he said, stressing his country’s commitment to hold its own troops accountable for their behaviour while deployed overseas. Finally, he called for Security Council reform and for African representation, in particular.

LILJA DÖGG ALFREÐSDÓTTIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, addressed a number of her country’s key priorities, including the migration crisis, climate change, minority rights and the protection of international law. Recalling the mass migration of Icelanders to North America at the end of the nineteenth century, she called upon the international community to “step up to the plate” in response to the current migration crisis, saying Iceland would have taken in 100 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. In proportion to its size, that number would have been equivalent to 100,000 refugees in the United States, she observed. Emphasizing the need to resolve several protracted conflicts in the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the crisis in Syria and the dispute over Western Sahara, she said injustice and the failure of governance were driving them.

She said education was a precondition of good governance and a key pillar of her country’s development cooperation. On the issue of minority rights, she stressed the need to protect the rights of women, as well as those of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. Pointing out that she was one of only 30 female foreign ministers around the world, she underlined how far the world still had to go and welcomed in that regard the strong field of female candidates for the position of United Nations Secretary-General. Regarding climate change, she said her country planned to ratify the Paris Agreement soon and would review its progress in two years’ time. Finally, she expressed concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, saying it was in violation of international law and threatened the security of its own people, the wider region and the world. “For a small and peaceful country like mine, international law is our sword, shield and shelter,” she said.

SIRODJIDIN ASLOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, said that, while the global community had recently made headway in the area of development, it had been less successful in addressing issues of peace and security. In particular, combating international terrorism and violent extremism had become a top priority. There was a need to develop national, regional and international mechanisms aimed at eliminating military infrastructures, financing channels, logistical support, recruiting and propaganda of violence, as well as the use of modern information and communications technology (ICT) for purposes of terror. Preventing illicit drug trafficking, which had turned into a breeding ground for terrorism and organized crime, also required concerted joint action. Tajikistan stood for a comprehensive settlement of the crises in the Middle East, which would help to enhance global security, he said, while also expressing support for the international strategy for a comprehensive settlement and post-conflict reconstruction in neighbouring Afghanistan.

With the setting of the 2030 Agenda, the world had begun a process of transformation, he said. “It is obvious that the path towards sustainable development is not going to be easy and smooth,” he said, noting that both traditional and emerging challenges presented additional and complex tasks, seriously undermining security and stability around the globe. The response required regional cooperation and political will, reinforced by adequate means of implementation. It was crucial to remember that countries in special situations — including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States — would begin implementing the 2030 Agenda under less favourable conditions and required special support. Underlining the importance of water in the 2030 Agenda, he warned that climate change, urbanization and population growth would exacerbate water-related challenges. In that regard, countries must work together on a new water agenda, particularly in cases of waters shared among various sectors, such as health, agriculture, energy and navigation.

PRAKASH SHARAN MAHAT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, said the international community’s failure to agree a comprehensive convention on terrorism was highly frustrating. He called for speedy resolution of the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, and expressed support for lasting peace in the Middle East. Nepal would remain committed to fulfilling its international obligations and providing additional troops and civilians to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said. For peace missions to be successful there must be unity of purpose in mobilizing the Security Council’s political capital, clearly defined mandates and adequate resource back-up, he emphasized. Troop-contributing countries must have fair opportunities to serve in leadership positions, both in the field and at Headquarters, and human rights must not be used as tools to serve hidden political objectives.

Nepal’s new Constitution contained a list of human rights measures, he said, noting that the country had abolished the death penalty and put legal and institutional measures in place for the realization of all human rights. On migration, he said the welfare of migrant workers must have priority in the countries where they worked. As the source country for more than 3 million migrant workers, Nepal called for concerted efforts at the national, regional and international levels to ensure their well-being. International finance and trade must be responsive to the needs and concerns of least developed countries and landlocked developing countries, he said, adding that climate justice must be based on common but differentiated responsibilities, with special attention to climate-vulnerable countries, particularly mountainous countries. The success of Nepal’s peace process could be a good example for countries transitioning from conflict to peace, he said, adding that his country’s constitution guaranteed equal opportunity and protection for every citizen. Women were guaranteed at least one-third representation in Parliament and 40 per cent in local government, he added.

JEAN-CLAUDE GAKOSSO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Congo, said the 2030 Agenda had heralded a new era of sustainable development. Recalling that his country had allocated many resources on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, he said it would now turn its attention to the implementation of the new agenda. However, it would require the international community’s support, including through mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. Pledging to ensure that each Congolese citizen lived in dignity and that no one was left behind, he underscored the significance of the recent Group of 20 decision to support industrialization in developing countries, especially in Africa. The continent would not be able to develop sustainably without first industrializing and gaining better access to energy. Recalling that, five years ago, the world had welcomed the birth of its newest nation, he said it was regrettable that South Sudan had rapidly plunged into a fratricidal conflict. All parties to that conflict must demonstrate political will and commit in good faith to implementing the 2015 peace agreement. Calling for the deployment of a regional stability force under a Security Council mandate, he said the time had come to put an end to the bloodbath in South Sudan, which imperilled global security.

Noting that the Central African Republic had, not long ago, been caught up in another serious crisis, he said that country had been able to successfully implement a political transition with the help of its international and regional partners. Deploring the tragic events that had rocked Kinshasa almost a week ago, he invited the Democratic Republic of the Congo to seek peaceful solutions through an inclusive dialogue. Turning to Gabon, where a post-electoral crisis had led to violence, he said the country should aim to emerge reconciled from that painful ordeal. In his own country, he cited a number of recent institutional developments following last year’s referendum. Those had led to the adoption of a Constitution that strengthened the principle of the separation of powers, abolished capital punishment, provided for gender equality, recognized the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples and provided a blueprint for participatory democracy.

ERLAN ABDYLDAYEV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, celebrated the conclusion of his country’s October 2015 parliamentary elections, and thanked the Secretary-General for his support during that process. He called upon the United Nations and partner organizations to support the country’s upcoming elections in 2017. He expressed his support for the Sustainable Development Goals, which included a number of priorities for his country, including poverty reduction, high-quality education, health care, economic growth and environmental protection. On that note, he announced that he had signed the Paris Agreement outside the General Assembly hall the preceding day. Enumerating the many environmental stresses Kyrgyzstan faced, he called for international support to help his country adapt to climate change. Particularly concerning was the rapid rate of glacial melting, shrinking biodiversity and uranium mining sites, which despite having been addressed under General Assembly resolution 68/218, now required a high-level international meeting.

Turning to issues of security and stability, he expressed concern about tensions in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Ukraine, and noted that terrorism, extremism and religious intolerance afflicted his country like so many others. Observing that the “confrontational position of some countries” was hindering the international community’s ability to tackle those threats, he called for world Powers to set aside their disputes and undertake joint efforts to counter threats to international security. There needed to be a General Assembly resolution on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation for peace. Concerned about his country’s electricity shortage, he called for Central Asia to reach a common understanding on the rational use of energy resources and an expeditious resolution of border disputes. He added his voice to others calling for Security Council reform, and welcomed recent procedural changes in the election of the Secretary-General. Finally, he expressed his concern about the involvement of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in the case of Azimjan Askarov, who had been convicted by the Kyrgyz Supreme Court. Such interventions were liable to destabilize his country.

EMMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, said the present General Assembly session was taking place following a disputed presidential election in his country. Yesterday, the Constitutional Court had reaffirmed the victory of Ali Bongo Ondimba as President and Head of State. Recalling that the Government had institutionalized the use of biometric data to draw up its voters lists, and that it had welcomed over 1,200 observers and 200 foreign journalists to ensure the election was fair and democratic, he said there had nevertheless been several violent incidents and loss of life associated with the election. President Ondimba had called for an inclusive dialogue as well as reconciliation and national unity, which were now among the country’s main goals. Citing a number of recent international successes, including the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba and the signing of the Paris Agreement, he said the latter now required implementation. Gabon had begun its ratification procedure, and it looked forward to the next Conference of States Parties.

In that regard, he stressed that a major challenge that remained to be addressed was that of ensuring energy across Africa. Noting that two thirds of Africans still lacked access to energy, he said environmental issues were at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and required sustained enthusiasm as well as concrete action. Calling for the greater mobilization of human, financial resources and more direct involvement of the private sector, he stressed that “we must redouble our creativity” and explore new pathways of development. For its part, Gabon had established a new Government agency to design and implement a sectoral approach to the environment, as well as other key priority issues. It also participated actively in the fight against terrorism. Emphasizing that more efforts were needed to cut off financing to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he said addressing the terrorist threat also meant resolving the crises in Libya, Syria and elsewhere.

FRANCINE BARON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and CARICOM Affairs of Dominica, said that realizing the Sustainable Development Goals was not about ticking boxes, but about making a real difference. The international community must sharpen its focus on the impact of climate change on small island developing States. They had seen agricultural production dramatically reduced, leading to prolonged drought and soil erosion. The economic impact of the environmental damage was dire, and “more urgent and wide-ranging action is needed in fighting against climate change to ensure our very survival”. Dominica had been painfully reminded of that in 2015, when Tropical Storm Erika had killed 30 of its citizens, she recalled.

That event had caused economic damage estimated at $483 million, the equivalent of 90 per cent of national GDP, she recalled. Dominica had since made great strides in building more climate-resilient and adaptive infrastructure in a process facilitated by the support of bilateral and multilateral partners, she said. Still, the country continued to suffer the “disproportionate burdens and impacts of climate change”, which hampered its efforts to develop in a sustainable manner, she said, adding that resources intended for sustainable development programmes had instead been shifted to post-disaster rehabilitation efforts. Dominica, therefore, continued to call for the establishment of an international natural disaster risk fund, she said, describing the Caribbean Risk Fund and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Disaster Recovery Facilities as “good starting points”.

PERFECTO R. YASAY, JR., Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said that after his country’s hard-fought and hard-won independence, it zealously valued and guarded its rights and liberties through democracy and a system of checks and balances. Five months ago, the people had elected new President Rodrigo Roa Duterte with an unprecedented and resounding electoral mandate. For far too long, the Philippines had been unable to fully advance due to corruption, worsening crime, and the prevalence of illegal drugs, and corruption had become the breeding ground for the illegal drug trade. The Government was determined to eradicate illicit drugs and their manufacture, distribution and use. The rule of law and strict adherence to due process fully governed the campaign against corruption and criminality. Noting that the Government’s actions had grabbed national and international attention for all the wrong reasons, he urged everyone “to allow us to deal with our domestic challenges in order to achieve our national goals, without undue interference”. Extrajudicial killings had no place in Philippine society, and the Government did not and would never empower its law enforcement agents to shoot-to-kill any individual suspected of drug crimes, though police had the right to defend themselves when their lives were threatened.

The goal of the Government was to “leave no one behind” in its development strides, he said. The Philippines continued to enhance the delivery and quality of social services, including in health, education, food, water and housing. As one of the most disaster-prone and vulnerable countries to the adverse effects of climate change, the Philippines reiterated its call for climate justice and the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in the implementation of obligations under the Paris Agreement. The country remained committed to the rule of law and to peace, including the recent decision on the Arbitral Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague with regard to the disputes in the South China Sea. Noting the final and binding nature of the Arbitral Award, the Philippines reaffirmed its commitment to pursuing peaceful resolution to regional disputes.

SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, said that several countries in the region were facing multiple crises and conflicts ignited after 2011. A number of Arab countries had descended into internal fighting and the plight of the Palestinian people continued under Israeli occupation without a just solution on the horizon. Countering terrorist groups was a right and duty of all; however, resorting to “blindly placed laws”, such as the United States Congress’ Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, ignoring the effective roles played by a number of nations, would lead to further arbitrary policies and destabilize relationships between allies. He went on to observe that Iran, with expansionist regional policies and interference in its neighbours’ internal affairs, had played the greatest role in causing regional tension and instability. Despite the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1, he said, that country had continued its efforts to undermine regional security through aggressive rhetoric and by developing its ballistic missile programme.

With regards to Libya, he said that his country welcomed the Skhirat Agreement and the formation of the Government of National Accord. On Syria, the United Arab Emirates saw no possibility of resolving the crisis through military force. “Bandaging the wounds” by repeating charitable humanitarian efforts or holding international conferences were no substitutes for resolving such crises. His country had built mechanisms to protect youth by establishing the Hedayah Centre to combat extremism and the Sawab Centre with the United States. It had also established the Muslim Council of Elders and the Forum for the Promotion of Peace in Muslim Communities to demonstrate the true face of Islam. However, regional crises should not distract from his country’s core issue — its sovereignty over three islands, Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, occupied by Iran against the provisions of international law and the Charter. The United Arab Emirates had called on Iran to return the islands, particularly through international justice or arbitration, and would continue to do so. He affirmed that his country would never give up its right over those islands.

IBRAHIM AHMED ABD AL-AZIZ GHANDOUR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, stressed the need to reform the United Nations and its various structures. He expressed hope that countries calling for such reform would be heeded to ensure the Organization became a platform for implementing principles of international legality and justice. He also emphasized that the fight against impunity through international mechanisms should be depoliticized. The International Criminal Court, rather than dispensing justice, hampered efforts to achieve peace. Many African States were threatening to withdraw from the Court due to its politicization.

His country would knock on every door in pursuing peace, stressing that dialogue was the only means of strengthening the social fabric, he said. Darfur had now become a peaceful and secure region, with the United Nations as a witness. His Government reiterated its call for the withdrawal of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Its considerable forces could be better employed elsewhere. He also called for the removal of sanctions against his country and the writing off of its billions of dollars in foreign debt, which was hampering Sudan’s economic capabilities and ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

PRAK SOKHONN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, noted that despite progress made in the areas of development and technology, there had been challenges in areas of peace and security. The latter would need to be addressed with actions, not words alone. New tensions were reason for great concern as well, especially in the Middle East. That required a more effective international response, including a more equitable representation of countries among the members of the Security Council. He stated his intention to work with all constructively to achieve lasting peace. The root causes of terrorism, most notably inequality and discrimination, had to be addressed. There must be peaceful coexistence among religions and countries, and radicalization had to be addressed.

He urged that equality must also be pursued in international trade and economic development. The Paris Agreement must be implemented without delay to avoid serious consequences. With regard to the Sustainable Development Goals, he noted the responsibility of the developed countries to work in close partnership with developing States. He recounted the terror his own country had to experience, which depleted all its resources. Only Viet Nam responded during that dark period and accepted displaced persons. That past continued to weigh upon citizens and society as a whole. Despite the challenges, progress has been made in Cambodia in terms of development and reconciliation. His State had gained expertise in demining and supported other countries in the removal of such devices. Concluding, he said that mass terror and violence had to be prevented.

MAXINE PAMELA OMETA MCCLEAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, said it was necessary to act now to make the vision of Agenda 2030 a reality, and that this was particularly true for the small island developing States. She was proud to have participated in the launch, in Barbados, of the Caribbean Human Development Report 2016, and noted the three central issues it highlighted for low-lying coastal Caribbean States: vulnerability, resilience and sustainability. The existential threat which climate changed posed for island States was well-documented. The Prime Minister of Barbados had participated in the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement in April, and deposited the instrument of ratification on the same occasion. Barbados had developed a National Climate Change Policy Framework, and recognized the potential of sustainable ocean exploitation as an important component of its future development.

In 50 years since its independence, Barbados had achieved a significant level of human development, she said, but the country was concerned that international development agencies were penalizing it for its progress, while ignoring its obvious vulnerabilities. Another obstacle was “the persistent and unwarranted attacks” on the country’s international financial services sector. Barbados welcomed the progress towards the normalization of bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States of America, and looked forward to the dismantling of the final vestiges of the long-standing embargo.

ALAIN AIMÉ NYAMITWE, Minister for External Affairs of Burundi, acknowledged the importance of the Inter-Burundi Dialogue, but said it should not replace or undermine the country’s Constitution. His Government believed that peaceful political stakeholders should discuss the country’s future but must adhere to its policies. In reacting to recent conflict in the country, citizens of Burundi had called for several important reforms, which could not be ignored, and the Government had maintained an unwavering commitment to human rights. The Government had reiterated its commitment to ensure the safety of all citizens, irrespective of ethnicity. It was imperative that any human rights assessment of the country be executed with caution, as falsified information and reports on social media had all been used to place the country under a bad light. His Government rejected any politicized or falsified reports on human rights in the country and would produce a comprehensive counter-report.

Turning to global security, he said terrorism was now affecting all regions of the world. Some progress had been made to combat it, but international efforts or a common strategy had not yet yielded the desired results. His Government condemned terrorism and believed the fight against it must continue with greater determination. Since 2007, Burundi had been contributing troops to fight terrorism, based on an ironclad commitment against the scourge and in support of global peace. Burundi was determined to help its brothers and sisters recover their dignity and freedom. He called on the United Nations to fill in the financial gap left by a reduction in the European Union budget for AMISOM.

ABDUSALAM HADLIYEH OMER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Somalia, noted that after almost two decades of instability, his country had permanently turned the corner towards prosperity. The Government had made tangible progress on elections, State formation, security and economic development. Somalia was also winning the war against terrorism at home and contributing to creating a safer world by cooperating with international partners. With the support of its national security services and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Al-Shabaab had been militarily defeated. Today, that group controlled less than 10 per cent of the country’s territory. In recent months, many of its key leaders had been killed while others had defected, and it had turned to small-team asymmetric warfare tactics to conduct terror attacks against “soft targets” in Somalia and its neighbours.

He continued to say that his country was grateful to nations which had contributed troops to the AMISOM, as well as to international partners. But the only way to achieve long-term stability and development was to have trained, equipped and funded Somali national security forces, he said, expressing hope that the aim could be achieved ahead of the Mission drawdown in 2018. The President had recently launched the National Strategy and Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, which would provide a holistic framework for addressing security threats. In addition, the Government was determined to ensure a smooth and inclusive electoral process for a peaceful democratic transition in November, championing a 13 per cent quota for women in Parliament. Through diverse partnerships, it was also working on successfully returning Somali refugees home from Kenya voluntarily and with dignity so they could actively participate in their nation’s rebuilding efforts.

MOHAMED ASIM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, said that the adoption of the 2030 Agenda provided a rare opportunity for the whole world to come together in a moment of collective agreement. The Maldives was focused on investing in health and education. The country sought to deliver easily accessible health care, a feat that was challenging for a population of 338,000 dispersed over 188 islands. “Investing in our people will put us on the right path, and no investment has higher returns than when we invest in women and girls,” he said. As a small island developing State, the Maldives was susceptible to economic, environmental and institutional shocks. It was necessary to re-evaluate development status beyond simply GDP per capita, a metric which disadvantaged smaller countries with small populations. Vulnerability needed to be a factor in those assessments. “Evaluate our progress relatively, not against inapt benchmarks,” he said.

Climate change was an existential threat to the Maldives, he said, and his country had long advocated urgent action on that issue. As a lone voice, it could not go far, but today, together with 43 members of the Alliance of Small Island States, it could accomplish much more. The Maldives was among the first to ratify the Paris Agreement. His nation was also concerned about the sustainable use of the oceans, an issue that needed a collective response. On Syria, he said that a military solution was never the answer. “Fences and wires don’t stop violence […] compassion and tolerance do,” he said. Condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, he warned against the rising tide of hatred, Islamophobia and xenophobia in the name of security, which could only lead to more violence.

LYONPO DAMCHO DORJI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bhutan, noted with concern the occurrence of recent acts of terrorism, and protracted and new conflicts which had resulted in massive and unprecedented levels of displacement. To achieve sustainable peace, much remained to be done with regard to the arms trade. He went on to address other major global challenges the international community had to address, including poverty, child mortality, gender equality, inequality and climate change. The latter had the most serious impact on the most vulnerable countries, such as small island States and least developed countries.

He stated that Bhutan aligned the Sustainable Development Goals with national priorities. He also noted that the Goals were consistent with the national framework of Gross National Happiness. With regard to successful implementation, he stressed the importance of the support of Bhutan’s development partners. Partnerships and a strengthened multilateral system were crucial for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.

ELVIN NIMROD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Grenada, expressed the commitment of his country to the full and inclusive implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Grenada was particularly committed to conserve and promote the sustainable use of the oceans and all marine resources. He stressed the importance of securing adequate resources to protect marine resources, and he shared an innovative approach in that field. During Blue Week 2016, a “shark tank” approach was used to allow local and international ocean entrepreneurs to pitch project ideas for funding. According to research carried out by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Wildlife Fund, the ocean economy has an estimated $24 trillion asset value. Furthermore, he urged small island, Caribbean and Pacific States to be lead advocates on the issue of oceans and climate change. On climate change, he urged leaders to ratify the Paris Agreement by the end of 2016, noting that small island and least developed States would require ongoing technical assistance and capacity-building in the areas of climate change, renewable energy and sustainable development.

Regarding peace and security, he reiterated that the sovereignty of countries had to be respected, and he did not condone the embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States. He also expressed his support for a two-State settlement for Israel and Palestine and the self-determination and protection of the Palestinian people. At home, Grenada continued to strengthen democratic values and practices, including through a reform of the Constitution.

ISSELKOU OULD AHMED IZID BIH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mauritania, said his country played a crucial role in regional peace and security. Against the backdrop of a complex regional situation, it had successfully fought against several terrorist organizations. It had beefed up security and defence without undermining individual freedoms. Mauritania believed that security and development were two sides of the same coin, he said, noting the country’s efforts in such areas as tackling corruption and providing safe drinking water in shanty towns.

Mauritania adhered to a policy of neutrality with regard to conflicts in its region, he said, noting its support for United Nations efforts to resolve the conflict in Western Sahara and its contribution to United Nations peacekeeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire and Central African Republic. He emphasized the right of Palestinians to have their own State with East Jerusalem as its capital, adding that ongoing violations of Palestinians’ rights by Israel only fanned the flames of terrorism and violent extremism worldwide. He urged Yemen, Libya and Syria to “choose the path of wisdom” and recognize it was not possible to end conflict militarily. On climate change, he drew attention to Mauritania’s efforts to limit desertification and hoped that all parties to the Paris Agreement would respect their commitments.

Right of Reply

In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Turkey expressed dismay over certain contents of the Syrian regime’s statement, which had contained baseless accusations at Turkey. She was confident that those responsible for the destruction of Syria would be held responsible for their crimes. Until then, her country would stand behind the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.

Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of Indonesia spoke in response to statements made by the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and echoed by others regarding Papua, a province of Indonesia. She rejected the insinuating statements they had made, which reflected an unfortunate lack of understanding of history and progressive developments in Indonesia, including in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. Their politically motivated statements were designed to support separatist groups which had engaged in inciting public disorder and armed attacks on civilians and military personnel. It was regrettable and dangerous of States to use the United Nations and the Assembly to advance their domestic agenda and divert attention from problems at home. Indonesia’s commitment to protecting human rights was unquestionable. It was a founding member of the Human Rights Council and had initiated the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Commission on Human Rights. It had a full-fledged functioning democracy, coupled with the protection of human rights at all levels. Thus, it was impossible for any human rights allegations to go unnoticed and unscrutinized. Domestic mechanisms were in place at the provincial levels in Papua and West Papua, and Indonesia would give focus to the development of those provinces and to the best interests of all.

The representative of China, speaking in exercise of the right of reply and in response to the Philippines, said his country had already made statements on its position on the Arbitral Tribunal findings. Its awards were null and void and had no binding force. Territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea should not be affected by those awards, and China would never accept any claim or action based on them. It would continue to abide by international law as enshrined in the Charter including with respect to State sovereignty and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

In response, the representative of the Philippines said its position had been exhaustively discussed at the 12 July arbitration. Both his country and China were State parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and thus the awards should be final and complied with by all parties. His country had allowed China to move forward on dispute resolution and preliminary talks were ongoing. The award of the Arbitral Tribunal should be a starting point. The award was now a significant part of jurisprudence, and could not be ignored in terms of the maritime entitlements of both countries together with their respective rights and obligations. The Tribunal did have jurisdiction over the dispute. In October 2015, it had found that its jurisdiction applied to China even if that country chose not to participate in proceedings. On 12 July, it had rendered an award on the merits. Some of its points included finding that China’s claims to historic maritime rights ran contrary to the Convention and exceeded geographic limits. Under the convention ruling, none of the islands could sustain human habitation and accordingly should have no economic zone or continental shelf; they were all rocks. The Tribunal had also found that China’s artificial island building had caused devastating and long-lasting damage on the marine environment and that it had not cooperated with other States bordering the South China Sea.

The representative of China said unilateral arbitration was aimed not at resolving the dispute or maintaining peace and stability, but at denying Chinese territorial sovereignty and maritime rights. The Tribunal’s conduct contravened the practice of international arbitration. Currently, thanks to China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, the situation in the South China Sea was progressing in a positive direction.

In response, the representative of the Philippines said China’s actions were the cause of destabilization in the South China Sea, and not the arbitration procedures initiated by the Philippines. Arbitration had been an attempt by the Philippines to resolve the issue on an equal footing. He said his country was ready to talk with China on the basis of the arbitration award. China’s non-acceptance of the arbitration decision would have grave consequences for international law and the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

For information media. Not an official record.

World: Senior Officials in General Assembly Voice Fears over Climate Change, International Banking Regulations, as Annual Debate Continues

Nepal - ReliefWeb News - 2 hours 3 min ago
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Burundi, Congo, Gabon, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

GA/11831

SEVENTY-FIRST SESSION, 20TH, 21ST & 22ND MEETINGS (AM, PM & NIGHT)

Decrying ‘Lip Service’ to United Nations Ideals, Speakers Declare Time for New Direction, Embracing Era of Engagement While the United Nations had been founded on the belief that States could solve problems collectively, the time had come to move in a new direction, the General Assembly heard today, as speakers underlined the need to embrace a new era of engagement based on common needs, innovative ideas and mutual respect.

During the day-long discussion, speakers representing several developing and least developed countries as well as small island States said they remained marginalized from the world’s bounty, pointing out that the current global order paid only lip service to the universal principles and ideals of the United Nations.

Indeed, it was time to recognize that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, said Prime Minister Gaston Alphonso Browne of Antigua and Barbuda. The latest challenge facing the Caribbean region was the withdrawal by global banks of correspondent banking regulations for its financial institutions, a practice known as “de-risking”. The region would be cut off from the world trading system, which would lead to economic collapse as well as rising poverty, crime, refugee numbers and human trafficking. Huge opportunities for money-laundering and terrorism financing would be created, he said, warning that no country would be immune from those consequences.

Prime Minister Allen Michael Chastanet of Saint Lucia declared: “We must decide whether the United Nations can continue to be a place where we lament our outdated grievances or a place where we begin to forge common ground.” Although Saint Lucia’s voice was supposed to be equal to the voices of other countries, realpolitik had proven the contrary, he said. There was no need to perpetuate a world order that elevated one group of nations over others.

Nepal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said that international finance and trade must be responsive to the needs and concerns of least developed and landlocked developing countries. Echoing that sentiment, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh of Viet Nam said developing countries were suffering amid weak global economic recovery, protectionism in major economies, climate change and epidemics.

A number of speakers expressed concern about the impact of climate change and the lack of sustainable climate financing. Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini of Swaziland said: “The negative impact of climate change has become a thorn in our economy.” It had depleted the country’s limited financial resources, killed an alarming number of livestock and destroyed most of the ecosystem. A serious reduction in the amount of water had exacerbated food insecurity, compelling the Government to declare the drought a national disaster.

Similarly, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of Malaysia pointed out that climate-related disasters, such as landslides and coastal erosion, had affected livelihoods, economic activity and the safety of populations. “If left unchecked, I am afraid climate change could, in fact, constitute the greatest threat multiplier for global security,” he warned.

Prime Minister Timothy S. Harris of Saint Kitts and Nevis reinforced that point, saying that a single climate event could wreak havoc on every aspect of life. Calling for a strategy to promote climate financing, he declared: “It means nothing to say that billions of dollars are available for climate financing if the mechanisms for accessing them are opaque, prohibitive and extremely difficult to penetrate.”

The economic impact of environmental damage was dire, a number of speakers said, stressing that more urgent and wide-ranging action was needed to ensure the survival of their countries. Francine Baron, Dominica’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, recalled that Tropical Storm Erika had killed 30 of her fellow citizens and caused economic damages estimated at $483 million, the equivalent of 90 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Also taking the floor today, Walid Al-Moualem, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said that his country’s citizens had paid dearly for terrorist crimes, but would not relent in their fight. Their belief in victory was even greater now that the Syrian Arab Army — with the support of the Russian Federation, Iran and the National Lebanese Resistance — had made great strides in the war. He welcomed international efforts to fight terrorism in Syria, but emphasized the need to coordinate with the Government. Uncoordinated action would be considered a breach of sovereignty and a violation of the United Nations Charter. Speaking critically of a number of States, he reiterated his Government’s commitment to moving forward with the Geneva peace talks, under the auspices of the United Nations.

Also participating in today’s debate were speakers representing Timor-Leste, Tonga, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Ireland, Iceland, Tajikistan, Congo, Kyrgyzstan, Gabon, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Cambodia, Barbados, Burundi, Somalia, Maldives, Bhutan, Grenada and Mauritania.

Representatives of Turkey, Indonesia, China and the Philippines spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Monday, 26 September, to conclude its general debate.

Statements

RUI MARIA DE ARAÚJO, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, said that promoting intergovernmental coherence while strengthening the Peacebuilding Commission and partnerships would improve the United Nations system. “Our joint efforts need to be able to respond more effectively to the challenges facing our nations and peoples,” he said, expressing concern over inequality and conflicts. International peace and security could only be maintained if countries became an integral part of solutions to problems. Regional integration generated opportunities for economic development and contributed to national and regional peace and stability, he said, adding that his country aspired to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the opportunity to fulfil the dreams of its people.

“Without peace and stability, we cannot think of development,” he continued, reiterating his commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2015, Timor-Leste had joined a group of eight other countries to serve as models for implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and the Government had formed an inter-ministerial working group to map indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals. It had selected 20 targets to monitor their implementation. Among other things, Timor-Leste would convene a high-level international conference in March 2017 to discuss ways to advance the 2030 Agenda under the most difficult circumstances, he said. “We are committed to show our youth how important their role is in achieving these Goals,” he said, calling upon all stakeholders to contribute. While it was not an easy exercise, the Government was working towards harmonizing the Goals with national activities and budget.

He went on to note that the situation of refugees and migrants remained unresolved and deserved further focused attention and support. “We need to establish a frank political dialogue and international partnerships to ensure continued respect for human rights and humanitarian assistance,” he said. Having experienced conflict, Timor-Leste knew only too well the high price of war and was ready to contribute to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, it had ratified the relevant conventions and strengthened its commitments to fight terrorism and organized crime. Turning to the issue of maritime boundaries, he emphasized that, even 14 years after Timor-Leste had become the 191st Member State of the United Nations, it had not defined its maritime boundaries with Indonesia and Australia. “The delimitation of our maritime borders will ensure our sovereign rights and give us certainty with respect to what belongs to us,” he said. Delimitation was also essential in order to ensure economic stability and self-sufficiency, and to create a better future for Timor-Leste’s people. For that reason, the Government had started a process of compulsory conciliation in April in order to resolve disputes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he said, adding that he was confident the panel of experts would contribute to an amicable solution.

ALLEN MICHAEL CHASTANET, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service of Saint Lucia, said “old habits and old arguments” were irrelevant to the challenges of today, and called upon the United States to lift its embargo against Cuba. Most of the world’s challenges stemmed from the denial of access to basic human rights, such as education, health care, justice and security. The very format of engaging in a “general debate” was a contradiction because, while many spoke, few “stayed around to listen” and far fewer responded, he pointed out. “We wonder how and why this entity is so negatively perceived by the persons we are elected to serve?”

As a small island State, Saint Lucia’s voice was meant to be equal, but realpolitik had proven the contrary, he continued. Instead of being invited to participate in a solution to the world’s challenges, small islands had been forced to adopt programmes created by more advanced States, only to be criticized by the very same countries and branded as tax havens. “We are left to dance between the raindrops,” he said, noting that, while deeply affected by the 2008 financial crisis, they had not participated in the solutions.

The Group of 20 had a legitimacy problem because it was unofficial and non-inclusive, he said, adding that many of its members championed the very financial and economic systems that had created the crisis, he said, emphasizing that there was no need to perpetuate a world order that elevated one group of nations over others. Recalling that the United Nations had been founded on the belief that nations could solve problems collectively, and rooted in the hard lessons of war, he said the time had come to move in a new direction. With the advent of the technological revolution, there was a need to embrace a new era of engagement based on common needs, innovative ideas and mutual respect, he stressed. “We must decide whether the United Nations can continue to be a place where we lament our outdated grievances or a place where we begin to forge common ground.”

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance of Antigua and Barbuda, expressed support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and disappointment that many of its goals remained aspirational, lacking legally binding funding commitments. “We are realistic enough not to reject the good for the perfect,” he said, adding that his Government would continue to advocate for fairness and equity in pursuing the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Earlier this week, Antigua and Barbuda had deposited its instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change and urged other nations to do the same. “Time is not on our side,” he said, warning that, even at a temperature rise of 1.5°C, many countries — or parts of them — would be washed away. The ravages of climate change would also generate many refugees and displaced persons.

He said that, as a solution to those challenges, his country had repeatedly proposed debt swaps for climate change adaptation and mitigation. That plan included the provision of soft loans to stop further debt accumulation, while helping to build resilience to global warming and sea-level rise. International financial institutions and donor Governments must stop using per capita income as the criterion by which nations qualified for loans, he emphasized, while noting that such pleas had long fallen on deaf ears. Year after year, Heads of Government of small States had called on the Assembly to address those challenges to no avail. “We remain trapped in the reality of a narrow tax base, high debt, large trade deficits, small underdeveloped domestic financial markets, small private sectors and fragile banking systems,” he said, adding that the latest challenge facing the Caribbean region was the withdrawal by global banks of correspondent banking regulations for its financial institutions — known as “de-risking”.

As a result of that practice, he continued, the region would be cut off from the world trading system, which would lead to economic collapse, as well as rising poverty, crime, refugee numbers and human trafficking. Huge opportunities for money-laundering and terrorism financing would be created. Warning that no country would be immune from those consequences, he said that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) had decided to convene a high-level conference on the matter, to be held in Antigua on 27 and 28 October. In that regard, he called upon the Assembly to recognize the substantial and dangerous threat posed by de-risking and work to address it constructively. Pointing out that developing countries and small States remained marginalized from the world’s bounty, he said the current global order paid only lip service to the universal principles and ideals of the United Nations. Indeed, it was time to recognize that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, he stressed.

TIMOTHY S. HARRIS, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said many global problems stemmed from years of social neglect and economic inequalities. Solving them would require greater partnership and finding common ground. Critical to transforming the world was the empowerment of young people, and significant intervention would be required to feed their sense of leadership and civic responsibility. Saint Kitts and Nevis had focused on job creation, skills enhancement, entrepreneurship and support for teen mothers. Small arms and light weapons had also had devastating effects on young lives, and while the Government had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, it needed support, he said.

Indeed, given the country’s small size, one climate event could wreak havoc on every aspect of life, he said, calling for a strategy to promote climate financing. “It means nothing to say that billions of dollars are available for climate financing if the mechanisms for accessing them are opaque, prohibitive and extremely difficult to penetrate,” he pointed out, urging “common sense cooperation”. Small islands were also being marginalized in the global financial system, he said, noting that 16 banks across five countries had lost all or some of their correspondent banking relationships in the first half of 2016, placing their financial lifelines at great risk.

Urging the Group of Seven, the Group of 20 and international financial bodies to re-evaluate how and whether a country qualified for concessional support, he said that the arbitrary classification of some small States as middle-income countries could never make sense when one could grow at 4 to 6 per cent one year only to see nearly 100 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) wiped out by a tropical storm. Noting the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, he called for lower treatment costs for non-communicable diseases. Saint Kitts and Nevis had forged durable partnerships that had been integral to its efforts to modernize its economy, he said, adding that Cuba’s support in the areas of education and training, health care, agriculture and heritage development had dwarfed the assistance provided by many advanced economies. Support from Taiwan had also been remarkable, he said, welcoming new opportunities for that country’s integration into the international community. He also decried the nuclear tests carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in violation of Security Council resolution 2270 (2016).

BARNABAS SIBUSISO DLAMINI, Prime Minister of Swaziland, said that his country had started mainstreaming and popularizing the Sustainable Development Goals through awareness-raising campaigns, education and training at all levels. In addition, the country had integrated the Goals into the national development framework. In that regard, appropriate institutional arrangements had been put in place to monitor the 2030 Agenda’s implementation. Both the executive and legislative arms of Government were fully involved and progress was periodically reported to the Cabinet and to Parliament. Among other things, the Government had translated its national “Vision 2022” into practical and feasible targets so as to expedite economic growth while improving health care, service delivery, infrastructure and governance, as well as fighting corruption.

Turning to climate change, he expressed commitment to fighting global warming, pointing out that Swaziland had participated in all the negotiations that had culminated in the adoption and subsequent signing of the Paris Agreement. “The negative impact of climate change has become a thorn in our economy,” he said, adding that it had depleted the country’s limited financial resources, killed an alarming number of livestock and destroyed most of the ecosystem. At the same time, drought had led to a serious reduction in the amount of water required for crop production, human use and consumption, and exacerbated food and nutrition insecurity. In view of that situation, the Government had declared drought a national disaster, he said.

Noting that his country continued to be a big and active player in promoting regional and continental integration, he recalled that in August, Swaziland had hosted the thirty-sixth Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government Summit — under the theme “resource mobilization for investment in sustainable energy infrastructure” — which had focused on inclusive industrialization. Furthermore, Swaziland was a signatory to a number of trade integration arrangements, ranging from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to the Tripartite Free Trade Area. Those arrangements had opened up preferential market access opportunities to maximize trade at the regional and international levels, he said.

SAMIUELA 'AKILISI POHIVA, Prime Minister of Tonga, said that his country continuously advocated for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its natural resources. Tonga attached great importance to Sustainable Development Goal 14 and believed it could be attained through set targets and indicators. In that regard, the country looked forward to the first United Nations conference on Goal 14 as an opportunity to see where the international community stood in terms of conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources. Regarding the exploitation of biological diversity, he said that regulation of areas beyond national jurisdictions was yet to be realized. In accordance with the 2014 decision of Pacific Island Forum leaders, Tonga supported the ongoing process of preparatory meetings.

He said that his country paid close attention to the interaction of the ocean with climate, noting that Tonga had signed and ratified the Paris Agreement. “We cannot face the challenges of climate change alone,” he emphasized. Calling attention to his country’s clear and unambiguous links to international peace and security, he called upon the Special Representative on Climate and Security, as well as the Security Council, to raise the issue in the necessary platforms. “Tonga is the third most vulnerable country in the world to the adverse impacts of climate change,” he said, stressing that their seriousness could not be underestimated.

Noting that the maintenance of international peace and security would be determined by the issue of disarmament, he said the proliferation of weapons in all their forms not only threatened international peace and security, but demonstrated the sheer waste of financial resources. Those funds might be better spent on international sustainable development initiatives and improving people’s lives, he pointed out. Part of the challenge of ensuring equitable development was preventing unfair economic dominance by one country over another, which had resulted in the suffering of innocent people, and was not acceptable. In that regard, he congratulated the United States on its incremental easing of restrictions on its economic interactions with in Cuba. Among other things, he expressed concern about the welfare of the Pacific peoples in West Papua Province of Indonesia. Regarding human rights abuses in that province, he called for an open and constructive dialogue with Indonesia on the status and welfare of West Papuans.

PHAM BINH MINH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said the Sustainable Development Goals were within reach, with reform, innovation, creativity and economic restructuring setting countries on a prosperous path. Yet, developing countries were suffering amid weak global economic recovery, protectionism in major economies, climate change and epidemics. Of particular concern were conflict and terrorism in many regions.

He called for strengthening multilateralism and the operation of multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, given the Organization’s indispensable role in coordinating responses to global challenges. The Security Council must be reformed to ensure greater equality, democracy and transparency, while the development system should be better resourced, he emphasized. Viet Nam supported the broadest participation of countries in the formulation of resolutions, he said.

“International law remains the linchpin of a stable international security architecture,” he said, while noting that unilateralism had created tensions. Peace could be achieved through a comprehensive approach that harmonized the interests of all stakeholders, he said, welcoming the positive developments between Cuba and the United States in that regard. He urged all parties involved in recent developments in the South China Sea to exercise self-restraint and to resolve disputes peacefully.

WALID AL-MOUALEM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said his people had paid dearly for the crimes of terrorists who had undermined their security, stability and livelihoods. It was no secret that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had played a role in spreading terrorism throughout Syria, promoting their Wahhabist ideology and equipping mercenaries with sophisticated weapons. Meanwhile, Turkey had opened its borders and provided logistical support to tens of thousands of terrorists from around the world, he said.

In spite of that, Syrians would not relent in the fight, he vowed, saying that their belief in victory was even greater now that the Syrian Arab Army — with the support of the Russian Federation, Iran and the Lebanese national resistance — had made great strides in the war. While welcoming international efforts to fight terrorism in Syria, he emphasized the need to coordinate with the Government, warning that any uncoordinated action would be considered a breach of sovereignty and a violation of the United Nations Charter. As such, the Syrian Government strongly condemned the attack on a Syrian army site near Deir ez-Zor Airport by United States warplanes on 17 September, he said.

He went on to condemn Turkey’s incursion into Syrian territory, calling for an end to “this flagrant aggression”. Any solution to the crisis must follow parallel counter-terrorism and political tracks through the intra-Syrian dialogue, which would enable Syrians to determine the future of their country without foreign interference. Despite hurdles created by regional and Western States on behalf of the self-proclaimed “Syrian opposition”, the Government had always been open to a political track that would stop the bloodshed and end the prolonged suffering of Syrians. On that note, he reiterated his Government’s commitment to moving forward with the Geneva peace talks, under the auspices of the United Nations.

AHMAD ZAHID HAMIDI, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, said that his Government’s national development plan was based on three pillars — increasing incomes, focusing on inclusiveness and promoting sustainability. Malaysia had initiated several programmes that would provide technical and vocational training to facilitate the entry of young professionals into the labour market, and to establish the country as the start-up capital of Asia, he said. However, sustainable development could be hampered by the devastating impacts of climate change, as witnessed by various small island developing States. The phenomenon presented “an existential threat to their subsistence”.

He went on to point out that the world had witnessed an increase in the intensity and frequency of climate-related disasters, such as landslides and coastal erosions, which had affected livelihoods, economic activity and the safety of populations. “If left unchecked, I am afraid climate change could, in fact, constitute the greatest threat multiplier for global security,” he warned. The international community must follow through with the commitments made in Paris, he said, noting that Malaysia had committed to reducing its greenhouse-gas emission intensity of GDP by up to 45 per cent by 2030.

Turning to peace and security, he noted that the international community continued to witness horrific acts by non-State actors. However, the fight against extremists would not be won exclusively through the use of force or punitive measures, which was why Malaysia had focused on de-radicalization and rehabilitation programmes to change the mindsets of radicalized individuals, in addition to complementary forms of humanitarian assistance to help them reintegrate into society. The success rate of those programmes had been around 97.5 per cent, he said, adding that the Government was prepared to share its experience with other countries since “no nation is immune to the threat posed by international terrorism”.

PASQUALE VALENTI, Minister for Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino, described the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as one of the most important moments in the Organization’s history. The 2030 Agenda defined the planet’s future and the vision of the world “we want to live in”. In particular, San Marino appreciated the commitment shown by Member States to reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 2020, and attached great importance to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the monitoring mechanism identified during the High-Level Political Forum.

Emphasizing the need for all international stakeholders to play their part, he said that his country had made several humanitarian contributions in recent months. Apart from its financial contribution to international programmes, San Marino had joined the humanitarian corridor project supported by Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and had hosted some migrants. San Marino recognized that a culture of understanding and peaceful coexistence among different people was the only way to face the challenges of globalization and build a planet for all, he said.

AURELIA FRICK, Foreign Minister of Liechtenstein, said migration should be a choice not a necessity. Exploiting fears for political gain was cynical and unproductive, while preventing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes would eliminate one of the main reasons why people were forced to flee their homes. The Security Council had an opportunity to enter a new phase of its historical engagement in crises. “The world is looking to this Organization to provide this engagement, and it is too often disappointed,” she said, reminding leaders that, for 70 years, it had been illegal to engage in armed conflict except in narrowly defined circumstances. Accountable institutions, access to justice for everyone and significant reduction of corruption were all key ingredients of sustainable development. “Only if it is clear that nobody is above the law can the law prevail,” she said, adding that it was, therefore, crucial to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes under international law.

She said she looked forward to the completion of the Rome Statute, which would give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over the crime of aggression and criminalize the most serious forms of the illegal use of force. While the Court was the strongest symbol that impunity was no longer an option, it was not a solution to all problems. Noting that more than 45 million people lived in conditions that qualified as modern slavery, generating billions of dollars, she said modern slavery was the biggest human rights scandal of modern times. To combat one of the biggest illegal business models, Liechtenstein would focus on disrupting financial flows and using relevant data for criminal prosecutions. It would also work towards greater involvement of international justice mechanisms where national judiciaries systematically failed. While the best person for the job should be appointed the next Secretary-General, she said it would make her “very happy if this person was to be a woman”.

CHARLES FLANAGAN, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, said the Sustainable Development Goals had the capacity to address many of the root causes of mass migration, including poverty, inequality and climate change. In tandem with long-term development efforts, a multilateral response was needed to address the more urgent needs of migrants and refugees, he said, noting that his country was doing its part through a €60 million pledge in support of the Syrian people, and its participation in a European Union resettlement programme. In addition to humanitarian relief, greater investment was needed in conflict prevention and post-conflict reconciliation, he said, emphasizing the importance of ensuring greater representation of women in those and other activities — a goal that Ireland would prioritize during its membership of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2017.

He welcomed the French initiative to revive the stalled Middle East peace process and reaffirmed his support for United Nations efforts to bring an end to the conflict in Syria through dialogue and diplomacy. Turning to Africa, he called for a “transparent, accountable and human-rights-based resolution” of the continent’s numerous conflicts, which were undermining sustainable development efforts. While reaffirming Ireland’s commitment to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he emphasized his country’s absolute condemnation of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. “Ireland calls for an end to impunity for these crimes,” he said, stressing his country’s commitment to hold its own troops accountable for their behaviour while deployed overseas. Finally, he called for Security Council reform and for African representation, in particular.

LILJA DÖGG ALFREÐSDÓTTIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, addressed a number of her country’s key priorities, including the migration crisis, climate change, minority rights and the protection of international law. Recalling the mass migration of Icelanders to North America at the end of the nineteenth century, she called upon the international community to “step up to the plate” in response to the current migration crisis, saying Iceland would have taken in 100 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. In proportion to its size, that number would have been equivalent to 100,000 refugees in the United States, she observed. Emphasizing the need to resolve several protracted conflicts in the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the crisis in Syria and the dispute over Western Sahara, she said injustice and the failure of governance were driving them.

She said education was a precondition of good governance and a key pillar of her country’s development cooperation. On the issue of minority rights, she stressed the need to protect the rights of women, as well as those of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. Pointing out that she was one of only 30 female foreign ministers around the world, she underlined how far the world still had to go and welcomed in that regard the strong field of female candidates for the position of United Nations Secretary-General. Regarding climate change, she said her country planned to ratify the Paris Agreement soon and would review its progress in two years’ time. Finally, she expressed concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, saying it was in violation of international law and threatened the security of its own people, the wider region and the world. “For a small and peaceful country like mine, international law is our sword, shield and shelter,” she said.

SIRODJIDIN ASLOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, said that, while the global community had recently made headway in the area of development, it had been less successful in addressing issues of peace and security. In particular, combating international terrorism and violent extremism had become a top priority. There was a need to develop national, regional and international mechanisms aimed at eliminating military infrastructures, financing channels, logistical support, recruiting and propaganda of violence, as well as the use of modern information and communications technology (ICT) for purposes of terror. Preventing illicit drug trafficking, which had turned into a breeding ground for terrorism and organized crime, also required concerted joint action. Tajikistan stood for a comprehensive settlement of the crises in the Middle East, which would help to enhance global security, he said, while also expressing support for the international strategy for a comprehensive settlement and post-conflict reconstruction in neighbouring Afghanistan.

With the setting of the 2030 Agenda, the world had begun a process of transformation, he said. “It is obvious that the path towards sustainable development is not going to be easy and smooth,” he said, noting that both traditional and emerging challenges presented additional and complex tasks, seriously undermining security and stability around the globe. The response required regional cooperation and political will, reinforced by adequate means of implementation. It was crucial to remember that countries in special situations — including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States — would begin implementing the 2030 Agenda under less favourable conditions and required special support. Underlining the importance of water in the 2030 Agenda, he warned that climate change, urbanization and population growth would exacerbate water-related challenges. In that regard, countries must work together on a new water agenda, particularly in cases of waters shared among various sectors, such as health, agriculture, energy and navigation.

PRAKASH SHARAN MAHAT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, said the international community’s failure to agree a comprehensive convention on terrorism was highly frustrating. He called for speedy resolution of the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, and expressed support for lasting peace in the Middle East. Nepal would remain committed to fulfilling its international obligations and providing additional troops and civilians to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said. For peace missions to be successful there must be unity of purpose in mobilizing the Security Council’s political capital, clearly defined mandates and adequate resource back-up, he emphasized. Troop-contributing countries must have fair opportunities to serve in leadership positions, both in the field and at Headquarters, and human rights must not be used as tools to serve hidden political objectives.

Nepal’s new Constitution contained a list of human rights measures, he said, noting that the country had abolished the death penalty and put legal and institutional measures in place for the realization of all human rights. On migration, he said the welfare of migrant workers must have priority in the countries where they worked. As the source country for more than 3 million migrant workers, Nepal called for concerted efforts at the national, regional and international levels to ensure their well-being. International finance and trade must be responsive to the needs and concerns of least developed countries and landlocked developing countries, he said, adding that climate justice must be based on common but differentiated responsibilities, with special attention to climate-vulnerable countries, particularly mountainous countries. The success of Nepal’s peace process could be a good example for countries transitioning from conflict to peace, he said, adding that his country’s constitution guaranteed equal opportunity and protection for every citizen. Women were guaranteed at least one-third representation in Parliament and 40 per cent in local government, he added.

JEAN-CLAUDE GAKOSSO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Congo, said the 2030 Agenda had heralded a new era of sustainable development. Recalling that his country had allocated many resources on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, he said it would now turn its attention to the implementation of the new agenda. However, it would require the international community’s support, including through mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. Pledging to ensure that each Congolese citizen lived in dignity and that no one was left behind, he underscored the significance of the recent Group of 20 decision to support industrialization in developing countries, especially in Africa. The continent would not be able to develop sustainably without first industrializing and gaining better access to energy. Recalling that, five years ago, the world had welcomed the birth of its newest nation, he said it was regrettable that South Sudan had rapidly plunged into a fratricidal conflict. All parties to that conflict must demonstrate political will and commit in good faith to implementing the 2015 peace agreement. Calling for the deployment of a regional stability force under a Security Council mandate, he said the time had come to put an end to the bloodbath in South Sudan, which imperilled global security.

Noting that the Central African Republic had, not long ago, been caught up in another serious crisis, he said that country had been able to successfully implement a political transition with the help of its international and regional partners. Deploring the tragic events that had rocked Kinshasa almost a week ago, he invited the Democratic Republic of the Congo to seek peaceful solutions through an inclusive dialogue. Turning to Gabon, where a post-electoral crisis had led to violence, he said the country should aim to emerge reconciled from that painful ordeal. In his own country, he cited a number of recent institutional developments following last year’s referendum. Those had led to the adoption of a Constitution that strengthened the principle of the separation of powers, abolished capital punishment, provided for gender equality, recognized the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples and provided a blueprint for participatory democracy.

ERLAN ABDYLDAYEV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, celebrated the conclusion of his country’s October 2015 parliamentary elections, and thanked the Secretary-General for his support during that process. He called upon the United Nations and partner organizations to support the country’s upcoming elections in 2017. He expressed his support for the Sustainable Development Goals, which included a number of priorities for his country, including poverty reduction, high-quality education, health care, economic growth and environmental protection. On that note, he announced that he had signed the Paris Agreement outside the General Assembly hall the preceding day. Enumerating the many environmental stresses Kyrgyzstan faced, he called for international support to help his country adapt to climate change. Particularly concerning was the rapid rate of glacial melting, shrinking biodiversity and uranium mining sites, which despite having been addressed under General Assembly resolution 68/218, now required a high-level international meeting.

Turning to issues of security and stability, he expressed concern about tensions in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Ukraine, and noted that terrorism, extremism and religious intolerance afflicted his country like so many others. Observing that the “confrontational position of some countries” was hindering the international community’s ability to tackle those threats, he called for world Powers to set aside their disputes and undertake joint efforts to counter threats to international security. There needed to be a General Assembly resolution on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation for peace. Concerned about his country’s electricity shortage, he called for Central Asia to reach a common understanding on the rational use of energy resources and an expeditious resolution of border disputes. He added his voice to others calling for Security Council reform, and welcomed recent procedural changes in the election of the Secretary-General. Finally, he expressed his concern about the involvement of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in the case of Azimjan Askarov, who had been convicted by the Kyrgyz Supreme Court. Such interventions were liable to destabilize his country.

EMMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, said the present General Assembly session was taking place following a disputed presidential election in his country. Yesterday, the Constitutional Court had reaffirmed the victory of Ali Bongo Ondimba as President and Head of State. Recalling that the Government had institutionalized the use of biometric data to draw up its voters lists, and that it had welcomed over 1,200 observers and 200 foreign journalists to ensure the election was fair and democratic, he said there had nevertheless been several violent incidents and loss of life associated with the election. President Ondimba had called for an inclusive dialogue as well as reconciliation and national unity, which were now among the country’s main goals. Citing a number of recent international successes, including the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba and the signing of the Paris Agreement, he said the latter now required implementation. Gabon had begun its ratification procedure, and it looked forward to the next Conference of States Parties.

In that regard, he stressed that a major challenge that remained to be addressed was that of ensuring energy across Africa. Noting that two thirds of Africans still lacked access to energy, he said environmental issues were at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and required sustained enthusiasm as well as concrete action. Calling for the greater mobilization of human, financial resources and more direct involvement of the private sector, he stressed that “we must redouble our creativity” and explore new pathways of development. For its part, Gabon had established a new Government agency to design and implement a sectoral approach to the environment, as well as other key priority issues. It also participated actively in the fight against terrorism. Emphasizing that more efforts were needed to cut off financing to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he said addressing the terrorist threat also meant resolving the crises in Libya, Syria and elsewhere.

FRANCINE BARON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and CARICOM Affairs of Dominica, said that realizing the Sustainable Development Goals was not about ticking boxes, but about making a real difference. The international community must sharpen its focus on the impact of climate change on small island developing States. They had seen agricultural production dramatically reduced, leading to prolonged drought and soil erosion. The economic impact of the environmental damage was dire, and “more urgent and wide-ranging action is needed in fighting against climate change to ensure our very survival”. Dominica had been painfully reminded of that in 2015, when Tropical Storm Erika had killed 30 of its citizens, she recalled.

That event had caused economic damage estimated at $483 million, the equivalent of 90 per cent of national GDP, she recalled. Dominica had since made great strides in building more climate-resilient and adaptive infrastructure in a process facilitated by the support of bilateral and multilateral partners, she said. Still, the country continued to suffer the “disproportionate burdens and impacts of climate change”, which hampered its efforts to develop in a sustainable manner, she said, adding that resources intended for sustainable development programmes had instead been shifted to post-disaster rehabilitation efforts. Dominica, therefore, continued to call for the establishment of an international natural disaster risk fund, she said, describing the Caribbean Risk Fund and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Disaster Recovery Facilities as “good starting points”.

PERFECTO R. YASAY, JR., Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said that after his country’s hard-fought and hard-won independence, it zealously valued and guarded its rights and liberties through democracy and a system of checks and balances. Five months ago, the people had elected new President Rodrigo Roa Duterte with an unprecedented and resounding electoral mandate. For far too long, the Philippines had been unable to fully advance due to corruption, worsening crime, and the prevalence of illegal drugs, and corruption had become the breeding ground for the illegal drug trade. The Government was determined to eradicate illicit drugs and their manufacture, distribution and use. The rule of law and strict adherence to due process fully governed the campaign against corruption and criminality. Noting that the Government’s actions had grabbed national and international attention for all the wrong reasons, he urged everyone “to allow us to deal with our domestic challenges in order to achieve our national goals, without undue interference”. Extrajudicial killings had no place in Philippine society, and the Government did not and would never empower its law enforcement agents to shoot-to-kill any individual suspected of drug crimes, though police had the right to defend themselves when their lives were threatened.

The goal of the Government was to “leave no one behind” in its development strides, he said. The Philippines continued to enhance the delivery and quality of social services, including in health, education, food, water and housing. As one of the most disaster-prone and vulnerable countries to the adverse effects of climate change, the Philippines reiterated its call for climate justice and the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in the implementation of obligations under the Paris Agreement. The country remained committed to the rule of law and to peace, including the recent decision on the Arbitral Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague with regard to the disputes in the South China Sea. Noting the final and binding nature of the Arbitral Award, the Philippines reaffirmed its commitment to pursuing peaceful resolution to regional disputes.

SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, said that several countries in the region were facing multiple crises and conflicts ignited after 2011. A number of Arab countries had descended into internal fighting and the plight of the Palestinian people continued under Israeli occupation without a just solution on the horizon. Countering terrorist groups was a right and duty of all; however, resorting to “blindly placed laws”, such as the United States Congress’ Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, ignoring the effective roles played by a number of nations, would lead to further arbitrary policies and destabilize relationships between allies. He went on to observe that Iran, with expansionist regional policies and interference in its neighbours’ internal affairs, had played the greatest role in causing regional tension and instability. Despite the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1, he said, that country had continued its efforts to undermine regional security through aggressive rhetoric and by developing its ballistic missile programme.

With regards to Libya, he said that his country welcomed the Skhirat Agreement and the formation of the Government of National Accord. On Syria, the United Arab Emirates saw no possibility of resolving the crisis through military force. “Bandaging the wounds” by repeating charitable humanitarian efforts or holding international conferences were no substitutes for resolving such crises. His country had built mechanisms to protect youth by establishing the Hedayah Centre to combat extremism and the Sawab Centre with the United States. It had also established the Muslim Council of Elders and the Forum for the Promotion of Peace in Muslim Communities to demonstrate the true face of Islam. However, regional crises should not distract from his country’s core issue — its sovereignty over three islands, Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, occupied by Iran against the provisions of international law and the Charter. The United Arab Emirates had called on Iran to return the islands, particularly through international justice or arbitration, and would continue to do so. He affirmed that his country would never give up its right over those islands.

IBRAHIM AHMED ABD AL-AZIZ GHANDOUR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, stressed the need to reform the United Nations and its various structures. He expressed hope that countries calling for such reform would be heeded to ensure the Organization became a platform for implementing principles of international legality and justice. He also emphasized that the fight against impunity through international mechanisms should be depoliticized. The International Criminal Court, rather than dispensing justice, hampered efforts to achieve peace. Many African States were threatening to withdraw from the Court due to its politicization.

His country would knock on every door in pursuing peace, stressing that dialogue was the only means of strengthening the social fabric, he said. Darfur had now become a peaceful and secure region, with the United Nations as a witness. His Government reiterated its call for the withdrawal of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Its considerable forces could be better employed elsewhere. He also called for the removal of sanctions against his country and the writing off of its billions of dollars in foreign debt, which was hampering Sudan’s economic capabilities and ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

PRAK SOKHONN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, noted that despite progress made in the areas of development and technology, there had been challenges in areas of peace and security. The latter would need to be addressed with actions, not words alone. New tensions were reason for great concern as well, especially in the Middle East. That required a more effective international response, including a more equitable representation of countries among the members of the Security Council. He stated his intention to work with all constructively to achieve lasting peace. The root causes of terrorism, most notably inequality and discrimination, had to be addressed. There must be peaceful coexistence among religions and countries, and radicalization had to be addressed.

He urged that equality must also be pursued in international trade and economic development. The Paris Agreement must be implemented without delay to avoid serious consequences. With regard to the Sustainable Development Goals, he noted the responsibility of the developed countries to work in close partnership with developing States. He recounted the terror his own country had to experience, which depleted all its resources. Only Viet Nam responded during that dark period and accepted displaced persons. That past continued to weigh upon citizens and society as a whole. Despite the challenges, progress has been made in Cambodia in terms of development and reconciliation. His State had gained expertise in demining and supported other countries in the removal of such devices. Concluding, he said that mass terror and violence had to be prevented.

MAXINE PAMELA OMETA MCCLEAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, said it was necessary to act now to make the vision of Agenda 2030 a reality, and that this was particularly true for the small island developing States. She was proud to have participated in the launch, in Barbados, of the Caribbean Human Development Report 2016, and noted the three central issues it highlighted for low-lying coastal Caribbean States: vulnerability, resilience and sustainability. The existential threat which climate changed posed for island States was well-documented. The Prime Minister of Barbados had participated in the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement in April, and deposited the instrument of ratification on the same occasion. Barbados had developed a National Climate Change Policy Framework, and recognized the potential of sustainable ocean exploitation as an important component of its future development.

In 50 years since its independence, Barbados had achieved a significant level of human development, she said, but the country was concerned that international development agencies were penalizing it for its progress, while ignoring its obvious vulnerabilities. Another obstacle was “the persistent and unwarranted attacks” on the country’s international financial services sector. Barbados welcomed the progress towards the normalization of bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States of America, and looked forward to the dismantling of the final vestiges of the long-standing embargo.

ALAIN AIMÉ NYAMITWE, Minister for External Affairs of Burundi, acknowledged the importance of the Inter-Burundi Dialogue, but said it should not replace or undermine the country’s Constitution. His Government believed that peaceful political stakeholders should discuss the country’s future but must adhere to its policies. In reacting to recent conflict in the country, citizens of Burundi had called for several important reforms, which could not be ignored, and the Government had maintained an unwavering commitment to human rights. The Government had reiterated its commitment to ensure the safety of all citizens, irrespective of ethnicity. It was imperative that any human rights assessment of the country be executed with caution, as falsified information and reports on social media had all been used to place the country under a bad light. His Government rejected any politicized or falsified reports on human rights in the country and would produce a comprehensive counter-report.

Turning to global security, he said terrorism was now affecting all regions of the world. Some progress had been made to combat it, but international efforts or a common strategy had not yet yielded the desired results. His Government condemned terrorism and believed the fight against it must continue with greater determination. Since 2007, Burundi had been contributing troops to fight terrorism, based on an ironclad commitment against the scourge and in support of global peace. Burundi was determined to help its brothers and sisters recover their dignity and freedom. He called on the United Nations to fill in the financial gap left by a reduction in the European Union budget for AMISOM.

ABDUSALAM HADLIYEH OMER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Somalia, noted that after almost two decades of instability, his country had permanently turned the corner towards prosperity. The Government had made tangible progress on elections, State formation, security and economic development. Somalia was also winning the war against terrorism at home and contributing to creating a safer world by cooperating with international partners. With the support of its national security services and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Al-Shabaab had been militarily defeated. Today, that group controlled less than 10 per cent of the country’s territory. In recent months, many of its key leaders had been killed while others had defected, and it had turned to small-team asymmetric warfare tactics to conduct terror attacks against “soft targets” in Somalia and its neighbours.

He continued to say that his country was grateful to nations which had contributed troops to the AMISOM, as well as to international partners. But the only way to achieve long-term stability and development was to have trained, equipped and funded Somali national security forces, he said, expressing hope that the aim could be achieved ahead of the Mission drawdown in 2018. The President had recently launched the National Strategy and Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, which would provide a holistic framework for addressing security threats. In addition, the Government was determined to ensure a smooth and inclusive electoral process for a peaceful democratic transition in November, championing a 13 per cent quota for women in Parliament. Through diverse partnerships, it was also working on successfully returning Somali refugees home from Kenya voluntarily and with dignity so they could actively participate in their nation’s rebuilding efforts.

MOHAMED ASIM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, said that the adoption of the 2030 Agenda provided a rare opportunity for the whole world to come together in a moment of collective agreement. The Maldives was focused on investing in health and education. The country sought to deliver easily accessible health care, a feat that was challenging for a population of 338,000 dispersed over 188 islands. “Investing in our people will put us on the right path, and no investment has higher returns than when we invest in women and girls,” he said. As a small island developing State, the Maldives was susceptible to economic, environmental and institutional shocks. It was necessary to re-evaluate development status beyond simply GDP per capita, a metric which disadvantaged smaller countries with small populations. Vulnerability needed to be a factor in those assessments. “Evaluate our progress relatively, not against inapt benchmarks,” he said.

Climate change was an existential threat to the Maldives, he said, and his country had long advocated urgent action on that issue. As a lone voice, it could not go far, but today, together with 43 members of the Alliance of Small Island States, it could accomplish much more. The Maldives was among the first to ratify the Paris Agreement. His nation was also concerned about the sustainable use of the oceans, an issue that needed a collective response. On Syria, he said that a military solution was never the answer. “Fences and wires don’t stop violence […] compassion and tolerance do,” he said. Condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, he warned against the rising tide of hatred, Islamophobia and xenophobia in the name of security, which could only lead to more violence.

LYONPO DAMCHO DORJI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bhutan, noted with concern the occurrence of recent acts of terrorism, and protracted and new conflicts which had resulted in massive and unprecedented levels of displacement. To achieve sustainable peace, much remained to be done with regard to the arms trade. He went on to address other major global challenges the international community had to address, including poverty, child mortality, gender equality, inequality and climate change. The latter had the most serious impact on the most vulnerable countries, such as small island States and least developed countries.

He stated that Bhutan aligned the Sustainable Development Goals with national priorities. He also noted that the Goals were consistent with the national framework of Gross National Happiness. With regard to successful implementation, he stressed the importance of the support of Bhutan’s development partners. Partnerships and a strengthened multilateral system were crucial for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.

ELVIN NIMROD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Grenada, expressed the commitment of his country to the full and inclusive implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Grenada was particularly committed to conserve and promote the sustainable use of the oceans and all marine resources. He stressed the importance of securing adequate resources to protect marine resources, and he shared an innovative approach in that field. During Blue Week 2016, a “shark tank” approach was used to allow local and international ocean entrepreneurs to pitch project ideas for funding. According to research carried out by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Wildlife Fund, the ocean economy has an estimated $24 trillion asset value. Furthermore, he urged small island, Caribbean and Pacific States to be lead advocates on the issue of oceans and climate change. On climate change, he urged leaders to ratify the Paris Agreement by the end of 2016, noting that small island and least developed States would require ongoing technical assistance and capacity-building in the areas of climate change, renewable energy and sustainable development.

Regarding peace and security, he reiterated that the sovereignty of countries had to be respected, and he did not condone the embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States. He also expressed his support for a two-State settlement for Israel and Palestine and the self-determination and protection of the Palestinian people. At home, Grenada continued to strengthen democratic values and practices, including through a reform of the Constitution.

ISSELKOU OULD AHMED IZID BIH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mauritania, said his country played a crucial role in regional peace and security. Against the backdrop of a complex regional situation, it had successfully fought against several terrorist organizations. It had beefed up security and defence without undermining individual freedoms. Mauritania believed that security and development were two sides of the same coin, he said, noting the country’s efforts in such areas as tackling corruption and providing safe drinking water in shanty towns.

Mauritania adhered to a policy of neutrality with regard to conflicts in its region, he said, noting its support for United Nations efforts to resolve the conflict in Western Sahara and its contribution to United Nations peacekeeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire and Central African Republic. He emphasized the right of Palestinians to have their own State with East Jerusalem as its capital, adding that ongoing violations of Palestinians’ rights by Israel only fanned the flames of terrorism and violent extremism worldwide. He urged Yemen, Libya and Syria to “choose the path of wisdom” and recognize it was not possible to end conflict militarily. On climate change, he drew attention to Mauritania’s efforts to limit desertification and hoped that all parties to the Paris Agreement would respect their commitments.

Right of Reply

In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Turkey expressed dismay over certain contents of the Syrian regime’s statement, which had contained baseless accusations at Turkey. She was confident that those responsible for the destruction of Syria would be held responsible for their crimes. Until then, her country would stand behind the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.

Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of Indonesia spoke in response to statements made by the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and echoed by others regarding Papua, a province of Indonesia. She rejected the insinuating statements they had made, which reflected an unfortunate lack of understanding of history and progressive developments in Indonesia, including in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. Their politically motivated statements were designed to support separatist groups which had engaged in inciting public disorder and armed attacks on civilians and military personnel. It was regrettable and dangerous of States to use the United Nations and the Assembly to advance their domestic agenda and divert attention from problems at home. Indonesia’s commitment to protecting human rights was unquestionable. It was a founding member of the Human Rights Council and had initiated the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Commission on Human Rights. It had a full-fledged functioning democracy, coupled with the protection of human rights at all levels. Thus, it was impossible for any human rights allegations to go unnoticed and unscrutinized. Domestic mechanisms were in place at the provincial levels in Papua and West Papua, and Indonesia would give focus to the development of those provinces and to the best interests of all.

The representative of China, speaking in exercise of the right of reply and in response to the Philippines, said his country had already made statements on its position on the Arbitral Tribunal findings. Its awards were null and void and had no binding force. Territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea should not be affected by those awards, and China would never accept any claim or action based on them. It would continue to abide by international law as enshrined in the Charter including with respect to State sovereignty and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

In response, the representative of the Philippines said its position had been exhaustively discussed at the 12 July arbitration. Both his country and China were State parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and thus the awards should be final and complied with by all parties. His country had allowed China to move forward on dispute resolution and preliminary talks were ongoing. The award of the Arbitral Tribunal should be a starting point. The award was now a significant part of jurisprudence, and could not be ignored in terms of the maritime entitlements of both countries together with their respective rights and obligations. The Tribunal did have jurisdiction over the dispute. In October 2015, it had found that its jurisdiction applied to China even if that country chose not to participate in proceedings. On 12 July, it had rendered an award on the merits. Some of its points included finding that China’s claims to historic maritime rights ran contrary to the Convention and exceeded geographic limits. Under the convention ruling, none of the islands could sustain human habitation and accordingly should have no economic zone or continental shelf; they were all rocks. The Tribunal had also found that China’s artificial island building had caused devastating and long-lasting damage on the marine environment and that it had not cooperated with other States bordering the South China Sea.

The representative of China said unilateral arbitration was aimed not at resolving the dispute or maintaining peace and stability, but at denying Chinese territorial sovereignty and maritime rights. The Tribunal’s conduct contravened the practice of international arbitration. Currently, thanks to China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, the situation in the South China Sea was progressing in a positive direction.

In response, the representative of the Philippines said China’s actions were the cause of destabilization in the South China Sea, and not the arbitration procedures initiated by the Philippines. Arbitration had been an attempt by the Philippines to resolve the issue on an equal footing. He said his country was ready to talk with China on the basis of the arbitration award. China’s non-acceptance of the arbitration decision would have grave consequences for international law and the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

For information media. Not an official record.

World: Defeating Terrorism, Human Trafficking Crucial for Addressing Huge Migratory Flows into Europe, Speakers from Continent Stress as General Debate Continues

Yemen - ReliefWeb News - 3 hours 34 min ago
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Central African Republic, Haiti, Mali, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

GA/11829
Seventy-first Session, 17th, 18th & 19th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Foreign Minister of Hungary Says National Security Comes First; Other Speakers Urge Engagement over Isolationism

With 65 million people displaced and on the move, several European countries discussed myriad ways to deal with the unprecedented phenomenon by defeating terrorism, bringing human traffickers to justice, while others called on Member States to make the better choice between engagement and isolation as the General Assembly continued its annual debate today.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said it was important to address the root cause of what was uprooting so many from their homes. As long as terrorism existed so would the migration pressure on Europe, and while the right to a safe life was a fundamental human right, choosing a State where one wanted to live was not. Migratory policies that considered all migrants refugees and that had taken in thousands against the wishes of their own people had failed. Uncontrolled and unregulated migratory patterns were a threat to peace and security.

“Hungary puts security of the Hungarian people in first place and we will not allow violations of our borders,” he said. Europe would not be able to take on such an immense challenge. “We have to help people to stay as close to their homes as possible so that they can return to their homes as soon as possible,” he continued, stressing the need to help Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan to deal with millions of people they had taken in. It was perhaps vital to link development programmes to conditionality so that Governments were responsible in not creating the circumstances for their people to leave their homes.

Several delegations echoed one another stressing the need to go after traffickers who had profited handsomely from smuggling people, with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Pavel Filip, urging the international community to “resolutely fight smuggling and the illicit trafficking in persons”. He also made the link between people moving to seek a better life elsewhere and development. As long as the world remained stricken by poverty, social inequality, and human rights abuses, there would be no resolution to the forces driving people to uproot their lives, he said.

Bujar Nishani, President of Albania, said his country had joined the international community’s efforts to deal with refugee flows as migrants and refugees had made their way to Europe. “Today, the realities on the ground are leading and forcing us to change our approach at the regional level and beyond,” he added, emphasizing the need for regional coordination to address the phenomenon.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that the world had become an unsafe place for far too many people. Everyone had a choice between engagement and isolation. Withdrawal and resignation or shared responsibility for a better future was the choice. Germany had given shelter to more than 1 million people and had begun training them to have the skills that one day would enable them to rebuild their cities. Returning home must not remain a mere dream, he said, adding that it was important to improve the international architecture for dealing with migrants and refugees.

Echoing that sentiment, Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, warned the Assembly that “the basic tenets of our coexistence” were being challenged. She emphasized the need to respond to rising xenophobia, aggressive nationalism, autocracy and fear-mongering and reminded the international community of its responsibility to protect the millions of refugees fleeing harm.

Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, echoed several speakers, saying indeed it was important to distinguish between refugees and irregular migrants. While many refugees had fled violence, much of the migration to Europe was economic in nature. Populism only led to an uncontrolled situation, he said, condemning suggestions that each refugee could be a terrorist. Refugees were victims, not perpetrators of terrorism. The principles of solidarity and burden-sharing were of vital importance.

“We can’t despise those who, for themselves or their loved ones, have embarked on a long and dangerous journey,” he said. “We can’t fail to welcome them, but it is difficult to welcome them all.”

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government and senior officials of Guinea, Niger, Central African Republic, Comoros, Yemen, Haiti, Samoa, Belgium, Mauritius, Russian Federation, Armenia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Morocco, Mali, Botswana, Indonesia, South Sudan, Nicaragua, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Jamaica, Solomon Islands, Lesotho, Andorra, Vanuatu, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Sao Tome and Principe, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Ecuador, Azerbaijan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Brazil, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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

Statements

BUJAR NISHANI, President of Albania, expressed concern about global challenges, saying his country would address them in close cooperation with other actors. Its actions would include increasing humanitarian aid, ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change and implementing all commitments in the security realm. Describing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an international platform for strengthening the connection between development and security, he said it would guide national, regional and international actions over the next 15 years. Albania had been a pilot country in designing the global indicators for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16, and in that regard, the Agenda had become an integral part of its national programmes, sectoral strategies and national development strategy, he said.

Since the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement provided opportunities for the present and future generations, he continued, their implementation was of key importance in tackling climate change, achieving sustainable development and ensuring peace. On climate change, he said that he had deposited Albania’s instruments of ratification two days ago. Regarding migration, Albania had joined the international community’s efforts to deal with refugee flows in a consistent and coordinated manner. “Today, the realities on the ground are leading and forcing us to change our approach at the regional level and beyond,” he said. Albania had organized a high-level conference on migration.

Another fundamental challenge to world peace was international terrorism and violent extremism, he said. Terrorist attacks, especially those with religious links, had intensified, hitting major cities in France, Belgium, Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon. Acknowledging the indispensable role played by the United Nations in the global fight against terrorism, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s Action Plan on the Prevention of Violent Extremism. Albania had been among the first countries to join the global coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and had contributed five packages of military equipment for the Peshmerga forces fighting in Iraq, he said, adding that Albania was listed and ranked among the proactive countries committed to full implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

With the policies pursued over the past two decades, Albania had increasingly contributed to security efforts in the international arena, he said. It continued its proactive membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and supported implementation of the European Union’s common security and defence. At the same time, Albania continued to support United Nations peacekeeping operations, while strengthening partnership with other countries. Turning to regional efforts, he emphasized that Albania’s foreign policy was maximally oriented towards strengthening good-neighbourly relations, citing its support for Kosovo’s participation in all multilateral regional and international activities.

ALPHA CONDÉ, President of Guinea, said that Africa — the continent with the world’s youngest population and some of its most vulnerable countries — required particular attention in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. To reduce that vulnerability and build up the continent’s resistance, Africa needed deep structural transformations and a vibrant private sector. Public policies must integrate the needs of the most vulnerable, youth and women in particular, in order to enable them to realize their full potential, he said. Partnerships and financing were equally needed to accelerate growth.

Sustainable access to energy was another challenge to Africa, he continued, pointing out that 700 million Africans lacked access to electricity. A robust plan for the continent’s electrification was needed within the framework of the Paris Agreement. With that in mind, he called upon the international community, global financial institutions in particular, to work with the continent to help build a strong Africa.

At the same time, he said, Guinea was proud of its contribution to The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), notably its deployment of a battalion of 850 men to Kidal. Guinea had paid a heavy price with the loss of nine soldiers in less than one year, he said, emphasizing that much must be done to ensure Mali’s sovereignty and improve its capability to prevent future attacks, he said.

Turning to the Ebola outbreak, he cautioned that, while the victory in ending the outbreak was something for all to celebrate, the road ahead was long. The disease had undermined all economic activities in Guinea and made women and young people especially vulnerable. He expressed gratitude to all partners that had allowed Guinea, as well as Liberia and Sierra Leone, to re-engage quickly on the road to sustainable development.

MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU, President of Niger, recalled that the Millennium Development Goals had demonstrated the possibility of achieving remarkable progress. The objective of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty had been reached by 2010. Equally, the number of children not attending school, as well as child and maternal mortality had been reduced by half. However, those positive developments obscured enormous disparities as they primarily reflected improving conditions in Asia and Latin America. African countries, especially those in the sub-Saharan region, had attained little progress, he said.

The capability of States to implement sustainable development programmes would depend on their ability to change national economic and political conditions, he said. Noting that the current world situation did not inspire optimism, he said there was need for a new kind of economic governance that would strike a balance between speculative financial capital and industrial capital. Developing countries, especially the least developed ones, would receive more capital which they could invest in sustained economic growth, which in turn would contribute to global economic growth, he said.

Turning to governance of the United Nations, embodied by the Security Council, he emphasized the need to reform it in order to “rectify the anachronism which characterizes the Organization”. There was need for a better and more representative body, where States, especially those adjacent to countries ravaged by conflict and violence, could express their views. He called for a review of the mandates of certain peacekeeping missions, with a view to making them more “offensive”, saying that citizens in regions affected by conflict thought it inconceivable that peacekeeping missions were unable to protect them.

FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, President of the Central African Republic, said his country had returned fully to stability and constitutional legality. In that regard, he expressed gratitude to the United Nations for the deployment of international forces to restore security. “We invested trust in people,” he said, expressing his intention to address vast challenges facing the Central African Republic and to meet the citizens’ expectations.

“My people are determined to put an end to the cycle of violence,” he continued, emphasizing that, since he had taken office, various reforms had been introduced in areas ranging from fighting corruption to economic development. However, the situation remained fragile, he said, while pledging that he would rebuild the country and improve living conditions.

In the area of security, the Government had introduced a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme as part of the peace process, he said. In order to restore State authority, the Government had put security forces in place to ensure control of the national borders. Other efforts included eliminating crime and money-laundering, as well as preventing terrorism and human trafficking. Citing the progress made, he declared: “The arms embargo is no longer justified.”

He went on to say that the Government had ensured peace and national reconciliation. “I have every confidence that my country has resumed its place as a free and democratic State,” he added. However, further progress would require support from the international community. The time had come to reduce inequality between the poor and rich, he emphasized. The Government had also launched a framework for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. “We want to avoid the mistakes of the past.”

AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros, said that his country had turned a page in achieving political stability, having undergone a peaceful change of power through free, transparent and democratic elections observed by the international community. In that context, he thanked the United Nations for having stood by his nation and expressed hope that future international assistance would help consolidate that progress.

He said that the ambitious sustainable development programme Comoros had adopted to protect the planet and improve the lives of its people had also allowed him to be optimistic about the future. Nevertheless, sustainable development was only possible when people could live at home and were not forcibly displaced. To that end, the plight of refugees putting their lives at risk called for urgent action, he said.

Comoros had itself been dealing with the issue of internally displaced persons moving within and among its four islands, including Mayotte, which remained under French administration, he said. The displacement had left hundreds dead in the inlets between Mayotte and the other islands. Despite many resolutions, the indifference of the international community had left the issue unresolved. Nevertheless, it was to be hoped that a viable solution would be found between Comoros and France, and that dialogue would lead to a consensus-based outcome allowing all to live in peace and harmony.

Turning to the issue of terrorism, he said it had no frontiers and did not belong to any religion or civilization. Comoros was available to work with the international community in fighting the scourge. Conveying the trust of his people in the United Nations, he said the Organization acted with independence and sovereignty and had for decades helped resolve conflicts around the world. At the same time, Comoros believed that poorer nations, especially those in Africa, should have a seat on the Security Council.

ABDRABUH MANSOUR HADI MANSOUR, President of Yemen, said his country continued to face challenges, yet the leadership was working in full force. “Militias have no chance in succeeding,” he said, adding that the Government would soon put an end to the ongoing war and tragedies. Recalling the steps taken in the Gulf Cooperation Council on the path to political transfer, he said that comprehensive dialogue had been translated into a new civilian Constitution.

Despite all efforts, the Houthi militias continued to wage war and kill innocent people, expel civilians, blow up homes and control national assets, he continued. “We are not advocates of revenge,” he said, adding that the Government had chosen the path of peace in order to end the suffering of the Yemeni people. In that regard, national dialogue was necessary to build a federal State based on equal rights. Stressing the need to rid Yemen of militias and sectarian gangs, he said they must withdraw and endorse the new Constitution.

He went on to underline that extremism and sectarianism sponsored by Iran would create further terrorism and brutality. The Houthi coup d’état had created similar outcomes, including a security vacuum, economic collapse and extreme poverty. The militias had recruited children, besieged cities and waged a meaningless war against the Yemeni people, whose suffering had reached unbelievable levels with regard to health, education and other services.

After the coup d’état, the leadership had continued its efforts to reduce the consequences of the chaotic war that had been launched against the people of Yemen, he said, adding that, as his patience had run out, he had ordered the relocation of the Central Bank to the southern city of Aden. That would escalate pressure on the Houthi rebels controlling the capital, he said, while acknowledging that it would also cause greater hardship for millions of Yemenis living under their rule. “We might fail to pay the salaries of people working in public service,” he said, calling for support from the free world and its financial institutions. Acknowledging the catastrophic situation in Yemen, he renewed his call on all donor countries to fulfil their pledges and end the suffering of the Yemeni people. The country would emerge from the ruins with international support, and the Government would not stop until the militias were defeated, he vowed.

JOCELERME PRIVERT, President of Haiti, said that the multitude of threats facing the international community included terrorism, violence and environmental devastation. In a time of such volatility, the United Nations must ensure stability and peace, and contain international terrorism. Although important progress had been made in reaching a peace agreement in Colombia and in easing relations between the United States and Cuba, those recent developments had been overshadowed by many other threats to peace and stability, he said.

Under the existing conditions, many Haitians chose to leave their country to seek improved livelihoods elsewhere, he said. By assuming deliberate ownership of the process of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, Haiti had committed itself to improving living conditions for all its citizens. The country needed peace, as well as measures to strengthen the rule of law, the economy and the infrastructure, so that it could provide Haitians with better living conditions.

Haiti’s upcoming election would strengthen stability, as well as help the country to move out of underdevelopment, he said. A credible and honest electoral process would restore constitutional order, as well as citizens’ trust in their elected leaders and political institutions. The election would “truly break with the cycle of instability and uncertainty”, he said, adding that he would not spare any efforts to ensure the election was free and fair.

He said that, while the work of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had been slow in the eyes of some observers, during its 12 year tenure, the Mission had helped to strengthen security, promote human rights and reinforce the capacities of national institutions. Furthermore, Haiti noted with high interest the Security-General’s remarks in a recent report that highlighted multiple cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by “Blue Helmet” officers, as well as the introduction of cholera by United Nations personnel in Haiti. “The United Nations’ recognition of its responsibility in the latter case opened the way for the right discussions to take place in order to eliminate cholera in Haiti for good,” he said. He appealed to the Secretary-General to implement a substantial programme that would reinforce the fight against cholera and help victims of the disease.

XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said that, during his country’s 2015 European Union presidency, he had learned the vital importance of solidarity and burden-sharing, a credible migration policy, border control and respect for the Dublin Rules. Indeed, it was important to distinguish between refugees and irregular migrants. While many refugees had fled violence, much of the migration to Europe was economic in nature. “We can’t despise those who, for themselves or their loved ones, have embarked on a long and dangerous journey,” he said. “We can’t fail to welcome them, but it is difficult to welcome them all.” Populism only led to an uncontrolled situation, he said, condemning suggestions that each refugee could be a terrorist. Refugees were victims, not perpetrators of terrorism.

Conflict, arms proliferation, violent extremism, terrorism and climate change threats still persisted, he said. While Africa was particularly vulnerable to internal and external challenges, countries could work together to ensure peace in South Sudan, Libya and the Central African Republic, he said, pressing the parties to those conflicts parties to lay the basis for sustainable development. Africa had major potential, in its young people, first and foremost, which made education and job creation important priorities in national development programmes. The United Nations often acted too late to prevent crises, but the Assembly’s adoption of regulations to bring about peace marked an important change, placing conflict prevention at the heart of United Nations action.

Turning to Syria, he said the country’s Government had perpetrated atrocities, while Da’esh and other groups flourished from the war economy and external support. A generation of children had been traumatized, deprived of protection and education, he said, calling for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to be brought to justice, including before the International Criminal Court. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said that a two-State solution was the only way to resolve it, adding that he supported the convening of an international conference to help the parties reach a settlement. On Iran, he urged vigilance in implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Regarding the Korean Peninsula, he urged a resumption of negotiations to bring about verifiable denuclearization.

PAVEL FILIP, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, said it was important to bear in mind the complex nature of motives that drove people on the move. “We must resolutely fight smuggling and the illicit trafficking in persons,” he added, emphasizing the need to focus on strategies for preventing loss of human life, as well as the resilience and self-reliance of refugees. As long as the world remained stricken by poverty, underdevelopment, social inequality, and human rights abuses, there would be no resolution of the forces driving people to uproot their lives. To that end, the Republic of Moldova attached great importance to fostering development partnerships aimed at supporting countries in need to achieve their development goals.

Never before had the correlation between migration, sustainable development, climate change and peace and security been more obvious, he said. “We cannot realistically expect to fulfil the Agenda for [Sustainable] Development in the absence of peace,” he added, emphasizing that the United Nations must adjust to new global realities. Security Council reform was critical to making that body more efficient in discharging its primary responsibility: maintaining peace and security. Efficiency could be achieved by improving transparency and accountability, as well as restricting the right of veto to issues of substance. Addressing protracted conflicts in a proactive manner could prevent attempts aimed at changing the political borders.

Despite the many difficulties encountered in the settlement process in the Transnistria conflict, the Republic of Moldova remained committed to a political solution based on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Negotiations would only succeed if all sides displayed political will and refrained from putting forward rigid preconditions. That would require enhanced confidence-building and bringing together both banks of the river Nistru. He also expressed deep concern about the lack of progress concerning the withdrawal of Russian troops and armaments stationed on the Republic of Moldova’s territory, saying that the fragility of the overall situation in the region, including Ukraine, required a constructive re-engagement by the United Nations.

TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, thanked the Secretary-General for having made climate change a priority for the Organization during his tenure, and expressed hope that his successor would continue his legacy. While encouraged by the adoption of the Paris Agreement, he emphasized that delivering on its promises and making good on its commitments was “the seal of true leadership”. The challenge remaining for the Green Climate Fund and other funding institutions was to help small island developing States access their resources.

Partnerships would be crucial in that endeavour, he said, expressing hope that all development partners, as well as United Nations entities would actively engage the SIDS Partnership Framework — a platform for monitoring the full implementation of pledges and commitments through partnerships. He stressed the importance of protecting oceans, which were critical to the economic survival of small island developing States, and indeed, to global prosperity more generally. That vital resource was under threat from overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, loss of habitat and pollution.

Concerning the mass migration of people fleeing war and terrorism, he stressed the need for a collective response that should begin with the Security Council. He called upon the Council to address the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. On the issue of Security Council reform, he said it was time for an enlarged Council — the membership of which would reflect contemporary geopolitical realities. It was also important that more democratic and transparent processes and procedures be put in place to govern the Council, and that it engage more effectively with the General Assembly. Finally, he pledged Samoa’s continuing commitment to provide civilian policemen and women for United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world.

CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister of Belgium, said the global community was faced with a reality in which equality between women and men had still not been achieved. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press were too often thwarted, and homophobia remained legal in certain countries. The rule of law was too often just a façade, and justice nothing but a menace to citizens and companies. Turning to Africa, he said the region was replete with potential, and it was the international community’s responsibility to support its development.

Africa had experienced several successful democratic transitions in the last decades, in which its citizens had participated in electoral and political processes, helping to strengthen sovereignty and democratic institutions, he said. Emphasizing that respect for the rule of law and the constitution was the only path to guaranteeing stability, he said the right to exercise the rule of law had been denied the people of Burundi, who had experienced oppression and discord instead. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the upcoming elections would be indispensable, he said, condemning the violence seen in Kinshasa over the last couple of days.

Turning to Syria, he described it as “a country of blood and war, of unspeakable suffering and large-scale displacement of people uprooted from their homes”. Appealing to all permanent members of the Security Council to exercise their responsibility, he said impunity could not be the response to such human rights violations. Furthermore, Al-Qaida, Da’esh and Boko Haram presented a new form of totalitarianism, as recent acts of terror in Belgium had shown. In that regard, there was a need to reform the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture, he said.

ANEROOD JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said his country was focusing its resources on eradicating extreme poverty by establishing a social register of those living in dismal conditions and those requiring targeted measures and assistance. “There are yet many miles to go and we will pursue our journey,” he said, emphasizing that action on climate and oceans was “of paramount importance for our survival”. Addressing the root causes of climate change would require robust determination and strong political will, but all efforts would be futile in the absence of peace and security.

Calling for a reformed United Nations, including the Security Council, he said it would benefit from enlarged and more inclusive representation. “We believe that the historical injustice done to African representation on the Council should be redressed,” he added. Welcoming the move by the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an observer, he called for a revival of efforts towards a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He went on to note that, while Mauritius had become an independent State in 1968, it remained unable to exercise its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago and Tromelin, both of which were part of its territory. Mauritians living in the Chagos Archipelago had been forcibly evicted from their homes and moved, in total disregard of their human rights, he recalled. Mauritius had consistently protested against the illegal excision of the Chagos Archipelago, he said, adding that for decades, it had called upon the former colonial Power to find a fair and just solution. However, its efforts had been in vain so far. Despite United Nations resolutions, the United Kingdom maintained that its continued presence in the Chagos Archipelago remained lawful, he noted. The General Assembly had a direct interest in the matter, given the historic and central role it had played in the decolonization process throughout the world.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that ideas of supremacy persisted in a number of Western countries to the detriment of equitable cooperation. Saying it was “high time” to prevent a catastrophe in Syria, he noted that his country’s military assistance to the Syrian Government had prevented a collapse of statehood. Russian engagement had led to the establishment of the International Syria Support Group, which sought the start of a political process to ensure that Syrians determined their own future, a point embodied in recent agreements between the Russian Federation and the United States. It was essential to carry out an impartial investigation of events in Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo, which had undermined those accords. Elsewhere, Ukraine’s development had been undermined by an anti-constitution coup and the refusal to implement the 2015 Minsk Agreement. Using the crisis to achieve corrupt geopolitical goals had no prospects of success, he said, emphasizing that only implementation of the accord could enable mutually beneficial cooperation.

He went on to state that it was indecent to reserve the right to use doping, launch “unilateral adventures”, conduct geopolitical experiments, engage in extraterritorial blackmail or set criteria for national greatness. Freedom of expression or peaceful assembly should not be used to condone Nazi ideology, he said, calling for efforts to block neo-Nazism and revanchism. Joint efforts were required to fight terrorism, he said, adding that his Government was drafting a Council resolution aimed at eliminating terrorist and extremist ideology. Expressing concern about the “torpedoing” of compromises around the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he stressed that progress on disarmament must consider factors affecting strategic stability, including the creation of unilateral missile defence systems, the placement of non-nuclear strike weapons and the threat of deploying weapons in outer space. He went on to call upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear missile programmes and return to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. On climate change, he said the creation of mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was a priority.

EDWARD NALBANDIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, condemned the crimes of Da’esh and other terrorist groups, while expressing concern about the devastating impact of the war in Syria. Pointing out that many of those displaced from Syria were Armenian-Syrians who had found refuge there 100 years ago, he said that his country had provided refuge to more than 20,000 refugees from Syria. Calling for wider international cooperation to address the challenges posed by mass displacement, he emphasized the importance of addressing the root causes of large movements of people by preventing crimes against humanity, settling disputes in a peaceful manner and seeking lasting political solutions. Armenia had contributed to such efforts by having initiated resolutions on the prevention of genocide in the Human Rights Council, he said.

Condemning Azerbaijan’s policies of ethnic cleansing and aggression against the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh, he said those policies stood in violation of the Armenian right to self-determination. Earlier this year, Azerbaijan had indiscriminately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure in the region, he recalled, noting that there was evidence of torture — a gross violation of international law. He called for full adherence to the 1994-1995 trilateral ceasefire agreements, the creation of a mechanism for investigating ceasefire violations, and expanded capacity for the office of the Personal Representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office. Finally, he condemned Turkey’s land blockade of Armenia as a gross violation of international law, which hampered the economic cooperation and integration promoted under the 2030 Agenda.

FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said the world had become an unsafe place for far too many people, and everyone had a choice between engagement and isolation. “We could also choose to put our faith in the power of diplomacy or shrug our shoulders” in the face of the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Europe was faced with the choice of fighting to hold the region together or allowing it to fall apart again and be overrun by populists. Withdrawal and resignation or shared responsibility for a better future was the choice, he said. Whether the world would succeed in finding better solutions to its many challenges depended on resolving the crisis in Syria and the migration phenomenon. The United Nations would remain the central forum, he said. In the context of all the crisis meetings, “it gives me hope that we have made the right choice of the direction we want to take and that we have chosen unity and sustainability”. He condemned the latest nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In Libya and Yemen, Germany would continue to support the tireless efforts of United Nations envoys in those countries. As for Syria, he said the hope raised by last week’s ceasefire had been extinguished yet again.

It was time for a long-term humanitarian ceasefire that would allow aid to reach those in need, he said, adding that Moscow also had a responsibility in that regard, he continued. “If we do not succeed, all efforts to bring peace will be lost in a hail of bombs,” he said, noting that the Assad regime was continuing to bomb Aleppo “to bits”. He declared: “There will be no winners in this war”. As the biggest donor of humanitarian aid to Syria, Germany was particularly active in helping to stabilize areas liberated from ISIL, he said, adding that it was working with the United Nations to rebuild schools and neighbourhoods so that people could return. Germany was also promoting education and access to labour markets in neighbouring countries that had generously opened their doors to millions of refugees. Germany had given shelter to more than 1 million people and had begun training them to have the skills that one day would enable them to rebuild their cities. Returning home must not remain a mere dream, he said, adding that it was important to improve the international architecture for dealing with migrants and refugees. Noting that new rifts had emerged in Europe following the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea, he said it was important to step up dialogue between East and West, but the United Nations was necessary to ensure that diverging interests and opinions did not turn into lasting divisions. Germany’s history reminded it to do everything possible to avoid that, he said.

RI YONG HO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, emphasized the importance of peace to his country, which was embarking on its five-year strategy for national economic development. Unfortunately, the country’s future was being threatened by the aggression of the United States, which had recently conducted large-scale joint military exercises involving more than half a million troops and strategic assets, including nuclear bombers and submarines. In the face of such aggression, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had made every possible effort to prevent an armed conflict and a possible subsequent escalation, he said. Its nuclear programme was, therefore, a necessary defensive measure. It was regrettable that the Security Council was covering up “the high-handedness and arbitrariness” of the United States, in violation of the United Nations Charter.

He went on to remind the Assembly that his country had made several requests to the Council for an emergency meeting on the threat to international peace and security posed by the large-scale joint military exercises of the United States on the Korean Peninsula, but had been turned away. Reiterating the defensive nature of his country’s nuclear programme, he explained, however, that as long as there was a nuclear State with a hostile posture towards his country, it would continue to strengthen its nuclear programme. Finally, he extended his Government’s support for and solidarity with the people of Cuba “in their struggle to safeguard their dignity and sovereignty” in the face of the United States-imposed blockade. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also stood in solidarity with Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, which today faced war and violence as a result of interference by the United States. He criticized that country’s practice of politicizing human rights issues as a way to target anti-imperialist and independent countries, such as sovereign African States.

PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said that world order had been changed by three factors: the spread of terrorist organizations, the destabilization of key and vulnerable regions of the world and the movement and displacement of some 65 million people. He called for the elimination of global terrorism and said that until then there would be no stability in the Middle East, Christian communities would continue to be threatened and the migratory pressure on Europe would continue. “We have to destroy the business models” of human traffickers which had caused the death of thousands,” he continued. It was important to change migratory policies to inspire people not to violate borders and move to countries thousands of miles away. “Instead of emotional debates, we need debates based on common sense,” and instead of accusing and bashing each other, world leaders must stand on the stability of international law. The right to a safe life was a fundamental human right but choosing a State where one wants to live was not a fundamental human right. There would be no excuse to violate borders of safe and secure countries.

Hungary was among 23 countries that had sent troops to fight ISIL, he continued. There were 143 Hungarian men and women serving in Iraq, and his country had sent ammunition to the Peshmerga and soon would begin carrying out training of the Iraqi army. His Government had established an office on the persecution of Christians to address threats that group faced and to ensure that criminal acts were punished. Furthermore, the Parliament had established strict regulations against human traffickers. “Hungary put security of Hungarian people to first place and we will not allow mass violations of our borders,” he said. Migratory policies that considered all migrants refugees had failed. Migratory policies that had taken in thousands against the wishes of their own people had failed. Uncontrolled and unregulated migratory patterns were a threat to peace and security. “We have to help people to stay as close to their homes as possible so that they can return to their homes as soon as possible,” he said, stressing the need to help Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan in dealing with millions of people they had taken in. “Europe would not be able to take such a challenge,” he added. It was also important to link development programmes to conditionality so that Governments were responsible in not creating the conditions for their people to leave their homes. Central Europe faced many challenges and a Secretary-General from the region would help it to overcome its historic challenges.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, warned the Assembly that “the basic tenets of our coexistence are being challenged,” and emphasized the need to respond to rising xenophobia, aggressive nationalisms, autocracy and fear-mongering. She reminded the international community of its responsibility to protect the 65 million refugees fleeing from harm, and welcomed the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants as a first step in that direction.

She went on to address several key areas that she believed required determined action by the international community: prevention of armed conflict, gender equality, financing, security, the Middle East peace process and post-conflict development assistance. On peacekeeping, better measures were needed to prevent armed conflict, including early warning and early action systems. Those mechanisms would require sustainable financing of regional and sub-regional organizations’ peace operations. On gender equality, she called for the United Nations to lead the way in enhancing the rights, representation and resources of women and girls around the world. One way the Organization could do that was through increasing women’s participation in peace processes, protecting them against gender-based violence in humanitarian crises and strengthening their political and economic empowerment. For peace to be sustainable, the root causes of conflict needed to be tackled. She regretted that peace accords had not been implemented in the Middle East and Security Council resolutions pertaining to Crimea had been disregarded. Finally, to sustain peace, greater investments were needed in post-conflict development and State-building. She pledged her country’s commitment to “continue to talk with, not only about, countries” in its capacity as a non-permanent member of the Council during the 2017-2018 term.

SALAHEDDINE MEZOUAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Morocco, said his country was eager to adopt a dynamic approach to sustainable development that would adapt its own vision with the goals of the United Nations. Morocco participated in peacekeeping operations in Africa and Asia to which it had contributed thousands of “blue helmets”. There could be no development without peace and security, he added, emphasizing that Morocco was dedicated to establishing partnerships. Sustainable development was at the top of the list. Morocco had made a political commitment to continue towards actualizing the aspirations of people in the developing world. It had launched a national plan — “a basic pillar of the social development,” including in the sectors of economics and environment. It kept the well-being of the human being at its core. The plan also focused on strengthening its partnership with African partners in areas of combating poverty, promoting education and strengthening security. He looked forward to the next climate meeting in Marrakesh and said that the implementation of the Paris Agreement was directly linked to the availability of financing.

There was a strong link “based on love and respect” between Morocco and Africa, he said, outlining various development programmes his country was involved with on the continent. On the matter of the Sahel, the last resolution adopted by the Security Council had reemphasized a political solution based on stability and democracy, he said, pledging his country’s willingness to work with the United Nations in that respect. It was important to uphold human rights and utilize regional and international efforts to combat terrorism. On the national level, Morocco had adopted a strategy focusing on a religious, social and legal approach to fight foreign terrorists. “Christians, Muslims and Jews must all stand against hatred and terrorism,” he said, adding that no progress could be achieved with xenophobia existing in societies. He called on all Libyan political forces to continue dialogue and provide the Libyan people with dignity and democracy. The Middle East could never “enjoy lasting peace” without establishing a Palestinian State, he said, urging the revival of a peace process and an end to changing the demographic composition of Jerusalem.

IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEITA, President of Mali, noted that peace and security were essential for development. Fifteen months after the peace agreement in Mali was signed, hostilities had effectively ceased between the Government and signatory groups, and significant progress had been made. The effective application of Security Council resolution 2295 (2016), renewing the mandate of MINUSMA, would allow for the progressive recovery by the Government of sovereignty throughout Malian territory. Implementation of the peace agreement required mobilization of outside resources so as to support national efforts, and Mali thanked its international partners.

The peace agreement faced serious challenges linked to the activities of terrorist groups in the north and asymmetric attacks on civilians and peacekeeping forces, he continued. It was necessary to increase the process of cantonment and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration so as to isolate armed groups that had not signed the agreement and those affiliated with terrorist networks. The Government was ready to fully undertake its responsibility for the new mandate and work with MINUSMA. He welcomed the high-level meeting on Mali that had taken place that morning between all stakeholders, where his country spoke of the urgency of accelerating implementation of the peace agreement. The people and Government of Mali were grateful for the United Nations support of the peace process. No country in the world was free of terrorism and no cause could justify violence against civilians. Mali encouraged international cooperation between Member States to neutralize the hydra of terrorism and its networks.

The timing of the General Assembly session, one year into 2030 Agenda, allowed Member States to take stock to see how to find the best ways and means to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. Mali was convinced of the need to adopt strategies to strengthen economic growth and respond to the needs of populations. That meant protecting the environment and providing education, health care, social protection, employment for youth and women’s empowerment.

Climate change was a major challenge that affected all humanity, in particular the countries of the Sahel. He welcomed the Paris Agreement and announced that Mali had today deposited its instruments of ratification for the Agreement.

MOKGWEETSI E.K. MASISI, Vice-President of Botswana, noted that his country would on 30 September celebrate its fiftieth anniversary of independence. Once among the poorest States in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $70 per capita in 1966, it now counted amongst middle-income countries. Two days before Botswana became a sovereign nation, a Canadian journalist had observed: “It is destined to be an international charity case forever exporting its ablest men and cattle in exchange for cash and kindness from abroad”. Reflecting back on the country’s challenges and achievements, he expressed pride that it was one of Africa’s most stable democracies, having held free, fair and peaceful multi-party elections every five years without interruption.

He expressed concern about the crisis in Syria, which could have been contained had the Council and the international community intervened promptly. “Assad and his machine” was not the only party committing crimes against humanity, he said, adding that his country was equally concerned about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continuous testing of ballistic missiles. Botswana had terminated its diplomatic relations with that State because of its poor human rights record.

Considering increasing security threats, he called upon the Council to demonstrate seriousness and alacrity in executing its mandate, adding that it could no longer be acceptable to “hide behind the veto while millions of innocent lives are lost”.

Turning to the Olympic Games, he commended Brazil for hosting them successfully despite criticisms from some quarters which had spread fear by linking the Games with the Zika virus, terrorism and other issues. He went on to condemn the International Paralympic Committee for its blanket ban on Russian athletes. Such treatment represented injustice and discrimination, and his country believed there was another agenda beyond the stated reasons for the decision. He closed by wishing the people of the United States successful elections in November and expressed hope that the winning candidate would be someone known to be tolerant and who embraced all.

MUHAMMAD JUSUF KALLA, Vice President of Indonesia, said the international community had laid down a new set of goals and timeframe in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Indonesia was fully committed to implementing it. The Government was mainstreaming the Goals into the country’s policies, finalizing a financial framework, engaging all relevant stakeholders and developing national guidelines as well as a monitoring, evaluating and reporting mechanism.

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda must be supported by strong global partnerships that would make a difference in advancing sustainable development, he said. The global community must provide sufficient means and funding mechanisms for all countries to carry the Agenda forward. Peace was a prerequisite to development and successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that Indonesia’s experiences in the 1950s and 1960s attested to that. But instability and insecurity continued in many parts of the world due to territorial disputes, terrorism and extremism.

He said the Middle East peace process remained difficult to move forward and irregular migration continued. The global community was confronted almost daily by media pictures of the stark reality created by continuing insecurity, all taking place against the backdrop of a slowing global economy, he said. The gap between rich and poor was widening and climate change was accelerating, as were its effects on small island States. Emphasizing that no one country could resolve those challenges on its own, he said they required a global partnership for a global solution.

TABAN DENG GAI, First Vice-President of South Sudan, said conflict had broken out in his country again in July, when its leaders had failed to agree on internal governance and leadership challenges. The situation was now stable and peaceful, the Government was functioning and life was returning to normal. However, the effect of the conflict, coupled with low global oil prices, had put the economy under unprecedented fiscal stress, creating hardship for the general public, he said. Together with development partners and friends, South Sudan was exerting every effort to tackle those economic shocks by stabilizing the security situation, streamlining fiscal policies, improving income from non-oil revenues, engaging in agriculture, mining and tourism and encouraging investors to come to the country.

More often than not, he said, nations had taken decisions individually, and sometimes collectively, in addressing situations like preventing a country from slipping into conflict, urging reforms, democratization and respect for human rights. Sometimes, however, the results of such actions actually contributed to the same effects they had been intended to avoid in the first place. Some leaders who may not agree with such interventions dictated such negative actions. Interventions in such countries – supposedly taken in order to protect civilians, advance democracy and ensure respect for human rights and justice – had not always produced the expected results. Instead, they ended up creating displacement and refugees in most cases.

He said the push to transform the world through the Sustainable Development Goals could not be achieved without all nations listening to each other, whether they were big or small, rich or poor, developed or developing. Countries must work together to resolve critical issues affecting the planet, such as terrorism, conflict, migration, climate change, nuclear proliferation, racism and food security. To transform the world, everybody must be made to feel that they belonged to the world and must work as true partners. Patronising attitudes of superiority – disguised as the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom and justice – could easily lead to serious crises in the form of resistance by affected parties, he cautioned.

MOISÉS OMAR HALLESLEVENS ACEVEDO, Vice-President of Nicaragua, said that the 2030 Agenda offered an historic opportunity to fight for a just world order. However, endemic poverty and inequality had become more noticeable than ever, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized groups including peoples living under colonial occupation and foreign intervention. Colonialism had to be eradicated, and military intervention and aggression needed to cease. The right to development was a right for all, and developed countries needed to comply with their commitments regarding official development assistance (ODA).

Turning to climate change, he said that the Paris Agreement failed to establish a firm benchmark to address the biggest challenge facing the planet. The voluntary, non-binding formula would lead to a 3°C increase in global temperatures, with disastrous effects for highly vulnerable countries. Many countries concurred that the Agreement was not sufficient and called for stronger efforts. Nicaragua demanded a global compensation policy to deal with the damages of climate change.

Continuing, he said that Nicaragua welcomed the re-establishing of relations between Cuba and the United States, but it was disappointed to see heightening of existing measures maintaining the economic and commercial blockade of Cuba. Nicaragua also welcomed the signing of the peace agreement in Colombia. Nicaragua demanded the immediate end of the occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories by Israel, expressed solidarity with the people of Western Sahara and with the Government and people of Syria and condemned foreign interventions in the latter, including the delivery of weapons to terrorist groups. Nicaragua would continue to foster peace, stability and good governance, as well as fight poverty.

THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said that Southeast Asia continued to enjoy peace and stability. That provided an environment conducive not only to socioeconomic development, but also regional cooperation, as evidenced by the advancement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community. As Chair of ASEAN in 2016, he hoped the international community would continue to support the Association as it had contributed significantly to promoting peace, stability and cooperation in both the region and the world at large.

At the same time, his newly-elected Government was focused on graduating from its least developed country status. As a least developed and landlocked country, his State faced many challenges in infrastructure and human resources, and as such required assistance from the international community. That support, along with strong determination, would enable it country to achieve its goals.

He also said that his Government was focused on the issue of climate change, which affected the livelihood of people around the world. That was a major challenge that no country alone could address. For its part, his country had signed the Paris Agreement and integrated climate change and natural disaster risk reduction into its national socioeconomic development plan.

ANDREW HOLNESS, Prime Minister of Jamaica, said his country’s path toward sustainable development had been hindered by years of low growth, crippling national debt and high unemployment, exacerbated by its vulnerability to natural hazards. Highly indebted middle-income countries such as Jamaica were poised for economic transition with relatively high levels of health and education, but that potential was threatened by its having to choose between debt repayment and spending on growth. Developing countries would ordinarily be able to tap into development assistance, to be used for growth, thereby inducing counter-cyclical investment in infrastructure, which could in turn strengthen their debt repayment capacity, he noted. However, arbitrary classification on the basis of gross domestic product per capita precluded countries like Jamaica from accessing such resources. The middle-income classification indicated average incomes but said nothing about the stock of wealth a country possessed or its vulnerabilities.

Countries like Jamaica had made reforms in order to improve fiscal management and achieve debt sustainability, he said, but new investment was needed of a scale and velocity difficult to undertake without the engagement of international development institutions. That created the prospect of a trap for such countries, which were on the cusp of transitioning but stalled by the risk of reversal, which threatened hard-won developmental gains. He called for an initiative for highly indebted middle-income countries, underpinned by the principle that their structural vulnerabilities could not be diversified. Their responsible servicing of debt should be facilitated by assistance, he said, adding that the potential impact of such an initiative would put more countries in a position to make greater contributions to the international system in the near future.

He went on to emphasize the importance of effectively addressing the emerging crisis resulting from the withdrawal of correspondent banking services to certain financial institutions in the Caribbean, a trend that hindered Jamaica’s participation in the global financial system. Trade represented approximately 70 per cent of the Jamaican economy and “de-risking” measures threatened its integration and economic viability. Regarding climate change, he said that his country was the host country to the International Seabed Authority, and therefore attached great importance to matters pertaining to the Law of the Sea. Jamaica supported the development of a legally binding international instrument on the conservation of and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, and was actively participating in the relevant negotiations.

MANASSEH SOGAVARE, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, expressed gratitude that a Pacific Islander had been elected President of the General Assembly for the first time. He also expressed hope that the United Nations would upgrade its presence in his country to a full country office under the new Secretary-General. Recalling that 2015 had been a year of agreements, he said 2016 was the time for implementing the agreed goals. He said his Government had started integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its 2016–2035 National Development Strategy.

Regarding refugees and migrants, he noted that small island developing States required more assistance to manage large displaced populations. The challenge of climate change had not been adequately addressed in the context of displacement and migration, he said, also noting with concern that not enough attention had been paid to achieving the goal of keeping the temperature increase to 1.5°C. He called on major emitters and industrial countries to treat the threat of climate change with a renewed sense of urgency since the existence of island States was at stake. Delaying action further would come at a steep cost, he warned.

He called for further action to protect biodiversity, including a new international agreement to address it, and for the creation of a world authority on oceans. The Solomon Islands welcomed the decision to convene the United Nations Conference on Oceans and Seas in 2017. In addition, he expressed grave concern about human rights violations against Melanesians in West Papua and called for Taiwan’s full participation in the work of the United Nations. He also noted the need to reform the Security Council and to ensure adequate regional representation.

PAKALITHA B. MOSISILI, Prime Minister of Lesotho, said that the intractable conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, tension on the Korean Peninsula and other parts of Asia, were the biggest refugee problems since the Second World War and were some of the challenges that the United Nations and the world were facing today. At the same time, terrorism continued to rear its ugly head, with ISIS and other groups causing needless loss of lives. Amid such challenges, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement were landmark achievements which had cemented the role of the Organization as the only forum for collective diplomacy.

The unique challenges faced by least developed, landlocked and small island developing States, as well as those emerging from conflicts, must be paramount in the consideration of all strategies for the 2030 Agenda’s successful implementation, he continued, stressing that the inclusion of all stakeholders would bring about fundamental changes in the livelihood and well-being of societies. In Lesotho, women constituted a significant majority of the population, and were the backbone of rural communities. In that regard, the Government had promulgated laws, allowing them to access to land, credit and resources for their unfettered engagement in economic activity. Furthermore, in line with the Agenda, Lesotho had undertaken various initiatives to capacitate youth-owned small, macro and medium enterprises to acquire skills for job creation. “With our limited domestic resources, we are looking for innovative ways of pursuing our development priorities and aligning them to global, continental and regional agendas,” he stressed.

He went on to emphasize that a private sector-led growth strategy was vital for competitiveness and expansion of trade and investment opportunities. Sustainable Development Goal 9 recognized the importance of infrastructure, industrialization and technology to the progress and development of countries like Lesotho. Furthermore, the threat posed by underdevelopment, climate change and HIV/AIDS had picked the conscience of mankind for many years. Lesotho had adopted an innovative, indigenous leadership programme which sought to ensure that the health delivery system was affordable, accessible and effective. On the role of disarmament in the maintenance of international peace and security, he called upon all nuclear weapon States to make deep cuts in their current stockpiles, with the ultimate aim of finally eliminating them. On Security Council reform, he said: “the sooner it is concluded the better for humankind and peace in the world,” expressing support for the African Union’s position.

ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Prime Minister of Andorra, said his country had dedicated the 2016 Summer University to the Sustainable Development Goals, and for one week, Andorra la Vella had hosted experts and representatives to debate key issues. Quality education, Goal 4, was particularly important, both as a goal in itself and as the means to achieve the other Goals. Andorra prioritized education in its external policies, notably during its presidency of the Council of Europe, from 2012 to 2013, when it had joined the Global Education First Initiative, and in the contexts of the Ibero-American Community and the International Organization of La Francophonie. He said that, in keeping with Goal 17, his Government was aware of the need to seek alliances with other countries and to create partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Education was also important in ensuring young people understood that their futures did not end at the borders of their countries. “If we educate our young people as citizens of a global world, we will be laying the foundations for a much more open, cooperative and fair world,” he said, noting that Andorra’s “Education by Skills” model sought to overcome the idea of education as an accumulation of knowledge, and instead promote abilities that could be applied to knowledge. With the Council of Europe, Andorra would introduce training in democratic values and systems in order to measure young peoples’ skills in that area, he said.

“The great dialectic of our times is between being open and being closed,” he said, emphasizing that the open road to commitment, negotiation and multilateralism was one that States had followed for decades. The closed path of fear was a recipe for populism. Andorra’s belief in multilateralism was reflected in its economy, which was open to foreign investment, its provision of economic rights to all international residents, its tax system’s adherence to international standards and its progressive outlook in matters of exchanging fiscal information, which would culminate in 2017 with the automatic exchange of information. With that in mind, the refugee and migrant challenge must be met through both international and local regulation, the right to asylum, the fair distribution of impacts and the guarantee of respect for the rights and dignity of displaced people.

CHARLOT SALWAI TABIMASMAS, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, said that climate change was real and its consequences were being felt worldwide. Vanuatu had deposited its instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement with the Secretary-General two days ago, he said, calling on other States to follow suit as soon as possible. Like any organization, the United Nations needed reform. Vanuatu favoured greater Security Council transparency, accountability, relevancy and inclusiveness. It also supported a revitalization of the work of the General Assembly. Such reforms required leadership on the part of large States, he said, urging the Council and Assembly to appoint a new Secretary-General of irreproachable personal integrity who would be a beacon of hope for the voiceless.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations system must work actively with regional groups such as the Pacific Islands Forum, he said. Vanuatu condemned all forms of nuclear proliferation and remained committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and reaffirmed its position in favour of a nuclear-free Pacific. He noted how Vanuatu was integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its national development policy, with protection of the oceans being given top priority. Mobilizing domestic resources to finance sustainable development was a priority for the Government, complementing funding from development partners. Such initiatives would help Vanuatu exit the list of least-developed countries in 2020.

Noting his country’s vulnerability to climate change and rising sea levels, he said international assistance was appreciated, but that coordination of post-disaster financial aid through non-governmental organizations was sometimes inefficient and failed to respect national reconstruction priorities. Vanuatu was proud to contribute to United Nations missions in Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire and it was ready to send more troops if called upon. On decolonization, he welcomed United Nations assistance with electoral lists in New Caledonia, whose people should freely choose their future status of self-determination. He went on to urge the United Nations to take concrete measures to address human rights concerns in West Papua.

RALPH E. GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, observed that, in 2016, the pressure for change had come not only from the “marginalized outposts of globalization’s casualties” but also internally from within rich and powerful nations. Marginalized nations and peoples had “thirsted too long at the dry spigot of promised trickle-down prosperity”, and the long-foretold “rising tide that lifts all boats” had come in the form of rising seas which threatened to inundate small island developing States. His country had aggressively adopted the 2030 Agenda, with a focus on job creation, quality education and renewable energy, among others, central to its national medium-term development plans. In 2016, it had launched a “Zero Hunger Trust Fund” inspired by Goals 1 and 2, and employing multifaceted tools to ensure that no citizen would go to bed hungry by 2020. He expressed hope that the programme would be supported by partners and become a best-practice template to be adopted in other small island contexts.

Turning to Goal 7, which spoke to the development of renewable energy with particular emphasis on small island States, he said his country had invested heavily in developing geothermal resources. By 2019, it was anticipated that 50 per cent of its national energy would be supplied geothermally and 80 per cent generated by a mix of renewable resources, including hydro and solar. As big emitters continued to dither, more frequent and intense hurricanes washed away large swaths of his country’s GDP in a matter of hours. While applauding the international community for reaching the Paris Agreement, its promises to mitigate climate change and provide climate finance were inadequate and unenforceable.

On the United Nations role in the spread of cholera in Haiti, he said that catastrophe had now killed over 10,000 Haitians and infected almost 800,000 others. The Organization had belated acknowledged its culpability while claiming immunity to deny victims their rights. In the Dominican Republic, thousands of citizens of Haitian descent were affected by an unresolved human rights crisis and the United Nations indifference towards them was unacceptable.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, President of Tuvalu, expressed hope that the United Nations would be able to save peoples and countries affected by man-made conflicts and climate change. He was encouraged by the actions of the international community this week in that regard, which must be followed up. The Paris Agreement must enter into force, he said, calling on Member States to operationalize it as soon as possible.

Urgent action was needed to address the impact of climate change on small island developing States, he said. He urged the international community to take collective efforts to keep the global temperature increase to below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. The international response must also include adequate strategies to deal with persons displaced because of climate change, and their human rights must be protected.

With regard to peace and security, he deplored the actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and that country’s destabilizing effects on the region and called for their immediate end. Furthermore, he expressed his concern about the situation of Taiwan and asked the international community to work towards the integration of Taiwan, also with a view to achieving full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

He expressed his gratitude for the implementation of the Samoa Pathway and its contribution to sustainable development. To implement the 2030 Agenda, Tuvalu recently launched a national strategy entitled “Te Kakeega III”. Its theme was “Protect and Save Tuvalu”. The strategy focused on resilience, education and capacity-building. Tuvalu also committed to derive all of its electricity from renewable energy. He also acknowledged the support of development partners.

PATRICE EMERY TROVOADA, Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe, said democracies in rich countries seemed to be providing inadequate responses to real problems like the refugee crisis. It was commendable to hold a special United Nations meeting on refugees, but the international community must do more to bring definitive settlements to ongoing conflicts and terrorist attacks. The Organization should be able to establish more binding mechanisms to address such insecurity, especially when it came to long-lasting conflicts between Israel and Palestine and in Libya as well as Syria.

He expressed pleasure, however, at a more peaceful Central African Republic and was encouraged by support for free and peaceful elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and commitments to stabilize South Sudan, Burundi and Somalia. Genuine progress in resolving conflicts always occurred when priority was given to living together and opening people’s minds to differences, which was needed to come up with intelligent solutions leading to sustainable peace. It was also necessary to show a spirit of inclusion in efforts to reach sustainable peace and development. To that end, reform of the United Nations was needed to make it more credible, especially when it came to seats on the Security Council.

His country had made significant development progress, especially in the areas of access to drinking water, Internet connectivity and eradication of malaria, he said. It now needed to build up its infrastructure to attract investment and generate revenue for the Government. He invited developed nations to provide financing through various mechanisms discussed at the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa. Africa lagged behind in almost all human development indices and had paid a heavy toll compared to other countries for centuries.

DELCY ELOÍNA RODRÍGUEZ GÓMEZ, Political Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, said the adoption of the 2030 Agenda was people-based, universal and transformative. However, the main obstacle to achieving those purposes was capitalism, which created deep inequalities and threatened the planet and its species. It was a model based on violence, she said, noting that of the $1.7 billion spent on wars in 2015, a third was spent by the United States. That country was the largest exporter of violence throughout the world, and an intrinsic link between violence and capitalist expansionism could be demonstrated throughout history.

Terrorism was also reconfiguring itself, she noted. The centres of hegemony were seeking to create artificial sub-categories of terrorism, which was seen as good if it served to overthrow Governments out of line with their interests, but bad if not. The military invasion of Iraq had been based on a lie. Libya had also seen a military intervention by NATO, and once again, the Powers’ imperial obstinacy had hampered that country’s right to peace. The resultant migratory flows of Libyan citizens had impacted its levels of poverty. Her country welcomed the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, which had resisted State terrorism from the north. She called for an end to the economic blockade of that country and the provision of reparations.

She said that President Hugo Chávez had 16 years ago cautioned that the United Nations could not proceed with the 1945 map, and must instead reform the Security Council to include developing countries from Latin America, Africa and Asia. Recently, Venezuela had hosted the seventeenth summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. States in the group shared the same concerns and continued to be committed to peace and solidarity. Their desire for peace could only become reality through the creation of a global government, and they were committed to that aim in the south. During the meeting, a United States aircraft had violated Venezuelan airspace. Through the use of media campaigns and financial boycotts, that country had encouraged extremist groups to overthrow the elected Government of Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela had alerted the international community that its territorial integrity was being attacked with a view to taking control of its strategic natural resources. Those aggressions had made up an unconventional war designed to penalize her country’s socialist economic model.

ABDULAZIZ KAMILOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, said protecting ecology and preserving the environment had in 2015 taken on an even greater significance in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in tackling changes of nature. The Aral Sea tragedy was a vivid example. With its ecologic-climatic, socio-economic and humanitarian consequences, the tragedy was a direct threat to the sustainable development of the region, health, gene pool and future of the people residing in the area. The consequences of that tragedy included an unfavourable ecological state, drying up of the Aral Sea and ongoing humanitarian catastrophe around it, lack and declining quality of potable water and growth of dangerous diseases.

Turning to regional security, he said Afghanistan remained a key problem for international and regional stability. Internal dynamics of the Afghan conflict were flaring up rather than fading and also becoming more complicated. Settling the conflict was possible only with an intra-Afghan national accord and through peaceful political negotiations among major parties under the auspices of the United Nations. Peace in Afghanistan would bring a colossal and tangible benefit to all countries of the Eurasian continent. It would stimulate the construction of motorways and railroad, development of regional and trans-regional commerce and laying of pipelines in all directions.

GUILLAUME LONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, said the last decade of the citizen revolution in his country had shown that to achieve development it was necessary to do the opposite of the prescription of the neoliberal hegemony. Ecuador had been able to recover the faith and hope of a country that had been destroyed, and that could be reflected in tangible results for its people, notably in the reduction of extreme poverty and inequality. The Powers of hegemony had appropriated widely used words and given them meaning to impose a political and moral agenda on the planet. The word “development” was not just a technical issue, but a political one, especially when it came to the redistribution of wealth. “Human rights” included economic and social rights, not just political ones, and were violated not just by States but by multinational corporations as well.

Ecuador, he said, called for an intergovernmental body in the United Nations for tax justice to prevent tax havens, and for the adoption of a legally binding international instrument that would be binding on transnational corporations which violated human rights. At the Paris conference on climate change, Ecuador also called for the establishment of an international environmental justice court to punish crimes against nature and to establish obligations in terms of ecological debt and the consumption of environmental goods. “We claim the supremacy of human beings over capital,” he said. The United Nations also needed to be democratized, he said. It was necessary to recalibrate the weight of the General Assembly vis-à-vis the Security Council. The composition and working methods of the Council needed to be changed, and the use of the veto, the exclusive province of the conquering nations of the Second World War, did not ensure the supreme objective of international peace and security.

ELMAR MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said his country had adapted its national development strategy to take into account the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the global economic crisis and sharp fall in oil prices, its economy had grown, enabling it to actively support international development, he said, noting his country’s membership in the Economic and Social Council. However, there could be no sustainable development without peace, he said, noting that since the last general debate, there had been no substantive progress in settling the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Armenia still occupied Azerbaijani territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts, in flagrant violation of international law and Security Council resolutions.

Armenia’s policies and practices in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan undermined prospects for a political settlement and threatened regional peace and stability, he said. It was refusing to withdraw its troops and it was preventing hundreds of thousands of forcibly displaced Azerbaijanis from returning to their homes. This month, it began intensive military activity in the occupied Aghdam district. Azerbaijan expected Armenia to halt is military build-up and to engage in negotiations in good faith in order to find a long-overdue political solution. The conflict could only be resolved on the basis of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders.

RAYMOND TSHIBANDA N’TUNGAMULONGO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that his country had decided to integrate the 2030 Goals into its national development plans to ensure that its policies were coherent. It had put together a five-year plan for the period 2017-2021, during which priority would be given to improving human capital, requiring close cooperation between various development partners to guarantee strong economic growth and also, more importantly, to be inclusive. Specific attention would be given to the needs of young people and women, in terms of their education, training and job prospects.

Turning to the political situation in his country, he said it recently had undergone a process of administrative decentralization in order to have local management. Each of the 26 new provinces had its own local authorities, and elections had taken place in March and April. Despite delays, initial legislative and presidential elections planned for early 2017 would be conducted by an independent commission and would take place as soon as technical conditions allowed. The right to elect and to be elected was a fundamental right for Congolese and the diaspora. A major challenge was to ensure the inclusivity and reliability of registers, and he welcomed the important role of registering voters. He added that any recourse to violence should be condemned as well as any insurrection or other non-constitutional access to power.

Right of Reply

Several delegates spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The representative of the United Kingdom, referring to the statement of the Prime Minister of Mauritius, said her Government was in no doubt about its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago. The United Kingdom did not consider the International Court of Justice to be the appropriate way to resolve the issue, she said, adding that the United Kingdom would continue to engage bilaterally with Mauritius.

The representative of Ukraine, referring to remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the situation in Ukraine had been caused by Russian aggression against his country. Russia had been urged time and again to halt its aggression. Noting that the Minister had quoted from “Animal Farm”, he quoted from “1984” the phrase “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength”. That was the philosophy that Russia wanted to impose.

The representative of Brazil, in response to the statement by Venezuela, reiterated what his country’s President had said earlier in the week, that in the Latin American region, Governments of different political colours coexisted; that was natural and to be welcomed. But it was also essential to have mutual respect, and recognize that all were capable of the same basic goals of human rights, social progress, security and freedom.

The representative of Armenia responded to the statement by Azerbaijan, saying that Nagorno-Karabakh was never part of Azerbaijan and had been transferred by a Bolshevik decision. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was independent. It had never been and never would be part of Azerbaijan. The sooner it stopped killing civilians, the sooner the issue would be resolved. The war it had unleashed on those people was lost a long time ago. The barbarism committed in the process had included intentional and indiscriminate targeting of women, children and the elderly, which was incompatible with the norms of the civilized world. It could not be tolerated for the President of a country to encourage those who had committed such barbaric acts, and the glorification of persons directly involved in atrocities constituted as crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The representative of Azerbaijan, responding, said he wanted to counter the baseless allegations of his Armenian counterpart. Armenia was occupying almost one-fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory and it had carried out large-scale ethnic cleansing. With the use of force, Armenia had flagrantly violated the Charter of the United Nations as well as basic human rights, international law and international humanitarian law. Armenia had sought to consolidate the status quo and mislead the international community, he said, adding that Azerbaijan stood for an effective ceasefire, which Armenia had violated.

The representative of Armenia said nothing was established until it was proven. He added that if any nation had the right to self-determination, it was the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The representative of Azerbaijan said negotiations had been based on the principles of the Helsinki Final Act. Regarding respect for the territorial integrity of States, he said he wondered how the Armenian side viewed its obligations under international law.

For information media. Not an official record.

World: Defeating Terrorism, Human Trafficking Crucial for Addressing Huge Migratory Flows into Europe, Speakers from Continent Stress as General Debate Continues

Haiti - ReliefWeb News - 3 hours 34 min ago
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Central African Republic, Haiti, Mali, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

GA/11829
Seventy-first Session, 17th, 18th & 19th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Foreign Minister of Hungary Says National Security Comes First; Other Speakers Urge Engagement over Isolationism

With 65 million people displaced and on the move, several European countries discussed myriad ways to deal with the unprecedented phenomenon by defeating terrorism, bringing human traffickers to justice, while others called on Member States to make the better choice between engagement and isolation as the General Assembly continued its annual debate today.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said it was important to address the root cause of what was uprooting so many from their homes. As long as terrorism existed so would the migration pressure on Europe, and while the right to a safe life was a fundamental human right, choosing a State where one wanted to live was not. Migratory policies that considered all migrants refugees and that had taken in thousands against the wishes of their own people had failed. Uncontrolled and unregulated migratory patterns were a threat to peace and security.

“Hungary puts security of the Hungarian people in first place and we will not allow violations of our borders,” he said. Europe would not be able to take on such an immense challenge. “We have to help people to stay as close to their homes as possible so that they can return to their homes as soon as possible,” he continued, stressing the need to help Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan to deal with millions of people they had taken in. It was perhaps vital to link development programmes to conditionality so that Governments were responsible in not creating the circumstances for their people to leave their homes.

Several delegations echoed one another stressing the need to go after traffickers who had profited handsomely from smuggling people, with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Pavel Filip, urging the international community to “resolutely fight smuggling and the illicit trafficking in persons”. He also made the link between people moving to seek a better life elsewhere and development. As long as the world remained stricken by poverty, social inequality, and human rights abuses, there would be no resolution to the forces driving people to uproot their lives, he said.

Bujar Nishani, President of Albania, said his country had joined the international community’s efforts to deal with refugee flows as migrants and refugees had made their way to Europe. “Today, the realities on the ground are leading and forcing us to change our approach at the regional level and beyond,” he added, emphasizing the need for regional coordination to address the phenomenon.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that the world had become an unsafe place for far too many people. Everyone had a choice between engagement and isolation. Withdrawal and resignation or shared responsibility for a better future was the choice. Germany had given shelter to more than 1 million people and had begun training them to have the skills that one day would enable them to rebuild their cities. Returning home must not remain a mere dream, he said, adding that it was important to improve the international architecture for dealing with migrants and refugees.

Echoing that sentiment, Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, warned the Assembly that “the basic tenets of our coexistence” were being challenged. She emphasized the need to respond to rising xenophobia, aggressive nationalism, autocracy and fear-mongering and reminded the international community of its responsibility to protect the millions of refugees fleeing harm.

Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, echoed several speakers, saying indeed it was important to distinguish between refugees and irregular migrants. While many refugees had fled violence, much of the migration to Europe was economic in nature. Populism only led to an uncontrolled situation, he said, condemning suggestions that each refugee could be a terrorist. Refugees were victims, not perpetrators of terrorism. The principles of solidarity and burden-sharing were of vital importance.

“We can’t despise those who, for themselves or their loved ones, have embarked on a long and dangerous journey,” he said. “We can’t fail to welcome them, but it is difficult to welcome them all.”

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government and senior officials of Guinea, Niger, Central African Republic, Comoros, Yemen, Haiti, Samoa, Belgium, Mauritius, Russian Federation, Armenia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Morocco, Mali, Botswana, Indonesia, South Sudan, Nicaragua, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Jamaica, Solomon Islands, Lesotho, Andorra, Vanuatu, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Sao Tome and Principe, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Ecuador, Azerbaijan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Brazil, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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

Statements

BUJAR NISHANI, President of Albania, expressed concern about global challenges, saying his country would address them in close cooperation with other actors. Its actions would include increasing humanitarian aid, ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change and implementing all commitments in the security realm. Describing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an international platform for strengthening the connection between development and security, he said it would guide national, regional and international actions over the next 15 years. Albania had been a pilot country in designing the global indicators for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16, and in that regard, the Agenda had become an integral part of its national programmes, sectoral strategies and national development strategy, he said.

Since the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement provided opportunities for the present and future generations, he continued, their implementation was of key importance in tackling climate change, achieving sustainable development and ensuring peace. On climate change, he said that he had deposited Albania’s instruments of ratification two days ago. Regarding migration, Albania had joined the international community’s efforts to deal with refugee flows in a consistent and coordinated manner. “Today, the realities on the ground are leading and forcing us to change our approach at the regional level and beyond,” he said. Albania had organized a high-level conference on migration.

Another fundamental challenge to world peace was international terrorism and violent extremism, he said. Terrorist attacks, especially those with religious links, had intensified, hitting major cities in France, Belgium, Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon. Acknowledging the indispensable role played by the United Nations in the global fight against terrorism, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s Action Plan on the Prevention of Violent Extremism. Albania had been among the first countries to join the global coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and had contributed five packages of military equipment for the Peshmerga forces fighting in Iraq, he said, adding that Albania was listed and ranked among the proactive countries committed to full implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

With the policies pursued over the past two decades, Albania had increasingly contributed to security efforts in the international arena, he said. It continued its proactive membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and supported implementation of the European Union’s common security and defence. At the same time, Albania continued to support United Nations peacekeeping operations, while strengthening partnership with other countries. Turning to regional efforts, he emphasized that Albania’s foreign policy was maximally oriented towards strengthening good-neighbourly relations, citing its support for Kosovo’s participation in all multilateral regional and international activities.

ALPHA CONDÉ, President of Guinea, said that Africa — the continent with the world’s youngest population and some of its most vulnerable countries — required particular attention in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. To reduce that vulnerability and build up the continent’s resistance, Africa needed deep structural transformations and a vibrant private sector. Public policies must integrate the needs of the most vulnerable, youth and women in particular, in order to enable them to realize their full potential, he said. Partnerships and financing were equally needed to accelerate growth.

Sustainable access to energy was another challenge to Africa, he continued, pointing out that 700 million Africans lacked access to electricity. A robust plan for the continent’s electrification was needed within the framework of the Paris Agreement. With that in mind, he called upon the international community, global financial institutions in particular, to work with the continent to help build a strong Africa.

At the same time, he said, Guinea was proud of its contribution to The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), notably its deployment of a battalion of 850 men to Kidal. Guinea had paid a heavy price with the loss of nine soldiers in less than one year, he said, emphasizing that much must be done to ensure Mali’s sovereignty and improve its capability to prevent future attacks, he said.

Turning to the Ebola outbreak, he cautioned that, while the victory in ending the outbreak was something for all to celebrate, the road ahead was long. The disease had undermined all economic activities in Guinea and made women and young people especially vulnerable. He expressed gratitude to all partners that had allowed Guinea, as well as Liberia and Sierra Leone, to re-engage quickly on the road to sustainable development.

MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU, President of Niger, recalled that the Millennium Development Goals had demonstrated the possibility of achieving remarkable progress. The objective of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty had been reached by 2010. Equally, the number of children not attending school, as well as child and maternal mortality had been reduced by half. However, those positive developments obscured enormous disparities as they primarily reflected improving conditions in Asia and Latin America. African countries, especially those in the sub-Saharan region, had attained little progress, he said.

The capability of States to implement sustainable development programmes would depend on their ability to change national economic and political conditions, he said. Noting that the current world situation did not inspire optimism, he said there was need for a new kind of economic governance that would strike a balance between speculative financial capital and industrial capital. Developing countries, especially the least developed ones, would receive more capital which they could invest in sustained economic growth, which in turn would contribute to global economic growth, he said.

Turning to governance of the United Nations, embodied by the Security Council, he emphasized the need to reform it in order to “rectify the anachronism which characterizes the Organization”. There was need for a better and more representative body, where States, especially those adjacent to countries ravaged by conflict and violence, could express their views. He called for a review of the mandates of certain peacekeeping missions, with a view to making them more “offensive”, saying that citizens in regions affected by conflict thought it inconceivable that peacekeeping missions were unable to protect them.

FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, President of the Central African Republic, said his country had returned fully to stability and constitutional legality. In that regard, he expressed gratitude to the United Nations for the deployment of international forces to restore security. “We invested trust in people,” he said, expressing his intention to address vast challenges facing the Central African Republic and to meet the citizens’ expectations.

“My people are determined to put an end to the cycle of violence,” he continued, emphasizing that, since he had taken office, various reforms had been introduced in areas ranging from fighting corruption to economic development. However, the situation remained fragile, he said, while pledging that he would rebuild the country and improve living conditions.

In the area of security, the Government had introduced a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme as part of the peace process, he said. In order to restore State authority, the Government had put security forces in place to ensure control of the national borders. Other efforts included eliminating crime and money-laundering, as well as preventing terrorism and human trafficking. Citing the progress made, he declared: “The arms embargo is no longer justified.”

He went on to say that the Government had ensured peace and national reconciliation. “I have every confidence that my country has resumed its place as a free and democratic State,” he added. However, further progress would require support from the international community. The time had come to reduce inequality between the poor and rich, he emphasized. The Government had also launched a framework for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. “We want to avoid the mistakes of the past.”

AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros, said that his country had turned a page in achieving political stability, having undergone a peaceful change of power through free, transparent and democratic elections observed by the international community. In that context, he thanked the United Nations for having stood by his nation and expressed hope that future international assistance would help consolidate that progress.

He said that the ambitious sustainable development programme Comoros had adopted to protect the planet and improve the lives of its people had also allowed him to be optimistic about the future. Nevertheless, sustainable development was only possible when people could live at home and were not forcibly displaced. To that end, the plight of refugees putting their lives at risk called for urgent action, he said.

Comoros had itself been dealing with the issue of internally displaced persons moving within and among its four islands, including Mayotte, which remained under French administration, he said. The displacement had left hundreds dead in the inlets between Mayotte and the other islands. Despite many resolutions, the indifference of the international community had left the issue unresolved. Nevertheless, it was to be hoped that a viable solution would be found between Comoros and France, and that dialogue would lead to a consensus-based outcome allowing all to live in peace and harmony.

Turning to the issue of terrorism, he said it had no frontiers and did not belong to any religion or civilization. Comoros was available to work with the international community in fighting the scourge. Conveying the trust of his people in the United Nations, he said the Organization acted with independence and sovereignty and had for decades helped resolve conflicts around the world. At the same time, Comoros believed that poorer nations, especially those in Africa, should have a seat on the Security Council.

ABDRABUH MANSOUR HADI MANSOUR, President of Yemen, said his country continued to face challenges, yet the leadership was working in full force. “Militias have no chance in succeeding,” he said, adding that the Government would soon put an end to the ongoing war and tragedies. Recalling the steps taken in the Gulf Cooperation Council on the path to political transfer, he said that comprehensive dialogue had been translated into a new civilian Constitution.

Despite all efforts, the Houthi militias continued to wage war and kill innocent people, expel civilians, blow up homes and control national assets, he continued. “We are not advocates of revenge,” he said, adding that the Government had chosen the path of peace in order to end the suffering of the Yemeni people. In that regard, national dialogue was necessary to build a federal State based on equal rights. Stressing the need to rid Yemen of militias and sectarian gangs, he said they must withdraw and endorse the new Constitution.

He went on to underline that extremism and sectarianism sponsored by Iran would create further terrorism and brutality. The Houthi coup d’état had created similar outcomes, including a security vacuum, economic collapse and extreme poverty. The militias had recruited children, besieged cities and waged a meaningless war against the Yemeni people, whose suffering had reached unbelievable levels with regard to health, education and other services.

After the coup d’état, the leadership had continued its efforts to reduce the consequences of the chaotic war that had been launched against the people of Yemen, he said, adding that, as his patience had run out, he had ordered the relocation of the Central Bank to the southern city of Aden. That would escalate pressure on the Houthi rebels controlling the capital, he said, while acknowledging that it would also cause greater hardship for millions of Yemenis living under their rule. “We might fail to pay the salaries of people working in public service,” he said, calling for support from the free world and its financial institutions. Acknowledging the catastrophic situation in Yemen, he renewed his call on all donor countries to fulfil their pledges and end the suffering of the Yemeni people. The country would emerge from the ruins with international support, and the Government would not stop until the militias were defeated, he vowed.

JOCELERME PRIVERT, President of Haiti, said that the multitude of threats facing the international community included terrorism, violence and environmental devastation. In a time of such volatility, the United Nations must ensure stability and peace, and contain international terrorism. Although important progress had been made in reaching a peace agreement in Colombia and in easing relations between the United States and Cuba, those recent developments had been overshadowed by many other threats to peace and stability, he said.

Under the existing conditions, many Haitians chose to leave their country to seek improved livelihoods elsewhere, he said. By assuming deliberate ownership of the process of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, Haiti had committed itself to improving living conditions for all its citizens. The country needed peace, as well as measures to strengthen the rule of law, the economy and the infrastructure, so that it could provide Haitians with better living conditions.

Haiti’s upcoming election would strengthen stability, as well as help the country to move out of underdevelopment, he said. A credible and honest electoral process would restore constitutional order, as well as citizens’ trust in their elected leaders and political institutions. The election would “truly break with the cycle of instability and uncertainty”, he said, adding that he would not spare any efforts to ensure the election was free and fair.

He said that, while the work of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had been slow in the eyes of some observers, during its 12 year tenure, the Mission had helped to strengthen security, promote human rights and reinforce the capacities of national institutions. Furthermore, Haiti noted with high interest the Security-General’s remarks in a recent report that highlighted multiple cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by “Blue Helmet” officers, as well as the introduction of cholera by United Nations personnel in Haiti. “The United Nations’ recognition of its responsibility in the latter case opened the way for the right discussions to take place in order to eliminate cholera in Haiti for good,” he said. He appealed to the Secretary-General to implement a substantial programme that would reinforce the fight against cholera and help victims of the disease.

XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said that, during his country’s 2015 European Union presidency, he had learned the vital importance of solidarity and burden-sharing, a credible migration policy, border control and respect for the Dublin Rules. Indeed, it was important to distinguish between refugees and irregular migrants. While many refugees had fled violence, much of the migration to Europe was economic in nature. “We can’t despise those who, for themselves or their loved ones, have embarked on a long and dangerous journey,” he said. “We can’t fail to welcome them, but it is difficult to welcome them all.” Populism only led to an uncontrolled situation, he said, condemning suggestions that each refugee could be a terrorist. Refugees were victims, not perpetrators of terrorism.

Conflict, arms proliferation, violent extremism, terrorism and climate change threats still persisted, he said. While Africa was particularly vulnerable to internal and external challenges, countries could work together to ensure peace in South Sudan, Libya and the Central African Republic, he said, pressing the parties to those conflicts parties to lay the basis for sustainable development. Africa had major potential, in its young people, first and foremost, which made education and job creation important priorities in national development programmes. The United Nations often acted too late to prevent crises, but the Assembly’s adoption of regulations to bring about peace marked an important change, placing conflict prevention at the heart of United Nations action.

Turning to Syria, he said the country’s Government had perpetrated atrocities, while Da’esh and other groups flourished from the war economy and external support. A generation of children had been traumatized, deprived of protection and education, he said, calling for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to be brought to justice, including before the International Criminal Court. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said that a two-State solution was the only way to resolve it, adding that he supported the convening of an international conference to help the parties reach a settlement. On Iran, he urged vigilance in implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Regarding the Korean Peninsula, he urged a resumption of negotiations to bring about verifiable denuclearization.

PAVEL FILIP, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, said it was important to bear in mind the complex nature of motives that drove people on the move. “We must resolutely fight smuggling and the illicit trafficking in persons,” he added, emphasizing the need to focus on strategies for preventing loss of human life, as well as the resilience and self-reliance of refugees. As long as the world remained stricken by poverty, underdevelopment, social inequality, and human rights abuses, there would be no resolution of the forces driving people to uproot their lives. To that end, the Republic of Moldova attached great importance to fostering development partnerships aimed at supporting countries in need to achieve their development goals.

Never before had the correlation between migration, sustainable development, climate change and peace and security been more obvious, he said. “We cannot realistically expect to fulfil the Agenda for [Sustainable] Development in the absence of peace,” he added, emphasizing that the United Nations must adjust to new global realities. Security Council reform was critical to making that body more efficient in discharging its primary responsibility: maintaining peace and security. Efficiency could be achieved by improving transparency and accountability, as well as restricting the right of veto to issues of substance. Addressing protracted conflicts in a proactive manner could prevent attempts aimed at changing the political borders.

Despite the many difficulties encountered in the settlement process in the Transnistria conflict, the Republic of Moldova remained committed to a political solution based on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Negotiations would only succeed if all sides displayed political will and refrained from putting forward rigid preconditions. That would require enhanced confidence-building and bringing together both banks of the river Nistru. He also expressed deep concern about the lack of progress concerning the withdrawal of Russian troops and armaments stationed on the Republic of Moldova’s territory, saying that the fragility of the overall situation in the region, including Ukraine, required a constructive re-engagement by the United Nations.

TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, thanked the Secretary-General for having made climate change a priority for the Organization during his tenure, and expressed hope that his successor would continue his legacy. While encouraged by the adoption of the Paris Agreement, he emphasized that delivering on its promises and making good on its commitments was “the seal of true leadership”. The challenge remaining for the Green Climate Fund and other funding institutions was to help small island developing States access their resources.

Partnerships would be crucial in that endeavour, he said, expressing hope that all development partners, as well as United Nations entities would actively engage the SIDS Partnership Framework — a platform for monitoring the full implementation of pledges and commitments through partnerships. He stressed the importance of protecting oceans, which were critical to the economic survival of small island developing States, and indeed, to global prosperity more generally. That vital resource was under threat from overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, loss of habitat and pollution.

Concerning the mass migration of people fleeing war and terrorism, he stressed the need for a collective response that should begin with the Security Council. He called upon the Council to address the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. On the issue of Security Council reform, he said it was time for an enlarged Council — the membership of which would reflect contemporary geopolitical realities. It was also important that more democratic and transparent processes and procedures be put in place to govern the Council, and that it engage more effectively with the General Assembly. Finally, he pledged Samoa’s continuing commitment to provide civilian policemen and women for United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world.

CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister of Belgium, said the global community was faced with a reality in which equality between women and men had still not been achieved. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press were too often thwarted, and homophobia remained legal in certain countries. The rule of law was too often just a façade, and justice nothing but a menace to citizens and companies. Turning to Africa, he said the region was replete with potential, and it was the international community’s responsibility to support its development.

Africa had experienced several successful democratic transitions in the last decades, in which its citizens had participated in electoral and political processes, helping to strengthen sovereignty and democratic institutions, he said. Emphasizing that respect for the rule of law and the constitution was the only path to guaranteeing stability, he said the right to exercise the rule of law had been denied the people of Burundi, who had experienced oppression and discord instead. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the upcoming elections would be indispensable, he said, condemning the violence seen in Kinshasa over the last couple of days.

Turning to Syria, he described it as “a country of blood and war, of unspeakable suffering and large-scale displacement of people uprooted from their homes”. Appealing to all permanent members of the Security Council to exercise their responsibility, he said impunity could not be the response to such human rights violations. Furthermore, Al-Qaida, Da’esh and Boko Haram presented a new form of totalitarianism, as recent acts of terror in Belgium had shown. In that regard, there was a need to reform the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture, he said.

ANEROOD JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said his country was focusing its resources on eradicating extreme poverty by establishing a social register of those living in dismal conditions and those requiring targeted measures and assistance. “There are yet many miles to go and we will pursue our journey,” he said, emphasizing that action on climate and oceans was “of paramount importance for our survival”. Addressing the root causes of climate change would require robust determination and strong political will, but all efforts would be futile in the absence of peace and security.

Calling for a reformed United Nations, including the Security Council, he said it would benefit from enlarged and more inclusive representation. “We believe that the historical injustice done to African representation on the Council should be redressed,” he added. Welcoming the move by the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an observer, he called for a revival of efforts towards a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He went on to note that, while Mauritius had become an independent State in 1968, it remained unable to exercise its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago and Tromelin, both of which were part of its territory. Mauritians living in the Chagos Archipelago had been forcibly evicted from their homes and moved, in total disregard of their human rights, he recalled. Mauritius had consistently protested against the illegal excision of the Chagos Archipelago, he said, adding that for decades, it had called upon the former colonial Power to find a fair and just solution. However, its efforts had been in vain so far. Despite United Nations resolutions, the United Kingdom maintained that its continued presence in the Chagos Archipelago remained lawful, he noted. The General Assembly had a direct interest in the matter, given the historic and central role it had played in the decolonization process throughout the world.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that ideas of supremacy persisted in a number of Western countries to the detriment of equitable cooperation. Saying it was “high time” to prevent a catastrophe in Syria, he noted that his country’s military assistance to the Syrian Government had prevented a collapse of statehood. Russian engagement had led to the establishment of the International Syria Support Group, which sought the start of a political process to ensure that Syrians determined their own future, a point embodied in recent agreements between the Russian Federation and the United States. It was essential to carry out an impartial investigation of events in Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo, which had undermined those accords. Elsewhere, Ukraine’s development had been undermined by an anti-constitution coup and the refusal to implement the 2015 Minsk Agreement. Using the crisis to achieve corrupt geopolitical goals had no prospects of success, he said, emphasizing that only implementation of the accord could enable mutually beneficial cooperation.

He went on to state that it was indecent to reserve the right to use doping, launch “unilateral adventures”, conduct geopolitical experiments, engage in extraterritorial blackmail or set criteria for national greatness. Freedom of expression or peaceful assembly should not be used to condone Nazi ideology, he said, calling for efforts to block neo-Nazism and revanchism. Joint efforts were required to fight terrorism, he said, adding that his Government was drafting a Council resolution aimed at eliminating terrorist and extremist ideology. Expressing concern about the “torpedoing” of compromises around the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he stressed that progress on disarmament must consider factors affecting strategic stability, including the creation of unilateral missile defence systems, the placement of non-nuclear strike weapons and the threat of deploying weapons in outer space. He went on to call upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear missile programmes and return to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. On climate change, he said the creation of mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was a priority.

EDWARD NALBANDIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, condemned the crimes of Da’esh and other terrorist groups, while expressing concern about the devastating impact of the war in Syria. Pointing out that many of those displaced from Syria were Armenian-Syrians who had found refuge there 100 years ago, he said that his country had provided refuge to more than 20,000 refugees from Syria. Calling for wider international cooperation to address the challenges posed by mass displacement, he emphasized the importance of addressing the root causes of large movements of people by preventing crimes against humanity, settling disputes in a peaceful manner and seeking lasting political solutions. Armenia had contributed to such efforts by having initiated resolutions on the prevention of genocide in the Human Rights Council, he said.

Condemning Azerbaijan’s policies of ethnic cleansing and aggression against the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh, he said those policies stood in violation of the Armenian right to self-determination. Earlier this year, Azerbaijan had indiscriminately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure in the region, he recalled, noting that there was evidence of torture — a gross violation of international law. He called for full adherence to the 1994-1995 trilateral ceasefire agreements, the creation of a mechanism for investigating ceasefire violations, and expanded capacity for the office of the Personal Representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office. Finally, he condemned Turkey’s land blockade of Armenia as a gross violation of international law, which hampered the economic cooperation and integration promoted under the 2030 Agenda.

FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said the world had become an unsafe place for far too many people, and everyone had a choice between engagement and isolation. “We could also choose to put our faith in the power of diplomacy or shrug our shoulders” in the face of the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Europe was faced with the choice of fighting to hold the region together or allowing it to fall apart again and be overrun by populists. Withdrawal and resignation or shared responsibility for a better future was the choice, he said. Whether the world would succeed in finding better solutions to its many challenges depended on resolving the crisis in Syria and the migration phenomenon. The United Nations would remain the central forum, he said. In the context of all the crisis meetings, “it gives me hope that we have made the right choice of the direction we want to take and that we have chosen unity and sustainability”. He condemned the latest nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In Libya and Yemen, Germany would continue to support the tireless efforts of United Nations envoys in those countries. As for Syria, he said the hope raised by last week’s ceasefire had been extinguished yet again.

It was time for a long-term humanitarian ceasefire that would allow aid to reach those in need, he said, adding that Moscow also had a responsibility in that regard, he continued. “If we do not succeed, all efforts to bring peace will be lost in a hail of bombs,” he said, noting that the Assad regime was continuing to bomb Aleppo “to bits”. He declared: “There will be no winners in this war”. As the biggest donor of humanitarian aid to Syria, Germany was particularly active in helping to stabilize areas liberated from ISIL, he said, adding that it was working with the United Nations to rebuild schools and neighbourhoods so that people could return. Germany was also promoting education and access to labour markets in neighbouring countries that had generously opened their doors to millions of refugees. Germany had given shelter to more than 1 million people and had begun training them to have the skills that one day would enable them to rebuild their cities. Returning home must not remain a mere dream, he said, adding that it was important to improve the international architecture for dealing with migrants and refugees. Noting that new rifts had emerged in Europe following the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea, he said it was important to step up dialogue between East and West, but the United Nations was necessary to ensure that diverging interests and opinions did not turn into lasting divisions. Germany’s history reminded it to do everything possible to avoid that, he said.

RI YONG HO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, emphasized the importance of peace to his country, which was embarking on its five-year strategy for national economic development. Unfortunately, the country’s future was being threatened by the aggression of the United States, which had recently conducted large-scale joint military exercises involving more than half a million troops and strategic assets, including nuclear bombers and submarines. In the face of such aggression, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had made every possible effort to prevent an armed conflict and a possible subsequent escalation, he said. Its nuclear programme was, therefore, a necessary defensive measure. It was regrettable that the Security Council was covering up “the high-handedness and arbitrariness” of the United States, in violation of the United Nations Charter.

He went on to remind the Assembly that his country had made several requests to the Council for an emergency meeting on the threat to international peace and security posed by the large-scale joint military exercises of the United States on the Korean Peninsula, but had been turned away. Reiterating the defensive nature of his country’s nuclear programme, he explained, however, that as long as there was a nuclear State with a hostile posture towards his country, it would continue to strengthen its nuclear programme. Finally, he extended his Government’s support for and solidarity with the people of Cuba “in their struggle to safeguard their dignity and sovereignty” in the face of the United States-imposed blockade. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also stood in solidarity with Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, which today faced war and violence as a result of interference by the United States. He criticized that country’s practice of politicizing human rights issues as a way to target anti-imperialist and independent countries, such as sovereign African States.

PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said that world order had been changed by three factors: the spread of terrorist organizations, the destabilization of key and vulnerable regions of the world and the movement and displacement of some 65 million people. He called for the elimination of global terrorism and said that until then there would be no stability in the Middle East, Christian communities would continue to be threatened and the migratory pressure on Europe would continue. “We have to destroy the business models” of human traffickers which had caused the death of thousands,” he continued. It was important to change migratory policies to inspire people not to violate borders and move to countries thousands of miles away. “Instead of emotional debates, we need debates based on common sense,” and instead of accusing and bashing each other, world leaders must stand on the stability of international law. The right to a safe life was a fundamental human right but choosing a State where one wants to live was not a fundamental human right. There would be no excuse to violate borders of safe and secure countries.

Hungary was among 23 countries that had sent troops to fight ISIL, he continued. There were 143 Hungarian men and women serving in Iraq, and his country had sent ammunition to the Peshmerga and soon would begin carrying out training of the Iraqi army. His Government had established an office on the persecution of Christians to address threats that group faced and to ensure that criminal acts were punished. Furthermore, the Parliament had established strict regulations against human traffickers. “Hungary put security of Hungarian people to first place and we will not allow mass violations of our borders,” he said. Migratory policies that considered all migrants refugees had failed. Migratory policies that had taken in thousands against the wishes of their own people had failed. Uncontrolled and unregulated migratory patterns were a threat to peace and security. “We have to help people to stay as close to their homes as possible so that they can return to their homes as soon as possible,” he said, stressing the need to help Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan in dealing with millions of people they had taken in. “Europe would not be able to take such a challenge,” he added. It was also important to link development programmes to conditionality so that Governments were responsible in not creating the conditions for their people to leave their homes. Central Europe faced many challenges and a Secretary-General from the region would help it to overcome its historic challenges.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, warned the Assembly that “the basic tenets of our coexistence are being challenged,” and emphasized the need to respond to rising xenophobia, aggressive nationalisms, autocracy and fear-mongering. She reminded the international community of its responsibility to protect the 65 million refugees fleeing from harm, and welcomed the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants as a first step in that direction.

She went on to address several key areas that she believed required determined action by the international community: prevention of armed conflict, gender equality, financing, security, the Middle East peace process and post-conflict development assistance. On peacekeeping, better measures were needed to prevent armed conflict, including early warning and early action systems. Those mechanisms would require sustainable financing of regional and sub-regional organizations’ peace operations. On gender equality, she called for the United Nations to lead the way in enhancing the rights, representation and resources of women and girls around the world. One way the Organization could do that was through increasing women’s participation in peace processes, protecting them against gender-based violence in humanitarian crises and strengthening their political and economic empowerment. For peace to be sustainable, the root causes of conflict needed to be tackled. She regretted that peace accords had not been implemented in the Middle East and Security Council resolutions pertaining to Crimea had been disregarded. Finally, to sustain peace, greater investments were needed in post-conflict development and State-building. She pledged her country’s commitment to “continue to talk with, not only about, countries” in its capacity as a non-permanent member of the Council during the 2017-2018 term.

SALAHEDDINE MEZOUAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Morocco, said his country was eager to adopt a dynamic approach to sustainable development that would adapt its own vision with the goals of the United Nations. Morocco participated in peacekeeping operations in Africa and Asia to which it had contributed thousands of “blue helmets”. There could be no development without peace and security, he added, emphasizing that Morocco was dedicated to establishing partnerships. Sustainable development was at the top of the list. Morocco had made a political commitment to continue towards actualizing the aspirations of people in the developing world. It had launched a national plan — “a basic pillar of the social development,” including in the sectors of economics and environment. It kept the well-being of the human being at its core. The plan also focused on strengthening its partnership with African partners in areas of combating poverty, promoting education and strengthening security. He looked forward to the next climate meeting in Marrakesh and said that the implementation of the Paris Agreement was directly linked to the availability of financing.

There was a strong link “based on love and respect” between Morocco and Africa, he said, outlining various development programmes his country was involved with on the continent. On the matter of the Sahel, the last resolution adopted by the Security Council had reemphasized a political solution based on stability and democracy, he said, pledging his country’s willingness to work with the United Nations in that respect. It was important to uphold human rights and utilize regional and international efforts to combat terrorism. On the national level, Morocco had adopted a strategy focusing on a religious, social and legal approach to fight foreign terrorists. “Christians, Muslims and Jews must all stand against hatred and terrorism,” he said, adding that no progress could be achieved with xenophobia existing in societies. He called on all Libyan political forces to continue dialogue and provide the Libyan people with dignity and democracy. The Middle East could never “enjoy lasting peace” without establishing a Palestinian State, he said, urging the revival of a peace process and an end to changing the demographic composition of Jerusalem.

IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEITA, President of Mali, noted that peace and security were essential for development. Fifteen months after the peace agreement in Mali was signed, hostilities had effectively ceased between the Government and signatory groups, and significant progress had been made. The effective application of Security Council resolution 2295 (2016), renewing the mandate of MINUSMA, would allow for the progressive recovery by the Government of sovereignty throughout Malian territory. Implementation of the peace agreement required mobilization of outside resources so as to support national efforts, and Mali thanked its international partners.

The peace agreement faced serious challenges linked to the activities of terrorist groups in the north and asymmetric attacks on civilians and peacekeeping forces, he continued. It was necessary to increase the process of cantonment and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration so as to isolate armed groups that had not signed the agreement and those affiliated with terrorist networks. The Government was ready to fully undertake its responsibility for the new mandate and work with MINUSMA. He welcomed the high-level meeting on Mali that had taken place that morning between all stakeholders, where his country spoke of the urgency of accelerating implementation of the peace agreement. The people and Government of Mali were grateful for the United Nations support of the peace process. No country in the world was free of terrorism and no cause could justify violence against civilians. Mali encouraged international cooperation between Member States to neutralize the hydra of terrorism and its networks.

The timing of the General Assembly session, one year into 2030 Agenda, allowed Member States to take stock to see how to find the best ways and means to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. Mali was convinced of the need to adopt strategies to strengthen economic growth and respond to the needs of populations. That meant protecting the environment and providing education, health care, social protection, employment for youth and women’s empowerment.

Climate change was a major challenge that affected all humanity, in particular the countries of the Sahel. He welcomed the Paris Agreement and announced that Mali had today deposited its instruments of ratification for the Agreement.

MOKGWEETSI E.K. MASISI, Vice-President of Botswana, noted that his country would on 30 September celebrate its fiftieth anniversary of independence. Once among the poorest States in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $70 per capita in 1966, it now counted amongst middle-income countries. Two days before Botswana became a sovereign nation, a Canadian journalist had observed: “It is destined to be an international charity case forever exporting its ablest men and cattle in exchange for cash and kindness from abroad”. Reflecting back on the country’s challenges and achievements, he expressed pride that it was one of Africa’s most stable democracies, having held free, fair and peaceful multi-party elections every five years without interruption.

He expressed concern about the crisis in Syria, which could have been contained had the Council and the international community intervened promptly. “Assad and his machine” was not the only party committing crimes against humanity, he said, adding that his country was equally concerned about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continuous testing of ballistic missiles. Botswana had terminated its diplomatic relations with that State because of its poor human rights record.

Considering increasing security threats, he called upon the Council to demonstrate seriousness and alacrity in executing its mandate, adding that it could no longer be acceptable to “hide behind the veto while millions of innocent lives are lost”.

Turning to the Olympic Games, he commended Brazil for hosting them successfully despite criticisms from some quarters which had spread fear by linking the Games with the Zika virus, terrorism and other issues. He went on to condemn the International Paralympic Committee for its blanket ban on Russian athletes. Such treatment represented injustice and discrimination, and his country believed there was another agenda beyond the stated reasons for the decision. He closed by wishing the people of the United States successful elections in November and expressed hope that the winning candidate would be someone known to be tolerant and who embraced all.

MUHAMMAD JUSUF KALLA, Vice President of Indonesia, said the international community had laid down a new set of goals and timeframe in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Indonesia was fully committed to implementing it. The Government was mainstreaming the Goals into the country’s policies, finalizing a financial framework, engaging all relevant stakeholders and developing national guidelines as well as a monitoring, evaluating and reporting mechanism.

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda must be supported by strong global partnerships that would make a difference in advancing sustainable development, he said. The global community must provide sufficient means and funding mechanisms for all countries to carry the Agenda forward. Peace was a prerequisite to development and successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that Indonesia’s experiences in the 1950s and 1960s attested to that. But instability and insecurity continued in many parts of the world due to territorial disputes, terrorism and extremism.

He said the Middle East peace process remained difficult to move forward and irregular migration continued. The global community was confronted almost daily by media pictures of the stark reality created by continuing insecurity, all taking place against the backdrop of a slowing global economy, he said. The gap between rich and poor was widening and climate change was accelerating, as were its effects on small island States. Emphasizing that no one country could resolve those challenges on its own, he said they required a global partnership for a global solution.

TABAN DENG GAI, First Vice-President of South Sudan, said conflict had broken out in his country again in July, when its leaders had failed to agree on internal governance and leadership challenges. The situation was now stable and peaceful, the Government was functioning and life was returning to normal. However, the effect of the conflict, coupled with low global oil prices, had put the economy under unprecedented fiscal stress, creating hardship for the general public, he said. Together with development partners and friends, South Sudan was exerting every effort to tackle those economic shocks by stabilizing the security situation, streamlining fiscal policies, improving income from non-oil revenues, engaging in agriculture, mining and tourism and encouraging investors to come to the country.

More often than not, he said, nations had taken decisions individually, and sometimes collectively, in addressing situations like preventing a country from slipping into conflict, urging reforms, democratization and respect for human rights. Sometimes, however, the results of such actions actually contributed to the same effects they had been intended to avoid in the first place. Some leaders who may not agree with such interventions dictated such negative actions. Interventions in such countries – supposedly taken in order to protect civilians, advance democracy and ensure respect for human rights and justice – had not always produced the expected results. Instead, they ended up creating displacement and refugees in most cases.

He said the push to transform the world through the Sustainable Development Goals could not be achieved without all nations listening to each other, whether they were big or small, rich or poor, developed or developing. Countries must work together to resolve critical issues affecting the planet, such as terrorism, conflict, migration, climate change, nuclear proliferation, racism and food security. To transform the world, everybody must be made to feel that they belonged to the world and must work as true partners. Patronising attitudes of superiority – disguised as the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom and justice – could easily lead to serious crises in the form of resistance by affected parties, he cautioned.

MOISÉS OMAR HALLESLEVENS ACEVEDO, Vice-President of Nicaragua, said that the 2030 Agenda offered an historic opportunity to fight for a just world order. However, endemic poverty and inequality had become more noticeable than ever, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized groups including peoples living under colonial occupation and foreign intervention. Colonialism had to be eradicated, and military intervention and aggression needed to cease. The right to development was a right for all, and developed countries needed to comply with their commitments regarding official development assistance (ODA).

Turning to climate change, he said that the Paris Agreement failed to establish a firm benchmark to address the biggest challenge facing the planet. The voluntary, non-binding formula would lead to a 3°C increase in global temperatures, with disastrous effects for highly vulnerable countries. Many countries concurred that the Agreement was not sufficient and called for stronger efforts. Nicaragua demanded a global compensation policy to deal with the damages of climate change.

Continuing, he said that Nicaragua welcomed the re-establishing of relations between Cuba and the United States, but it was disappointed to see heightening of existing measures maintaining the economic and commercial blockade of Cuba. Nicaragua also welcomed the signing of the peace agreement in Colombia. Nicaragua demanded the immediate end of the occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories by Israel, expressed solidarity with the people of Western Sahara and with the Government and people of Syria and condemned foreign interventions in the latter, including the delivery of weapons to terrorist groups. Nicaragua would continue to foster peace, stability and good governance, as well as fight poverty.

THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said that Southeast Asia continued to enjoy peace and stability. That provided an environment conducive not only to socioeconomic development, but also regional cooperation, as evidenced by the advancement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community. As Chair of ASEAN in 2016, he hoped the international community would continue to support the Association as it had contributed significantly to promoting peace, stability and cooperation in both the region and the world at large.

At the same time, his newly-elected Government was focused on graduating from its least developed country status. As a least developed and landlocked country, his State faced many challenges in infrastructure and human resources, and as such required assistance from the international community. That support, along with strong determination, would enable it country to achieve its goals.

He also said that his Government was focused on the issue of climate change, which affected the livelihood of people around the world. That was a major challenge that no country alone could address. For its part, his country had signed the Paris Agreement and integrated climate change and natural disaster risk reduction into its national socioeconomic development plan.

ANDREW HOLNESS, Prime Minister of Jamaica, said his country’s path toward sustainable development had been hindered by years of low growth, crippling national debt and high unemployment, exacerbated by its vulnerability to natural hazards. Highly indebted middle-income countries such as Jamaica were poised for economic transition with relatively high levels of health and education, but that potential was threatened by its having to choose between debt repayment and spending on growth. Developing countries would ordinarily be able to tap into development assistance, to be used for growth, thereby inducing counter-cyclical investment in infrastructure, which could in turn strengthen their debt repayment capacity, he noted. However, arbitrary classification on the basis of gross domestic product per capita precluded countries like Jamaica from accessing such resources. The middle-income classification indicated average incomes but said nothing about the stock of wealth a country possessed or its vulnerabilities.

Countries like Jamaica had made reforms in order to improve fiscal management and achieve debt sustainability, he said, but new investment was needed of a scale and velocity difficult to undertake without the engagement of international development institutions. That created the prospect of a trap for such countries, which were on the cusp of transitioning but stalled by the risk of reversal, which threatened hard-won developmental gains. He called for an initiative for highly indebted middle-income countries, underpinned by the principle that their structural vulnerabilities could not be diversified. Their responsible servicing of debt should be facilitated by assistance, he said, adding that the potential impact of such an initiative would put more countries in a position to make greater contributions to the international system in the near future.

He went on to emphasize the importance of effectively addressing the emerging crisis resulting from the withdrawal of correspondent banking services to certain financial institutions in the Caribbean, a trend that hindered Jamaica’s participation in the global financial system. Trade represented approximately 70 per cent of the Jamaican economy and “de-risking” measures threatened its integration and economic viability. Regarding climate change, he said that his country was the host country to the International Seabed Authority, and therefore attached great importance to matters pertaining to the Law of the Sea. Jamaica supported the development of a legally binding international instrument on the conservation of and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, and was actively participating in the relevant negotiations.

MANASSEH SOGAVARE, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, expressed gratitude that a Pacific Islander had been elected President of the General Assembly for the first time. He also expressed hope that the United Nations would upgrade its presence in his country to a full country office under the new Secretary-General. Recalling that 2015 had been a year of agreements, he said 2016 was the time for implementing the agreed goals. He said his Government had started integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its 2016–2035 National Development Strategy.

Regarding refugees and migrants, he noted that small island developing States required more assistance to manage large displaced populations. The challenge of climate change had not been adequately addressed in the context of displacement and migration, he said, also noting with concern that not enough attention had been paid to achieving the goal of keeping the temperature increase to 1.5°C. He called on major emitters and industrial countries to treat the threat of climate change with a renewed sense of urgency since the existence of island States was at stake. Delaying action further would come at a steep cost, he warned.

He called for further action to protect biodiversity, including a new international agreement to address it, and for the creation of a world authority on oceans. The Solomon Islands welcomed the decision to convene the United Nations Conference on Oceans and Seas in 2017. In addition, he expressed grave concern about human rights violations against Melanesians in West Papua and called for Taiwan’s full participation in the work of the United Nations. He also noted the need to reform the Security Council and to ensure adequate regional representation.

PAKALITHA B. MOSISILI, Prime Minister of Lesotho, said that the intractable conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, tension on the Korean Peninsula and other parts of Asia, were the biggest refugee problems since the Second World War and were some of the challenges that the United Nations and the world were facing today. At the same time, terrorism continued to rear its ugly head, with ISIS and other groups causing needless loss of lives. Amid such challenges, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement were landmark achievements which had cemented the role of the Organization as the only forum for collective diplomacy.

The unique challenges faced by least developed, landlocked and small island developing States, as well as those emerging from conflicts, must be paramount in the consideration of all strategies for the 2030 Agenda’s successful implementation, he continued, stressing that the inclusion of all stakeholders would bring about fundamental changes in the livelihood and well-being of societies. In Lesotho, women constituted a significant majority of the population, and were the backbone of rural communities. In that regard, the Government had promulgated laws, allowing them to access to land, credit and resources for their unfettered engagement in economic activity. Furthermore, in line with the Agenda, Lesotho had undertaken various initiatives to capacitate youth-owned small, macro and medium enterprises to acquire skills for job creation. “With our limited domestic resources, we are looking for innovative ways of pursuing our development priorities and aligning them to global, continental and regional agendas,” he stressed.

He went on to emphasize that a private sector-led growth strategy was vital for competitiveness and expansion of trade and investment opportunities. Sustainable Development Goal 9 recognized the importance of infrastructure, industrialization and technology to the progress and development of countries like Lesotho. Furthermore, the threat posed by underdevelopment, climate change and HIV/AIDS had picked the conscience of mankind for many years. Lesotho had adopted an innovative, indigenous leadership programme which sought to ensure that the health delivery system was affordable, accessible and effective. On the role of disarmament in the maintenance of international peace and security, he called upon all nuclear weapon States to make deep cuts in their current stockpiles, with the ultimate aim of finally eliminating them. On Security Council reform, he said: “the sooner it is concluded the better for humankind and peace in the world,” expressing support for the African Union’s position.

ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Prime Minister of Andorra, said his country had dedicated the 2016 Summer University to the Sustainable Development Goals, and for one week, Andorra la Vella had hosted experts and representatives to debate key issues. Quality education, Goal 4, was particularly important, both as a goal in itself and as the means to achieve the other Goals. Andorra prioritized education in its external policies, notably during its presidency of the Council of Europe, from 2012 to 2013, when it had joined the Global Education First Initiative, and in the contexts of the Ibero-American Community and the International Organization of La Francophonie. He said that, in keeping with Goal 17, his Government was aware of the need to seek alliances with other countries and to create partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Education was also important in ensuring young people understood that their futures did not end at the borders of their countries. “If we educate our young people as citizens of a global world, we will be laying the foundations for a much more open, cooperative and fair world,” he said, noting that Andorra’s “Education by Skills” model sought to overcome the idea of education as an accumulation of knowledge, and instead promote abilities that could be applied to knowledge. With the Council of Europe, Andorra would introduce training in democratic values and systems in order to measure young peoples’ skills in that area, he said.

“The great dialectic of our times is between being open and being closed,” he said, emphasizing that the open road to commitment, negotiation and multilateralism was one that States had followed for decades. The closed path of fear was a recipe for populism. Andorra’s belief in multilateralism was reflected in its economy, which was open to foreign investment, its provision of economic rights to all international residents, its tax system’s adherence to international standards and its progressive outlook in matters of exchanging fiscal information, which would culminate in 2017 with the automatic exchange of information. With that in mind, the refugee and migrant challenge must be met through both international and local regulation, the right to asylum, the fair distribution of impacts and the guarantee of respect for the rights and dignity of displaced people.

CHARLOT SALWAI TABIMASMAS, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, said that climate change was real and its consequences were being felt worldwide. Vanuatu had deposited its instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement with the Secretary-General two days ago, he said, calling on other States to follow suit as soon as possible. Like any organization, the United Nations needed reform. Vanuatu favoured greater Security Council transparency, accountability, relevancy and inclusiveness. It also supported a revitalization of the work of the General Assembly. Such reforms required leadership on the part of large States, he said, urging the Council and Assembly to appoint a new Secretary-General of irreproachable personal integrity who would be a beacon of hope for the voiceless.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations system must work actively with regional groups such as the Pacific Islands Forum, he said. Vanuatu condemned all forms of nuclear proliferation and remained committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and reaffirmed its position in favour of a nuclear-free Pacific. He noted how Vanuatu was integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its national development policy, with protection of the oceans being given top priority. Mobilizing domestic resources to finance sustainable development was a priority for the Government, complementing funding from development partners. Such initiatives would help Vanuatu exit the list of least-developed countries in 2020.

Noting his country’s vulnerability to climate change and rising sea levels, he said international assistance was appreciated, but that coordination of post-disaster financial aid through non-governmental organizations was sometimes inefficient and failed to respect national reconstruction priorities. Vanuatu was proud to contribute to United Nations missions in Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire and it was ready to send more troops if called upon. On decolonization, he welcomed United Nations assistance with electoral lists in New Caledonia, whose people should freely choose their future status of self-determination. He went on to urge the United Nations to take concrete measures to address human rights concerns in West Papua.

RALPH E. GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, observed that, in 2016, the pressure for change had come not only from the “marginalized outposts of globalization’s casualties” but also internally from within rich and powerful nations. Marginalized nations and peoples had “thirsted too long at the dry spigot of promised trickle-down prosperity”, and the long-foretold “rising tide that lifts all boats” had come in the form of rising seas which threatened to inundate small island developing States. His country had aggressively adopted the 2030 Agenda, with a focus on job creation, quality education and renewable energy, among others, central to its national medium-term development plans. In 2016, it had launched a “Zero Hunger Trust Fund” inspired by Goals 1 and 2, and employing multifaceted tools to ensure that no citizen would go to bed hungry by 2020. He expressed hope that the programme would be supported by partners and become a best-practice template to be adopted in other small island contexts.

Turning to Goal 7, which spoke to the development of renewable energy with particular emphasis on small island States, he said his country had invested heavily in developing geothermal resources. By 2019, it was anticipated that 50 per cent of its national energy would be supplied geothermally and 80 per cent generated by a mix of renewable resources, including hydro and solar. As big emitters continued to dither, more frequent and intense hurricanes washed away large swaths of his country’s GDP in a matter of hours. While applauding the international community for reaching the Paris Agreement, its promises to mitigate climate change and provide climate finance were inadequate and unenforceable.

On the United Nations role in the spread of cholera in Haiti, he said that catastrophe had now killed over 10,000 Haitians and infected almost 800,000 others. The Organization had belated acknowledged its culpability while claiming immunity to deny victims their rights. In the Dominican Republic, thousands of citizens of Haitian descent were affected by an unresolved human rights crisis and the United Nations indifference towards them was unacceptable.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, President of Tuvalu, expressed hope that the United Nations would be able to save peoples and countries affected by man-made conflicts and climate change. He was encouraged by the actions of the international community this week in that regard, which must be followed up. The Paris Agreement must enter into force, he said, calling on Member States to operationalize it as soon as possible.

Urgent action was needed to address the impact of climate change on small island developing States, he said. He urged the international community to take collective efforts to keep the global temperature increase to below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. The international response must also include adequate strategies to deal with persons displaced because of climate change, and their human rights must be protected.

With regard to peace and security, he deplored the actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and that country’s destabilizing effects on the region and called for their immediate end. Furthermore, he expressed his concern about the situation of Taiwan and asked the international community to work towards the integration of Taiwan, also with a view to achieving full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

He expressed his gratitude for the implementation of the Samoa Pathway and its contribution to sustainable development. To implement the 2030 Agenda, Tuvalu recently launched a national strategy entitled “Te Kakeega III”. Its theme was “Protect and Save Tuvalu”. The strategy focused on resilience, education and capacity-building. Tuvalu also committed to derive all of its electricity from renewable energy. He also acknowledged the support of development partners.

PATRICE EMERY TROVOADA, Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe, said democracies in rich countries seemed to be providing inadequate responses to real problems like the refugee crisis. It was commendable to hold a special United Nations meeting on refugees, but the international community must do more to bring definitive settlements to ongoing conflicts and terrorist attacks. The Organization should be able to establish more binding mechanisms to address such insecurity, especially when it came to long-lasting conflicts between Israel and Palestine and in Libya as well as Syria.

He expressed pleasure, however, at a more peaceful Central African Republic and was encouraged by support for free and peaceful elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and commitments to stabilize South Sudan, Burundi and Somalia. Genuine progress in resolving conflicts always occurred when priority was given to living together and opening people’s minds to differences, which was needed to come up with intelligent solutions leading to sustainable peace. It was also necessary to show a spirit of inclusion in efforts to reach sustainable peace and development. To that end, reform of the United Nations was needed to make it more credible, especially when it came to seats on the Security Council.

His country had made significant development progress, especially in the areas of access to drinking water, Internet connectivity and eradication of malaria, he said. It now needed to build up its infrastructure to attract investment and generate revenue for the Government. He invited developed nations to provide financing through various mechanisms discussed at the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa. Africa lagged behind in almost all human development indices and had paid a heavy toll compared to other countries for centuries.

DELCY ELOÍNA RODRÍGUEZ GÓMEZ, Political Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, said the adoption of the 2030 Agenda was people-based, universal and transformative. However, the main obstacle to achieving those purposes was capitalism, which created deep inequalities and threatened the planet and its species. It was a model based on violence, she said, noting that of the $1.7 billion spent on wars in 2015, a third was spent by the United States. That country was the largest exporter of violence throughout the world, and an intrinsic link between violence and capitalist expansionism could be demonstrated throughout history.

Terrorism was also reconfiguring itself, she noted. The centres of hegemony were seeking to create artificial sub-categories of terrorism, which was seen as good if it served to overthrow Governments out of line with their interests, but bad if not. The military invasion of Iraq had been based on a lie. Libya had also seen a military intervention by NATO, and once again, the Powers’ imperial obstinacy had hampered that country’s right to peace. The resultant migratory flows of Libyan citizens had impacted its levels of poverty. Her country welcomed the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, which had resisted State terrorism from the north. She called for an end to the economic blockade of that country and the provision of reparations.

She said that President Hugo Chávez had 16 years ago cautioned that the United Nations could not proceed with the 1945 map, and must instead reform the Security Council to include developing countries from Latin America, Africa and Asia. Recently, Venezuela had hosted the seventeenth summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. States in the group shared the same concerns and continued to be committed to peace and solidarity. Their desire for peace could only become reality through the creation of a global government, and they were committed to that aim in the south. During the meeting, a United States aircraft had violated Venezuelan airspace. Through the use of media campaigns and financial boycotts, that country had encouraged extremist groups to overthrow the elected Government of Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela had alerted the international community that its territorial integrity was being attacked with a view to taking control of its strategic natural resources. Those aggressions had made up an unconventional war designed to penalize her country’s socialist economic model.

ABDULAZIZ KAMILOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, said protecting ecology and preserving the environment had in 2015 taken on an even greater significance in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in tackling changes of nature. The Aral Sea tragedy was a vivid example. With its ecologic-climatic, socio-economic and humanitarian consequences, the tragedy was a direct threat to the sustainable development of the region, health, gene pool and future of the people residing in the area. The consequences of that tragedy included an unfavourable ecological state, drying up of the Aral Sea and ongoing humanitarian catastrophe around it, lack and declining quality of potable water and growth of dangerous diseases.

Turning to regional security, he said Afghanistan remained a key problem for international and regional stability. Internal dynamics of the Afghan conflict were flaring up rather than fading and also becoming more complicated. Settling the conflict was possible only with an intra-Afghan national accord and through peaceful political negotiations among major parties under the auspices of the United Nations. Peace in Afghanistan would bring a colossal and tangible benefit to all countries of the Eurasian continent. It would stimulate the construction of motorways and railroad, development of regional and trans-regional commerce and laying of pipelines in all directions.

GUILLAUME LONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, said the last decade of the citizen revolution in his country had shown that to achieve development it was necessary to do the opposite of the prescription of the neoliberal hegemony. Ecuador had been able to recover the faith and hope of a country that had been destroyed, and that could be reflected in tangible results for its people, notably in the reduction of extreme poverty and inequality. The Powers of hegemony had appropriated widely used words and given them meaning to impose a political and moral agenda on the planet. The word “development” was not just a technical issue, but a political one, especially when it came to the redistribution of wealth. “Human rights” included economic and social rights, not just political ones, and were violated not just by States but by multinational corporations as well.

Ecuador, he said, called for an intergovernmental body in the United Nations for tax justice to prevent tax havens, and for the adoption of a legally binding international instrument that would be binding on transnational corporations which violated human rights. At the Paris conference on climate change, Ecuador also called for the establishment of an international environmental justice court to punish crimes against nature and to establish obligations in terms of ecological debt and the consumption of environmental goods. “We claim the supremacy of human beings over capital,” he said. The United Nations also needed to be democratized, he said. It was necessary to recalibrate the weight of the General Assembly vis-à-vis the Security Council. The composition and working methods of the Council needed to be changed, and the use of the veto, the exclusive province of the conquering nations of the Second World War, did not ensure the supreme objective of international peace and security.

ELMAR MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said his country had adapted its national development strategy to take into account the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the global economic crisis and sharp fall in oil prices, its economy had grown, enabling it to actively support international development, he said, noting his country’s membership in the Economic and Social Council. However, there could be no sustainable development without peace, he said, noting that since the last general debate, there had been no substantive progress in settling the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Armenia still occupied Azerbaijani territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts, in flagrant violation of international law and Security Council resolutions.

Armenia’s policies and practices in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan undermined prospects for a political settlement and threatened regional peace and stability, he said. It was refusing to withdraw its troops and it was preventing hundreds of thousands of forcibly displaced Azerbaijanis from returning to their homes. This month, it began intensive military activity in the occupied Aghdam district. Azerbaijan expected Armenia to halt is military build-up and to engage in negotiations in good faith in order to find a long-overdue political solution. The conflict could only be resolved on the basis of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders.

RAYMOND TSHIBANDA N’TUNGAMULONGO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that his country had decided to integrate the 2030 Goals into its national development plans to ensure that its policies were coherent. It had put together a five-year plan for the period 2017-2021, during which priority would be given to improving human capital, requiring close cooperation between various development partners to guarantee strong economic growth and also, more importantly, to be inclusive. Specific attention would be given to the needs of young people and women, in terms of their education, training and job prospects.

Turning to the political situation in his country, he said it recently had undergone a process of administrative decentralization in order to have local management. Each of the 26 new provinces had its own local authorities, and elections had taken place in March and April. Despite delays, initial legislative and presidential elections planned for early 2017 would be conducted by an independent commission and would take place as soon as technical conditions allowed. The right to elect and to be elected was a fundamental right for Congolese and the diaspora. A major challenge was to ensure the inclusivity and reliability of registers, and he welcomed the important role of registering voters. He added that any recourse to violence should be condemned as well as any insurrection or other non-constitutional access to power.

Right of Reply

Several delegates spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The representative of the United Kingdom, referring to the statement of the Prime Minister of Mauritius, said her Government was in no doubt about its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago. The United Kingdom did not consider the International Court of Justice to be the appropriate way to resolve the issue, she said, adding that the United Kingdom would continue to engage bilaterally with Mauritius.

The representative of Ukraine, referring to remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the situation in Ukraine had been caused by Russian aggression against his country. Russia had been urged time and again to halt its aggression. Noting that the Minister had quoted from “Animal Farm”, he quoted from “1984” the phrase “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength”. That was the philosophy that Russia wanted to impose.

The representative of Brazil, in response to the statement by Venezuela, reiterated what his country’s President had said earlier in the week, that in the Latin American region, Governments of different political colours coexisted; that was natural and to be welcomed. But it was also essential to have mutual respect, and recognize that all were capable of the same basic goals of human rights, social progress, security and freedom.

The representative of Armenia responded to the statement by Azerbaijan, saying that Nagorno-Karabakh was never part of Azerbaijan and had been transferred by a Bolshevik decision. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was independent. It had never been and never would be part of Azerbaijan. The sooner it stopped killing civilians, the sooner the issue would be resolved. The war it had unleashed on those people was lost a long time ago. The barbarism committed in the process had included intentional and indiscriminate targeting of women, children and the elderly, which was incompatible with the norms of the civilized world. It could not be tolerated for the President of a country to encourage those who had committed such barbaric acts, and the glorification of persons directly involved in atrocities constituted as crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The representative of Azerbaijan, responding, said he wanted to counter the baseless allegations of his Armenian counterpart. Armenia was occupying almost one-fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory and it had carried out large-scale ethnic cleansing. With the use of force, Armenia had flagrantly violated the Charter of the United Nations as well as basic human rights, international law and international humanitarian law. Armenia had sought to consolidate the status quo and mislead the international community, he said, adding that Azerbaijan stood for an effective ceasefire, which Armenia had violated.

The representative of Armenia said nothing was established until it was proven. He added that if any nation had the right to self-determination, it was the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The representative of Azerbaijan said negotiations had been based on the principles of the Helsinki Final Act. Regarding respect for the territorial integrity of States, he said he wondered how the Armenian side viewed its obligations under international law.

For information media. Not an official record.

World: Defeating Terrorism, Human Trafficking Crucial for Addressing Huge Migratory Flows into Europe, Speakers from Continent Stress as General Debate Continues

CAR - ReliefWeb News - 3 hours 34 min ago
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Central African Republic, Haiti, Mali, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

GA/11829
Seventy-first Session, 17th, 18th & 19th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Foreign Minister of Hungary Says National Security Comes First; Other Speakers Urge Engagement over Isolationism

With 65 million people displaced and on the move, several European countries discussed myriad ways to deal with the unprecedented phenomenon by defeating terrorism, bringing human traffickers to justice, while others called on Member States to make the better choice between engagement and isolation as the General Assembly continued its annual debate today.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said it was important to address the root cause of what was uprooting so many from their homes. As long as terrorism existed so would the migration pressure on Europe, and while the right to a safe life was a fundamental human right, choosing a State where one wanted to live was not. Migratory policies that considered all migrants refugees and that had taken in thousands against the wishes of their own people had failed. Uncontrolled and unregulated migratory patterns were a threat to peace and security.

“Hungary puts security of the Hungarian people in first place and we will not allow violations of our borders,” he said. Europe would not be able to take on such an immense challenge. “We have to help people to stay as close to their homes as possible so that they can return to their homes as soon as possible,” he continued, stressing the need to help Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan to deal with millions of people they had taken in. It was perhaps vital to link development programmes to conditionality so that Governments were responsible in not creating the circumstances for their people to leave their homes.

Several delegations echoed one another stressing the need to go after traffickers who had profited handsomely from smuggling people, with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Pavel Filip, urging the international community to “resolutely fight smuggling and the illicit trafficking in persons”. He also made the link between people moving to seek a better life elsewhere and development. As long as the world remained stricken by poverty, social inequality, and human rights abuses, there would be no resolution to the forces driving people to uproot their lives, he said.

Bujar Nishani, President of Albania, said his country had joined the international community’s efforts to deal with refugee flows as migrants and refugees had made their way to Europe. “Today, the realities on the ground are leading and forcing us to change our approach at the regional level and beyond,” he added, emphasizing the need for regional coordination to address the phenomenon.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that the world had become an unsafe place for far too many people. Everyone had a choice between engagement and isolation. Withdrawal and resignation or shared responsibility for a better future was the choice. Germany had given shelter to more than 1 million people and had begun training them to have the skills that one day would enable them to rebuild their cities. Returning home must not remain a mere dream, he said, adding that it was important to improve the international architecture for dealing with migrants and refugees.

Echoing that sentiment, Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, warned the Assembly that “the basic tenets of our coexistence” were being challenged. She emphasized the need to respond to rising xenophobia, aggressive nationalism, autocracy and fear-mongering and reminded the international community of its responsibility to protect the millions of refugees fleeing harm.

Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, echoed several speakers, saying indeed it was important to distinguish between refugees and irregular migrants. While many refugees had fled violence, much of the migration to Europe was economic in nature. Populism only led to an uncontrolled situation, he said, condemning suggestions that each refugee could be a terrorist. Refugees were victims, not perpetrators of terrorism. The principles of solidarity and burden-sharing were of vital importance.

“We can’t despise those who, for themselves or their loved ones, have embarked on a long and dangerous journey,” he said. “We can’t fail to welcome them, but it is difficult to welcome them all.”

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government and senior officials of Guinea, Niger, Central African Republic, Comoros, Yemen, Haiti, Samoa, Belgium, Mauritius, Russian Federation, Armenia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Morocco, Mali, Botswana, Indonesia, South Sudan, Nicaragua, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Jamaica, Solomon Islands, Lesotho, Andorra, Vanuatu, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Sao Tome and Principe, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Ecuador, Azerbaijan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Brazil, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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

Statements

BUJAR NISHANI, President of Albania, expressed concern about global challenges, saying his country would address them in close cooperation with other actors. Its actions would include increasing humanitarian aid, ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change and implementing all commitments in the security realm. Describing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an international platform for strengthening the connection between development and security, he said it would guide national, regional and international actions over the next 15 years. Albania had been a pilot country in designing the global indicators for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16, and in that regard, the Agenda had become an integral part of its national programmes, sectoral strategies and national development strategy, he said.

Since the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement provided opportunities for the present and future generations, he continued, their implementation was of key importance in tackling climate change, achieving sustainable development and ensuring peace. On climate change, he said that he had deposited Albania’s instruments of ratification two days ago. Regarding migration, Albania had joined the international community’s efforts to deal with refugee flows in a consistent and coordinated manner. “Today, the realities on the ground are leading and forcing us to change our approach at the regional level and beyond,” he said. Albania had organized a high-level conference on migration.

Another fundamental challenge to world peace was international terrorism and violent extremism, he said. Terrorist attacks, especially those with religious links, had intensified, hitting major cities in France, Belgium, Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon. Acknowledging the indispensable role played by the United Nations in the global fight against terrorism, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s Action Plan on the Prevention of Violent Extremism. Albania had been among the first countries to join the global coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and had contributed five packages of military equipment for the Peshmerga forces fighting in Iraq, he said, adding that Albania was listed and ranked among the proactive countries committed to full implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

With the policies pursued over the past two decades, Albania had increasingly contributed to security efforts in the international arena, he said. It continued its proactive membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and supported implementation of the European Union’s common security and defence. At the same time, Albania continued to support United Nations peacekeeping operations, while strengthening partnership with other countries. Turning to regional efforts, he emphasized that Albania’s foreign policy was maximally oriented towards strengthening good-neighbourly relations, citing its support for Kosovo’s participation in all multilateral regional and international activities.

ALPHA CONDÉ, President of Guinea, said that Africa — the continent with the world’s youngest population and some of its most vulnerable countries — required particular attention in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. To reduce that vulnerability and build up the continent’s resistance, Africa needed deep structural transformations and a vibrant private sector. Public policies must integrate the needs of the most vulnerable, youth and women in particular, in order to enable them to realize their full potential, he said. Partnerships and financing were equally needed to accelerate growth.

Sustainable access to energy was another challenge to Africa, he continued, pointing out that 700 million Africans lacked access to electricity. A robust plan for the continent’s electrification was needed within the framework of the Paris Agreement. With that in mind, he called upon the international community, global financial institutions in particular, to work with the continent to help build a strong Africa.

At the same time, he said, Guinea was proud of its contribution to The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), notably its deployment of a battalion of 850 men to Kidal. Guinea had paid a heavy price with the loss of nine soldiers in less than one year, he said, emphasizing that much must be done to ensure Mali’s sovereignty and improve its capability to prevent future attacks, he said.

Turning to the Ebola outbreak, he cautioned that, while the victory in ending the outbreak was something for all to celebrate, the road ahead was long. The disease had undermined all economic activities in Guinea and made women and young people especially vulnerable. He expressed gratitude to all partners that had allowed Guinea, as well as Liberia and Sierra Leone, to re-engage quickly on the road to sustainable development.

MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU, President of Niger, recalled that the Millennium Development Goals had demonstrated the possibility of achieving remarkable progress. The objective of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty had been reached by 2010. Equally, the number of children not attending school, as well as child and maternal mortality had been reduced by half. However, those positive developments obscured enormous disparities as they primarily reflected improving conditions in Asia and Latin America. African countries, especially those in the sub-Saharan region, had attained little progress, he said.

The capability of States to implement sustainable development programmes would depend on their ability to change national economic and political conditions, he said. Noting that the current world situation did not inspire optimism, he said there was need for a new kind of economic governance that would strike a balance between speculative financial capital and industrial capital. Developing countries, especially the least developed ones, would receive more capital which they could invest in sustained economic growth, which in turn would contribute to global economic growth, he said.

Turning to governance of the United Nations, embodied by the Security Council, he emphasized the need to reform it in order to “rectify the anachronism which characterizes the Organization”. There was need for a better and more representative body, where States, especially those adjacent to countries ravaged by conflict and violence, could express their views. He called for a review of the mandates of certain peacekeeping missions, with a view to making them more “offensive”, saying that citizens in regions affected by conflict thought it inconceivable that peacekeeping missions were unable to protect them.

FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, President of the Central African Republic, said his country had returned fully to stability and constitutional legality. In that regard, he expressed gratitude to the United Nations for the deployment of international forces to restore security. “We invested trust in people,” he said, expressing his intention to address vast challenges facing the Central African Republic and to meet the citizens’ expectations.

“My people are determined to put an end to the cycle of violence,” he continued, emphasizing that, since he had taken office, various reforms had been introduced in areas ranging from fighting corruption to economic development. However, the situation remained fragile, he said, while pledging that he would rebuild the country and improve living conditions.

In the area of security, the Government had introduced a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme as part of the peace process, he said. In order to restore State authority, the Government had put security forces in place to ensure control of the national borders. Other efforts included eliminating crime and money-laundering, as well as preventing terrorism and human trafficking. Citing the progress made, he declared: “The arms embargo is no longer justified.”

He went on to say that the Government had ensured peace and national reconciliation. “I have every confidence that my country has resumed its place as a free and democratic State,” he added. However, further progress would require support from the international community. The time had come to reduce inequality between the poor and rich, he emphasized. The Government had also launched a framework for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. “We want to avoid the mistakes of the past.”

AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros, said that his country had turned a page in achieving political stability, having undergone a peaceful change of power through free, transparent and democratic elections observed by the international community. In that context, he thanked the United Nations for having stood by his nation and expressed hope that future international assistance would help consolidate that progress.

He said that the ambitious sustainable development programme Comoros had adopted to protect the planet and improve the lives of its people had also allowed him to be optimistic about the future. Nevertheless, sustainable development was only possible when people could live at home and were not forcibly displaced. To that end, the plight of refugees putting their lives at risk called for urgent action, he said.

Comoros had itself been dealing with the issue of internally displaced persons moving within and among its four islands, including Mayotte, which remained under French administration, he said. The displacement had left hundreds dead in the inlets between Mayotte and the other islands. Despite many resolutions, the indifference of the international community had left the issue unresolved. Nevertheless, it was to be hoped that a viable solution would be found between Comoros and France, and that dialogue would lead to a consensus-based outcome allowing all to live in peace and harmony.

Turning to the issue of terrorism, he said it had no frontiers and did not belong to any religion or civilization. Comoros was available to work with the international community in fighting the scourge. Conveying the trust of his people in the United Nations, he said the Organization acted with independence and sovereignty and had for decades helped resolve conflicts around the world. At the same time, Comoros believed that poorer nations, especially those in Africa, should have a seat on the Security Council.

ABDRABUH MANSOUR HADI MANSOUR, President of Yemen, said his country continued to face challenges, yet the leadership was working in full force. “Militias have no chance in succeeding,” he said, adding that the Government would soon put an end to the ongoing war and tragedies. Recalling the steps taken in the Gulf Cooperation Council on the path to political transfer, he said that comprehensive dialogue had been translated into a new civilian Constitution.

Despite all efforts, the Houthi militias continued to wage war and kill innocent people, expel civilians, blow up homes and control national assets, he continued. “We are not advocates of revenge,” he said, adding that the Government had chosen the path of peace in order to end the suffering of the Yemeni people. In that regard, national dialogue was necessary to build a federal State based on equal rights. Stressing the need to rid Yemen of militias and sectarian gangs, he said they must withdraw and endorse the new Constitution.

He went on to underline that extremism and sectarianism sponsored by Iran would create further terrorism and brutality. The Houthi coup d’état had created similar outcomes, including a security vacuum, economic collapse and extreme poverty. The militias had recruited children, besieged cities and waged a meaningless war against the Yemeni people, whose suffering had reached unbelievable levels with regard to health, education and other services.

After the coup d’état, the leadership had continued its efforts to reduce the consequences of the chaotic war that had been launched against the people of Yemen, he said, adding that, as his patience had run out, he had ordered the relocation of the Central Bank to the southern city of Aden. That would escalate pressure on the Houthi rebels controlling the capital, he said, while acknowledging that it would also cause greater hardship for millions of Yemenis living under their rule. “We might fail to pay the salaries of people working in public service,” he said, calling for support from the free world and its financial institutions. Acknowledging the catastrophic situation in Yemen, he renewed his call on all donor countries to fulfil their pledges and end the suffering of the Yemeni people. The country would emerge from the ruins with international support, and the Government would not stop until the militias were defeated, he vowed.

JOCELERME PRIVERT, President of Haiti, said that the multitude of threats facing the international community included terrorism, violence and environmental devastation. In a time of such volatility, the United Nations must ensure stability and peace, and contain international terrorism. Although important progress had been made in reaching a peace agreement in Colombia and in easing relations between the United States and Cuba, those recent developments had been overshadowed by many other threats to peace and stability, he said.

Under the existing conditions, many Haitians chose to leave their country to seek improved livelihoods elsewhere, he said. By assuming deliberate ownership of the process of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, Haiti had committed itself to improving living conditions for all its citizens. The country needed peace, as well as measures to strengthen the rule of law, the economy and the infrastructure, so that it could provide Haitians with better living conditions.

Haiti’s upcoming election would strengthen stability, as well as help the country to move out of underdevelopment, he said. A credible and honest electoral process would restore constitutional order, as well as citizens’ trust in their elected leaders and political institutions. The election would “truly break with the cycle of instability and uncertainty”, he said, adding that he would not spare any efforts to ensure the election was free and fair.

He said that, while the work of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had been slow in the eyes of some observers, during its 12 year tenure, the Mission had helped to strengthen security, promote human rights and reinforce the capacities of national institutions. Furthermore, Haiti noted with high interest the Security-General’s remarks in a recent report that highlighted multiple cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by “Blue Helmet” officers, as well as the introduction of cholera by United Nations personnel in Haiti. “The United Nations’ recognition of its responsibility in the latter case opened the way for the right discussions to take place in order to eliminate cholera in Haiti for good,” he said. He appealed to the Secretary-General to implement a substantial programme that would reinforce the fight against cholera and help victims of the disease.

XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said that, during his country’s 2015 European Union presidency, he had learned the vital importance of solidarity and burden-sharing, a credible migration policy, border control and respect for the Dublin Rules. Indeed, it was important to distinguish between refugees and irregular migrants. While many refugees had fled violence, much of the migration to Europe was economic in nature. “We can’t despise those who, for themselves or their loved ones, have embarked on a long and dangerous journey,” he said. “We can’t fail to welcome them, but it is difficult to welcome them all.” Populism only led to an uncontrolled situation, he said, condemning suggestions that each refugee could be a terrorist. Refugees were victims, not perpetrators of terrorism.

Conflict, arms proliferation, violent extremism, terrorism and climate change threats still persisted, he said. While Africa was particularly vulnerable to internal and external challenges, countries could work together to ensure peace in South Sudan, Libya and the Central African Republic, he said, pressing the parties to those conflicts parties to lay the basis for sustainable development. Africa had major potential, in its young people, first and foremost, which made education and job creation important priorities in national development programmes. The United Nations often acted too late to prevent crises, but the Assembly’s adoption of regulations to bring about peace marked an important change, placing conflict prevention at the heart of United Nations action.

Turning to Syria, he said the country’s Government had perpetrated atrocities, while Da’esh and other groups flourished from the war economy and external support. A generation of children had been traumatized, deprived of protection and education, he said, calling for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to be brought to justice, including before the International Criminal Court. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said that a two-State solution was the only way to resolve it, adding that he supported the convening of an international conference to help the parties reach a settlement. On Iran, he urged vigilance in implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Regarding the Korean Peninsula, he urged a resumption of negotiations to bring about verifiable denuclearization.

PAVEL FILIP, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, said it was important to bear in mind the complex nature of motives that drove people on the move. “We must resolutely fight smuggling and the illicit trafficking in persons,” he added, emphasizing the need to focus on strategies for preventing loss of human life, as well as the resilience and self-reliance of refugees. As long as the world remained stricken by poverty, underdevelopment, social inequality, and human rights abuses, there would be no resolution of the forces driving people to uproot their lives. To that end, the Republic of Moldova attached great importance to fostering development partnerships aimed at supporting countries in need to achieve their development goals.

Never before had the correlation between migration, sustainable development, climate change and peace and security been more obvious, he said. “We cannot realistically expect to fulfil the Agenda for [Sustainable] Development in the absence of peace,” he added, emphasizing that the United Nations must adjust to new global realities. Security Council reform was critical to making that body more efficient in discharging its primary responsibility: maintaining peace and security. Efficiency could be achieved by improving transparency and accountability, as well as restricting the right of veto to issues of substance. Addressing protracted conflicts in a proactive manner could prevent attempts aimed at changing the political borders.

Despite the many difficulties encountered in the settlement process in the Transnistria conflict, the Republic of Moldova remained committed to a political solution based on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Negotiations would only succeed if all sides displayed political will and refrained from putting forward rigid preconditions. That would require enhanced confidence-building and bringing together both banks of the river Nistru. He also expressed deep concern about the lack of progress concerning the withdrawal of Russian troops and armaments stationed on the Republic of Moldova’s territory, saying that the fragility of the overall situation in the region, including Ukraine, required a constructive re-engagement by the United Nations.

TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, thanked the Secretary-General for having made climate change a priority for the Organization during his tenure, and expressed hope that his successor would continue his legacy. While encouraged by the adoption of the Paris Agreement, he emphasized that delivering on its promises and making good on its commitments was “the seal of true leadership”. The challenge remaining for the Green Climate Fund and other funding institutions was to help small island developing States access their resources.

Partnerships would be crucial in that endeavour, he said, expressing hope that all development partners, as well as United Nations entities would actively engage the SIDS Partnership Framework — a platform for monitoring the full implementation of pledges and commitments through partnerships. He stressed the importance of protecting oceans, which were critical to the economic survival of small island developing States, and indeed, to global prosperity more generally. That vital resource was under threat from overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, loss of habitat and pollution.

Concerning the mass migration of people fleeing war and terrorism, he stressed the need for a collective response that should begin with the Security Council. He called upon the Council to address the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. On the issue of Security Council reform, he said it was time for an enlarged Council — the membership of which would reflect contemporary geopolitical realities. It was also important that more democratic and transparent processes and procedures be put in place to govern the Council, and that it engage more effectively with the General Assembly. Finally, he pledged Samoa’s continuing commitment to provide civilian policemen and women for United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world.

CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister of Belgium, said the global community was faced with a reality in which equality between women and men had still not been achieved. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press were too often thwarted, and homophobia remained legal in certain countries. The rule of law was too often just a façade, and justice nothing but a menace to citizens and companies. Turning to Africa, he said the region was replete with potential, and it was the international community’s responsibility to support its development.

Africa had experienced several successful democratic transitions in the last decades, in which its citizens had participated in electoral and political processes, helping to strengthen sovereignty and democratic institutions, he said. Emphasizing that respect for the rule of law and the constitution was the only path to guaranteeing stability, he said the right to exercise the rule of law had been denied the people of Burundi, who had experienced oppression and discord instead. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the upcoming elections would be indispensable, he said, condemning the violence seen in Kinshasa over the last couple of days.

Turning to Syria, he described it as “a country of blood and war, of unspeakable suffering and large-scale displacement of people uprooted from their homes”. Appealing to all permanent members of the Security Council to exercise their responsibility, he said impunity could not be the response to such human rights violations. Furthermore, Al-Qaida, Da’esh and Boko Haram presented a new form of totalitarianism, as recent acts of terror in Belgium had shown. In that regard, there was a need to reform the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture, he said.

ANEROOD JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said his country was focusing its resources on eradicating extreme poverty by establishing a social register of those living in dismal conditions and those requiring targeted measures and assistance. “There are yet many miles to go and we will pursue our journey,” he said, emphasizing that action on climate and oceans was “of paramount importance for our survival”. Addressing the root causes of climate change would require robust determination and strong political will, but all efforts would be futile in the absence of peace and security.

Calling for a reformed United Nations, including the Security Council, he said it would benefit from enlarged and more inclusive representation. “We believe that the historical injustice done to African representation on the Council should be redressed,” he added. Welcoming the move by the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an observer, he called for a revival of efforts towards a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He went on to note that, while Mauritius had become an independent State in 1968, it remained unable to exercise its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago and Tromelin, both of which were part of its territory. Mauritians living in the Chagos Archipelago had been forcibly evicted from their homes and moved, in total disregard of their human rights, he recalled. Mauritius had consistently protested against the illegal excision of the Chagos Archipelago, he said, adding that for decades, it had called upon the former colonial Power to find a fair and just solution. However, its efforts had been in vain so far. Despite United Nations resolutions, the United Kingdom maintained that its continued presence in the Chagos Archipelago remained lawful, he noted. The General Assembly had a direct interest in the matter, given the historic and central role it had played in the decolonization process throughout the world.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that ideas of supremacy persisted in a number of Western countries to the detriment of equitable cooperation. Saying it was “high time” to prevent a catastrophe in Syria, he noted that his country’s military assistance to the Syrian Government had prevented a collapse of statehood. Russian engagement had led to the establishment of the International Syria Support Group, which sought the start of a political process to ensure that Syrians determined their own future, a point embodied in recent agreements between the Russian Federation and the United States. It was essential to carry out an impartial investigation of events in Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo, which had undermined those accords. Elsewhere, Ukraine’s development had been undermined by an anti-constitution coup and the refusal to implement the 2015 Minsk Agreement. Using the crisis to achieve corrupt geopolitical goals had no prospects of success, he said, emphasizing that only implementation of the accord could enable mutually beneficial cooperation.

He went on to state that it was indecent to reserve the right to use doping, launch “unilateral adventures”, conduct geopolitical experiments, engage in extraterritorial blackmail or set criteria for national greatness. Freedom of expression or peaceful assembly should not be used to condone Nazi ideology, he said, calling for efforts to block neo-Nazism and revanchism. Joint efforts were required to fight terrorism, he said, adding that his Government was drafting a Council resolution aimed at eliminating terrorist and extremist ideology. Expressing concern about the “torpedoing” of compromises around the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he stressed that progress on disarmament must consider factors affecting strategic stability, including the creation of unilateral missile defence systems, the placement of non-nuclear strike weapons and the threat of deploying weapons in outer space. He went on to call upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear missile programmes and return to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. On climate change, he said the creation of mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was a priority.

EDWARD NALBANDIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, condemned the crimes of Da’esh and other terrorist groups, while expressing concern about the devastating impact of the war in Syria. Pointing out that many of those displaced from Syria were Armenian-Syrians who had found refuge there 100 years ago, he said that his country had provided refuge to more than 20,000 refugees from Syria. Calling for wider international cooperation to address the challenges posed by mass displacement, he emphasized the importance of addressing the root causes of large movements of people by preventing crimes against humanity, settling disputes in a peaceful manner and seeking lasting political solutions. Armenia had contributed to such efforts by having initiated resolutions on the prevention of genocide in the Human Rights Council, he said.

Condemning Azerbaijan’s policies of ethnic cleansing and aggression against the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh, he said those policies stood in violation of the Armenian right to self-determination. Earlier this year, Azerbaijan had indiscriminately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure in the region, he recalled, noting that there was evidence of torture — a gross violation of international law. He called for full adherence to the 1994-1995 trilateral ceasefire agreements, the creation of a mechanism for investigating ceasefire violations, and expanded capacity for the office of the Personal Representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office. Finally, he condemned Turkey’s land blockade of Armenia as a gross violation of international law, which hampered the economic cooperation and integration promoted under the 2030 Agenda.

FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said the world had become an unsafe place for far too many people, and everyone had a choice between engagement and isolation. “We could also choose to put our faith in the power of diplomacy or shrug our shoulders” in the face of the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Europe was faced with the choice of fighting to hold the region together or allowing it to fall apart again and be overrun by populists. Withdrawal and resignation or shared responsibility for a better future was the choice, he said. Whether the world would succeed in finding better solutions to its many challenges depended on resolving the crisis in Syria and the migration phenomenon. The United Nations would remain the central forum, he said. In the context of all the crisis meetings, “it gives me hope that we have made the right choice of the direction we want to take and that we have chosen unity and sustainability”. He condemned the latest nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In Libya and Yemen, Germany would continue to support the tireless efforts of United Nations envoys in those countries. As for Syria, he said the hope raised by last week’s ceasefire had been extinguished yet again.

It was time for a long-term humanitarian ceasefire that would allow aid to reach those in need, he said, adding that Moscow also had a responsibility in that regard, he continued. “If we do not succeed, all efforts to bring peace will be lost in a hail of bombs,” he said, noting that the Assad regime was continuing to bomb Aleppo “to bits”. He declared: “There will be no winners in this war”. As the biggest donor of humanitarian aid to Syria, Germany was particularly active in helping to stabilize areas liberated from ISIL, he said, adding that it was working with the United Nations to rebuild schools and neighbourhoods so that people could return. Germany was also promoting education and access to labour markets in neighbouring countries that had generously opened their doors to millions of refugees. Germany had given shelter to more than 1 million people and had begun training them to have the skills that one day would enable them to rebuild their cities. Returning home must not remain a mere dream, he said, adding that it was important to improve the international architecture for dealing with migrants and refugees. Noting that new rifts had emerged in Europe following the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea, he said it was important to step up dialogue between East and West, but the United Nations was necessary to ensure that diverging interests and opinions did not turn into lasting divisions. Germany’s history reminded it to do everything possible to avoid that, he said.

RI YONG HO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, emphasized the importance of peace to his country, which was embarking on its five-year strategy for national economic development. Unfortunately, the country’s future was being threatened by the aggression of the United States, which had recently conducted large-scale joint military exercises involving more than half a million troops and strategic assets, including nuclear bombers and submarines. In the face of such aggression, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had made every possible effort to prevent an armed conflict and a possible subsequent escalation, he said. Its nuclear programme was, therefore, a necessary defensive measure. It was regrettable that the Security Council was covering up “the high-handedness and arbitrariness” of the United States, in violation of the United Nations Charter.

He went on to remind the Assembly that his country had made several requests to the Council for an emergency meeting on the threat to international peace and security posed by the large-scale joint military exercises of the United States on the Korean Peninsula, but had been turned away. Reiterating the defensive nature of his country’s nuclear programme, he explained, however, that as long as there was a nuclear State with a hostile posture towards his country, it would continue to strengthen its nuclear programme. Finally, he extended his Government’s support for and solidarity with the people of Cuba “in their struggle to safeguard their dignity and sovereignty” in the face of the United States-imposed blockade. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also stood in solidarity with Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, which today faced war and violence as a result of interference by the United States. He criticized that country’s practice of politicizing human rights issues as a way to target anti-imperialist and independent countries, such as sovereign African States.

PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said that world order had been changed by three factors: the spread of terrorist organizations, the destabilization of key and vulnerable regions of the world and the movement and displacement of some 65 million people. He called for the elimination of global terrorism and said that until then there would be no stability in the Middle East, Christian communities would continue to be threatened and the migratory pressure on Europe would continue. “We have to destroy the business models” of human traffickers which had caused the death of thousands,” he continued. It was important to change migratory policies to inspire people not to violate borders and move to countries thousands of miles away. “Instead of emotional debates, we need debates based on common sense,” and instead of accusing and bashing each other, world leaders must stand on the stability of international law. The right to a safe life was a fundamental human right but choosing a State where one wants to live was not a fundamental human right. There would be no excuse to violate borders of safe and secure countries.

Hungary was among 23 countries that had sent troops to fight ISIL, he continued. There were 143 Hungarian men and women serving in Iraq, and his country had sent ammunition to the Peshmerga and soon would begin carrying out training of the Iraqi army. His Government had established an office on the persecution of Christians to address threats that group faced and to ensure that criminal acts were punished. Furthermore, the Parliament had established strict regulations against human traffickers. “Hungary put security of Hungarian people to first place and we will not allow mass violations of our borders,” he said. Migratory policies that considered all migrants refugees had failed. Migratory policies that had taken in thousands against the wishes of their own people had failed. Uncontrolled and unregulated migratory patterns were a threat to peace and security. “We have to help people to stay as close to their homes as possible so that they can return to their homes as soon as possible,” he said, stressing the need to help Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan in dealing with millions of people they had taken in. “Europe would not be able to take such a challenge,” he added. It was also important to link development programmes to conditionality so that Governments were responsible in not creating the conditions for their people to leave their homes. Central Europe faced many challenges and a Secretary-General from the region would help it to overcome its historic challenges.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, warned the Assembly that “the basic tenets of our coexistence are being challenged,” and emphasized the need to respond to rising xenophobia, aggressive nationalisms, autocracy and fear-mongering. She reminded the international community of its responsibility to protect the 65 million refugees fleeing from harm, and welcomed the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants as a first step in that direction.

She went on to address several key areas that she believed required determined action by the international community: prevention of armed conflict, gender equality, financing, security, the Middle East peace process and post-conflict development assistance. On peacekeeping, better measures were needed to prevent armed conflict, including early warning and early action systems. Those mechanisms would require sustainable financing of regional and sub-regional organizations’ peace operations. On gender equality, she called for the United Nations to lead the way in enhancing the rights, representation and resources of women and girls around the world. One way the Organization could do that was through increasing women’s participation in peace processes, protecting them against gender-based violence in humanitarian crises and strengthening their political and economic empowerment. For peace to be sustainable, the root causes of conflict needed to be tackled. She regretted that peace accords had not been implemented in the Middle East and Security Council resolutions pertaining to Crimea had been disregarded. Finally, to sustain peace, greater investments were needed in post-conflict development and State-building. She pledged her country’s commitment to “continue to talk with, not only about, countries” in its capacity as a non-permanent member of the Council during the 2017-2018 term.

SALAHEDDINE MEZOUAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Morocco, said his country was eager to adopt a dynamic approach to sustainable development that would adapt its own vision with the goals of the United Nations. Morocco participated in peacekeeping operations in Africa and Asia to which it had contributed thousands of “blue helmets”. There could be no development without peace and security, he added, emphasizing that Morocco was dedicated to establishing partnerships. Sustainable development was at the top of the list. Morocco had made a political commitment to continue towards actualizing the aspirations of people in the developing world. It had launched a national plan — “a basic pillar of the social development,” including in the sectors of economics and environment. It kept the well-being of the human being at its core. The plan also focused on strengthening its partnership with African partners in areas of combating poverty, promoting education and strengthening security. He looked forward to the next climate meeting in Marrakesh and said that the implementation of the Paris Agreement was directly linked to the availability of financing.

There was a strong link “based on love and respect” between Morocco and Africa, he said, outlining various development programmes his country was involved with on the continent. On the matter of the Sahel, the last resolution adopted by the Security Council had reemphasized a political solution based on stability and democracy, he said, pledging his country’s willingness to work with the United Nations in that respect. It was important to uphold human rights and utilize regional and international efforts to combat terrorism. On the national level, Morocco had adopted a strategy focusing on a religious, social and legal approach to fight foreign terrorists. “Christians, Muslims and Jews must all stand against hatred and terrorism,” he said, adding that no progress could be achieved with xenophobia existing in societies. He called on all Libyan political forces to continue dialogue and provide the Libyan people with dignity and democracy. The Middle East could never “enjoy lasting peace” without establishing a Palestinian State, he said, urging the revival of a peace process and an end to changing the demographic composition of Jerusalem.

IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEITA, President of Mali, noted that peace and security were essential for development. Fifteen months after the peace agreement in Mali was signed, hostilities had effectively ceased between the Government and signatory groups, and significant progress had been made. The effective application of Security Council resolution 2295 (2016), renewing the mandate of MINUSMA, would allow for the progressive recovery by the Government of sovereignty throughout Malian territory. Implementation of the peace agreement required mobilization of outside resources so as to support national efforts, and Mali thanked its international partners.

The peace agreement faced serious challenges linked to the activities of terrorist groups in the north and asymmetric attacks on civilians and peacekeeping forces, he continued. It was necessary to increase the process of cantonment and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration so as to isolate armed groups that had not signed the agreement and those affiliated with terrorist networks. The Government was ready to fully undertake its responsibility for the new mandate and work with MINUSMA. He welcomed the high-level meeting on Mali that had taken place that morning between all stakeholders, where his country spoke of the urgency of accelerating implementation of the peace agreement. The people and Government of Mali were grateful for the United Nations support of the peace process. No country in the world was free of terrorism and no cause could justify violence against civilians. Mali encouraged international cooperation between Member States to neutralize the hydra of terrorism and its networks.

The timing of the General Assembly session, one year into 2030 Agenda, allowed Member States to take stock to see how to find the best ways and means to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. Mali was convinced of the need to adopt strategies to strengthen economic growth and respond to the needs of populations. That meant protecting the environment and providing education, health care, social protection, employment for youth and women’s empowerment.

Climate change was a major challenge that affected all humanity, in particular the countries of the Sahel. He welcomed the Paris Agreement and announced that Mali had today deposited its instruments of ratification for the Agreement.

MOKGWEETSI E.K. MASISI, Vice-President of Botswana, noted that his country would on 30 September celebrate its fiftieth anniversary of independence. Once among the poorest States in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $70 per capita in 1966, it now counted amongst middle-income countries. Two days before Botswana became a sovereign nation, a Canadian journalist had observed: “It is destined to be an international charity case forever exporting its ablest men and cattle in exchange for cash and kindness from abroad”. Reflecting back on the country’s challenges and achievements, he expressed pride that it was one of Africa’s most stable democracies, having held free, fair and peaceful multi-party elections every five years without interruption.

He expressed concern about the crisis in Syria, which could have been contained had the Council and the international community intervened promptly. “Assad and his machine” was not the only party committing crimes against humanity, he said, adding that his country was equally concerned about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continuous testing of ballistic missiles. Botswana had terminated its diplomatic relations with that State because of its poor human rights record.

Considering increasing security threats, he called upon the Council to demonstrate seriousness and alacrity in executing its mandate, adding that it could no longer be acceptable to “hide behind the veto while millions of innocent lives are lost”.

Turning to the Olympic Games, he commended Brazil for hosting them successfully despite criticisms from some quarters which had spread fear by linking the Games with the Zika virus, terrorism and other issues. He went on to condemn the International Paralympic Committee for its blanket ban on Russian athletes. Such treatment represented injustice and discrimination, and his country believed there was another agenda beyond the stated reasons for the decision. He closed by wishing the people of the United States successful elections in November and expressed hope that the winning candidate would be someone known to be tolerant and who embraced all.

MUHAMMAD JUSUF KALLA, Vice President of Indonesia, said the international community had laid down a new set of goals and timeframe in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Indonesia was fully committed to implementing it. The Government was mainstreaming the Goals into the country’s policies, finalizing a financial framework, engaging all relevant stakeholders and developing national guidelines as well as a monitoring, evaluating and reporting mechanism.

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda must be supported by strong global partnerships that would make a difference in advancing sustainable development, he said. The global community must provide sufficient means and funding mechanisms for all countries to carry the Agenda forward. Peace was a prerequisite to development and successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that Indonesia’s experiences in the 1950s and 1960s attested to that. But instability and insecurity continued in many parts of the world due to territorial disputes, terrorism and extremism.

He said the Middle East peace process remained difficult to move forward and irregular migration continued. The global community was confronted almost daily by media pictures of the stark reality created by continuing insecurity, all taking place against the backdrop of a slowing global economy, he said. The gap between rich and poor was widening and climate change was accelerating, as were its effects on small island States. Emphasizing that no one country could resolve those challenges on its own, he said they required a global partnership for a global solution.

TABAN DENG GAI, First Vice-President of South Sudan, said conflict had broken out in his country again in July, when its leaders had failed to agree on internal governance and leadership challenges. The situation was now stable and peaceful, the Government was functioning and life was returning to normal. However, the effect of the conflict, coupled with low global oil prices, had put the economy under unprecedented fiscal stress, creating hardship for the general public, he said. Together with development partners and friends, South Sudan was exerting every effort to tackle those economic shocks by stabilizing the security situation, streamlining fiscal policies, improving income from non-oil revenues, engaging in agriculture, mining and tourism and encouraging investors to come to the country.

More often than not, he said, nations had taken decisions individually, and sometimes collectively, in addressing situations like preventing a country from slipping into conflict, urging reforms, democratization and respect for human rights. Sometimes, however, the results of such actions actually contributed to the same effects they had been intended to avoid in the first place. Some leaders who may not agree with such interventions dictated such negative actions. Interventions in such countries – supposedly taken in order to protect civilians, advance democracy and ensure respect for human rights and justice – had not always produced the expected results. Instead, they ended up creating displacement and refugees in most cases.

He said the push to transform the world through the Sustainable Development Goals could not be achieved without all nations listening to each other, whether they were big or small, rich or poor, developed or developing. Countries must work together to resolve critical issues affecting the planet, such as terrorism, conflict, migration, climate change, nuclear proliferation, racism and food security. To transform the world, everybody must be made to feel that they belonged to the world and must work as true partners. Patronising attitudes of superiority – disguised as the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom and justice – could easily lead to serious crises in the form of resistance by affected parties, he cautioned.

MOISÉS OMAR HALLESLEVENS ACEVEDO, Vice-President of Nicaragua, said that the 2030 Agenda offered an historic opportunity to fight for a just world order. However, endemic poverty and inequality had become more noticeable than ever, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized groups including peoples living under colonial occupation and foreign intervention. Colonialism had to be eradicated, and military intervention and aggression needed to cease. The right to development was a right for all, and developed countries needed to comply with their commitments regarding official development assistance (ODA).

Turning to climate change, he said that the Paris Agreement failed to establish a firm benchmark to address the biggest challenge facing the planet. The voluntary, non-binding formula would lead to a 3°C increase in global temperatures, with disastrous effects for highly vulnerable countries. Many countries concurred that the Agreement was not sufficient and called for stronger efforts. Nicaragua demanded a global compensation policy to deal with the damages of climate change.

Continuing, he said that Nicaragua welcomed the re-establishing of relations between Cuba and the United States, but it was disappointed to see heightening of existing measures maintaining the economic and commercial blockade of Cuba. Nicaragua also welcomed the signing of the peace agreement in Colombia. Nicaragua demanded the immediate end of the occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories by Israel, expressed solidarity with the people of Western Sahara and with the Government and people of Syria and condemned foreign interventions in the latter, including the delivery of weapons to terrorist groups. Nicaragua would continue to foster peace, stability and good governance, as well as fight poverty.

THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said that Southeast Asia continued to enjoy peace and stability. That provided an environment conducive not only to socioeconomic development, but also regional cooperation, as evidenced by the advancement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community. As Chair of ASEAN in 2016, he hoped the international community would continue to support the Association as it had contributed significantly to promoting peace, stability and cooperation in both the region and the world at large.

At the same time, his newly-elected Government was focused on graduating from its least developed country status. As a least developed and landlocked country, his State faced many challenges in infrastructure and human resources, and as such required assistance from the international community. That support, along with strong determination, would enable it country to achieve its goals.

He also said that his Government was focused on the issue of climate change, which affected the livelihood of people around the world. That was a major challenge that no country alone could address. For its part, his country had signed the Paris Agreement and integrated climate change and natural disaster risk reduction into its national socioeconomic development plan.

ANDREW HOLNESS, Prime Minister of Jamaica, said his country’s path toward sustainable development had been hindered by years of low growth, crippling national debt and high unemployment, exacerbated by its vulnerability to natural hazards. Highly indebted middle-income countries such as Jamaica were poised for economic transition with relatively high levels of health and education, but that potential was threatened by its having to choose between debt repayment and spending on growth. Developing countries would ordinarily be able to tap into development assistance, to be used for growth, thereby inducing counter-cyclical investment in infrastructure, which could in turn strengthen their debt repayment capacity, he noted. However, arbitrary classification on the basis of gross domestic product per capita precluded countries like Jamaica from accessing such resources. The middle-income classification indicated average incomes but said nothing about the stock of wealth a country possessed or its vulnerabilities.

Countries like Jamaica had made reforms in order to improve fiscal management and achieve debt sustainability, he said, but new investment was needed of a scale and velocity difficult to undertake without the engagement of international development institutions. That created the prospect of a trap for such countries, which were on the cusp of transitioning but stalled by the risk of reversal, which threatened hard-won developmental gains. He called for an initiative for highly indebted middle-income countries, underpinned by the principle that their structural vulnerabilities could not be diversified. Their responsible servicing of debt should be facilitated by assistance, he said, adding that the potential impact of such an initiative would put more countries in a position to make greater contributions to the international system in the near future.

He went on to emphasize the importance of effectively addressing the emerging crisis resulting from the withdrawal of correspondent banking services to certain financial institutions in the Caribbean, a trend that hindered Jamaica’s participation in the global financial system. Trade represented approximately 70 per cent of the Jamaican economy and “de-risking” measures threatened its integration and economic viability. Regarding climate change, he said that his country was the host country to the International Seabed Authority, and therefore attached great importance to matters pertaining to the Law of the Sea. Jamaica supported the development of a legally binding international instrument on the conservation of and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, and was actively participating in the relevant negotiations.

MANASSEH SOGAVARE, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, expressed gratitude that a Pacific Islander had been elected President of the General Assembly for the first time. He also expressed hope that the United Nations would upgrade its presence in his country to a full country office under the new Secretary-General. Recalling that 2015 had been a year of agreements, he said 2016 was the time for implementing the agreed goals. He said his Government had started integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its 2016–2035 National Development Strategy.

Regarding refugees and migrants, he noted that small island developing States required more assistance to manage large displaced populations. The challenge of climate change had not been adequately addressed in the context of displacement and migration, he said, also noting with concern that not enough attention had been paid to achieving the goal of keeping the temperature increase to 1.5°C. He called on major emitters and industrial countries to treat the threat of climate change with a renewed sense of urgency since the existence of island States was at stake. Delaying action further would come at a steep cost, he warned.

He called for further action to protect biodiversity, including a new international agreement to address it, and for the creation of a world authority on oceans. The Solomon Islands welcomed the decision to convene the United Nations Conference on Oceans and Seas in 2017. In addition, he expressed grave concern about human rights violations against Melanesians in West Papua and called for Taiwan’s full participation in the work of the United Nations. He also noted the need to reform the Security Council and to ensure adequate regional representation.

PAKALITHA B. MOSISILI, Prime Minister of Lesotho, said that the intractable conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, tension on the Korean Peninsula and other parts of Asia, were the biggest refugee problems since the Second World War and were some of the challenges that the United Nations and the world were facing today. At the same time, terrorism continued to rear its ugly head, with ISIS and other groups causing needless loss of lives. Amid such challenges, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement were landmark achievements which had cemented the role of the Organization as the only forum for collective diplomacy.

The unique challenges faced by least developed, landlocked and small island developing States, as well as those emerging from conflicts, must be paramount in the consideration of all strategies for the 2030 Agenda’s successful implementation, he continued, stressing that the inclusion of all stakeholders would bring about fundamental changes in the livelihood and well-being of societies. In Lesotho, women constituted a significant majority of the population, and were the backbone of rural communities. In that regard, the Government had promulgated laws, allowing them to access to land, credit and resources for their unfettered engagement in economic activity. Furthermore, in line with the Agenda, Lesotho had undertaken various initiatives to capacitate youth-owned small, macro and medium enterprises to acquire skills for job creation. “With our limited domestic resources, we are looking for innovative ways of pursuing our development priorities and aligning them to global, continental and regional agendas,” he stressed.

He went on to emphasize that a private sector-led growth strategy was vital for competitiveness and expansion of trade and investment opportunities. Sustainable Development Goal 9 recognized the importance of infrastructure, industrialization and technology to the progress and development of countries like Lesotho. Furthermore, the threat posed by underdevelopment, climate change and HIV/AIDS had picked the conscience of mankind for many years. Lesotho had adopted an innovative, indigenous leadership programme which sought to ensure that the health delivery system was affordable, accessible and effective. On the role of disarmament in the maintenance of international peace and security, he called upon all nuclear weapon States to make deep cuts in their current stockpiles, with the ultimate aim of finally eliminating them. On Security Council reform, he said: “the sooner it is concluded the better for humankind and peace in the world,” expressing support for the African Union’s position.

ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Prime Minister of Andorra, said his country had dedicated the 2016 Summer University to the Sustainable Development Goals, and for one week, Andorra la Vella had hosted experts and representatives to debate key issues. Quality education, Goal 4, was particularly important, both as a goal in itself and as the means to achieve the other Goals. Andorra prioritized education in its external policies, notably during its presidency of the Council of Europe, from 2012 to 2013, when it had joined the Global Education First Initiative, and in the contexts of the Ibero-American Community and the International Organization of La Francophonie. He said that, in keeping with Goal 17, his Government was aware of the need to seek alliances with other countries and to create partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Education was also important in ensuring young people understood that their futures did not end at the borders of their countries. “If we educate our young people as citizens of a global world, we will be laying the foundations for a much more open, cooperative and fair world,” he said, noting that Andorra’s “Education by Skills” model sought to overcome the idea of education as an accumulation of knowledge, and instead promote abilities that could be applied to knowledge. With the Council of Europe, Andorra would introduce training in democratic values and systems in order to measure young peoples’ skills in that area, he said.

“The great dialectic of our times is between being open and being closed,” he said, emphasizing that the open road to commitment, negotiation and multilateralism was one that States had followed for decades. The closed path of fear was a recipe for populism. Andorra’s belief in multilateralism was reflected in its economy, which was open to foreign investment, its provision of economic rights to all international residents, its tax system’s adherence to international standards and its progressive outlook in matters of exchanging fiscal information, which would culminate in 2017 with the automatic exchange of information. With that in mind, the refugee and migrant challenge must be met through both international and local regulation, the right to asylum, the fair distribution of impacts and the guarantee of respect for the rights and dignity of displaced people.

CHARLOT SALWAI TABIMASMAS, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, said that climate change was real and its consequences were being felt worldwide. Vanuatu had deposited its instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement with the Secretary-General two days ago, he said, calling on other States to follow suit as soon as possible. Like any organization, the United Nations needed reform. Vanuatu favoured greater Security Council transparency, accountability, relevancy and inclusiveness. It also supported a revitalization of the work of the General Assembly. Such reforms required leadership on the part of large States, he said, urging the Council and Assembly to appoint a new Secretary-General of irreproachable personal integrity who would be a beacon of hope for the voiceless.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations system must work actively with regional groups such as the Pacific Islands Forum, he said. Vanuatu condemned all forms of nuclear proliferation and remained committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and reaffirmed its position in favour of a nuclear-free Pacific. He noted how Vanuatu was integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its national development policy, with protection of the oceans being given top priority. Mobilizing domestic resources to finance sustainable development was a priority for the Government, complementing funding from development partners. Such initiatives would help Vanuatu exit the list of least-developed countries in 2020.

Noting his country’s vulnerability to climate change and rising sea levels, he said international assistance was appreciated, but that coordination of post-disaster financial aid through non-governmental organizations was sometimes inefficient and failed to respect national reconstruction priorities. Vanuatu was proud to contribute to United Nations missions in Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire and it was ready to send more troops if called upon. On decolonization, he welcomed United Nations assistance with electoral lists in New Caledonia, whose people should freely choose their future status of self-determination. He went on to urge the United Nations to take concrete measures to address human rights concerns in West Papua.

RALPH E. GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, observed that, in 2016, the pressure for change had come not only from the “marginalized outposts of globalization’s casualties” but also internally from within rich and powerful nations. Marginalized nations and peoples had “thirsted too long at the dry spigot of promised trickle-down prosperity”, and the long-foretold “rising tide that lifts all boats” had come in the form of rising seas which threatened to inundate small island developing States. His country had aggressively adopted the 2030 Agenda, with a focus on job creation, quality education and renewable energy, among others, central to its national medium-term development plans. In 2016, it had launched a “Zero Hunger Trust Fund” inspired by Goals 1 and 2, and employing multifaceted tools to ensure that no citizen would go to bed hungry by 2020. He expressed hope that the programme would be supported by partners and become a best-practice template to be adopted in other small island contexts.

Turning to Goal 7, which spoke to the development of renewable energy with particular emphasis on small island States, he said his country had invested heavily in developing geothermal resources. By 2019, it was anticipated that 50 per cent of its national energy would be supplied geothermally and 80 per cent generated by a mix of renewable resources, including hydro and solar. As big emitters continued to dither, more frequent and intense hurricanes washed away large swaths of his country’s GDP in a matter of hours. While applauding the international community for reaching the Paris Agreement, its promises to mitigate climate change and provide climate finance were inadequate and unenforceable.

On the United Nations role in the spread of cholera in Haiti, he said that catastrophe had now killed over 10,000 Haitians and infected almost 800,000 others. The Organization had belated acknowledged its culpability while claiming immunity to deny victims their rights. In the Dominican Republic, thousands of citizens of Haitian descent were affected by an unresolved human rights crisis and the United Nations indifference towards them was unacceptable.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, President of Tuvalu, expressed hope that the United Nations would be able to save peoples and countries affected by man-made conflicts and climate change. He was encouraged by the actions of the international community this week in that regard, which must be followed up. The Paris Agreement must enter into force, he said, calling on Member States to operationalize it as soon as possible.

Urgent action was needed to address the impact of climate change on small island developing States, he said. He urged the international community to take collective efforts to keep the global temperature increase to below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. The international response must also include adequate strategies to deal with persons displaced because of climate change, and their human rights must be protected.

With regard to peace and security, he deplored the actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and that country’s destabilizing effects on the region and called for their immediate end. Furthermore, he expressed his concern about the situation of Taiwan and asked the international community to work towards the integration of Taiwan, also with a view to achieving full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

He expressed his gratitude for the implementation of the Samoa Pathway and its contribution to sustainable development. To implement the 2030 Agenda, Tuvalu recently launched a national strategy entitled “Te Kakeega III”. Its theme was “Protect and Save Tuvalu”. The strategy focused on resilience, education and capacity-building. Tuvalu also committed to derive all of its electricity from renewable energy. He also acknowledged the support of development partners.

PATRICE EMERY TROVOADA, Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe, said democracies in rich countries seemed to be providing inadequate responses to real problems like the refugee crisis. It was commendable to hold a special United Nations meeting on refugees, but the international community must do more to bring definitive settlements to ongoing conflicts and terrorist attacks. The Organization should be able to establish more binding mechanisms to address such insecurity, especially when it came to long-lasting conflicts between Israel and Palestine and in Libya as well as Syria.

He expressed pleasure, however, at a more peaceful Central African Republic and was encouraged by support for free and peaceful elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and commitments to stabilize South Sudan, Burundi and Somalia. Genuine progress in resolving conflicts always occurred when priority was given to living together and opening people’s minds to differences, which was needed to come up with intelligent solutions leading to sustainable peace. It was also necessary to show a spirit of inclusion in efforts to reach sustainable peace and development. To that end, reform of the United Nations was needed to make it more credible, especially when it came to seats on the Security Council.

His country had made significant development progress, especially in the areas of access to drinking water, Internet connectivity and eradication of malaria, he said. It now needed to build up its infrastructure to attract investment and generate revenue for the Government. He invited developed nations to provide financing through various mechanisms discussed at the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa. Africa lagged behind in almost all human development indices and had paid a heavy toll compared to other countries for centuries.

DELCY ELOÍNA RODRÍGUEZ GÓMEZ, Political Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, said the adoption of the 2030 Agenda was people-based, universal and transformative. However, the main obstacle to achieving those purposes was capitalism, which created deep inequalities and threatened the planet and its species. It was a model based on violence, she said, noting that of the $1.7 billion spent on wars in 2015, a third was spent by the United States. That country was the largest exporter of violence throughout the world, and an intrinsic link between violence and capitalist expansionism could be demonstrated throughout history.

Terrorism was also reconfiguring itself, she noted. The centres of hegemony were seeking to create artificial sub-categories of terrorism, which was seen as good if it served to overthrow Governments out of line with their interests, but bad if not. The military invasion of Iraq had been based on a lie. Libya had also seen a military intervention by NATO, and once again, the Powers’ imperial obstinacy had hampered that country’s right to peace. The resultant migratory flows of Libyan citizens had impacted its levels of poverty. Her country welcomed the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, which had resisted State terrorism from the north. She called for an end to the economic blockade of that country and the provision of reparations.

She said that President Hugo Chávez had 16 years ago cautioned that the United Nations could not proceed with the 1945 map, and must instead reform the Security Council to include developing countries from Latin America, Africa and Asia. Recently, Venezuela had hosted the seventeenth summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. States in the group shared the same concerns and continued to be committed to peace and solidarity. Their desire for peace could only become reality through the creation of a global government, and they were committed to that aim in the south. During the meeting, a United States aircraft had violated Venezuelan airspace. Through the use of media campaigns and financial boycotts, that country had encouraged extremist groups to overthrow the elected Government of Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela had alerted the international community that its territorial integrity was being attacked with a view to taking control of its strategic natural resources. Those aggressions had made up an unconventional war designed to penalize her country’s socialist economic model.

ABDULAZIZ KAMILOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, said protecting ecology and preserving the environment had in 2015 taken on an even greater significance in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in tackling changes of nature. The Aral Sea tragedy was a vivid example. With its ecologic-climatic, socio-economic and humanitarian consequences, the tragedy was a direct threat to the sustainable development of the region, health, gene pool and future of the people residing in the area. The consequences of that tragedy included an unfavourable ecological state, drying up of the Aral Sea and ongoing humanitarian catastrophe around it, lack and declining quality of potable water and growth of dangerous diseases.

Turning to regional security, he said Afghanistan remained a key problem for international and regional stability. Internal dynamics of the Afghan conflict were flaring up rather than fading and also becoming more complicated. Settling the conflict was possible only with an intra-Afghan national accord and through peaceful political negotiations among major parties under the auspices of the United Nations. Peace in Afghanistan would bring a colossal and tangible benefit to all countries of the Eurasian continent. It would stimulate the construction of motorways and railroad, development of regional and trans-regional commerce and laying of pipelines in all directions.

GUILLAUME LONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, said the last decade of the citizen revolution in his country had shown that to achieve development it was necessary to do the opposite of the prescription of the neoliberal hegemony. Ecuador had been able to recover the faith and hope of a country that had been destroyed, and that could be reflected in tangible results for its people, notably in the reduction of extreme poverty and inequality. The Powers of hegemony had appropriated widely used words and given them meaning to impose a political and moral agenda on the planet. The word “development” was not just a technical issue, but a political one, especially when it came to the redistribution of wealth. “Human rights” included economic and social rights, not just political ones, and were violated not just by States but by multinational corporations as well.

Ecuador, he said, called for an intergovernmental body in the United Nations for tax justice to prevent tax havens, and for the adoption of a legally binding international instrument that would be binding on transnational corporations which violated human rights. At the Paris conference on climate change, Ecuador also called for the establishment of an international environmental justice court to punish crimes against nature and to establish obligations in terms of ecological debt and the consumption of environmental goods. “We claim the supremacy of human beings over capital,” he said. The United Nations also needed to be democratized, he said. It was necessary to recalibrate the weight of the General Assembly vis-à-vis the Security Council. The composition and working methods of the Council needed to be changed, and the use of the veto, the exclusive province of the conquering nations of the Second World War, did not ensure the supreme objective of international peace and security.

ELMAR MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said his country had adapted its national development strategy to take into account the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the global economic crisis and sharp fall in oil prices, its economy had grown, enabling it to actively support international development, he said, noting his country’s membership in the Economic and Social Council. However, there could be no sustainable development without peace, he said, noting that since the last general debate, there had been no substantive progress in settling the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Armenia still occupied Azerbaijani territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts, in flagrant violation of international law and Security Council resolutions.

Armenia’s policies and practices in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan undermined prospects for a political settlement and threatened regional peace and stability, he said. It was refusing to withdraw its troops and it was preventing hundreds of thousands of forcibly displaced Azerbaijanis from returning to their homes. This month, it began intensive military activity in the occupied Aghdam district. Azerbaijan expected Armenia to halt is military build-up and to engage in negotiations in good faith in order to find a long-overdue political solution. The conflict could only be resolved on the basis of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders.

RAYMOND TSHIBANDA N’TUNGAMULONGO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that his country had decided to integrate the 2030 Goals into its national development plans to ensure that its policies were coherent. It had put together a five-year plan for the period 2017-2021, during which priority would be given to improving human capital, requiring close cooperation between various development partners to guarantee strong economic growth and also, more importantly, to be inclusive. Specific attention would be given to the needs of young people and women, in terms of their education, training and job prospects.

Turning to the political situation in his country, he said it recently had undergone a process of administrative decentralization in order to have local management. Each of the 26 new provinces had its own local authorities, and elections had taken place in March and April. Despite delays, initial legislative and presidential elections planned for early 2017 would be conducted by an independent commission and would take place as soon as technical conditions allowed. The right to elect and to be elected was a fundamental right for Congolese and the diaspora. A major challenge was to ensure the inclusivity and reliability of registers, and he welcomed the important role of registering voters. He added that any recourse to violence should be condemned as well as any insurrection or other non-constitutional access to power.

Right of Reply

Several delegates spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The representative of the United Kingdom, referring to the statement of the Prime Minister of Mauritius, said her Government was in no doubt about its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago. The United Kingdom did not consider the International Court of Justice to be the appropriate way to resolve the issue, she said, adding that the United Kingdom would continue to engage bilaterally with Mauritius.

The representative of Ukraine, referring to remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the situation in Ukraine had been caused by Russian aggression against his country. Russia had been urged time and again to halt its aggression. Noting that the Minister had quoted from “Animal Farm”, he quoted from “1984” the phrase “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength”. That was the philosophy that Russia wanted to impose.

The representative of Brazil, in response to the statement by Venezuela, reiterated what his country’s President had said earlier in the week, that in the Latin American region, Governments of different political colours coexisted; that was natural and to be welcomed. But it was also essential to have mutual respect, and recognize that all were capable of the same basic goals of human rights, social progress, security and freedom.

The representative of Armenia responded to the statement by Azerbaijan, saying that Nagorno-Karabakh was never part of Azerbaijan and had been transferred by a Bolshevik decision. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was independent. It had never been and never would be part of Azerbaijan. The sooner it stopped killing civilians, the sooner the issue would be resolved. The war it had unleashed on those people was lost a long time ago. The barbarism committed in the process had included intentional and indiscriminate targeting of women, children and the elderly, which was incompatible with the norms of the civilized world. It could not be tolerated for the President of a country to encourage those who had committed such barbaric acts, and the glorification of persons directly involved in atrocities constituted as crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The representative of Azerbaijan, responding, said he wanted to counter the baseless allegations of his Armenian counterpart. Armenia was occupying almost one-fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory and it had carried out large-scale ethnic cleansing. With the use of force, Armenia had flagrantly violated the Charter of the United Nations as well as basic human rights, international law and international humanitarian law. Armenia had sought to consolidate the status quo and mislead the international community, he said, adding that Azerbaijan stood for an effective ceasefire, which Armenia had violated.

The representative of Armenia said nothing was established until it was proven. He added that if any nation had the right to self-determination, it was the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The representative of Azerbaijan said negotiations had been based on the principles of the Helsinki Final Act. Regarding respect for the territorial integrity of States, he said he wondered how the Armenian side viewed its obligations under international law.

For information media. Not an official record.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Journées portes ouvertes pour sensibiliser les populations sur les violences sexuelles au Sud-Kivu

DRC - ReliefWeb News - 4 hours 44 min ago
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Trois journées portes ouvertes été organisées à Uvira dans la Province du Sud-Kivu pour sensibiliser les populations sur les violences sexuelles dans le cadre du Projet « Tupinge Ubakaji ». C’était également l’occasion d’informer de façon plus générale sur les actes qu’il faut éviter d’être en porte-à-faux avec la loi. Nous avons noté que les problèmes d’incivisme auxquels nous nous confrontons sont souvent liés au fait que la population ne connaît pas les contours de la loi et n’a aucune idée des peines qu’elle encoure en commettant certain actes » partage Abedi Sikofu Deogratias, procureur du tribunal de grande instance d’Uvira. Ces appuis ont permis depuis le début de l’année 2016 d’obtenir l’envoi en fixation de 49 dossiers, de rendre 21 jugements et de permettre la condamnation de 12 dossiers.

Toujours à Uvira, le programme appuie le tribunal de grande instance ainsi que la cellule spéciale de lutte contre les violences sexuelles. Un appui logistique à travers un véhicule leur permet d’aller dans les lieux les plus reculés dans le cadre des enquêtes et leur permet également d’y tenir des audiences foraines.

Le programme conjoint « Tupinge Ubakaji » intervient dans les provinces du Nord et du Sud Kivu ainsi que dans le district de l’Ituri. Dans le cadre de la mise en œuvre de ses activités des appuis sont octroyés à différentes institutions dans ces localités. Ils permettent entre autres l’amélioration des conditions de travail de ces institutions et par ricochet d’assister de manière efficiente les victimes de violences sexuelles dans la prise en charge.

À Bukavu, le programme appuie plusieurs partenaires institutionnels, dont la Police Nationale Congolaise (PNC) qui assiste les victimes à travers son unité spécialisée, l’escadron de protection de l'enfant et de prévention des violences sexuelles (EPEPVES). Les victimes se présentent généralement de leur propre gré pour porter plainte, ou sont référées par d’autres structures de prise en charge : les institutions médicales, les cliniques juridiques ou par les officiers de police judiciaire (OPJ). Depuis janvier 2016, le nombre de cas de survivantes prises en charge par le PNC s’élève pour Bukavu à 68 Walungu 25 et Uvira 14. Avec son consentement, la victime est ensuite orientée vers les structures de réinsertion socio-économique. 36 d’entre elles ont pu bénéficier de mesure d’accompagnement pour développer leur emploi et se construire un tissu social.

Pour le volet médical, l’hôpital de la PNC a reçu du mois de janvier à fin juin 39 cas de violences sexuelles. Parmi ces cas, 18 concernaient des mineurs et 26 étaient des cas de viol. Pour le volet psycho-social, 14 médiations se sont soldées par des réussites. Pour les cas en cours, l’écoute et la prise en charge se poursuivent avec des rendez-vous de suivi planifiés avec les victimes.

L’appui du PNUD à la PNC Sud-Kivu a consisté à la formation de 16 OPJ dans les techniques d’enquêtes relatives aux violences sexuelles, ainsi qu’un appui en équipements logistiques pour le bon fonctionnement des EPEPVES. Des missions d’enquête sur les cas rapportés de violences sexuelles sont également soutenues sur le plan logistique et pour la prise en charge des enquêteurs.

Ces appuis ont permis de mettre à la disposition des juridictions des dossiers leur permettant d’ouvrir l’instruction des cas. Plusieurs présumés auteurs de violences sexuelles ont été appréhendés à la suite des rapports produits par ces différentes missions. Et enfin, deux bâtiments qui abriteront l’EPEPVES de Bukavu et celui de Kavumu en territoire de Kabare, sont en cours de construction. Ces bâtiments sont financés par le programme « Tupinge Ubakaji » soutenu par le Canada et le projet projet Team of Expert (TOE) sous financement japonais.

Fatou Tandiang

Democratic Republic of the Congo: 13 dead in stampede in eastern DR Congo

DRC - ReliefWeb News - 5 hours 13 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Goma, DR Congo | AFP | Saturday 9/24/2016 - 22:21 GMT

Thirteen people died when a panic-stricken crowd stampeded in a troubled town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, local officials said.

"The incident happened when a drunken soldier in civilian clothes fired four shots from his gun, causing panic," the mayor of Beni, Jean Edmond Nyonyi, said.

"Eight people drowned when they threw themselves in the river, four were killed in accidents and one person died of a heart attack," he said.

Fears of gun violence run deep in Beni, which lies in a strife-torn, unstable region of the DRC.

More than 700 people have died since October 2014 in massacres blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a partly Islamist armed group of Ugandan origin.

Fifty-one people were killed in Beni on August 13, a gruesome slaying that touched off mass protests against the central government in Kinshasa.

str/bmb/lpt/ri/iw

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Democratic Republic of the Congo: RDC : treize morts dans un mouvement de panique dans l'est

DRC - ReliefWeb News - 5 hours 20 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Goma, RD Congo | AFP | samedi 24/09/2016 - 22:12 GMT

Treize personnes ont été tuées samedi dans un mouvement de panique provoqué par des coups de feu tirés par un militaire à Beni dans l'est de la République démocratique du Congo où règne une psychose des tueries attribuées aux rebelles ougandais des Forces démocratiques alliées (ADF).

"Tout est parti de quatre coups de feu tirés par un militaire ivre en tenue civile, qui ont créé un mouvement de panique ayant conduit à la mort par noyade de 8 personnes, 4 personnes par accident et une personne par hypertension", a déclaré le maire de Beni Jean Edmond Nyonyi.

"Ceux qui sont morts noyés, ont cru bien faire de se jeter dans la rivière pour échapper à ces coups de feu", a ajouté M. Nyonyi, précisant que cette panique n'était pas liée à "une quelconque présence des assaillants"

Depuis octobre 2014, la ville et le territoire de Beni sont le théâtre d'une série de massacres ayant causé la mort de plus de 700 personnes,

Selon l'ONU, ces tueries à répétition dans cette zone sont majoritairement imputés aux ADF. Cette version a été partiellement remise en cause par un récent rapport du Groupe d'étude sur le Congo de l'Université de New York, selon lequel les ADF portent effectivement une part très importante de responsabilité dans ces massacres, mais au côté d'autres éléments armés, parmi lesquels des soldats de l'armée régulière.

Le dernier massacre d'envergure remonte à la mi-août quand, selon l'ONU, "au moins cinquante civils" avaient été tués en une nuit. 

Opposés au président ougandais Yoweri Museveni, les ADF sont présents dans l'est de la RDC depuis 1995. 

La province du Nord-Kivu, comme l'ensemble de l'est congolais, est déchirée par des conflits armés depuis plus de vingt ans. Ces conflits sont alimentés par des différends ethniques et fonciers, la concurrence pour le contrôle des ressources minières et des rivalités entre puissances régionales.

str/bmb/lpt

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Déclaration de Rein Paulsen, Chef de Bureau OCHA en République Démocratique du Congo suite aux enlèvements d'acteurs humanitaires au Nord-Kivu

DRC - ReliefWeb News - 5 hours 45 min ago
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Au cours des neuf derniers mois, les acteurs humanitaires internationaux et nationaux opérant dans la Province du Nord-Kivu ont été victimes de neuf enlèvements, le dernier ayant eu lieu cette semaine dans le Territoire de Rutshuru. Je condamne sans réserve toutes ces attaques qui sont une illustration regrettable de la dégradation constante de l’environnement sécuritaire dans lequel évoluent les organisations humanitaires. Ces attaques sont des violations graves du Droit international humanitaire et des entraves au travail des organisations qui ont pour mission d’apporter assistance à près de 1,6 million de personnes dans le besoin dans cette province. Il est primordial que tous les acteurs responsables s’engagent concrètement à résoudre les problèmes d’insécurité et sauvegarder le droit de donner et de recevoir l’assistance humanitaire.

Guinea: Le Fonds national de relance et résilience post-Ebola a été présenté aux partenaires au développement

Guinea - ReliefWeb News - 5 hours 56 min ago
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Guinea

Le Plan de relance post-Ebola a été officiellement présenté aux partenaires bis et multilatéraux de la Guinée, le Vendredi 9 Décembre 2016 à l’Hôtel Noom. Le Système des Nations Unies en Guinée, à travers Mme la Coordonnatrice et les représentants de plusieurs agences dont le PNUD, l’UNICEF, le HCR, PAM l’UNESCO et autres, a pris part à cette rencontre.

Cette présentation a été faite par Mr Idrissa Thiam, Ministre Conseiller à la Présidence et Président du Secrétariat Permanent du Cadre de Concertation et de Coordination (SP/CCC). Outre les Ministres de la Jeunesse, de l’Action sociale, de la promotion féminine et enfance, de l’Enseignement technique, de la formation professionnelle et porte-parole du Gouvernement, plusieurs autres partenaires dont la Banque Mondiale et des ambassadeurs dont celui du Japon et de la Russie ont pris part à cette importante rencontre

Le Fonds National de relance post-Ebola comporte 5 piliers essentiels qui :

•Pilier 1. Relance économique, formation professionnelle, entreprenariat et emploi jeunes

•Pilier 2. Protection sociale et soutien aux groupes vulnérables

•Pilier 3. Eau, hygiène et assainissement

•Pilier 4. Gouvernance et cohésion sociale

•Pilier 5. Santé, réduction des risques et contingence

La rencontre organisée par le Gouvernement Guinéen avec l’appui du PNUD à travers son Programme de relance et résilience post-Ebola a permis de recueillir les dernières observations, propositions et les positionnements des partenaires locaux avant la présentation du même Fonds de relance et de réslience au cours d’un Side Event prévu le Jeudi 22 Septembre à New York en marge de l’Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies.

Mamadou Saliou Diallo

Chargé des Communications PNUD Guinée

Central African Republic: La République centrafricaine assure avoir tourné la page de l'instabilité

CAR - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 5 min ago
Source: UN News Service Country: Central African Republic

23 septembre 2016 – Le Président de la République centrafricaine (RCA), Faustin Archange Touadéra, a assuré vendredi que son pays avait « tourné une page sombre de son histoire » avec le retour à l'ordre constitutionnel après trois ans de troubles sanglants ayant nécessité le déploiement de forces internationales.

« Les Centrafricains sont plus que jamais déterminés à rompre définitivement avec le cycle de la violence pour aspirer légitimement à la paix, à la sécurité, à la justice, à la liberté et au développement durable », a déclaré M. Touadéra dans un discours devant l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies.

Evoquant sa tâche de reconstruction du pays, il a affirmé qu'« aucun Etat ne peut prétendre au développement tant que son tissu économique, social, voire politique, reste gangrené par les maux que sont la corruption, l'injustice et l'impunité ». Il a promis que son gouvernement « ne ménagera aucun effort pour mettre en place un mécanisme de lutte implacable contre la corruption et la délinquance financière ».

Reconnaissant que la situation dans son pays « reste encore fragile », le Président centrafricain a rappelé s'être engagé à « conduire une œuvre de transformation politique, économique, sociale et culturelle qui va permettre de conjurer les périls que sont l'insécurité, la désagrégation des institutions publiques, la corruption, la dégradation des conditions de vie et la perte des repères moraux qui minent notre société ».

Il a précisé que cette action s'articulera autour de plusieurs grands axes : paix et sécurité, réconciliation nationale, réforme de l'administration, relance économique, justice et droits de l'homme.

Concernant la réforme du secteur de la sécurité, M. Touadéra a plaidé en faveur d'une « grande mobilisation » des partenaires de la RCA lors de la prochaine conférence de Bruxelles prévue le 17 novembre, en vue de leur contribution au financement de ce volet.

Rappelant par ailleurs qu'il s'est fixé l'objectif d'assurer la présence des pouvoirs publics sur l'ensemble du territoire centrafricain afin de garantir paix et sécurité, il a mis en relief la nécessité de refonder les Forces armées centrafricaines pour permettre de mettre en place une armée républicaine inclusive. Pour ce faire, il a plaidé en faveur d'une « levée totale de l'embargo sur les armes imposé à la RCA qui, même si nécessaire en son temps, ne se justifie plus aujourd'hui en cette nouvelle ère de reconstruction nationale ».

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Caritas Molegbe et Caritas Congo Asbl en RDC : Lancement de la distribution de l’aide humanitaire aux réfugiés centrafricains hors camps et aux familles d’accueil dans l’ex- Province de l’Equateur

DRC - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 10 min ago
Source: Caritas Country: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kinshasa, le 23 septembre 2016 (caritasdev.cd) : Le Lancement de la distribution de l’aide humanitaire aux réfugiés centrafricains hors camps et aux familles d’accueil dans les Territoires de Libenge-Mobayi Mbongo et Bosobolo dans l’ex- Province de l’Equateur a eu lieu récemment. Il a commencé à proprement parler le mercredi 31 août 2016 pour les bénéficiaires de Libenge –Centre. Selon l’Abbé Egide MBIMBA Mokumbu, qui a livré cette nouvelle à caritasdev.cd dans « Echos Caritas-développement Molegbe » (septembre 2016), cette aide humanitaire s’inscrit dans le cadre du « Projet d’appui multisectoriel aux Réfugiés centrafricains hors camps et aux Familles d’accueil dans les Territoires de Libenge-Mobayi Mbongo et Bosobolo dans l’ex- Province de l’Equateur en République Démocratique du Congo.», rapporte caritasdev.cd

Ladite assistance humanitaire, avec l’appui financier du Gouvernement Allemand et de la Caritas Allemagne(DCV), a été distribuée aux bénéficiaires à Libenge-Centre. Ce fut en ce jour du lancement de l’assistance humanitaire le mercredi 31 août 2016, en présence de l’agent de la Caritas Congo Asbl Arsène MINGA, du Coordonnateur du projet AA3, des représentants du HCR, de la CNR, de l’Administrateur du Territoire de Libenge ainsi que de l’Abbé BUKASA, Curé de Libenge Sainte Thérèse. Cette assistance humanitaire a été envoyée dans un convoi humanitaire de 200 tonnes en date du 12 août 2016 dans le Territoire de Libenge, dans la nouvelle province du Sud –Ubangi. L’assistance humanitaire en question comprenait 100.000 kg de riz, 50.000 kg de haricot, 15.000 litres d’huile, 10.000 houes, 5.000 râteaux, 10.000 pelles, 10.000 machettes, 5.000 arrosoirs, 25.000 kg de maïs, 50.000 kg de semences de soja, 150.000 kg de semences maraichères. Cette assistance comprenait aussi 10.000 kg de sachets pour semences, 5.000 pagnes, 115 ballots de friperie pour adultes, 125 ballons de friperie enfants, 30.000 gobelets, 30.000 cuillères, 5.000 casseroles, 10.000 louches et 10.000 seaux plastiques.

Depuis le 5 septembre 2016, poursuite des distributions dans les autres paroisses

A la paroisse de Bokilio, le samedi 3 septembre 2016, la distribution a eu lieu en présence de l’Abbé Egide de la Croix MBIMBA, Coordonnateur de la Caritas Molegbe ainsi que du représentant du Groupement Bokilio et ce à la grande satisfaction des bénéficiaires. Depuis le lundi 5 septembre 2016, les distributions se sont poursuivies dans les Paroisses de Mawuya et de Zongo.

Cette assistance humanitaire est intervenue dans le cadre du partenariat entre la Caritas- Congo Asbl et la Caritas Développement Molegbe. L’objectif global dudit « Projet d’appui multisectoriel aux Réfugiés centrafricains hors camps et aux Familles d’accueil dans les Territoires de Libenge-Mobayi Mbongo et Bosobolo dans l’ex- Province de l’Equateur en République Démocratique du Congo » est de renforcer la réintégration socio-économique des familles des réfugiés centrafricains et des communautés d’accueil. L’objectif spécifique est celui de la réduction de la vulnérabilité de 5.000 ménages réfugiés centrafricains et communautés d’accueil par la distribution des vivres, intrants agricoles et articles ménagés essentiels.

JOSEPH KIALA

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Caritas Molegbe et Caritas Congo Asbl en RDC : Lancement de la distribution de l’aide humanitaire aux réfugiés centrafricains hors camps et aux familles d’accueil dans l’ex- Province de l’Equateur

CAR - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 10 min ago
Source: Caritas Country: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kinshasa, le 23 septembre 2016 (caritasdev.cd) : Le Lancement de la distribution de l’aide humanitaire aux réfugiés centrafricains hors camps et aux familles d’accueil dans les Territoires de Libenge-Mobayi Mbongo et Bosobolo dans l’ex- Province de l’Equateur a eu lieu récemment. Il a commencé à proprement parler le mercredi 31 août 2016 pour les bénéficiaires de Libenge –Centre. Selon l’Abbé Egide MBIMBA Mokumbu, qui a livré cette nouvelle à caritasdev.cd dans « Echos Caritas-développement Molegbe » (septembre 2016), cette aide humanitaire s’inscrit dans le cadre du « Projet d’appui multisectoriel aux Réfugiés centrafricains hors camps et aux Familles d’accueil dans les Territoires de Libenge-Mobayi Mbongo et Bosobolo dans l’ex- Province de l’Equateur en République Démocratique du Congo.», rapporte caritasdev.cd

Ladite assistance humanitaire, avec l’appui financier du Gouvernement Allemand et de la Caritas Allemagne(DCV), a été distribuée aux bénéficiaires à Libenge-Centre. Ce fut en ce jour du lancement de l’assistance humanitaire le mercredi 31 août 2016, en présence de l’agent de la Caritas Congo Asbl Arsène MINGA, du Coordonnateur du projet AA3, des représentants du HCR, de la CNR, de l’Administrateur du Territoire de Libenge ainsi que de l’Abbé BUKASA, Curé de Libenge Sainte Thérèse. Cette assistance humanitaire a été envoyée dans un convoi humanitaire de 200 tonnes en date du 12 août 2016 dans le Territoire de Libenge, dans la nouvelle province du Sud –Ubangi. L’assistance humanitaire en question comprenait 100.000 kg de riz, 50.000 kg de haricot, 15.000 litres d’huile, 10.000 houes, 5.000 râteaux, 10.000 pelles, 10.000 machettes, 5.000 arrosoirs, 25.000 kg de maïs, 50.000 kg de semences de soja, 150.000 kg de semences maraichères. Cette assistance comprenait aussi 10.000 kg de sachets pour semences, 5.000 pagnes, 115 ballots de friperie pour adultes, 125 ballons de friperie enfants, 30.000 gobelets, 30.000 cuillères, 5.000 casseroles, 10.000 louches et 10.000 seaux plastiques.

Depuis le 5 septembre 2016, poursuite des distributions dans les autres paroisses

A la paroisse de Bokilio, le samedi 3 septembre 2016, la distribution a eu lieu en présence de l’Abbé Egide de la Croix MBIMBA, Coordonnateur de la Caritas Molegbe ainsi que du représentant du Groupement Bokilio et ce à la grande satisfaction des bénéficiaires. Depuis le lundi 5 septembre 2016, les distributions se sont poursuivies dans les Paroisses de Mawuya et de Zongo.

Cette assistance humanitaire est intervenue dans le cadre du partenariat entre la Caritas- Congo Asbl et la Caritas Développement Molegbe. L’objectif global dudit « Projet d’appui multisectoriel aux Réfugiés centrafricains hors camps et aux Familles d’accueil dans les Territoires de Libenge-Mobayi Mbongo et Bosobolo dans l’ex- Province de l’Equateur en République Démocratique du Congo » est de renforcer la réintégration socio-économique des familles des réfugiés centrafricains et des communautés d’accueil. L’objectif spécifique est celui de la réduction de la vulnérabilité de 5.000 ménages réfugiés centrafricains et communautés d’accueil par la distribution des vivres, intrants agricoles et articles ménagés essentiels.

JOSEPH KIALA

Haiti: Haïti/R.D. : Une coalition d’organisations dénonce les conditions dégradantes des ressortissants haïtiens ainsi que l’application de l’arrêt TC 168-13

Haiti - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 27 min ago
Source: AlterPresse Country: Dominican Republic, Haiti

P-au-P, 23 sept. 2016 [AlterPresse] --- Une coalition d’organisations haïtiennes de droits humains critique « les conditions dégradantes et inhumaines » des migrantes et migrants haïtiens en République Dominicaine, à l’occasion du 3e anniversaire de l’arrêt TC 168-13 de la cour constitutionnelle dominicaine, ce 23 septembre 2016.

La Fondation Zanmi Timoun, le Collectif « Défenseurs Plus » et le Collectif des organisations de défense des droits des migrants rapatriés (Coddemir) continuent de condamner l’application de cet arrêt, qui a enlevé la nationalité dominicaine à plus de 250 mille Dominicaines et Dominicains d’ascendance haïtienne.

Face à cette situation, la coalition d’organisations haïtiennes de droits humains pointe du doigt, non seulement les conditions dans lesquelles les Haïtiennes et Haïtiens sont déportés de la République Dominicaine, mais aussi les mauvais traitements auxquels ils sont assujettis sur le territoire voisin d’Haïti.

Dépourvus de nationalité et rendus apatrides, plusieurs ressortissantes et ressortissants en territoire dominicain ne peuvent pas exercer leurs droits, ni accéder à des services sociaux de base.

La coalition d’organisations haïtiennes de droits humains attire l’attention, de l’opinion publique nationale et internationale, sur les violations des droits de ces ressortissantes et ressortissants dominicains, au regard de la signature du Protocole d’accord sur les mécanismes de rapatriements entre Haïti et la République Dominicaine, adopté le 2 décembre 1999.

Elle lance « un vibrant appel aux autorités haïtiennes, pour qu’elles reprennent le dialogue diplomatique, entamé avec les autorités dominicaines, afin de trouver « une issue à la crise, qui met nos compatriotes dans une situation déshumanisante » aux yeux du monde entier.

Elle les appelle, également, à exiger l’annulation de cet arrêt du 23 septembre 2013, de la Cour constitutionnelle dominicaine, jugé « xénophobe, raciste et discriminatoire ».

Les autorités de la République Dominicaine ont commencé à appliquer, officiellement, leur politique de déportations et de rapatriements vers Haïti, le 17 juin 2015, date qui a marqué la fin du Plan national de régularisation des étrangers (Pnre).

« L’arrêt TC 168-13 viole systématiquement, tant la Constitution dominicaine que les principaux instruments internationaux de protection des droits humains, auxquels l’Etat dominicain est partie prenante », soutiennent ces organisations haïtiennes de droits humains. .

Elles citent la Convention interaméricaine des droits humains, la Convention relative aux droits de l’enfant et le Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques (Pidcp).

De juin 2015 à date (septembre 2016), environ 120,000 familles, dont 1,641 enfants non accompagnés, ont traversé la frontière pour venir en Haïti.

23,861 personnes, suite aux mesures de déportation massive, ont été acheminées, officiellement, sur trois (3) zones frontalières du pays : Ouanaminthe (frontière commune avec Dajabon), Malpasse (Malpasso) et Belladère (Comendador / Elias Piña), d’après l’Organisation internationale de la migration (Oim).

Ce flux migratoire, entre Haïti et la République Dominicaine, fait ressortir la négligence, avec laquelle les deux gouvernements gèrent les expulsions forcées et les retours « spontanés » des dizaines de milliers d’Haïtiennes et d’Haïtiens.

En quête d’un avenir meilleur, un nombre indéterminé de migrantes et migrants haïtiens traversent, quotidiennement, de manière irrégulière et dans des conditions exécrables, la frontière, entre Haïti et la République Dominicaine.

Ils s’exposent parfois à divers types de problèmes, liés aux viols, abus sexuels, travaux forcés, domesticité, violences basées sur le genre, et à la perte d’identité.

« Le moment est opportun, pour les autorités des deux pays, d’assumer leurs responsabilités, tout en protégeant les droits des Haïtiennes et des Haïtiens, ainsi que des Dominicaines et des Dominicains, condamnés à vivre ensemble sur l’île d’Haïti », signale la coalition d’organisations haïtiennes de droits humains.

Par ailleurs, la plateforme Groupe d’appui aux rapatriés et réfugiés (Garr) organise, ce vendredi 23 septembre 2016, une marche pacifique, de la place publique de Belladère jusqu’à la localité de Carizal (sur la frontière avec Comendador, province d’Elias Piña, République Dominicaine), en vue de sensibiliser sur la nécessité de porter solidarité aux centaines de milliers victimes de l’arrêt TC 168-13 et aux migrantes et migrants rapatriés à la frontière.

An n rete mobilize pou respè dwa Dominiken/Dominkèn denasyonalize ak migran/migrant ayisyen yo (« restons mobilisés pour le respect des droits des Dominicaines et Dominicains dénationalisés, ainsi que des migrantes et migrants haïtiens » est le thème retenu par la plateforme Garr, pour cette marche de solidarité du 23 septembre 2016, troisième anniversaire de l’adoption de l’arrêt TC 168-13. [jep emb rc apr 23/09/2016 10:10]

Haiti: Haïti : Plus de 80 blessés et d’importants dégâts lors d’une tornade à Saint-Michel de l’Attalaye

Haiti - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 32 min ago
Source: AlterPresse Country: Haiti

P-au-P., 24 sept 2016 [AlterPresse] --- Une violente tornade a fait plus de 80 blessés et d’importants dégats matériels dans l’après-midi du 23 septembre à Saint-Michel de l’Attalaye, dans le département de l’Artibonite (Nord), apprend AlterPresse de sources informées.

Selon les informations disponibles, au moins 68 maisons ont été détruites et de nombreuses plantations ravagées. Parmi les localités les plus affectées figurent Nan Citron, Nan Calvaire et Nan Silo.

Contacté par AlterPresse, le Ministère de l’intérieur a indiqué qu’une évaluation est en cours et les structures de la Protection civile sont mobilisées. [apr 24/09/2016 15 :00]

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Déclaration Conjointe sur la RDC (UA, ONU, UE, OIF)

DRC - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 39 min ago
Source: African Union, United Nations, European Union, Organisation internationale de la Francophonie Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Addis-Abeba, Bruxelles, Kinshasa, New York, Paris, le 24 Septembre 2016 : L'Union Africaine (UA), les Nations Unies (ONU), l'Union européenne (UE), l'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) sont gravement préoccupées par les violents incidents survenus récemment à Kinshasa et ailleurs en République démocratique du Congo (RDC), où des manifestants et les forces de sécurité se sont affrontés, entraînant des pertes en vies humaines.

Les quatre organisations partenaires lancent un appel à tous les acteurs politiques de la RDC, y compris la majorité présidentielle et l'opposition politique, afin qu’ils fassent preuve de retenue dans leurs actions et déclarations et à exhorter leurs partisans à renoncer à la violence. Ils invitent également les autorités de la RDC à promouvoir et protéger les droits de l'homme et à respecter les libertés fondamentales consacrés dans la Constitution, y compris lors de manifestations publiques. Toutes les parties prenantes, y compris les fonctionnaires des institutions judiciaires et de sécurité, ont la responsabilité d'agir dans le strict respect de la loi et des droits de l'homme, et devront faire face aux conséquences de leurs actes en cas de manquement.

Tout en restant déterminées à continuer de soutenir le dialogue national en cours, les quatre organisations partenaires rappellent que seul un dialogue inclusif mené avec le plus grand nombre d'acteurs politiques ouvrira la voie à des élections pacifiques et crédibles, conformément à la Constitution de la RDC et la résolution 2277 (2016) du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU. Les quatre organisations partenaires demandent au gouvernement de la RDC de rester engagé dans le processus de dialogue, y compris en continuant de prendre des mesures visant à créer un climat de confiance, et elles encouragent les groupes politiques qui ne font pas partie des négociations en cours à jouer un rôle constructif en vue de contribuer à la tenue d'élections crédibles le plus tôt possible.

Central African Republic: Le Gouvernement centrafricain et la MINUSCA évaluent la situation à #Kouango

CAR - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 46 min ago
Source: UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic Country: Central African Republic

Une délégation conjointe Gouvernement de la République centrafricaine et MINUSCA devra se rendre prochainement au village de Kouango (environ 160 km à l’est de Bangui) pour évaluer la situation sur place. La visite est une des recommandations de la rencontre vendredi entre le Premier ministre et une délégation de la Mission.

Lors de cet entretien, la MINUSCA a informé le chef du gouvernement sur les mesures qu'elle a prises sur place après les violences enregistrées le 10 et 11 septembre sur l’axe Kouango-Bianka. La Force de la MINUSCA a immédiatement renforcé sa position, ce qui a permis de ramener le calme dans cette zone. Aucun incident n'a été enregistré depuis.

Selon des rapports reçus à la Mission, les violences auraient provoqué la mort de 10 à 20 personnes et quelques 3500 déplacés. La délégation conjointe essaiera de déterminer les faits concernant ces incidents.

Niger: Niger : Evaluation Eau, Hygiène et Assainissement, région de Diffa (août 2016)

Niger - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 52 min ago
Source: WASH Cluster, REACH Initiative Country: Niger

Résumé et conclusions principales

Dans un contexte de pénuries en eau et de déplacements continus à travers la région, les données de la Direction Régionale de l’État Civil et de Réfugiés (DREC-R), publiées en mai 2016, indiquent que la région de Diffa compte 82,524 personnes réfugiées, 31,524 retournés, et 127,208 déplacés internes qui ont besoin d’une assistance humanitaire. D’après les données récoltées par les organisations non-gouvernementales (ONG) et les agences de l’Organisation des Nations Unies (ONU) en juin 2016, près de 43,000 personnes à Kidjendi, près de 13,000 personnes à Gagam, 22,800 à Garin Wanzam, plus de 18,300 à Mainé Soroa, et 23,300 à Nguigmi ont été jugées dans le besoin. Face à la crise en cours, les acteurs humanitaires, sous l’impulsion du Groupe Technique Eau, Hygiène, et Assainissement (EHA) dans la région de Diffa et du Cluster EHA dans la capitale Niamey, ont mis en place une intervention d’urgence pour répondre aux besoins accrus des populations dans le secteur EHA. La réponse EHA a été élaborée en collaboration avec la Direction Régionale de l’Hydraulique et de l’Assainissement (DRHA) et les acteurs de coordination, notamment la Cellule de Coordination Humanitaire.

Dans un contexte de manque d’information sur l’étendue des besoins dans le secteur EHA, la présente évaluation a été menée dans le but de mieux comprendre la situation en termes d’infrastructures dans les zones les plus touchées par les déplacements dans la région de Diffa au Niger. Menée entre le 30 mai et le 23 juin 2016 avec l’assistance du Cluster EHA Global, elle a mis en lumière une série de particularités propres à la situation des points d’eau et des latrines dans la région de Diffa. L’évaluation a été articulée autour de deux composantes : une évaluation de l’état et de la gouvernance des infrastructures d’approvisionnement en eau destinée à la consommation humaine, suivie d’une évaluation des infrastructures de latrines communes construites dans le cadre de la réponse d’urgence aux déplacements forcés.

L’évaluation présente les conclusions s’appuyant sur les données collectées dans la région de Diffa, située dans l’Est du Niger, à la frontière avec le Nigéria et le Tchad voisins. Étant l’une des régions les moins densément peuplées du Niger, elle est composée de six départements : Bosso, Diffa, Goudoumaria, N'Guigmi, Maine-Soroa, et N'Gourti. Menée dans un contexte de forte insécurité et de déplacements continus à travers la région de Diffa et depuis le Nigéria voisin, l’évaluation EHA a notamment permis de mettre l’accent sur le rôle positif joué par les comités de gestion (CGs) dans la gestion et la maintenance des ouvrages d’eau et des latrines, de confirmer que la majorité des points d’eau évalués étaient fonctionnels en juin 2016, mais a aussi montré que des problèmes étaient présents et qu’une partie de la population était déjà engagée dans des habitudes de consommation d’eau risquées.

L’évaluation EHA présente séparément les résultats pour les points d’eau et pour les latrines communes. Deux stratégies d’échantillonnage différentes ont été utilisées, tel que détaillé dans la section méthodologie du rapport.

Si les conclusions pour les points d’eau sont généralisables à toute les zones de la région de Diffa ayant accueilli des réfugiés avec un intervalle de confiance de 96% et une marge d’erreur de 4.5%, les résultats pour les latrines sont indicatifs, et ne présentent des informations qui ne se rapportent qu’aux populations habitant près de ces installations dans la région de Diffa. Aussi bien pour les points d’eau, que pour les latrines, l’évaluation a été organisée selon deux parties comprenant trois questionnaires distincts. Le premier questionnaire était rempli par l’énumérateur lui-même sur la base de ses observations; le deuxième était adressé au CG de l’infrastructure, si existant, et le troisième aux usagers de l’infrastructure. Les résultats présentés sont donc une combinaison de ces différents questionnaires, qui ont été élaborés afin d’être complémentaires et permettre de donner une image d’ensemble. À chaque fois, le rapport mentionne comment et auprès de qui les différentes informations ont été collectées. Ci-dessous, les conclusions principales de l’évaluation EHA sont résumées.

Niger: Niger and the Lake Chad Crisis: Combating Malnutrition in a “Forgotten Emergency”

Niger - ReliefWeb News - 8 hours 4 min ago
Source: Helen Keller International Country: Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria

24 September 2016. Since February 2015, conflict and insecurity have spread from northeastern Nigeria to Cameroon, Niger, and Chad, affecting a total of nearly 21 million people in what is called the Lake Chad Basin. Across the four countries, at least 2.6 million have been displaced, and most of them are hosted by local communities who are themselves vulnerable. The spreading conflict has resulted in violence against civilians, displacement, and a worsening food security and nutrition crisis for millions of people.

The Diffa Region of Niger, nestled in the southeastern corner of the country over 1300 kilometers from the nation’s capital, Niamey, is particularly affected. In the best of times, Diffa’s malnutrition rates among children are high, and existing structural food security and nutrition problems have been exacerbated by the conflict. Global Acute Malnutrition in the Diffa Region now exceeds the 15 percent emergency threshold.

In recent months, new displacements in southeastern Niger are overwhelming the limited resources of communities facing the effects of climate change and recurrent droughts, particularly food insecurity and malnutrition. Internally displaced persons, returning Nigeriens fleeing conflict, and Nigerian refugees all require humanitarian assistance – The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 399,000 people in southeastern Niger qualify as “severely food insecure”. Pastoralists and farmers are constrained by insecurity and displacement, interrupting normal nomadic routes and normal economic activity, resulting in over-grazing and the risk of inter-communal conflict.

Syndicate content