“Côte d’Ivoire will emerge from crisis; it is emerging from crisis,” Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo said, pointing out that this was his first appearance before the General Assembly in the seven years he had been in office. His presence today was the best indication of the calm that had followed the signing of the Ouagadougou peace accord this past March, which had ended the fighting that had left the West African country divided between the Government-controlled South and the rebel-held North since 2002.
He said he had suggested a way out of the crisis last December by first establishing direct dialogue with the Forces Nouvelles rebels. Since the March agreement, a new Government had been formed -– now led by ex-rebel Guillaume Solo -- and considerable progress had been made in a short time. Among the successes was an integrated command centre, created in March to ensure the free movement of peoples and goods. A general amnesty order had been granted and disarmament had begun. Magistrates also had been reinstated throughout the country, and a plan had been developed for displaced persons.
Now more than ever, the country needed international support to build peace, both within its borders and within the West African subregion. He asked that the country’s security rating be revised downward, and he pushed for a partial lifting of the weapons embargo to ensure the passage of peoples and goods. He also formally asked the United Nations to lift sanctions on three “compatriots” whose “heart and sole” had been put into the peace process. As the crisis had slashed resources, he requested international aid to support the civil service, hold general elections and rehabilitate infrastructure, among other things.
In a similar vein, Nuri Kamel al-Maliki, Iraq’s Prime Minister, highlighted the difficulties of achieving victory in a country where the “fierce attack of terror” had reared its head since the fall of the dictatorship. Terrorism had killed civilians, journalists and academics; it attacked universities, marketplaces and libraries; blew up mosques and churches and destroyed State infrastructure.
Despite such violence, he said his Government was “steadfast and determined to exterminate terrorism in Iraq, so that it does not spread to other countries around the world, repeating the tragedy”. Iraqis had not been stopped from participating in three epic elections, and the country now had a Constitution that had been voted upon, a Prime Minister who had been elected, and a National Unity Government that had been established. Moreover, the average number of sectarian killings had decreased, and Iraq’s military agencies had experienced accelerated growth and led security operations in eight provinces.
Calling for international assistance to alleviate Iraq’s burdens, he reminded delegates that the country was still paying the price of the “reckless politics” of the fallen regime, as well as the consequences of international resolutions, especially those relating to its weapons programme and invasion of Kuwait. Cooperation from the world’s nations was needed to build a modern State, which guaranteed justice, equality and respect for religious, intellectual, sectarian and ethnic pluralism.
Haiti, likewise, was on its way to bidding farewell to what many had called a “failed State”, Haitian President René Garcia Préval stressed. Armed gangs that had preyed upon ordinary hard-working citizens were being dismantled, and designated “no-go” zones no longer appeared in neighbourhoods. Inflation had dropped and gross domestic product (GDP) had grown moderately, but steadily, after a decade of decline. There was also stability among political groups, and peace among once-sparring clans, pointing towards a true national reconciliation movement.
Anticipating a one-year extension of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), he said such a move would serve as a reminder that gains in Haiti -– including the victory over insecurity, the holding of democratic elections, improved governance and a strengthened judicial system –- were “in large part due to the efforts undertaken by the UN force in the country”. Haiti’s police force, though nascent, had been courageous in its battle against insecurity, but with MINUSTAH at its side, its efforts had been greatly amplified.
Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, said he favoured a United Nations that recognized the equality of sovereign nations and peoples, whether big or small -– not an Organization in which the economically powerful behaved like bullies, trampling the rights of weak and smaller States, as sadly had happened in Iraq. He called for the non-interference by the United Nations system in matters that were clearly the domain of Member States and were not a threat to international peace and security.
The United Nations must surely examine the essence of its authority and the extent of its power, he said. Challenges to the Organization’s authority and its Charter underpinned repeated calls for the revitalization of the General Assembly, itself the world body’s most representative organ. Indeed, the Assembly should be more active in all areas, including those of peace and security. At the same time, the encroachment of some United Nations organs upon the Assembly’s work was of great concern to his country, and any process to revitalize it should avoid eroding the principle of the accountability of all its main and subsidiary organs.
Switzerland’s President, Micheline Calmy-Rey, told the Assembly: “If we are to get results to achieve results, confrontation must give way to dialogue. We must develop alliances based on shared values.” But dialogue alone would not suffice. Without concrete objectives, debates between players with very different views could widen the gaps. Crises currently disrupting the international order could not be addressed unless the United Nations took into account all interests of concerned parties.
The Organization must address two plain facts: first, that respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance were prerequisites for lasting peace and security; and secondly, that battle lines had been blurred, she said. Warlords, terrorists and criminal gangs today dictated the rules, and civilians –- not soldiers –- had become the primary targets. Against that backdrop, nations must tailor security, not on the traditional State framework, but on the individual. As for development, the United Nations system remained fragmented, and additional efforts were needed to ensure greater coherence. Overall, to move ahead and meet the challenges, the Organization needed to focus on tangible objectives.
Also speaking today were the Presidents of Latvia, Mauritania, Finland, Turkmenistan, Lithuania, Zambia, El Salvador, Botswana, Sao Tome and Principe, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mozambique, Cyprus, Madagascar, Nigeria, Georgia, Bolivia, Czech Republic, Ecuador and Poland.
The Prime Ministers of Norway and Malta also addressed the Assembly, as did the Foreign Minister of Cuba. The King of Swaziland also spoke.
The Assembly will reconvene tomorrow at 9 a.m. to continue its general debate.
The General Assembly reconvened this morning to continue its general debate.
VALDIS ZATLERS, President of Latvia, acknowledging the need to work towards a satisfactory outcome to the Bali Conference at year-end, also welcomed the fact that the Security Council had been able to adopt the groundbreaking resolution 1769, authorising deployment of a hybrid operation in Darfur. It was imperative that the resolution was brought to life and the political process continued.
Regarding Iraq, he said the stability of the country depended on support from its region, and Latvia welcomed the fact that the Council could unite in adopting resolution 1770 (2007), as a renewed mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq. Through the launch of the International Compact with Iraq, the world possessed an effective instrument for rendering assistance for the most needed areas. Recalling his visit to Afghanistan’s President Karzai, he said assisting that country through international force was just one side of the coin; the other was contributing to building a solid foundation for sustainable development. Latvia was part of both efforts and was contributing financially to reconstructing infrastructure. Cooperation, however, was the key to success.
In the Middle East, he said that, although the past year had brought no significant breakthrough, Latvia continued to place its trust in the work of the Quartet, and supported efforts of responsible regional States in calming the situation. It was crucial to promote a negotiated, comprehensive, just and lasting peace.
Turning to the final status of Kosovo, he said the Secretary-General had endorsed the Comprehensive Proposal of his Special Envoy, which remained the only viable diplomatic solution on the table. While involvement of the European Union was important, he urged both parties to show flexibility and commitment to a peaceful outcome.
He said that in his previous capacity as a surgeon, he had performed many operations, but had also closely followed the recovery process of each patient, relying heavily on an able and dedicated team. Likewise, it was not enough for the Security Council to prescribe peacekeeping operations; the whole United Nations system was necessary for the long-term recovery of conflict zones. It was important to support peacekeeping efforts, with each State according to its capacity. As Latvia had suffered from foreign occupation and regained its freedom, his Government hoped to prevent the sufferings of others. “We wish to promote the healing process,” he said. He commended the work of the International Criminal Court and hoped the Peacebuilding Commission would be an effective tool for consolidating long-term peace.
Concerning the Millennium Development Goals report, he said while it spotlighted some good news, it also warned that the Goals would not be achieved by 2015 unless efforts were scaled up. Latvia supported calls to review progress and accelerate action. On Latvia’s candidacy in the 2010 elections for the Economic and Social Council, he said his country had undertaken commitments of overseas development assistance.
On United Nations reform, he said Latvia was strongly committed to multilateralism. However, it was regrettable that the reform process had been slow and uneven. “We recognize the forces that make the reform so difficult, but we must not give in to fatigue and frustration,” he said. Management reform was vital and there was a great need for system-wide coherence of the various funds and programmes. He looked forward to assessing the results of the “One UN” pilot programme now underway in eight countries. Although the beginnings of the Human Rights Council were a cause for concern, Latvia was confident that after making important decisions on institution-building earlier this year that States would take full advantage of that body. Latvia had placed promotion of human rights among its top priorities and would aim for membership on that Council in the 2014 elections.
No reform, however, would be more difficult -– or more significant -– than Security Council reform. Latvia considered the Group of 4 model of reform promoted by Brazil, Germany, India and Japan as the best model currently available. He welcomed the prospect of intergovernmental talks and hoped they would bring early positive results. “The United Nations is as important as ever, being the only truly universal forum for dialogue,” he said. “We must not forget that it is also the only truly universal forum for action.”
MICHELINE CALMY-REY, President of Switzerland, asked where the responsibility lay in an age when civilian populations found themselves an easy prey to suicide attacks and sophisticated weapons, when children were forced to become soldiers, and when climate change posed a threat to the survival of the planet. “Where does the responsibility lie when millions of men and women are suffering from malnutrition, when their most basic needs are not being met, when injustice everywhere has the upper hand and when are environment is being destroyed?”
To answer these questions, she said, the Organization needed to address two plain facts: first, respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance were prerequisites for lasting peace and security -- systemic violations of human rights and flagrant deficiencies in the rule of law were the source of many conflicts; second, the lines of battle had been blurred. Warlords, terrorists and criminal gangs dictated the rules. Civilians, not soldiers, had become the primary targets. As a result, nations had to tailor security not on the traditional state framework, but instead on the individual.
“If we are to get results, confrontation must give way to dialogue,” she continued. “We must develop alliances based on shared values.” By transcending regional, ideological, and cultural limitations, solutions could be found. The recent past demonstrated what could be achieved: the International Criminal Court, the Human Rights Council, and the Mine Ban Treaty where the result of broad-based coalitions of countries from all regions of the globe.
However, she added, dialogue alone would not be sufficient. Without concrete objectives, debates between players with very different views of the world could widen the gaps. In contrast, efforts to devise and implement actions that were concrete and practical made cohabitation between different communities possible. That was why she supported such initiative as “The Alliance of Civilizations”.
Regarding peace and security, she said that, overall, crises currently disrupting the international order could not be implemented unless the United Nations took into account all the interests of the concerned communities. On Lebanon, Switzerland had offered the political forces a forum in which they could seek a way out of the crisis and long-term stability. When it came to Occupied Palestinian Territory, she said the involvement of all parties was necessary for a lasting solution. Switzerland hoped Security Council resolution 1769 (2007), encouraging close cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, would help secure peace in Darfur. As the situation in Myanmar escalated, Switzerland favoured dialogue. Also, she reiterated the condemnation of terrorism in all forms and expressed support for the work of the International Criminal Court, though for it to be effective it required the full support of the international community.
“Environmental problems are a threat to security,” she said, and efforts on environmental challenges had not gone far enough. A number of international conventions and programmes existed, as well as legislation on a national level, but environmental governance remained fragmented and lacked clear objectives. The international community, therefore, needed to unite to identify and implement objectives to make more economical use of the available resources and protect the biosphere. The United Nations system must be mobilized in the struggle against climate change with greater effectiveness and coherence. Also the countries most affected by the changes taking place, the least developed in particular, needed help. Switzerland also hoped ambitious objectives for phase two of the Kyoto Protocol could be set and was prepared to make a substantial contribution to that effort.
On development, she said the international community had approved a great many objectives, but additional efforts were still needed to ensure greater coherence in the operational system of the United Nations. It remained fragmented and the transaction costs -– borne to a great extent by the beneficiary countries themselves -– remained very high. Major adjustments, some described in the report “United in Action”, needed immediate implementation to enable the United Nations to carry out operations in the field immediately. The United Nations had marked the halfway point in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but all stakeholders -– governments, multilateral institutions, non-governmental organisations and the private sector -– needed to combine their efforts on a wide front to improve the efficiency and increase the volume of resources available for public aid.
On United Nations reform, she advocated a general improvement in the Security Council’s working methods. Regarding the Organization as a whole, she welcomed the Secretary-General’s vow to make the efficiency of the United Nations a priority. Overall, to move ahead and meet the challenges, the United Nations needed to focus on tangible objectives.
SIDI MOHAMED OULD CHEIKH ABDELLAHI, President of Mauritania, said that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals required that all nations renewed their determination -– and cooperation -– to ensure balanced development for all. That effort should be accompanied by a global push for dialogue and cultural understanding, aimed at ending the differences between groups and societies. As the international community stepped up its efforts to address poverty, marginalization and underdevelopment, it would also be acting to stamp out extremism and the breeding grounds for terrorism.
He said that the world must also cooperate to bring an end to conflicts. The Arab-Israeli conflict was one of the conflicts that generated the most antagonism and threatened international peace and security. All nations must back the newly reignited Arab Peace Initiative, as well as the implementation of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Israel must seize this opportunity, as it was a prime chance to improve the lives and livelihoods of all the people of the region, especially the Palestinian people, and to ensure movement towards the long-sought two-State solution.
Mauritania had also been following the developments in Western Sahara and would continue to support the efforts of the Secretary-General and his envoy on the matter towards finding a negotiated and lasting peace. Mauritania was also hoping that, with recent international efforts, peace would come to its brothers and sisters in the Sudanese region of Darfur. He said that, while the African Union had had concrete results in its efforts to bring an end to strife and conflict on the continent, social and economic development was the best cure for those tensions. While there had been progress in many regions around the world, African economies were declining. The continent was lagging behind in the achievement of internationally agreed development goals. At the same time, there had been some improvements, largely due to the growing demand for goods from emerging markets.
Still, African countries needed a larger share of official development assistance (ODA) as well as direct foreign investment. Mauritania, for its part, was committed to pursuing a progressive development path. It had set up a political system that guaranteed the peaceful transfer of power. Naturally, the country had undergone major political transformation towards a society and government system based on freedom and plurality. Special attention had been given to the situation of women and, during recent elections, 20 per cent of the seats in local councils had been reserved for them. As a result, women were now more prevalent than ever in decision-making positions. The Government was more determined than ever to pursue a path to development that included the participation of all members of society, because it was the best way to achieve prosperity for the citizens of the country.
He said that Mauritania was resolutely committed to participating in regional mechanisms for development, especially the Arab-Maghreb Union, the African Union and the Arab League, and all organizations that could strengthen the country’s links to the Arab and African environment. It was also committed to participating in the wider dialogue on civilization through the Euro-Mediterranean Network. Finally, he said that it was the common duty of all States to make the United Nations a melting pot, so that the Millennium Declaration and the outcomes of recent international meetings and conferences could be made a reality.
TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, aligning herself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said that the United Nations Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals were the common pledges to create a better future, and the United Nations was the key forum for cooperation. In order for security to be achieved, the international community must strive for development and human rights. Towards that goal, no effort should be spared to reform the United Nations. Making the Economic and Social Council more effective was an important part of that reform.
She said that Finland knew from its own experience, through its membership in the Human Rights Council during its first year, how challenging a task it was to establish a new United Nations institution. Efforts to make the work of that Council credible must be sustained, however, because of its importance. To develop the new Peacebuilding Commission so it could successfully assist post-conflict countries, Governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector should work together.
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals called for coherent action, and Finland strongly supported the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on System-wide Coherence, she said. The objective of “one UN at country level” was worth the effort. The Panel’s recommendations concerning gender were warmly welcomed, and Finland supported the proposal for a new gender agency. Engaging women was an important part of all phases of crisis management: conflict prevention; peacekeeping and peacebuilding; as well as peace talks. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Middle East Initiative, in which Israeli and Palestinian women cooperated, was an example of the value of women’s engagement. Finland was preparing to advance the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security.
Turning to sustainable development, she said that required the promotion of fairer globalisation. On the environment, Finland saw a central role for the United Nations in reaching a globally inclusive agreement, as soon as possible, on the post-2012 climate regime. Industrialized countries had to show solidarity towards developing countries and take steps to promote access to environmentally sound technologies, as every nation had the right to prosperity. Many Member States’ initiatives towards developing climate policies were promising advances. Monday’s high-level event was a success, giving momentum towards the Climate Change Conference in Bali in December.
Together with 150 other nations, Finland supported the process aiming at the adoption of a global arms trade treaty, as international cooperation was needed in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation. On other critical matters, Finland valued the Secretary-General’s search for a solution to the crisis in Sudan, and the Security Council’s resolution to establish an international presence in Chad and the Central African Republic. Partnerships, such as the one between the African Union and the European Union, were critical for successful crisis management and for United Nations peacekeeping. For European nations like Finland, continuing to work towards solving the status of Kosovo was vital. Finland supported a stronger United Nations for a better world, because commitments in the areas of security, sustainable development and the human rights of all had to be upheld.
GURBANGULY BERDYMUKHAMMEDOV, President of Turkmenistan, said that United Nations principles had formed the basis of his country’s foreign policy since its independence. Through cooperation with the Organization, Turkmenistan had found its place in the international arena. The resolution on his country’s neutrality had been adopted by the United Nations on 12 December 1995 -- “a historic event for our country.” It was not an overstatement to say that the resolution on neutrality had become the foundation of his country’s foreign policy and a major determinant of national policy. Cooperation with the Organisation and its specialized agencies would continue to drive foreign policy, especially in regional matters, where States should try to find compatible approaches to issues affecting the region. He expressed appreciation for the trust placed in Turkmenistan by the decision to locate the United Nations Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia in Ashkhabad and pledged to make the Centre’s work fruitful and effective.
He said that United Nations reform should be meaningful, goal-oriented and in keeping with the objective realities of the times. He supported Security Council reform to develop closer interaction with the General Assembly. He supported all international efforts for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related technologies and spoke of his country’s legislation banning the possession, manufacture, storage or transport of nuclear, chemical, bacteriological and other types of weapons. He spoke of the signing, last year, of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, the first such document since the Second World War to establish such a large nuclear-free zone in the northern hemisphere.
Concerning Afghanistan, he said: “We rejoice at their success in building a peaceful life, we feel the difficulties they face as our own.” His Government was helping Afghanistan rebuild its economy and provided oil and power to some provinces. Noting that Turkmenistan was at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, he spoke of the role it could play in revitalizing cultural, trade and economic relations between regions, and of how its new transport and communication infrastructure could help. His Government hoped to develop a multiple pipeline system, free of political or ideological biases, for the stable, long-term delivery of Turkmenistan’s energy resources to the international community in an ecologically safe manner. Such pipelines would also stimulate the economic development of the entire region, and positively affect the overall political climate within and beyond the region.
On the question of climate change, he said that Turkmenistan would spend $2 million annually on environmental protection. The country had set legal standards to prevent pollution and was working to ensure the ecological safety of its key sector, the oil and gas industry. A “green belt” had been established. Millions of trees had been planted around the country over the last 10 years. He was fully committed to the Kyoto Protocol.
He said the country was working to introduce greater democracy in public and political life, establish a civil society, introduce modern electoral mechanisms and form local government bodies. The process must not be forced into an artificial timeframe, but it had become irreversible. Turkmenistan was open for broad-scale partnership with the international community, to promote the principles of international law, humanistic ideals, justice, tolerance and mutual respect as the basis for modern inter-State relations. He reaffirmed the irreversible character of Turkmenistan’s neutrality and to the international obligations arising from it.
VALDAS ADAMKUS, President of Lithuania, said that it was always inspiring to return to the United Nations and “time and again experience that there are many more things that unite, rather than divide, nations”. The international community was united in a vision of a world free of violence. It was united in its aspiration to fight the challenges of the twenty-first century, because, in a globalized world, nations recognized that a threat to one was a threat to all. Among the challenges that came under United Nations purview, he said, were poverty, imbalances in development, armaments, the spread of ideologies of hatred, and cybercrime. New approaches to dealing with those new kinds of challenges were required from the international community.
He said seven years ago, a historic pledge had been made to eradicate poverty, illiteracy, improve health and promote gender equality. That had been the response by the international community to a major challenge. At the halfway point, there had been progress on the Millennium Development Goals, but, overall, that progress remained “uneven and too slow”. He called for increased urgency in efforts to achieve them.
He said the challenge of environmental deterioration affected all aspects of life. “Time is clearly not on our side,” he said. Countermeasures to climate change were being undertaken too slowly and with too great a reluctance. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s focus on climate change and proposed the establishment of a United Nations Organisation for the Environment with a revised mandate for a more inclusive system of international environmental governance. He called upon the Bali Conference to conclude by 2009 a comprehensive post-2012 agreement. Lithuania was working to meet its European Union commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 per cent over 1990 levels by 2020. By 2010 the country would increase its reliance on indigenous and renewable energy sources by 12 per cent. Over the past year, 21,000 hectares had been planted with trees -- equivalent to 32,000 soccer fields. In a country the size of Lithuania, that was no small measure.
Integration into the international system had been Lithuania’s major policy priority since regaining independence in 1990, he said. Having joined the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the country had assumed increasing responsibility for security, stability and sustainable development in the region and beyond. Lithuania had been participating in restoring stability to Iraq and in rebuilding Afghanistan. Over the past two years it had doubled its development aid budget and was committed to increasing that budget to 0.33 per cent of gross national income by 2015. He offered Lithuania’s candidacy for the Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010.
If Lithuania and the Baltic region were a success story in terms of establishing themselves in a new global environment, some countries in the region were not, he said. “We may only guess why these countries perceive the integration of democracies at their border as a national threat.” He felt sorry for a society when its Government chose to spend the country’s riches on arms rather than democratic reform. Further attempts to falsify the historic facts about the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States or the famine in Ukraine should not be tolerated. Also, it was morally unacceptable for the international community to remain indifferent to “frozen” conflicts, such as those in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, which could become “very hot”, unless the international community acted. He called for greater United Nations visibility in those areas, and singled out Kosovo, stating that it must not be allowed to become another “frozen” conflict.
He encouraged the Secretary-General to continue United Nations reform, particularly by consolidating operations to be more coherent and effective, and to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. Strengthening the use of good offices and conflict prevention, as envisioned in the World Summit Outcome Document of 2005, could avoid costly peacekeeping operations. He called for the strengthening of arms treaties and urgency in implementing the concept of the Responsibility to Protect outlined in the World Summit Outcome Document. The global community had been too slow to respond to human rights violations and mass atrocities. A reformed United Nations would have the trust of the people and the requisite funding to carry out its mission, he said.
PATRICK MWANAWASA, President of Zambia, said the world today presented a number of challenges, among them abject poverty for the majority of its inhabitants, underdevelopment, human trafficking, climate change, the HIV/AIDs pandemic, and terrorism. Those challenges could not be resolved within national boundaries or even regionally. Resolution of those problems could only happen at a multilateral level, and for that reason, Zambia supported a coherent United Nations and welcomed the ongoing reforms, especially the mandate given to the Economic and Social Council to make it more efficient, including through enhanced collaboration with international financial institutions and the World Trade Organization.
He also called for reform of the Security Council, stressing the need for Africa to have two permanent seats, with full veto power. Africa remained aware that the veto was an undemocratic instrument and preferred to eradicate it, but if other countries possessed it, so should Africa.
He commended the Assembly President for focusing the sixty-second session on climate change, calling that a global issue requiring multilateral action within the context of the United Nations. Zambia had already taken several measures regarding climate change, including formulating a National Adaptation Programme of Action, which would help the country identify the most vulnerable sectors of its economy. It had also pledged to reduce emissions from industrial and other sources. As a developing country, Zambia asked for assistance to enhance key adaptive areas, such as scientific research, early warning, and rapid response to address the negative effects of climate change.
Regarding the Millennium Development Goals, he said that Zambia’s economy had grown by 6.2 per cent last year, and that inflation had declined to a single-digit level for the first time in 30 years. However, those economic gains had not translated into a decline in poverty, which stood at 68 per cent. Zambia’s development efforts had been further compromised by the HIV/AIDS epidemic -- a declared national crisis. Despite those challenges, Zambia remained positioned to meet most of the Millennium targets by 2015. Those it was not likely to meet were: reducing the maternal mortality ratio; integrating the principles of sustainable development into country programmes; and reversing the loss of environmental resources. The goals were for the country to attain middle-income status, reduce hunger and poverty, and foster a competitive economy. Those, however, would remain elusive if development partners did not fulfil commitments, such as better access to markets, and the more efficient delivery of ODA.
His Government understood that aid could not be effective without uprooting corruption. Thus, it had declared war against that social vice. He also urged the international community to desist from providing safe havens for leaders who plundered natural resources. Given that many African countries had been dogged by conflict, thus adversely affecting their potential to participate in the global economic arena, the South African Development Community (SADC) had launched a standby brigade, which would have capacity for peace and support operations.
ELÍAS ANTONIO SACA GONZÁLEZ, President of El Salvador, reiterated his gratitude for the important role the United Nations played in resolving conflicts and creating economic and social conditions.
Latin American countries had celebrated twenty years since the signing of a peace agreement, and countries today were directing efforts to implement an equitable economic and social model. An integration process would allow those nations to open more efficiently to the world, particularly with regard to trade. In that context, he referred to the regional topic that had attracted international attention: development of the Fonseca Gulf area. El Salvador proposed an initiative yesterday to develop dialogue that would establish the Fonseca Gulf Zone. States, including Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, should begin a new era of collaboration to resolve questions related to that area.
On international immigration, he said his Government was supporting immigrants through its embassies. Recalling the high-level dialogue on migration, he reiterated the importance of respecting the rights of immigrants and their families, and said his efforts to support El Salvadoran immigrants in the United States had achieved positive results. Such endeavour showed his firm will to achieve migratory stability.
In the Central American region, progress had been achieved in various areas, but threats that could affect stability persisted, he said, calling for stepped-up efforts to create national, regional and international policies. Citizens, particularly in the United States and Mexico, were aware that the lack of economic and social development was linked to gang activities. Such anti-social groups did not respond to traditional patterns of criminals –- they had become more sophisticated and organized.
He said many countries were not tackling that “extensive and substantive” threat. El Salvador was striving to reduce crime and homicide caused by those groups, and was adopting measures that would help ensure the security of Central America. He called for increased cooperation on terrorism, and urged States to adopt the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
On the Middle East, he said El Salvador supported efforts to redirect the peace process. The planned summit in November would generate new hope for a long awaited peace and help create an environment conducive to cooperation. He called attention to Palestinians’ right to self-determination and Israel’s right to live within safe and internationally recognized borders.
Touching on a number of other matters, he said that Taiwan was a modern and peaceful entity. Given that, he acknowledged the legitimate right of the 23 million Taiwanese to determine their future, and supported the initiative to review its membership case. He also acknowledged the right of Taiwanese to hold a referendum on the issue. On United Nations reform, El Salvador continued to play an active role in the process. Efforts must be made to reform the Security Council and revitalize the General Assembly.
He said that, while the economic situation had improved for some countries, price instability –- particularly for raw materials and oil -– was taking a negative toll on development efforts. Global economic imbalances must be prevented, and that required cooperation. On development cooperation, an intergovernmental conference had taken place in March in Madrid, and strategic action areas had been identified. His country would hold the second such international conference for middle-income countries, which would study measures to ensure compliance with the Millennium Development Goals. He invited middle-income countries and international finance corporations to attend.
On El Salvador’s development, he said the country had reduced from 65 per cent to 30 per cent its overall poverty. His Government would give priority to combating extreme poverty and was implementing social programmes, including the “Solidarity Network”, which supported families, mainly in rural areas, through health care and employment initiatives. Those most vulnerable populations must enjoy the benefits of bilateral and multilateral cooperation to enhance well-being.
Turning to global warming, he said it was urgent for all States to adopt corrective measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions to reverse the trend of environmental degradation. He called on developed countries to reign in that trend in a common and differentiated fashion. Latin American countries were coordinating regional and subregional activities on renewable energy. He highlighted proposals for oil price volatility to be included on the development agenda, and appealed to oil-producing countries to implement flexible mechanisms, so that prices would not drastically affect developing countries. The United Nations should not overlook that issue. El Salvador was promoting biofuels, and had analysed the feasibility of producing ethanol on a national scale. Similarly, the country had started financial studies on producing biodiesel, which would make reforestation possible. Developed countries must fulfil their responsibilities.
In closing, he said that El Salvador was convinced that the future depended on the actions taken here. He called on States to act to prevent problems of uncontrollable proportions, and emphasized that development could be reached primarily through discipline and long-term vision.
FESTUS G. MOGAE, President of Botswana, expressed satisfaction that no Member State disputed the evidence of climate change and said they were all bound together by common humanity and a shared future to address the increasing threat of global warming and its consequences. However, many of the global challenges persisted, not because they were insurmountable, but because the United Nations had fallen short of its commitment and obligations. It was deeply regrettable that nations continued to give higher priority to the narrow pursuit of their own interests, instead of cooperation for the common good and mutual benefit.
The United Nations, he continued, had touched the lives of a vast majority of people and Botswana reaffirmed its abiding faith in its efficacy and usefulness to address global issues. However, it was hardly surprising that, to live up to its mandate, the Organization had to undergo constant reform to respond to contemporary global realities. Botswana called upon the original signatories of the United Nations Charter and, in particular, the permanent members of the Security Council, to assume greater leadership in reforming the Council and increasing its membership, both in the permanent and non-permanent categories. Important matters of international peace required greater participation and collaboration.
Turning to Africa, he said that the conflicts in the continent had caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, as well as abject poverty and displacement. The United Nations annually allocated huge amounts of resources to resolve them, but even more resources were needed for the care of refugees and internally displaced persons. The situation in Darfur, especially, continued to cause concern, and Botswana welcomed the Security Council decision to deploy a peacekeeping Mission to Darfur. Botswana was also concerned about the situation in Chad and the Central African Republic. It called upon both countries and other involved parties to commit to a peaceful political process to avert further loss of lives. Regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana remained hopeful that, following elections, the country would stay on the road to recovery, though it, and surrounding countries, required international support.
He acknowledged the problems of Africa, he said, not because Botswana considered the future of Africa hopeless or bleak. Botswana wanted to arrive at a “correct diagnosis”, and hence, prescribe the right medication. The African Union was playing a pivotal role in the prevention, management, and resolution of the continent’s conflicts. Additionally, Africa had been the beneficiary of significant economic growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that the African economy was expected to grow by 6 per cent, just below the 7 per cent annual target of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which was necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
However, he added, while other regions of the world had made significant progress towards the realization of the Goals, indications were that, unless something was done to support Africa, the continent would be unlikely to achieve any of the targets by 2015. Statistics pointed to a huge number of poor and hungry in Africa, and ravaging diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, had killed many. Those factors required an urgent response, as they threatened peace, stability and security. Botswana had long recognized that sustainable development had to be a nationally owned and led process that required sound democratic institutions, but continued assistance was necessary to consolidate the gains of the past and ensure improvement.
RENÉ GARCIA PRÉVAL, President of Haiti, said that the United Nations, despite its difficulties, continued to be the forum at which all countries could discuss and conclude agreements on matters of global concern. He said that he was speaking on behalf of a country that was suffering myriad deprivations. Haitians had poor access to health care, education, and, in some cases, basic necessities. Hundreds of thousands of children were dying from malnutrition. Moreover, the country seemed to be emptying itself, as countless dejected skilled professionals left to go ply their trades in other countries. The same was true of sad young people or elderly men and women who took to the seas in rickety makeshift boats seeking better lives.
In light of all that, some had jumped to call Haiti a “failed State”, especially because not all of its institutions functioned properly and it seemed to be “carrying out an endless war with its own children”. But, slowly and steadily, Haiti was on its way to bidding farewell to that State. Armed gangs that had preyed upon ordinary hardworking citizens were being dismantled and there were no longer designated “no-go” zones in any neighbourhood. Inflation was decreasing and the gross domestic product (GDP) was growing moderately, but steadily after a decade of decline. There was also stability among political groups and peace among once-sparring clans, pointing towards a true national reconciliation movement.
He went on to say that the Security Council was expected to extend again the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). That move reminded everyone that Haiti’s victory against insecurity, its holding of democratic elections, improvement of governance and strengthening of its judicial systems were due in large parts to the work of that United Nations peacekeeping force and its police contingent. Moreover, Haiti’s police force, though nascent, had been courageous in its battle against insecurity, but with MINUSTAH at its side, its efforts had been greatly amplified.
Haitians, recalling that they had come from a people that had forged freedom and carried its torch to other parts of the world, had some misgivings about the continued presence of armed forces in the homeland. But, they had come to realize that, at present, it was probably the best formula for the success of the country. It was now up to the Haitian people to do their part to restore and maintain calm and to come back to work and other daily activities, while the State solidified national cohesion and shored up its institutions. That would create and enable an environment for economic recovery and genuine sustainable development.
On his Government’s efforts to ensure long-term development, he said that Haiti was currently creating the means to deal with corruption and was consolidating State structures. At the same time, the fight against drug trafficking was another, more difficult story to tell, because the nascent Government had to face both violent and sophisticated traffickers and their networks, as well as the pull of rising demand in consumer countries. The traffic had negative effects on Haiti, as well as other States in the region, and Haiti joined the approach aimed to address supply as well as demand reduction, while combating the traffickers themselves. Haiti was one of the main countries along the transit rout of drugs from the Caribbean to North America, and though there had been some progress, its efforts were constantly confounded by the sophisticated power of the drug networks.
Finally he stressed that, clearly, Haiti’s efforts on all those fronts would go nowhere unless the issue of economic development was addressed. Development was peace by another name, he said, calling on the international community to develop a new culture of solidarity in which the fight against poverty went hand in hand with sustainable development. Such an approach would promote economic growth, direct foreign investment, and entrepreneurship. It would also make both rich and poor countries realize that they were co-owners of the planet and “its fate is in all our hands”.
LAURENT GBAGBO, President of C ôte d’Ivoire, pointing out that today was his first appearance before the General Assembly in the seven years he had been in power, said he was fully committed to resolving the crisis that had engulfed his country and mobilized the international community over the last five years. His presence today was the best sign of the calm that followed the signing of the Ouagadougou Agreement, which had been endorsed by the Security Council in its adoption of resolution 1765 (2007). He thanked all who were involved in those positive developments, especially South African President Thabo Mbeki, who had mediated the Ivorian crisis, and Blaise Compaore, President of Burkina Faso, who had facilitated the direct inter-Ivorian dialogue.
Discussing the developments in Côte d’Ivoire, he said that, despite efforts over the last four years, the peace process had remained blocked, which was why on 19 December 2006, he suggested a way out of the crisis by focusing on: direct dialogue with the rebels; removal of the zone of confidence; establishment of a civil service; and establishment of assistance programmes for those displaced by war. To ensure complete ownership of the peace process, he took up direct dialogue with rebels in Burkina Faso, which ultimately led to the signing of the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement on 4 March 2007.
Under the Agreement, he said a new Government had been formed and was directed by Guillaume Soro, the head of the former rebel group. Considerable progress had been made in a short time. Among the successes, he said an integrated command centre was created on 16 March, with a mission to set up a joint force that would ensure the free movement of peoples and goods. A general amnesty order had been taken and disarmament had begun. Redeployment and reinstatement of magistrates had started throughout the country. A plan for those displaced by the war had been set up and mobile courts to identify people and update electoral lists had been developed. The lessons he had learned from the direct dialogue led him to invite the international community to favour local solutions for solving conflict.
“ Côte d’Ivoire will emerge from crisis; it is emerging from crisis,” he said. However, the country, now more than ever, needed support from the international community to build peace, both within its borders and within the West African subregion. He asked that the country’s security rating be revised downward, as phase three no longer reflected reality. His country was reunified and could restore law and order throughout the territory. Under the agreement, the forces of law and order would provide protection for administrative staff and communities.
Moreover, he asked for a partial lifting of the weapons embargo to ensure the passage of peoples and goods. In the context of national reconciliation, Ivorians, he said, were still concerned at individual sanctions that had been imposed on compatriots who had put their heart and sole into peace. He formally asked the United Nations to lift sanctions imposed on Goudé Charles Blé, Eugène Djué and Kouakou Fofie.
He said Côte d’Ivoire’s management of public finances had made it possible to ensure a minimum level of well-being for its people. However, the crisis had reduced its resources, and he asked for international support for the civil service, general elections, the return of those displaced by war and peaceuilding efforts. Beyond that, the country also needed international aid to support robust and long-term economic reconstruction. It must not only rebuild its schools and health care centres, but rehabilitate its infrastructure such as roads, railways, and electric and water supply stations.
Finally, the holding of free and transparent elections was not only a requirement under his leadership but a proof of good governance. He intended to make Côte d’Ivoire a modern state, and democratic elections were a requirement for modern political life and economic recovery. Successful elections would restore confidence at home and abroad. They must be organized quickly to bestow legitimacy on those in power and ensure economic recovery in West Africa. He invited politicians in his country to become involved in the peace process and be fully invested in the electoral process underway.
FRADIQUE BANDEIRA MELO DE MENEZES, President of Sao Tome and Principe, said delegates had come together at a time of enormous challenges for the United Nations, as the world situation was very serious. The mass of facts presented to the public by the media made it exceedingly difficult for average people to understand the situation. Also, many in the room lived distant from the troubled areas of the earth, making it hard to comprehend the plight of long-suffering peoples in places such as Darfur, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sierra Leone. But the United Nations needed to reject prejudice and end those conflicts.
Regarding the Millennium Development Goals, he expressed his regret that so little progress had been made towards those worthy ends, and asked how the United Nations could have ignored those who would be helped by those targets. Despite all the technology and technical advances, half of the world’s population lived on less than $2 a day and 20 per cent suffered from chronic hunger. Every day, 30,000 children died needlessly from dehydration, diarrhoea, or easily prevented infections. Everyone had been told that to finance development and eradicate those problems, globalisation was the way -– that a rising tide would lift all boats. But the rising tide of globalisation in many parts of the world had lifted the yachts and swamped the rowboats. Some companies needed to improve their practices and be held accountable for cleaning up their environmental disasters, such as those in the Niger Delta.
He said that global poverty was the disgrace of today’s affluent era. Many had said Africa was poor because of bad governance and corruption. He strongly rejected that view. The majority of people in Sao Tome and Principe had grown up in a wooden shack, with no running water, no electricity, no amenities. In 1975, the country emerged from centuries of slavery and colonialism with almost no teachers, no doctors, and a new Government. “We have struggled. We have stumbled. But we have today created a vibrant and stable democracy that we are proud of.” There was little corruption in the country, press freedom, and literacy rates far above the average in the developing world.
Sao Tome and Principe remained grateful for aid, however, as long as massive poverty, injustice, and obscene inequality persisted, no one could rest, he said. He asked that developed countries not look the other way.
In closing, he referred to two situations, in Taiwan and Cuba. There were 23 million people living in Taiwan. They had been recognized as a main world economic power, who had only asked to be recognized as a sovereign country and be included in the list of the United Nations members and its agencies. Finally, he asked the United States to lift its embargo against Cuba.
NURI KAMEL AL-MALIKI, Prime Minister of Iraq, said that he was honoured to address the Assembly as the first Prime Minister of a constitutionally permanent Government, representing Iraq, its people and its aspirations in cementing the foundations of democracy, peace, freedom and cooperation with the international community. Recalling his country’s recent past, he said that the Iraqi people had lived isolated from the world in the shadow of a 35-year dictatorship.
There had been no freedom of thought or belief, no multi-party system, no free elections, no democratic institutions, no communications systems, and no media other than those organs controlled by State intelligence agencies, he said. Further, millions of Iraqis had suffered in “adventurous wars” with neighbouring countries Iran and Kuwait. Genocide and mass murder were committed inside the country, and mass graves, horrific prison cells, and rampant destruction of vital infrastructure had been the order of the day, he said.
“Today in Iraq, there are hundreds of parties that are active within 20 political alliances,” he said, adding that there were more than 6,000 civil society organizations, hundreds of newspapers and magazines, 40 local and satellite TV stations, as well as foreign media correspondent offices from all over the world working under no preconditions. “This new Iraq, ladies and gentlemen, is what is targeted today,” he said, declaring that terrorism killed civilians, journalists and academics; it attacked universities, marketplaces and libraries; and it blew up mosques and churches and destroyed State infrastructure.
“We consider terrorism an extension of the fallen dictatorship, whether it may vary in its outside form or by the gangs that carry it out,” he said. Terrorism aimed to derail the political processes and ignite sectarian dissension “as a prelude to hijack Iraq back into the era of tyranny, oppression and backwardness”. Car bombs and explosive vests in public places and the display of decapitated heads on TV were all “letters” that terrorists sent to the world community, the bloody chapters of which had been executed in Algeria, Spain, England, Lebanon, Turkey, and here in New York. “We are steadfast and determined to exterminate terrorism in Iraq so that it does not spread to other countries around the world, repeating the tragedy.”
He said that Iraq would be victorious, despite “this fierce attack of terror” against its people since the fall of the dictatorship. The people would not be stopped. They had not been stopped from participating in three epic elections, from laying the groundwork for a unique democratic experience in the country and in the region. Iraq now had a Constitution that had been voted upon, a Prime Minister who had been elected, and a National Unity Government that had been established. That new, young and democratic Iraq would not retreat from “choices for which our people have paid a very high price”.
That position necessitated support and cooperation from the world’s nations, so that Iraq could build a modern State that guaranteed justice, equality and a respect for religious, intellectual, sectarian and ethnic pluralism. The Iraqi people had tasted freedom after years of oppression and would continue on the road to reinforcing the rule of law and respecting human rights. He said Iraq looked at national reconciliation as a “life boat”, and a safe harbour for the political process. National reconciliation was not the Government’s responsibility alone, however, it was a group task that should involve political powers, intellectual leaders, religious leaders, educators, civil society actors and all Iraqi stakeholders.
“National reconciliation is our strategic choice that has saved our country from slipping into the pit of sectarian war; a war that was planned by the enemies of freedom and democracy…” he said, adding that reconciliation was the olive branch that had blossomed into the formation of support councils in many of Iraq’s provinces and cities. It was also stronger than the weapons of terrorism and transcended past hatred and fears. Among other things, national reconciliation had resulted in regaining security in villages and cities, including the province of Al-Anbaar, which had been liberated from Al-Qaida terrorists.
He went on to say that those behind the acts of sectarian violence in Iraq were not from everyday Iraqi society but rather were “extremists and fanatics from this group or that”. The average number of sectarian killings was decreasing and security and stability had been restored in many hot spots, helping thousands of displaced families return to their homes. He added that Iraq’s security and military agencies had experienced accelerated growth and had proven their capability by heading up security operations in eight Iraqi provinces. At the same time, those forces needed to be developed further, so that they could more quickly take over from the multinational force.
After detailing many of the strides that the new Iraqi Government had made, he reminded the Assembly that the people of the country were still paying the price of the “reckless politics” of the fallen regime, as well as the consequences of international resolutions, especially those relating to its weapons programme and the invasion of Kuwait. Those texts, which had been exploited by the previous regime, had inflicted great harm on Iraq’s infrastructure, service sector, education and health systems.
“Our people look to the international community for help to alleviate and lift the burdens of destruction as well as to relieve [them] from the heavy bills of debt and compensations,” he said. Further, he was hopeful that the United Nations would mobilize its activities in Iraq. That would contribute to encourage the international community to intensify its roles, in turn, in the areas of construction, development, supporting national reconciliation and the democratic experience.
FELIPE PÉREZ ROQUE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said never before had the real dangers menacing the human species and the real violations of international law become so evident. A key factor in humankind’s survival was to end the wastefulness and unbridled consumerism fostered by large corporations and the “power groups” of developed countries that squandered at the expense of poor countries, where billions of people scrambled to make a living. Action on global warming must be taken, and developed countries had the moral duty to spearhead that effort.
Several countries from the South continued to fall prey to acts of aggression by the “ever powerful” that were driven by their insatiable hunger for strategic resources, he continued. The repeated use of pretexts, such as the alleged war on terror, was today one of the most serious threats to peace and security in the world. Under the false tirade of freedom and democracy, attempts were being made to allow the pillaging of natural resources and control of geo-strategically important areas. No prudence was shown in the imposition of unilateral blockades. If a small country upheld its right to independence, it was accused of being a rogue State; a fighter against foreign aggression was a terrorist.
Rather than move toward a complete disarmament including nuclear disarmament, an ongoing demand of the Movement, the world had borne witness to promotion of the arms race, he said. An attempt was being made to prevent implementation of the principle that nations were entitled to the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. How much time must elapse before the hawks understood that weapons were useless in resolving humankind’s critical problems? he wondered.
He said no progress had been made toward fulfilling the Millennium Goals. Poverty had not decreased and inequality was on the rise; drinking water was inaccessible to 1.1 billion people. That happened in a world that spent $1 trillion on weapons. Moreover, nearly 1 billion people living in developed countries consumed about half the world’s energy. He questioned why such colossal resources were squandered on the “killing industry”, rather than spent on saving lives. Why was there no momentum to researching HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis?
The hypocritical assertion that no financial resources were available was a lie, he stated. He called for fulfilling the commitment to set aside 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product as official development assistance. Foreign debt should be cancelled, and the Doha Round successfully concluded, which would allow $300 billion in agricultural subsidies for developed countries to be removed. The right to development should be recognized, and the right to access markets, patents and technologies guaranteed.
The Non-Aligned countries wanted a more democratic and transparent United Nations in which the General Assembly could implement its powers, he continued. He called for a reformed Security Council that acted in line with its mandate and had an expanded membership that reflected the composition of the Organization, where underdeveloped countries constituted a majority. Working methods needed a radical modification, he said, stressing also the need for a Human Rights Council that would avoid the serious mistakes made by the former Commission on Human Rights.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said the shameless behaviour of the United States President yesterday now forced him also to make remarks on Cuba’s behalf. With a firm tone, President Bush had given orders with a bossiness “never ever” before seen in the Assembly. It was an embarrassing show. The President had no right to pass judgement on any sovereign nation. Possessing nuclear weapons did not confer a right to tread upon the rights of the 191 other countries represented in the Assembly. What prevailed was not the power of cannons but the fairness of the ideas for which one fought, a lesson the “bullish” President should have already learned. He said the President talked about democracy, but had come into office through fraud and deceit. The Assembly could have been spared his presence yesterday, could instead have listened to “President” Al Gore speak about climate change.
Calling the United States President a “strange warrior” who sent young people to die thousands of kilometres away, he said the President was also responsible for the deaths of 600,000 Iraqi civilians, had authorized torture at Abu Ghraib and was an accessory to kidnapping. Further, the President had talked about terrorism, but he had ensured complete impunity for hateful terrorist groups that, from Miami, had perpetrated heinous crimes against the Cuban people. Pointing out that the United States could not become a member of the Human Rights Council during his term in office because elections were by secret ballot, he said Cuba, in turn, had been elected a founding member with more than a two-thirds majority. There were boundaries to arrogance, and Cuba rejected each of the devious words used by the President yesterday.
Cuba appreciated the solidarity received from the Assembly, and thanked those who had raised their voices in favour of the release of five Cuban anti-terrorism fighters unjustly imprisoned in the United States. Cuba would fight, along with the Non-Aligned Movement, to achieve a more just and democratic international order.
KING MSWATI III of Swaziland said that one area of great concern for his country as it implemented its developmental programmes was the challenges of globalization. Hopefully, as the World Trade Organization rules came into force there would be considerations to ensure that all developing countries met the organization’s standards. In that way, they would be able to implement the rules equitably and effectively. HIV/AIDS and other health problems remained some of the major challenges his country faced. It had programmes in place to deal with the situation, but it was unable to meet its targets because of limited resources. He acknowledged the contribution made by the Global Fund in the fight against the HIV/AIDS scourge, and added that his country was one of the beneficiaries of its funding. Swaziland encouraged the United Nations to continue to make an appeal on its behalf for continued support in eradicating HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
He said that Swaziland was faced with persistent drought, which set the country back in its development. That situation had been worsened by recent wildfires, which had destroyed property, crops, livestock and the forest industry. Everything possible was being done to help those affected, and he thanked the countries and organizations that had helped the country and appealed to others for still needed support. The high-level event on climate change on Monday had been very important, and he commended the Secretary-General for convening it. A political momentum had been generated, and it was his country’s hope that the necessary negotiations would commence on the issue at the Bali meeting in December. Swaziland had developed some policies that were climate change-friendly, such as a pro-green energy policy, a water resources policy, and an environmental and waste management policy. However, there was a need to enhance education, training and public awareness on adaptation and the promotion of individual and institutional capacity-building to manage appropriate technology development and transfer.
He welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on the relationship between disarmament and development, in particular its recognition that armed violence and conflict impeded realization of the Millennium Development Goals. He further commended the efforts of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa for its continuation of the operation of the small arms and light weapons register for Africa.
Applauding the United Nations role in promoting its Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, he noted that Taiwan was one country that was not benefiting from it. Taiwan exercised a well-founded right in international law to apply for membership to the United Nations. Regrettably, its application had been rejected. Swaziland continued to support the cause of the 23 million people of Taiwan.
ŽELJKO KOMŠIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, spoke of United Nations reform, saying his country had paid a high price for the Organization’s inefficiency. Citing the United Nations first Report on Srebrenica, in which failure there was admitted, he noted that the International Court of Justice had found that genocide had been committed against Bosnian Muslims in and around Srebrenica, and that that was not an isolated incident. Experience had prompted Bosnia and Herzegovina’s commitment to United Nations reform. Regrettably, momentum had been lost for Security Council reform, but he nevertheless hoped that Eastern Europe would gain an additional seat on an expanded Council. His country’s experience had made it a good candidate for non-permanent membership, from 2010 to 2012.
He noted that the country was involved in numerous regional issues, among them disaster preparedness, arms control, the fight against organized crime, and prevention of the transport across and proliferation of radioactive materials on its territory. He highlighted Sarajevo’s designation as Regional Cooperation Council Centre for South-Eastern Europe, making Bosnia and Herzegovina a future regional cooperation hub. In support of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States, he said that the solution for Kosovo should be reached through dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. He offered his assistance in finding a mutually acceptable solution, adding that further delay in resolving Kosovo’s status would negatively affect the Balkan region.
Bosnia and Herzegovina had joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Partnership for Peace, and become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, he said. The country had become President last spring of The Hague Code of Conduct on missiles, and he urged non-signature States to sign the instrument and to support the relevant resolution proposed by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Portugal. His country would also continue to support global anti-terrorism measures and joint efforts to strengthen human rights. It also planed to co-sponsor, with Italy, a moratorium on the death penalty for discussion during the General Assembly. With Jordan, his country had been promoting the United Nations Better World Campaign to improve humanitarian disaster response.
He said his country continued to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and was creating a legal framework to start processing war crime cases. That was a condition for establishing mutual trust and reconciliation within the country. He called on the International Court not to shut down until the most notorious war criminals, especially Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, among others, had been brought to justice. Also of concern was the non-payment of dues for the Court.
Concerning the Middle East, he expressed support for the Road Map and Quartet initiatives, and urged an unconditional end to the hostilities and the start of dialogue towards a definitive two-State solution of the Israeli-Palestinian question. He called upon all segments of Iraqi society to work together, and he encouraged Iran’s cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and with key partners. Stressing that United Nations weakness in conflict prevention was again in evidence in Iraq, he warned that unilateral interventions could result from a failure of the Organization to live up to its Charter responsibilities.
ARMANDO EMÍLIO GUEBUZA, President of Mozambique, commended the selection of the theme on climate change as the main topic of the session and congratulated the Secretary-General, particularly for the appointment of three eminent persons as Special Envoys on climate change. Not only was that an urgent issue that was felt more harshly in developing countries, but as the world was a global village, developed countries also suffered the effects.
He said that, more than ever, there was a need to involve all members of the international community in the implementation of global actions enshrined in the commitments undertaken in the “Rio Declaration”, “Agenda 21” and the Kyoto Protocol. He called on Member States to fully implement their commitments.
Mozambique was prone to natural disasters, which caused loss of life and widespread destruction. That situation was exacerbated by the shortage of physical infrastructure for water management and food conservation, along with the fact that 70 per cent of the population lived in rural areas. The Government was addressing those issues, with positive impacts, but the prevention and reduction of natural disasters required the engagement of the international community; the importance of strengthened regional, continental and international coordination could not be overemphasized. He encouraged the United Nations to enhance its institutional capacity and resources in order to better assist Member States incorporate adequate environmental policies into their national development strategies. Special attention should be given to developing countries, as their limited resources constrained their ability to build their national capacity to deal with climate change-related issues. “To act against climate change is, in the long run, to preserve world peace and security, and to ensure necessary conditions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which should be viewed and assumed as the minimum that can be demanded for now,” he said.
TASSOS PAPADOPOULOS, President of Cyprus, said on the topic of climate change that an integrated approach was needed and countries must act jointly to codify binding commitments, to ensure that those were adequate, and to attach to them an implementation-monitoring mechanism and timeline. Moreover, there was no other plausible framework than the United Nations to oversee those actions.
Concerning the situation in his country, he said that, for many years, the United Nations has made strenuous efforts to broker a solution, but the problem persisted. Turkey’s long-standing objective of gaining political and military control over Cyprus remained unchanged. Efforts to solve the Cyprus problem had not been filtered through a system of values and norms of international law, and shifting the problem from the context of its origin had led to a problem-solving methodology that divided the distance that separated the parties, caving to the demands of the most powerful party and making success conditional upon the latter’s magnanimity.
He said that Cyprus currently found itself engaged in an effort to implement a process consisting of an agreement concluded and signed by the two communities in Cyprus on 8 July 2006. Although the last meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader had not signalled the start of implementation of that agreement, he would not rescind efforts to put the accord back on track.
Citing Turkey’s recent statements “at the highest political level” that refers to “a settlement based on two peoples, two democracies, two States and two religions”, he said: “That’s an arrangement we will never accept.” A settlement in the form of a bizonal, bicommunal federation could be truly comprehensive and need not sacrifice justice for the sake of peace. The preservation of Greek Cypriot interests and those of Turkey in the region were not mutually exclusive; they were complementary and interdependent. The vision must be to pass on to future generations the legacy of friendship, cooperation and good neighbourliness. “We are afforded the opportunity to prevent eternalising this feud and we should seize it,” he concluded.
MARC RAVALOMANANA, President of Madagascar, said the two major challenges facing the world today were climate change and the development of Africa. The United Nations had repeatedly failed to reach the lofty goals it had set for itself, in part, because national interests had tended to prevent nations from cooperating with each other. It was time for the world to realize that the emergencies that affected all, were, in fact, closely tied to national interests. He called for a drastic increase in donor aid to Africa under a new model of “ecological partnership”.
He said that improving the quality of the environment was closely linked to poverty reduction. Successfully combating climate change would increase investor confidence around the world. A worsening of the environment, however, would have a devastating impact on the world’s economy and stability. “Climate change creates and aggravates conflicts.” In Madagascar, an increase in the number of cyclones was drastically slowing the country’s development. Therefore, he proposed Madagascar’s vision, “ Madagascar, naturally!”, as a model for the world’s ecological efforts. It focused on solar and hydroenergy, and on reforestation.
The President called for a dramatic increase in donor aid to Africa, so that the Millennium Development Goals could be achieved. Pointing to the example of aid strategies within the European Union, he said that increased aid to Africa would benefit countries outside of Africa as well. However, donors’ efforts had so far fallen short of expectations and were not even close to the promise of doubled aid for Africa. “The international approach to Africa lacks seriousness,” he said, adding that what was needed was a “Marshall Plan for Africa”, comparable to the plan through which the United States aided Europe after the end of the Second World War.
African countries were ready to enter a new period of growth, but they needed to be supported by donor aid, and, at the same time, left unfettered by economic directives imposed from the outside. Africa had recently made tremendous strides, even deprived of substantial aid. Madagascar, which had once ranked among the least effective countries in the world, had become more effective, with 7 per cent economic growth in 2007, amid falling poverty rates. Those advances were in large part due to Madagascar’s policy on decentralization and “economic growth from the bottom up”. The Malagasy people, and all African peoples, must be left free to “take their future into their own hands” without the economic guidelines often imposed by donor nations.
Elaborating on his proposal for a new “ecological partnership” between the industrialized countries and Africa, he explained that Africa would supply clean energy, medicinal and industrial plants, and natural products, in return for an increase in investment from the developed world. Such a policy, with a heavy emphasis on sustainability and protection of the natural environment, would benefit not only Africa, but the whole world. The United Nations was Africa’s greatest hope for providing the sort of dynamic leadership that would create peace and prosperity in Africa and around the world.
UMARU MUSA YAR’ADUA, President of Nigeria, speaking to the General Assembly for the first time since taking office, reaffirmed his country’s dedication to the ideals of the United Nations. Nigeria shared the worthy principles of democracy, good governance, free enterprise and the rule of law with the United Nations family. Africa was particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and he applauded the successful outcome of this week’s high-level event on climate change. However, much more needed to be done.
In Africa, he said, there had been tangible progress in addressing development issues since the millennium Assembly seven years ago, but great challenges still bedevilled the continent. The festering Darfur crisis was a blight on the collective conscience of the international community, one that the Assembly urgently needed to address. The Abuja Peace Agreement, which Nigeria had helped to facilitate, remained the reference point for a comprehensive settlement, but the lack of its full implementation was cause for concern. All parties should respect their commitments and help drive the peace process forward. Nigeria would continue to support both the peace process and the African Union-United Nations hybrid force in the Sudan.
The concerted fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and related diseases must not lose momentum, he said. Africa sought even more collective efforts to overcome such pandemics. African nations had been facing up to economic and socio-political development challenges via a new political culture conducive to long-term development. However, they needed genuine partnership with the international community for economic development, in the context of a global economic system based on fairness, justice and equity, fair trade terms and the “centrality of mutuality in prosperity”. In particular, Africa needed massive and focused foreign investment in its infrastructural development.
He said that Nigeria was committed to the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, having set up four counter-terrorism centres plus a unit for monitoring banking transactions that might be linked to terrorism and other criminal acts. The international community should muster the necessary political will to confront and check terrorism. Nigeria believed in the ideals and objectives of the United Nations, and held that a strengthened and restructured United Nations would be best placed to address global challenges. His country would continue to collaborate with other Member States to press for comprehensive United Nations reform, including a much-desired expansion of the Security Council. It was unfair and untenable for Africa to be totally excluded from permanent membership in the Council, and that must be rectified. Renewed purpose, renewed resolve, renewed courage and renewed respect for human dignity were needed to confront the challenges facing the world. Posterity beckoned the United Nations to a real test of its sense of duty; it could not afford to fail that test.
MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, President of Georgia, said that his country had served as a catalyst and a living example of how governing transparently, through democratic principles, bred lasting stability and shared prosperity. Its most challenging relationship today remained with its neighbours in the Russian Federation, which “continues to interfere in our domestic politic”. Georgia was committed to addressing that issue through diplomatic means, in partnership with the international community.
He said that Georgia’s economy was growing at a rate of over 14 per cent. The GDP per capita had more than doubled in four years. Corruption was the lowest among transition economies around the world, and one of the lowest in Europe, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The country had taken its place alongside the most developed economies in the world, after the World Bank and the International Financial Corporation ranked it as the eighteenth easiest place to do business, owing to institutionalized transparency and a lack of corruption.
The Government would not rest, however, until every school in the country was filled with empowered and confident students, who had the benefit of new books, a modern curriculum, full internet access and motivated teachers, he said. Reforms in education were sowing the seeds of lasting prosperity, and its students were leading the way.
He said that ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia, Georgia, was “a stain on the moral copybook” of the international community. Those disputes were no longer about ethnic grievance; they were about the manipulation of greed by a tiny minority and their foreign backers at the expense of the local population and the displaced. The choice was between a Georgia that was willing to welcome them back with every constitutional recognition of their identity and their rights -- or, a bleak future where they were the objects of propaganda, fear and poverty. In South Ossetia, the courage of common men and women who had chosen dialogue over division, and reconciliation over recriminations, was making a difference. Unfortunately, those who did not share a vision of peace and reconciliation had chosen to up the ante there, fearful that people power and the desire to live in freedom might undermine their cynical plans. Today, elements from Russia were actively and illegally building a new military base in South Ossetia, in the small town of Java, hoping that arms would triumph over the will of the people. That dangerous escalation was taking place under the very noses of international monitors, whose job it was to demilitarize the territory.
ROBERT G. MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, urged the international community to get its priorities right to seriously address the challenges of climate change. In Zimbabwe, its effects had become more evident in the past decade as the country had witnessed increased and recurrent droughts, as well as occasional floods, leading to enormous humanitarian challenges.
He said that Zimbabwe supported a United Nations that recognized the equality of sovereign nations and peoples, whether big or small. It opposed a body in which the economically powerful behaved like bullies, trampling the rights of weak and smaller States, as sadly had happened in Iraq. In light of those inauspicious developments, the United Nations, when challenged in that manner, must examine the essence of its authority and the extent of its power. Such challenges to the authority of the United Nations and its Charter underpinned the repeated call for the revitalization of the General Assembly itself; the most representative organ of the United Nations. Indeed, the Assembly should be more active in all areas, including those of peace and security.
The encroachment of some United Nations organs upon the work of the General Assembly was of great concern to his country, and any process to revitalize or strengthen it should avoid eroding the principle of the accountability of all its principal and subsidiary organs, he said. The Security Council, as presently constituted, was not democratic. In its present configuration, the Council had shown that it was not in a position to protect the weaker States, which found themselves at loggerheads with a “marauding super-Power”. Most importantly, justice demanded that any Security Council reform should redress the fact that Africa was the only continent without a permanent seat and veto power. Zimbabwe further called for the non-interference by the United Nations system in matters that were clearly the domain of member States and were not a threat to international peace and security.
He said that development at the country level should be country-led, and not subjected to the whims of powerful donor States. It was clear that, for Western countries, vested economic interests, racial and ethnocentric considerations proved stronger than those nations’ adherence to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The West still negated the sovereignty of African States by controlling their resources, in a process that made them chattels in their own lands -- mere minders of the West’s transnational interests.
In Zimbabwe, and other southern African States, the most visible form of that control had been over land despoiled from them at the onset of British colonialism, he continued. That control largely persisted, although it stood firmly challenged in Zimbabwe, where it triggered the current stand-off with Britain, supported by “her cousin States, most notably the United States and Australia”. The sense of human rights of United States President George Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his successor, Gordon Brown, “precludes our people’s right to their God-given resources, which in their view, must be controlled by their kith and kin”. He was “termed dictator” because he had “rejected this supremacist view and frustrated the neo-colonialists”.
He said that the President of the United States must read history correctly. He had much to atone for and very little “to lecture us on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, adding that his “hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities”. He was alarmed that, under President Bush’s leadership, the basic rights of his own people and those of the rest of the world had been summarily rolled back: “We seem all guilty for 9/11. Mr. Bush thinks he stands above all structures of governance, whether national or international”.
“This forum did not sanction Blair and Bush’s misadventures in Iraq,” he said, adding that the two leaders had ridden roughshod over the United Nations and international opinion. He encouraged the United States to leave Iraq.
He went on to say that the British and the Americans had gone “on a relentless campaign of destabilizing and vilifying” Zimbabwe, sponsoring surrogate forces to challenge lawful authority in his country. They sought regime change, placing themselves in the role of the Zimbabwean people, in whose collective will democracy placed the right to define and change regimes. “Let these sinister Governments be told here and now that Zimbabwe will not allow a regime change authored by outsiders.”
He thanked President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who, on behalf of the SADC, had successfully facilitated the dialogue between his Government and the opposition parties, which had yielded the agreement that had now resulted in the adoption of the constitutional provisions. Consequently, Zimbabwe would hold multiple democratic elections in March 2008. Indeed, his country had had timely general and presidential elections ever since its independence in 1980.
EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, said that now that the issue of climate change was before the Assembly, the countries of the world had a chance to work towards a better planet for all. He pointed to Bolivia as an example of how natural resources could be harnessed in full respect for the environment.
He said the previous Government had privatized natural resources, under the pretext of stemming corruption. Instead, unemployment rose, as did corruption. After the natural resources were nationalized, corruption had decreased in the country. Likewise, when the current Government nationalized hydrocarbons, earnings skyrocketed over what the transnationals had earned when they exploited the natural resource. Companies had the right to recover investments, but they did not have a right to plunder natural resources.
Regarding economic systems, new approaches were needed in Bolivia, he said. In 2003, 15 people died in clashes after the Government began taxing wages at the suggestion of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to prevent a fiscal deficit. Last year, without such taxes, there was a surplus. “It’s a question of gathering the initiatives of our people,” he said. “They have the wisdom to propose solutions. It’s important to develop the power of the people.”
On climate change, he said water and human resources were not merchandise. Water and energy were human rights, and not commodities. Climate change had been discussed now in the Assembly, but some statements had been disappointing. Concentrating capital in the hands of a few did not solve global problems. “We talk about global warming, but we don’t talk about where it comes from,” he said. “Let’s abandon luxury,” he urged, including using biofuels for cars, when that energy source should be used to make food.
Touching on a number of other areas of concern to Bolivia, he stressed the need to understand the indigenous way of life, saying that living well in a community meant living in harmony with Mother Earth. Above all, he said, “This new millennium must be the millennium for life, placing our bets on human dignity. That’s why we’re talking about changing economic models. But first we must change ourselves.” He emphasized the importance of changing the economic models and eradicating capitalism.
VÁCLAV KLAUS of the Czech Republic said that his country had always participated in any meaningful initiative of the United Nations and its specialized agencies. It was its ambition to be elected to the Security Council as a non-permanent member in the period 2008-2009. The Czech Republic had worked hard when it served on the Council in 1994 and 1995, and it would be sure to do an even better job in the future. His country’s contribution to more than 20 United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Balkans, Asia and Africa, was evidence of its deep commitment to the non-violent resolution of disputes, as was the peaceful nature of the country’s dissolution in 1992.
He said that “the fall” of communism had made possible a radical and dynamic development in the Czech Republic, based on a strategy of acceptance of political pluralism, parliamentary democracy and a market economy. Entering the European Union three years ago had also spurred development, and, in the first half of 2009, the Czech Republic would hold the European Union presidency under the slogan “ Europe without barriers”. He believed strongly in the concept of removing barriers that hindered economic progress, especially in regard to developing countries.
The Czech Republic considered the United Nations an “irreplaceable platform” for reaching agreements between nations with sometimes differing positions, he said. The word “choice” was important, as he objected to the idea that the world could be controlled or managed. While some preferred operational efficiency to the recognition of different views, the Czech Republic’s communist past had taught it that efficiency in decision-making was not preferable at any cost. The United Nations should be reasonably operational, but the ability to act should not be at the expense of individual Member States, whose views should be respected regardless of their size. The equal status and voice of each Member State was crucial. The Czech Republic supported United Nations reform because the world had changed since the Organization’s founding. Some changes were inevitable and should be discussed seriously.
He said his country supported meaningful activities, rather than programmes that constrained local development. Although natural resources should be used efficiently, their restriction should not harm economic development; developing countries’ economic growth should not be prevented by burdens imposed on them. He warned against the “unjustified alarmism of global warming activists and their fellow-travellers” in some Governments, and international organizations, but added that even that potential problem could never be solved without relying on the attributes of free markets and free society. While preserving the environment was very important, he requested more moderation in attempting to control the complexities of the world.
RAFAEL CORREA, President of Ecuador, asked the Assembly to reflect critically on the Millennium Development Goals -– their limitations and dangers, owing to their design and their basis in profound social and economic asymmetries. Their first limitation rested on the fact that, as a strategy to diminish poverty, the Goals represented a minimum framework. Ecuador’s goal went beyond those minimums, deepening key objectives and incorporating several others. Having the goal of living with one dollar, plus one cent, in order to overcome extreme poverty or avoid premature death did not mean leading a decent life. A country such as Ecuador, which sought to make radical changes, could not be content with reaching minimum objectives.
He, therefore, proposed “common goals based on social maximums and not on life minimums”. Ecuador believed, for example, in building and recovering public spaces, guaranteeing access to justice, guaranteeing the right to earn livelihoods, and so forth. Those and other goals were the foundation of the National Development Plan of Ecuador, which advocated equal dignity for all human beings. The best strategy to reduce poverty levels with dignity was to shorten social, economic, territorial, environmental and cultural gap differences. One of his Government’s main goals was to diminish inequalities in an “endogenous development framework”, with economic inclusion and socio-territorial cohesion, both nationally and worldwide. Moreover, the National Development Plan endorsed the participation of all citizens in society’s fundamental decisions of society.
Turning to the “devastating and unjust effects” of climate changes, he said that Ecuador had made concrete and innovative contributions to reduce CO2 emissions and preserve biodiversity. That initiative stressed the commitment to maintain 920 million oil barrels without exploitation, in order to prevent approximately 111 million tons of carbon emission. That would mean a possible decrease of $720 million in foreign investment, which would significantly affect the Ecuadorian economy. His country was ready to undertake that enormous sacrifice, however, by demanding that the international community be co-responsible and provide minimal compensation for environmentally-generated goods.
He commended the General Assembly’s recent adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which meant a fundamental base for the protection of their human rights. Regarding migration, he said there were no “illegal human beings”, and the United Nations should insist on expunging that term. For its part, Ecuador was working on promoting changes in international migration laws.
LECH KACZYŃSKI, President of Poland, said his country appreciated the Secretary-General’s initiative in calling for the high-level summit on climate change. The mitigation of the negative effects and halting the process of climate change could not be treated only as a question of environmental protection. It should also be dealt with as a comprehensive challenge, which required far-reaching political, economic and financial decisions, as well as international cooperation.
He said that causes of global warming were not clear. In Poland, there were protagonists of the theory that global warming was not caused by human activity. However, they were in the minority. The majority of experts in the field claimed that human economic activity, especially that which generated emissions of carbon dioxide, were the factors causing climate change. Thus, the problems, and the efforts to resolve them, were intrinsically linked to the contradictions of the world.
There were many powerful countries that had not adopted the Kyoto Protocol, which would expire in 2012, he noted. Therefore, the world faced a new challenge, requiring it to consider how progress could be achieved. A solution could not be found purely by the application of economic principles. The market economy was the most efficient method of achieving economic growth and generating wealth, but market rules could not be the only principles governing, not only the economic, but also social relations. He called for a much higher degree of solidarity among countries. Without assistance from the highly developed countries, developing countries striving for growth had no possibilities of success.
He also called for the transfer of technologies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions effects on the developing countries. The United Nations could be the medium for organizing that assistance. To achieve that objective, however, the Organization must be significantly reformed. Poland had consistently advocated such reform, with its main concept being the simple adaptation of the structure of the United Nations to the fundamental changes in the political geography of the world in the past 62 years. That concept also applied to the reform of the Security Council.
Poland had recently done away with communism and had achieved economic success, he stated, adding that, along the way, it had reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent.
JENS STOLTENBERG, Prime Minister of Norway, said it was imperative that the international community reach a comprehensive post-Kyoto agreement. Such a new agreement should be firmly anchored in the United Nations and include all major emitting countries and all major sectors. The December meeting in Bali should agree on the road map for the coming negotiations. The industrialized countries bore a special responsibility for the current state of the atmosphere, and must, therefore, take special responsibility for bringing global emissions of greenhouse gases back to a sustainable level.
“Our long-term goals should be to avoid temperature increase above 2° C compared to pre-industrial level,” he continued. While the challenge of climate change was within the reach of the international community, a strong and coherent response was required. The private sector should be provided with strong incentives for cutting emissions, which was why it was essential to put a price on carbon emissions and to expand the carbon market.
On the Millennium Development Goals, he said that, unless an extra effort was made, the promises made to the people of the world would not be fulfilled. Norway had contributed to the Global Alliance for Vaccines since its inception in 2000, and more than two million lives had been saved through the Alliance. However, there was a need to move beyond vaccination. Norway was building a network of global leaders to ensure that women and children would indeed be given priority. The country was also pledging $1 billion over 10 years to support the Millennium Development Goals on child and maternal health.
For the sake of the poor and destitute, the international community needed an efficient United Nations that was well governed, well funded and remained a global repository of hope, he continued. That was why the international community was under obligation to take a fresh look at the way in which the Organization risked being weakened, marginalized and less relevant. Today, more and more people were breaking out of poverty, and there had never been greater capacities to bridge the gaps dividing them. The international community should not be allowed to waste resources or to work toward the Millennium Development Goals in anything but the most effective and rewarding ways. Work should be focused and results measured so as to show that development organized by the United Nations paid high rewards. Norway was pleased with the progress being made in the eight pilot countries where the “One United Nations” model was being implemented in practice. It was also pleased that those countries had adopted different “One United Nations” processes and models tailored to the specific situation in each of them. That showed that there was no blueprint.
LAWRENCE GONZI, Prime Minister of Malta, said that, almost 20 years ago, his country had raised awareness about the grave repercussions of climate change. Its initiative had led the General Assembly to declare that “climate change was the common concern of mankind”. That had eventually lead to the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. The effects of weather extremes on local populations as a result of global warming were disastrous. Hurricane Dean, for example, had devastated the economies and infrastructure of the islands of Dominica, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Martinique, Guadalupe, and other small island States in the Pacific and the Caribbean. That required the United Nations to strengthen its leadership in dealing with natural disasters. The issue of climate change and its repercussions should be addressed in a more cohesive and concerted manner among all the international institutions and organizations. The United Nations should establish a mechanism, which would report on the climate change activities of the past 20 years and propose elements for a possible future global strategy. The strategy should avoid the current fragmented approach and take special account of the needs of small island States.
He said that maintaining a special focus on furthering dialogue, peace, stability and prosperity in the Mediterranean and Middle East regions was a primary objective of Malta’s foreign policy. Together with other European Union member States, as well as with Malta’s Mediterranean neighbours, the country would continue to join calls for creating the necessary conditions for strengthening peace and cooperation in the region. Malta was proud to host the headquarters of the newly established Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, which would meet for the first time this November, launching a new dimension of discussion on Mediterranean affairs. Malta would also continue to work with the United Nations and other concerned parties for a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question.
The Prime Minister reiterated the call for a concerted response from the international community and the United Nations system, particularly the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in addressing the plight of internally displaced persons and those seeking better life elsewhere. That response should stress the need to combat the criminal organizations that were benefiting financially from illegal immigration while putting at risk the lives of those same immigrants. Assistance should be provided to those countries, which, like Malta, carried a disproportionate burden in addressing that phenomenon.