As the ultimate bastion of multilateralism, the United Nations is the best bulwark against the rising tide of protectionism and unilateralism, the General Assembly heard today as it took up the Secretary General's annual report on the work of the Organization.
Prior to taking note of the report (document A/73/1), Member States expressed support for the Secretary-General's focus on organizational reforms, sustainable development and climate change. They stressed that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will only be achieved through multilateralism and financial and technical partnerships. Member States underscored the need to streamline the Organization's work as countries strive to achieve sustainable development, fight terrorism, combat climate change, and promote human rights. However, several speakers expressed concern about several issues taken up or left out in the report, including topics related to peace and security and development.
The representative of Singapore said that despite growing signs of a retreat from multilateralism, the fact remains that no nation can solve transboundary problems singlehandedly. There is a clear need to rebuild trust among nations, he emphasized. As the ultimate bastion of multilateralism, the United Nations remains indispensable to addressing the complex, transboundary issues the international community faces. Welcoming the Secretary General's efforts to reform the United Nations, he added: The worst thing we can do is to introduce more bureaucracy and complexity in the name of reforms and efficiency.
With the world indeed witnessing a multilateral system under pressure, the biggest challenges confronting the international community demand cooperation and common solutions, said Norway's representative. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals recognize that global challenges are national challenges, requiring both national and international action. The United Nations has already achieved impressive results. Extreme poverty is steadily decreasing, people are living longer and child mortality rates are falling. Global political cooperation, a system of global legal order, and a fair global trading system have all been crucial to this progress.
Pakistan's representative said that a vibrant United Nations is the best bulwark against the rising tide of populism, protectionism and unilateralism. Efforts must transform the United Nations into an effective, transparent, accountable and efficient body. States must ensure that the prevention-centric agenda of the Secretary General forms the cornerstone of global peace and that the United Nations development system is fully in line with national priorities.
Iran's delegate said his Government shares the Secretary General's assessment that the world order is increasingly chaotic and that democratic principles are under siege. He identified unilateralism as a major global threat and said some States are trampling on international organizations. Hindering multilateralism is not a sign of strength, but a symptom of weakness of intellect. He said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the result of more than a decade of intense negotiations to resolve an artificial crisis and that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported Iran's compliance with all its commitments under the agreement. However, one State's withdrawal from international agreements is a sign of self-centred and arrogant policymaking.
Several delegations stressed that the report must do more to consider the unique challenges of countries in special situations, with the representative of Belarus expressing concern that the Secretary General's report did not give due attention to the challenges facing middle-income nations. Without considering the interest of these countries, we cannot successfully carry out the 2030 Agenda, he added.
The representative of El Salvador expressed disappointment that senior Secretariat officials were absent from today's discussions. We have to make best use of this or simply remove it from the agenda, he added. No country can face the myriad global challenges alone. They require assistance from the United Nations and the international community. Regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said that it will not be reached unless immediate steps are taken.
Syria's representative said he wished the report had mentioned that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) is present in Syria as it did for Iraq. He further expressed concern that the Secretary General's report had failed to mention the occupation of Palestinian and Syrian lands by Israel, Israel's nuclear arsenal and the dangers of unilateral measures. He asked: How can we achieve development while some Member States impose sanctions that contribute to the suffering of people?
Also speaking today were the representatives of India, Cuba, Jamaica, Libya, Chile, Switzerland and China.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of India and Pakistan.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 10 October, to take up several items on its agenda including follow-up to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and global health and foreign policy.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) acknowledged that the Secretary General has embarked upon re-shaping the United Nations to improve its ability to address evolving global challenges and said his Government supports those efforts. The world is awash with challenges current institutions are ill-equipped to address, he stressed, adding that new technologies are changing the dynamics of international conflict. The General Assembly is not addressing developmental issues associated with new technologies nor is the Security Council addressing security issues. Climatic shifts, debt sustainability, counter�terrorism and illicit financial flows are other areas that require increased planning to prevent upheavals and mitigate risks, he said, also calling for continuous efforts rather than one-shot solutions. He warned against narrow approaches to global issues, stressing that leaders cannot spend their time clearing the weeds, oblivious to the growth of the jungle. Updating the architecture of out-of-touch international institutions is imperative, he said, stressing the need to make the Security Council more responsive to new challenges.
ANAYANSI RODRA�GUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said that throughout the General Debate the General Assembly became the focus of international attention as States expressed their overwhelming support for multilateralism. Real political will and solidarity are the only solutions to global challenges like hunger and poverty, she said, also stressing that climate change exacerbates global risks. She said that compliance with development commitments by developed States is increasingly important and commended United Nations reform efforts, adding that revitalization of the Organization is central to ensuring democratic representation. To that end, she called for Security Council reform and for a redoubling of efforts to eradicate all forms of poverty and social exclusion. Upholding the United Nations principles, including respect for national sovereignty, is essential to guaranteeing global peace and stability. States must change the current unjust and unequal international order and put a stop to unilateral coercive measures and colonialism. She strongly condemned the unjust blockade imposed on her country by the United States, saying it violates the rights of all Cubans. She concluded by affirming Cuba's commitment to the defence of a prosperous and peaceful world.
DIEDRE NICHOLE MILLS (Jamaica) stressed the need to pay greater attention to the links across the Organization's work. Such systemic connections support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, promote sustained economic growth and advance efforts to achieve sustainable development. The Secretary General's report also highlights the challenges associated with climate change. We share the Secretary General's frank but grim assessment that climate change is moving faster than we are, she said. Welcoming strides made by the Secretary General in addressing gender equality across the United Nations system, she also welcomed the report citing tangible results related to the successful conclusion of the United Nations Operation in CAte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Peacekeeping missions and their peacekeepers continue to operate in worsening conditions, she said, welcoming the Secretary General's focus on conflict prevention. Jamaica will continue to remain particularly active in discussions on drug control and crime prevention.
VALENTIN RYBAKOV (Belarus) said the world needs to renew its dialogue on questions regarding security and the achievement of sustainable development, calling for strong partnerships at all levels. He underscored the importance of financing and international cooperation for development. Belarus has formed a partnership network at the United Nations, supported by States and international organizations, to help coordinate efforts. Turning to the challenges of middle- income countries, he said that the Secretary General's report does not give due attention to this topic. Without considering the interest of these countries, we cannot successfully carry out the 2030 Agenda, he added. Welcoming the Secretary General's initiative to have a meeting on counter�terrorism which will enable the United Nations to identify ever-changing terrorism challenges, including in the digital space, he urged Member States to pay close attention to how technology is used to recruit terrorists and spread hateful ideology. Despite certain progress achieved in reform initiatives at the United Nations, there is still a great deal to be done to achieve the 2030 Agenda. He also stressed the need to clearly state the mandate of the Organization as well as its agencies and various departments.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) said that despite growing signs of a retreat from multilateralism, the fact remains that no nation can solve transboundary problems singlehandedly. There is a clear need to rebuild trust among nations, he emphasized. As the ultimate bastion of multilateralism, the United Nations remains indispensable to addressing the complex, transboundary issues the international community faces. He welcomed the Secretary General's extensive efforts to reform the United Nations, also adding: The worst thing we can do is to introduce more bureaucracy and complexity in the name of reforms and efficiency. He welcomed the Secretary General's efforts to strengthen partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations, adding that enhanced cooperation means understanding each region's unique circumstances. He also called for a list of broad priorities to help provide direction for the upcoming year. Having another formal debate, especially so soon after the high-level week of meetings, makes it seem that everyone including the Secretary-General is treating the debate as a formality to tick off boxes. He suggested shifting the timing of the debate.
SALAH M. S. SAID (Libya) said he appreciated efforts to reform the United Nations and to strengthen the Organization's role in enhancing sustainable development efforts in the face of emerging challenges such as climate change and conflict. Collective action to enhance respect for human rights and for international law benefits humanity. Libya values United Nations efforts to form special political missions that are flexible and support efforts to enhance sustainable peace, he said, and voiced his gratitude for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). The United Nations must play a more active role in solving the Libyan crisis with efforts accounting for both the political and security situation in the country, he stressed.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that a vibrant United Nations is the best bulwark against the rising tide of populism, protectionism and unilateralism. The Organization must work in consonance with its environment, she stressed, welcoming initiatives to revitalize its capabilities. Efforts must transform the United Nations into an effective, transparent, accountable and efficient body. Peace, inclusive development and human rights are intrinsically linked, and instability continues to afflict many parts of the globe, she said. States must ensure that the prevention-centric agenda of the Secretary General forms the cornerstone of global peace and that the United Nations development system is fully in line with national priorities. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains one of the oldest items on the Security Council agenda, she said, noting that relevant, yet unimplemented resolutions grant Kashmiris the right to self-determination. Pakistan seeks a negotiated solution to the dispute, she said, adding that India does not. Pakistan continues to be on the front line of the fight against terrorism; its commitment to this fight is firm and abiding, she said, stressing that the destiny of all people is tied to multilateralism.
RUBA�N ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBASN (El Salvador) expressed disappointment that senior Secretariat officials were absent from today's discussions. We have to make best use of this or simply remove it from the agenda, he added. No country can face the myriad global challenges alone. Regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said that it will not be reached unless immediate steps are taken. Voluntary national reviews are a useful way to exchange lessons learned on how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and assess how the Agenda is being implemented on the ground. Noting that El Salvador will submit its second review in 2019, he said that improving coordination on the ground is essential. He also stressed the need to address climate change, urging the United Nations to do more to incorporate the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction into its work. He stressed the need to look at the multidimensional aspect of poverty and called on all countries to agree to deal with migrants and refugees in a dignified manner. On disarmament, he proposed that the General Assembly take over the matter if the Conference on Disarmament can no longer carry out its mandate. He also called for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to look at the lasting impact of humanitarian disasters and learn from best practices.
BASHAR JA'AFARI (Syria) said he wished the report had mentioned that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) is present in Syria as it did for Iraq. Syria unfortunately has been transformed by others into a terrorist destination. He noted the illegal military presence of the United States, France and the United Kingdom in his country. The Secretary General's report failed to mention the occupation of Palestinian and Syrian lands by Israel. Instead the report used the wording Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He condemned the use of weapons of mass destruction, expressing concern that the report also failed to mention Israel's nuclear arsenal. Moreover, the authors did not point to the dangers of unilateral measures imposed on Member States. He asked: How can we achieve development while some Member States impose sanctions that contribute to the suffering of people? He rejected the report's reference to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, adding that the General Assembly does not have the mandate to establish such a body. This Mechanism constitutes a flagrant violation in Syria's internal affairs. Syria's Government will make every effort to cooperate with the Secretary General with full respect for international legitimacy and law.
MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) said the historic adoption of the Secretary General's reform agenda is a sign of progress, as is the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. These efforts must encourage States to strengthen their commitments to the United Nations and support the Secretary-General as he implements organizational reform efforts. He said the current agenda item is extremely relevant and that his country believes the Secretary General's report reminds States of the change that can be achieved through multilateralism. Quoting the Secretary General, he said global challenges require global solutions. He thanked the Secretary General for his reform vision and work to adapt the Organization to current challenges. He assured the Secretary General of his Government's full support in implementing the reform agenda.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said his Government shares the Secretary General's assessment that the world order is increasingly chaotic and that democratic principles are under siege. He identified unilateralism as a major global threat and said some States are trampling on global norms and international organizations. Hindering multilateralism is not a sign of strength, but a symptom of weakness of intellect, he stressed, and added: It demonstrates an inability in understanding a complex and interconnected world. He said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the result of more than a decade of intense negotiations to resolve an artificial crisis and that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported Iran's compliance with all its commitments under the agreement. However, a principal party to negotiations has not been faithful to its obligations. That State's withdrawal from international organizations and agreements is a sign of its self-centred and arrogant policymaking. Unilateralism is also accelerating the spread of terrorism, he said, adding that the inefficacy of international institutions endangers world peace. He called on the Secretary General to convene an international conference on the devastating effects of unilateralism and welcomed efforts to convene the first-ever United Nations high-level conference of heads of counter-terrorism agencies. He said the nuclear weapons of the Israeli regime threaten Middle Eastern security and called on that State to place all its nuclear activities under IAEA comprehensive safeguards.
TORE HATTREM (Norway) said that the world is witnessing a multilateral system under pressure. At the same time, the biggest challenges confronting the international community demand cooperation and common solutions. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals recognize that global challenges are national challenges, requiring both national and international action. The United Nations throughout its history has achieved some impressive results. Extreme poverty is steadily decreasing, people are living longer, and child mortality rates are falling. Global political cooperation, a system of global legal order, and a fair global trading system have all been crucial to this progress. Norway will stand ready to support bilateral, regional and multilateral partners to achieve the 2030 Agenda. It will continue to support the United Nations as it has for over seven decades.
DOMINIQUE MICHEL FAVRE (Switzerland) underscored a few projects and themes that the Secretary General has given priority to in the past year, including ensuring the United Nations is able to adapt to change. If the Organization wants to achieve maximum results and make a real difference, it must consistently reconsider its work methods. The Secretary General has called for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda within a reasonable timeframe. On migration, he said that Switzerland supports the objective to make world migration safer. Digital governance is another area which requires greater focus. On peace and security, he noted the Secretary General's calls for a coordinated approach to deal with violent extremism. It is imperative for the United Nations to defend and promote human rights, including the rights of women and children. Combating impunity and strengthening the Human Rights Council are also areas of priority. He further called for increasing transparency and accountability within the Organization.
YAO SHAOJUN (China) said the United Nations continues to advocate for multilateralism and through its reform agenda the Organization has achieved positive results. The world is undergoing profound, multipolar changes and the fates of all people are closely connected. The international community must take the high ground and adhere to the principle of multilateralism to address myriad challenges. States must maintain a rules-based international order in line with the United Nations Charter and work to build global dialogue. He said all States must abide by international law and agreements and safeguard the international order with the United Nations at its core. The international community must adhere to the principle of dialogue and pursue win win results, he said, also calling for respect for each State's development strategies. He said developed countries must assist developing countries and that developing countries must pursue greater South South relations. States must support the United Nations central role in multilateral affairs and the Organization must keep pace with changing global challenges. China is a builder of world peace and is contributing to global well-being, he said, adding that his Government is working to deepen South South cooperation and to implement development efforts across Africa.
Right of Reply
The representative of India, responding to the statement made by Pakistan, said that State made unwarranted remarks about an integral territory of India. She said terror and talks do not work together and that some States like Pakistan are driven by archaic world views. She hoped that the spirit of cooperation would usher Pakistan into a new era.
The representative of Pakistan, in response, said it was regrettable that India was fabricating claims and stressed that no amount of deceit could justify its illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. United Nations reports have lifted the veil on the massive human rights violations in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The region never has, and never will be, a part of India.
Source: United Nation