New York (HAN) The Week that was September_October 2020. ReliefWeb (UN GA) Networked Multilateralism Crucial for Tackling Climate Change, Growing Poverty, COVID-19 Outbreak, Speakers Stress in Day-Long Debate. Editor’s take (©UN Photo/Rick Bajornas. Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Security Council ministerial-level open debate on conflict prevention and sustaining peace).
In a high-level meeting to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, world leaders in the General Assembly gathered in a virtual format today to adopt a declaration honouring the multilateral framework put in place by its founders in 1945 and pledging to better live out the promise to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
Titled “Declaration on the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations,” the text lays out 12 succinct commitments to reanimate global resolve: leave no one behind, protect the planet, promote peace, abide by international law, place women and girls at the centre, build trust, improve digital cooperation, upgrade the United Nations, ensure sustainable financing, boost partnerships, work with youth, and, finally, be prepared.
“We are not here to celebrate,” world leaders said, through the declaration. “Our world is not yet the world our founders envisaged 75 years ago.”
In fact, it is plagued by growing poverty, hunger, terrorism, climate change — and now, the epic onset of COVID-19, they recalled. People are forced to make dangerous journeys in search of safety. Least developed countries are falling behind “and we still have not achieved complete decolonization”, they stressed.
“Our challenges are interconnected and can only be addressed through reinvigorated multilateralism,” they emphasized. Acknowledging that COVID-19 caught them off-guard, they agreed it has served as a wake-up call for improving preparedness. “What we agree today, will affect the sustainability of our planet as well as the welfare of generations for decades,” they said, committing to uphold the declaration in the spirit of “We the Peoples”.
The adoption followed a clarion call by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to preserve the longest period in modern history without a military confrontation among the world’s major Powers. “This is a great achievement of which Member States can be proud,” he said, addressing an Assembly Hall sparsely populated, due to pandemic safety restrictions. “A third world war — which so many had feared — has been avoided.”
Yet, there is still so much to be done, he stressed. Gender inequality is the “greatest single challenge to human rights around the world”. The climate calamity looms. Poverty is rising. Hatred is spreading. And nuclear weapons remain on hair‑trigger alert. “We can only address them together,” he said. An interconnected world requires a networked multilateralism, in which the United Nations, international financial institutions, regional organizations, trading blocs and others work together more closely and effectively.
Along similar lines, newly elected Assembly President Volkan Bozkir (Turkey) acknowledged that without the continued commitment to multilateralism, “we would not be sitting here today”. He congratulated Governments for their strong efforts to strengthen coordination and good governance towards a common future.
“Multilateralism is not an option, but a necessity,” he insisted. The world is changing dramatically and an upgraded United Nations must both adapt and stay relevant. He urged Governments to support the Organization as it evolves into a more agile, accountable institution, maintaining its fitness for purpose. “The United Nations is only as strong as its members and the commitment to its ideals,” he stressed.
Addressing that point head-on, four young leaders then took the floor, peppering Heads of State and Government about their political will to uphold the values they profess. “We have a few questions for you,” said Akosua Adubea Agyepong, youth representative from Ghana. “Have you all remained true to the UN Charter?” For centuries, the world has dealt with the silent pandemic of sexual and gender-based violence. Sharifah Norizah, a young social entrepreneur from Malaysia, similarly stressed that “youth shouldn’t be counted just to complete quotas in a tokenistic manner”. She called for concrete actions to support those who are systematically left behind, especially youths with disabilities.
Charles Hamilton, a young climate change advocate from the Bahamas, agreed that young people had inherited crises despite having made a minimal contribution to these problems. “The game feels rigged,” he said. “Are you uncomfortable?” With a similar frankness, Nathan Méténier, a climate youth activist from France, asked: “When Brazil is in flames, when Sudan is underwater, when the largest iceberg has just broken off the Greenland shelf, what world are you leaving us?”
The tone set the stage for a wide-ranging general debate that heard more than world leaders describe their priorities and responsibilities for bequeathing a safer, more resilient planet for future generations. In pre-recorded remarks delivered to the virtual event, almost all affirmed the values of peace, freedom, equal rights and human dignity.
Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of Guyana, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the pandemic highlighted the bottlenecks faced by developing countries, ranging from insufficient financing and high debt to restricted access to medical supplies. “We must do everything we can to fulfil our obligations to the peoples of this world,” he said, calling for accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
On that point, Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi, speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, said United Nations reforms will be critical to achieving that aim. If the pandemic continues, global poverty will reach 8.8 per cent, the first such rise in many years. Gender gaps and the digital divide must be addressed and financing provided to help those furthest behind.
Moon Jae-In, President of the Republic of Korea, also speaking for Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and Australia, highlighted the bridging role played by the five countries in the face of the COVID‑19 pandemic. He called for equitable access to vaccines and therapeutics.
“No one could have imagined that 2020 would have arranged such a powerful crash test for the world,” said Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine. Regrettably, the twenty-first century is filled with conflict. “Peace and prosperity remain the values people are shedding blood for,” he said. “Do we need more bloody lessons to rethink our being on this planet?”
Ilham Heydar Oglu Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, echoed a call for reform heard throughout the day-long meeting. Such steps are needed to ensure that the United Nations and the Security Council are fit to address twenty-first century challenges and modern geopolitical realities.
Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said that at a time when the world needs global leadership and collective action to tackle increasingly complex challenges, the ongoing standoff in the Security Council is undermining its credibility, demonstrating the need for reform that, among other things, addresses the historic injustice against Africa through adequate representation. At the same time, progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals has also been slowed by COVID-19, with an undeniable burden on African countries requiring a stimulus package for recovery efforts.
Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, said much must be done to enhance the Organization’s efficiency. However, the United Nations has also achieved much and was vital in supporting Samoa’s journey from its independence until today and in including smaller nations as it shaped a better future. “Our United Nations is a multilateral forum where all contributions count, and Samoa proudly cherishes having a seat at the United Nations table to contribute to our global challenges, being heard and being part of the solution,” he said. “To all our members, let’s capitalize on our ‘unity in diversity’ and work as nations united for the common good of mankind.”
Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of Bhutan, underlined the importance of working together to address this and future pandemics alongside other global challenges. When the world celebrates the United Nations 100th anniversary, there should be 100 per cent literacy and life expectancy should reach three digits, he said, adding that if the world works together, no task is insurmountable.
Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as ministers and senior officials, of Niger, United States, Qatar, Sweden, Kyrgyzstan, China, Turkey, Netherlands, Mexico, Mozambique, Peru, Tajikistan, Nigeria, France, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Finland, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Colombia, Uruguay, Kenya, Poland, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Monaco, Republic of Moldova, Venezuela, Georgia, Latvia, Serbia, Tunisia, Spain, North Macedonia, Seychelles, South Africa, San Marino, Cyprus, Djibouti, Botswana, Palau, Nauru, Lebanon, Brunei Darussalam, Afghanistan, Ghana, Albania, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Maldives, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Marshall Islands, Gabon, Slovenia, Italy, Ireland, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Tuvalu, Luxembourg, Thailand, Singapore, Fiji, Andorra, Greece, Papua New Guinea, Barbados, Denmark, Malta, Australia, India, Armenia, Haiti, Eswatini, Bangladesh, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Germany, Portugal, Iceland, Nepal, Mauritius, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Austria, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Tonga, Antigua and Barbuda, Viet Nam, Cabo Verde, Croatia, Malaysia, Somalia, Oman, Bulgaria, Russian Federation (on behalf of the Collective Security and Treaty Organization), Belize (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Egypt, Indonesia, Cuba, Myanmar, Jordan, Pakistan, Senegal, Romania, Philippines, Norway and Switzerland.
The Presidents of the European Council, United Nations Security Council, United Nations Economic and Social Council and the International Court of Justice also spoke.
The representative of India spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
VOLKAN BOZKIR (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, opening the high‑level meeting, acknowledged that without the continued commitment to multilateralism, “we would not be sitting here today”. He congratulated Governments for their strong work to strengthen coordination and good governance towards the common future of both present and coming generations, thanking Qatar and Sweden, in particular, for their stewardship in facilitating negotiations for the Declaration to be adopted today.
When the founders established the United Nations, they did so in the smouldering wreckage of war, he recalled. Noting that the Second World War demonstrated the need for a forum to harmonize the actions of nations, he said the founders recognized the equal importance of the three pillars — peace and security, development and human rights. “One cannot advance without the other,” he assured. “That is what the United Nations has been striving for 75 years.” Recounting various achievements, he said the Organization has grown from 51 to 193 members, reflecting that countries gained their independence and committed to the Charter of the United Nations — as States.
He said diplomacy and the development of arms control regimes meanwhile prevented the cold war from turning into a nuclear conflict, while peacekeepers and special political missions helped to diffuse crises. Electoral assistance has reinforced public trust in democracy and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, set out — for the first time — fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Throughout, the United Nations has worked tirelessly to protect these rights for all, and likewise shaped the norms for international development. Recalling that the Millennium Development Goals were established in 2000 to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women, he said that in the current Decade of Action, Member States recognize the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a coherent blueprint for a better world — an aspiration that has grown all the more pressing in the context of climate change and the current COVID‑19 pandemic.
“Multilateralism is not an option, but a necessity,” he insisted. As countries build back better and greener for a more sustainable world, the United Nations must be at the centre of these efforts. The world is changing dramatically and an upgraded United Nations must both adapt and stay relevant. It must be inclusive and consult widely with regional and subnational organizations, non‑governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia and parliamentarians. He urged Member States to support the United Nations as it evolves into a more agile, accountable institution, maintaining its fitness for purpose and delivering “the world we want”. There is no other organization with the legitimacy, convening power and normative impact. No other offers as much hope for a better future. As the General Assembly enters its seventy‑fifth session, he assured world leaders that it is taking seriously the renewed call for global action. “The United Nations is only as strong as its members and the commitment to its ideals.” With that, he rallied Member States to mobilize resources, strengthen efforts and demonstrate unprecedented political will and leadership. “The time for action is now,” he declared.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said the ideals of the Organization — peace, justice, equality and dignity — are beacons to a better world. It took two world wars, millions of deaths and the horrors of the Holocaust for leaders to commit to international cooperation and the rule of law. “That commitment produced results,” he assured. A third world war — which so many had feared — has been avoided. And never in modern history has the world gone so many years without a military confrontation between the major powers. “This is a great achievement of which Member States can be proud — and which we must all strive to preserve.”
Recalling other historic accomplishments, he pointed to peace treaties and peacekeeping, decolonization, human rights standards, the triumph over apartheid and life‑saving humanitarian aid provided to millions of victims of conflict and disaster. The eradication of disease, reduction of hunger, development of international law and landmark pacts to protect the environment are among the still other successes. Most recently, unanimous support for the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change provided an inspiring vision for the twenty‑first century.
Yet, there is still so much to be done, he stressed. Of the 850 delegates to the San Francisco Conference, just 8 were women. Twenty‑five years since the Beijing Platform for Action, gender inequality remains the “greatest single challenge to human rights around the world”. Meanwhile, climate calamity looms. Biodiversity is collapsing. Poverty is rising. Hatred is spreading. And nuclear weapons remain on hair‑trigger alert. Transformative technologies have opened huge new opportunities, but also exposed new threats, while COVID‑19 has laid bare the world’s fragilities. “We can only address them together,” he said. “We have a surplus of multilateral challenges and a deficit of multilateral solutions.” Recalling that the Declaration to be adopted invites him to assess how to advance the common agenda, he said this will be an important, inclusive process of profound reflection.
Indeed, the need for more — and more effective — multilateralism is well known, he said, stressing that national sovereignty — a pillar of the Charter of the United Nations — goes hand‑in‑hand with enhanced international cooperation, based on common values and shared responsibilities for progress. “No one wants a world government. But we must work together to improve world governance,” he said. An interconnected world requires a networked multilateralism, in which the United Nations, international financial institutions, regional organizations, trading blocs and others work together more closely and effectively. It will also be important to involve civil society, cities, businesses, local authorities and young people.
ABDOU ABARRY (Niger), President of the Security Council for the month of September, said the current theme for the General Assembly debate — “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our commitment to multilateralism” — will allow the Organization to reaffirm its priorities in the face of mounting global challenges. He said commemorations surrounding the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations are taking place as the world continues to reel from the horrors of the COVID‑19 pandemic. The pandemic is exacerbating existing challenges and creating new ones, he said, pointing to the threats posed by terrorism, transnational organized crime, cybercrime and the illicit arms trade.
“Many wonder whether the international system that emerged from the San Francisco Conference is still effective,” he said. The United Nations is the only global organization with the legitimacy, convening power and normative impact to act as the centre of discussions on international cooperation, economic and social development, and international peace and security.
He pointed to the Security Council debate on post‑COVID‑19 governance — scheduled for 24 September — as an opportunity to strengthen cooperation and solidarity in accordance with Chapter I of the Charter of the United Nations. In closing, he reiterated the Security Council’s readiness to maintain and strengthen its dynamic cooperation with the General Assembly.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the Declaration to be adopted underscores that the United Nations has advanced international development norms, helped to eradicate disease and spread education, saved lives and worked to combat conflicts and promote human rights. However, the COVID‑19 pandemic is having devastating impacts by worsening inequality and poverty, jeopardizing the further implementation of the 2030 Agenda and compounding the existential challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. It also shows that global solidarity and international cooperation are needed more than ever, he said.
As an organ entirely dedicated to development, the Economic and Social Council is paramount for shaping the joint response to combat the pandemic and realize the goals of the 2030 Agenda, he continued. It has forged consensus on key social and economic issues through its functional commissions, including the high‑level political forum on sustainable development and the forums on financing for development on science, technology and innovation. At the same time, the organ is undergoing a process of review by the General Assembly, he noted, adding that it offers the opportunity to strengthen the Council’s role within the broader context of a renewal of multilateralism.
The high‑level meeting held by Economic and Social Council among leaders from the fields of international development, politics, economics, academia and others, amplified the message that a firm commitment to a more inclusive multilateralism is needed, he said. Longer‑term challenges could be addressed effectively only if countries, civil society and the private sector are willing to work together, and multilateralism will need to become more resilient and attuned to the most vulnerable. A revitalized Economic and Social Council needs to be at the heart of such a renewed multilateralism, he concluded.
ABDULQAWI AHMED YUSUF, President of the International Court of Justice, said the decision of the States participating at the 1945 San Francisco Conference to replace the rule of force by the rule of law has made all the difference for humanity in the past 75 years. It led to the application of the principle of equal rights and self‑determination of peoples, the prohibition of the use of force among States and the protection of human rights. While it is sometimes easy, he noted, to take for granted or forget about the significance of international law, no State, however powerful, can provide security and prosperity to its people without international cooperation.
States, he added, are brought closer together not only by diplomatic relations, trade and the technological advances in transportation, telecommunications and cyberspace; they are also bound together by the web of rules that make these interactions possible. These rules are not imposed on States by an outside legislator, he said, stressing that they are “designed and assented to by the States themselves”. An international rule of law cannot, however, exist without a judicial body for the resolution of disputes. It is for this purpose that the drafters of the Charter established the International Court of Justice, he reminded the Assembly, also pointing to the annexation of the Statute of the Court to the Charter of the United Nations.
The high quality of the work of the Court in the past 75 years, he added, has enabled it to acquire a growing confidence among States. As a result, in recent years, it acquired a heavy caseload and the number of cases submitted to it in the last 25 years was at the same level as those referred to it in its first 50 years of existence. The increased reliance on the rule of law in international relations as opposed to arbitrary power and the settlement of disputes by peaceful means rather than by force are the greatest success stories of the United Nations. The Court stands ready to continue its contribution to the protection and advancement of the international rule of law and to the peaceful settlement of disputes among nations, he said.
AKOSUA ADUBEA AGYEPONG, youth representative, Ghana, said that the perspectives of young people like her are informed by their work from the local to the global level. “We have a few questions for you,” she said, asking: “Have you all remained true to the UN Charter?” Stressing the indispensability of multilateralism, she noted that it is vital to acknowledge that the world has for centuries dealt with the silent pandemic of sexual and gender‑based violence. Applauding world leaders taking action to achieve gender parity within their Governments, she said the world also needs to achieve youth parity in Government, industry and the private sector. The international community needs the ingenuity, innovation, energy and leadership of young people, she said, calling on the United Nations to address the fact that 72 million young people are unemployed, 142 million youth of upper secondary age are out of school and 12 million girls are married against their will.
SHARIFAH NORIZAH, Social Entrepreneur, Friends for Leadership, Malaysia, called for increased momentum towards youth inclusion in peacebuilding processes. The United Nations must have more inclusive investment in youth‑led activities, she said, highlighting the need for extensive support in global employment and entrepreneurship, in particular decent jobs that promote well‑being and sustainable livelihoods. “Youth shouldn’t be counted just to complete quotas in a tokenistic manner,” she stressed, asking for concrete and sustainable actions to support those who are systematically left behind, especially youths with disabilities, those living in rural areas and gender minorities. Youth professionals can become the bridge between Government and private sectors, she noted, calling for enhancements in e‑learning as well as innovative institutions such as youth centres and youth councils.
N. CHARLES HAMILTON, Climate Change and Public Health Advocate, Bahamas, called for greater urgency, increased action and broader intergenerational governance structures to support young people in small island developing States, the Caribbean, coastal and indigenous communities, and in least developed countries. Highlighting two top priorities, he pointed to the urgent need for recovery from the coronavirus and addressing the climate crisis. Young people had inherited these crises despite having a minimal historical contribution to these problems. “The game feels rigged,” he said, as the international community runs out of names for hurricanes in 2020, with swaths of the planet set ablaze, and more countries sinking into the ocean. “Are you uncomfortable?” he asked, adding, “Good. Channel that uncomfortable feeling into ensuring that young people are engaged, consistently and meaningfully, beyond inviting us as panelists at events and meetings.”
NATHAN MÉTÉNIER, Environmental and Climate Youth Activist, France, asked: “When Brazil is in flames, when Sudan is underwater, when the largest iceberg has just broken off the Greenland shelf, what world are you leaving us?” The problem is not the lack of ideas and solutions, he said, but the international community’s love for models that have proven insufficient. Stressing the need to look beyond gross domestic product (GDP) and shift from models that are obsessed with infinite economic growth, he noted that inequality has reached intolerable dimensions. After this pandemic, the world needs to build back not only better, but differently. Nature is the single most advanced technology, he stressed, adding that leadership must come from local communities. “Trust your people, trust your youth,” he said.
Action on Draft Resolution
The General Assembly then adopted resolution A/75/L.1, titled “Declaration on the commemoration of the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations” without a vote.
CHERITH NORMAN-CHALET (United States), speaking as the host nation, said the United States is proud to remain the home of the United Nations, an organization that since its founding has transformed into a vast network. The Organization’s vision is clearly outlined in its Charter, she said, adding that in many ways the United Nations has proven to be a successful experiment. The United States has played a central role in the successes of the Organization as the most reliable funder over the past 75 years. However, she noted that the United Nations remains resistant to reform and has turned a blind eye to authoritarian regimes and efforts to undermine freedoms. Commemorations of the Organization’s seventy‑fifth anniversary offer an opportunity to ask questions about the Organization’s strengths and weaknesses, review its failures and celebrate its accomplishments.
MOHAMED IRFAAN ALI, President of Guyana, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, called on Member States to recommit to the aspirations of the United Nations to ensure that the dignity and worth of every person is respected. “We must send a strong and positive signal to the people of the world of our commitment to multilateralism and our resolve to strive for peace, justice and development,” he said.
Seventy‑five years after the founding of the United Nations millions of people remain in poverty, he noted, adding that eradicating poverty is the Group’s priority. Poverty affects many aspects of life and impedes the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. The 2030 Agenda outlines how global challenges disproportionately affect the poor, he said, adding that the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic has undermined development gains made over the past years. The pandemic highlights development bottlenecks faced by developing countries, ranging from insufficient financing and high debt to restrictions in accessing medical supplies.
The Group reaffirms that the imposition of unilateral economic measures against developing countries is an impediment to economic and social development and to dialogue and understanding among countries. “We must do everything we can to fulfil our obligations to the peoples of this world,” he said, calling for the timely mobilization of resources and actions to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said the United Nations is an unrivalled force for good. The Organization has transformed the livelihood of countless people around the world and nurtured peaceful coexistence. He closed renewing Guyana’s pledge to work with the United Nations in efforts to transform the world to foster the future the world wants.
LAZARUS CHAKWERA, President of Malawi, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, pointed out that the Charter of the United Nations begins with the phrase “We the peoples”, reminding the international community that people are the cornerstone of the Organization. The world’s challenges, including COVID‑19, must be overcome together, he stressed.
United Nations reforms will be critical to achieving the 2030 Agenda, he went on, saying Sustainable Development Goal 1, on eradicating poverty, must be at the forefront of the Organization’s efforts. However, reports depict uneven progress on that front. Even before the pandemic, Goal 1 was off track, he said, adding that if the pandemic continues the global poverty level will reach 8.8 per cent, the first such rise in many years. The least developed countries in Southern Asia and sub‑Saharan Africa will experience the effects of that increase disproportionately, he said. To meet the world’s challenges, enhanced and stronger multilateralism is required. Inequalities such as gender gaps and the digital divide must be addressed, and financing provided to help the people furthest behind. Holistic approaches to reflect a singular objective of all Sustainable Development Goals must be adopted, he said, calling also for a “people‑centric” approach.
CHARLES MICHEL, President of the European Council, said that 75 years from now, 11 billion people will likely inhabit the planet. He imagined that there will be new space conquests and new discoveries about the untapped potential of the human brain. At the same time, he questioned whether large territories will still be habitable, whether forests will be preserved, water available, the climate managed humanely, and whether the dignity of each person will be weakened or strengthened. He expressed concern, as a political leader and as a citizen, stressing that collective empathy is part of the engine of progress. “Freedom and respect are renewable sources of energy,” he said, lessons learned from the provisions laid out in the Charter of the United Nations. To be sure, divisions and injustice have always been synonymous with regression, conflict and war. Describing the United Nations and the European Union as the two greatest projects for peace in our time, he said the challenges today, however, are different and they require fully collective efforts. “We are all accountable before another,” he said, quoting former United Nations Secretary‑General Kofi Annan. The unprecedented COVID‑19 crisis has opened the world’s eyes to the integrity and dignity of each human being. International cooperation offers a guarantee for the deployment of vaccines and treatments that are accessible to all. While customs and cultures may differ, cooperation requires unstinting efforts to overcome misunderstanding, and beyond that, to embrace respect. “It is not our rhetoric that will matter,” he said, but rather, the collective actions taken to foster a better world.
MOON JAE-IN, President of the Republic of Korea, also speaking on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and Australia, noted that the five countries are cross‑regional powers that have developed upon the foundation of a multilateral international order and have been steadfast in supporting the United Nations. Since its inception, the Organization has promoted peace and safety in conflict zones around the world by establishing international norms such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It has also pooled the wisdom of all humanity to address global issues including sustainable development and climate action, he said, stressing that “the communal umbrella of the United Nations” is instrumental to peace and progress.
Highlighting the bridging role played by the five countries in the face of the COVID‑19 pandemic, he noted that Indonesia took the lead in proposing the first Assembly resolution on the virus, while Mexico drafted the resolution on enhancing global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment. Australia, working closely with key partners, secured the adoption of the resolution establishing an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the experience gained and lessons learned from the World Health Organization (WHO)‑coordinated international health response. Mr. Bozkır from Turkey is demonstrating his leadership to promote global solidarity as the President of the Assembly during this critical time, while the Republic of Korea has also done its part by forming various Friends Groups to strengthen cooperation in health care.
Calling on the international community to guarantee equitable access to vaccines and therapeutics, he said it is vital to use global funding to advance purchase sufficient doses of vaccines for international organizations to ensure that developing countries can also share in the benefits. The Republic of Korea is home to the headquarters of the International Vaccine Institute, and will provide active support to various activities geared towards developing and distributing affordable vaccines for developing countries, he said. Alongside infectious disease prevention measures, multilateralism must be the driving force of global economic recovery.
Highlighting the need to adopt the path of “Green Recovery”, he pointed out that 7 September was the “International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies”, which was proposed by his country. As blue skies re‑emerged once human activities came to a halt, it is necessary to reflect on how humans and nature can coexist, he said, calling on the international community to support the Global Green New Deal which seeks to address the climate crisis while creating jobs and enhancing inclusiveness.
ILHAM HEYDAR OGLU ALIYEV, President of Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the United Nations and its Charter are central to the maintenance of international peace and security. Despite its limitations, the United Nations remains the central forum to discuss global challenges. Emerging crises require a renewal of commitment to the Charter of the United Nations. He said the world needs effective global institutions to ensure compliance with international law. The Movement plays a fundamental role in calling for strict adherence to international norms and principles, he said, calling for reform efforts to strengthen the United Nations. He called for reform of the Security Council to align it with modern geopolitical realities. The role of the United Nations in global economic governance must be strengthened through increased commitment to multilateralism, he said. The ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic further highlights the relevance of multilateral initiatives. Considering emerging challenges to peace, the guiding principles of the Movement are more relevant than ever, he noted.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said Azerbaijan has achieved much since independence. However, Armenia has occupied Nagorno‑Karabakh and other regions of Azerbaijan, he said, pointing to United Nations resolutions calling for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from those regions. He said Armenia conducted ethnic cleansing in occupied territories and is implementing a policy of illegal settlement. Armenian leadership is undermining negotiation processes through aggressive rhetoric, which point to mounting military efforts against Azerbaijan. He called for the matter to be addressed in line with relevant Security Council resolutions.
TAMIM BIN HAMAD AL‑THANI, Emir of Qatar, called the Declaration “a historic document reflecting the consensus of the international community to crystallize a unified stance vis‑à‑vis the common challenges and to achieve the goals of the United Nations in the fields of peace, security, development and human rights as the basic pillars on which our organization was founded.” While the United Nations has made great strides in achieving the goals agreed upon by the international community, saving millions of people and changing their lives for the better, it is falling short in finding necessary mechanisms to impose its principles on its members, he stressed. Among the most serious challenges is the need to collectively address the threat of epidemics. The COVID‑19 pandemic serves to remind the international community that the “people on Earth are tantamount to one family facing a common destiny, and that cooperation and joint action are inevitable to address global challenges”, he said.
In order to realize the goals of the Charter of the United Nations, a serious evaluation of international multilateral action is needed if comprehensive reform is to be achieved, especially the issue of representation in the Security Council, as well as mechanisms of implementing its resolutions and review of internal regulations that correlate common security issues with the positions of the five major States. Reaffirming Qatar’s support of the Organization’s objectives, he stressed the need to implement today’s Declaration by promoting multilateralism and preventive diplomacy, respecting the sovereignty of States and addressing the use of force in international relations. He emphasized the need to find solutions to protracted crises based on international law, activate the role of women and youth in all fields, use the scientific progress in proper and legitimate manner, and to implement international declarations to achieve the Goals of the 2030 Agenda.
STEFAN LÖFVEN, Prime Minister of Sweden, recalled that the United Nations was founded on the vision of collective global cooperation and said today’s challenges illustrate the urgency of those efforts, more than ever. Emphasizing the importance of equitable access to a COVID‑19 vaccine, he said “no one is safe until everyone is safe.” Calling climate change the defining challenge of our time, he said that the world must build stronger, greener societies. To that end, Sweden will host another high‑level conference in 2022 aimed at advancing climate goals, he said. The role of the United Nations must be defined moving forward, he said, underlining the importance of reforms. The Organization must better anticipate global risks and focus efforts on prevention, he said, calling for a United Nations that can adapt and is modern and innovative.
SOORONBAI ZHEENBEKOV, President of Kyrgyzstan, said COVID-19 is one of the gravest global threats since the United Nations founding. Small- and medium‑sized businesses have suffered greatly. He expressed gratitude to partner countries and organizations for their support, stressing that the fallout has had a major impact on foreign debt. Welcoming the Group of Twenty’s (G20) decision to suspend debt service payments, he called for the restructuring of external debt in exchange for sustainable development projects. He also called for upholding the principles of universality, effectiveness and broad representation of small countries, recalling Kyrgyzstan’s candidacy for a non‑permanent seat on the Security Council. Also attaching great importance to human rights and the rule of law, he described initiatives related to preserving ecology, heritage and the development of mountainous countries. He also underscored the importance of mutually beneficial cooperation in Central Asia, noting that his country will strengthen relations with its neighbours.
XI JINPING, President of China, said that, 75 years ago, the international community had made tremendous sacrifices to win an important victory against fascism. Since then, the Organization has withstood one test after another and emerged with renewed vigor, he said. But the sudden attack of COVID‑19 is a test for the entire world and in the face of such new realities, it is time to reflect on what kind of United Nations the world now needed. “What role did the Organization have in the post‑COVID world?” he asked. Stressing the need to share the fruits of development, he said that the representation of all developing countries must be increased so that the Organization can reflect the views of the majority of the world’s countries. China will continue to be a true follower of multilateralism and uphold the United Nations‑centred international system.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOĞAN, President of Turkey, called on the United Nations to take its seventy‑fifth anniversary as a time to reflect on its achievements and failures. Over 820 million people worldwide suffer from hunger, just one of the many injustices aggravated by the COVID‑19 pandemic. Turkey is providing aid to 140 countries, regardless of religion or race. However, other countries continue to pursue colonial policies that hamper the ability of the international community to uphold the ideals of the United Nations. Security Council reform is at the core of empowering the United Nations, he said, adding that strengthening the General Assembly will help advance global peace and stability. Turkey will continue to support the work of the United Nations.
WILLEM-ALEXANDER of the Netherlands, paying tribute to the people who founded the United Nations, said that in the canon of world history the world body deserves a place as one of the most significant organizations for good. Noting the challenges presented by the COVID‑19 pandemic, he acknowledged the difficulty of many of the issues facing the world. He then gave the floor to a United Nations youth delegate who said young people want to live in a world with fundamental human rights, one that protects people and planet, and one that thinks about the long term. In closing, the youth delegate asked all to imagine what kind of world is possible if leaders had a fraction of the idealism of young people.
ANDRÉS MANUEL LÓPEZ OBRADOR, President of Mexico, pointing to the four freedoms — freedom of speech, worship, want and fear — said his country is guided by its Constitution in its foreign policy. It also attached great importance to the principles of non‑intervention, peaceful dispute settlement, respect for human rights and cooperation for development. “We need to be fraternal. We need to help each other,” he stressed, particularly as the world tackles COVID‑19. “Long live universal fraternity.”
FILIPE JACINTO NYUSI, President of Mozambique, said that, despite the fact that localized armed conflicts persist, an awareness of the need to say no to wars reigns in all Member States worldwide. It was in compliance with the principles of the Charter that decolonization became part of the international agenda, he said, noting that this enabled the independence of African and Asian countries, including his, in the 1960s and beyond. His Government has incorporated the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals in its 2020‑2024 Five‑Year Programme, he said, and submitted its national voluntary report in July 2020, as a sign of its commitment to this international instrument which ensures the sustainability of the planet.
MARTÍN VIZCARRA CORNEJO, President of Peru, said the Charter of the United Nations was the fruit of diplomatic negotiations involving his country, reflecting the painful lessons learned from two world wars and offering a fresh opportunity to humanity by establishing a forum for unprecedented relations among States. Its legitimacy, its convening power and its normative impact mean that States understand as universal values human rights, access to education, health, women’s empowerment, sustainable development, maintenance of international peace and security, disarmament and the fight against climate change. Yet, the current crisis has revealed that there are vast gaps and practices that are eroding multilateralism: mistrust and lack of dialogue among them, especially between the great powers. The crisis also offers opportunities to “mend our ways” and renew commitments. The scale of the pandemic, and the unknowns of COVID‑19, mean that “no one is safe from it until we are all safe from it.” Any future vaccine should be considered a global public good. He also called for addressing the grave economic impact, expressing Peru’s unwavering commitment to those efforts.
EMOMALI RAHMON, President of Tajikistan, said the United Nations response to the rapidly changing international situation, and the rise of such modern threats as terrorism, climate change and the spread of COVID‑19, once again demonstrates that many countries still need robust multilateral ties. They recognize the United Nations as a reliable partner. The bitter lessons of the Second World War serve as a warning to protect peace, enhance stability and ensure a peaceful life for humanity. Noting that the commemoration of the seventy‑fifth anniversary coincides with unprecedented challenges, he said only through close cooperation can humankind seek to overcome them. Tajikistan is engaged in the global dialogues related to water resources and the climate change agenda. “Stronger solidarity is among the top priorities that could help stabilize the situation in the health‑care sector and the global economy,” he said, adding that modern threats require an immediate global response, based on unity and mutually beneficial multilateral cooperation.
MUHAMMADU BUHARI, President of Nigeria, said the United Nations remains true to the aspirations of its founders. Member States have collectively improved and saved lives, as well as defended the rights of the world’s most vulnerable peoples. Despite past efforts, the quest to realize total decolonization remains incomplete as long as non‑self‑governing territories continue to exist. He called on Member States to abide by relevant resolutions on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples. He noted that Nigeria contributes human, financial and material resources to the Organization, including to peacekeeping operations. He warned the Assembly that the COVID‑19 pandemic impedes attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and called on Member States to adopt global approaches to address the global health crisis. He closed by calling for Security Council reform to enshrine Africa’s long‑overdue position within the United Nations.
EMMANUEL MACRON, President of France, said the United Nations remains faithful to its founding pledge to save future generations from war, enshrine equality and protect freedom. The Organization, when given the means, has lived up to its principles and the world is indebted to the thousands of civilian and military personnel that have put their lives on the line for the work of the United Nations. However, the world is in disarray — war, use of chemical weapons and mass incarceration take place with impunity. Further, the COVID‑19 pandemic is sewing fear of incompetent leadership. The United Nations must act to harness new avenues of cooperation to lessen debt, support health systems and assist the most vulnerable populations, he said. “I believe in multilateralism of action,” he said, pledging to honour commitments to peace and security.
JUAN ORLANDO HERNÁNDEZ ALVARADO, President of Honduras, requested that the United Nations declare organized non‑State groups, such as militias, as terrorist groups. Turning to COVID‑19, he wondered what international organizations planned to do when faced with the devastating effects on health and global economies due to the pandemic. Consequences could include famine, violence, migration or even war between countries, he warned. How will the United Nations address the global inequity of access to medicines, he wondered, adding that the procuring of such drugs has been monopolized by the most powerful countries, thus far. Furthermore, Honduras not been able to access the United Nations green climate funds, he said, calling for less red tape and more concrete results.
KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, President of Kazakhstan, recalled that, while the United Nations has led in an era of broad international cooperation, there have also been missed opportunities to find common ground and lessen suffering in the world. Multilateralism now faces greater risk than at any other point since the end of the cold war, he said, noting the COVID‑19 pandemic and a second arms race. It is more important than ever to operate with hope instead of fear, galvanizing efforts and continuing to build a rules‑based community, he stressed.
SAULI NIINISTÖ, President of Finland, noted that the seventy‑fifth anniversary comes at a difficult moment for the Organization. Not only is humankind confronted with common enemies — from the COVID‑19 pandemic to climate change, the international community’s ability to form common responses has been weakening. This tide must turn, he said, stressing that Finland remains fully committed to the United Nations and its principles. The 75‑year‑old Charter has stood the test of time well, he noted, adding that it is the responsibility of the international community to create a more peaceful, sustainable and just world for future generations.
GOTABAYA RAJAPAKSA, President of Sri Lanka, highlighted his nation’s success in facing the challenge of the coronavirus through proactive intervention, noting that his Government established a National Action Committee for Preventing COVID‑19 even before the first patient was detected in the country. Further, the steps initiated earlier in 2020 for alleviating poverty by enhancing local production and assisting small- and medium‑scale entrepreneurs are paying off. Multilateralism is increasingly important in the wake of calamities such as the COVID‑19 pandemic, he said, adding that the United Nations must ensure that the partnerships fostered with Member States do not hold any country hostage to the interests of a few.
CARLOS ALVARADO QUESADA, President of Costa Rica, citing three responsibilities — to prevent, protect and end impunity — described the prevention of armed conflict as the raison d’étre of the United Nations. Fulfilling it requires using all tools for preventive diplomacy, tackling root causes and finding sustainable solutions. He called for ending the uncontrolled flow of arms and for the Security Council to honour Article 26 of the Charter, which would help prevent the diversion of world resources to armaments. Noting that military spending has risen to $1.9 trillion, the highest level since the cold war, he said achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will require $2‑$3 trillion more each year. “The time has come to honour Article 26 of our Charter,” he asserted, recalling the twenty‑fifth anniversary of the responsibility to protect and cautioning against veto use for mass human rights violations. The Council has a commitment to act in a timely, decisive manner. “Indifference to such atrocities makes us all complicit,” he said, describing the International Criminal Court as the biggest achievement in the quest to end impunity and ensure justice for victims. “We must renew our commitment and ensure it is kept as an institution of integrity and independence,” he said, pressing States to uphold the Rome Statute and ratify the Kampala amendments, and urging that the situation in Syria be referred to it. The Council should refrain from using the veto in that context. Differences and disputes must be resolved through the rule of law, not through might, with those guilty of committing crimes against humanity punished and victims compensated.
IVÁN DUQUE MÁRQUEZ, President of Colombia, said his country was among the 50 founding United Nations members. He expressed hope of closing the chapter on a world in ruin and opening one on peaceful equality among States. Recalling that Colombia was a member of the Economic and Social Council, and in 1978, held the Presidency of the Assembly, he said that as a non‑permanent member of the Security Council, Colombia offered its experience in fighting terrorism and organized crime, as well as in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and “building peace with legality”. It recently sought to convene a special Assembly session on tackling corruption, which will be held in June 2021. “We believe in multilateral tools,” he said, noting that the 17 Goals are embedded within national development plans, which aim to fulfil the 2030 Agenda and bring Colombia to a competitive level of human development. He expressed gratitude for the regional response to the massive exodus of Venezuelans from their country, and issued a message of solidarity to all those struggling with COVID‑19. “We are all together as we face these unprecedented challenges,” he said. “Solutions are within our reach.”
LUIS LACALLE POU, President of Uruguay, reaffirmed his commitment to multilateralism and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Recalling that the founders of the United Nations sought to build an organization to ensure peace and security, he said the world faces challenges that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations. Highlighting the need to look forward, he said leaders must act in a coordinated matter within the auspices of the United Nations. Confidence in the role of the United Nations must be strengthened if the world is to effectively address post‑COVID‑19 pandemic issues. The United Nations must continue developing instruments to better define human rights, he said, adding that Uruguay reaffirms its commitment to build a solid foundation for global peace in the face of increasingly complex challenges.
UHURU KENYATTA, President of Kenya, said the resilience of humanity, the use of multilateral mechanisms and the defeat of colonialism have allowed for progress since the creation of the United Nations. He said COVID‑19 exposed the vulnerabilities of the United Nations and international community as a whole, adding that international mechanisms must be employed to build a better world. He called for financial mechanisms to be implemented to help countries recover from COVID‑19‑related setbacks. The United Nations continues to stand for the most vulnerable peoples while upholding peace and security. He said modern challenges are unimaginable to the founders of the United Nations. As a result, Member States must ensure the United Nations becomes a more representative organization truly aligned with the spirit of leaving no one behind.
ANDRZEJ DUDA, President of Poland, recalling the trajectory and consequences of the Second World War on his nation, noted some of his country’s achievements within the Organization. Those included Poland’s role in authoring the draft United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), its adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and its participation as a non‑permanent Member State of the Security Council and contributions there. Highlighting Poland’s work in combating climate change, he recalled that it had hosted United Nations climate conferences three times. Warsaw is always ready to implement practical co‑responsibility for global peace, he declared, as evidenced by Poland’s presence in peacekeeping missions including the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
SEBASTIÁN PIÑERA ECHENIQUE, President of Chile, recalling the objectives of the Charter of the United Nations, said the world today faces different challenges and called on the Organization to modernize so it is better equipped to address them. The United Nations must strive to prevent crises and strengthen Member States’ institutions to build democratic resilience. Furthermore, the Security Council must be more representative across continents, especially Africa and South America. Advances must be made in nuclear disarmament, counter‑terrorism, extremism and armed conflicts, as well as climate change and global warming. Migration must be regulated to ensure it is safe and protects the human rights of migrants and refugees. Multilateral solutions are no longer an option but a need, he stressed, calling for international solidarity. People must be united not only in free trade but freedom, -respect for human rights, tolerance, solidarity and a commitment to peace.
ŠEFIK DŽAFEROVIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the United Nations emerged out of the need to avoid threats to sovereignty and avert mass crimes. The Charter of the United Nations commands respect for human rights, he said, adding that the text enshrined the principles that protect the rights of billions of human beings. While conflict on the scale of the two World Wars have been averted, myriad crises exist across the world and the United Nations has been unable to curtail conflict due to lack of consensus among its Member States. Intersecting challenges affect the entire world, he said, pointing to mass migration as an issue of vital relevance. He said problems that might appear far away can affect any country.
ALBERT II of Monaco said the poorest people on Earth pay the highest price for persistent crises. Monaco will work to strengthen social protection measures and intensify international cooperation to assist vulnerable populations. “Multilateralism is a way to prevent and resolve conflict,” he said, urging States to move towards the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations is in urgent need of structural reform to protect future generations, he said. The COVID‑19 pandemic highlights how interconnected and vulnerable Member States can be, he noted, calling for health issues to be addressed without overlooking climate issues. Member States must demonstrate the ability to work together to ensure that the United Nations remains the driver of multilateralism.
IGOR DODON, President of the Republic of Moldova, said that 2020 will remain in the history of humanity as a year of re‑evaluation of the contemporary world system. Over the past 75 years, the United Nations has progressively developed the framework of international law, mediated conflicts, stabilized world tensions, advanced human rights standards and rescued lives. However, much remains to be done to eradicate the heightened inequalities of the COVID‑19 pandemic, he noted, adding that the text of the Declaration adopted today is the product of discussion with the members of our societies and represents the outcome of solid negotiations between States. His country fully supports the collective effort to achieve the objectives set out therein and is committed to contribute to the international community’s common response to the major challenges it is facing.
NICOLÁS MADURO, President of Venezuela, said the international community had a choice to either build a multipolar world based on balance, inclusivity and openness, or a hegemonic, unipolar world. In order to achieve the former, he called for a renewal of the United Nations system that enforces international law. Defeating the COVID‑19 pandemic requires greater unity among humankind, he said, reaffirming his support for the WHO as a key multilateral organization in this endeavour. Turning to upcoming elections in Venezuela, he reported that he invited a technical commission to monitor the electoral process for parliamentary elections on 6 December. Although Venezuela has been a victim of aggression, illegal sanctions and coercive measures, the world can overcome those who wish to impose hegemony, he emphasized.
SALOME ZOURABICHVILI, President of Georgia, said global threats force the international community to take a fresh look at multilateral management. The Secretary‑General’s call for a global ceasefire has yet to be obeyed. While seeing every day the cost of isolation in its territories occupied by the Russian Federation, Georgia is not ready to simply stand by while occupation damages human lives and human rights. “Time has come for a fresh look, out of an intolerably frozen situation, at the opportunities that the new world paradigm opens,” she said, calling for new solutions. Peace and development are needed to secure a viable planet, she said, emphasizing the importance of a transition to sustainable energy and resource management. Georgia has minimized the impact of COVID‑19 thanks to a “triangle of trust” among society, medical authorities and the Government as well as close cooperation with international partners, she said, emphasizing that trust and solidarity are key for societies to develop resilience and more focus must be placed on education. Georgia practices tolerance as well as intellectual and moral solidarity, which are key to guide the world through the current uncertain times. Respect for the Charter and the Sustainable Development Goals, through action not just words, requires political will and commitment. “Our future and that of our ‘old but young’ organization is in our hands,” she said.
EGILS LEVITS, President of Latvia, said the Organization that rose from the ashes of the Second World War is the foundation of today’s rules‑based international order. Latvia was able to join the United Nations only in 1991, after gaining independence. Since then, it has been a staunch advocate of international law, human rights, democracy and effective multilateralism. A modern European nation, with a desire to contribute to international peace, Latvia is a candidate for a 2025 seat on the Security Council. Working methods must be adjusted and discussions must continue on United Nations reforms, including in the Council, so that a more effective United Nations can deliver on the ground. In Latvia, this anniversary will be marked by public events during “UN Month”, with a focus on the meaningful involvement of young people. Children will learn how the United Nations works and why multilateralism matters. “We must empower young people,” he asserted, as they will have to live with the consequences of collective action, or inaction.
ALEKSANDAR VUČIĆ, President of Serbia, recalled with pride that Serbia was among the first 50 signatories of the Charter and a founding member of the United Nations. It remains committed to the Organization’s purposes and principles, which are as relevant today as they were decades ago. While COVID‑19 has tested the world’s readiness for action, he said it is only through mutual cooperation and respect that States can muster a global response. Regrettably, at the end of the twentieth century, Serbia experienced unilateral actions that challenged the mechanisms of multilateralism and international law, with the so‑called unilateral declaration of independence, which breached resolution 1244 (1999) and undermined the stability of both Serbia and the region. Expressing Serbia’s full commitment to finding a sustainable solution to the question of Kosovo, he said that by defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and upholding Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), Serbia is defending international law and the ultimate authority of the Council.
KAÏS SAÏED, President of Tunisia, said that the world is far more interconnected today than when the United Nations was founded. As such, humanity is entering a new era in which the principles of the past cannot guide global actions today. He said the Palestinians are still denied the right to their land. The United Nations will have to rise up to meet emerging challenges, he concluded.
FELIPE VI of Spain said the United Nations has fulfilled a demanding mandate, making it the benchmark organization for the protection of human rights that it is today. Calling for greater unity among Member States, he said the COVID‑19 pandemic is testing the limits of national and international cooperation. Effective responses require multilateralism that facilitates cooperation between state actors and civil society. He assured the Assembly that Spain remains committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, the promotion of human rights, peacebuilding and environmental protection.
STEVO PENDAROVSKI, President of the Republic of North Macedonia, said that as the cornerstone of the multilateral system, the United Nations has helped colonized nations gain independence, and through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, encouraged the global movement for social justice. “The creation of the United Nations is a monumental global achievement of humankind,” he said, yet one that is only as effective as Member States will allow it to be. Due to known internal obstacles to its work, there are still tensions and conflicts around the world, millions of refugees and migrants, uncontrolled exploitation of world resources and new dangers joining the old ones, including transnational organized crime. COVID-19 has made visible the shortcomings of the international order. Since his country’s independence, it has experienced both the benefits and challenges of the United Nations. It has contributed to peacekeeping operations, and through United Nations mediation, resolved its international dispute. It will continue fulfil its international obligations, he said, stressing that “only by investing in the United Nations do we have chance to live a decent life and build a better world.”
DANNY FAURE, President of the Seychelles, said Governments alone cannot stand up to global challenges, a point emphasized by the onset of both COVID‑19 and climate change. Beyond the anniversary, the world needs a genuinely more collective, inclusive form of multilateralism, with the involvement of youth, the marginalized and the private sector. The United Nations must transition to an institution fit-for-purpose so it can deliver on the potential of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. The world has seen the terrible loss of life due to COVID‑19 and climate change. “These challenges do not stop at borders,” he stressed, calling for mutually beneficial approaches when tackling common threats. A renewed, repurposed United Nations must stay at the centre of efforts to fulfil the promise of the twenty‑first century, he said, emphasizing that small and poor countries can deliver solutions as well the biggest, wealthiest and most powerful.
CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, President of South Africa, said that 75 years ago, pioneering women and men had united to save successive generations from the scourge of war. The Organization must remain the foremost tool for international peace, he emphasized, adding that the United Nations system offers the best means for overcoming global challenges. Only through multilateralism can the international community forge common strategies for the advancement of all. The United Nations must be fit for purpose, adequately funded and representative in its decision‑making structures, he said, highlighting the role of regional bodies such as the African Union. Global peace is not just about a world free of conflict; it is also about a world of inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity.
GRAZIA ZAFFERANI, Captains Regent of San Marino, welcoming the adoption of the Anniversary Declaration, said the COVID‑19 pandemic has created not only a public health emergency, but also an unprecedented economic and social crisis. Calling for a global response based on greater solidarity and effective multilateral action, she added that the international community must strengthen the United Nations in order to build bridges and implement durable solutions to global risks. A small country committed to the principles of peace, dialogue, inclusiveness and solidarity, San Marino attaches great importance to the role of multilateralism. Further, she said, to invest in the legitimacy and strength of the United Nations is to invest in the shared agenda of the international community.
NICOS ANASTASIADES, President of Cyprus, said the United Nations reason for being continues to be saving humanity from the scourge of war. That goal will only be achieved if the international community prohibits the threat or use of force and a system of collective security suppresses aggression. At the same time, he said the United Nations is inextricably linked to the plight and aspirations of all people on Earth. The Organization’s seventy‑fifth anniversary presents an opportunity to reflect and critique accomplishments and shortcomings. He warned the Assembly that small States continue to be at the mercy of powerful ones, with Cyprus still suffering from the consequences of illegal Turkish occupation. Climate change poses another existential threat, he said, calling for collective and immediate action to mitigate climate-related disasters.
ISMAËL OMAR GUELLEH, President of Djibouti, invited Member States to look back at the work of the United Nations and to the future to guide its work. Criticism of the United Nations has identified areas for positive reform. However, some detractors attack the principles of the Organization with no basis for their statements. Constant assaults on the Organization are exacerbated by the existential challenge posed by the COVID‑19 pandemic. Calling for a mass recommitment to collective action, he commended the Secretary‑General’s work to coordinate a response to the pandemic. Member States must commit to a path that will identify possibilities and opportunities to build a better future, he said.
MOKGWEETSI E.K. MASISI, President of Botswana, expressed appreciation to the current and past generations who contributed towards making the United Nations the universal and representative multilateral body it has become. The COVID‑19 pandemic is a tacit reminder that the international community needs to continue to work together, to defeat not only the pandemic, but all other tribulations confronting humanity today.Voicing regretthat protracted armed conflicts continue to ravage some parts of the world, he said that decolonization and self-determination of all peoples should remain high on the agenda. Further, given the growing retreat from multilateralism, it is vital that the Organization be fit for purpose.
TOMMY E. REMENGESAU, JR., President of Palau, said that “so much seems uncertain” on this seventy‑fifth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. The hard‑won diplomacy that adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris climate agreement, nuclear test-ban treaty, and hopefully soon, a high seas biodiversity treaty, is being undermined by inadequate implementation and inadequate solidarity, he said. Island States have long emphasized their profound vulnerability, he said, adding “one disaster, one typhoon or one pandemic can wipe out progress that we have painstakingly made.” Calling for access to concessional finance from international financial institutions, and new partnerships that mobilize innovative forms of finance, including through non-state actors, he said it is vital to put global cooperation on a footing that will outlast the pandemic.
LIONEL ROUWEN AINGIMEA, President of Nauru, called on global leaders to look towards the next 75 years as they consider how to make the United Nations fit for purpose. As a small island developing State, climate change remains the single largest threat to Nauru’s sustainable development. He called on Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and achieve sustainable consumption and production systems in line with international climate mechanisms. The COVID‑19 pandemic highlights the realities that climate change will bring about, he said, voicing disappointment about the United Nations response to the pandemic. Nauru envisages a United Nations that is current with the times and capable of responding to the needs of vulnerable populations, he said.
MICHEL AOUN, President of Lebanon, said that throughout the numerous crises that have affected Lebanon, the country has found support in the United Nations organs operating within the country. He lauded support from the international community to address the repercussions of the Beirut port explosion and called on global leaders to help secure the safe return of displaced Syrians to their homes. Lebanon is heavily burdened by crises and is unable to keep hosting the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, he said, while still noting that hardship will not prevent Lebanon from pursuing a positive role in the international community.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, President of Ukraine, said no one could have imagined that 2020 would have arranged such a powerful crash test for the world. At the fateful conference in San Francisco, unstable post-war times united the founding States, prompting them to set aside the contradictions in order to build a better world, marked by peace, respect, the rule of international law, human rights and the truth. Regrettably, the twenty‑first century is filled with conflict, aggression, dictatorship and human rights violations. The United Nations became a symbol that humanity should have learned the tragic lesson of the Second World War. But occupation of Crimea and military Russian aggression in Donbas have proved that this lesson has not been learned. “It is not just war in Ukraine. It is war in Europe,” he emphasized. And it is not simply an encroachment on the sovereignty of an independent State — it is an attempt to return to divided spheres of world influence. “Peace and prosperity remain the values people are shedding blood for,” he said, asking: “Do we need more bloody lessons to rethink our being on this planet?” He urged the world to understand COVID‑19 as a warning sign to stop the controversies and, instead, join efforts to achieve ground-breaking results. He called not only for a return to the purposes and principles of the Charter, but for the start of their permanent and full implementation, stressing: “Let’s start now.”
Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, said the United Nations is far from perfect, and it costs more and more every year to maintain the Organization, but nothing else today can replace it. “Therefore, we must continue to make it better, more cost effective and more empowered to support multilateralism and a world order, based on the universal rule of law, in ensuring this organisation remains relevant to us all,” he said. Member States must ensure that every nation respects the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, as enshrined in the Charter, so that small countries like his can have their voices heard.
ASHRAF GHANI, President of Afghanistan, said his country sits at the heart of untapped potential, peace and prosperity, but is also a victim of turmoil. The COVID‑19 pandemic exposed the world’s vulnerabilities as violence and warfare have evolved, he noted, adding that the world is in the middle of a fifth wave of global terrorism. Other drivers of turmoil include drought, famine and deepening inequality, he said, emphasizing the urgent need for a ceasefire in Afghanistan and calling on the General Assembly to help achieve a peace there. A democratically stable and prosperous Afghanistan would be an example of how collective will can overcome even the most serious challenges, he said.
NANA AKUFO-ADDO, President of Ghana, praised the United Nations for its significant role in the decolonization process and for having helped Africa move through many conflicts and humanitarian crises. New realities and challenges require Member States to continually examine how to make sure the United Nations stays fit for purpose. To that end, reforming the structure of the Organization, especially the Security Council, is necessary, he said. Youth participation will be key to ensure the Organization remains relevant, he emphasized, concluding that the COVID‑19 pandemic shows the world that there is no option but to depend on each other.
ILIR META, President of Albania, said that while the international community has been able to prevent military conflagrations of the magnitude witnessed during the last century, all its Member States are now facing a new and invisible enemy of global proportions. However, unlike the world wars’ experiences, this time “we are all at one front,” against the global pandemic of COVID‑19, he said. His country’s candidacy for a non‑permanent seat in the Security Council for the period 2022‑2023 is a pledge to engage in all efforts to maintain international peace and security and to support the development of democracy and protect human rights, he stressed. A reformed United Nations will deliver a more integrated and system-wide approach to achieve the 2030 Agenda and make sure no one is left behind.
GEORGE WEAH, President of Liberia, recalled that his country, as a founding member of the United Nations, was one of only four African nations to sign the Charter in 1945. Since then, Liberia has stood firmly by the Organization’s principles, he noted, adding that shifting alliances and realities have given rise to the need to reexamine and redefine the vision of the United Nations to make it more responsive to current crises. In the Sustainable Development Goals, the international community agreed to a roadmap for its collective effort to bring peace and prosperity to all mankind. Five years into the movement to achieve those Goals, and with 19 years left, it is evident that the international community will have to redouble efforts and accelerate actions. The search for solutions for the COVID‑19 pandemic must take place side by side with actions that expedite the achievement of sustainable and inclusive economies, he emphasized.
TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, President of Equatorial Guinea, said the United Nations’ seventy‑fifth anniversary is a historic occasion inviting a reflection on past work in a bid to promote multilateralism, peace and solidarity among nations. Citing a range of achievements, from decolonization to humanitarian assistance, he commended the Assembly for its many efforts. However, a contrast exists today, in terms of a lack of political will among States, driven by the pursuit of hegemonistic power. The lack of respect of the current international legal order today is the cause of many wars and unjust situations, at a time when income gaps persist, technological developments remain in the hands of a few nations, and some States trample on the rights of the weak, reflecting a clear and urgent need for reform. The pandemic only spotlights that the common problems of humankind are best tackled together, reaffirming the relevance of multilateralism. The United Nations must be prepared to tackle challenges of the future, from food insecurity to climate change, and this anniversary must be the start of a new generation of peace, security and prosperity.
IBRAHIM MOHAMED SOLIH, President of Maldives, said nations today face many issues, including climate change and security, with small island developing States facing particular challenges. Maldives has worked with the United Nations on many of these challenges and stands ready to continue to do so. The United Nations was pivotal for leaving behind a brutal past in 1945. Since then, the Organization has worked hard to lead the world into a new era, fostering peace and development. Today, as the world faces the daunting challenge of COVID‑19, the principles rooted in the founding of the United Nations must be honoured today, as nations grapple to tackle the pandemic and take care of their people, he said, emphasizing that working together is essential.
JEANINE AÑEZ CHÁVEZ, President of Bolivia, said that her country is very grateful for the work that the United Nations has done, but now it is time to focus on a vision for the future. The COVID‑19 pandemic has been a wake-up call to reform the Organization, look beyond ideological polarization and tackle new challenges, such as a widely available coronavirus vaccine and restarting the global economy. Multilateralism should be seen as a means, not an end in itself, she said, reaffirming Bolivia’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda and to working through multilateralism to build democracy, promote human rights, protect the environment and advance the rights of women and indigenous peoples.
LUIS RODOLFO ABINADER CORONA, President of the Dominican Republic, noting that his country was among the Organization’s founding members, said that its seventy‑fifth anniversary is a perfect occasion for nations to reinforce their collective determination to promote peace and security, sustainable development and human rights worldwide. Every day, for millions of people, the United Nations makes a difference. Only by working together can common threats be overcome and shared opportunities embraced, he said, adding that only at the United Nations can all countries, large and small, and all people make their voices heard.
ADAMA BARROW, President of the Gambia, said deeper reflection is required on the successes and setbacks of the United Nations if it is to be rebuilt into the world body needed for the future. Despite bottlenecks in development, there have been dramatic advances in science and technology over the past 75 years. The world has become a global village, he said, with the reasonable conclusion that multilateralism and cooperation contributed to that development. The gains made in human rights must not be allowed to slip away, with conflict resolution remaining a priority. He noted that the global outbreak of COVID‑19 underscores the importance of multilateralism and global cooperation. The United Nations must support smaller and weaker Member States and help to lift them out of the least developed country category.
DAVID W. PANUELO, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, said that in 2020, security is no longer just about formal wars between nations, but includes such abstract threats as COVID‑19 and climate change. While opportunities exist to “build back a greener and bluer world”, he noted that on an interdependent planet, the actions of his country are not enough. Those who have caused climate change must step up and lead by taking more ambitious and mitigating actions. “It is still within our reach to leave a habitable planet for future generations,” he said. While the journey of the United Nations has not always been steady, it is the single most useful multilateral organization in promoting global solidarity, peace and security, with achievements to celebrate and hard lessons to build upon.
TE BERETITENTI TANETI MAAMAU, President of Kiribati, reaffirmed his country’s collective commitment to multilateralism and noted that since joining the United Nations family in 1999, its partnership with the Organization continues to evolve. Unprecedented challenges such as climate change and the recent COVID‑19 pandemic require an effective and timely response. His Government continues to advocate for its “Vision for 20 Years Plan”, which is built on four pillars: the development of natural, human and cultural capital; the development of a peaceful and corruption-free society premised on traditional values, the principles of democracy and the rule of law; improving connectivity and accessibility; and increasing access to utilities and social infrastructure. This is the future that his country wants, and it needs a United Nations that is cognizant of these priorities and works to make development happen through its agencies, programmes and multilateral systems in a timely manner.
ALOIS, Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein of Liechtenstein, noted that 75 years ago a great peace project came into effect when the United Nations was established with the idea that all States shall be sovereign equals. The right to self-determination was placed at the heart of the world order. In San Francisco, the big powers saw an inclusive rules‑based multilateralism as the most promising way towards international peace and security. Liechtenstein joined the Organization 30 years ago, driven by its strong belief that international law protected the best interests of small States. His Government will work with those who share its goal to realize the high ambition of the United Nations on pressing issues such as climate change, human rights, sustainable development and global public health. Liechtenstein will pursue the advancement of international law as the bedrock of stability. As the international community faces the huge challenges of climate change and the pandemic, the United Nations continues to represent the world’s best chance in managing them.
DAVID KABUA, President of the Marshall Islands, said that in the face of unprecedented crises the international community must reinstate multilateral commitments and reach beyond political divides. As a low-lying nation, the Marshall Islands sees the threat of climate change as a uniquely existential challenge, he warned, calling on all Member States to keep the promises they made in the Paris Agreement. COVID‑19 has further jeopardized the narrow economy of the Marshall Islands, he added. Pointing to the legacy of nuclear testing on the Marshall Islands as an example of United Nations failure to protect the most vulnerable, he called on the Organization to resist political influence.
ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, said that the eyes of the entire world are fixed on the United Nations. People around the globe aspiring to live in full dignity are scrutinizing the decisions of world leaders more closely than ever before. Calling on the international community to awaken fully to its interdependence, he added that the United Nations should become a hub of solidarity. One of the lessons of this pandemic is that multilateralism is not optional, it is demanded by universal consciousness. Giving free range to neo-isolationism and fatalism would result in tearing down what was already achieved. Calling for a root and branch reform of the organs of the United Nations, he stressed that Africa deserves to take its place fully among the permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council.
BORUT PAHOR, President of Slovenia, stressed that the new technologies and artificial intelligence that have become the backbone of daily life must be framed in the service of humankind. Highlighting the first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) global centre for artificial intelligence established in Ljubljana last November, he stressed that cyberspace should be secure, global, open, free and inclusive. Turning to the Sustainable Development Goals, he called them a clear roadmap for a green and healthy planet. Seventy‑five years ago, the founders of the United Nations built the first bridge, he said, adding that today’s world is a tight network of bridges. “For the sake of the present and future generations, for the sake of your loved ones and yourself, do not tear them down,” he said.
SERGIO MATTARELLA, President of Italy, said the United Nations is a formidable organization that has led the world in addressing challenges since its inception and is more important than ever before. The United Nations has recognized many countries over the decades. Today, civil society is playing a part in the Organization’s work. Faced with daunting adversaries, climate change and conflict, the United Nations has employed the principles of cooperation to tackle a range of issues over generations, from terrorism to migration. Preventive diplomacy to avoid conflict is the way forward to ensuring peace and security, with the United Nations taking the lead. Indeed, the Organization is an instrument to give hope to the future of humanity.
MICHAEL D. HIGGINS, President of Ireland, said that the United Nations remains the only body through which all nations can work cooperatively to end conflict, eliminate poverty, combat climate change and uphold human rights. Yet the Organization still comes under attack, often from the most powerful. “The United Nations must be our United Nations,” he said, emphasizing that it will only be successful if Member States ensure the emergence of new thinking and new paradigms of critical thought. “Our choice is stark: to seize a new moment for global solidarity or seek to hide in the thickets of a systemic failure that is failing the bulk of the world’s people and that has brought our planet to a point of ecological catastrophe,” he said.
SALVA KIIR MAYARDIT, President of South Sudan, emphasized the importance of reforming the Security Council, pointing out that since the founding of the United Nations the geopolitical realities have changed but the Council has remained the same. Two permanent Council seats should be allotted to African countries as those nations are most affected by the entity’s decisions and resolutions. The security situation in South Sudan is much improved, he said, reporting that refugees have been returning from neighbouring countries. His Government is engaged in ongoing discussions with the United Nations Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) on handing over the protection of civilian sites to South Sudan’s police force. However, the country faces challenges in that regard due to constraints imposed by the United Nations. For example, the recently renewed arms embargo on South Sudan has far‑reaching implications, he said, wondering how his Government would arm itself when its ability to procure weapons is blocked. South Sudan’s Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity had successfully negotiated a peace agreement with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of rebel groups, to be signed in Juba in October.
MOHAMED JULDEH JALLOH, Vice-President of Sierra Leone, recalled that the Charter of the United Nations sought to promote harmonizing action, develop friendly relations and international cooperation between nations. Complete adherence to implementation of the Charter’s provisions is critical, he said, asserting that the devastating impact of climate change and spread of terrorism puts into question the effectiveness of the Organization. Security Council reform is of primary importance in order to achieve the goals of the United Nations he said, calling for the Organization to enhance global security and combat climate change.
KAUSEA NATANO, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, identified the region’s many challenges, including climate change, natural hazards, the legacy of nuclear weapons testing and the impact of COVID‑19 on Pacific economies, food security and remittances. “We will not be able to build back better without strengthening collaboration and cooperation,” he said. Adding that, as an ocean navigator follows a fixed constellation through uncharted and stormy seas, the international community must remain steadfast in order to reach its destination. Achieving that goal will require a robust, rules‑based international order with the spirit of multilateralism embedded in the heart of the United Nations to face global challenges.
XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, emphasized the need to focus on peace and security, human rights and development, along with climate change. “There is no alternative to multilateralism,” he said, adding that his country, having served in the past in the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, will continue its engagement with the United Nations when it takes up its seat on the Human Rights Council.
PRAYUT CHAN-O-CHA, Prime Minister of Thailand, noted a legacy of participation in three pillars of the United Nations. To foster peace and security, numerous Thai military police and civilian personnel including women have served in United Nations peacekeeping operations. To further development, he said Thailand adopted the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and stands ready to extend cooperation under the aegis of the Sustainable Development Goals Partnership to interested countries. He also pointed to innovative initiatives in human rights including drafting the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non‑custodial Measures for Women Offenders, marking its tenth anniversary. The international community and every stakeholder have a shared responsibility to foster alliances towards a new multilateral system that meets the needs of all citizens.
LEE HSIEN LOONG, Prime Minister of Singapore, said the COVID‑19 crisis has sharpened the geopolitical trends of isolationism, protectionism and unilateralism, while underscoring the interconnection and interdependence of countries. Despite the limitations of a rules‑based multilateral system with the United Nations at its core, it has given small States like Singapore a voice and stake in the global commons, with the major powers also benefitting from a more peaceful and stable environment. However, he noted that recent trends have exposed shortcomings including inability to achieve consensus on major issues, ongoing conflicts, and the millions of people lacking access to food, health care and education. Member States must work together to reform multilateral institutions, keeping them open, inclusive and fit for purpose to respond effectively to shared challenges including pandemics, climate change and extremism.
JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister of Fiji, said his country’s contributions to the United Nations are driven by genuine care for those less fortunate and an uncompromising passion to protect nature and cited its contributions to peacekeeping, diplomacy and efforts to advance the priorities of small island developing States. Still, developing nations face terrifying challenges that are resulting in losses to hard earned development gains. He warned the Assembly that if action is not taken, a bleak 2020 will only be the beginning of tumultuous decades to come. “Every nation, large and small, stands a better chance at our best future by acting in solidarity,” he said, calling for peace in a world of net-zero emissions, sustainably managed oceans and equitable development.
XAVIER ESPOT ZAMORA, Head of Government of Andorra, said the world is safer, more stable, and more equitable than at the founding of the United Nations, adding that the Organization is a “temple of dialogue” in which all States can speak and be heard. Member States must place their trust in the United Nations and provide it the resources to address current and emerging challenges. Multilateralism and the 2030 Agenda are the ideal framework to tackle global challenges, he said, noting that unresolved hunger and armed conflict will hinder the attainment of sustainable development. He closed by calling for the establishment of mechanisms that provide young people a platform to act as agents of change.
KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, Prime Minister of Greece, stressing that countless lives have been saved and millions of displaced people have been given refuge because of the actions of the United Nations, said the ongoing reforms of its system deserve wholehearted support. The COVID‑19 pandemic is a prescient reminder of why multilateralism works, and why it is needed. Equitable access to vaccines and unimpeded treatment are key elements in the foundation of tomorrow’s new health architecture, he stressed. As new challenges arise, and new issues shape the global reality, the Organization must continue to help Member States overcome challenges that otherwise individual Member States, no matter how strong, cannot tackle alone, he said.
JAMES MARAPE, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, paying tribute to the United Nations as the cornerstone of humanity’s quest for peace and dignity, said that the impact of COVID‑19 will be felt for many years. Reaffirming the importance of multilateralism, he said, “Imagine a world without the United Nations. Where would we be?” The Organization is a beacon of hope for small countries such as his, he said, noting that Papua New Guinea has received value‑added support in its journey towards human rights, environmental protection and sustainable development. His Government remains committed to the Charter of the United Nations, he said, also expressing gratitude to the peacekeepers and other staff who had made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives in the line of duty.
MIA AMOR MOTTLEY, Prime Minister of Barbados, said that as the international community meets in this “strange and impersonal virtual space”, there is a compelling need for nations to pause to reflect on what the United Nations needs to do as it reaches its important milestone. While it is fitting that the Organization’s accomplishments be reflected upon, there is no time for contented self-congratulations over what has been achieved as the world faces a new enemy, the pandemic, in addition to the deadly existential threat of the climate crisis. COVID‑19 has manifested in a perfect storm that threatens to disrupt gains made, including the limited progress of States such as Barbados to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. She noted that an estimated 100 million more people have fallen into poverty, unemployment levels at their highest in decades and a global economic depression looms. Barbados strongly supports the Secretary‑General’s call for a new social contract to counter the growing gaps in trust and for a new global deal that is more inclusive and recognizes the different development levels among countries.
ABIY AHMED ALI, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said that the United Nations needs to evolve and adapt with the new global realities to ensure that it is fit for purpose. At a time when the world needs global leadership and collective action to tackle complex challenges, the ongoing standoff in the Security Council is undermining its credibility. Such an impasse further supports the need for Council reform, and the historic injustice against Africa must also be addressed through adequate representation. Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals has also been slowed by COVID‑19, which has overwhelmed health systems across the world and challenged the global economy. The burden on African countries as a result is undeniable. That is why Africa needs a stimulus package in the form of capital mobilization, debt relief or restructuring, or support for social sectors, he said, encouraging Group of Twenty (G20) countries to provide an effective economic stimulus package. Ethiopia is fully committed to the United Nations transformative agenda of ensuring sustainable development for all and has responded to the call for climate action through the country’s Green Legacy Initiative.
METTE FREDERIKSEN, Prime Minister of Denmark, said the international community must use this dark chapter in history as an opportunity to speak up for multilateralism and deepen cooperation, making the transition to a green economy a cornerstone of global recovery efforts. The United Nations is no more than the sum of its parts, she said. The Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement and Universal Declaration of Human Rights provide the blueprint for such efforts, she said, emphasizing the importance of partnerships with the capacity to deliver the financing and innovation required to make change.
ROBERT ABELA, Prime Minister of Malta, recalling his country’s involvement with the United Nations over the decades, said that as a small State, its commitment to multilateralism has never wavered because of an understanding that simple bilateral action can never address global challenges, such as migration and climate change. Only in solidarity with partners can the world truly ensure that no one is left behind. While the multilateral system and processes in place since the Second World War have underpinned the growing openness and interconnectedness of economies, these measures have at times been unable to respond quickly enough or effectively to challenges posed by globalization and its effects. Today, the world is not yet the one the Organization’s founders envisaged 75 years ago, plagued by growing inequality, poverty, hunger, armed conflicts, terrorism, insecurity, climate change and pandemics. This calls for more action, not less. Multilateralism must be rapidly adapted to current and future challenges, including the COVID‑19 pandemic, and seek to make the Organization more effective and agile. Achieving this requires giving influence to a wider range of countries; consulting more thoroughly with stakeholders, including civil society; and paying more attention to ensuring that global economic growth is inclusive.
SCOTT MORRISON, Prime Minister of Australia, cited the role of two fellow citizens in the founding of the United Nations, including Jessie Street, the country’s only female delegate to the San Francisco Conference in 1945. He noted that Ms. Street was crucially involved in securing the insertion of the word ‘sex’ in the clause ‘without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion’ in the Charter of the United Nations. Pointing to the central role Australia plays in the Organization’s efforts this day, he said the United Nations is not perfect but part of a quest to embody “our better angels”.
NARENDRA MODI, Prime Minister of India, said the world is a better place because of the United Nations, paying tribute to all who have advanced the cause of peace and development and noting his country’s leading contribution to peacekeeping missions. However, the original United Nations mission remains incomplete, with work to be done in preventing conflict, ensuring development and reducing inequality. Other challenges include reducing inequality and leveraging digital technologies. Without comprehensive reforms, he said the United Nations faces a crisis of confidence, with today’s interconnected world requiring an updated multilateralism to address contemporary challenges.
NIKOL PASHINYAN, Prime Minister of Armenia, said global challenges sometimes lead to struggles between international solidarity and self‑interest, as illustrated by the drastic situation caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic and its dire socioeconomic consequences. Effective multilateralism, with a central role for the United Nations, is instrumental in addressing global and regional challenges. Likewise, the United Nations is more than a common platform for presenting national concerns; it is a framework to shape common interests, to listen and consider every voice from all over the world. In these challenging times, reckless revisionists are trying to score from the perceived weakness of the international order, with social engineering of historic memories and the appropriation of heritage of others becoming commonplace. As such, the world must recommit to effective multilateralism to provide a strong institutional backbone to the international community for becoming more resilient in the face of global challenges.
JOVENEL MOÏSE, President of Haiti, said that since the United Nations was founded and the Charter drafted, the Organization has played a central role in the world. Citing major achievements in maintaining peace and justice, he said more must be done to tackle new and emerging challenges, including terrorism and the COVID‑19 pandemic. As such, the multilateral system must be strengthened to find innovative responses. Haiti has also stood to protect universal rights and freedoms, working with nations to forge a fairer and more balanced world. Encouraging Member States to commit of the declaration adopted today, he hoped all stakeholders would work together to further the principles of the United Nations.
AMBROSE MANDVULO DLAMINI, Prime Minister of Eswatini, citing United Nations achievements, underlined the need to grow to ensure that the Organization remained fit for purpose. From climate change to the sustainable use of resources, efforts must adapt to current and future challenges. Expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s drive to foster a spirit of multilateralism, he said reform of the United Nations is also essential, including the Security Council. In this vein, Eswatini reiterated Africa’s call for permanent seats on the Council for the continent’s States. Turning to contentious matters facing the world today, he said the issue of China and Taiwan must be addressed with a view to fulfilling the pledge of leaving no one behind.
SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said the United Nations embodies her country’s faith in multilateralism and thanked the Secretary‑General for upholding the flag of that principle. Paying tribute to all frontline United Nations staff and agencies, she noted Bangladesh has benefitted from development initiatives, while also contributing in “our modest way” to upholding its mandates. Bangladesh is a leading troop- and police‑contributing nation, with 150 personnel having sacrificed their lives in conflict‑stricken countries. Turning to the COVID‑19 pandemic, she noted its ravages show that developed and undeveloped nations alike rely on cooperation, and that multilateralism is the way forward. The international community must not allow geopolitical rivalries to weaken the United Nations.
RALPH EVERARD GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that the exigencies of the twenty‑first century demand a recommitment to the unity and solidary that were envisaged at the United Nations founding. A renewed and effective multilateralism is vital to confront climate change and address the health, socioeconomic and political aspects of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Amid an unequal global political economy, the moment is right to refashion the global system, reform the Security Council and update the protocols that govern international trade and finance. Given the disproportionate and disastrous health, economic, social and security implications of COVID‑19 in the developing world, urgent and ambitious action is key to averting a grim post‑pandemic reality where deepened political divides create ruptures in the social fabric. With the challenges faced by nations like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, development partners must urgently apply vulnerability indices and update financing eligibility criteria to address debt relief.
ANGELA MERKEL, Chancellor of Germany, recalled that the founding of the United Nations was preceded by the Shoah, the betrayal by Germany of all civilized values, and the Second World War. Its remit has expanded over the decades, and it has played a pivotal role in ensuring that only half as many people today live in extreme poverty compared with 20 years ago and in helping to eradicate smallpox around the world. However, the United Nations has too often been forced to lag behind its ideals as the interests of individual members have prevented this order from functioning as it was intended. Those who believe that they can get along better alone are mistaken, she said, emphasizing that: “We are one world.” Citing the COVID-19 pandemic as one example demonstrating that global problems call for understanding and cooperation beyond national borders and at all levels, she said the United Nations can be only as effective as its members are united. Particularly when it comes to the most intractable security issues, such as the situation in Libya and the tragedy in Syria, it is vital, despite all the setbacks, to do everything possible to find common and thus viable responses. This was particularly important to Germany during its non-permanent membership in the Security Council. However, the Council is too often deadlocked when clear decisions are called for, and reform is needed. The United Nations must continue to develop in order to be in a position to master the global challenges of the twenty-first century.
LOTAY TSHERING, Prime Minister of Bhutan, said that if not for the COVID‑19 pandemic, this seventy-fifth anniversary is worthy of festivity. The United Nations has achieved much, lifting millions out of poverty. The Organization has also been a friend to Bhutan. However, global issues like climate change affect developing countries disproportionately, and to build the kind of future the world wants, working together is critical. For this and future pandemics alongside other global challenges, the world must work together. When the world celebrates the United Nations 100th anniversary, there should be 100 per cent literacy and life expectancy should reach three digits. Indeed, if the world works together, no task is insurmountable.
ANTONIO COSTA, Prime Minister of Portugal, said the seventy‑fifth anniversary allows all nations to recommit to the principles of the United Nations Charter. While some global challenges are new, he noted some are recurrent and persistent, including the need to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. The corrosive effects of poverty, extremism and gender bias also threaten regional and global stability. Climate change and pandemics respect no borders, he said, and only through cooperation can the world advance digital inclusion and regulate markets. Climate change represents existential threat, with oceans representing the new frontier of human development, facing rising temperatures and deoxidization. He called on the international community to keep the spirit of 1945 while moving forward with a sense of shared hope.
KATRIN JAKOBSDOTTIR, Prime Minister of Iceland, said the United Nations was created with a vision to make the world a better and more peaceful place, with Iceland having benefitted from its role in shaping a rules‑based international order. The international community must continue to build unity and foster cooperation between nations and people to strengthen its shared humanity. She noted the COVID‑19 pandemic reinforces the core United Nations principle that all people should be cared for. It remains crucial to advance gender equality and accessible healthcare for all, the latter also presenting as a security issue. Calling for a future based on sustainable growth while protecting the planet, she said: “Multilateral cooperation has indeed never been more important.”
K. P. SHARMA OLI, Prime Minister of Nepal, said that Member States are convening at an unprecedented time. The impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic has hit lives, economies and societies. Humanity has the responsibility to strengthen the United Nations and empower it as the centre of multilateralism. Nepal’s partnership with the Organization has been growing. It has been providing one of the most dedicated professional services, peace operations, for over six decades. The United Nations has been a key partner in Nepal’s development process. The United Nations must fight against the pandemic, climate crisis and terrorism and must ensure the total elimination of chemical and all other weapons of mass destruction. It is also the international community’s responsibility to make the United Nations more fit for purpose. There is no alternative to unity, he said, noting that Member States must commit to move beyond rhetoric to action. It is important that the Organization is focused on the 12 action points highlighted in the Declaration adopted by the General Assembly today. The United Nations should ensure that it is stronger and better prepared to tackle existential threats and emergencies. Nepal commits itself to build a more prosperous global community.
PRAVIND KUMAR JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said that after decades of global efforts, there is cause to celebrate the fact that world wars have been averted, and millions of people, though not all, have become free of colonialism and are able to enjoy basic human rights and fundamental freedoms with access to amenities and facilities. While the United Nations has been in the forefront in assisting those in dire need, there remains enormous challenges that continue to plague the world for many of which the system remains unprepared. Acts by non‑State actors such as terrorism, natural phenomena including climate change and pandemics demonstrated a lack of preparedness. The only way to address them is by working together collectively and multilaterally. The Organization must be reinforced by bringing about necessary changes that reflect the current economic and political configuration, he said, emphasizing that: “Reform is a process we must necessarily engage into if we want, in 25 years, to celebrate the 100th anniversary with pride and satisfaction.” The United Nations must become an independent actor free from political influence and an effective guardian of international norms and standards, human rights and principles, he said, adding that: “The United Nations is the only organization of its kind that we have; we owe it to future generations to make it work through our collective will.”
SOPHIE WILMÈS, Prime Minister of Belgium, said that 75 years ago, the guns of the Second World War fell silent and the greatest organization ever conceived came into being, to rebuild a world that would spare future generations from the scourge of war and to promote freedom and social progress. The international community sees a world in constant development where collective progress is still as important as ever. Multilateralism continues to be a necessity in order to meet all of the challenges of the globalized world. Belgium has through its history attempted to encourage dialogue and mutual understanding. It is an essential element of its diplomatic DNA. The prevention of conflict is an essential part of Belgium foreign policy. In a context of international tension, Belgium is working constructively on the role of honest broker. After 75 years, the global community must recognize that the world is not the same as the one when the Charter of the United Nations was signed. Member States must redouble ambition. They owe this to their fellow citizens, particularly children and the most vulnerable.
SAMDECH AKKA MOHA SENA PADEI TECHO HUN SEN, Prime Minister of Cambodia, said that while the Charter’s vision is still relevant, the international commitment to it is imperiled and needs serious attention. Multilateralism has also been severely assaulted, especially due to the nationalism and protectionism of some global super Powers. Instead of receiving much-needed support, developing nations often are targeted for the imperfection of their nation‑building processes which do not meet developed countries’ standards. National restoration and development efforts of poor countries are destroyed due in significant part to the politicization of human rights in accordance with the geopolitical agenda of some developed countries. Super Power rivalry hampers developing countries’ ability to make independent, sovereign choices for a development path. This is the real obstacle for developing nations to achieve the 2030 Agenda in addition to tackling the pressing challenges posed by the COVID‑19 pandemic. Looking into the future, the global community requires a strong United Nations that is fully equipped to deal with current realities and address twenty‑first century challenges.
TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, said the world has enjoyed peace and security since the United Nations was founded, but much more is needed to maintain the status quo. Citing the special situation of small island nations, he said the United Nations is uniquely suited to respond effectively to the greatest current challenges, including climate change, poverty, armed conflicts, inequality and pandemics. The Organization has also been vital in supporting Samoa’s journey from its independence until today, participating in reform efforts and continuing to provide Pacific and island countries with specific solutions. “This is the promised future we want,” he said, adding that the national vision is underpinned by its unique communal faa-Samoa culture and traditions that are key to order, stability and security and the pursuit of sustainable growth, social progress and environmental sustainability. “Our United Nations is a multilateral forum where all contributions count, and Samoa proudly cherishes having a seat at the United Nations table to contribute to our global challenges, being heard and being part of the solution,” he said. “To all our members, let’s capitalize on our ‘unity in diversity’ and work as nations united for the common good of mankind.”
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Prime Minister of Canada, said this virtual commemoration of the seventy‑fifth anniversary highlights “we are a world in crisis.” The crisis is not just because of COVID‑19 “but because of the last few decades.” Climate change, violent extremism and rising numbers of displaced people and migrants mean the system no longer works as well as it should. More than ever, he said the international community must redouble efforts to defend a range of common principles and ideals. The United Nations offers a global safety net for the most vulnerable people in the world and has also shone a light on modern slavery and child soldiers. However, he stated the Organization’s ability to act depends on the political will of Member States. “Challenges are also opportunities,” he said, but the response to the legacy of this pandemic must not be deepened inequality or isolationism. “In fact, we have to double down on our efforts,” he emphasized.
SEBASTIAN KURZ, Federal Chancellor of Austria, said that the Organization has had some remarkable achievements, including a strong human rights system, peacekeeping, the international disarmament architecture, the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, and leadership in the fight against climate change. International cooperation with the United Nations at its centre is crucial to combat the COVID _19 pandemic. Noting that 2020 marks 65 years since Austria joined the United Nations and 40 years since Vienna became host to one of the Organization’s four headquarters worldwide, he said that his country is proud of its contributions to the United Nations and stands ready to support all efforts to ensure it remains fit for the next 75 years.
THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said that the current global environment is very different from what it was seven decades ago, yet the primary objectives and principles set out in the Charter of the United Nations remain highly relevant. All Member States must jointly promote the noble cause of the United Nations, help to improve its mechanism and ensure that it fulfils its mandate and duties effectively. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic stands ready to work with other Member States to ensure that the United Nations carries out its mandate to promote peace, development and the prosperity of all countries, he added.
MOEKETSI MAJORO, Prime Minister of Lesotho, said that the time is right to reflect on the vital role of international solidarity and collaboration to respond to global challenges and the impact of COVID‑19, particularly in vulnerable countries. He emphasized that achieving “the United Nations we want” requires Security Council reform, including enlarging the number of permanent and non‑permanent members. “Global security is not a privilege and should not be the preserve of a handful,” he said, adding that Council reform should take into account the aspirations of Africa, as stipulated at the Ezulwini Consensus. Transparency, inclusivity and democracy must inform the work of the entire United Nations system, he added.
POHIVA TU‘I‘ONETOA, Prime Minister of Tonga, said that the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations is “an opportunity to focus on the world, its current challenges and how to shape the future we want”. He emphasized that the 2030 Agenda cannot be achieved without addressing climate change and rising sea levels, which are security issues for small island developing States like his. He went on to underscore the need to reform the United Nations system to ensure a more positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of the world’s peoples.
GASTON ALFONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said the dismantling of colonial rule, carried out under the law-making capabilities of the General Assembly, assisted many States including his own. Founded as a colony in 1634, he said Antigua and Barbuda owes its independence to resolution 1514 (1960). The multilateralism which defines the United Nations is embedded in the approach of Member States when achieving their goals, he said, underscoring the pragmatism of the principle that “global problems demand global solutions”. Even as nationalism has become a new reality worldwide, his Government remains pledged to fight poverty, guarantee the rights of women and girls and “unrelentingly tackle global climate change”. Noting that there are six hurricanes currently brewing in the Atlantic Ocean threatening lives and livelihoods, he said “Let me remind everyone that there is no Planet B.”
NGUYỄN XUÂN PHÚC, Prime Minister of Viet Nam, said that pride at the accomplishments of the United Nations is mixed with anxiety as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the planet. Peace, cooperation and friendship have been thriving, while poverty is on the retreat. These immense achievements would not have been possible without the United Nations as the centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. The world is facing challenges such as the pandemic and climate change that are threatening the peace of nations. The greater the challenge we face, the more we need to work together in solidarity. The Charter of the United Nations and international law must be observed and the sovereignty of States must be respected. Viet Nam is enjoying vibrant growth and is exerting all efforts with the goal of a prosperous people. It has managed to contain the coronavirus and a strong rebound of its economy is expected to follow.
JOSÉ ULISSES CORREIA E SILVA , Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of multilateralism. When borders close, everyone loses. The devastating potential and reality of climate change knows no boundaries either. Cabo Verde welcomes the Declaration of the General Assembly, which symbolizes the critical nature of this moment. This is the moment when multilateral intergovernmental action is essential. Multilateralism is relevant not only as a principle but as a space for engagement.
ANDREJ PLENKOVIĆ, Prime Minister of Croatia, said that, after two devastating world wars, the United Nations emerged from the ashes of battlefields as humankind’s best hope and the foundation of a new, better world. While it has yet to achieve its supreme ideal — a just and lasting peace for humanity — the Organization and its organs and agencies have proven their worth on countless occasions. The scourges of hunger, poverty, disease and displacement still burden the planet, but they affect far fewer people. Whereas two out of three people lived in extreme poverty at the end of the Second World War, today that share has fallen to less than one in 10, and is one track to fall to under one in 16 by 2030. He cited significant technological changes, noting that the world’s population has tripled in 75 years and its fossil fuel emissions have increased six‑fold. “This is why the climate change is one of the pivotal fields for the future of humanity,” he said, stressing that “we cannot afford to fail”. He went on to join other speakers in advocating for a reformed Security Council and a United Nations that is fit for the twenty‑first century.
MUHYIDDIN MOHD YASSIN, Prime Minister of Malaysia, said that nearly 40,000 people responded to the UN75 survey within the first three months of its launching, expressing a desire for a United Nations that better protects the environment, promotes human rights, reduces conflicts and focuses on promoting access to basic services, including health. Unfortunately, in recent years certain countries disregarded the Paris Agreement and other efforts to address pressing concerns, he said, adding that he hoped that trend would stop, as States must take heed of what people want and hope for. Given current challenges, he said, “we must remember that since COVID‑19 does not discriminate, our response should not too.” While acknowledging gains over the past decades, he said the Organization has somewhat failed to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, as many people are still suffering due to conflicts, which remain unresolved in various parts of the world. Reform must address this. The Organization needs to be better equipped, not just with political latitude, but with the continued support of its Member States to respond to world’s most glaring problems. The time is right to take stock of the United Nations achievements, improve on its weaknesses and remove all obstacles that prevent its continued progress. “Let us move forward together in building the future we want and the United Nations we need,” he said.
MAHDI MOHAMED GULAID, Acting Prime Minister of Somalia, congratulated the membership of the United Nations for its tremendous achievements. Seventy-five years since the Charter of the United Nations was created, most nations of the world are enjoying freedom and progress. The importance of the United Nations and its mission has been brought home with the pandemic. No country is an island; they are all interconnected. In Somalia, significant gains have been made regarding peace, security and sustainable development. After three decades of conflict and instability, his country needs solidarity and support. On the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Organization, it is a good time to renew common aspirations and forge together the future the international community wants. Somalia remains committed to inclusive multilateralism and the years ahead hold much potential with all of humanity working together under the umbrella of the United Nations.
ABDUL MALIK BIN ABDULLAH AL KHALILI, Chairman of the State Council of Oman, said the anniversary comes at a time the world is witnessing major unrest and an unprecedented global health crisis, expressing hope that this would motivate nations to overcome it with a stronger will, greater determination and a deeper readiness to engage in dialogue, cooperation and solidarity. United Nations activities have diverged and grown, and its agenda has become burdened with various interests and aspirations. This compels Member States to seek to develop the structures and mechanisms of United Nations, in line with the aspirations and hopes of current and future generations, in securing a decent livelihood, justice, security and stability for all. Reasserting Oman’s appreciation of United Nations efforts in combating poverty and disease, promoting opportunities for peace and harmony and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he called for the support and development of the Organization to enhance its capabilities and performance in facing today’s challenges and fully playing its pivotal role in international relations.
EKATERINA ZAHARIEVA, Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said the United Nations has established itself as the cornerstone of international order and of fundamental human rights and freedoms. “It turned out that 75 years were not enough to bring about the ideals set by the UN Charter, nor were we even close to having the people’s dreams come true,” she said, asking delegations to reflect on how to achieve the vision of the United Nations. The Alliance for Multilateralism, co-founded in 2019 by Bulgaria, has an important role to play. What is needed is both the impetus and enthusiasm to keep working hard for the Organization’s noble causes, from achieving peace to defeating COVID-19 to promoting human rights or coping with climate change, she said.
SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation and Tajikistan), said that some tend to take the great achievement of the United Nations as a given. However, each step was a true feat, the greatest being the victory over Nazism. Against that background, he said attempts to revise history look absurd. Those who defeated fascism must be remembered, along with the lessons of history. Unfortunately, the Cold War prevented the recognition of the United Nations collective potential. Pointing to attempts by some States to meddle in other States’ affairs and application of unilateral sanctions, he said “The world is tired of dividing lines, dividing between Us and Them.” The mandates of main United Nations organs must not be permitted to be watered down. The Organization should also take into account such regional bodies as the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
WILFRED ELRINGTON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belize, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said the seventy‑fifth anniversary occurs at a moment of upheaval, with multilateralism seemingly in global retreat. The cataclysmic crises of the pandemic and climate change are layered upon a bedrock of inequality. However, the Governments of today benefit from a framework in place to chart a course through the crises: the Charter of the United Nations, offering a blueprint for a green and resilient recovery. He said the Alliance is concerned with attempts to obfuscate commitments, especially on climate change, and that the United Nations has failed to declare a climate emergency. The time to act is fast expiring, as loss and damage threatens small island developing States, their self‑determination, sovereignty and dignity of their peoples. The loss of any of those islands would signify a failure of the United Nations. He also rejected coercive unilateral economic measures against sovereign States.
SAMEH HASSAN SHOKRY SELIM (Egypt) said that the Organization’s seventy‑fifth anniversary is an occasion to draw lessons, identify mistakes and celebrate achievements and accomplishments. He set out Egypt’s vision for addressing the challenges of an ever‑changing world, including a renewed commitment to observing the equality of all humans, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, respecting cultural differences and maintaining a rules‑based world order. Underscoring the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals, he emphasized that the use of transborder waters should conform with international law. He also called for human rights to be respected and depoliticized.
RETNO LESTARI PRIANSARI MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said the United Nations has stood the test of time, but global challenges are escalating, demonstrated by the COVID‑19 pandemic. Countries have higher expectations of the Organization to strengthen collective global leadership and deliver concrete results. Yet, multilateral institutions are struggling to respond, and this trend must not continue. The anniversary is a test for the United Nations to enhance its relevance and manage the world’s expectations. The United Nations system must deliver, beyond rhetoric, and its programmes must be meaningful and effective, including the pandemic response. It must also remain fit for purpose and better able to anticipate the future, which requires a United Nations that is efficient in adapting to a changing world. Indonesia continues to believe in the virtue of multilateralism and the Organization’s role as the primary platform to address global challenges.
BRUNO EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said that on this anniversary of the United Nations, the greatest power in the world is threatening multilateralism and international law. The irresponsible behavior of the United States is the biggest threat to international peace and security, as it instigates conflicts, non‑conventional and trade wars and imposes severe unilateral coercive measures. In an arms race of its own making, it squanders resources that are indispensable for sustainable development, refuses to cooperate to confront the multiple crises generated by the devastating COVID‑19 pandemic, and has ignored important agreements in the areas of environmental protection, disarmament and arms control, withdrawing from international fora such as WHO, UNESCO and the Human Rights Council. It would seem that it is at war with the entire planet, its vital resources and its inhabitants, he said, adding that the United States is preventing a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict, proposing the “so called deal of the century” that threatens the future of the State of Palestine. The United States denies the people of Puerto Rico their right to free determination and independence, interferes in the internal affairs of dozens of Member States and threatens those it accuses of influencing its corrupt electoral system. Fear and repeated lies happen to be the new weapons of its dishonest media and misinformation strategy, he said, adding that by reviving the Monroe Doctrine, the United States undermines the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace. The United States has increased its hostility against Cuba, systematically violating human rights by tightening its blockade and attacking its international medical cooperation while being the epicentre of the COVID‑19 pandemic, which has taken the lives of almost 200,000 United States citizens as a result of Washington, D.C.’s irresponsibility and electoral opportunism. Seventy‑five years after having signed the Charter of the United Nations, it is urgent that States reaffirm their commitment to the principles of international law and the strengthening of multilateralism, cooperation with international bodies and the empowerment of this General Assembly, he said. “Let us multiply cooperation and solidarity,” he said. “Let us build a democratic, just and sustainable international order.”
KYAW TIN, Minister for International Cooperation of Myanmar, said that no other institution can replace the United Nations. He underscored the achievements of U Thant, the Organization’s third Secretary‑General, and noted the many challenges facing Myanmar, including national reconciliation. He urged the United Nations to remain a beacon of hope for developing countries, adding that Myanmar would like to see it evolve as a trusted partner that protects smaller nations and helps them overcome their challenges.
AYMAN H. SAFAD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan, exhorted the international community to work together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and mobilize financial resources to assist refugees and to support those countries that host them. Pointing to violations of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, he said that a fair peace is not only a strategic choice, but a regional and international necessity. Genuine negotiations towards a two-State solution, with East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian State and a return to pre‑1967 borders, should be a priority, he added.
MAKHDOOM SHAH MAHMOOD QURESHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, said that the diamond jubilee of the United Nations is a landmark occasion, one on which to celebrate the Organization’s journey and exciting prospects. The United Nations was hope borne of the ashes of unmitigated suffering and misplaced notions of superiority. It addressed the need to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and to reaffirm the fundamental rights of men and women. It has helped prevent the kind of destruction visited upon humanity twice within a generation, advanced arms control, facilitated decolonization and addressed threats to the environment. “But our euphoria must not blind us to its failings,” he said, adding that the Organization is only as good as its Member States. The disputes concerning Jammu and Kashmir and regarding Palestine are the Organization’s most glaring disputes. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are still awaiting the United Nations to help them craft their right to self‑determination. The very forces that led to the Second World War, racism and fascism, are taking the shape of rising xenophobia and Islamophobia. Pakistan has been and remains an ardent believer in multilateralism.
AMADOU BA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal, said that while the COVID-19 pandemic has made the celebration virtual, the international community has had the opportunity to mark the anniversary and look forward. There are challenges for sustainable development that people want solutions for, such as cross-border crime, terrorism and climate change. These threats require Member States to take a global and inclusive approach through multilateralism and the United Nations. The pandemic has clearly shown the close links between countries and the need for them to work together. It must use this anniversary to ensure that the United Nations can be tailored to the challenges of today’s world. It must be able to reinvent itself to overcome these challenges.
BOGDAN LUCIAN AURESCU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Romania, said that as the world faces a wide range of challenges, one of the main lessons learned during the past several months is the crucial need for effective and innovative multilateral cooperation and that the rules-based international order — with the United Nations at its core — must be upheld and strengthened. On this anniversary, the spirit of unity, solidarity and cooperation remains crucial for achieving the Organization’s goals. Innovation and reform should ensure that the United Nations system is effective, efficient and fit for purpose. Efforts must aim to preserve and advance peace and security, promote, protect and fulfill human rights and accelerate progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda. No efforts should be spared to recover better and greener, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. At the same time, a universal political commitment must be made regarding digital security to ensure that universal values are maintained online as well as offline. Recalling Romania’s experience with the Organization, he said his delegation will continue to abide by the values and principles of the Charter, with the goal of achieving the future the world wants for next generations and the rules-based international order.
TEODORO L. LOCSIN JR., Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said the world peace for which the United Nations has strived through 75 years has been mostly a failure, yet it is still the only peace people can live with in freedom, dignity and sufficiency. As the only world forum, the United Nations is the main and only globally credible platform. With successes and failures, the United Nations has shown its ability to bounce back by reaffirming its continuing relevance against the backdrop of deliberately complicated global issues and threats to world peace and security. As long as it exists, none can trumpet the end of multilateralism. COVID-19 is a reminder of humanity’s common fate. A case soon to be made will be for the universal availability of COVID-19 vaccines without requiring any people, class or country to submit to another’s will as the price of cure. Withholding the vaccine — the most effective means of mass salvation — is a weapon of mass destruction, he said, adding that the United Nations remains an essential organization.
INE ERIKSEN SØREIDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said the Charter of the United Nations is the keystone of modern international relations and “we can hardly imagine a world without it”. As Norway prepares to enter the Security Council on 1 January 2021 as an elected non-permanent member, she pointed to a backdrop of renewed great power rivalry and a rules-based world order under pressure. It is therefore important to reiterate a common commitment to the principles of justice and international law. She said that achieving common goals requires restoring and reinvigorating the multilateral system and adapting it to current challenges. No State, no matter how powerful, can meet the challenges of climate change, growing inequality, conflict and, now, the pandemic, alone.
IGNAZIO CASSIS, Head of the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, said despite progress since the founding of the United Nations 75 years ago, “we cannot rest on past achievements”. With enduring challenges such as hunger, conflict and inequality, partly new ones including climate change, and the latest global crisis of COVID-19, cooperation among States is as important today as in 1945. “The world is changing. Our institutions must do the same,” he said. As host country to the United Nations European headquarters, Switzerland is committed to bringing together “the brightest and best in Geneva” to address new technologies and seek synergies between science and diplomacy for sustainable, peaceful development of peoples and States. The multilateral order within the United Nations must take efficient collective measures to prevent or remove threats to peace and quell every act of aggression.
Right of Reply
The representative of India, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said her counterpart from Pakistan had delivered a fabricated narrative about the internal affairs of her country. One of the United Nations unfinished challenges is fighting against the scourge of terrorist organizations, she said, noting that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism.