Saturday, 28/3/2020 | 9:40 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

General Assembly: Continuation of the general debate

Note: A full summary of today’s meeting will be available after its conclusion.


YOUSUF BIN ALAWI BIN ABDALLAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Oman, said that recent positive development in the political, social, economic, scientific and technical fields had made the world more interdependent than ever before.  While challenges remained, they could be solved through political will and concerted efforts.  In that regard, Oman had adopted a policy of dialogue, negotiation and reconciliation in settling disputes by peaceful means on the basis of Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter.  Emphasizing the centrality of the Palestinian question for the stability of the Middle East region, he said that, despite the efforts of the international community, attempts to reach a peaceful solution had yet to succeed.  Renewing his call for intensified efforts, he noted that there had also been setbacks in addressing the crises in Syria, Yemen and Libya.

He went on to state that since the onset of those crises, Oman had worked with the parties concerned to reconcile their points of view, while encouraging them to reject differences and resume negotiations.  Highlighting, in particular, the efforts of Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, to bring the Yemeni parties together, he emphasized the need for joint international supporting action.  It was incumbent upon all people to rid themselves of the negative aspects of the past and to concentrate on the positive elements of the future, he said, adding “our goal should be to develop relations, enhance cooperation, deepen interests between States and peoples, and settle differences through dialogue” on the basis of Charter principles as well as international laws and norms.

KHALID BIN AHMED BIN MOHAMED AL KHALIFA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said that anti-terrorism measures would not be effective if pursued under laws that contravened the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Steps taken by the United States Congress in passing the “Justice against the Sponsors of Terrorism Act” would jeopardize international relations based on the principles of equal sovereignty of States and sovereign immunity.  “It constitutes a dangerous precedent in relations between nations,” he added, emphasizing that the law threatened the stability of the international system and adversely affected international efforts to combat terrorism.

All States with some leverage in relation to the Syrian crisis, notably the United States and the Russian Federation, must join efforts to reach a political solution and eradicate all terrorist organizations in the country, he said.  In Iraq, it was important to persevere in efforts to restore State authority over the national territory.  He went on to state that establishing peace in the Middle East remained contingent upon Israel’s “admission that its security and stability can only be obtained if the same is guaranteed to the Palestinian people”.  He called upon the “coup d’état forces” in Yemen to refrain from action that hindered stability, saying his country stood directly with the Yemeni people.  Efforts to build bridges with Iran had been met with “no serious response” from that country other than the fabrication of new problems and crises.  “We still face Iran’s attempts to jeopardize our security and social peace through support provided to groups and militias,” he added.

SUSHMA SWARAJ, Minister for External Affairs of India, noted that much had changed in the world over the past year, and the international community must remember that it would be defined not just by its actions, but equally by its inaction.  “The true challenge of our time is to end the curse of harsh poverty that still lurks in so many corners of our world,” she said.  It was critical to ensure that the fruits of growing prosperity reached those who needed them most, in order to take forward the mission of gender equality and to ensure peace across borders.  Noting that one sixth of humanity lived in India, she said the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development therefore depended on the success achieved in her country.  To confront the challenges posed by climate change, the Prime Minister had championed the concept of “climate justice”, which recognized the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities.  Developed nations must discharge their responsibility in ensuring the common good by providing financing and technology transfer, she said, adding that India would continue to play a leading role in combating climate change.

Recalling that the recent fifteenth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the United States, she said that, despite the blood and tears of innocent victims, attacks had continued in Kabul, Dhaka, Istanbul, Mogadishu, Brussels, Bangkok, Paris, Pathankot and Uri in 2016 alone.  Barbaric tragedies also continued daily in Syria and Iraq.  Describing terrorism as the largest violation of human rights and a crime against humanity, she said “history proves that those who seed extremist ideologies reap a bitter harvest”.  Humankind must unite across its differences, add steel to its resolve and inject urgency into its response, she emphasized.  Any nation that refused to join that global strategy must be isolated.  “In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism,” she said, warning that countries must be held to account for sheltering terrorists.  She recalled that on 21 September, the Prime Minister of Pakistan had levelled baseless allegations of human rights violations against her country and that India had put in place unacceptable preconditions for dialogue.  Both accusations were untrue, she said, stressing that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and would always remain so.

VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, noted that South-east Asia had become a fertile recruiting ground for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), and that in such an uncertain world, small States had to work much harder just to stay afloat.  A rules-based multilateral system, international partnership and cooperation and sustainable development were critical to their survival and prosperity.  “We reject the notion that might is right,” he added, emphasizing that a collective voice for small States spoke louder and that collective action was a more effective catalyst for change.  The Global Governance Group provided an effective platform for 30 small and medium-sized countries to exchange views on global governance and contribute to discussions of the Group of 20 (G-20), he said.

Success in achieving sustainable development would require the rule of law and international partnerships, he said, stressing that without good governance, transparency, strong institutions and a clear legal framework, development could be neither sustained nor beneficial for ordinary people.  Another important issue that required cooperation was the sustainable management of forests and the prevention of land degradation, he said, adding that transboundary haze from forest and peatland fires in South-east Asia had impaired the health of millions of people, compromised the safety of aircraft and damaged the regional economy.  Developing countries needed international support and assistance to implement the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that Singapore was committed to helping other developing countries build capacity.

LUÍS FILIPE LOPES TAVARES, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Communities of Cabo Verde, noted with concern the resurgence of instability and the proliferation of armed conflicts, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.  Emphasizing his country’s support for the African Union’s search for solutions to conflicts in Libya, South Sudan, Somalia and Mali, he also welcomed Morocco’s recent decision to re-join the regional bloc.  Massive violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights hindered the full achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.  Fulfilling the Goals implied enhancing financing, technology transfer, capacity-building and participation in international trade.

Cabo Verde was concerned about the ongoing refugee crisis and welcomed the adoption of the New York Declaration during the High-Level Meeting on Migrants and Refugees on 19 September, he said, adding that his country’s Government also called for the correct application of international conventions relating to that issue.  He highlighted the challenges facing small island developing States, including their lack of resources, their limited ability to attract foreign direct investment and their need to preserve the seas and oceans.  “It will be important for the international community to pay attention to the unique and specific characteristics of this group of countries in their development process,” he emphasized.

FREDERICK A MITCHELL, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of the Bahamas, expressed concern that banks in the developed world, principally the United States, were refusing to cash cheques from some Caribbean banks, claiming that the risk of policing the latter on the issue of compliance was too high and the business that came their way too low.  Developed-world banks were treating their Caribbean counterparts “as if they are hell on earth” by dint of new financial rules, which used pejorative expressions like “tax haven”, while imposing unfair rules and sanctions.  “The recent attacks in the press about the Bahamas’ financial services sector are simply reprehensible and violations of internationals norms,” he emphasized.

Stressing also the critical importance of fighting illegal fishing and upholding the highest standards of maritime safety, he said gross domestic product (GDP) must not be the primary factor in determining who qualified for economic assistance and development financing.  In relation to the advancement of women, he said that a more vexing problem was ensuring that young males would keep up.  He expressed concern about incursions from Haiti and Cuba by people seeking a better life, and said more attention must be paid to the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States.  The shootings by police officers in the United States must not be allowed to damage that country’s image, he added, emphasizing that his country’s closest neighbour must “do the right thing” in the present International Decade of People of African Descent.

OSMAN SALEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, said that sanctions imposed on his country were aimed at effecting regime change and bringing Eritrea to its knees.  “We were routinely written off, our imminent collapse predicted with regularity,” he said, adding that Eritrea was “now on the up”, with most of the Millennium Development Goals achieved and the economy rebounding.  However, the pressures, coercion and hostility that the country had faced were by no means exceptional or distinctive, he emphasized.  Misguided policies pursued over a quarter of a century had fuelled conflict, instability and extremism in the Horn of Africa.  Policies of greed and pillage as well as the reckless resort to unilateral pressure and force to secure advantage had pushed not just the region, but the world towards a dangerous path.

However, the world was still full of possibilities, he said, welcoming the voices of ordinary people as well as their actions in mobilizing and fighting the “domination of the few”.  In the Horn of Africa, the past two decades had been “a period of missed opportunities, of zero-sum game”, of repeated conflicts and setbacks.  Even today, the situation remained fraught with risk and danger, yet recent developments indicated the possibility of an opening to a new beginning, for relaunching the 1990s vision of a peaceful, progressive and economically dynamic Horn of Africa.  Eritrea was keen to build on its achievements in order to transform its economy and society, and achieve sustainable development by relying on the energy and skills of its people, he said.