Saturday, 4/4/2020 | 4:47 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

General Assembly: General Debate

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


PAUL BIYA, President of Cameroon, said that, although the session was opening in a context marked by turmoil, fortunately, there were glimmers of hope.  In a remarkable show of human solidarity, States had laid the building blocks for one destiny, with the adoption of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development outcome document, “The Future We Want”, as well as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Goals, he continued, were the first global agenda that considered development in all its dimensions:  security, economic, social, human and environmental.  While past agendas, declarations and action programmes had raised great hopes, they had been only partially implemented.  “We failed to honour all our commitments, especially financial,” he said, stressing that political will should not wax and wane according to circumstances.  Contributions should be effective and solidarity among peoples should be affirmed.

Cameroon had been engaged over the last three years in a war against terrorism, which required a collective response, determination and action, he said.  Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda, which focused on the promotion of inclusive societies, would help fight Boko Haram.  He urged strengthening national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, notably in developing countries, to combat terrorism and crime.

The outcomes of previous agendas and programmes had shown the urgent need to achieve the ambitions.  “If we decide, here and now, to effectively and concretely mobilize our immense resources,” he said, the Goals would create a world of peace and shared prosperity.

NICOS ANASTASIADES, President of Cyprus, said that in order to address the root causes of the refugee and migration crisis, international efforts needed to be directed towards making sustainable development a reality for all countries — a goal that could only be achieved if the international community adopted a targeted and results-based approach to development cooperation.  Also required were efforts to eliminate inequality and social exclusion, address gender inequality and invest in human capital, especially girls’ education.  The threats posed by ongoing conflicts and the prevention of future ones needed to be confronted, as well.  Therefore, it was important for the international community to reconsider conflict resolution mechanisms, he said, calling for strengthening support for the United Nations.

In that regard, he thanked the Secretary-General for his efforts to resolve the Cyprus Problem, which was the second longest-standing unresolved international issue on the United Nations agenda.  It was regrettable that numerous rounds of talks had not been successful.  Nonetheless, he expressed his hope that the latest round of negotiations would end the “unacceptable status quo”.  Progress had been made on certain key aspects, but differences remained on a number of issues, the most important being property, territory and security and guarantees.  Those issues would weight significantly on whether a solution would be possible in the near future.

If the failures of the past were to be avoided, he continued, key issues would need to be addressed, including, among others, the financial dimension of the settlement that tackled property issue and the institutional functioning of the federal State; safeguards for the smooth implementation of the agreement; details regarding what the first day of the solution would entail; the introduction of the euro as legal tender on the first day of the settlement; and ensuring the speedy implementation of the various aspects of the agreement.

He said that he believed a solution by the end of the year was achievable, provided that all interested parties show the same degree of commitment, voicing hope that a solution to the Cyprus Problem would “offer a beacon of hope” that even the most intractable problems can be solved peacefully through the United Nations.

ERNEST BAI KOROMA, President of Sierra Leone, said his country had linked each of the new Goals to its national development programme, “Agenda for Prosperity”.  A national framework had been established, as had a benchmark system to address challenges relating to the data required for reporting on progress.  However, delivering on the Goals’ promise of a better world would remain elusive without reform of the United Nations.  “Let me put it straight:  our premier global institution lacks the democratic competencies to tackle the developmental, security and other challenges facing Africa and many other parts of the world,” he said.

Without African voices at the highest level of the Organization, no solutions would be sustainable, he stated.  Africa’s position was about righting historic wrongs, but more than anything, it was about Africa’s contribution to making the United Nations more effective and democratic.  Diluting any elements of that position was akin to continuing an unfair status quo.  As Coordinator of the Committee of Ten on the Reform of the United Nations, he affirmed that group’s support for the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration, adding that he frowned at attempts to “take down our common position through divide and rule policies reminiscent of the colonial era”.

More broadly, he said, his Government was ready to deploy formed police units, special weapon and tactics units and police guards to the United Nations Standby Arrangement System.  He welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 2282 (2016) and Assembly resolution 70/262, both of which supported a comprehensive approach to transitional justice and an accountable security sector.  Sierra Leone was committed to good governance and would build on its post-conflict gains by strengthening its democratic institutions and access to justice. It had taken steps to improve service conditions in its justice sector and had created a legal aid board.  It was working to ensure there was no one was in correctional centres without an indictment.  Those efforts were the bedrock of its goal to become a middle-income country by 2035.

As well, legislation and policy actions had been taken to empower women and young people, he continued, noting that a record number of young people and women had been appointed to ministerial and ambassadorial posts.  The Ebola outbreak had underscored the need for more robust global health architecture.  He urged implementing recommendations by the High-Level Panel Review on the Global Response to Health Crises, adding that Sierra Leone was establishing a post-Ebola recovery programme.   While his country had contributed almost nothing to global warming, it was the third most-vulnerable country to those effects and he sought collaboration in that regard.  Concluding, he stressed that it was urgent for all parties to cooperate in the search for peace in Syria, South Sudan and Libya and speed efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

DALIA GRYBAUSKAITÉ, President of Lithuania, said that fighting terrorism and ending conflict could only be done with the full participation of women.  As well, implementing the Goals would also require special attention to women, who were left behind and ignored.  While both women and men were affected by poverty, lifting women out of poverty was more difficult.  Women faced gender-based discrimination and marginalization, she said, citing a report by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) that a woman earned 24 per cent less than a man and was more challenged in receiving a loan to start a business.

“The trend of poverty feminization has to change,” she stressed.  “By not allowing women to prosper, we condemn entire families to poverty.”  Moreover, while nearly half of the world’s agricultural work was done by women, if food was scarce, women were the first to suffer.  When public order broke down, a woman’s trip to bring water to her family could cost her life.  Expanding land ownership for women and providing credit would raise women’s incomes and make more food available for all.

In addition, for so many girls and women, the road to inclusive learning was an impossible dream, she said, noting that of the world’s 750 million illiterate adults, two thirds were women.  Girls were sold into early marriages and women into slavery.  Extremists burned down schools and killed teachers.  “That needs to change,” she said.  Educated women were a tremendous resource for the common good.  Girls must have access to education and be free to choose a profession.

While the challenges were immense, Governments could be part of the change by encouraging women to demand their rightful place in national parliaments, negotiation tables, science labs and company boards, she said.  They must ensure that nothing obstructed girls’ access to free quality education.  Abusive social practices must be combated, with laws that gave women and girls the power they deserved, and an investment in poverty reduction must be made.  “We cannot afford to fail in this challenge,” she stressed.  “To achieve this, we need everyone on board.”