Press Releases

    GA/10506
    25 September 2006

    Halting Climate Change No Longer Choice but Imperative; Failure to Do so Risks Undermining Prosperity, Security Worldwide, General Assembly Told

    Iraq Updates Security Situation, China Promotes Adherence to Global Non-Proliferation Regime, as General Debate Continues

    NEW YORK, 22 September (UN Headquarters) -- As the General Assembly continued the general debate of its sixty-first session today, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, Margaret Beckett, warned that failure to act on climate change ran the risk of undermining the very basis of prosperity and security, because dealing with climate change was no longer a choice but an imperative.

    Concerned that rising sea levels could potentially threaten London, Shanghai, Singapore, Amsterdam and Manhattan, she said no country could protect itself from climate change, unless it protected others by building a global basis for climate security.  "We must all be ready to find a way to get the agenda moving -- beyond Kyoto", she urged.

    As an example of the impact of climate change on water availability, she said the Chinese Government knew that, as the Himalayan glaciers melted and agricultural land shrank, crop yields would fall, as would the national economy and the world's economy.  The question of having either a successful economy or a stable climate was a false choice.  Everyone should work together to find paths for economic growth that protected the climate.  The technology for moving to a low-carbon economy already existed, but should be deployed much more rapidly.  Actions taken in the next 10 years would make the biggest difference. 

    Palau's Vice-President, Elias Camsek Chin, said that, in addition to the rise in sea level, coral bleaching and altered fish migration -- all the result of global warming -- were further threats.  He urged aggressive international action to reduce the emissions that led to the climate change, since Palau relied on the health of its amazing reefs and waters to provide food for its people and to support its tourism industry.  "Without these, we will not be able to develop a sustainable economy that will let our children live and work in their homeland", he said.

    Climate change posed a serious threat since global warming could lead to the further proliferation of diseases such as malaria, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Navinchandra Ramgoolam, warned.  He noted an almost symbiotic relationship between ill health and poverty, with disease often further impoverishing the poor and diminishing the stock of scarce human capital in poor countries.  To make a significant dent in poverty, States "must walk the walk, not just talk the talk".

    Calling on the United Nations to do more instead of just talk more, Nauru's President, Ludwig Scotty, appealed for a reduction in global emissions, in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol.  He also called for more action in implementing the outcome of the Mauritius Summit on Small Island Developing States and in establishing United Nations offices in smaller Pacific countries.

    Oman's Foreign Minister, Yousef Bin Al-Alawi Bin Abdullah, said his Government had formulated plans to ensure that its economic and social progress was coupled with continuous protection of the environment.  It incorporated the basic principles adopted by the international community, as contained in both regional and international environmental conventions aimed at sustainable development.  His country had also signed, or acceded to, many agreements and had formulated national plans to implement them, including the conventions on desertification, climate change, biodiversity and the Kyoto Protocol.

    Providing an update on the fragile security conditions in Iraq, that country's President, Jalal Talabani, said terrorist operations and the activities of the Tekfiris and organized crime groups were not only killing innocent people, but were aimed at destroying infrastructure and hampering reconstruction.  Those extremist forces were opposed to democracy and humanitarian values, and intent on exporting their crises to other States in the region.    Their supply line came from remnants of the former regime and from organized crime.  To confront those elements, a National Reconciliation Plan had been drawn up, which had received the support of opposition groups, including militant ones, he said.

    Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili, reporting on progress in the three years since a peaceful revolution had brought democracy to his country, said the emphasis had been on providing fundamental security, liberty and opportunity for the people, as well as on eliminating corruption and aggressively fighting crime.  The Government had invested heavily in education and health care, and people's lives had improved.  Even the World Bank and other financial institutions had noticed.  While challenges abounded, as with any nation undergoing great change, Georgia had been able to meet its duties as a responsible member of the international community, with troops stationed alongside allies in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq.

    China's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Li Zhaoxing, said his country was pledging $3 million to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund and it would increase its contributions to the United Nations as its economy grew.  Noting that the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula and in Iran, as well as the Lebanese-Israeli conflict had adversely affected regional and global stability, while also testing the wisdom, unity and patience of the international community, he called for cool-headedness and adherence to the international non-proliferation regime.

    The Prime Ministers of Bhutan and Solomon Islands, along with the Vice-President of the Federated States of Micronesia, were among those speaking in the debate today.

    Also participating the Foreign Ministers of Denmark, Germany, Liechtenstein, Turkey, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Bahrain, New Zealand, Greece, Singapore, Philippines, Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, Chad, Romania, Kyrgyzstan, Brunei Darussalam, Nicaragua and Morocco, as well as the Minister of State for Cooperation of Rwanda and the representative of Saudi Arabia.

    Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Cyprus and Iran.

    The Assembly will reconvene the general debate of its sixty-first session at 10 a.m. on Monday, 25 September.

    Background

    The General Assembly met today to continue the general debate of its sixty-first session.  For background, see Press Release GA/10500 of 19 September.

    Statements

    MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, President of Georgia, said that, on the cusp of the third anniversary of peaceful revolution that had brought democracy to his country, its citizens enjoyed the fruits of fundamental human security, liberty and opportunity.  By confronting and eliminating corruption, fighting crime aggressively and investing heavily in education and health care, the lives of the people had changed for the better.  Those efforts had not gone unnoticed and, in the last two months, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development had noticed how much Georgia had changed.

    However, he noted, like any nation undergoing great change, there were still challenges ahead.  Judicial reform continued.  Local self-government capacity-building remained an ongoing goal.  Those national aspirations, though, were not parochial.  As a responsible member of the international community, Georgia had troops stationed alongside allies in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq to help support international efforts to defeat terrorism and build lasting peace and democracy.  In addition, his country was actively pursuing membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and had been invited to join intensified dialogue, an important step.  "What Europe has achieved in the last 50 years, we seek to achieve in our neighbourhood in a much shorter time", he said.  "This is our collective challenge and common goal."

    Georgia was aware, however, that a stable democracy in its region upset old interests and habits, he continued.  The country had inherited the brutal legacy of unresolved territorial conflicts, and that affected the stability of the region.  Those regions were being annexed by Georgia's neighbour to the north, the Russian Federation, which had actively supported their incorporation through a concerted policy of mass distribution of Russian passports, in direct violation of international law.

    Today in Georgia's conflict zones, citizens were suffering and did not enjoy stability and progress, he said.  Instead, they faced a deteriorating situation, where the sponsors of crime and illegality were gaining the upper hand.  The shortcomings of the peacekeeper system were well documented, taken directly from reports provided by the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and demonstrated how Russian peacekeeping troops on the ground had served to perpetuate violence, rather than resolve conflicts.  Since the deployment of peacekeeping troops in Abkhazia, Georgia, more than 2,000 citizens had lost their lives and more than 8,000 homes had been destroyed.  For more than 12 years, Russian peacekeepers had been unable to facilitate the return of more than 250,000 internally displaced persons to their homes in Abkhazia, though that was an explicit part of their mandate.

    The United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and OSCE had catalogued numerous violations involving the transfer of heavy weaponry such as tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery, mortar, anti-aircraft systems and cannons, while, at the same time, Georgia had worked to demilitarize.  Russian peacekeepers have proven unable and unwilling to take any meaningful steps to halt such grave violations.  The residents of those disputed territories were under a form of gangster occupation, which hoped that the international community would lose interest and reward the results of ethnic cleansing. "This cannot be allowed to happen", he said.

    That led him to the issue of Kosovo, he said.  As the international community sought to find a just solution to the decade long problem of Kosovo, it must take stock of the extraordinarily counterproductive efforts pursued by the Russian Federation to abuse that unique situation for the pursuit of narrow special interests.  Any attempt by Russian officials to create or imply that a nineteenth century-style solution involving deals and territorial swaps in exchange for agreement on Kosovo was old-fashioned and deeply immoral.  Any hint of precedent for Abkhazia and South Ossetia was inappropriate and reckless.

    Responsible nations have an obligation to act accordingly, and this government is firm in the belief that the framework for negotiation and peacekeeping with Abkhazia and South Ossetia needed to be replaced and transformed.  He expressed this country's goal was the pursuit of peace and a peaceful solution and put forth a plan to do so.  The essential elements of that package must include the demilitarization of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, backed by the active engagement of the United Nations, OSCE, European Union and other international organizations.  There needed to be an international police force presence in both regions, backed again with the robust inclusion of the international community.

    He expressed Georgia's readiness to work with their neighbour in the Russian Federation, because Russia must become part of the solution, he said.  Consultations had already begun and would intensify in the weeks and months ahead to change those mechanisms.  However, Georgia had the sovereign right to request the removal of the foreign military forces that impeded the peaceful resolution of conflict, and his country made no secret of intentions to fulfil that right.  In the spirit of the United Nations Charter, Georgia sought to bring the benefits of its democratic revolution to all its citizens.

    LUDWIG SCOTTY, President of Nauru, said the United Nations must do more as opposed to talking more.  While much had been said, very little had been done.  Among the issues he cited as lacking in action was implementation of the Mauritius Conference on Small Island Developing States, reduction in global emissions in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol, lifting official development assistance (ODA) to 0.7 per cent, the establishment of United Nations offices in the smaller Pacific member countries and the admission of Taiwan to the United Nations.  He also took issue with "the violations of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly" concerning the debate on a proactive role for the United Nations in maintaining peace and security in East Asia and over the question of Taiwan.  "The employment of procedural tricks to deny member countries their right to debate only brings to question the universality of the United Nations -- for such tricks only serve to deny Nauru and likeminded countries our right to be heard -- and, perhaps more importantly, demands even more that we address the need to reform the United Nations", he said.

    There must be a greater voice for the many peoples of the globe, including those of the developing world and those countries that can better represent the interests of the developing world, he continued.  The United Nations should move quickly to reform the Security Council and give permanent membership to Japan, Brazil, India and Germany.  There should also be a more binding framework for implementation and measurement of the many United Nations declarations.  It was also time to reinforce the mechanisms that measured the degree to which aid allocation was meeting the development goals.

    Speaking specifically of his country, he said that Nauru had, in 2005, presented its first national development strategy.  It was a partnership, formulated by community leaders, civil society and the private sector, and outlined a 20-year framework of goals.  He gratefully acknowledged development partners for their assistance.  Yet, Nauru was still disadvantaged by offers of development assistance that came with unrealistic conditions attached.  In some cases, that assistance was used as a tool of interventionist foreign policy.  Good governance yields good returns, he said.  He expressed gratitude to the United Nations Democracy Fund that was helping with revision of the Nauru constitution, a process, he said which would be critical to the political stability and accountability of future governments.

    JALAL TALABANI, President of Iraq, said his country was with confident steps making the transition to a nationhood that could stand on its own feet.  It continued to reach for a democratic, federal and pluralistic State.  During the last year, several elections had taken place and, on 1 February, the Council of Representatives had convened for the first time.  What had been achieved so far in the political arena represented a joint national will devoted to building an Iraq that was capable of confronting all its challenges, from defeating the terrorists, achieving security and stability.

    He said the terrorist operations and the activities of the Tekfiris and organized crime groups was not only characterized by killing innocent people, but also aimed at destroying infrastructures and hampering reconstruction efforts.  The extremist forces that opposed democracy and humanitarian values -- comprised of regional and Arab elements -- intended to export their crises.  The supply line for those groups, mainly composed of the remnants of the former regime in league with organized crime, extended to neighbouring Arab and regional States.  To confront their evil intents, Iraq's Prime Minister had launched the National Reconciliation Plan, which had received the support of several opposition groups, including militant groups.

    He said the brotherly State of Lebanon and "its proud people" had been exposed to the destruction of the Israel military onslaught.  In that regard, he called for the implementation of the international resolutions and for resolving the Palestinian issue, which was at the core of the "chronic conflict".  Limiting the global war on terrorism to the sole use of military means was not sufficient to defeat the scourge.  Political and economic means and tools had to be explored.  Iraq had a vision of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.  It was itself devoid of any type of weapons of mass destruction as confirmed in the reports of the last United Nations team.  He, therefore, urged the Security Council to dissolve the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).  The financing of the Commission was "squandering" of Iraqi funds.

    Iraq valued the effective role of the United Nations in solving international problems, he said, expressing the hope that its specialized agencies would return to Iraq.  The International Compact with Iraq included countries and organizations willing to assist the country.  The recent meeting of ministers for foreign affairs on the Compact at United Nations Headquarters had been successful.  He asked for the cancellation of numerous and expensive reparations and debts of the new, democratic Iraq, which must not shoulder "the sins of a dictatorship that committed crimes against its people and betrayed the nation".

    He hoped that Arab and neighbouring countries would halt any activity of, or support for, the forces of terrorism, and close their borders to infiltrators.  "We say it openly, our people's patience is wearing thin, particularly when it sees the blood of its innocent sons and daughters being spilled and defiled, its infrastructure destroyed and its mosques and holy shrines ruined", he said.  "It is difficult for our political leadership to keep quiet forever."  He expressed gratitude for the coalition forces and for United States President George Bush in particular for "his leadership of the campaign to liberate Iraq from tyranny and opening the doors for a new, democratic, pluralistic and federal Iraq that is at peace with itself and the world.  This historic mission has served the people of Iraq and peace and security in the region."

    NAVINCHANDRA RAMGOOLAM, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said that 15 years ago the Assembly had initiated discussions on the issue of Security Council reform, and every proposal had met determined resistance from some Member States defending their own narrowly defined interests.  It was deplorable that Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean regions were not represented in the permanent membership of the Security Council.  A reformed Security Council should include India, the world's most populous democracy, among its permanent members.  The establishment of the Human Rights Council constituted a significant step in the implementation of the reform agenda.  Mauritius, as a member of that new Council, would do its utmost to promote and protect human rights.

    He drew the attention of the Assembly to the fact that Mauritius was still not able to exercise its sovereignty over the Chagos archipelago, including Diego Garcia.  The archipelago had been excised from the territory of Mauritius by the former colonial power for military purposes, in total disregard of United Nations General Assembly resolutions 1514 (XV) and 2066 (XX).  That action had resulted in the shameful displacement of inhabitants of the Chagos from their homeland, in total disregard for their human rights.  He called on the United Kingdom to pursue a constructive dialogue with his country on the issue.  He also hoped to continue his country's meaningful dialogue with France on the question of sovereignty over Tromelin, noting that the January 2006 agreement to establish a French-Mauritian joint commission for co-management of the Tromelin zone had been a positive first step.

    Mauritius was pleased that the President of the General Assembly had chosen development as the focus for her term, noting that the biggest dilemma was how to secure the necessary financial flows towards developing countries.  He called on the international community to honour commitments made to developing countries concerning ODA, and urged better access to the markets of more affluent countries.  Progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals fell below expectations.  Poverty continued to prevail from generation to generation in many parts of the world, including in sub-Saharan Africa.  Only a holistic approach would allow the international community to push back the frontier of misery, conflict and hardship afflicting such a sizeable proportion of humanity.  An extraordinary summit of the South African Development Community (SADC) on regional integration was scheduled for next month to discuss a road map on poverty and development.

    There was an almost symbiotic relationship between poverty and ill health, with disease often further impoverishing the poor and diminishing the stock of scarce human capital in poor countries.  The alarming rate with which the HIV/AIDS pandemic was ravaging certain populations had far-reaching implications on socio-economic development, he said.  He appreciated the political commitment of the international community to combat this scourge, and noted that Mauritius had joined the effort launched by France and Brazil to introduce a solidarity levy on air tickets to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.  Climate change also posed a serious threat, and global warming may lead to the further proliferation of certain diseases such as malaria, he warned.

    Mauritius was fully committed to the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round and looked forward to a multilateral trading system that would be more fair and equitable.  The recommendations of the World Trade Organization on aid for trade submitted in July 2006 should be implemented urgently.  Mauritius, like many small island economies with meagre resource bases, had to adjust to the challenges of increasing global economic competition, especially the erosion of trade preferences that had helped address the country's inherent disadvantages.  His country had embarked on a programme of bold and wide-ranging economic reforms to adapt to the new realities of the international economy.  In order to build better societies and a better world, it was essential to make a significant dent in poverty and channel significant resources and energy to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  Member States must walk the walk, not just talk the talk, he said.

    LYONPO KHANDU WANGCHUCK, Prime Minister of Bhutan, said that his country fully supported implementing a global partnership for development.  In the era of globalization and technology, which had brought prosperity to a minority, the international community must unite to lift the vast majority of the world's population from the vicious circle of poverty and destitution.  The global partnership must engender greater political will to address the problems of trade, market access and technology transfers, and a host of others that impeded growth and development in developing countries.

    He said that the midterm review of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010 had shown less progress than desired.  Due to the limited capacity for raising domestic resources, attracting foreign investments and raising funds on commercial terms, ODA was a critical resource for least developed countries to achieve the goals and targets of the Brussels Programme of Action.  He appealed to all developed countries to abide by their aid commitments of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GDP) and 0.15 to 0.20 per cent for least developed countries.  Additionally, after the summit meeting of landlocked countries in Havana, Cuba, it was hoped that the international community would provide due consideration to the problems of landlocked developing countries.

    The task of reforming the United Nations remained incomplete, he said.  The Security Council needed to be reformed to better reflect present day realities and challenges, and he hoped that the sixty-first Assembly would be able to bring about real reform.  His country welcomed the adoption by the sixtieth session of the resolution on the revitalization of the General Assembly.

    Terrorism continued to threaten peace, security and development in many parts of the world.  He welcomed the adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by the General Assembly.  The next important steps were to implement the strategy and renew efforts to conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.  Recent developments in the Middle East once again highlighted the urgency to finding a solution to the problem.

    As a small least developed and landlocked country with a population of just over 550,000 people, Bhutan faced enormous hurdles.  However, it had been making significant progress in all fields.  The country's development was guided by the conviction that human well-being and contentment must be promoted through pursuit of material progress on the one hand and fulfilment of spiritual and emotional needs on the other, he said.

    ELIAS CAMSEK CHIN, Vice-President of Palau, said that, as the last country to emerge from the Trusteeship Council, the United Nations had provided his nation with a platform from which Palau could achieve independence and establish sovereignty and for that it was forever grateful.  The simplistic view of Palau as a paradise of swaying trees and ocean breezes failed to recognize the challenges Palau faced as a small island developing State.  "In this shrinking world, the actions of distant countries are having a profound effect on us", he said.  He expressed the hope that, this year, the General Assembly would act on deep-sea bottom-trawling, describing bottom-trawling as being responsible for 95 per cent of the worldwide damage to seamount ecosystems.  Palau had followed the lead of several other responsible countries by passing a law banning all bottom-trawling within its waters.  It was time to assure that similar measures were taken for international waters.

    Addressing global warming, he said that coral bleaching, a rise in sea level and altered fish migration all threaten the future of Palau and other small island nations.  He urged the international community to act aggressively to reduce emissions that led to global warming.   Palau relied on the health of its amazing reefs and waters to provide food for its people and to support its tourism industry.  "Without these, we will not be able to develop a sustainable economy that our children will live and work in their homeland.  To provide for them, we look to this Organization -- the United Nations -- for leadership and support", he said.

    Saying that terrorism anywhere was a threat everywhere, he said Palau had requested assistance from the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate to combat money-laundering and terrorism financing.  Unfortunately, the efforts of the Directorate had been insufficient.  In conclusion, he thanked the many partners who had assisted Palau in its development efforts this past year.

    MARGARET BECKETT, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of United Kingdom, said the United Nations faced challenges posed by multiple upheavals and crises across the world.  In the Middle East, the United Nations was playing a vital role in establishing stability in southern Lebanon.  All Member States must meet their obligations under Council resolutions 1701, 1559 and 1680, if Lebanon was to be the proud, democratic and diverse nation that its people wanted it to be.  The conflict, however, had its roots in the continuing failure to achieve a just solution to the Palestinian question.  There could be no higher priority than reinvigorating the Middle East peace process.

    Referring to international efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, she said a similar shared determination must be shown in urging the Government of Iran to address international concerns over its nuclear ambitions and its support for terrorism.   Iran knew what was required, and that the alternative was increasing isolation.  Darfur remained in crisis.  The decision to extend the African Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) mandate was a temporary reprieve.  She urged President Bashir to extend the Sudan's relations with the United Nations in a common purpose to bring lasting peace to the whole of the Sudan.

    She said tackling the underlying problems that promoted conflict and underdevelopment was also a global responsibility.  Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals should be accelerated.  That was not only a moral imperative, but also a political one, as there would be no stability while so many millions faced a life of only hunger, poverty, inequality and disease.  As for an international arms trade treaty that would end the irresponsible transfer of arms that fuelled conflict, she said her country, together with six others, would introduce a resolution to establish a process working towards a legally binding treaty on the trade in all conventional arms. 

    Dedicating the rest of her address to climate change, she said no country could protect itself from climate change, unless it protected others by building a global basis for climate security.  "To put it starkly, if we all try to free ride, we will all end up in free fall."  Rising sea levels could potentially threaten London, Shanghai, Singapore, Amsterdam and Manhattan.  Dealing with climate change was no longer a choice, it was an imperative.  "We must all be ready to find a way to get the agenda moving -- beyond Kyoto."  Giving an example of the impact climate change has on water availability, she said the Chinese Government knew that, as the Himalayan glaciers melted and agricultural land shrunk, crop yields would fall and the economy itself would suffer and, with it, the world's economy.

    She said: "If we don't act on climate change, we risk undermining the very basis of the prosperity and security we are seeking to achieve.  That is why we must recognize that talk of having either a successful economy or a stable climate is a false choice; we must work together to find paths for economic growth which protect our climate."  The truth was that technology to move to a low carbon economy already existed, but that it must be deployed much more rapidly and what was done in the next 10 years would matter the most.  She said: "We all need to do more -- but the rich world should continue to lead the effort, applying the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, which must continue to be our guide."

    LI ZHAOXING, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, said that, recently, the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue and the Lebanese-Israeli conflict had flared up, adversely affecting regional and global stability and putting to the test the wisdom, unity and patience of the international community.  Long-standing antagonism and mistrust between the parties was the main cause of the current difficulty on the Korean peninsula.  The six-party talks remained an effective mechanism for enhancing understanding and trust and resolving the Korean nuclear issue.  "We hope the parties involved will be cool-headed and more flexible, expand common ground, meet each other halfway and work together for the early resumption of the six party talks and progressive implementation of the Joint Statement", he said.

    Concerning Iran, he called for upholding the integrity of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.  While China was opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the lawful right of countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy should be fully respected, provided they fulfilled their due international obligations.  Diplomatic negotiation represented the best chance for resolving the issue and served the interests of all parties.

    China opposed any move that would undermine peace and stability in the Middle East region and called for a cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel.  The issue of Palestine was at the core of the Middle East issue, he said.  The peace process should be restarted in keeping with the relevant United Nations resolutions and the principle of "land for peace".

    China was pledging $3 million to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, he said.  China would continue to work with other countries to advance United Nations reform to increase the Organization's efficiency and capacity to respond to challenges.  For the next Secretary-General, China would firmly support an Asian candidate, being convinced that Asia could produce a competent and well-respected Secretary-General acceptable to all Member States.  As China's economy grew, it was prepared to increase its contributions to the United Nations budget.

    The United Nations should play a bigger role in the field of development, he continued, recommending that the Organization create a framework for assessing progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and see to it that the United Nations foundations, various United Nations programmes and specialized agencies provide greater support for capacity-building programmes in the developing countries.  He added that the suspension of the Doha Round served nobody's interests.  Members of the World Trade Organization should demonstrate political will and speedily resume the Doha Development Round.

    The creation of the Human Rights Council echoed the calling of the times, he said.  The Council should give greater attention to massive and gross violations of human rights caused by armed conflicts.  It should also attach equal importance to economic, social and cultural rights as well as give special attention to the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups.

    PER STIG MØLLER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, said to meet the goals and challenges confronting the global community, a dynamic and proactive United Nations was needed more than ever.  The United Nations must be able to change to meet new challenges more effectively, and all Member States would have to work for the necessary reform steps to be initiated.  Denmark was pleased by the results achieved so far, including the establishment of the Human Rights Council, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Central Emergency Response Fund.  The Human Rights Council allowed for closer scrutiny by the international community of domestic affairs, which was a desirable monitoring mechanism to ensure protection of people from abuse by their Governments.  He urged Member States to avoid politicizing the work of this new body and to work together to help ensure that it met the objectives laid down by the General Assembly.  In that connection, he urged Member States to adopt the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as recommended by the Human Rights Council.

    The reform agenda was far from exhausted, he said.  The Security Council should be reformed to better reflect the world of today.  It was also necessary to make substantial progress on mandate review and management reform during the current session of the General Assembly.  Member States should not micromanage the United Nations, but build a strong and fast-responding organization to meet the new challenges.  Denmark eagerly awaited the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence, with the aim of enhancing the efficiency and impact on the ground of the United Nations development cooperation.

    The resurgence of the notion of respect for national sovereignty as a justification for inaction was a cause for concern, he said. Respect for sovereignty could never become an excuse for accepting massive human rights violations.  That was the key message from the World Summit last year, when Heads of State pronounced their support for the notion of responsibility to protect.  He noted the intervention of the Security Council in August to stop the war between Hizbollah and Israel, and to send thousands of peacekeepers to help the Lebanese Government extend its authority to all parts of the country.  He called on all regional players to work constructively towards that goal, and urged the parties to the conflict to respect fully resolution 1701.  The war between Hizbollah and Israel had proved the volatility of the Middle East.  In order to address the Arab-Israeli conflict, which continued to breed hatred and fanaticism, it was necessary to support moderate reform forces and redouble efforts to achieve a comprehensive and lasting two-State solution.

    Turning to the Sudan, he noted that the Security Council's decision last month to prepare for a United Nations peacekeeping force to relieve the African Union force and help stop the senseless carnage of civilians in Darfur had drawn sharp criticism from the Government of Sudan as neo-colonialism and a violation of its sovereign rights.  He stressed that, rather than the Government of the Sudan, it was the right of the population of Darfur to get protection that was being violated.  He called upon the Government of the Sudan to work with the international community to protect the people in Darfur.

    He also expressed great concern about the security situation in Afghanistan, noting that warlords, financed by the opium trade, threatened the democratic rights of the people.  The United Nations must continue to support the remarkable transformation process undertaken by the Afghan people and their Government, he said.  Denmark also wished to see a stronger role for the United Nations in Iraq to contribute to peaceful and democratic development. If Iraq fell victim to sectarianism and terrorism, he warned, the whole region would become destabilized.

    The most serious danger of globalization was the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said, noting actions by the Security Council to address developments in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Iran. He called on Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks, and called on Tehran to suspend enrichment activities and accept negotiations on a generous package.  Weapons of mass destruction and terrorism represented a deadly combination, he said. He was pleased that the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy had been adopted by the General Assembly, and hoped that negotiations on a comprehensive convention could be concluded this year.

    YOUSEF BIN ALAWI BIN ABDULLAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Oman, said that his country supported the Arab League's call to refer the entire Arab-Israeli conflict to the United Nations Security Council, in order to find a lasting and comprehensive peaceful settlement.  That call affirmed the Arab State's keenness and its adherence to peace as a strategic option and as a basis for peaceful coexistence between the Arab countries and State of Israel.  The world had recently witnessed the tragedy of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and he welcomed Security Council resolution 1701, in the hope that it would bring security and stability to the region.  He was also was concerned about the deteriorating security situation and internal violence inside Iraq, and called on all the Iraqi parties to support their national Government.

    His country also welcomed the conclusion of the Abuja Peace Agreement in the Sudan and hoped the agreement would end bloodshed among the Sudanese people.  While the African continent enjoyed natural and human resources, it still suffered from conflicts, the spread of disease and poverty.  He supported efforts to overcome those difficulties and called upon the international community to spare no effort towards helping these countries confront those difficulties.

    In the area of development, his Government had formulated plans to ensure its economic and social progress was coupled with continuous protection of the environment.  He noted that his country observed all the basic principles adopted by the international community and included in regional and international environmental conventions aimed at the achievement of sustainable development; and signed or acceded to many agreements and laid down the national plans to implement them, which included, among others, the conventions on desertification, climate change and biodiversity, as well as the Kyoto Protocol.

    To address the damaging aspects of globalization, he called for the establishment of a global, non-discriminatory, multiple-track trade system that sought to achieve balanced outcomes of Doha Round resolutions.  This country supported developed countries in helping developing countries overcome the obstacle of getting investment funds and to allow free access of their exports to global markets without any restrictions or protectionist measures.  In that regard, this country supports the request of Qatar to host the International Conference on Development in 2007.

    His country played a positive and effective role in regional and economic development and in regional and international cooperation, he said.  It worked through such bodies as the Greater Arab Free Trade Zone and the World Trade Organization, and had signed a free trade agreement with the United States.  He hoped that ongoing multilateral trade negotiations, specifically in the fields of agriculture and services, would yield fruit and satisfactory results that could serve the interests of all Member States.  That would help establish a world economy that was sustainable and benefited developed and developing countries.

    He called for a review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in order to close loopholes and preserve the right of the State parties to obtain nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  However, while Oman supported the call to free the Middle East from all weapons of mass destruction, he called upon parties involved in current talks on the Iranian nuclear issues to keep the door open, based on the fact that direct dialogue was the best means of reaching a suitable compromise on pending issues.  Further, fighting terrorism required a balance between security requirements and a commitment to human right conventions.  The international community could not endanger the security and stability of States under the pretext of combating terrorism.

    He supported the actions of some developed countries that cancelled the debts of poor and developing countries, in response to decisions of the Millennium Summit.  However, he called on them not to tie their assistance to certain demands that limited the growth of these countries.  Also, he said an effective United Nations capable of shouldering its responsibilities in the maintenance of international peace and security was necessary in today's world.  He hoped that ongoing discussions and deliberations on reform would yield concrete results that would meet the repeated calls for reform and achieve equality and fairness in dealing with all Member States of the Organization.

    FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said world events during the last 60 years had been reflected more graphically in Germany than in almost any other country.  Division and overcoming division had influenced its view of the world.  A reunited Germany believed it had an obligation to do everything it could to support the United Nations in creating a more peaceful and fairer world.  German soldiers and police officers were taking part in numerous peace missions, such as in the Western Balkans, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Lebanon.  No one, however, should interpret the involvement of Germany and its partners in the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Sudan and Lebanon as an aggressive global campaign waged by the West against Islam.

    He said that, in the Middle East, it was crucial, following the Council resolution on Lebanon, that the opportunity to promote understanding be seized.  He called on all parties to the conflict in the region to act responsibly.  The principles for a settlement were clear:  Israel's right to exist and the establishment of a Palestinian State.  However, in order to ensure lasting success, everything had to be done to include everyone involved, even if that appeared to be a roundabout way.  He, therefore, hoped that Syria could be persuaded to engage in a constructive dialogue.  In Afghanistan, drug cultivation and the security situation posed a threat to progress made.  The international community could not allow the successes to date to again be destroyed.

    Settling the status of Kosovo, which had remained unresolved for many years, was overdue, he said.  Kosovo Serbs had to be guaranteed adequate minority protection.  Instability and conflicts in Africa had a direct impact on Europe.  Peace in Darfur was a long way off.  Neither the Sudanese Government nor rebel groups could be released from their responsibility for the humanitarian disaster.  Nevertheless, a lasting solution to the conflict was only possible with, and not against them.

    Nobody wanted to deny Iran the right to use nuclear energy peacefully, he said.  On 6 June, Iran had been offered a package aimed at far-reaching cooperation that expressly acknowledged Iran's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  If Iran were to prove that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suspicions were unfounded and sent a clear sign that it did only intend to use its nuclear programme for peaceful purposes, the door could be opened to a development, which would benefit the people in Iran and in the entire region.  He strongly favoured not merely exchanging ideas on the multilateralization of the fuel cycle, but of further developing them into concrete action.

    He said the conflicts in the Middle East, the Balkans and the Sudan, as well as the fight against international terrorism, had one thing in common -- the West was not taking a hostile stance against Islam, and it did not involve a clash of civilizations.  They could only be resolved with a willingness and ability to engage in dialogue.  However, a policy of dialogue did not mean talking at any cost.  There were some basic prerequisites for dialogue, including a readiness to renounce violence, respect the position of the other side and have oneself a consistent and credible position.  "The different cultures in the world have more in common than political rabble-rousers would have us believe.  People everywhere have the same fundamental interests; they want to live in peace, security and free of poverty."

    RITA KIEBER-BECK, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, said Member States could take pride in a number of accomplishments achieved over the past session, most prominently the establishment of the Human Rights Council and of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Those were important institutional advances, which offered a real opportunity to do things differently and do things better.  However, no structural change could bring about substantive change in and of itself.  In the area of human rights, in particular Member States must increase efforts to create the truly international discourse that was needed, one based on cooperation and the even-handed implementation of international standards.

    One of the big issues that remained unsolved after the World Summit in September 2005 was Security Council reform.  Here again, structural change was needed, but not sufficient in and of itself.  In order to maintain its credibility worldwide, the Council must be given a new structure and different composition that better reflected the geopolitical realities of the twenty-first century.  It was equally urgent, however, to improve the way the Council went about its daily business.  Better representation of the views of the general membership was essential, in particular through a stronger involvement of non-members of the Council, which had a particular interest in or expertise on a given subject.  After a pause of more than one year, it was time to try again at the enlargement of the Council, preferably with a sober approach that took into account the experiences of 2005.

    She applauded the Secretary-General for his outstanding tenure, noting that a key element of his legacy was the high priority he attached to the rule of law.  A globalized world, in which non-State actors played an ever increasing role, needed clear rules which applied equally to everybody and in a transparent manner.  The dangerous erosion of international law, in particular international humanitarian law, demanded that Member States find ways to place the rule of law high on the agenda.  Amid the negative trends, she also noted some significant advances, particularly in the area of international justice.  It was now commonly understood that there could be no impunity for international crimes, a historic development that found its most powerful expression in the establishment of the International Criminal Court.  Member States, and the Organization as a whole, must lend their active support to that judicial institution which relied on such cooperation to gather evidence and arrest indictees, she said.

    The international fight against terrorism posed a particularly complex challenge to the rule of law, she said.  First, Member States must strengthen the existing international legal framework by adopting a comprehensive convention against terrorism.  Second, it must be clear that the fight against terrorism and the observance of human rights and international humanitarian law were complementary and mutually reinforcing.  Curtailing human rights in the name of the fight against terrorism would only play into the hands of terrorists, she stressed.  Third, the United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, must uphold due process and the rights of individuals.

    She recalled that, when addressing the General Assembly last year, she had given a mixed assessment of the Outcome of the World Summit.  Among the real advances she had noted then was the recognition of the responsibility to protect.  However, today she noted that the international community had not followed up on this commitment with concrete action.  The situation in Darfur clearly fell under the scope of the responsibility to protect; yet, necessary action had not been taken.

    The United Nations was uniquely placed to address the complex challenges facing the world today.  However, it could only fulfil this role if Member States re-established institutional balance within the system. In particular, the General Assembly must reassert its role as a central policy-making body and work on par with the Security Council. The priorities for the organization in the coming weeks were clear, she said, identifying the situation in Darfur, the Middle East, the nuclear programme of Iran and the appointment of a new Secretary-General.  All those topics were dealt with by the Security Council, while the Assembly played, at best, a secondary role.  The General Assembly must make progress on issues including the development agenda, system-wide coherence, disarmament and Security Council reform.  A better division of work between the two most important organs would make the Organization more effective and efficient, she said.

    MANESSEH SOGAVARE, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, after welcoming Montenegro as the United Nations newest member, said that democracy remained the bedrock of his Government.  Though there had been a minor hiccup during the recent election which had led to rioting, his Government ultimately saw that as a wake-up call and was honoured to have the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division help in the monitoring and coordination of international election observers.

    Regarding the North-South divide, he said that the least developed countries, which required special attention due to having special needs, had just met to review the Brussels Programme of Action.  While he welcomed the declaration issued by the high-level meeting, the Brussels Programme would require action -- not a declaration -- to be implemented.  Sustainable development in the Solomon Islands, a country of small communities scattered across 900 islands, could only be achieved if development were focused on rural communities.  His Government was pleased that the first part of the 2005 World Summit Outcome featured rural and agricultural development.  It was likewise heartened by a joint United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Capital Development Fund proposed project to strengthen its provincial Government system while investing in provincial infrastructure and communications.

    On the crisis in the Middle East, he noted that the United Nations must seek a holistic approach by embracing all parties through dialogue and consultation.  The time was also ripe for Security Council reform as only then could the Council be truly representational.  His Government asked to see countries such as Japan and Germany receive permanent member status, together with emerging countries like India and Brazil.  He expressed disappointment over the continuous refusal concerning Taiwan's receiving United Nations representation, while voicing concern about the security threats on the Taiwan strait.  On the issue of electing a new Secretary-General, his Government wished that the candidate be a member of the Asian Group.  Recent attacks in India had underscored the constant threat of terrorism, he said, and his Government with help from New Zealand, was expected to have fulfilled some of its counter-terrorism reporting obligations during 2007.

    On trade, it was imperative that a universal, rule-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system be established, he noted.  South-South cooperation was in need of enhancement, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) could look at facilitating initiatives that focused on renewable energy with India, Taiwan and Indonesia.  Papua New Guinea had already provided assistance with education and security.  On the Global AIDS Fund, his Government would be pleased if it would provide a complete package for the Pacific Region with a focus on raising awareness.  "It is cheaper to invest in a problem than treating a full-blown pandemic", he said.

    REDLEY KILLION, Vice-President of the Federated States of Micronesia, said that the United Nations had made great strides over the past year since the adoption of the Outcome document, including the creation of the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission.  He also supported a restructured Security Council that reflected the realities of today's world.  A revamped Security Council needed improved working methods and expanded permanent and non-permanent membership.

    He said that small island developing States were very vulnerable countries and would benefit from an efficient and relevant United Nations.  Relevant reforms would let those States better achieve the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally recognized commitments.  His country was pleased with the decision to open additional United Nations offices in the Pacific region, including in the Federated States of Micronesia.

    Concerning the environment, his country placed great importance on sustainable development and the conservation of its marine resources and ecosystem, he said.  It had joined forces with neighbouring States to call for an immediate moratorium and ban on deep-bottom trawl fishing.  As an island nation comprised mostly of low-lying small islands with large coastal areas, his country was vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change.  The country's livelihood and traditions as island people were under growing threat because of the effects of extreme weather events.  Small island developing nations were first in line to suffer the consequences of climate change, yet they had made little contribution to its causes.  Those who polluted should underwrite the costs of adaptation measures requiring national actions.

    Countries like his needed ODA, foreign direct investment and development partnerships for sustainable development, he asserted.  Those States pinned high hopes on the Mauritius strategy as a blueprint for sustainable development, but the strategy needed to be woven into all United Nations processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, to be effective.  His country also supported the principles of the information society and community of democracies as vital to its national progress.  It sought help in the creation of its national information and communication technology plan and access to broadband connection.

    ABDULLAH GÜL, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said that recent events in Lebanon had confirmed that unilateralism was not the answer to the Middle East conflict, and hoped that countries in the region would live up to the spirit behind resolution 1701 (2006).  Also, allowing the question of Palestine to continue unresolved had helped to justify extremism around the world; the time had come to revive the peace process.  Indeed, better understanding between cultures was indispensable to global harmony, which was why Turkey and Spain had launched the Alliance of Civilizations.  The world, too, must not lose sight of problems in Iraq, but caution should be taken not to associate any faith with terrorism.

    Turning to the United Nations comprehensive settlement plan for Cyprus, he said Turkish Cypriots had responded positively, while Greek Cypriots had rejected the plan.  The United Nations was the only platform for delivering lasting peace there, and the world had been asked to heed the Secretary-General's call to end the ongoing isolation of Turkish Cypriots.  Indeed, Turkey's objective was to attain lasting peace and enhance cooperation in the region, including also in the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucuses.  Assistance should be extended to Bosnia and Herzegovina in its effort to build viable State structures, while the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict involving Azerbaijan should be urgently examined.  As for Afghanistan, Turkey had established a provincial reconstruction team in Vardak province, and would continue its activities in health, education and Afghan development.

    He said that Turkey's efforts were not confined to its immediate vicinity, however, having established a Turkish International Cooperation Agency in Addis Ababa and Khartoum to coordinate a large effort across Africa.  In fact, Turkey was a major donor in that continent and also contributed to five different United Nations and two European Union missions in development, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, combating terrorism and enhancing global energy security.  Turkey's ODA had reached $600 million, in addition to an equivalent amount of private financial flows.  Finally, Turkey's turn for a seat on the Security Council was long overdue; indeed, its membership would enrich the Council's work.

    JEAN ASSELBORN, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Luxembourg, said that reasons for hope and concern co-existed in the current world situation.  The Middle East remained torn by profound political, military, socio-economic and cultural tensions, of which the military confrontation in Lebanon and the bombardments of northern Israel were only the most recent example.  It was necessary to consolidate the ceasefire and create the basis of a sustainable political process, whose principle elements were defined by Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).   Also necessary was to support the emergence of a fully sovereign and independent Lebanon that could exercise a monopoly on the armed forces throughout its territory.  All regional actors should contribute to that process.  The lack of true peace in the region negatively affected the civilian population, particularly in the occupied territories, where the humanitarian situation was getting worse by the day.  It was evident that a military or unilateral solution to the persistent conflicts in the region was not possible. 

    He said that persistent tensions in the Middle East should not distract attention from Africa.  The African Union was playing a growing and positive role in managing the continent's crises, including by its crucial action in Darfur, which should be supported with the deployment of an enlarged United Nations mission there.

    A decisive and concerted plan of action against terrorism was also necessary, he stressed.  The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted at the end of the Assembly's sixtieth session, should focus as much on the underlying causes of terrorism as on prevention and action against terrorism, all while guaranteeing respect for human rights and the rule of law.  That consideration applied particularly to the treatment of all detainees and to the problematic issue of secret detention centres.

    He said that 2006 had been a year of putting into action commitments on development.  Luxembourg continued to honour its participation in the "G-0.7 club" by providing more than 0.7 per cent of its GDP in development aid.  In 2005, it had devoted 0.82 per cent of its GDP to such aid and hoped soon to reach the 1 per cent threshold. 

    It was important to do more than pay lip service to multilateralism, he said.  After the events in the Middle East, no country great or small could ignore the fact that a multilateral system was the only viable way to solve conflicts.  It was important to ensure that such a system had adequate means to pursue its work effectively and meet the legitimate concerns of Member States.  Security Council reform was indispensable and its representative character must be strengthened through an increase in permanent and non-permanent members, without overburdening its veto function.  It was also important to improve the role of the Council's procedures and increase the legitimacy of its interventions. 

    He said that Luxembourg planned to be a part of the life and future of the United Nations and wanted to assume its responsibility, which was why it had presented its candidacy for a seat on the Security Council for the biennium 2013-2014.  Luxembourg was a founding United Nations member, but had never sat on the Council.  It saw its candidacy as a new expression of its commitment to the principles of the Charter.

    Shaikh KHALID BIN AHMED BIN MOHAMED AL-KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign affairs of Bahrain, said that the inauguration of political reforms, economic liberalization and social modernization were essential to development.  He highlighted the steps taken by Bahrain, particularly women's participation in elections and the judiciary, ratification of the Arab human rights convention, accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, engaging and forging partnerships with non-governmental organizations and the formation of a committee for the reform of education.  He described terrorism as the most dangerous threat to international peace and security, but said any counter-terrorism strategy should not infringe on human rights or international law. 

    He warned that the recent events in the Middle East had driven the entire region to a dangerous abyss.  He identified the principle of land for peace and the Arab Peace Initiative and expressed deep concern at the bloody events caused by Israeli military operations in Lebanon.  He supported Security Council resolution 1701, and noted that Bahrain stood against anything endangering Lebanon's security.  He also called for the avoidance of any acts outside Lebanese State authority that endangered its stability, and reiterated the need for Israel to withdraw fully from Arab territories occupied since 1967, to allow the return of Palestinian refugees and to establish a Palestinian State on all occupied Palestinian lands with Jerusalem as its capital.

    He then called for a peaceful settlement of the dispute between the United Arab Emirates and Iran over the Greater and Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa islands, via negotiations or International Court of Justice adjudication.  The Middle East and Gulf region should be free from weapons of mass destruction, although States had the right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). 

    To reform the United Nations, he said the Security Council should be more representative of today's geopolitical realities, and the General Assembly should be reaffirmed as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.  Also, developed countries must cancel debts and supply developing countries with knowledge and up-to-date technology and expertise, and an international partnership was needed to achieve sustainable development via the Millennium Development Goals.

    IVAILO KALFIN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said that, as part of United Nations reform, the General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council must learn to better coordinate their work, while the General Assembly President's role should be strengthened.  But, United Nations reform could not happen without Member States agreeing on a formula for enlarging the Security Council -- thus bolstering its legitimacy -- and improving that body's working methods.  However, the formation of the Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council was heartening; indeed, Bulgaria was pleased to have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women yesterday, and placed similar weight on the fight against human trafficking and organized crime.

    He said it was necessary to speed the adoption of a convention to combat terrorism within a legal framework, and the Alliance of Civilizations initiative was welcomed for seeking to encourage dialogue among different religious and ethnic groups.  Meanwhile, the failure of some States to observe the NPT presented a real danger to security; Bulgaria supported the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and was certain that the question over Iran's nuclear programme could be satisfactorily resolved by that country's heeding of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decisions, as well as related Security Council resolutions.  In the meantime, progress should continue on negotiations regarding Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear programme.

    To strengthen the United Nations capability of carrying out its multidimensional peace operations, Bulgaria had become a signatory to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.  For its part, Bulgaria would oversee the process of cooperation and integration for South-Eastern Europe in 2007 and looked forward to a decision on the future status of Kosovo.  Regarding the Middle East, Bulgaria supported the Secretary-General's efforts there, as well as the key role played by the European Union in the expanded United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  Finally, Bulgaria fully supported United Nations initiatives to preserve the Iraqi constitutional process and efforts to strengthen the sovereignty of Afghanistan and to overcome the trouble in the Sudan.

    Mr. Kalfin also asked for Member States support regarding Bulgaria's candidacy for membership in the Economic and Social Council in 2007-2009.

    WINSTON PETERS, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, said his country remained unwavering in its support of the United Nations since helping create the Organization 61 years ago.  New Zealand was committed to multilateralism, and world leaders must press on with last year's ambitious reform agenda, based on peace and security, development and human rights.

    Recognizing New Zealand's strong bonds with the Pacific States, he noted that the Pacific Forum leaders had adopted the Pacific plan for regional cooperation last year.  That plan would strengthen regional cooperation and help promote the Forum's four goals; sustainable development, economic growth, security and good governance.  But, regional endeavours also depended on strong international frameworks, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the United Nations Agreement for Conservation and Management of Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.

    On the topic of security, he said the United Nations system had been tested over the past year by profound political and security shocks, including events in the Middle East, Darfur and Timor-Leste.  The recent unrest in Timor-Leste had showed that new and fragile States faced enormous challenges.  New Zealand had responded quickly to Timor-Leste's security needs, with a military and police contribution.  The United Nations would be involved in Timor-Leste for many years to come, and the deployment of a substantial United Nations police force was vital to maintain peace and stability, even over the medium term.  The situation in Timor-Leste had showed that peace and security could not be separated from economic development, social reconciliation and the protection of basic human rights.

    New Zealand fully supported the renewed focus on human rights at last year's World Summit and held high hopes for the new Human Rights Council, which it actively backed, he said.  Its working methods must be transparent and inclusive and there must be genuine political will to make it work.  New Zealand was also aware of the disadvantages faced by indigenous peoples around the world and it played an active role in the talks leading to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  But, the Declaration that had emerged, with weak support from the Human Rights Council, had been deeply flawed and was a lost opportunity for the world's indigenous peoples.  New Zealand wanted reform to be a top priority for the sixty-first session, so the United Nations could be as responsive as possible to the needs of Member States.

    DORA BAKOYANNIS, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, said the twenty-first century had only just begun and, already, the future looked threatening, with poverty, war and humanitarian crises.  Terrorism was the scourge of the present time and took no account of religion, race or gender.  It must be confronted collectively.  The best way to do so was by promoting peace, tolerance and, above all, development.

    She said the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) decision to increase the votes of China and India was a step in the right direction, but it was important to reach an agreement in the Doha Round to create a multilateral trading system.  It was necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and, clearly, the target of developed countries giving 0.7 per cent of GDP for development aid was the keystone of the global partnership for development.  Developing countries needed to follow sensible economic policies by bringing about reforms to encourage growth and creating accountable institutions.  Africa must be at the top of the list of priorities.  The African Union was best placed to put an end to the conflicts there and must be helped in finding lasting solutions.

    She said that the Middle East was the region that would test the Organization's mettle as a force for peace in the immediate future.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was at the root of most of that region's problems and should obviously be at the top of the list of priorities for restoring peace and stability.  It was important to make every effort to implement the Middle East "Road Map" and resolution 1701.  It was also critical that every effort be made to bring order and unity to Iraq.  All who had any influence with the warring factions must make them see what pain and suffering they had inflicted on their own people and what worse horrors they would unleash if they continued to drift toward a devastating civil war. 

    She said that the Balkans had endured a century of bitter ethnic, religious and ideological conflicts.  There had been rapid forward movement but some trouble spots remained.  Kosovo still needed attention and efforts to reach a viable settlement should not be compromised by setting an artificial deadline.  Greece was committed to achieving a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, on the basis of the pertinent Security Council resolutions and European Union principles and values.  It was striving for a bizonal, bicommunal federation that would bring peace and prosperity to the island.  Its goal remained an agreed solution between the two communities without arbitration and tight timetables that would be approved subsequently by referenda. 

    She said Greece was continuing its efforts to improve relations with Turkey and hoped that Turkey would reciprocate.  European integration was the bright promise visible on the horizon for all of South Eastern Europe.  She added that, on a global level for men, women and children everywhere, the United Nations remained the best hope there was.

    GEORGE YEO, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said that the war in Lebanon had had no clear victor but, without the intervention of the United Nations, more lives would have been lost.  He reminded Israel and Palestine that no side could achieve absolute security and took note of the establishment of a new balance across the Middle East.  Due to technology, globalization and major world changes, no grand solution was possible.  He pointed to the difficulties of United Nations reform and the break down of the Doha Round of world trade negotiations as evidence of the difficulty of achieving global consensus, which required a realistic attitude.

    He offered regional organizations, which he noted were proliferating all over the world, as an alternative to help the United Nations achieve its objectives.  He explained that they created a habit of cooperation among neighbouring countries and reduced misunderstanding.  He offered the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an example, particularly its efforts to draw up a charter, built on security, economic and cultural pillars to provide the legal basis for future integration, including provisions for dispute settlement.  With the East Asia Summit, ASEAN provided a new architecture for peaceful cooperative development in larger Asia.  He explained that, with ASEAN, the region would do a better job of solving problems that many other parts of the world also faced; economic development, separatist movements, terrorism, drug-trafficking, environmental degradation, maritime security, ethnic and religious divisions, avian flu and others.

    ASEAN would work to improve the effectiveness of the United Nations, he said.  In spite of the recent coup in Thailand, ASEAN continued to endorse Surakiart Sathirathai for the position of Secretary-General.  He said the prospects for global peace and development could be enhanced if all regions of the world worked with the United Nations to stabilize their own immediate environments, and spoke of African countries' work in Darfur and possible Middle Eastern cooperation in the reconstruction of Iraq, as opportunities to strengthen regional organization.

    ALBERTO ROMULO, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said cooperation remained the key to attaining the goals set out in the Charter of the United Nations; indeed, it was "the only thing that will redeem mankind".  The United Nations was a diverse community of rich and poor, powerful and weak, but it could nevertheless forge a consensual understanding of the importance of cooperation.  It was important for developed countries to understand the sufferings of peoples beyond their borders and of migrant workers within their borders in a true spirit of international cooperation.

    The Philippines welcomed the Quartet's call this week for greater progress towards peace in the Middle East, he said.  It strongly supported the Road Map, and remained hopeful that a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine could live side by side.  The Philippines own quest for peace was "boldly moving forward", thanks to support and cooperation from key members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and others in the international community.  Its experience was proof of the efficacy of collective action in fighting terrorism.  With help, it had reduced the number of terrorists in the country and embarked on development projects that would deprive terrorists of potential supporters and recruits.  The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy would help strike a blow against terrorists; and the Organization's promotion of interfaith dialogue and cooperation was particularly close to the Philippines heart.  His country had announced that it would hold a special ministerial meeting on interfaith dialogue and cooperation for peace in Davao City, open to Non-Aligned States and others, including the United Nations system.

    Nine years remained to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals, but for most of the developing world, the target of halving poverty by 2015 would remain a mere vision "if no effective mechanism for resource mobilization is in sight", he said.  The Philippines had launched a debt-for-equity initiative which did not call for a debt cancellation, moratorium or reduction, but merely proposed the use of part of payments from the debt stock of low- and medium-income developing countries, ineligible under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative, as equities of creditors in projects concerning infrastructure, education, livelihood, health, etc.  States represented in the "Paris Club" were invited to reflect on the initiative.

    He said the Philippines wished to see the Secretary-General commission an eminent persons' group to look into energy security whose findings should be considered before the current Assembly session ended.  On disaster relief, the Philippines favoured greater cooperation between States and non-governmental organizations to strengthen disaster preparedness, management and the exchange of information.  It would introduce a resolution to draw attention to the oil spill in August from a sunken tanker off Guimaras Province.  Regarding migration, the Philippines -- with one-tenth of its population overseas -- supported an informal global forum on migration and development, provisionally outside the United Nations mantle, in order for an international dialogue on the issue to continue.  It invited other States to accede to the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families to reaffirm the universality of human rights standards for all.

    YOUSSOUF OUEDRAOGO, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, said that tension still persisted in the African States of the Sudan, Somalia and Côte d'Ivoire, but the arrival of democracy and rule of law in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Burundi was proof that progress could be had through the exercise of political will and dialogue.  Hopefully, similar dialogue in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as inter-Togolese dialogue currently taking place, would meet with the same success.  As for the Middle East, Burkina Faso hoped for a lasting peace that restored the sovereignty of Lebanon, liberty to the Palestinian people and security to Israel. 

    But attempts to establish a just, free and fair system of international trade continued to be difficult, he said.  Indeed, Burkina Faso threw its full weight behind its cotton producers, who could only prosper under a just trading system supported by the World Trade Organization.  A genuine North-South partnership was needed to move the issue forward, and the recent review of the Brussels Programme of Action seemed to suggest that things were moving in the right direction.   Migration was, likewise, a challenge to countries of origin, transit and destination, who must find imaginative solutions to deal with the phenomenon at its very root.  To that end, the joint policy on migration recently developed by Europe and Africa in Rabat was welcome.

    He said the recent upsurge in oil prices had severely impacted countries like Burkina Faso, which imported a large bulk of its oil, and had pushed the country towards developing biofuel technology using by-products from cotton.  Turning to the nuclear issue, he condemned the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but added that States should have a right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful means.  A deep-seated reform of the United Nations working methods was the only way to repair the injustice of recent decades; indeed, the Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council and the new Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy were examples of the vehicles through which multilateralism could triumph over unilateralism.  Burkina Faso supported Taiwan's aspiration to take active part in common international endeavours, and welcomed Montenegro's entry into the Organization. 

    KASSYMZHOMART TOKAEV, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said that, while there had been substantial progress on many of the recommendations that had emanated from the outcome of the 2005 World Summit, chiefly the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and the new Human Rights Council, there had been relatively little movement on reforming the work of the Assembly and the Security Council.  Lack of action in that regard had impeded the work of the wider Organization this year, and Kazakhstan believed further inaction might have a serious impact on its work in the areas of international stability, security and development.

    Turning to the situation in his region, he said that some 14 years ago in the Assembly, Kazakhstan had put forward the conference on interaction and confidence-building measures in Asia (CICA), which aimed to promote cooperation and enhance regional security and stability.  That initiative had proved its viability and had become an important factor in regional relations, and the last CICA Summit had adopted a host of important documents boosting levels and fields of cooperation.  Also, his Government continued to seek an enhanced regional and global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

    He noted that, fifteen years on, the people of the country were still suffering from the effects of nuclear explosions at the Semipalatinsk testing ground.  In the wake of that tragic incident, Kazakhstan had voluntarily renounced its nuclear arsenal and the Government hoped that move could serve as an example to other nations, particularly since the efforts to ensure non-proliferation at the global level were deadlocked.  "It is time to take coordinated efforts to overcome that crisis", he said, noting that some positive steps were already under way such as the signing this past September of a treaty on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  That deal could become a catalyst for enhancing the Treaty on the NPT, he added.  Further, Kazakhstan believed that the profile of the NPT regime could be further boosted if all Member States complied with their nuclear disarmament obligations.  "All peaceful nuclear programmes should be carried out in a transparent manner, under the auspices of the IAEA", he said.

    On international security matters and reform, he said Kazakhstan believed that the creation of a United Nations preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention centre in Central Asia remained a relevant proposition.  He added that Security Council reform was taking way too long and the Member States must recommit themselves to constructive dialogue to revamp that body.

    AHMAD ALLAM-MI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chad, said that, in addition to terrorism, the past year had seen alarming situations challenge the efforts of victims of serious armed conflict in establishing democratic institutions and fostering economic and social progress.  In spite of destabilizing attempts in Chad to seize power in an unconstitutional manner, free and transparent elections on 3 May had renewed confidence in President Idriss Deby Itno.  The results of a subsequent dialogue with all legal political parties had laid a foundation to consolidate the rule of law and democratic progress of the country. 

    He added, however, that it was an illusion to expect stability if Chad continued to suffer the adverse effects of the conflict in Darfur.  Chad had normalized relations with the Sudan, but he remained concerned by Janjaweed incursions that exported the war to Eastern Chad.  Chad had received refugees before the international community intervened, and now accepted refugees from the Central African Republic -- which was the second victim of the Darfur crisis.  There was a risk of the crisis spreading throughout the Central Africa region. 

    The extension of the African Union mission in the Sudan was better than nothing, but he reaffirmed the need for the United Nations to take over the peacekeeping from the African Union pursuant to Security Council resolution 1706 (2006).  He respected the sovereignty of the Sudan.  That stance should not be construed as hostile, or as part of an international plot against the Sudan; it was simply common sense to bring assistance to the innocent victims of the war and to enable the hundreds of thousands of refugees to return to their countries.  That would also end the sacrifices of the Chadian host, which could not ensure the security of the refugee camps. 

    The rapidly rising gap between rich and poor made it difficult to attain the Millennium Development Goals in countries suffering from low revenues, high debt burdens, as well as HIV/AIDS and malaria, he explained.  Chad had problems with the World Bank after the revision of the law dealing with oil revenues, but he was pleased that negotiations had renewed cooperation.  At the same time, he warned that two members of the oil consortium in Chad refused to pay their profits tax.  In three years, Chad had only received $588 million, whereas oil companies had amassed $5 billion.  He asked that justice be done and demanded the legitimate right to take direct part in the production and marketing of oil and gas resources, or else the possibility of reducing poverty could be destroyed. 

    He praised the current path of reconciliation in Cote d'Ivoire and hoped the terms of Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006) would be respected, so as to end the crisis in Lebanon.  He warned of the problem of anti-personnel landmines, which had caused Chad to continue to pay the price of wars on its soil.  Consistent with the Ottawa Convention, Chad had destroyed landmines and it sought more assistance to strengthen its demining programme.  Finally, he warned that the current structure of the United Nations was neither fair nor democratic.  Chad stood by the African position to expand the Security Council to make it more equitable and representative. 

    MIHAI-RAZVAN UNGUREANU, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania, said that his country wanted to be an active participant in the current institutional reform process that was taking hold at the United Nations.  Towards that goal, the new Human Rights Council would give the Organization a fresh start in its efforts to protect and promote human rights and boost efforts towards the full implementation of the core international human rights Treaties.

    He said that the new Council should also strive to ensure, at every level, that Governments gave priority to raising awareness about human rights and ensuring that all citizens understood and observed the fundamental nature of those rights.  States should not see efforts to monitor the protection and promotion of those rights by peer review or by rights experts as adversarial or unfriendly, but as genuine contributions to the improvement of people's lives.  As a member of the Human Rights Council, Romania was already considering some proposals to strengthen the new body, streamline its work and enhance its authority.

    On the newly established Peacebuilding Commission, he warned that the United Nations had a history of creating new bodies to address new problems, but the real test was to ensure that new organs were mandated to do more than generate more meetings and paperwork.  The new Commission was a remarkable legal and institutional innovation, and by its creation, the United Nations finally had the opportunity to effectively address the critical juncture between the ending of conflict and the beginning of economic reconstruction.  The Commission should be given the mandate and resources to carry out its work and not be allowed to fall victim to old habits.

    Turning next to the Security Council, he said that, after more than a decade, efforts to reform that body had yet to bear fruit.   Romania was ready to begin meaningful and pragmatic dialogue on increasing the Council's membership, while preserving its effectiveness and credibility.  There were inherent difficulties in enlarging the Council and recent debates had revealed that all Member States, including from Eastern Europe, expected a fair share in the eventual outcome of the ongoing negotiations.

    At the same time, he stressed that efforts to reform the Security Council should not overshadow consideration of measures to enhance the General Assembly.  "We can make simple reforms.  We may choose to streamline the agenda by confining it to topical issues avoiding the annual repetition of texts, which brings no true value, and using less rhetoric and more pragmatism", he said.  The Assembly could also do more to promote democracy and Romania was playing an important role in that regard.  It was time for the United Nations to consider the adoption of a universal declaration on democracy, a code of conduct or even an international covenant on the right to democracy.

    On regional issues, he urged the international community not to turn a deaf ear to unresolved conflicts or tensions in his region, which had simmered since the end of the Soviet era.  One of the most striking examples of those so-called "frozen" conflicts was the situation in Transnistria, a separatist breakaway area in Moldova.  The wider region could not abide a lawless regime there forever.  That regime was backed by heavily armed troops involved in illegal trafficking and smuggling activities, and was ready to forcefully and militarily occupy schools and other institutions, and blackmail its neighbours, including the legitimate Government of Moldova.  The United Nations must use all the means available to it under the Charter "to put an end to the dark ages in Transnistria", he said, calling for help from the international community and the civil society groups in the region.

    ALIKBEK D. DJEKSHENKULOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, said that, in order to meet its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, his country had taken all necessary steps to protect social welfare, support the most vulnerable strata of the population and reduce poverty.  Kyrgyzstan was characterized by the openness of its economy, macroeconomic stability, a liberal currency and visa regime, free movement of capital and its labour force, and membership in the World Trade Organization.  The country had adhered to all basic international agreements dealing with the human dimension, reformed law enforcement and judicial bodies, ensured the genuine involvement of many political parties and civil society in the adoption of important decisions, and had allowed the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish an office in the country.  That had demonstrated Kyrgyzstan's commitments to the principles of human rights and freedoms. 

    He said his country had also ratified the international convention against corruption and established a national agency for the investigation of financial crimes, believing that a society with less corruption could prevent conflict and overcome obstacles to development.  He also proposed the formulation of a ninth Millennium Development Goal, encouraging the dynamic development of local communities, which could be the foundation for a secure world.  He called for special attention to the world's mountainous areas, which were the basic source of the planet's drinking water.  The sixtieth session's resolution on sustainable mountain development could enable mountainous countries to resolve social and economic problems.  He encouraged all States to take part in a forum in Bishkek on that subject.

    The principle of disarmament was important to Kyrgyzstan and he described the Central Asian nuclear weapons free zone as a joint contribution of the States of the region to free humankind from nuclear weapons and to counter terrorism.  He appealed to Member States to support a draft resolution in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) on that nuclear-weapons-free zone.  He highlighted the work of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Collective Security Treaty Organization as a regional complement to United Nations efforts to deal with such threats and challenges as crime, illicit trade in drugs and weapons, epidemic disease, degradation of the environment, and in his particular region, the situation in Afghanistan.

    Prince MOHAMED BOLKIAH, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Brunei Darussalam, said discussions of United Nations reform should consider whether any proposed changes actually strengthened the work of the Organization, its agencies and programmes and relevant staff in the field.  Did the proposed reform reflect the priorities of the current century?  Bolstering the Organization and its staff was indeed becoming more and more important as international affairs became more complex.  Early on, the new century seemed to be defining itself by the troubling events depicted in "breaking news" stories -- natural disasters, terrorist attacks, political collapses and the enormous human suffering that followed.

    As a result of all this, many millions of people were feeling more insecure than ever.  People all over Asia, Africa and the Americas were trying to salvage some hope, often leaving their homes and families to emigrate.  Those people often put themselves and their loved ones at great risk.  It was a bleak picture, he said, but it would be an even bleaker one without the United Nations.  Indeed, in some refugee camps or emergency relief centres, the United Nations was the only source of hope for people left homeless by disaster or on the run from conflict.

    So as the international community began to get a better picture of what the twenty-first century was to bring, it would be crucial to work towards the creation of a United Nations better equipped to address emerging challenges, he said.  The Assembly had to be certain that the Organization was not trying to address twenty-first century problems with mechanisms and procedures of the twentieth or even nineteenth centuries.  Brunei looked forward to continuing the discussion with other Member States on United Nations reform in the coming year.

    NORMAN JOSÉ CALDERA CARDENAL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, highlighting to his country's upcoming elections on 5 November, said that Nicaragua had sought to defend democracy, a universal value that included the rule of law, balance of power and strong State institutions devoid of corruption.  Whenever anti-democratic forces had sought to break with the democratic order, they had been met with opposition from the people.  Thanks were due to all Governments and organizations that had helped Nicaragua uphold democracy.

    He said that the time spent on building democracy had not impeded Nicaragua's development.  In four years, tax revenues had gone up three-fold.  New life was being breathed into the economy; over 85 per cent of foreign debt had been pardoned, and Nicaragua now was focused on drawing down its domestic debt.  Free trade represented an opportunity and there had been three years of economic growth, based on private investment.  New companies had opened in duty-free zones and exports had grown 100 per cent in less than five years.  Tourism was the biggest source of foreign exchange, and the Lonely Planet had put Nicaragua at number 3 on its top-10 list of must-visit places.  The murder-rate, meanwhile, stood at one half of the world's average.

    Meeting his campaign promises, President Enrique Bolaňos had doubled teacher's salaries, he said.  Infant mortality had dropped to 31 per 100,000 live births.  Coverage of vaccinations had risen by more than 10 per cent.  The State was also putting in place a policy to protect the interest of Nicaraguans working abroad, whose remittances amounted to 50 per cent of all exports.

    Nicaragua also supported the creation of a customs union with the rest of Latin America.  Negotiations were set to begin soon on an association agreement between Latin America and the European Union, which would include a free trade pact.

    The international system was being tested, he said, with increasingly complex problems needing to be addressed.  Those included the situation in the Middle East, Iran's nuclear issue, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Haiti, Darfur and terrorism.  In addition, the United Nations had to be reformed in order to respond to the grave threats to world peace.  Such reforms should be comprehensive, in order to overcome the bureaucratic hurdles that stood in the way of General Assembly decisions. The Security Council had to better reflect political realities, with a bigger place for developing countries.  Regarding Taiwan, he reiterated Nicaragua's support for its legitimate representation in the United Nations.

    MOHAMED BENAISSA, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, said that the many conflicts, wars and economic and social crises in the Middle East and Africa had thwarted peoples' natural aspiration for stability and development.  Having welcomed the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as the first step towards establishing a Palestinian State, Morocco hoped that the current degrading situation, which had led to even more killing and destruction, be rapidly put to an end.  It called on the international community, and the Security Council in particular, to work for a global and lasting solution to the conflict.  It hoped that all concerned parties would cooperate to provide the appropriate political conditions for a lasting settlement on the basis of the Taif Agreement and relevant Council resolutions.  It also called on the international community to provide more cooperation and solidarity for the reconstruction of Lebanon and peace efforts.

    He said Morocco was still hoping for an end to the ongoing tension that continued to bring suffering to innocent civilians in Iraq, and hoped that its Iraqi brothers could agree, as soon as possible, on the time and venue of the conference for the Iraqi national accord.  Morocco reiterated its commitment to work for a fair and global peace in the Middle East, which was dependent upon the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories and the establishment of a Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side in peace and security with Israel.  Resorting to force, whatever the reasons, would not succeed in imposing workable solutions or achieving fair, lasting and global peace in the Middle East, it would only serve to exacerbate the existing status quo.

    The African continent today faced many serious threats and challenges.  It harboured half of the armed conflicts witnessed by the world in the past decade and hosted half of the number of refugees worldwide.  It was also confronted with numerous economic and social plagues, which by no means should be considered inevitable.  Africa was a priority on the United Nations agenda and international programs for development.  Those initiatives needed more harmony to ultimately provide the appropriate conditions for sustainable development in Africa.  The idea of creating an international mechanism of experts in security and development to supervise their implementation of different international programmes and initiatives for Africa should be considered.  He called for a high-level dialogue on Africa in the next year and the issue of development with a view to launching mechanisms to guarantee the implementation of all related international initiatives.

    He said Morocco had renewed its commitment to cooperate with the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to find a lasting solution to the dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.  Morocco would present an autonomy plan, which would enable the region's inhabitants to manage their local affairs, in the framework of Morocco's national sovereignty and territorial integrity.  It had already launched nationwide consultations within the framework of the Royal Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs.

    More than ever, the world needed a more efficient United Nations, he said.  Reform should not be an objective in itself, however, nor should it be used to highlight eventual failures of the Organization.  True rehabilitation of the United Nations required harmonization of its agenda with that of the international community, as well as implementation of proposed reforms simultaneously with the provision of necessary financial, human and technical resources, the creation of a permanent follow-up mechanism of the reform process and clear strategies and tools to deal with global challenges, such as organized crime, international terrorism and illegal migration.

    ROSEMARY MUSEMINALI, Minister of State for Cooperation of Rwanda, said the greatest danger facing humanity was extreme poverty.  While more than 800 million people suffered from hunger and malnutrition, 40 per cent of the world's population lived in absolute poverty.  The statistics were even more staggering in sub-Saharan Africa, where 60 to 70 per cent of the national populations lived on less than a dollar a day.  At a time when the rest of the world witnessed unprecedented affluence and technological and scientific advancement, that was clearly unacceptable.

    She said that, in order to attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, there were a number of areas requiring urgent attention.  Good governance was one.  That included a political culture that fostered inclusive participation, robust national institutions that pursued effective national development strategies, sound economic management and consolidation of the rule of law.  Her Government was strongly committed to those principles.

    Improving both the quality of ODA and increasing its quantity were also important, she noted.  She proposed that the quality of ODA be improved by adopting needs-based approaches, providing more budget support and bolstering poverty-reduction programmes.  On trade and development, Member States would have to recommit themselves to an open, rule-based, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system.  More resources were needed, and she welcomed the decision by some developed countries to dramatically increase the ODA volume over the next few years.

    She said that the most serious challenge to Rwandan development was the unprecedented price levels of fossil-fuel energy on the one hand, and the reduction in hydro-electric generation capacities on the other.  Consequently, it was critical that States invested heavily in longer-term sustainable alternative energy resources.  The ongoing conflicts in parts of Africa and the Middle East were also a serious threat to international peace and security.   Rwanda had painfully learned that there could be no peace without reconciliation or recognition of the rights and interests of all people.  Her Government had contributed troops and police to the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions, and was committed to continuing those contributions.

    FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI ( Saudi Arabia) said that the Middle East was in the midst of "a very dangerous phase", with Israel's occupation of Arab lands in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon; a volatile situation along the Lebanese-Israeli border; instability and sectarian violence in Iraq; and Iran's nuclear programme.  The key to resolving those crises was to invigorate the Middle East peace process and to reach a just and durable settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, "the most enduring international conflict today".

    He said the peace process had suffered greatly from double standards and imbalanced obligations.  Reviving it required serious international cooperation and a fundamental change in approach.  That meant creating an effective mechanism for negotiations to address all final status issues.  Thirty-nine years after Security Council resolution 242 had been adopted, calling upon Israel to withdraw from all territories occupied in 1967, Palestinians remained deprived of their right to self-determination and the right to live in an independent State with Arab Jerusalem as its capital.  A two-State solution could come about within "a reasonable time frame."

    Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its full support for the Lebanese Government, as it sought to extend its authority over its entire territory, he said.  All parties must remain committed to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).  He called for the rapid Israeli withdrawal form the Shebaa Farms area.  "One of the reasons that Lebanon is a victim of repeated Israeli invasions, totalling seven so far, is that we did not hold the aggressor accountable", he said.

    Regarding Iraq, he said that Saudi Arabia had always supported the consolidation of Iraq's unity and non-interference in its internal affairs.  The absence of security and stability had hampered the efforts of all countries committed to Iraq's reconstruction.  The international community should support the Iraqi Government's programme for a comprehensive national reconciliation.

    Proliferation of nuclear weapons seriously undermined the security of all countries, either in the hands of States or of terror groups, he warned.  Obligations set out in international treaties and conventions would be useless if they were not fully observed.  Halting proliferation required an end to double standards and the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, including the Gulf.  Israel was the only country in the region known to have weapons of mass destruction, yet it was subjected to no form of monitoring.  With regard to Iran, all countries had a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Iran's repeated statements that its nuclear programme was peaceful provided a strong basis for negotiations, which had not yet been exhausted.

    Humanitarian suffering in Darfur was unacceptable, he said.  Saudi Arabia was cooperating with reconciliation efforts there, and it welcomed the deployment of African Union forces.  It was concerned, however, that, if international troops were sent without the Sudan's consent, they would become part of the problem, and not the solution.

    Global terrorism was a threat to all, and its roots and causes should not be ignored, he said.  As a main target of terrorism, Saudi Arabia denounced terrorism of all kinds, and had signed on to most international counter-terrorism agreements.  King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz had proposed an international counter-terrorism centre under United Nations auspices.  The effectiveness of methods to combat terrorism and extremism should be regularly evaluated.  There was no true religion that advocated the use of terrorism, and the vast majority of true believers should not be held responsible for the deviant behaviour of a very small minority in any religion.  "Saudi Arabia strongly rejects the characterization of Islam as a violent religion that supports terrorism in any way", he said.

    Right of Reply

    In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Cyprus said that he regretted the statement made by Turkey's representative earlier in the day.  Among other things, that representative's reference to "a new partnership based on political equality" had revealed that Turkey had abandoned adherence to agreed negotiating mechanisms.  Turkey was attempting to bypass an 8 July agreement that had laid the groundwork for future negotiations.  He also pointed out that Turkey had made reference to "Turkish Cypriots" residing in isolation.  If that were the case, it was only because of Turkey's occupation of the northern region.  Turkey's reference had been profoundly misguided.

    Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of Iran said that the United Kingdom's representative had made baseless accusations against his country earlier in the day.  As a victim of terrorism itself, Iran had made it a high priority to combat that scourge at all levels.  The United Kingdom should be dealing with State terrorism being practiced inside territories under its own auspices.

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