Speakers Praise Diplomatic Successes over Iran, Cuba-US, Address Long- Standing Africa Conflicts, as General Assembly Continues Annual Debate

1 OCTOBER 2015

Continuing to address the broad range of challenges facing the global community, Heads of State and Government along with other high-level representatives hailed recent diplomatic successes, while decrying the plight of refugees and the crises leading to their flight, during day four of the General Assembly’s annual debate.

Among hopeful signs in the peaceful resolution of disputes, speakers cited the re-establishment of relations between Cuba and the United States and the recent conclusion of an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme. They also turned to a number of ongoing conflicts, in particular across the African continent, stressing the need for diplomacy and humanitarianism to prevail in all regions of the world.

Welcoming the agreement reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — President Filip Vujanović of Montenegro said that current challenges to global peace and security required such a preventive approach.

Noting that active political responsibility was also part of good neighbourliness, Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said it had brought many actors, including the Russian Federation and the United States, to “sit at the same table”, to ensure Iran would never have an atomic bomb. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key called the deal a "bright spot" of the year.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck another note, cautioning against the Iran deal. He said Iran was rapidly expanding its global terrorist network and that “giving the mullahs more money” by ending sanctions would fuel more repression inside and outside the country. He urged those responsible to “make sure that the inspectors actually inspect [...] and that Iran’s violations are not swept under the Persian rug.”

Haiti’s President, Michel Joseph Martelly, who concurred with the importance of the Iran accord, also pointed out that the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States would secure greater peace in the Western Hemisphere.

Dragan Čović, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that terrorism and violent extremism were the most serious challenges facing the world. The ideology characterized by absolute disregard for life was seriously undermining the fundamental values and achievements of civilization.

Furthermore, he said that until recently, the crisis in Syria had largely belonged to the Middle East. However, days ago, Syrian refugees had arrived at the borders of his own country, a reminder that in the modern global environment, the events of one region were closely intertwined and inseparable from the events at his country’s borders. The waves of refugees presented a large burden for the majority of countries to which they were arriving.
Speakers from African nations described existing conflicts across the continent — many of which were long-standing and seemingly intractable — and stressed the need for diplomacy and humanitarian support to uphold a tenuous peace.

Characterizing the recent ceasefire in South Sudan, Vice President James Wani Igga said it was holding in certain parts of the country, but not all, which he attributed to the absence of a joint monitoring and verification mechanism on the ground. More than any other time in South Sudan’s conflict-ridden history, disarmament and rehabilitation required concerted and technical intervention from the country’s “many good friends around the world”.

Somalia’s Prime Minister, Omar Sharmarke, said 25 years ago the country had experienced its own “Arab Spring” and in the ensuing decades the repercussions when a country did not meet the political demands of a society. Aligned with the new Sustainable Development Goals, a “Grand Development Plan” for Somalia would focus on creating an essential social and physical infrastructure, jobs and opportunity for young people — providing choices to keep them from
 extremism — and the elimination of the “local business” of non-governmental organizations, giving each Member State the opportunity to invest in his country’s economic rejuvenation.

Raymond Tshibanda N’tungamulongo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the United Nations remained increasingly relevant in its timely objectives and principles. Without peace, development was just a hypothesis. Where underdevelopment and poverty reined, social demands frequently led to violence. Recalling his country’s history of conflict, he said it might have disappeared had it not been for the United Nations support, which had restored peace, security and State authority.

“There are no borders anymore,” he said, stressing that the “synergy of efforts” was not an option but a requirement.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as other high-ranking Government officials, from Madagascar, Federated States of Micronesia, Angola, Cabo Verde, Lesotho, Georgia, Greece, Malaysia, Slovakia, Luxembourg, India, Algeria, Austria, Ireland, Chad, Botswana, South Sudan, Burundi, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands, Cambodia, Nepal, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Bahamas, Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea.

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

JAMES WANI IGGA, Vice-President of South Sudan, said that after attaining freedom in 2011, progress had been thwarted by unjustified internal power feuds that resulted in a conflict the engulfed 3 out of 10 provinces in the country. The bloodshed, however, ended on 26 August with a peace agreement between the rebel leadership and the Government, followed by the President’s declaration of a permanent ceasefire the following day. The next step consisted of rebuilding the country with the help of humanitarian assistance from the international community and the United Nations.

Although South Sudan had been tied down by its own difficulties, it participated in global and regional strategies aimed at tackling threats of terrorism, he said. He commended the role of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the lead-up to independence and after fighting resumed. Yet, any renewal of the UNMISS mandate without either consultations or consent by the Government was unacceptable. The peace and security of the South Sudanese had been the paramount responsibility of the Government; it would never condone the crimes against its citizens or the violation of their human rights.

The ceasefire declared in August was surely holding in certain parts of the country, but not all, which the Vice-President attributed to the absence of a joint monitoring and verification mechanism on the ground. He urged the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to speed up the creation of “this vital instrument” for enforcing a meaningful ceasefire. As proof of the Government’s commitment, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) had left the capital, Juba, and redeployed 25 kilometres away. It was therefore incumbent upon the international community to rush humanitarian, resettlement and development projects to the area in order to cement peace and stability. More than any other time in South Sudan’s conflict- riddled history, this disarmament and rehabilitation required concerted and technical intervention from the country’s “many good friends around the world”.

JOSEPH BUTORE, Vice-President of Burundi, expressed his commitment to the United Nations work in strengthening international peace and security. Despite the recent upheaval over planned elections in June, Burundi had restored order and set the stage for upcoming reforms in the country. The failed coup had sent thousands of people fleeing the country after its leaders had committed crimes against humanity, including the recruitment of child soldiers, but the United Nations, as well as the East African Community, had confirmed the legitimacy of the President and discounted the coup’s “hidden agenda to destabilize the country”. In the sovereignty of any independent State, he said, “people of the world must have their choices respected” and Burundi was no different.
After the new Government was named in August 2015, in all respect of the Arusha Accords, Burundi commenced an intergovernmental dialogue — open to all opinions — on social issues, peacebuilding, the Constitution and the ceasefire. The Government also put in place a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to account for conflicts since the country’s founding. It also adopted an African Union decree towards disarmament, and pledged to turn over weapons used by rebel groups. Moreover, those arrested during the coup would benefit from a fair defence, and child soldiers have received clemency for their roles. Regarding the refugees, he said the country could benefit from the international community to ensure their return and resettlement.

Continuing to Burundi’s development, he said women had been included in the political realm more than ever before, participating in not only parliamentary bodies, but also as the heads of several agencies. Primary schooling was currently free for all and encompassed the equal enrolment of both girls and boys. Additionally, free health care for children under the age of five had significantly reduced child mortality. But as Burundi entered the era of the Sustainable Development Goals with confidence, the country also looked to work towards the security goals of the Great Lakes countries, and would deploy its troops “at any cost” to reaffirm its solidarity with their aspirations for a peaceful region.

MOISES OMAR HALLESLEVENS ACEVEDO, Vice-President of Nicaragua, said the increasing greed of global capitalism, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, had caused wars; created, fostered and cultivated fanaticism and terrorism; and spread insecurity, destruction and all forms of crises. Forced and brutal displacement of thousands of people from previously developed countries laid bare the true nature of those conflicts, and the situation would only worsen unless the international community worked together to resolve the causes of so much distress. From a commitment to peace and fair development — and to help achieve it through dialogue, firm and enduring peace — Nicaragua proposed that the United Nations uphold the responsibility of resolving those hostilities.

The United Nations must work for justice, peace, respect and sovereign security in the world, he said. To accomplish that, countries needed to foster the transformation of the Organization to serve all its Member States. During his presidency of the Assembly in 2008, Miguel d’Escoto developed Nicaragua’s mandate to lay the groundwork for those necessary changes. Nicaragua advocated for a “re-establishment” of the United Nations to prevail in the interest of all, with the ability of all Member States to talk and listen to each other on equal terms. He also encouraged a “respectful, responsible and ethical role” of United Nations agencies “alien to any form of intervention or interference” in the internal affairs of sovereign States.