3rd Plenary Meeting (resumed) - General Assembly 75th Session: High-Level Meeting to Commemorate 75th Anniversary of United Nations - Part 3

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26-Oct-2020 02:59:16
Member States credit United Nations with putting them on path to stability, better future, as General Assembly concludes meeting marking Seventy-Fifth Anniversary.

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Speakers Call for Collective Action to Build on Past Gains in Peacekeeping, Sustainable Development, Following Hour-Long Commemoration of United Nations Day

The General Assembly today concluded its high-level meeting to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, with several Member States remembering how the Organization’s peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts lifted them out of conflict and put them back on the path to a better future.

The resumed plenary meeting — featuring pre-recorded statements from Ministers for Foreign Affairs due to the Assembly’s restrictions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — took place in tandem with an hour-long commemoration of United Nations Day that paid special tribute to the Organization’s staff members throughout the world.

Echoing the “Declaration on the commemoration of the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations,” adopted by the Assembly on 21 September (see Press Release GA/12267), speakers reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to the Charter of the United Nations. Many pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as proof that the world requires strong multilateralism, now more than ever.

Adaljíza Albertina Xavier Reis Magno, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, said that her young country — which has hosted five United Nations peacekeeping and political missions — is a proud example of what the United Nations can achieve when it combines a common sense of purpose and action to ensure the fundamental right of peoples to self-determination. She stressed the need to build upon the Organization’s past gains and agreements, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, while also tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ally Coulibaly, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire, credited the cooperation of the entire United Nations system for helping his country to find its way back onto the path of peace and stability. He conveyed the deep appreciation of the Government and people of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Nations and hailed the memory of those civilian and military members of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) who paid the ultimate price.

Alpha Barry, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Burkina Faso, in the same vein, thanked the Organization and the international community for supporting his country’s efforts to fight terrorism and curb the spread of COVID‑19. He called for strengthening multilateralism and the role of the United Nations in tackling tough problems — such as poverty and terrorism — that are hampering States’ ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ahmad Nasser al-Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, said that his country’s faith in the importance of the United Nations — and in the collaborative efforts of its Member States — has increased amid COVID-19. He recalled that the United Nations supported Kuwait in regaining its freedom and sovereignty in 1991 following its invasion by Iraq, adding, however, that the Palestinian question remains a “bleeding wound in the side of the Arab nation”.

Namibia’s representative recalled how the United Nations accompanied that country on its path to independence, with the Organization assuming direct responsibility for its affairs after the General Assembly, through resolution 2145, declared in 1966 that South African had no further right to administer what was then South West Africa. Like several speakers from African nations, he said that it is unacceptable for Africa not to have a permanent seat in the Security Council, given today’s global geopolitical formations and security threats.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, said that his people have placed their hope and aspirations for freedom in the United Nations hands. “It is paradoxical that at the time that this Organization was elaborating its Charter […] the Palestinian people were being deprived of the very rights enshrined in these instruments,” he said, wondering if Israel will abide by the Charter and by Security Council resolutions that it has consistently violated for seven decades.

Israel’s representative, remembering his relatives who were sent to Auschwitz during the Holocaust, said that the United Nations, once a force for good, has been steered away from its primary purpose to promote peace, security and human rights. Iran is the biggest threat to those values, he said, adding that allowing human rights violators to serve on the Human Rights Council calls into question the Organization’s continued relevance for another 75 years.

Tomáš Petříček, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, said that for the United Nations to deliver lasting solutions, it must have political support, efficient tools and necessary funds. Emphasizing the need to involve young people, he expressed hope that on its birthday the United Nations regains the youthful energy of its early days “while preserving the acquired wisdom of a 75-year-old”.

Several intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations also took the floor, including the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, whose speaker urged cooperation between the United Nations and Member States to find a permanent solution for the Rohingya minority in Myanmar as reflected in the related case presented before the International Court of Justice. He stressed that there must be accountability and justice for grave violations of the rights of the Rohingya and called on Myanmar to implement the Court’s decision.

Prior to the resumed plenary meeting, the Assembly commemorated United Nations Day, which every 24 October marks the day in 1945 when the Charter of the United Nations entered into force upon its ratification by 50 of the Organization’s founding members.

In opening remarks, Volkan Bozkir (Turkey), President of the Assembly, and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, joined the representative of the Russian Federation, President of the Security Council for October, and the representative of Botswana, speaking as Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, in paying tribute to United Nations staff around the world for turning the Charter’s words — and its promise to save succeeding generations from war and to promote human rights, social progress and better living standards for all — into tangible action on the ground.

The segment included an interactive panel discussion featuring long-serving United Nations staff members reflecting on the Organization’s work and future; the presentation of a poster signed by the Secretary-General, the President of the Assembly and Permanent Representatives of Member States recommitting to the Charter; and the recitation of a poem, “Inheritance,” by Eleanor Wikstrom, 2019 Vice Youth Poet Laureate of Oakland, California, filmed at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, where the Charter was signed on 26 June 1945.

Also participating in the high-level meeting through virtual statements were Ministers and Vice Ministers of Brazil, Iran, El Salvador, Mauritania, Slovakia, Sudan, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Congo, Estonia, Suriname, Rwanda, Trinidad and Tobago, Montenegro, Morocco, Paraguay, Madagascar, United Kingdom, Japan, Nicaragua, Bahrain, Chad, Guatemala, Uzbekistan, Angola, Yemen, Jamaica, Lithuania, Algeria, Cameroon, Libya and Mongolia.

Speaking in person were representatives of Syria, Hungary, Eritrea, New Zealand, Mali, Turkmenistan, Argentina, Iraq, Bahamas, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Togo, Zimbabwe and the United Republic of Tanzania.

A representative of the Holy See also spoke.

Representatives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, League of Arab States, Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Commonwealth, International Criminal Court, International Development Law Organization, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) also spoke.

Representatives of Pakistan and Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene on Thursday, 29 October 2020 at 10 a.m. to take up the report of the Human Rights Council and a report on the Secretary-General’s trust fund to assist States in the settlement of disputes through the International Court of Justice.

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