Poverty, terrorism, UN reform figure high on agenda of 3rd day of World Summit

16 September 2005

Calls for bold action against poverty, steadfast steps against terrorism and a determined push for United Nations reform rang through the General Assembly Hall today as presidents, prime ministers and a king took the podium on the third and final day of the 2005 World Summit.

Opening the morning session at the largest-ever gathering of Heads of State and Government, President Nicanor Duarte Frutos of Paraguay echoed many of the previous two days' speakers on the need to fight world poverty. "Today more than ever we need effective actions that reduce the inequalities of development…great investment that we need from more developed countries," he said.

President Kurmanbek S. Bakiev of Kyrgyzstan stressed the importance of debt relief for many countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aim to slash a host of socio-economic ills, such as extreme poverty, hunger and infant and maternal mortality, all by 2015. He called for UN reform to make the organization "an effective tool in handling the problems of the new Millennium."

Expanding on the MDG theme, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia declared: "Poverty is a killer. Eight million human beings, most of them in Asia and Africa, die every year because they are too poor to live. To stop this killer, we must attain the Millennium Development Goals."

Moldova's President Vladimir Voronin stressed that new circumstances require that "we revitalize the consensus on major challenges and priorities and convert this new consensus into collective action which shall lead, inter alia, to renewal and strengthening of the UN system."

While not ignoring the importance of the MDGs, King Abdullah II of Jordan underlined the need to fight terrorism, a theme stressed by many speakers on the Summit's first two days. "One critical step is to ensure zero tolerance towards those who promote extremism," he declared.

President Martin Torrijos Espino of Panama noted that much work still remained to be done and he regretted that the outcome document had not been bolder on such issues as the illegal traffic in light arms, progress in development and the new Human Rights Council.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski called for greater determination in fighting as violence, poverty, social exclusion, terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. "The United Nations today is facing an unprecedented challenge to provide the humanity with a new hope to build the 21st century's civilization on a solid foundation of universal values: freedom, security, democracy and solidarity," he said.

Togo's President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe stressed that attainment of the MDGs must go hand in hand with UN reform, making the Security Council more representative of current geopolitical realities. It was crucial that the developing world, particularly Africa, have broader representation on the Council, he added.

President Eduardo Rodriguez Velze of Bolivia, while echoing the other concerns of development, terrorism and UN reform, also highlighted the need to fight drug trafficking and stimulate the cultivation of alternative crops.

Underscoring the imperative of UN reform, Croatian President Stjepan Mesic said: "There is no alternative to that, and this should be clear to everyone who wants this organization to play the role envisioned by its founders." The key UN agencies reflect the world at the end of the Second World War, a world which no longer exists, he added.

Suriname's President Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan noted that in attempting to achieve the MDGs "like most other developing countries we have encountered some serious obstacles, such as unfair trade and high debts that have a negative influence on this process."

Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio said achieving the MDGs "is not only a moral obligation; it is also a political imperative in ensuring a more secure future for all mankind." He also highlighted the UN role in fighting international terrorism, "ensuring effective, multilateral response to this dramatic new threat."

The Dominican Republic's President Leonel Fernandez Reyna called for a summit of world leaders to consider solutions to spiralling fuel prices which threatened an economic recession that would be catastrophic for small emerging economies.

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Prime Minister Bounnhang Vorachith of the Lao People's Democratic Republic said his country needed the support and assistance of the international community to overcome obstacles to achieving the MDGs such as poor socio-economic in infrastructure and isolation from world markets as a landlocked least developed country.

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Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis agreed that a lot still remained to be done to achieve the MDGs. "Significant differences persist between developed and developing countries. Extreme poverty and hunger are the disgrace of our century. Today we have the means to eradicate them," he added.

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Prime Minister John Howard of Australia hoped the Summit would give momentum to the Comprehensive Terrorism Convention. "It is a grim but inescapable fact that our world lives under the shadow of global terrorism," he said. He also noted as a corollary of international aid "a reciprocal responsibility on recipient governments to tackle corruption, strengthen governance and promote institutional reform."

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Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik cited the duty to take collective action to "protect" as one of the Summit's achievements. "We will do so if peaceful means are found to be inadequate and if national authorities manifestly fail to protect 'their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.'"

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Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of Grenada declared full support for UN reform "As we embark on a new era in the history of the United Nations, let us, as leaders, challenge ourselves… to work assiduously towards the elimination of poverty, hunger, discrimination, war and other ills, and to make this organisation function efficiently to meet the objectives of universal peace and progress," he said.

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Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra noted that since the UN's founding, the world had become dominated by "a single political and economic system of democracy and capitalism, which are two sides of the same coin" adding that, in such a situation, competition for trade must become fair.

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The Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, Otmar Hasler, said that to make the UN fit for such challenges, and to prevent the repetition of past mistakes, much more progress on reform must occur in the next few months, since so far, "success on the many reform issues in front of us is uneven."

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Ralph Everada Gonsalves, Prime Minister for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, voiced profound disappointment in the uneven progress in reform and in the "derailing of satisfactory arrangements previously agreed upon by this Organisation over the past months for achieving a more secure world, free from want, free from fear, and freedom to live in dignity."

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Focussing on security, development, and human rights within the context of UN reform, Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada said "the status quo and too often empty rhetoric must make way here for a new and pragmatic multilateralism measured by concrete results."

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Along with the struggle against terrorism, Andranik Margaryan, Prime Minister of Armenia, emphasized "the importance of responsibility to protect populations against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity."Maatia Toafa, Prime Minister of Tuvalu said the achievement of the MDGs has been sidetracked by the lack of access to financial and technical assistance, lack of human and infrastructural capacity, and the unfortunate lack of attention and coordination.

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The Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Mari Bin Almude Alkatiri, described efforts by his country to achieve MDGs in health, education, gender equality and good governance, after its recent independence.Carlos Gomes Jr., Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, said the outcome document for the Summit offered some courageous solutions that were within reach, and so "it was essential that the international community do its utmost to save human lives everywhere."

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Calling the Summit a "sham" because of the manipulation by powerful nations to hold onto their hegemony, Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, President of the National Assembly of People's Power of Cuba said that "poor nations have the right to development and will continue to fight for it."

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Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain, called for increased efforts with "the participation of both civil society and the private sector in implementing the international community's development goals, and the peoples' aspirations for development, knowledge and reconstruction around the world."Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Secretary of State of the Holy See, strongly supported the establishment of a peace-building commission focused on the roots of conflict as well as building and maintaining a culture of peace, particularly in regions riven by ethnic strife.

Also speaking today were Vice-President Eduardo Stein of Guatemala and Foreign Ministers Sato Kilman of Vanuatu, Elyor Ganiev of Uzbekistan, Frederick Mitchell of the Bahamas, Norman Jose Caldera Cardenal of Nicaragua, Allam-Mi Ahmad of Chad, Elmar Maharram oglu Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan, Ramesh Nath Pandey of Nepal, Knowlson Gift of Trinidad and Tobago, and Nasser Al-Kidwa of Palestine.

Rosemary Banks, Chairperson of the Delegation of New Zealand, also made a statement.

 

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