In a speech to the General Assembly, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos today called on the United Nations to persevere in its efforts to resolve the fighting in Syria and reduce poverty in Haiti.
“From this Assembly we reiterate our call for an end to the attacks and for a political negotiation that resolves the legitimate aspirations of all sectors of Syrian society,” he told 67th Assembly on the second day of its annual General Debate.
Joint UN-League of Arab States mediation efforts have so far failed to end the conflict in the country, where over 18,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands of others driven from their home since an uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad erupted 18 months ago.
“I would like to express our support to the new Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi, and wish great success in his difficult task,” President Santos said. Mr. Brahimi took over the mission from former secretary-general Kofi Annan at the beginning of September.
Addressing journalists after a briefing to the Security Council earlier this week, Mr. Brahimi said that while the situation in Syria continues to be “very grim,” a solution may be forthcoming. The Joint Special Representative recently returned from a trip to the Middle East where he met with President al-Assad to discuss the crisis. He also visited refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, where he heard first-hand accounts of the struggles facing those who fled the conflict in their homeland.
Turning to Haiti, which has been devastated by political instability, a massive earthquake, hurricanes and a cholera epidemic, President Santos called for continued full engagement.
“If there is a country in our hemisphere that requires peacebuilding as a comprehensive task, it is Haiti,” he said. “Its recovery requires our continuous support in order to strengthen its institutions and productive capacities, to generate employment and reduce extreme poverty and to get the United Nations to work for development in this country. I invite you to persevere in this cause.”
The Colombian leader also touched on talks his Government will be holding with rebel forces which have been at war with the authorities for nearly 50 years, as well as economic progress the Latin American region has experienced.
President Santos is one of scores of heads of State and government and other high-level officials who are presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.