The United Nations should take greater responsibility in coping with the array of challenges facing the world, such as climate change, poverty, disease, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, Kim Sung-hwan, told the General Assembly today.
Reviewing a list of these challenges in his speech to the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, Mr. Kim noted “with great satisfaction that the United Nations is becoming a more accountable and trusted international organization under the prominent leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.”
He hailed the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June, as “a crucial step forward,” calling its outcome document – in which countries renewed their political commitment to sustainable development, including the development of a strategy for sustainable development financing – a substantial advancement for sustainable development.
“The task before us now is to capitalize on our achievements thus far and exert even greater efforts on follow-up actions such as developing sustainable development goals, strengthening the institutional framework and mobilizing finance,” he said, adding that investment in education is at the heart of effective development.
Turning to international affairs, Mr. Kim voiced alarm at the great number of civilian deaths and “gross violations of human rights” in Syria, where over 18,000 people have been killed since an anti-government uprising erupted 18 months ago. He pledged that his country “will stand by the Syrian people through this timer of suffering together with the international community.”
He called on the UN and its Member States to make the utmost efforts to put an end sexual violence against women, especially in time of war.
Discussing nuclear proliferation, Mr. Kim said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) continued to pose a threat not only to the security of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia “but indeed to the very basis of the international non-proliferation regime” with its nuclear and missile programmes. He cited the DPRK’s launching of a long-range missile in April.
“We urge with concern that the DPRK should take concrete measures aimed at denuclearization which will open an avenue to improving the livelihood of its people,” he said. “At the same time, we sincerely hope that the DPRK should listen to the international community’s call for the improvement of its human rights situation, as repeatedly affirmed in the relevant UN resolutions.”
Other topics mentioned in his statement to the Assembly included the Republic of Korea’s hopes for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council during its 2013-2014 term.
The Foreign Minister is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.