The United Nations needs urgent reform to confront the challenges now facing the world, from the Palestinian-Israel conflict and the bloody wars in Syria and Yemen to countering terrorism and tackling the refugee crisis, Saudi Arabia warned the General Assembly’s annual general debate today.
“We are at a pivotal stage,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud declared on the debate’s second day. “We either join together in a collective effort to address the difficult challenges and disasters we are confronted with in the world or fail and in doing so history will not be on our side,” he stated.
“The type and scale of the challenges we confront require us to work hard toward the reform of the United Nations system, increase the effectiveness of the Security Council, and revitalize the role of the General Assembly and all the relevant bodies of the United Nations,” he added, calling for a new impetus to enable the UN to cope with the aspirations of the 21st century.
Such reforms have proposed increasing the numbers of the 15-member Council, whose resolutions have binding legal force, and enhancing the powers of the Assembly, whose decisions currently lack this.
Turning to individual crises, the Prince called for an end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab land, condemning Israel’s “terrorist practices and acts of aggression.”
“Achieving any progress in ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict seems impossible in light of the continuation of the Israeli settlement policy, the tampering with the holy city of Jerusalem ruining the Arab, the Islamic and Christian identity of the city, and the heartless policy of repression practiced against the Palestinian people,” he said.
Calling for a transition in Syria by supporting the moderate opposition, he faulted the world community for failing to “to take concerted decisions to save the Syrian people from the crimes that take place there, murders, destruction and displacement all of which is made by President Bashar al-Assad.”
Saudi Arabia is keen to provide assistance to Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries through direct aid to campaigns to collect donations for their relief, he said, noting in another part of his speech that his country has received more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees and two million from Yemen and is facilitating free access to education, health care and employment for them.
As for Yemen, the Prince stressed that Saudi Arabia’s intervention there with its Gulf Cooperation Council allies “has received a great international acceptance” and has helped launch a national dialogue.
Turning to Iran, he condemned its support to “terrorist militias' groups” in Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere, as well as it dissemination of sectarian speech.
“The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calls upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to desist from all of the policies of discrimination, racism and sectarianism and to begin to build positive relations with its neighbours on the basis of the principles of good-neighbourliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States,” he said.
He also denounced recent United States congressional action to allow Americans to sue Saudis in connection with the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, as “a serious threat to the sovereign rights,” reaffirmed his country’s priority in fighting extremist speech and ideologies that feed terrorism and pledged full Saudi cooperation with the UN to tackle the refugee crisis.
Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah also referred to regional crises from the Assembly podium, denouncing “the intentional targeting of residential areas, civil and medical facilities, the indiscriminate bombing and dropping of barrel bombs, as well as the use of internationally banned weapons” in Syria.
“Kuwait renews its support of the endeavours of the United Nations, and to the international efforts aiming to reach a political solution in Syria,” he said, also pledging his support for UN efforts in Yemen and Libya, and calling for international cooperation in combatting the “odious phenomenon” of terrorism and beating back ISIL.
The Sheikh called on the UN Security Council to compel Israel to implement resolutions that lead to the Palestinian people’s attaining their own independent state over their own territory, with East Jerusalem as capital, along the Israeli borders that existed before 1967.
“The persistence of the Israeli occupation authority, in its aggressive practices and policies, emanate, more regrettably so, from a firm conviction, that Israel is immune to any international accountability, exempt from any prosecution, and protected from any criticism or condemnation by the international organizations,” he said.