Speaking at the 69th UN General Assembly's (UNGA) General Debate, on its third day, Heads of State and Government continued highlighting their priorities for the post-2015 development agenda, including on countries in special situations.
Speakers also discussed global challenges such as security, terrorism, UN reform, climate change and sustainable energy.
26 September 2014: Speaking at the 69th UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) General Debate, on its third day, Heads of State and Government continued highlighting their priorities for the post-2015 development agenda, including on countries in special situations. Speakers also discussed global challenges such as security, terrorism, UN reform, climate change and sustainable energy.
Many speakers described their countries’ progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including Hifikepunye Pohamba, President, Namibia, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, President, El Salvador, Michel Joseph Martelly, President, Haiti, Charles Angelo Savarin, President, Dominica, Ikililou Dhoinine, President, the Comoros, Alpha Condé, President, Guinea, Alassane Ouattara, President, Cote d’Ivoire, Abdulaziz Kamilov, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Uzbekistan, and Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago.
Donald Rabindranauth Ramotar, President, Guyana, said MDG gains have not been not uniform across countries and regions. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President, the Republic of Congo, said there were “gaps” in initial MDG formulation. Nebojša Radmanović, Member of the Presidency, Bosnia and Herzegovina, observed that his country was not in the same starting position as other countries when the MDGs were adopted, underscoring the challenges of achieving the MDGs and sustainable development in situations of economic crisis and war.
Several speakers highlighted areas for further attention and action, while others said the unfinished business of the MDGs must be carried forward into the post-2015 development agenda. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister, Pakistan, called for going beyond the MDGs to eliminate conflict and violence and reduce inequality within and among nations. Pohamba said Namibia’s MDG achievements resulted in a strong foundation on which to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Speakers highlighted additional issues to address in the post-2015 agenda, including: sustainable economic growth and unemployment; education; environmental protection and sustainability; gender equality and women’s empowerment; inequality; and peace and security. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister, Malta, and Cerén suggested addressing migration. Cerén also said the goals and objectives should contribute to personal fulfillment and the right to the pursuit of happiness. Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister, Luxembourg, said the post-2015 agenda must, inter alia, address governance, human rights, the rule of law and sustainable consumption and production (SCP). Mohammed Fuad Masum, President, Iraq, said the question of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations does not occupy sufficient space in Open Working Group’s (OWG) Outcome Document, suggesting it could have included its causes and ways to address it.
Several stressed the importance of ensuring means of implementation (MOI) for the post-2015 agenda, including Condé. Harry Kalaba, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Zambia, said unless the MOI are adequately covered with new investment flows, the world risks “rendering this noble effort into a futile exercise.” Pohamba called for political will, strong partnerships, and effective mobilization of public and private resources at domestic and international levels. Persad-Bissessar highlighted the report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF), which she said concludes that current financing and investment patterns will not deliver sustainable development, and urged reform of international financial institutions, among other actions.
Some expressed disappointment over failure to meet the goal on official development assistance (ODA), including Ramotar and Christopher J. Loeak, President, the Marshall Islands. Loeak also applauded the nations that have pledged specific amounts. Cerén urged amending the existing financial architecture, and reaffirmed the Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Central American Integration System (SICA), which stresses that funding for development should be based on the priorities set by countries, and make use of innovative financing mechanisms. Bettel said Luxembourg’s development assistance has been 1% of its gross national income (GNI) since 2009 and it is committed to maintaining this level.
Several African countries highlighted the Common African Position (CAP), including Condé, Pohamba, and Nguesso. They urged its full integration into the post-2015 agenda. Alassane Ouattara, President, Cote d’Ivoire, stressed the post-2015 agenda must pay special attention to the needs of developing countries, particularly Africa.
Small island developing States (SIDS), landlocked developing states (LLDCs) and others said the post-2015 agenda must be flexible enough to address the needs of vulnerable countries and those in “special situations.” Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister, Samoa, said the implementation and monitoring of the post-2015 framework should not be “one size fits all,” recalling that the MDGs needed “much tailoring” before the global targets were relevant for SIDS. Persad-Bissessar described how Trinidad and Tobago has modified some MDGs to meet its national circumstances.
Malielegaoi, Loeak, Dhoinine and Persad-Bissessar called for implementation of the ‘Samoa Pathway’ in the post-2015 framework and turning commitments into action. Anote Tong, President, Kiribati, described the Samoa Pathway as a clear blueprint for how SIDS want to move forward on sustainable development. Savarin expressed hope that the document will create new momentum to address implementation gaps that challenge SIDS’ sustainable development efforts. Malielegaoi said the document spells out the economic and political realities of SIDS, and requests UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to undertake a comprehensive review of how the UN system supports SIDS, saying such a review offers an opportunity to ensure the UN is “fit for purpose” when it comes to support for SIDS. He also underscored the importance of coordination among intergovernmental organizations rather than separate policies and implementation arrangements for the same purpose.
Erlan A. Idrissov, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kazakhstan, Sushil Koirala, Prime Minister, Nepal, and Kalaba highlighted the upcoming Second UN Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), which they hope will produce a new road map for LLDCs. Idrissov emphasized improving infrastructure and expanding transit options as a priority for LLDCs. Koirala urged, inter alia: addressing LDCs’ special needs; supporting LDCs with enhanced resources for inclusive development; fulfilling all commitments made to support LDCs, especially by donors; and implementation of duty free and quota free market access for LDCs’ products.
Ramotar called for adding a vulnerability index to assess countries’ needs, expressing concern over the graduation of some countries based on a metric of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, which he said ignores the need to build and rebuild infrastructure to strengthen resilience. Tong questioned the logic of graduating SIDS from the LDC category, underscoring their vulnerable characteristics.
Pacific SIDS also discussed oceans within the context of climate change and sustainable development. Tong said Kiribati’s vision for sustainable development hinges on the conservation and sustainable management of marine and ocean resources and the blue economy. He described the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, which covers 11% of his country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and is the size of California, saying it will be closed to all commercial fishing and monitored through a trust fund. This is a major but necessary sacrifice for long-term ocean health and sustaining fish stocks for global food security, he said. Loeak urged stopping illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and restructuring the nature of private and public partnerships in fisheries with an equitable partnership.
Noting the importance of transboundary rivers for Central Asia’s well-being, Kamilov expressed concern over large dam infrastructure projects and said reasonable use of water resources of transboundary rivers in Central Asia must be resolved with the framework of relevant UN conventions on international watercourses and the framework of international law.
Carlos Raúl Morales, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Guatemala, said his country will work to implement the recommendations from the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) so the world recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples as a basic platform of the international architecture of human rights. [General Debate, 26 September] [UN Press Release on SIDS Statements] [UN Press Release on African Statements] [UN Press Release on Central Asian Statements]