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European Council President deplores Russia’s ‘web of lies’ used to justify aggression

“This is hybrid warfare. It combines the violence of weapons with the poison of lies,” Mr. Michel stated, describing falsehoods coming from the Kremlin – such as the justifying the war as a preventative measure for an alleged genocide of Russian-speakers in Ukraine.

“It is wrong, and it is filthy,” he said.

More lies

Also, in Russia’s “web of lies” was that Russia’s aggression would be a “special operation” and not a war.

Mr. Michel affirmed however, that it is indeed an “unprovoked, illegal and unjustified” war aimed to forcibly change internationally recognized borders.

He next cited the lie that sanctions against Russia would cause food and fertilizer shortages, pointing out that even before the war, Russia itself drastically reduced its exports of cereals and fertilizers – “favoring the volatility of prices” on the world market. 

Moreover, while Russia then militarily blocked the Black Sea ports, making maritime trade impossible, the European Union (EU) opened “solidarity corridors” to export millions of tons of food from Ukraine.

“In truth, there is a very simple way to end the food crisis: for Russia to stop the war, withdraw from Ukrainian territory and lift the blockade of the ports,” stated the European Council President.

‘War of colonization’

Imperialism and retaliation are the only bases of “this war of colonization” targeting Ukraine, he continued, noting that the aggression has deliberately trampled on international law and the UN Charter.

The threat of nuclear weapons and using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a military base “must stop,” underscored Mr. Michel, throwing the EU’s support behind the International Atomic Emergency’s (IAEA) efforts to restore security in Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

Flagging that the EU choses to respect borders rather than aggression, cooperation rather than threats, and a rules-based order rather than the law of the fittest, he said: “Today, Russia is scary. The Kremlin brought war back to Europe”.

The President then warned against letting its destructive actions jeopardize “our fierce will to act for the common good”. 

Widening cooperation

From COVID-19 repercussions to a declining human development index and extreme weather patterns to the whittling down of women and minorities’ rights, he described multilateral cooperation as “collective intelligence in action…[and] the DNA of the European Union”.

In the spirit of “no master, no student,” Mr. Michel stressed that the EU acts at the UN, the G7 and the G20 and reaches out in strategic partnership with Africa, the African Union, Japan, South Korea, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The President said that he looks forward to giving “new impetus” to EU’s relationship with the Latin American continent and the Gulf countries.

“And we hope that emerging powers, including China, will sincerely participate in collective efforts for peace and development,” he said. 

Right of veto

Noting that a robust multilateral system requires mutual trust, Mr. Michel upheld that the current Security Council is neither inclusive nor representative. 

“The use of the right of veto should be the exception, but it is becoming the rule,” he said advocating for “necessary and urgent,” reform. 

“And when a permanent member of the Security Council unleashes an unprovoked and unjustifiable war, condemned by the General Assembly, his suspension from the Security Council should be automatic”.

Climate neutrality

The senior European Union official stated that leadership is “showing the way, and above all delivering results”. 

“Energy and climate change are two sides of the same coin,” he said.

“Overcoming the energy crisis means reducing the climate threat. Protecting our biodiversity and our oceans means guaranteeing our future. Climate neutrality is our compass”. 

The Council President vowed to campaign at the upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP27) in November to “implement the promises of Paris, and to go beyond” for a fair and equitable transition, reminding that “no country alone can protect our planet”.

 

With help, Iraq’s spirit of hope, forward-looking youths can keep nascent democracy on track, Prime Minister says

“The hope embodied by the people of Iraq, had enabled them to snatch opportunities for life, progress and peace from the clutches of crisis and conflict,” the Prime Minister told leaders gathered in New York for the Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

The people of Iraq had also used that same spirit of hope to fight terrorism and ultimately defeat it on behalf of the entire world. “That task was arduous. Our people made enormous sacrifices, not only to liberate their land from the terrorist gangs of ISIL, but to also keep them from threatening people everywhere,” the Prime Minister explained.

“We succeeded in uprooting this destructive ideology,” he said, paying tribute to the “martyrs of Iraq” who had sacrificed their lives in defense of the values of justice, democracy and human rights. Iraq looked forward to receiving further UN support to reconstruct areas affected and occupied by ISIL terrorists.

Reconstruction of liberated areas

At the same time, he stressed that any potential UN aid to respond to the urgent and necessary humanitarian needs must enhance Iraq’s capability to rebuild destroyed infrastructure in a way that would help our cities and people, including Internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to normal life.

Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi highlighted that the Iraqi Government had developed a comprehensive plan for the reconstruction of those areas that had been under ISIL control, as well as for the rehabilitation of infrastructure and the safe and voluntary return of displaced people, and he expressed profound thanks to donor countries and international organizations for their humanitarian support and assistance.

“From this podium, I reiterate Iraq’s calls for its territories to not be used under the pretext of fighting terrorism or protecting the national security of other countries in a manner that endangers our security and stability,” he stated, called strongly for strengthening cooperative ties and ensuring respect for the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Free and fair elections

Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi went on to say that Iraq was committed to protecting democratic processes and the peoples’ demands to democratically exercise their right, the Iraqi Government has endeavored to establish free and fair elections with the support of the UN, the Security Council and other international organizations that had praised their integrity.

Despite the success of those elections, the political forces could not agree on the the government’s formation, leading to a political impasse. “My Government has called for a serious and transparent dialogue among all political forces and parties to discuss ways out of the current political crisis in an effort by the Government to meet the peoples’ aspirations and hopes,” he explained.

He added that his Government was seeking to build an Iraq that ensured coexistence among all Iraqi people while respecting diversity and ideological and religious pluralism based on the principles of justice and equality. This would be accomplished by ensuring freedom of expression and human rights.

“Iraq is keen to be a source of stability, both regionally and internationally… and mend ties between the region’s countries, which have long suffered from war and crises. The time has come to rebuild the region based on the balanced policy pursued by this Government,” he said.

Rivers drying up, marshes under threat

Mr. Al-Kadhimi Iraq was facing serious challenges due to scarcity of water sources, shifts in the courses of river flows and the building of projects without taking into consideration the effects on water quotas. “Iraq is now the fifth most vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change.”

On top of this, most of the country’s marshes had dried up damaging the livelihoods of hundreds of families living there. These natural preserves were on the UNESCO World Heritage List and their deterioration had sparked internal displacement and a significant decrease in the availability of arable land.

“Iraq calls upon all the region’s countries to enter into a dialogue to resolve these water issues in line with international treaties,” he said, noting at the same time that Iraq was a oil producer and as it was affected by climate change, it would also be affected by measures taken to address the phenomenon regarding reduction in dependence of fossil fuels.

Nevertheless, his Government had worked on a host of projects dealing with clean energy, associated gas extraction and other areas related to the green economy. In all this, Iraq would need help from the international community so that it could mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

In conclusion, he said: “The challenges facing Iraq today are the result of decades of political crises and conflict. We are working to dismantle them, placing our hopes on our young society’s aspiration to defend democracy. Our nascent democracy still has a spirit of courage and hope. It needs the understanding and support of the international community so that we can continue building the modern State, providing service and reconstructing infrastructure destroyed by wars and rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by wars.

Demark rallies wealthy nations to back ‘climate solidarity’, boost financing for hard-hit poor countries

The industrialized world must acknowledge its responsibility to deliver on the climate crisis “and we must listen to those affected the most by climate-induced damages,” Foreign Minister Kofod said in his early evening address to the UN General Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

While the most pressing challenges of our time are being felt and even exacerbated all over the planet, particularly as climate-induced disasters impact food supplies and increase inequalities, “there is no doubt that they are being most strongly felt by the poorest and most vulnerable among us,” he stated.

“Developing countries are hardest and most unjustly hit,” continued Mr. Kofod, pointing to the lingering fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, “which is still inflicting human and economic wounds in societies of the global South, and calling for more concerted action to address “both the problems at hand and the fundamental imbalances in the world we share, and we must do it now.”

The future hinges on solidarity

“None of us can steer through pandemics or counter the climate crisis alone. Nor should we. It should be clear that the future we share depends on solidarity and overcoming the fault lines that increasingly drive us apart,” he said, so, solidarity is an investment in prosperity, security and peace for all.

Noting that Denmark was one of the few Member States to live up to the UN-defined target of 0.7 per cent of its GDP for official development assistance (ODA) [which specifically targets support to the economic development and welfare of developing countries], he said another focus of such efforts should be to ensure “climate solidarity”.

Indeed, even as Demark has worked to reduce its own footprint, Foreign Minister Kofod said his country had undertaken major global commitments on climate adaptation and climate financing, including by scaling up grant-based finance to some $500 million a year by 2023, 60 per cent of which would be dedicated to adaptation in poor and vulnerable countries.

“If a small country like Demark can do this, the G20 also can,” he said urging other countries to follow suit. Also citing the need to “step up and listen to those impacted by climate induced damages,” he said that just this week, Denmark had followed up with several new initiatives for the world’s hardest-hit and poorest countries, referring to his Government’s pledge to pay for “loss and damage” in other countries affected by increasing cases of extreme weather events.

Reject ‘might makes right disorder’

On wider global affairs, he said that while listening to the speeches that had been made thus far this week, it was clear that the UN Charter continues to inspire and fill us with hope for a better future.

Yet the world was in crisis in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine some six months ago. Despite Russia’s “vicious military onslaught…the bravery of the Ukrainian people in the face of brutality has been truly awe-inspiring,” he said.

All this week, Member States had made their views known – from fears of this being the start of a new Cod War to despair over food shortages and price spikes in fuel. But in all this…let’s be clear: these consequences are due to Russia’s aggression, not international sanctions,” Foreign Minister Kofod said.

“President Putin’s blatant imperial ambitions and horrifying allusions to the use of nuclear weapons are unprecedented threats against not only Europe, but international peace and security, and we are extremely concerned,” he said, rallying Member States to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence.

“We appeal to all Member States to stand firmly on the side of the UN Charter and fight back against an ‘international disorder’ where might makes right,” he stated.

Barbados Prime Minister Mottley calls for overhaul of unfair, outdated global finance system

During her speech, Ms. Mottley spoke extensively about the need to reform the ageing global financial architecture to better reflect today’s realities, for instance making it easier for climate-stricken countries to access capital.

Indeed, the Bretton Woods Agreement that gave rise to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) “no longer serve the purpose in the 21st century that they served in the 20th century,” she said.

She called for a global compact establishing that financing for development cannot be short term, but instead should be at least a 30-year loan.

“The world recognized this when allowed Britain to participate in the refinance of its World War I bonds which were only paid eight years ago, 100 years after World War I started,” she said by an example.

She also argued that Germany was allowed to cap its debt payments at the equivalent of 5 per cent of its exports, under the premise that the “cataclysm” experience of a war would not allow them to finance reconstruction while repaying debts incurred during the war.

“We are no different, we have incurred debts for COVID-19, for climate, and now to fight this difficult moment of the inflation and [supply crisis]. Why [must the] developing world find money in 7 to 10 years when others had the benefit of longer terms to repay their [loans]?”, she asked the General Assembly.

Loss and damage

Ms. Mottley also referred to the issue of loss and damage and praised Denmark for becoming the first central Government in a developed country to propose a fund devoted to this purpose, which in practical terms would directly help nations at the frontline of climate crisis.

“Any attempt to deny that the climate crisis has man-made origins is an attempt to delude ourselves and to admit that we want to be accomplices in the continuing death and loss of damage that ensues to the people who are the victims of it”, she said.

The Prime Minister asked countries to take responsibility because otherwise, the world is not going to see any change.

“The commitments of loss and damage are absolutely critical if we are to make serious progress in saving our world… the trust that is needed to propel us to fight the great causes of our time will not be won by breaching promises,” she said.

She also highlighted that while small States like Barbados have made net zero commitments, the current state of global affairs, including Atlantic hurricanes, the war in Ukraine, and the absence of financing, does not allow them to stop accessing their natural gas resources right now.

UN Reform and fairness

The Barbados leader also referred to the United States President’s words earlier this week and supported a reform of the Security Council.

“We call an echo for that, but we go further. We believe that a Security Council that retains the power of veto in the hands of a few, will still lead us to war as we have seen this year, and therefore the reform cannot simply be in its composition but also [must include] the removal of that veto,” she said.

Ms. Mottley also called for the reform of the G20 and G7 groups, arguing that Barbados “cannot accept” these “informal committees of governance” when they have no African-descent representation and exclude 1.5 billion people in the world.

“How could it be expected to reflect fairness and transparency in its decision making?”, she underscored.

She argued that to be able to move from “possibilities” to “realities” it is essential to embrace a transparency framework that would allow the people who are losing faith in institutions that fairness does mean something.

“Fairness and togetherness are needed to bring about peace, love and prosperity in this world. And this is not romanticism these are hard realities that simply require decisions,” she explained.

Speak the truth

Finally, the Prime Minister said that world leaders must have mature conversations and speak to their people instead of relying on headlines and soundbites, to avoid a disconnect between the government and the governed.

“With those commitments, we can make a difference in this world and let us do so recognizing that a world that reflects an imperialistic order, hypocrisy and lack of transparency will not achieve that mission, but one that gives us freedom transparency and levelled playing field will allow for a difference,” she concluded.

South Sudan: Vice-President highlights commitments and challenges to peace

The Revitalized Peace Agreement, signed by the Government and opposition groups four years ago, ended years of conflict in the world’s youngest nation, independent since July 2011. 

“Owing to relative peace, the internally displaced and the refugees have been voluntarily returning home, although more formal reintegration remains a challenge due to limited resources,” said Mr. Abdelbagi. 

Roadmap and challenges 

Furthermore, the parties have agreed on a roadmap to complete the remaining tasks under the agreement, which will pave the way for elections when the transitional period ends in 2025. 

The Vice-President added that the command structure of the National Unified Forces has also been established, describing the development as “a major leap” towards their transformation and regularization. 

However, implementation of the peace deal is facing several challenges, “and sanctions imposed by international partners on individuals and entities are disservice to this course,” he said. 

Revise targeted sanctions 

“We are calling upon the international community, and the UN in particular, to revise individual and targeted sanctions, arms embargo imposed on South Sudan, to enable successful completion of the remaining provisions of the peace agreement outlined in the New Roadmap.” 

Floods and food insecurity 

Mr. Abdelbagi also reported on other obstacles South Sudan is facing. Up to 80 per cent of the country has been affected by floods for the past three years, making it evident that “climate change is real”. 

To mitigate the effects on both lives and livelihoods, the authorities are donating $10 million to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to assist displaced communities.  

“However, we need the support of the international community to reach all the flood and drought-affected areas and communities,” he said. 

The Government also conducted an analysis earlier this year, which revealed that an estimated 6.8 million people, more than half the population, are facing food insecurity, with some 2.37 million at emergency level. 

“The severe food insecurity is worsened by combinations of shocks including flooding, prolonged draught, physical insecurity, and the effects of COVID-19,” he said. 

COVID-19 impacts 

Addressing the pandemic, Mr. Abdelbagi reported that South Sudan has been able to contain coronavirus spread “through thoughtful and targeted actions”.  The result has been very low morbidity and fatality rates. 

As of 9 May, only 17,513 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 138 deaths, have been reported since the start of the pandemic, and vaccine coverage stands at   45 per cent among adults. 

“Despite this positive health news, the pandemic has had negative effects on the economy, starting with dramatic declines in domestic production and revenue collection, followed by a rising cost of living,” he said. 

“These economic consequences are far-reaching, severely weakening, for example, human capital formation, especially in education, as the lockdown deprived school-age children of learning opportunities.” 

Promoting peace through mediation 

Mr. Abdelbagi also highlighted South Sudan’s efforts to promote peace and stability, both in the region and beyond. 

The country successfully mediated the armed conflict in neighboring Sudan, which resulted in the signing of a peace agreement in 2020.  

“South Sudan stands ready to mediate the current conflict between the army and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) in Sudan so that Sudan can finally enjoy lasting peace,” he said. 

Recently, the authorities offered to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia in their disagreement over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and in other situations that include the Tigray conflict. 

“By participating in bringing regional peace and stability, South Sudan has demonstrated its ability as a reliable partner in quest for regional and international peace and security,” he said. 

“Further, the Republic of South Sudan is contributing one battalion of peacekeeping forces to be part of the East African Forces to bring peace in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Turning to the war in Ukraine, Mr. Agany pointed to how it has devastated lives in the country and affected the global economy. 

“From the moral point of view, the South Sudan Government is calling on Russia and Ukraine to cease all forms of hostilities and resolve the dispute through diplomatic and constructive dialogue to avert further consequences.” 

‘The story of 2022 is freedom fighting back’ against aggression, UK Prime Minister Truss says in UN speech

“We must fight to defend the ideals of the UN and deliver on them,” Ms. Truss said Tuesday evening in her first address to the Assembly’s high-level debate since becoming Prime Minister. She proposed a blueprint that would open a new era in the UK and, more broadly, heal the “fracturing principles that have defined our lives since the dark days of the Second World War.”

Indeed, a new chapter was beginning in the United Kingdom, just a few days after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, “the rock on which modern Britain was built”. Ms. Truss said that she hoped that the new era under King Charles III would be based on new partnerships “and a commitment to hope and progress”.

Democracy vs Autocracy

“This is a divisive moment in the history of this Organization…and in the history of freedom,” said Ms. Truss, extolling the principles of democracy, which alone could ensure economic development and the realization of citizens’ aspirations. Autocracies, however, “sow the seeds of their own demise” by stifling the aspirations and creativity that are essential for long-term growth.

The Prime Minister stressed that her first long-term goal for the UK would be achieving annual economic growth of 2. 5 per cent to create quality jobs and fund public services. She also advocated for greater energy resilience, and less dependence on autocratic regimes for fuel and food supplies, thus ensuring that citizens “…will not be held hostage by those who seek to weaponize the global economy.”

These and other efforts she planned to undertake would be part of her country’s response to what she saw as “a real struggle going on in the world between democracies and autocracies. We must do this together so that we can build new partnerships around the work of deepening links with fellow democracies and building new economic and security ties.”

‘Strength of collective purpose’

“The international response to [the war in] Ukraine has shown how we can deliver diplomatic action and rapid military support. The strength of collective purpose that has made things happen for Ukraine must be used in a more concerted way to push back against autocratic regimes,” the Prime Minister said, adding by example that if an economy is being targeted by an aggressive regime, “we should move to support them, acting as a sort of ‘economic NATO’. This is how we will build resilience.”

She went on to say that “no one is threatening Russia, yet as we meet, barbarous weapons are being used to kill people”; women were being raped and families were being torn apart. “Putin is trying to claim the mantle of democracy for a regime without human rights or freedoms,” she said, denouncing the Russian leader’s recent pronouncements as a “desperate attempt to justify catastrophic failures…with yet more bogus claims and saber-rattling threats”.

However, the international alliance against Russia’s aggression was strong, because, among other reasons, “Ukraine is not only defending its values but the security and values of the whole world.” Prime Minister Truss said, “now is the time to act – on all fronts” to shore up this collective strength of purpose, and for its part, the United Kingdom would devote three per cent of its GDP to defense by 2030.    

“In the face of rising aggression, we have shown we have the power to act and the resolve to see it through. But this must not be a one-off. This must be a new era in which we commit to ourselves, our citizens, and this institution that we will do whatever it takes to deliver for our people and defend our values,” Ms. Truss stated.

In conclusion, she said: “The story of 2022 could have been that an authoritarian State rolling its tanks over the border of a peaceful neighbour and subjugating its people. Instead, it is the story of freedom fighting back.”

As global economic crises ‘pile up’, Ghanaian leader says it's time for urgent attention

President Akufo-Addo’s address to the Assembly’s 77th annual high-level debate centered largely on the issue of global economic challenges and the need of performative solutions for the African economies.

The global economic crisis

Recalling that COVID-19 had pushed Africa into the worst recession for half a century, he said: “The World Bank observed, last Thursday, that the global economy was enduring its steepest slowdown since 1970. Two years ago, our world came to a thundering halt, as we cowered from a health pandemic from an unknown, malicious virus, coupled with a devastating global economic pandemic. High budget deficits were no longer a concern of only developing nations.”

Referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, that aggravated an already difficult situation, he added, “Every bullet, every bomb, every shell that hits a target in Ukraine, hits our pockets and our economies in Africa.”  

Several African countries had inflation rates surging three to four times higher than what they were just two years ago. Ghana was experiencing the highest inflation for 21 years, he stated.

President Akufo-Addo highlighted that the international financial architecture was skewed significantly against developing and emerging economies like Ghana. He noted that “the tag of Africa as an investment risk is little more than, in substance, a self-fulfilling prophecy created by the prejudice of the international money market, which denies us access to cheaper borrowing, pushing us deeper into debts”, thus underscoring the necessity for reform of the system.

A watershed moment, indeed

The Ghanaian President stated: “We do not have the luxury of being able to pick and choose which big problem to solve. None of them can wait; the economic turbulence requires urgent and immediate solution; the turmoil and insecurity in many parts of the world require urgent attention; and so does the need to tackle the problems posed by climate change.”

He also referred to the security situation in the area of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and expressed disappointment over the fact that all of Ghana’s neighbors had suffered terrorist attacks, and some have lost territorial space to the invading forces. At the same time, he determined to reverse these unfortunate developments.

‘United States of Africa’

Remembering Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, who would have been 113 years old today, he recalled driving force of De Nkrumah’s political career, which was to contribute to the birth of a united Africa, or a ‘United States of Africa’.

President Akufo-Addo told the world leaders that “Africa is ready for business. Africa needs you and you need Africa. You need Africa because Africa is busily building the world’s largest single market of 1.3 billion people.” He went on to add that Africa is the new frontier for manufacturing, for technology, for food production.

He concluded by calling on the investor community to support the roll-out of Africa’s lucrative agro-industry, and for the community to see agrobusiness in Africa, more of an opportunity, rather than the perceived, exaggerated risk which according to him has been false but the dominant narrative.

Ukrainian President outlines peace formula that punishes aggression, restores security

“A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment,” he said in a pre-recorded message to world leaders.  

“The crime was committed against our State borders. The crime was committed against the lives of our people. The crime was committed against the dignity of our women and men. The crime was committed against the values that make you and me a community of the United Nations.” 

Five-point plan 

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, Heads of State and Government are once again back in New York for their annual debate. 

Last week, UN Member States met to vote on allowing Mr. Zelenskyy to deliver his speech via video instead of in-person. 

Speaking in English, the President outlined a peace formula that punishes aggression, protects life, restores security and territorial integrity, guarantees security, and highlights the importance of determination. 

He stressed that it does not include neutrality.   

“Those who speak of neutrality, when human values and peace are under attack, mean something else,” he said. “They sympathize only for protocol. And that is why they pretend to protect someone, but in reality, they protect only their vested interests.” 

Special tribunal and sanctions 

President Zelenskyy said not only can the peace formula work for Ukraine, “but for anyone who may find themselves in similar circumstances as we did.” 

Punishment for the crime of aggression includes implementing sanctions, such as trade and travel bans. 

“A Special Tribunal should be created to punish Russia for the crime of aggression against our State. This will become a signal to all ‘would-be’ aggressors, that they must value peace or be brought to responsibility by the world,” he said. 

“We have prepared precise steps to establish such a Tribunal. They will be presented to all States. Ukraine will appeal to the UN General Assembly to support an international compensation mechanism.” 

Appeal for weapons 

On protection, the President referred to Ukrainian cities such as Izyum and Bucha, where hundreds of bodies were discovered. 

“The only thing that differs the mass burial in Izyum from what the world saw in Bucha is, in fact, the burial. The Russian army was in Izyum for a longer time, and therefore the bodies of the killed people were buried, and not scattered on the streets,” he said. 

Protecting citizens and liberating territory requires weapons, and Mr. Zelenskyy appealed for support. 

“For us, this is a war for life,” he said. “That is why we need defense support – weapons, military equipment and shells. Offensive weapons, a long-range one is enough to liberate our land, and defensive systems, above all, air defense. And we need financial support – to keep internal stability and fulfill social obligations to our people.” 

Undermining global safety 

Turning to his third point of restoring security and territorial integrity, Mr. Zelenskyy spoke of how the war has undermined global safety. It has affected food and energy security, and even maritime and radiation safety, among other areas. 

The President thanked the UN Secretary-General for his engagement in getting Ukrainian agricultural products back onto international markets, with nearly 30 countries so far benefiting.  

“We have to increase the supply by sea, both under market conditions and within the UN (World) Food Programme, for which Ukraine is always a reliable partner,” he said. 

“Despite all the difficulties caused by the war, we decided to provide humanitarian aid to Ethiopia and Somalia, so we will send them an additional amount of our wheat.” 

Against ‘energy blackmailing’ 

However, Mr. Zelenskyy acknowledged that security is more difficult, pointing to a missile attack at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant on the eve of the General Assembly.   

He also recalled the situation at the embattled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant “which Russia has turned into a target”, adding “and that makes all of you a target.” 

To counter the global cost-of-living crisis, the President called for removing “Russian energy blackmailing”, which he identified as the main factor behind price turbulence. 

“It is necessary to cap the prices at which Russia exports its energy resources. It is necessary to make Russian oil and gas just ordinary goods again,” he said. 

“Currently, oil and gas are Russia’s energy weapons. And that is why it manipulates the markets so that electricity, gas, petrol and diesel become the privilege of few instead of being a common good available to all.” 

Mr. Zelenskyy also said the international community “must finally recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism” and warned that “when one country tries to steal the territory of another State, it puts all world nations under attack.” 

Security upgrades 

The peace formula includes proposals for upgrades to the “security architecture” through  legally binding multilateral and bilateral treaties.  The plans are already being presented to partners.  

“These are the conditions for the guarantors to act, and the timeline for their actions to bring results – results on land, at sea and in the air; in diplomacy and politics, in economy and finance, in providing weapons and intelligence.” 

President Zelenskyy concluded by thanking the 101 countries out of the 193 UN Member States who voted in favour of allowing him to deliver the video address .

He noted that only seven countries voted against the measure:  Belarus, Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Russia, and Syria. 

“If this coalition is against our determination, then I congratulate you all,” he said. “Because this means that peace will prevail over any aggression, and that there is no obstacle for us to implement the peace formula.”  

Central African Republic President calls for protecting the environment

“More than ever, the question of security, peace, the environment, and health are entering a phase which is critical. However, the warning signs are being ignored in favor of economic, geopolitical and geostrategic interests,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

The General Assembly theme this year is A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.

Honour your commitments

For Mr. Touadéra, protection of the environment is among the interlocking challenges that countries must overcome.

“It is time for the biggest polluters to honour their commitments, in particular the implementation of the Paris Agreement, as well as international solidarity for climate justice with respect to the most vulnerable populations,” he stated.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how global public health “is an imperative for all nations, without exception”.

‘Paradigm shift’ in health

The President said the CAR has welcomed “the paradigm shift” underway in the health sector, and the unprecedented momentum of solidarity accompanying it, including access to vaccines for polio, COVID-19, and soon, malaria.

He reported that the country has achieved polio-free status, while 50 per cent of the target population has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I commend and encourage the health emergency preparedness initiative implemented by the World Health Organization (WHO),” he continued. “The

Central African Republic is proud to be the instigator of it, and to be the first pilot country which is helping to tangibly improve our ability to manage epidemics.”

Development at risk

However, the national “march towards development” has been slowed by serious security and public health crises, which have been exacerbated by persistent lack of international financial support. This has resulted in disruptions in agriculture, forestry, and mining.

“As a fragile State facing food insecurity and a glaring shortage of material and human resources, the Central African Republic continues to make enormous sacrifices to improve its macroeconomic management and its fiscal governance,” he said.

“With the support of its partners, my country has been able to implement ambitious reforms to strengthen the mobilisation of revenues and optimize public spending.”

The CAR expects that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will re-establish the extended credit facility, which had been suspended. The move will help boost domestic resources and allow for the digitalization of small tax revenue collection.

Cryptocurrency pioneer

Yet, solutions are still needed to address other challenges, such as developing a resilient and diversified economy, and supporting the education system.

He reported that the CAR was the first country in Africa to adopt Bitcoin as a reference currency and digital payment system, and the first in the world to unanimously adopt a law regulating cryptocurrencies.

“This ambitious and innovative initiative represents an enormous opportunity to reposition the economy to improve prospects and to change the destiny of the people of the Central African Republic at this time when we need to open up to new horizons and solutions that go beyond what is conventional,” he said.

Restoring State authority

Mr. Touadéra added that the CAR has also undertaken several bold reforms and initiatives, with support from international partners, to strengthen the rule of law and restore State authority across the country’s territory.

Furthermore, “courageous measures” by the government to combat impunity, along with the implementation of a February 2019 peace agreement and other actions, have helped to reduce tensions and build confidence.

He added that the CAR abolished the death penalty in June of this year. A law on countering the trafficking of persons, and a child protection code, were adopted in August.

Arms embargo

The President also addressed the UN Security Council resolution passed in July that eased the arms embargo on his country. Resolution 2648 also condemned armed group attacks against civilians.

“I also noted with satisfaction, the Council’s position against transnational trafficking networks, which continue to supply armed groups with weapons of all sorts. I welcome the significant progress which allowed for a substantial lifting of the arms embargo imposed on our defense and security forces,” he said.

“I would like to pass on the gratitude of the people of the Central African Republic to all friendly and fraternal countries which firmly support our request for a complete and total lifting of the embargo.”

However, Mr. Touadéra said he deplored “the maneuvering which aims to legitimize armed groups and insidiously to maintain the embargo.”

DR Congo President denounces ‘aggression’ by Rwanda, calls on UN to support African-led mediation

“Peace and security for all, controlling climate change, relaunching the global economy post-COVID economic recovery; combatting poverty and promoting collective well-being” are today’s most pressing challenges, he said. 

Overcoming them will require working in greater concert, with more cooperation and solidarity between States and nations, the DRC leader said in his adress to the opening of the UN General Assembly’s annual high-level debate. 

Terrorism 

Stressing that international peace and security remains the UN’s primary objective, he said that “neither indifference nor impetus on its part” are acceptable “in the face of any threats to international peace and security”.  

At present, this question is “crystalizing around the fight against terrorism as well as calming hotbeds of tension” in Europe and in Africa, he continued. 

“Terrorism has spared no continent,” said Mr. Tshilombo, adding that having metastasized in Africa, the continent is paying a heavy price.  

He noted that in the name of religious fundamentalism terrorists are barbarically killing innocent people in the East, West, Centre and South of the continent. 

And while remarkable progress has been made in the Middle East to combat the scourge, it is far from being eliminated.  

As a DRC is victim of terrorism, despite its membership in the Global Coalition against the Islamic State, the President called upon the UN to become actively involved in implementing the recommendations of Coalition and the Aqaba process.  

“Statements of intention and proclamations of faith without any vigorous collective action on the ground we never be enough to eradicate terrorism,” he said. 

Security crisis 

The President argued that the DRC has been a victim of a security crisis that has lasted more than 20 years aggression. 

“Despite tireless international efforts a massive UN military presence in the DRC and diplomatic support for 23 years, this security problem continues to aggrieve my country,” he said. 

To eradicate insecurity once and for all and restore lasting peace, and stability in the country’s east, several agreements were signed with armed groups and neighbouring countries along with the creation of national and international mechanisms, but he lamented that a settlement lasted only a few months.  

“Very quickly the architecture of those prospects cracked, and the building collapsed,” he said. 

Rwandan ‘agression’

The Head of State drew attention to attacks from neighbouring Rwanda along with what he saw as that country’s support of armed terrorist groups that are ravaging the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

In defiance of international law, the UN Charter and the Constitutive Act of the African Union, he said that Rwanda, on 23 March, not only launched a direct military incursion in North Kivu but had also sprovided ”massive” support to the M23 armed terrorist group in occupying localities there. 

“The M23 with the support of the Rwandan army even shot down a MONUSCO helicopter and killed eight blue helmets…committing a war crime,” he said, referring to the UN peace and stabilization mission in the country. 

Mr. Tshilombo said that he would continue to “tirelessly denounced” the aggression. 

He went on to call for increasing pressure on Rwanda and the M23 so that they respect the positions taken by international organizations. Furthermore, he said there must be broad support for the continuation of the Nairobi peace process, the Luanda DRC-Rwanda talks and the deployment of the East African regional force .

In that context, he also urged the intenational commnity to support and encourage the former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and the current President of Angola, João Lourenço, Mediators of the East African Community EAC) and the African Union in the security crisis in the DRC, to continue their good offices.

Question of image 

He told the Assembly that that Rwanda’s responsibility along with that of its allies, the M23, have been documented in reports by UN-mandated experts and the expanded joint verification mission of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, international humanitarian non-governmental organizations and human rights organization. 

But, to dispel any doubts and put an end to the denials of Rwandan authorities on the subject, the DRC’s most senior official asked the Security Council President to officially distribute to its members, the latest UN report on the subject.  

“It is a question of the very image and credibility of our Organization,” he said. 

To proceed otherwise would encourage Rwanda to continue its aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the DRC, he warned, adding that it would also further fuel the Congolese people’s legitimate suspicion surrounding the UN’s impartiality as well as the complicity of some of its members in these crimes. 

President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic Republic of the Congo addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-seventh session.

UN Photo/Cia Pak
President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic Republic of the Congo addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-seventh session.

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