Silvan Shalom cited a number of recent positive developments which signal a “welcome shift in the attitude of this institution towards Israel.” These included the special session to commemorate the Holocaust as well as the election of an Israeli to serve as an Assembly Vice President. “I wish to commend the Secretary-General for his unique contribution to this positive trend,” he said. “Israel’s relations with the UN are better today than they have ever been.”At the same time, he urged further progress, calling on all States to promote a more balanced and constructive UN approach to Israel. “Israel seeks to take its rightful place, as a country with full and equal rights in this institution,” he said. “This is why I have decided to present – for the first time – Israel’s candidacy for membership of the Security Council.”A number of other countries addressing the Assembly’s annual debate this morning spoke of trends towards peace. Carlos Gomes, Junior, the Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, said international support is critical to the success of his country’s political transition, especially in terms of achieving the economic progress needed to reach minimal conditions for governing the country. The Government was determined to work constructively to create the necessary conditions to promote national reconciliation and to practice good neighbourly relations with other countries in the region, he said.Zarifou Ayeva, Foreign Affairs Minister of Togo, said the country had fortunately emerged from its tumultuous period and was currently consolidating peace through the electoral process. The Government of National Unity represented all factions and a dialogue had been opened with all sectors of society with a view to achieving full national reconciliation. He voiced hope that the UN would continue helping governments to become more democratic and accountable to their citizens.Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Al-Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, voiced support for the people of Iraq and confidence that they would achieve peace and prosperity. He also welcomed the Government’s determination to try the leaders of the former Iraqi regime for all the crimes against humanity they perpetrated against the people of Iraq. “The trials should also include the crimes committed against the Kuwaiti people as embodied in the invasion of the State of Kuwait and the killing of Kuwaiti prisoners and third-country nationals,” he said.Mohamed Bedjaoui, Foreign Minister of Algeria, called for the elaboration and completion of a comprehensive global convention against terrorism, but one which will not serve to oppress peoples seeking to exercise their legitimate rights. The aim should be to unite in a common effort to wage a coherent fight against terrorism that leaves no doubt about international will on the issue. At the same time, it will be necessary to clarify that terrorism is not the province of any one religion or civilization.Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé, Foreign Affairs Minister of Spain, said his country was fully committed to the fight against terrorism, and called for the General Assembly to adopt a global strategy to fight the scourge that would include the creation of an international fund to provide assistance to victims. Above all, countries must work to conclude a comprehensive international convention against terrorism before the end of the current Assembly session.Talbak Nazarov, Foreign Affairs Minister of Tajikistan, said the new Peacebuilding Commission should consider the situation in Afghanistan, where the process of national reconciliation is under constant threat. “The Taliban and advocates of Al-Qaida again are raising their heads and making attempts to restore the infrastructure of terror,” he warned. “Their antigovernment actions threaten peace and security both in the country and in the region.” In addition, narcotics production continues to pose a threat. These trends demand an international response, he said.Guatemala’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Briz Abularach, said his country would continue to participate energetically in the efforts to establish the Peacebuilding Commission. “Our own national experience enables us to contribute actively to these efforts,” he said, describing how Guatemala is striving to consolidate peace and promote democracy.Micheline Calmy-Rey, Chief of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Switzerland, welcomed the Summit’s decision to replace the Commission on Human Rights with a Human Rights Council but voiced regret that it was not possible to define working methods. The new Human Rights Council should convene periodically in Geneva and should work in close cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She suggested that Member States work towards defining the Council’s nature and the working methods ahead of the next session of the Commission on Human Rights, which starts next March.Somsavat Lengsavad, Foreign Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, emphasized the importance of revitalizing the General Assembly, which “should continue to play a central role as chief deliberative policy-making and representative organ.” He added that the Assembly should foster high-level policy statements and should consider issues of special political importance. “In order to strengthen the role and authority of the General Assembly, we Member States should stress on the need to fully respect and restore the balance between the principal organs of the UN within their respective purviews,” he said.The Foreign Minister of Niger, Aïchatou Mindaoudou, said that, more than ever before, solidarity and international cooperation have become essential. In the case of Niger, the recent food crisis has prompted a call for international support. Ultimately, durable solutions will be required to provide all people in Niger with food security.Andorra’s Foreign Minister, Juli Minoves-Triquell, stressed the interdependence of today’s world. “Whether we are speeding toward challenges that will take the form of natural or man-made catastrophes, we can be assured that their effects will no longer be contained within national borders,” he said. “We must prepare to respond to them with a strength and resolve that also knows no bounds.” Towards that end, he called for a renewed focus on the potential contribution of the United Nations.Kiribati’s President, Anote Tong, said that for low-lying coral atolls, environmental issues such climate change and sea level rise are, fundamentally, security concerns. “A global and concerted effort, including stronger political commitment, is required to achieve the objectives of the UN Convention on Climate Change,” he said.He voiced appreciation for the support his country has achieved but said that contingency planning remains essential. “We acknowledge the need now to seriously consider the option of having to relocate our peoples when necessary – an option that can only be meaningfully addressed within this forum.”
Adopting a Presidential Statement, the 15-nation Council spotlighted, among other things, cross-border issues, including the large flows of natural resources, migrants and refugees, as well as the activities of armed groups and criminal networks in and around the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).“Solutions to the prevailing situation in the Great Lakes region should come within a regional perspective, by addressing the root causes of conflicts, many of which are regional in nature,” the Council underscored.The Council expressed grave concern over the continued illicit exploitation of natural resources and their trade in the eastern DRC, urging coordinated efforts by the signatory States of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework, regional organizations and the international community to undercut the economic lifelines of armed groups benefitting from those activities.Today’s adoption of the text followed the 21 March Council open debate on the prevention and resolution of conflicts in the Great Lakes region, held under Angola’s presidency for the month.On the security front, the Council reiterated the importance of neutralizing all armed groups in country’s eastern part, particularly the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the various Mai Mai groups, in accordance with resolution 2277 (2016).Noting the announcement of the resumption of joint military operations between the DRC’s Government and the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), the Council called for immediate restart of such activities in earnest to completely neutralize those armed groups.Turning to the political front, the Council urged regional support for initiatives aimed at promoting inclusive dialogue amongst national stakeholders and stressed the importance of enabling the full and free participation of peaceful political parties, civil society and the media in the political process.The Great Lakes region includes Burundi and Rwanda as well as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.While welcoming the credible and peaceful conduct of elections in some States in the region, the Council noted that the recent and ongoing electoral processes in other States raise deep concerns about the risk of instability, human rights and humanitarian law violations and abuses, and further displacement of people.The Council called on States in the region to take steps to ensure that electoral processes promote peace and security through timely, peaceful, inclusive and credible elections.