Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cuba, Ambassador Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, under item “Annual Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization”. Plenary of the General Assembly, Monday, 6 October 2008.
I would like to thank the Secretary-General for the presentation of his Annual Report.
In the Report it is very well affirmed that, “Development should not be the privilege of a handful but a right for all.” Development must have a predominant place in the agenda of the United Nations. Therefore, we welcome the commitment of the Secretary-General to give special priority to this issue and to strengthen the role of the United Nations in its promotion, acknowledging the need to scale up financing as one of the keys to achieve real progress.
We consider the proposal on strengthening the development pillar of the Secretariat to be important. The same is being carefully studied by our country and we will actively and constructively participate in the debates on this matter. We must ensure that the Organization has the necessary tools to meet the expectations of the Member States, especially those of the developing countries.
In general, we agree with the overview presented in the Memory on the complex situation in the face of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly amid the difficult current international situation, marked by the convergence of various interrelated crisis.
Let us say it very clearly; the Millennium Development Goals will not be met. They shall not be met, not because the goals outlined had been too ambitious. On the contrary, they are very timid and insufficient.
The Goals will not be met because the current international order is totally unjust and unsustainable; because the current economic, commercial and financial order marginalizes and sacrifices the 80% of the world population, to the wastefulness of a very small minority.
The Millennium Development Goals will continue to be an unattainable dream for the great majority because more than 100 countries in the South do not have, nor will they have, 150 billion dollars needed to achieve them, which is hardly 10 % of the more than the trillion dollars used today for military expenditures.
Despite the fact that the Memory mentions other development goals internationally agreed, it does not mention concrete proposals on how the Organization should act to face key problems, such as the lasting solution to external debt crisis, the reform of the international financial architecture and other problems which are part of a more comprehensive and diverse development agenda.
The establishment of an international order based on solidarity, social justice, equity and respect for the rights of the peoples and of each and every human being is more urgent than ever before. We do not need more empty rhetoric and promises. The question is to know if the ones accountable for the chaotic and unequal world we live in today, are willing to relinquish, at least, part of their privileges and their wastefulness.
We welcome that, in the Memory, climate change is acknowledged as one of the main issues of the Organization. This is particularly significant in the face of the important negotiation process ahead, from which we expect much more ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gases worldwide.
The “dangerous carbon habit”, referred to in the Memory, has been identified by the Member States in an important consensus reflected in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which strongly expresses the need to change unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, mainly those promoted by developed countries. This is a sine qua non for moving forward in the battle to free the world from the environmental crisis.
Massive consumerist waste in industrialized countries jeopardizes the survival of the human race. Phenomena such as global warming, the danger of sea level rise, the indiscriminate cutting of forests, the attempt to use food as fuel to be squandered in US and Europe’s cars, the depletion of fossil fuels and the irrational use of the sources of water, among others, pose dire threats to life.
We must act, and act fast, and the developed countries, responsible for 76% of greenhouse gas emissions, have the moral obligation and the main historical responsibility.
We uphold both the need for the existence of the United Nations and its in-depth reform and democratization. But it must be done respecting its Charter, and not by redrafting it or distorting its purposes and principles.
The main challenge that we face is to reform the United Nations so that it serves the interests of all nations by equal. We cannot allow the reform to fail and our Organization to become an instrument to the interests and whims of a few rich and powerful countries.
The Memory deals with the controversial topic of the Responsibility to Protect, while many important questions and legitimate concerns on this concept remain without the proper response. It is the duty of the General Assembly to give transparent and deep consideration to this question and to take the relevant decisions.
Some have the intention to implement the concept even before it is clearly defined. Cuba opposes such intentions, since they would open up the possibility to turn the Responsibility to Protect into an easily manipulable instrument to attempt against the sacred principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of the States.
We have to strengthen the General Assembly’s leading role, the only UN organ where there is no place for hegemonies, where we all have voice and vote, and where the obsolete right to veto does not exist.
On the other hand, we will not be able to talk about a true reform of this Organization until a real reform of the Security Council takes place. That is why, Cuba welcomes the decision to start soon an intergovernmental negotiation process on the reform of the Security Council, in the framework of the General Assembly.
We hope this process allows us to make concrete progress as soon as possible. We urgently need a truly an equitable and representative Security Council, which acts on behalf of all and within the mandate given to it by the Charter, without encroaching, as it is increasingly doing, on the functions and prerogatives of other bodies of the system.
The political manipulation of human rights, selectivity, partiality and double-standards in the handling of this matter by the most powerful countries must cease. We have the sacred duty to protect and promote all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, against the attempt to encroach on, rewrite or reinterpret them, to adjust them to the unipolar order and hegemonic interests of some.
We will have to continue working so that the genuine international cooperation entrenches itself as the cornerstone of the work of the Human Rights Council.
In his Memory, the Secretary-General highlights the increasing presence on the ground of the United Nations’ bodies devoted to human rights, as well as the bolstering of the Organization rapid response capacity in this matter. However, in this context, it is vital to stress the importance of fully applying the principle that human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent.
Bearing in mind that, by describing the activity on the ground, the Memory limits itself only to developing countries, it would seem that the work on human rights is not necessary in industrialized countries, where there is also much to do. Likewise, the application of the principle of consent should always be taken into account to promote what the Secretary-General designates as new era in human rights.
There cannot be democracy without people’s participation, without social justice, without individual and collective well-being and without human solidarity. These guidelines should be taken into consideration in the work of the United Nations Democracy Fund.
With regard to the UN system-wide coherence, it is fundamental to acknowledge that operational activities answer, first and foremost, to the national policies and development priorities of each country. The UN development bodies in the field cannot engage in activities that are not directly linked to economic and social development, let alone promote conditionality in its work. The developing countries’ views and priorities as well as the respect for intergovernmental mandates in the field of operational activities are crucial.
I would like to finish, Mr. President, by supporting the conclusion made by the Secretary-General in his Memory that, “Today, more than ever, thanks to its universal membership and global reach, the United Nations can effect positive global change, making the world a safer, more prosperous and more just place for all people”. Those are serious challenges we have ahead. The world needs the United Nations more than ever.
Thank you very much