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Speeches & Interviews

30 Sep 2011

Statement by His Excellency Sergei Martynov Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus in the general debate of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly

Distinguished Mr. President,

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

I. Global Governance

Much has been said from this rostrum in recent years about global governance. Yet, as a matter of fact, there is a pervasive feeling that chaos is inexorably engulfing the planet. Indeed, one global crisis comes hard on the heels of another. International law is being shamelessly trampled. Inequality and poverty are on the rise, and above all, an ever increasing number of people in the world are exposed to suffering.

This is the tenable outcome of the world operating without a system and order. Twenty years ago, the international community had got its own “constitutional moment”, produced by the end of an epochal confrontation, to elaborate a comprehensive strategy of world’s development for the future. We missed that window of opportunity. First of all, for the reason that egoism and gloating rather than common sense took the upper hand in the mindset of the so-called “winners”.

The lack of common vision made it increasingly prohibitive for us to muster effective concerted action. As a result, the international community today is only reacting to ever-rising global challenges, having no recourse to the instruments to prevent them. The situation is bound to persist, unless together we arrive at a set of long-term efficient measures. We need a global strategy against chaos.

International failures over the past twenty years suggest that for such a strategy to become a success, it would have to be built around the following three foundations: strengthening international law, establishing global partnerships and revitalizing the United Nations.


II. International Law

The history of mankind has always been a narrative of struggle between the rule of power and the rule of law. Only in the past century the contest has been resolved, at least de-jure, in favor of the latter. By the way, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that a civilization is determined by the extent of its transition from the rule of power to the rule of law.

Belarus is firmly convinced that a strategy against chaos cannot succeed if we fail in preserving and strengthening the system of international law – as a deterrent against lawlessness and impunity.

Clearly, there is more than enough ground to be concerned, since power, de-facto, still rules here and now over the rule of law. This year we have come to witness the far-reaching changes in the Middle East. The countries of the region have their inalienable right to determine their own way of development. All of us must respect the choice made by those states and refrain from interfering into their internal affairs. This is our international obligation as the Member States of the United Nations.

Unfortunately, not each and every country complies with its international obligations concerning the freedom of choice of the way of development. Over decades the United States of America have been pursuing policies of economic, trade, and financial blockade against the freedom-loving Cuba. This is a clear violation of both the UN principles and decisions.

Belarus has also found itself on the receiving end not only of malicious attacks, but also economic sanctions for the choice that the Belarusian nation made at the election of its own President.

The Belarusians will never renounce their right of choice. Determining our own path of development is a sacred value to us. Neither sanctions, nor blackmail nor threats will alter our stance. The right is on our side.

Belarus has never tried to teach anyone the ways of life. We consistently advocate the need to respect the diversity of ways of development embraced by world’s nations. The Republic of Belarus stands ready to develop mutually beneficial co-operation with all countries, even with those with whom we continue to have acute differences. After all, we are not asking for much – just that others treat us the way we treat others – with respect and equality. And this is our right too.


III. Global Partnerships

The great Albert Einstein once said: Quote: “Problems cannot be solved at the same level we were at when we created them” Unquote. The growing transnational challenges and threats cannot be successfully addressed through the traditional foreign policy tools like balance of power, spheres of influence, sanctions and threats. We need new forms of co-operation that, above all, take into consideration the two major global shifts: from the West to the Rest and from the states to non-state actors, which foreign policy analysts rightly dwell upon.

We are of the view that it is global partnerships to be built by states, international organizations, civil society and private sector, which ought to become an optimal form of co-operation in confronting challenges.

Global partnerships constitute an integral part of the strategy against chaos. It is precisely such partnerships that can ensure real pooling of efforts by interested stakeholders in opposing the whole array of challenges and threats that “recognize no borders”.

We are fully certain that at the international level there is no alternative to integration and inclusiveness. Globalization and interdependence made all of us equally vulnerable to transnational problems. Thus, enduring wellbeing and stability in the world for the few are not likely while others are languishing in poverty and suffering.

The profound changes in the Middle East caused by the growing problems of poverty and inequality put in the forefront the need to realize a Global Partnership for Development. The last year’s high-level meeting at the UN as well as the Seoul meeting of G-20 made important contributions to the efforts in this field. At the same time, the persistent rise of oil, food and energy prices across the globe points out to a new strain on development. Hence there is the need to equip ourselves with more proactive and unconventional approaches.

When it comes to identifying such specific approaches, we consider it important to address the issue of the transfer of effective cutting-edge energy technologies to developing countries and middle-income ones. Besides, it is a key element in finding solutions to the problem of climate change. What is crucial here is that such technologies already exist and find their practical application in many parts of the globe. Therefore, difficulties that might be encountered in this area are not technical. Let us after all grasp one single revelation: it is impossible today to have “a green paradise” for the affluent countries would enjoy, while the poor ones would live in “a contaminated hell”. The finite nature of Earth rules out such a scenario.

As a practical step, Belarus would like to suggest that Member States, in the context of a General Assembly resolution on new and renewable sources of energy, as well as within an outcome document of the Rio+20 conference, set in motion work on creating under the aegis of the United Nations a global mechanism that secures access to modern energy technologies for all countries of the world. This would be our best contribution to the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All that we are to celebrate in 2012.


Over the past year we have made important strides in forging the Global Partnership against Slavery and Human Trafficking initiated by Belarus. The implementation of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons is under way. Interested states, international organizations, civil society, along with private sector actively participate in the process. It is highly gratifying that the focus in the Plan has been placed on protecting the rights of trafficked victims. Fully throwing its weight behind such an approach, Belarus was among the first states to make a voluntary contribution to the Trust Voluntary Fund to assist victims of trafficking. We are grateful to those countries that joined in the work of the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking.

Among other areas, where it makes much sense to establish global partnerships, we see as highly promising the theme of supporting youth. At the UN high-level meeting last year, Belarus came up with the initiative to create a Partnership to this effect. We welcome the recently convened UN high-level meeting on youth, held in the context of the current Year of Youth. We hold hope that the event will be followed by the elaboration of efficient global policies with the view to protecting the interests of youth.

IV. Revitalizing the United Nations
 
There is a natural place where a strategy of development for the future must be devised and implemented. It is the United Nations. The question is to what extent the UN is tenable today for taking upon itself this task? Let us be frank. Everyone bears grudges against the United Nations.
 
Indeed, the major task of the Organization over the past years seems to have lain in surviving in various crises rather than in solving, let alone preventing them. Is the United Nations to blame for this state of affairs? Let us be outspoken once more and say “No”. The UN is us. It is us, the Member States, who are at fault, because together we failed both in grasping what kind of the world we wanted to build and in adjusting the UN to the new realities.
 
Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the United Nations has more frequently served as a stage for individual actors rather than a platform for common action.
 
Revitalization of the Organization stands out as poignantly as never before. We need to reform the UN principal organs along with the main areas of its activities.
 
The UN Security Council should not stay in the form appropriate only for the epoch of realpolitik. We are convinced that the Council must be enlarged in both of its categories, above all, in the interests of developing countries. Bringing the Council’s working methods in conformity with the spirit of the age must serve to enhance the authority and efficiency of its work.
 
The world is plagued by severe economic problems. Yet, UN’s substantial economic capacities have been far from properly utilized. The activities of the Economic and Social Council should, to a much larger extent, be aligned with solutions to the urgent problems experienced by UN Member States. Belarus is keen to make a contribution of its own to this work, including as member of ECOSOC, provided that next month Member States do Belarus an honor of electing it to this vital UN entity.
 
The strengthening of the United Nations is impossible without striking a balance among the interests of various groups of countries. Several years ago, Belarus was among the Member States that initiated greater attention on the part of the UN General Assembly to the issue of middle-income countries. We are glad to see that ever since there has been quite a growing understanding of the impact produced by the group of middle-income countries on world political and economic affairs. At the current session, Belarus together with other like-minded countries will continue efforts that seek to guide UN agencies for operational activities towards a more robust and efficient response to the specific needs of this numerous group of countries.
 
The UN image in the world among ordinary people is high precisely there where it provides real assistance in the transition from chaos and violence towards order and stability, i.e. in peacekeeping activities. In our view, efforts at strengthening this domain of UN work demand widest support possible. Responding to the request of the UN Secretary-General, Belarus started making a feasible contribution of its own by taking part in UN peacekeeping operations.
 
There is also the need to enhance the mediation role of the United Nations in the settlement of disputes by peaceful means. In this respect we deem it vital not only to build the Organization’s internal capacities, but for the UN to forge active co-operation with regional structures like, for example, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which know best the problems in their own areas of responsibility. Belarus, as the current Chair of the CSTO, stands ready to assist in this effort as much as it can.
 
Mr. President,
 
Martin Luther King once said, Quote: “The time is always right to do what is right” Unquote. Let us heed this reasonable advice and do, as the international community, without delay what we must do.
 
Thank you for your kind attention.

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