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General Assembly Takes Action on Second Committee Reports by Adopting 41 Texts, also Passes Overhaul of United Nations Peace, Security Pillar

Increasing Official Development Assistance, Updating Bank Policies to Support 2030 Agenda among Resolutions Approved

Gearing up to implement the international community’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the General Assembly today adopted 41 resolutions and two related decisions aimed at strengthening nations’ efforts to reach agreed goals.

At the meeting’s outset, the Assembly also adopted, without a vote, a resolution on restructuring the United Nations peace and security pillar, presenting what several delegates described as “sweeping” proposals to overhaul it.

By the resolution’s terms, the Assembly took note of a Secretary‑General’s report containing five proposals, including the creation of a single political‑operational structure under Assistant Secretaries‑General with regional responsibilities, and establishment of a “Standing Principals’ Group” of the Under‑Secretaries‑General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and for Peace Operations.

Focusing then on the Second Committee, the Assembly turned to macroeconomic policy questions, adopting a resolution on international financial system and development in a recorded vote of 180 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly stressed that development banks should make optimal use of their resources and balance sheets, updating their policies to support of the 2030 Agenda.

By further terms, the Assembly committed to substantially curb illicit financial flows by 2030 by combating tax evasion, transnational organized crime and corruption through strengthened national regulation and increased international cooperation and reducing opportunities for tax avoidance.

Adopting another resolution on external debt sustainability and development, the Assembly stressed creditor and debtor responsibility in avoiding build‑up of unsustainable debt to diminish the risk of crisis.  By further terms, it urged countries to direct resources freed by debt relief to sustained economic growth and internationally agreed development goals.

By a resolution on commodities, adopted in a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, the Assembly directed the international community to address factors creating structural barriers to international trade, impeding diversification and limiting access to financial services.  By other terms, it called on relevant stakeholders to address low industrialization and diversification of economies of some commodity‑dependent developing countries.

Other resolutions on macroeconomic policy questions concerned unilateral economic measures, international trade, financial inclusion, illicit financial flows and financing for development.

Focusing on special groups of countries, the Assembly adopted a draft on Follow‑up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.  By that text, the Assembly underlined the urgent need to reverse the decline in official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries, urging nations that had not met commitments to increase their contribution and make concrete efforts towards ODA targets.

By another resolution on Development cooperation with middle‑income countries, it encouraged shareholders in multilateral development banks to develop a graduation process (from a nation’s lesser developed status) that was sequenced, phased and gradual.

Addressing sustainable development, the Assembly adopted several resolutions, including one on disaster risk reduction, emphasizing that preventing and reducing such risk would provide exponential returns and significantly curtail response costs.  It also emphasized the importance of increasing the availability of multi‑hazard early warning mechanisms in ensuring early action.

According to another draft, the Assembly called for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, adopting it in a recorded vote of 183 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Venezuela).  It also called on Governments to expand the use of renewable energy beyond the power sector to industry, heating and cooling, infrastructure and the transport sector.

Adopting a further draft on combating sand and dust storms, it recognized that such weather had inflicted substantial economic, social and environmental damage on the inhabitants of the world’s arid, semi‑arid and dry subhumid areas, underscoring the need to treat and promptly take measures to address them.

Other sustainable development resolutions spotlighted development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan, sustainable tourism development in Central America, agricultural technology, desertification, biological diversity, education, camelids and World Bee Day.

Turning to a related item, the Assembly adopted a resolution on agriculture development, food security and nutrition in a recorded vote of 185 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions. By that text, the Assembly stressed the need to increase sustainable agricultural production globally by improving markets and trading systems as well as increasing responsible public and private investment in agriculture, land management and rural development.

By further terms, it stressed that a universal, rules‑based, open, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system promoted rural development and contributed to world food security and nutrition.  It urged national, regional and international strategies to promote the participation of farmers, fishers and fish workers in their various markets.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution concerning natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan in a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States) with 11 abstentions, which called for Israel to cease exploitation of natural resources in those territories.

Further to the text, the Assembly called on Israel to comply with international law and cease all policies and measures to alter the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It also called on Israel to stop harming the environment, cease destruction of vital infrastructure, remove obstacles to the implementation of critical environmental projects, and cease efforts impeding Palestinian development.

Resolutions were also adopted on transport links, agricultural technology, small islands, global climate, harmony with nature, oil slick on Lebanese shores, human settlements, globalization, science and technology, culture, landlocked developing countries, poverty eradication, women, human resources, operational activities, South‑South cooperation and family farming.

Committee Rapporteur Theresah Chipulu Luswili Chanda introduced its reports.

Also adopted, without a vote, was a plenary resolution on a world against violence and violent extremism.  Introducing that text, Iran’s representative urged Member States to avoid associating violent extremism with any single religion or nationality, adding that the Assembly could provide a platform to address the roots of that phenomenon.

The resolution spotlighted international efforts to combat violent extremism and reaffirmed the importance of the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action on the matter.

In other business, the Assembly took note of a report of its General Committee and several appointments to the Committee on Conferences.  Botswana, France and the Russian Federation were appointed to serve three‑year terms on the Committee beginning on 1 January 2018.  The Assembly also noted that the Asia‑Pacific Group had recommended China’s appointment to fill a vacancy on the Committee for a term of office beginning on the date of appointment and ending on 31 December 2019.

Introduction of Draft Resolution and Reports

MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, introducing a draft resolution titled “Restructuring of the United Nations peace and security pillar” (document A/72/L.33), said the Organization must be able to respond to today’s challenges “in the best way it can”.  However, there were new conflicts today that were harder to identify, as in the case of online recruitment of terrorist groups.  “Different threats require different responses,” he said, calling for adjustments to the Organization’s seventy‑year‑old mechanisms.  “We must evolve,” he stressed, noting that the resolution before the Assembly today would assist in that process, as it called for a second comprehensive report on the United Nations peace and security pillar.  Thanking the facilitators, he urged Member States to adopt the text by consensus.

The representative of Colombia, speaking in explanation of position on that item, said the resolution was critical to help make the United Nations more modern and transparent.  It contained a “visionary proposal” by the Secretary‑General, who had been chosen specifically “for this important task”.  Today’s peace and security challenges required bold measures to save lives, he said, adding that the resolution marked an important step forward in transparency.  It would also provide more feedback on “what is working and what is not working on the ground” in the United Nations efforts to enhance sustainable international peace.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

The representative of the United States said the United Nations would be better able to address the needs of those on the ground with more focused, effective and efficient operations.  Any reform that was implemented must advance political solutions and enable the Organization to tailor its responses to the needs of countries in conflict or transition.  The resolution demonstrated that the Secretary‑General had wide‑reaching endorsement from Member States for his vision to make the United Nations a stronger and more relevant institution that could prevent and respond to conflicts and atrocities.

The representative of Mexico said his country had joined consensus on the resolution, as it supported the Secretary‑General in his vision to make the United Nations a stronger organization.  It was critical to have the full backing of the Assembly so that the proposal could be implemented as soon as possible.  However, it seemed contradictory that the resolution on the reform of peace and security did not include references to sustainable development or the 2015 review process.  He expressed hope that the Secretary‑General’s report would be substantive in helping the Organization move towards greater understanding and the paradigm shift that peace required.

The representative of Argentina, welcoming the Secretary‑General’s initiative to reform the United Nations peace and security pillar, said the Organization should adopt a holistic and comprehensive approach to conflict prevention, building sustainable peace and development.  The text would help decrease the fragmentation in the Organization’s work, she said, adding that the “sweeping” proposal would help the United Nations focus more closely on the root causes of conflict, ensure national ownership, enhance conflict prevention and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Voicing support for efforts to make the Peacebuilding Office a “liaison” between the various relevant organs of the United Nations, she stressed that “we must move forward”, and expressed hope that the upcoming work would reflect an active exchange of ideas between all Member States.

The representative of China voiced support for the United Nations efforts to better implement the responsibilities entrusted in it by its Charter, as well as to enhance multilateralism.  Also welcoming efforts aimed at integrating the Organization’s resources and improving its efficiency, thereby allowing it to better respond to today’s peace and security challenges, he said the restructuring of the United Nations peace and security architecture would also require greater consultation between Member States.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that his delegation had joined in the consensus, said the changes proposed would also impact the Organization’s political dimensions.  Voicing his delegation’s commitment to engage in all discussions going forward, he expressed full respect for the points of view of various Member States, and said the final analysis must help them reach a “mutual understanding”.  While the interlinked relationship between the United Nations three pillars underpinned the Organization’s work, that did not mean that they must be carried out in the same way.  In that regard, he expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to avoid duplication of labour as well as ensure geographical representation.

The representative of Egypt agreed that the non‑traditional challenges emerging in global peace and security issues required new ideas and a more efficient use of the United Nations toolkit.  Stressing that the Assembly and its organs were the only entities that could adopt any of the restructuring proposals — and that such an adoption must be undertaken with full respect for the mandates of all the United Nations organs without any amendments to those mandates — he warned against including controversial elements which had not been fully agreed by Member States.  In addition, he said, Egypt considered sustainable development to be a right and a standalone objective in itself, which must be achieved without any preconditions.

The representative of Brazil said the United Nations needed to be nimbler if it was to implement all initiatives under the pillars of peace and security, development and human rights.  His country supported reform of the peace and security pillar and welcomed efforts to overcome fragmentation in focusing on restructuring peacebuilding.  However, he said reform would not be complete without reference to the work methods of the Security Council.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Assembly had expressed strong support for the Secretary‑General and reform of the Secretariat’s peace and security pillar.  He looked forward to a detailed report of all aspects of the new pillar.  The Secretariat must act as one while taking into account specificities of all facets on the ground, as through such efforts it could improve on efforts to maintain peace.  The Secretary‑General had the authority and now full political endorsement in proceeding with the first steps of implementing his vision.  With adoption of the resolution, the Assembly had set in motion not only reform but also a good precedent for other reforms.

THERESAH CHIPULU LUSWILI CHANDA (Zambia), Rapporteur of the Second Committee, introduced that body’s reports and the draft resolutions or decisions within, noting oral revisions for some.  She began with Strengthening of the United Nations system; United Nations reform: measures and proposals (document A/72/L.33); Information and communications technologies for development (document A/72/417); Macroeconomic policy questions (document A/72/418); International trade and development (document A/72/418/Add.1); International financial system and development (document A/72/418/Add.2); External debt sustainability and development (document A/72/418/Add.3); Commodities (document A/72/418/Add.4); Financial inclusion for sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.5); Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows in order to foster sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.6); and Follow-up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development (document A/72/419).

Turning then to reports focusing on sustainable development, she introduced Sustainable development (document A/72/420); Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (document A/72/420/Add.1); Follow‑up to and implementation of the SIDS [small islands developing States] Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/72/420/Add.2); Disaster risk reduction (document A/72/420/Add.3); Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind (document A/72/420/Add.4); Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (document A/72/420/Add.5); Sustainable development: Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/72/420/Add.6); Education for sustainable development (document A/72/420/Add.7); Harmony with Nature (document A/72/420/Add.8); Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (document A/72/420/Add.9); and Combating sand and dust storms (document A/72/420/Add.10).

Next, she introduced reports on Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‑Habitat) (document A/72/421); Globalization and interdependence (document A/72/422); Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence (document A/72/422/Add.1); Science, technology and innovation for development (document A/72/422/Add.2); and Culture and sustainable development (document A/72/422/Add.3).

Next, she introduced reports on Development cooperation with middle‑income countries (document A/72/422/Add.4); Groups of countries in special situations (document A/72/423); Follow‑up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/72/423/Add.1); Follow‑up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (document A/72/423/Add.2); Eradication of poverty and other development issues: report of the Second Committee (document A/72/424); Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008‑2017) (document A/72/424/Add.1); Women in development (document A/72/424/Add.2); and Human resources development (document A/72/424/Add.3).

Finally, she introduced reports on Operational activities for development (document A/72/425); Operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/72/425/Add.1); South‑South cooperation for development (document A/72/425/Add.2); Agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/72/426); Towards global partnerships (document A/72/427); Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/72/428); Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/72/479); and Programme planning (document A/72/484).

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Assembly then turned to draft resolutions in the reports, beginning with a text on information and communications technologies for development (document A/72/417), which it adopted without a vote.

By that text, the Assembly called on all stakeholders to make bridging digital divides a priority, put into effect sound strategies contributing to the development of e‑government and continue to focus on pro‑poor information and communications technology policies and applications.

Next, it took up Macroeconomic policy questions, taking note of the report and adopting a resolution on Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/72/418/Add.1) in a recorded vote of 130 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States) with 48 abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly would call for the elimination of such measures against those States.

It then adopted a resolution on International trade and development (document A/72/418/Add.1) in a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly promoted a universal, rules‑based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as meaningful trade liberalization.

Following that, the Assembly adopted a text on International financial system and development (document A/72/418/Add.2) in a recorded vote of 180 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly resolved to strengthen the coherence and consistency of multilateral financial, investment, trade and development policy and environment institutions and platforms.

Next, it adopted, without a vote, a resolution on External debt sustainability and development (document A/72/418/Add.3), by which it stressed the responsibilities of creditor and debtor nations in avoiding the build‑up of unsustainable debt to diminish the risk of crisis.  By further terms, it urged countries to direct resources freed by debt relief to sustained economic growth and internationally agreed development goals.

The Assembly then adopted a draft on Commodities (document A/72/418/Add.4) in a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that draft, the Assembly would have the international community address factors that created structural barriers to international trade, impeded diversification and limited access to financial services, particularly for developing countries.

By other terms, it called on relevant stakeholders to address the issue of the low industrialization and diversification of the economies of some commodity‑dependent developing countries.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on Financial inclusion for sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.5), by which it encouraged Member States to adopt and pursue national financial inclusion and gender‑responsive strategies to end structural barriers to women’s equal access to economic resources.

It then adopted, without a vote, a resolution on Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows in order to foster sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.6).  By that draft, the Assembly expressed concern that cryptocurrencies were increasingly being used for illicit activities.  It called for greater international cooperation and sustained dialogue to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets return.

The representative of Nigeria said efforts by his country and Norway had led to the establishment of the interlink between achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and combating illicit financial flows, which had been endorsed in numerous fora including the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  While his delegation had expected a more robust outcome, the adopted resolution was sufficient, he said, and appealed to Member States to further request a report by the Secretary‑General on how the issue was central to achieving the 2030 Agenda.  The Assembly setting up an intergovernmental body would be key to coordinating relevant mandates, he said, adding that most developing countries supported that idea.  The African Union’s annual theme would in 2018 be “Winning the fight against corruption:  A sustainable path to Africa’s Transformation”.  Nigeria stood ready to contribute toward holding the high‑level conference on illicit financial flows and asset recovery which would be convened by the President of the seventy‑third General Assembly.  Urging Member States to share information to combat illicit financial flows, he underscored that returning stolen assets had a more positive impact than focusing on conditionalities hindering developing countries’ progress.

Following that, the Assembly adopted a draft, without a vote, on Follow‑up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development (document A/72/419).

Turning to sustainable development, the Assembly adopted a resolution on Oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/72/420) in a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Tonga, Vanuatu).  By that text, it noted that the oil slick damage to Lebanon amounted to $856.4 million in 2014, and the Assembly requested the Government of Israel to provide compensation to Lebanon for the damage and to other countries directly affected by the oil slick, such as Syria.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a text on International Year of Camelids, 2024 (document A/72/420), by which it encouraged all Member States, the United Nations system and other actors to take advantage of the International Year to promote awareness among the public of the economic and cultural importance of camelids.

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a resolution on World Bee Day (document A/72/420), by which the Assembly decided to designate 20 May as World Bee Day to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats that they face and their contribution to sustainable development.

Next, the Assembly adopted a draft, without a vote, on strengthening the links between all modes of transport to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (document A/72/420).  By that text, it called for efforts to promote regional and interregional economic cooperation, including by improving the planning of transportation infrastructure and mobility, enhancing connectivity and facilitating trade and investment.

It then adopted, without a vote, a text on international cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan (document A/72/420).  By that text, the Assembly urged the international community to assist Kazakhstan in implementing special programmes and projects to treat and care for the affected population, as well as efforts to ensure economic growth and sustainable development in the Semipalatinsk region.

Following that, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a resolution on sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America (document A/72/420), by which it stressed the need to promote the further development of sustainable tourism and strengthen the development of ecotourism, maintaining the culture and environmental integrity of indigenous and local communities.

Next, it adopted a draft on Agricultural technology for sustainable development (document A/72/420) in a recorded vote of 152 in favour to 1 against (Syria), with 29 abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly urged stakeholders to strengthen efforts to improve the development of sustainable agricultural technologies and their transfer and dissemination to developing countries.

The representative of Slovenia said that after three years of effort, the resolution on World Bee Day had received its final endorsement.  In the last three years, since the beginning of the initiative of the Slovenian Beekeeper’s Association in 2014, his country had been intensively notifying States around the world on a political as well as an expert level.  In the frame of the official procedures, the initiative had been unanimously adopted by the Conference of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations at its fortieth session in Rome in July.  After that endorsement, it was transmitted to the Assembly, and on 17 November the resolution was adopted by the Second Committee.  Global food security was a key social issue and an important priority in the development of agriculture.  A third of all food produced in the world depends on pollination, and bees had an important role to play in the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity.  They were also good bioindicators of environmental conditions.

The Assembly then adopted a text, in a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 48 against, with 4 abstentions (Liberia, New Zealand, Norway, Turkey), on Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (document A/72/420/Add.1).

Next, the Assembly adopted a draft, without a vote, on follow‑up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/72/420/Add.2).

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a text on Disaster risk reduction (document A/72/420/Add.3), by which the Assembly emphasized that preventing and reducing such risk would provide exponential returns and significantly curtail response costs.  It also emphasized the importance of increasing the availability of and access to multi‑hazard early warning mechanisms in ensuring early action.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft on Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind (document A/72/420/Add.4).  By that text, it emphasized that mitigation of and adaptation to climate change represented an immediate and urgent global priority.  It also urged Member States to strengthen mechanisms and provide adequate resources towards achieving the full and equal participation of women in decision‑making at all levels on environmental issues.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (document A/72/420/Add.5).

Following that, it adopted a draft, without a vote, on implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/72/420/Add.6), by which the Assembly called on Governments and all stakeholders to take appropriate measures to mainstream consideration of socioeconomic impacts and benefits of conserving and sustainably using biodiversity and its components, as well as ecosystems providing essential services, into relevant programmes and policies at all levels.

The Assembly then adopted a text, without a vote, on Education for sustainable development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda (document A/72/420/Add.7).  By that draft, it called on the international community to provide inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels — early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary and distance education, including technical and vocational training — so that all people had access to lifelong learning opportunities that help them exploit opportunities to participate fully in society and contribute to sustainable development.

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a text on Harmony with Nature (document A/72/420/Add.8), by which the Assembly decided to continue observing International Mother Earth Day annually.  It also called for holistic and integrated approaches to sustainable development in its three dimensions that guided humanity to live in harmony with nature and led to efforts to restore the health and integrity of the planet’s ecosystems.

Next, it adopted a draft on Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (document A/72/420/Add.9) in a recorded vote of 183 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Venezuela).  By that text, the Assembly called for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.  It also called on Governments to expand the use of renewable energy beyond the power sector to industry, heating and cooling, construction and infrastructure, and in particular the transport sector.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft on Combating sand and dust storms (document A/72/420/Add.10), by which it recognized that that meteorological phenomenon had inflicted substantial economic, social and environmental damage on the inhabitants of the world’s arid, semi‑arid and dry subhumid areas, underscoring the need to treat them and take measures to address those challenges.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a draft on Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‑Habitat) (document A/72/421).

It then adopted a text on the Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence (document A/72/422/Add.1) in a recorded vote of 184 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that draft, the Assembly underlined that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda depended on means of implementation, particularly finance, international trade, technology and capacity‑building, calling for sincere and effective follow‑up on global commitments.

The Assembly then took note of the Second Committee’s report on “Promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence”.

Following that, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a draft on Science, technology and innovation for development (document A/72/422/Add.2), by which it called for strengthened support to those areas, particularly in developing countries.  It would also proclaim 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements to enhance global awareness of and education in the basic sciences.

Next, it adopted, in a recorded vote of 185 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, a text on Culture and sustainable development (document A/72/422/Add.3).  By that draft, the Assembly encouraged all relevant stakeholders to cooperate in supporting developing country efforts to develop, strengthen and consolidate cultural industries, tourism and related microenterprises.

It then adopted, without a vote, a text on Development cooperation with middle‑income countries (document A/72/422/Add.4), by which the Assembly encouraged shareholders in multilateral development banks to develop a graduation process (from a nation’s lesser developed status) that was sequenced, phased and gradual.

The Assembly then took note of the Second Committee’s report on “Groups of countries in special situations”.

Following that, it turned to a draft on Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/72/423/Add.1), adopting it without a vote.  By that text, the Assembly underlined the urgent need to reverse the decline in official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries, urging nations that had not met commitments to increase their ODA and make concrete efforts towards the ODA targets.

Next, it adopted, without a vote, a draft on Follow-up to the Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (document A/72/423/Add.2).  By that text, the Assembly stressed that cooperation on fundamental transit policies, laws and regulations between landlocked developing countries and their neighbours was crucial for the effective and integrated solution of cross‑border trade and transit transport problems.

The Assembly then took note of the Committee’s report on “Eradication of poverty and other development issues”.

It then adopted, without a vote, a draft on Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008‑2017) (document A/72/424/Add.1).  By that text, the Assembly emphasized the importance of structural transformation leading to inclusive and sustainable industrialization for employment creation and poverty reduction.

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a draft on Women in development (document A/72/424/Add.2), by which the Assembly emphasized the need to link policies on economic, social and environmental development to ensure that all people, in particular women and children living in poverty and in vulnerable situations, benefited from inclusive economic growth and development.

The representative of Sudan, explaining his delegation’s position on the “women and development” resolution, said it had joined the consensus.  However, he expressed concern over the wording of some of the resolution’s paragraphs, including false criticisms of particular national legal systems, and disassociated himself from that text.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on Human resources development (document A/72/424/Add.3), taking note of the report on the same topic.  By that text, it called on the international community to place human resources development at the core of economic and social development as educated, skilled, healthy, capable, productive and adaptable workforces were the foundation for achieving sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and development.

The Assembly then turned to a draft on Operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/72/425/Add.1), adopting it without a vote.  By that text, it took note of the Secretary‑General’s report on “Repositioning the United Nations development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda: ensuring a better future for all”.

The Assembly then took note of the Second Committee’s report “Operational activities for development”.

Following that, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on South‑South cooperation for development (document A/72/425/Add.2), by which it stressed that such assistance was not a substitute for, but rather a complement to, North‑South cooperation.  It also called on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other relevant organizations to assist developing countries in implementing projects of South‑South cooperation.

Next, the Assembly adopted, in a recorded vote of 185 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions, a draft on Agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/72/426).  By that text, it stressed the need to increase sustainable agricultural production globally by improving markets and trading systems as well as increasing responsible public and private investment in sustainable agriculture, land management and rural development.

By further terms, the Assembly stressed that a universal, rules‑based, open, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system promoted agriculture and rural development in developing countries and contributed to world food security and nutrition.  It urged national, regional and international strategies to promote the participation of farmers, fishers and fish workers in community, national, regional and international markets.

It then adopted, without a vote, a draft on the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (document A/72/426), by which the Assembly proclaimed 2019‑2028 the Decade of Family Farming, and called on FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to lead implementation of the initiative.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision to postpone discussion of the agenda item on “Towards global partnerships” until the General Assembly’s seventy‑third session.

Following that, it adopted, in a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 11 abstentions, a text on Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/72/428).  By that draft, the Assembly called on Israel to cease exploitation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan.

Further to the text, the Assembly called on Israel to comply with its obligations under international law and cease all policies and measures aimed at the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It also called on Israel to halt all actions harming the environment, cease destruction of vital infrastructure, remove obstacles to the implementation of critical environmental projects, cease efforts impeding Palestinian development and export of discovered oil and natural gas reserves.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision to approve the Second Committee’s programme of work for its seventy‑third session.

Finally, it took note of a report on programme planning.

The Assembly then took up a draft resolution titled “A world against violence and violent extremism” (document A/72/L.32).

The representative of Iran, introducing that text, said it was a follow‑up to Assembly resolutions 68/127 and 70/109, both of which had been adopted by consensus.  That unity demonstrated the pressing need to act to combat violent extremism, especially through the principles of tolerance and moderation.  Calling for collective international action in that regard — especially in the wake of the atrocities committed over the last few years by extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, including by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) — he stressed that “dialogue, moderation and tolerance are the most effective antidote to violent extremism”.  Urging Member States to avoid associating violent extremism with any particular religion or nationality, he said doing so “played right into the terrorists’ hands” and further spread extremist ideology.  Noting that the Assembly could provide a strong platform to help address the roots of that phenomenon, he said the text also reaffirmed measures taken at the international level such as the Assembly’s high‑level 2016 meeting on the topic, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) 2016 conference on youth and the Internet.  It also spotlighted the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism and requested him to report on the implementation of the present resolution at the Assembly’s seventy‑fourth session.

The Assembly then adopted that draft resolution without a vote.

Speaking following the adoption, the representative of Canada said her delegation strongly condemned all violent extremism, including violence committed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The rights of all people must be respected, she stressed, noting that the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action recognized the important link between social exclusion and violent extremism.  All States — especially the resolution’s main sponsor — should comply with their international obligations to protect human rights.

The representative of Israel said her delegation had joined in the consensus, but voiced concern not with “the message but the messenger”.  Iran, the text’s main sponsor, was in fact the “nerve‑centre” of violent extremism and terrorist incitement around the globe, as well as its main sponsor.  Iran’s proxies butchered innocent people and violated human rights, she said, adding that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Iran were hanged from cranes, journalists were arrested, girls as young as 12 were married off and prisoners were tortured.  In Syria, Iran’s continued support for the Assad regime had allowed it to use chemical weapons against its own people, and next door in Lebanon it had helped Hizbullah increase its weapons arsenal.  With the adoption of the present text, it was critical for the international community to focus on Iran’s own actions, she stressed, noting that that country had already violated the very resolution it was sponsoring.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said his country had joined consensus on the resolution based on its belief in a comprehensive effort to combat violence and extremism.  It supported all efforts aimed at fighting violent extremism, but must address contradictions concerning security.  It was clear that Iran, the sponsor of the resolution, was also the main sponsor of violence and violent extremism across the world.  Iran had worked to destroy Yemen and was continuing to do so through violations of international law.  Several of its militias had wreaked havoc in Syria and Lebanon, and it was supporting extremist groups with weapons and other prohibited items.  He condemned Iranian support for those groups, stressing the need to prevent and counter all forms of violent extremism.

The representative of the United States noted that the Assembly had on 19 December adopted a resolution condemning Iran for continuing to violate international law and voicing concern over the targeting of minority religious communities.  Yet, 24 hours later, Iran was sponsoring a resolution against violence and extremism.  It had often acted in clear violation of its international obligations, which ran counter to the spirit of the resolution.  Her country had joined consensus on the resolution, as it believed in a comprehensive effort to counter extremism.  While Iran urged countries to unite against violence, its Government actively fomented violence across the Middle East.  Its support for Hizbullah had expanded the group’s arsenal, directly challenging Lebanese sovereignty and threatening Israel.  Iran abused its own people, supported political opponents of other Member States and imprisoned journalists and tourists on trumped up charges.

The representative of the Russian Federation said her country had joined consensus, as it believed in the resolution’s potential.  It viewed extremism as separate from terrorism, although it was a breeding ground for it.  Efforts to counter violent extremism must be based on international law and the United Nations Charter.  That was important when vague terms were being used to put forth dubious concepts.  She noted that extremist propaganda could, without violence, lead to undermining of the rule of law, destabilization of society and mass violations of human rights.

The representative of the European Union delegation rejected any form of discrimination, including on the grounds of sex, race, colour, language, genetic features, religion, membership in a minority group or sexual orientation or any other.  All nations must respect international human rights, promote good governance and uphold the rule of law.  She therefore urged all States — including the resolution’s main sponsor — to respect the rights of all their people, including ethnic, sexual and religious minorities.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran responded to the statement delivered by the delegate of the “Israeli regime”, who had levied baseless allegations and lies against his country.  Israel’s anger over the resolution adopted today was understandable, as it was an occupying entity that had created an apartheid system in the territories it controlled.  The representative of Israel had clearly deemed the resolution to be “against itself”, he said, noting that it pursued one of the most extreme policies in the modern world and denied the people living under its occupation their most basic rights.  In contrast, Iran had done everything in its power to combat violent extremism.

Responding to the representative of the United States, he said that country had for almost a year pursued a new policy which included levying baseless allegations and lies against Iran.  It was also working to advance the interests of the Israeli regime in the Middle East and was taking advantage of some regional countries by creating a “local bogeyman”.  It was not a coincidence that the United States had gone into high gear in its false allegations against Iran following the massive condemnation it received on its decision to recognize Al‑Quds [Jerusalem] as Israel’s capital.  The United States Government’s regime change project inflicted severe suffering across the Middle East, he said, adding that that country supported, armed and trained known terrorist groups in Syria.  The United States’ own past aggressions and interventions in the region had created fertile ground for recruitment by those advocating the violent takfirist ideology.

Turning to the representative of Saudi Arabia, he said that that country was a main sponsor of violent extremism worldwide, having lavishly financed the export of its fanatical ideology to poorer nations over the last three decades.  Saudi Arabia remained a critical support base for Al‑Qaida, the Taliban and other terrorist groups, and it supported any group that would fight the Government in Syria.  Noting that ISIL/Daesh was a product of Saudi support and financing, he said that country’s ideology propagated hatred and sought to spread it abroad.

Europe – the continent of solidarity: Joint Statement on the occasion of International Migrant Day

On the occasion of International Migrant Day on 18 December, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, and Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, made the following statement:  

“On International Migrant Day, we remember all those who live outside their county of birth and are on the move – either by choice or forcibly. We remember that our own continent, Europe, is built on migration. Our common history is marked by millions of people fleeing from persecution, war or dictatorship – looking only 100 years back. Today, our European Union allows people across the continent to freely travel, to study and work in other countries. This has made Europe one of the richest places in the world – in terms of culture, of economy, of opportunities and in terms of liberties. But this day is also an occasion to remember those who have left their homes, in the face of conflict, political oppression, poverty or lack of hope, and who struggle to build a new and decent life elsewhere. While for some, migration is a positive and empowering experience, too many others have to endure human rights violations, xenophobia, exploitation and unacceptable living conditions along their journeys.  

Protecting and upholding the fundamental rights and freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their status, has always been and will always be our priority. This is at the heart of our European Agenda on Migration. We are working relentlessly, inside and outside the European Union, in close cooperation with our Member States and our international partners to save lives, provide protection, offer safe and legal pathways for migration and tackle the root causes that force people to leave their homes in first place, as well as fight the criminal networks that often take advantage of people’s despair.    

We have a shared responsibility towards people on the move and we need to act on a global scale to support them and to uphold the safety, dignity and human rights of migrants and refugees. It requires the engagement and the consistent implementation of international agreements by all.

Europe is committed to remaining the continent of solidarity, tolerance and openness, embracing its share of global responsibility. And for those who we have recently welcomed to Europewe want the same as we want for all Europeans, namely to prosper and flourish and contribute to a better future for our continent.  

We strongly support the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and will continue to actively work towards the adoption of the UN Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees at the United Nations.  

Background 

Over the past 20 years, the European Union has put in place some of the highest common asylum standards in the world. And in the past two years, European migration policy has advanced in leaps and bounds with the European Agenda on Migration proposed by the Juncker Commission in May 2015. Progressively, a more united approach to dealing with migration is emerging, internally and externally. 

Internally, work has been intensified on the reform of the Common European Asylum System to put in place a more effective and fair approach, based on solidarity and responsibility, alongside continuous support to the Member States most exposed and reinforced cooperation with partner countries. 

The European Union has also stepped up its efforts to protect vulnerable groups, in particular children who are among the most exposed of migrants, including through new Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child and recommendations on the protection of children in migration.

Externally, the EU has progressively put in place a genuine external dimension of its migration policy, complementing and reinforcing its actions within the Union. The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development recognises the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development. It also recognises that both challenges and opportunities of migration must be addressed through coherent and comprehensive responses.   

Along the migratory routes, we are working to save people’s lives with our international partners, such as the UN agencies. We are fighting the criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and in trafficking in human beings, through our Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations on the ground and by supporting regional initiatives, such as the G5 Sahel Joint Force. We are also conducting search and rescue operations at sea, with the support of the European Border and Coast Guard and EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. These efforts help to save thousands of lives every month.   

The EU also works on opening up safe and legal pathways through resettlement – to allow those in need of protection to come to Europe without having to risk their lives in the desert and at sea. An ambitious target for the resettlement of 50,000 persons in need of international protection was set by President Juncker in September 2017. A particular focus should be put on resettlement from North Africa and the Horn of Africa, notably Libya, Egypt, Niger, Sudan, Chad and Ethiopia, whilst ensuring continued resettlement from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

We also continue, jointly with our UN and civil society partners on the ground, to support concrete actions in Libya and along the migratory routes, to ensure the respect of human rights, improve migrants’ living conditions and assist migrants and refugees, who too often become victims of smuggling and trafficking networks. The establishment of a joint Task Force between the African Union, the United Nations and the EU, is an important step that will help to accelerate our joint work. In concrete terms, actions will aim to evacuate those in need of international protection to Europe, accelerate the assisted voluntary returns to countries of origin for those stranded in Libya, as well as intensify our efforts to dismantle criminal networks.  

For More Information 

Joint African Union-European Union-United Nations Task Force to Address the Migrant Situation in Libya

2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the protection of children in migration

EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child

Hariri at the Carnegie Conference: Don't blame Lebanon for the regional conflict

NNA – The president of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri participated today in the annual conference of the Carnegie Middle East Center, organized at the Phoenicia Hotel and entitled “World on edge: What to expect in 2018”.

In a dialogue on “Lebanon in a turbulent region”, Hariri answered the questions of the Center’s director Maha Yehia and then of the audience, on Lebanese, regional and international issues.
He started by saying: “I want to thank you all for being here and I hope we will have a frank discussion about Lebanon and about what is happening around us. I will try to be as frank as I can be. I will not “spill the beans” today. Thank you all and I look forward to having a good debate”.

Question: You recently rescinded on your resignation after a politically turbulent month, to say the least. In the short government statement last week you emphasized the Taef Agreement, particularly the power sharing aspect of it, but also the policy of disassociation from regional conflicts. The question is how do you plan on monitoring this disassociation and making sure it gets implemented? How will the government go about this?
Hariri: It is obvious to me that we look for Lebanon’s interest and I think that any political party that wants Lebanon’s stability and Lebanon’s interest vis-à-vis the Arb world, vis-à-vis our economic interests with the gulf states and the Arab world is bound to follow the disassociation policy. The good thing is that for the first time we have a government decision on the disassociation with all political parties agreeing to this policy. And I believe that everybody realizes the danger we are in, whether economic or political or stability wise. I believe that all political parties are willing to act on this policy positively. I understand the difficulties that some Gulf States have of accepting Lebanon’s political contradictions that we live in, but this is a fact that we have in Lebanon and I believe that pushing all the political parties towards the disassociation policy is extremely important. And if people or political parties do not follow this policy they will be the ones to blame. In the end Lebanon or the people of Lebanon should not pay the price of certain ventures that some political parties would do, and I don’t only mean certain political parties like Hezbollah but also we have, as political parties and as Future Movement, also to abide by this disassociation policy because we have political differences with Hezbollah regionally. We will not agree on their policy vis-à-vis what they want in the region and they will not agree with what we want in the region. So the best thing is to put aside these differences and make sure that we all serve the interest of Lebanon.

Question: Are there concrete steps you are expecting from Hezbollah?
Hariri: From the day we started this policy, you can see the rhetoric in the media has calmed down a little bit. We will follow through on these issues. Any break of this disassociation policy, I will follow diligently. I think there were some issues that happened in the South of Lebanon. We had a statement and I made myself very clear and the President took steps on this issue, where we had the Iraqi militia on the borders. So we are taking steps and we are making sure that this policy is going to be followed through to the end.

Question: You just came back from the international Support Group for Lebanon meeting that was hosted by President Emmanuel Macron. There are also a series of upcoming conferences intended to support Lebanon. There is Paris 4, there is the Rome conference in support of the Lebanese army and then in April 2018 there is the Brussels conference for refugees. Can you outline Lebanon’s expectations from these conferences and its responsibilities towards the international community?
Hariri: The goals we have in these conferences are the following: We want to make sure that we have political stability. You have to understand that Lebanon is passing through a very hard time in every single sector, whether it is economy, environment, stability, security or any sector you think of.
First of all we need to have political support for the stability of Lebanon and I think we did that in the ISG in Paris, and the road map that we drew for these conferences is: one, to support Lebanon for this stability that we have today. Second, to ensure that security wise we have the means to fight any security breach in the country. That is why we want a Rome II conference where we have commitments from different countries to help the LAF and the ISF and all security services. If you want economic stability, you have to have the first two to start with. I think we started with the political and will go to the Rome II and we will go to the Paris conference for economic support for Lebanon. This is a project that we have been working on for the last six to eight months in the government. We will finalize hopefully very soon and this will give the confidence for people to come to Lebanon to invest. If we have the support of most of the countries that they will come to Paris conference, we will have a story to tell. We have 1.5 million Syrian refugees and this is a fact and these refugees need to go back to Syria. But by the time they leave we have to deal with their presence here. We are doing a public service for the whole international community and I believe the international community has a responsibility towards Lebanon, in helping it get either grants, soft loans or concessional loans in order to move our economy, because no matter how much we pay today to the refugees, this is not going to create jobs. We need to create jobs for the Lebanese and for the Syrians, and in order to create jobs, we have to start by investing in big infrastructure jobs: electricity, roads, dams and all these infrastructure projects. We have almost finalized all these projects and it is going to be between twelve to fifteen billion over six – seven years. This is what we want to see the international community commit to. But you have to understand that thirty to forty percent of this project is also done by the private sector. So we are not only looking for grants or concessional loans but also we are looking for big private companies to come from the international community to invest in the power generation, in toll roads, in Rafic Hariri airport. I remember when my father built it at the time, everybody criticized him because he was building an airport for six million people, and today we have ten million people who travel through this airport and we need to expand this airport to sixteen million travelers.
As a government we shouldn’t be paying for the expansion of this airport we should do it on the PPP basis, we should let the private sector strive in this country. We want the Lebanese businessmen who are all over the place to come back to Lebanon. I believe that Lebanon will come out of this crisis in a very positive way.

Question: So basically the economic vision that you are putting together despite the turbulence in the region…
Hariri: Any economic vision has to have political and security stability. So the whole process of these conferences is to get the political support for political stability. Then we go to Rome II we have the commitment of countries to help the LAF and the ISF because we want to implement UNSCR 1701. But in order for us to implement the 1701, we have to have a LAF that is able to move fast, to do its job fast. Unfortunately security in the past wasn’t a real investment that we believed in in Lebanon.
For instance in 2005 after the assassination of my father,  the number of ISF which is the police force in Lebanon was 9800 members for all Lebanon, today we have 28000 members. The LAF with all the problems we have in Lebanon, ie border control, 1701 and all the terrorist attacks, we only had forty thousand troops. Today we have 82000. So we increased our security forces, especially in the past four-five years, in order to face the challenges. I don’t think it is about numbers but about the right training, the right equipment and the right resources. My belief is that we should focus on the security forces where we invest in the kind of training that is good for Lebanon, to act against these terrorist attacks and protecting the borders. We had very good experiences with Great Britain, the United States, France and even Saudi Arabia. All these countries invested in our security forces. Iif we get these two, and stabilize ourselves, then economic stability or growth in the country is feasible.

Question: While you were in Paris, you had discussions including one with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Can you briefly discuss the outcomes, especially in view of increasing focus or actions by the United States on Hezbollah, recurring threats of an Israeli war, the apparent controversy in Paris over UN Resolution 1559 and even recent calls by Lebanon’s foreign minister for an economic boycott of the United States? How are you going to deal with these kinds of contradictions?
Hariri: I am sure the United States is very scared of us. (laughs)
The decision of the United States to consider Jerusalem the capital of Israel is a serious problem for the whole Arab and Islamic world and the whole world. I do not think that anyone else than the United States and Israel reacted positively to this decision. I believe the world reacted in the right way because it is breaking the international law, by this declaration. We believe that the two-state solution is the only solution for the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. We believe that Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine, but we are really concerned that this decision is giving a present to the extremists in the world.
I believe this is undoable and I think the decision by the United States is not wise and will not end the conflict. The Palestinians are there to stay and will not go anywhere. They will not leave. So if the world and if the United States want to be serious about this issue, they have to seriously look at solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
I believe that Netanyahu is not somebody who wants peace in the region because all he did along his tenure is to destroy the Oslo agreement or any agreement with the Palestinians. All of us should refuse this decision by the United States and I am sure that we will get somewhere. The decision of the Lebanese government is definitely to refuse the decision of the United States.

Question: Were there any discussions in view of actions by the United States on Hezbollah?
Hariri: The position of the United States vis-à-vis Hezbollah is clear and I think the European Union and lot of countries are very clear about Hezbollah. But I also believe that all are calling for a national dialogue to start working on this issue among the Lebanese and I think we should consider it seriously. I also believe that the issue of Hezbollah is bigger than Lebanon. It is a regional issue and it is not only the problem of Lebanon but also the problem of the international community. So if one wants to be serious on these issues, do not blame Lebanon on the issue of Hezbollah but blame the region on these conflicts. Discussions that should happen in the region are the only way to solve these issues. 

Question: Turning to the Gulf, Lebanon-GCC relations recently took a hit in 2017. So what brought this about and how do you see these relations unfolding in 2018?
Hariri: I cannot but understand the position of the Gulf as Prime Minister, as Saad Hariri and anyone in their right mind will understand it. There is a conflict, and some political parties in Lebanon are acting according to their own interests in the Gulf. I believe that this disassociation policy that we put on the table in the Council of Ministers is supposed to release that tension that we have between us and the Gulf. People want to see the results of this disassociation policy and they will see the results. I think the Gulf needs to understand also that we are friends, we want this relationship. Leaving Lebanon hanging like this is only going to serve others and a true relationship between us and the Gulf, and openness, will only strengthen our institutions in Lebanon, the LAF, the ISF, the economy and all the institutions. A real investment in Lebanon will only strengthen all institutions and weaken all political parties. If we have electricity, a strong army, all the services that we should have for citizens, then no political party is going to be strong. If we do our job like we are supposed to do it as a government I think all political parties, including Future Movement, will weaken. The agenda will be the benefit of the Lebanese people. In 2018 things will clear up much better with the Gulf States. I will be going there also and we will have discussions in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and all these countries hopefully very soon.       

Question: Many saw a gas oil link in your first trips after leaving Saudi Arabia. You went to France, Egypt and Cyprus. How entangled is this industry’s future with Lebanese politics?
Hariri: We have it on the table of the Council of Ministers tomorrow and it will pass with no problem. We will have some discussions in the Council of Ministers. It is going to be a clear cut discussion. “Total” has a good offer and finally, after five years of discussions on this issue, this government will be able to sign off the first gas and oil exploration.

Question: Lebanon and Israel are in disagreement over the demarcation of their respective maritime economic zone and this is something the United States has been trying to mediate…
Hariri: Yes we are working with the United States on this issue and I believe that we have gone through positive steps, but these discussions are ongoing and we can come to a closure on this issue. We need to finalize certain meetings and this government can finalize this problem.

Question: How would do you envisage the Lebanese-Syrian relations if Bashar Assad stays in power?
Hariri: Non-existent. I am not going to change my mind on this issue. The world has to understand that we have 1.5 million Syrian refugees and we believe in their safe return and their voluntary return. The United Nations has, now that there is some safety and security in some zones, to involve itself in those stable or de-escalation zones. If these zones become a fact and are secured and safe, then with the help of the United Nations, Russia, the United States or whoever, these refugees should go back to Syria. In the past, General Security officials were coming and going to Syria, for the safety of Lebanon. I think this is the maximum relation that we can foresee.

Question: The problem with the de-escalation zones is that they are not workable. Places like Eastern Ghouta continue to be besieged. Are there any safety measure or will you rely mainly on the UN to ensure that the move of the people is voluntary and safe at the same time?
Hariri: Anyone who wants to go back to Syria is free to go back. We are not holding anybody. At the same time, the world has to understand that any problem instigated by Israel will have an effect on 1.5 million refugees. These escaped the war and they will not stay in Lebanon or return to Syria but they will go somewhere else. The international community must understand that these people if they leave will not go to an Arab country but to Europe. We have done everything possible for them. But if a conflict opened in Lebanon, where will these people go?

Question: Let me ask you about the reconstruction process of Syria. The EU has stipulated that its financial support to the reconstruction of Syria will only take place after a political transition. You previously discussed the Lebanese role in the construction of Syria. What are the political implications and how do you see Lebanon’s involvement in the reconstruction process in view of the EU’s position?
Hariri: I think the EU or us or any country that wants to start a reconstruction effort in Syria has to understand that there will be a political end to the conflict. When we talked about Lebanon being involved in the reconstruction of Syria, we were saying that we should start building the infrastructure in Lebanon, so companies that would like to go to Syria and do the reconstruction can use the Lebanese expertise after the conflict ends.
We never said that we want to go to Syria while the conflict is ongoing and while there’s no final solution in Syria. I believe that EU position is the right position and will put pressure on the regime and on all countries to find a political solution because in the end the Syrian people have to go back home. We have to understand that any political process also on Syria has to include a solution for the refugees because you cannot have a political solution in Syria without bringing back about 5 to 7 million refugees that are lurking around the world and have no place to go. We have to make sure that the return of the refugees is part of the political solution in Syria.

Question: Moving to local politics, there is much speculation about the shape of political alliances coming up for the elections. Many are thinking of the 2005 alliances. What are the alliances you are aspiring to in the coming elections?
Hariri: It is a very good question and seriously I don’t have an answer for you today. We will have alliances with different political parties, we have allies, I have allies that I would like to hold on to. We have also this understanding or this alliance now with the president that proved good for the stability of the country, so we have to look for the interest of our political party to start with and we will act accordingly.
What’s important for the Future Movement is to make alliances to have the bigger bloc. These are elections, you might not like somebody but if he makes me win. There are certain political parties that we cannot ally with because our differences are tremendous but at the same time, we are going to be open to alliances that serve the interest of our political bloc.

Hariri then answered questions from the audience:

Question: Knowing Saudi Arabic, and probably you know personally Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia, do you foresee that in his eagerness to reinvent Saudi Arabia as a new nation, there will be an opening for Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel, and by this recognition also ask the Israelis to back from the Jerusalem issue and solve the problem, so we can have a neutral Lebanon, a better Middle East?
Hariri: First of all, I do not speak for Saudi Arabia, we understand that. But I believe that Saudi Arabia is reinventing itself and there are a lot of steps taking place, in moderation and openness in Saudi Arabia. I believe that people can see that.
On the issue of Jerusalem. I think the Saudi position has been very clear by the declaration of the foreign ministers in the Arab League. The Saudi government is very clear on the issue of Jerusalem. I believe also that the only way to move forward on this conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis is the Arab initiative towards the two state solution for Israel and Palestine.
I believe also that this conflict has to take some serious steps towards an ending so the Arabs should be ready for their initiative to start the real discussions. The decision on Jerusalem only made things worse so I don’t think that anybody is willing to take the step towards Israel.

Questions:  1- I think the disassociation policy leads to one place, the formal neutrality of this country. Obviously, disassociation is the first step. Do you foresee a road map towards formal neutrality of Lebanon or is that beyond our expectations at this point?
2- What happened since you announced that you will reveal everything bothering you, saying “I will spill the beans” two days ago, and this morning we had this tweet from our dear friend Marcel Ghanem saying that you cancelled or postponed the program. Why do we have the impression that yesterday’s allies are becoming today’s enemies and yesterday’s enemies are becoming today’s allies? What happened?
Hariri: On “spilling the beans”, I was having a discussion with a group of young Beirutis at the Center House. I said specifically that one day I will have an interview with Marcel, I did not decide the day, I said one day I will have an interview with Marcel and I will spill the beans. This is what I meant, I did not decide when, but now every person is a news outlet so with all these live Facebook, Instagram, they said that Saad is going to have an interview.
On the issue of the alliances, I do not believe this. My job today is to unite the Lebanese and the biggest challenge that I have is that during this crisis, all the Lebanese came around and wanted me to come back and this is a great responsibility and I am not a person who wants to make enemies. I want to unite an agenda in the interest of Lebanon not in the interest of Saad. I believe that the media has been expanding on these issues of conflicts between me and certain allies. This is not my policy and we should have clear a discussion on how to move forward for the country, not for Saad but for the country and this whole story of allies being enemies is absolutely not true.
On the issue of disassociation and neutrality, I believe that this is a first step and we need to make sure these steps are abided by all political parties. The neutrality of Lebanon is a policy but you can never be neutral regarding a conflict with Israel. We should be neutral, or enforce more disassociation in the future. to have a neutrality maybe in the Arab conflicts between certain countries. I believe that Lebanon has acted on this issue quite well. When it comes to the regional conflicts, we need to work more. It is still too early to venture into something like this but I think most Lebanese would like to see a Lebanon as a country that is not involving itself in conflicts that have nothing to do with Lebanon. We will work on it. Nothing is impossible by the way.

Question: We hear a lot about corruption files, when will the Lebanese justice be able to solve these files immediately and fairly?
Hariri: We all know that Lebanon is suffering from corruption and this is due to our lack of decision for 3 years in electing a president. I think the previous government tried everything to limit any kind of corruption but when you don’t have the head of the pyramid and when you have a government that is dysfunctional, a parliament that wasn’t able to meet to convene and to pass laws, when you have institutions that didn’t have their heads of pyramids especially the supervisory institution to fight this corruption, it is not an easy task. A large part of fighting corruption will be by moving to E-government because this will cut corruption in a tremendous way. We filled up all the vacancies in the supervisory positions and at the same times, just a month and a half ago, we did appointments in the justice departments. It is a start, it is not enough, we need to do a lot of work on this issue.
I believe that all political parties should remove their hands when it comes to corruption.

Question: 1- I would like to go back to local politics and especially the upcoming elections. How confident are, you representing a major line, that the outcome of these elections will really reserve, at least the actual balance within the parliament, because some analysis I have read, and I spoke to many experts on the matter, expect probably the axis of the resistance to come in the upcoming elections will be at least 71 members. This is going to disturb the balance and probably this majority could make new laws to bring major changes to the Lebanese system.
2- The disassociation policy is the corner stone of your government, which is a one way policy from Lebanon to regional neighbors. What about reciprocity, have you had any assurances that regional powers like Iran will not intervene in local politics through allies, whether local or such as Khazaali lately?
3-We are heading towards elections and the situation is very critical, will these elections improve the situation or will they reflect the condition in which we live? Concerning civil society, does the government have a strategy to move the civil society from consensual democracy to a real democratic process?
Hariri: First of all, on the question of parliament. If you go back to 2009, when we passed the law of 1960, the same people said the same things about the results of parliament and yet we were able to win the elections and we won it by good majority. I believe the parliament in the Future is going to be the same outcome. All these discussions about March 8th winning the elections come from people who are scared of the electoral law or want to delay the elections. I do not think there will be one majority in the country. The alliances today in this government are not about 8 and 14. The problem we have today is there are certain people are still fixated in their old tranches and do not want to move forward. This new alliance between us and the president has nothing to do with 8 and 14 but is for the interest of the country and we have showed it many times on different matters. Trying to differentiate between 8 and 14 again or the division we had in the past is not going to make the country move forward because for 12 years before electing President Aoun, we had 8 and 14. But what did we do? We had a horizontal and vertical division in the country and nothing moved. No economic file moved, no political file moved, we had some achievements for March 14, like the tribunal, things that were important for us and the country. But when it comes to the economy, when it comes to the interest of the people, to moving forward the country, to ending this kind of division, to lessening the tension between Sunnis and Shias, we have to understand that we don’t live in a cocoon. We live in a region that is boiling and exploding and we see the conflict in Iraq, Syria and it could have easily come to Lebanon. Our responsibility as political leaders is to make sure that this fire does not touch Lebanon and yes sometimes we have to make compromises and we all make compromises but I do not believe that the outcome of this election is going to tilt like you said.
I remember in 2009, everybody was convinced, and this was at the peak of the conflict between March 8 and 14, that March 8 was going to win the elections and will have 71 or 75 members in parliament and the outcome was the opposite. I believe this time it’s going to be the same. The law is difficult and not the law we are used to. But I believe that you will have much more civil society come into parliament, and knowing them and their goals, they are going to be either with us or against us. I believe they have their own agenda, their agenda can make us work harder because they are going to push us to enhance ourselves politically.

Question: If we open a Carlton Ritz in Beirut, who do you think should be in it?
Hariri: Ooooh (laughs in the crowd). But we have a Phoenicia (laughs). Do you think you are getting out of here? (laughs)

Question: How can you guarantee the disassociation policy, not using Lebanon as a proxy for regional wars, when we know that Hezbollah and other political parties are historically, confessionally, financially, politically, and in the case of Hezbollah militarily, sponsored by these regional powers that are in high conflict? How can you guarantee something like this in the context of the actual ties that political parties on both camps have with regional powers?
Hariri: The problem should not be Lebanon’s problem. It’s a regional conflict and the regional players are the ones supposed to pay the price. We always want to blame Lebanon, because Lebanon is the weakest link in the chain. Yes maybe Hezbollah is in Lebanon, but at the same time the conflicts in the region are played by regional players. It is like in Syria. The problem in Syria is that everybody is involved there. So do you blame one side or do you blame all sides? Why didn’t we end this conflict from the beginning? Because the international community did not move forward as it should. How many conflicts did we have against Israel under the pretext that Israel wants to get rid of Hezbollah? Was Israel successful in ending Hezbollah? Or did it only make sure that Hezbollah became stronger? The solution is dialogue. The solution is a political solution. It is not Lebanese but regional. You can blame this country as much as you want but you know very well there are so many millions of Lebanese here and around the world who don’t want this conflict and don’t want to be involved. Do you take a policy that alienates these people who are against any conflict? Or do you go for the main problem that is causing all of this? Let us stop hiding behind our finger, let us see things as they are and let us solve these issues like they should be solved. There is a regional conflict that the international community understands but it does not have the guts to take position on these issues. Don’t blame Lebanon, blame the international community.

Question: The fact is the Syrian Republic is still led by Bachar el-Assad, which is a government still recognized by the United Nations, whether we like it or not. Lebanon has an embassy in Syria and Syria has an embassy in Beirut. The point is to deal with the refugees crisis. You said that you refuse the contact with the Syrian government. But if it is in the Lebanese interest, isn’t it more responsible to deal with the Syrian government, because we know the UN can deal we this issue as crisis management, not a solution? In the Lebanese interest, isn’t it worth it to deal even with the devil?
Hariri: Is Lebanon the only country that has refugees? Iraq has, and has good relations with the regime. Jordan, Turkey and Egypt have refugees and relations with the regime. Did any refugee go back from these countries? No. It is not about the relation with the regime, it’s about the safety of these people. They need to go back for sure. I do not think that opening to the regime would take them back, because all these countries have relations with the regime. Why didn’t the refugees return? Because there is a problem for them to go back. For their safety and also because I do not think that the regime wants them to return. This is why the refugees issue is very important for Lebanon, and we are the ones suffering the most. I totally agree with the notion that we need to implement Lebanese law here. The international community also needs to be responsible for its commitments. If everybody does his job well and right, the refugees can go back.
We cannot be in the policy of refoulement because the moment we do that the International community will have a very bad reaction towards Lebanon. We need the international community, but it needs to understand that Lebanon can’t sustain this kind of pressure and they need to help us.
That’s why any conference to encourage people to help Lebanon is a public service for all the international community.
But let us not mix between the Syrians and the Palestinians. The Syrians have a country, a land and passports, and can go back when the conflict ends.
I believe that talking to the regime will only benefit the regime, but it will not do anything for the return of the refugees. The right venue on this issue is to talk to countries that are friends with the regime to stop the conflict. It is coming to an end. We are seeing a little stability. There are talks in Geneva and Astana. There is an understanding between the US and Russia and the players in the region, especially the Europeans, to end this conflict and this has to happen fast. These countries have to push their egos a little bit and work on solving the issue of Syria. It is not about who has more influence, it is about 25 million people who are suffering day and night and this conflict has to end. — Media office

 

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Chinese Foreign Minister delivers speech at Opening of Symposium On International Developments and China's Diplomacy in 2017

NNA – Following is the speech delivered by the Chinese Foreign Minister at the Opening of the Symposium On International Developments and China’s Diplomacy in 2017:

“Experts and friends,

I’m very pleased to meet you again at the year end to review the international developments and China’s diplomacy in the past year and hear your insights on our diplomatic work going forward.

The outgoing year 2017 is of special, high significance to both China and the world.

The world is at a crucial stage of evolving international landscape and shifting balance of power, facing growing destabilizing and uncertain factors and new problems and challenges on multiple fronts. The human society has once again come to a crossroads of history. Should one opt for openness or isolation, cooperation or confrontation, win-win or zero-sum game? These are questions we are all thinking hard about. The choice made by major countries will significantly impact the future of our world and the entire mankind.

As for China, since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China has made historic achievements and registered historic changes in wide-ranging areas. The 19th CPC National Congress successfully held this year established the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, opened up new horizons for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and set out the direction and objectives of China’s diplomacy in the new era. This has given Chinese answers to the serious questions confronting the world. That is to say, China believes it is essential to advance peace, development and win-win cooperation, foster a new form of international relations and build a community with a shared future for mankind. It is fair to say that we have taken stock of our achievements and broken new ground in China’s diplomacy in the year of 2017.

Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee this year, we have earnestly implemented the new thinking, new ideas and new measures put forward by General Secretary Xi Jinping in the past five years by taking active, innovative and pioneering steps, and made many breakthroughs and important headway in our diplomatic work. These achievements can be summed up in the following five aspects:

First, we have drawn up the blueprint for jointly undertaking the Belt and Road Initiative. In the past four years since President Xi Jinping put it forward, this major initiative has been translated from an envisioned concept into real action and progress on the ground. The initiative has delivered real benefits through win-win cooperation and attracted extensive attention and participation. More and more countries are looking to China with high expectation for cooperation opportunities under the Belt and Road framework.

Last May, President Xi Jinping successfully chaired the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing. The forum generated huge enthusiasm around the world and the keenness to participate was overwhelming. The heads of state/government from 29 foreign countries, senior representatives from over 130 countries and heads of over 70 international organizations attended the event. It became the most extensively attended and most highly represented multilateral diplomatic event that China had initiated and hosted. And it produced a broad consensus among the nations from across the world on jointly advancing the Belt and Road Initiative.

At the BRF, President Xi Jinping set out the objective of building the Belt and Road into a road for peace, prosperity, opening-up, innovation and exchanges among civilizations. Plans were laid out for future cooperation under the Belt and Road framework, presenting the prospects for common development and prosperity. Underpinned by real actions and concrete projects, the BRF produced over 270 specific results under 76 broad categories across five key areas. A series of major projects were launched on the ground during the forum. A win-win cooperation network is coming into being, centering around the Eurasian continent and reaching out to continents and oceans across the world. And an international cooperation platform has been put into place for countries to synergize their development strategies and complement each other with comparative strengths for enhanced connectivity and inclusive and open development.

The Belt and Road has become the most popular international public goods in today’s world. Its success lies in the fact that by focusing on the dual deficits in development and governance and the dual challenges of anemic global growth and lack of drive in global cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative has responded to the shared desire for accelerated development, and sought to pool the economic factors and developmental resources from wider areas following an approach of pursuing shared benefits through consultation and collaboration. This opens a new pathway for resolving development conundrums, improving economic governance, achieving sustainable development and rebalancing globalization.

Up till now, we have signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with 80 countries and organizations, conducted institutionalized cooperation on industrial capacity with over 30 countries, and built 75 overseas economic and trade cooperation zones in 24 countries under the Belt and Road framework. Chinese businesses have invested over US$50 billion and created near-200,000 local jobs in the countries along the Belt and Road. Building on the first BRF, the Belt and Road Initiative is developing across the board and has shown strong vigor and vitality. It carries far-reaching positive implications for global development, and will also lend strong and sustained impetus to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Second, we have been a strong advocate of economic globalization. In a time of sluggish economic growth and recovery as well as global turbulence and unending conflicts, the judgment and leadership of global statesmen and the ability to take swift action are more sought after than gold. President Xi’s visit to Davos early this year was such a trip that has boosted global confidence and charted the way forward for economic globalization.

In his keynote speech at the World Economic Forum, President Xi pointed out that the road of human progress has never been a smooth one, but no difficulty, however daunting, can stop mankind from advancing. In the face of difficulty, instead of making complaints or blaming others, we should come together and rise to the challenge. He emphasized that many of the world’s problems are not caused by economic globalization, and trying to reverse the trend of globalization will be futile, just as it is impossible to channel the water in the global economic ocean back into isolated lakes and creeks. He stressed the importance of steadfastly building an open global economy, reminding us that those who pursue protectionism will lock themselves in a dark room deprived of light and air. President Xi also put forward China’s proposal for boosting global growth and making globalization more balanced. He called for joint efforts to develop a model of innovation-driven growth, open and win-win cooperation, fair and equitable governance, and balanced and inclusive development.

President Xi’s visit to the United Nations Office at Geneva is the first such visit by China’s top leader in the 21st century, and a major diplomatic initiative after his participation in the summits commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. It sent a clear message that China fully supports the United Nations and multilateralism. At the Palace of Nations, President Xi gave a full account of his major international initiative to jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind, provided China’s perspectives on addressing the many global challenges facing human society, and built international consensus on China’s proposal.

From Davos to Geneva, from Hamburg to Da Nang, President Xi delivered a series of important speeches, laying out China’s clear position on a range of issues, suggesting the way forward for the world economy and making contribution to global governance. Thus, China is emerging as the most positive factor in the evolution of the international system and the most dynamic force for improving global governance. The Chinese dream is increasingly linked with the dream of the world.

Third, we have been an anchor for stable relations among major countries. The China-US relationship affects not just the wellbeing of the two countries but also that of the world. Since China and the United States reopened doors to exchanges 45 years ago, this relationship has come a long way. We have had both rosy and thorny episodes; we have seen not only storms but also rainbows. The two countries have evolved from mutual estrangement to key partners for each other, because the two sides act in the fundamental interests of the two peoples, bear in mind the big picture of bilateral relations and share the desire to move in the right direction.

The Presidents of the two countries have always played a key role in developing the relationship. The three meetings and many letters and phone calls between President Xi and President Trump this year have provided a strategic anchor to what is the most complicated and consequential relationship in the world. Soon after President Trump had taken office, he and President Xi met in Mar-a-Lago, agreeing on the establishment of four high-level dialogue mechanisms covering various fields in China-US relations, outlining cooperation plans in key areas, and thus enabling the smooth transition and good start of China-US relations under a new administration. Shortly after the 19th CPC National Congress, President Trump paid a state visit to China, during which both sides agreed to expand cooperation across the board on the basis of mutual benefit and manage differences on the basis of mutual respect. The visit delivered tangible outcomes and important understandings for deepening cooperation in various fields, and the US side expressed their desire for a stronger relationship with China.

The sound interactions between the world’s two largest economies and their commitment to win-win cooperation is sending a strong signal to the world that more positive things are to be expected for all parties. A good China-US relationship will benefit both countries and peoples and be welcomed by the international community. Of course, the China-US relationship has never been smooth sailing and progress can only be made by overcoming various difficulties and interferences. The social system, history and culture of the two countries are different. China has no intention to change or displace the United States; the US cannot expect to dictate to China or impede its development. The ever more extensive cooperation and close exchanges at different levels have tied the two countries’ interests closely together. There is far more that they share than they disagree. Cooperation leads to win-win outcomes while confrontation can only result in a lose-lose situation. This is a plain truth that anyone with a strategic vision and sober mind will recognize. It is a trend that will not bend to the will of any individuals. Recognizing this, China and the US need to find ways to better get along with each other. China is willing, on the basis of mutual respect, to live peacefully with the American superpower. The US needs to understand and accept a China that is following its own path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, one suited to its own conditions. When engaging with each other, both countries must observe the rules, by which I mean the commonly recognized international law and basic norms governing international relations, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the three communiqués between China and the United States. For both countries, the old-fashioned mentality of zero-sum game and confrontation works no longer. Putting aside differences, seeking common ground and pursuing win-win cooperation are the only right choice for a bright future.

China and Russia are each other’s largest neighbors. Having stood the test of a changing international landscape, this relationship has proven to be both historic and forward-looking, and has grown increasingly resilient and stable. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, thanks to efforts of both sides, has continued to move forward at a high standard. Frequent interactions between President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, who exchanged visits and met five times throughout the year, have enabled consistent, close coordination on major issues concerning global strategic stability, forged greater synergy of development strategies that are crucial to the revitalization of Eurasia, and steered China-Russia strategic coordination toward higher levels and into more areas and greater depths. China-Russia relationship has become a major cornerstone for world peace and stability, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation.

China and Europe have continued to make fresh headway in the development of the partnership for peace, growth, reform and progress of civilization. President Xi Jinping paid successful visits to Germany, Switzerland and Finland and met with the new French President Emmanuel Macron and the UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Hamburg to maintain and strengthen strategic communication. Premier Li Keqiang attended the annual China-EU Summit and worked with leaders of the 16 Central and Eastern European countries to advance the building of the cross-regional cooperation platform. Notwithstanding the various uncertainties in Europe, China’s Europe policy remains consistent and rock-firm. We will continue to approach and advance relations with Europe from a global perspective and in the context of the world’s major trends. We firmly support the European integration process and welcome EU’s unity and development. We are committed to managing and handling differences on the basis of mutual respect, and will work to expand converging interests and explore new growth areas in regional cooperation to enrich and expand the strategic substance of China-Europe relations.

Fourth, we have worked to maintain stability in our neighborhood and the sound momentum of regional cooperation. As we Chinese people often say, a close neighbor is better than a distant relative. China has therefore every reason to maintain friendship and amity with its neighbors. For his first overseas visit after the 19th CPC National Congress, General Secretary and President Xi Jinping chose Viet Nam and Laos, two socialist neighbors sharing mountains and rivers with China, as his destinations. The visit renewed our traditional friendship, deepened practical cooperation, and sent a clear message to the international community, demonstrating China’s commitment to building a community with a shared future in its neighborhood. President Xi Jinping met with President Rodrigo Duterte twice this year and Premier Li Keqiang paid a successful visit to the Philippines. China-Philippines relations hold out a prospect of steady development. While making new friends, we have not forgotten the old ones. We have deepened mutual trust and enhanced mutual support with traditional friends such as Cambodia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

For some time, China-ROK relations met with headwinds due to the THAAD issue. Since President Moon Jae-in took office, he has opted for friendship and cooperation with China and the ROK side has made important public statement that the ROK will not consider additional THAAD deployment, not participate in the US missile defense network and not develop a trilateral military alliance with the US and Japan. Our two sides have reached agreement on handling the THAAD issue for the current stage. In a few days, President Moon Jae-in will pay his first state visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. China is ready to work with the ROK to take the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations as an opportunity, cherish the cooperation outcomes already achieved, increase mutual understanding and mutual trust, effectively manage differences, and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides. China and the ROK will work for the sound development of the bilateral relations and stay committed to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan relations. There are more than enough experience and lessons over the past 45 years to help people come to realize the crux of the problem in China-Japan relationship and the great importance of its sound development. We value the recent steps Japan has taken to improve ties with China and welcome Japan’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative. We hope Japan will not hesitate, backpedal or relapse, and we hope Japan will do more to increase understanding, dispel mistrust and facilitate sound interactions. We will see light at the end of the tunnel as long as we keep moving forward. We are ready to work with Japan to bring the bilateral relations back to normal at an early date and make friendship prevail again in our engagement.

Both being big developing countries, China and India have far greater shared strategic interests than concrete differences, and far greater needs for cooperation than partial frictions. China always values the good-neighborliness and friendship between the two countries as we are each other’s big neighbors and ancient civilizations. In the meantime, China is also firm in upholding its sovereign rights and interests and territorial integrity. We handled the Indian border troops’ trespass into China’s Dong Lang area in our national interest, on just grounds and with restraint. Through diplomatic means, we engaged with the Indian side and it withdrew its equipment and personnel. This demonstrates not only the value and emphasis we put on relations with India but also our sincerity and sense of responsibility in maintaining regional peace and stability. We believe that as long as we continue to engage in in-depth strategic communication and promptly dispel strategic misgivings, the strategic value of China-India cooperation will speak for itself, and there will be a prospect of “the Dragon and the Elephant Dancing Together” and “1+1=11” effect as expected by our leaders.

China-Mongolia relations suffered some setbacks previously. After the new government led by the People’s Party was formed, it attached greater importance to relations with China. Last week, during the new Mongolian Foreign Minister’s first visit to China, he stressed that Mongolia sees China as a strategic priority in its foreign policy and reiterated Mongolia’s firm commitment to the one China policy and respect for China’s core interests on Tibet- and Xinjiang-related issues and on the Taiwan question. China highly appreciates that. The Mongolian side has realized the importance of maintaining policy consistency and hopes to make Mongolia-China relationship an exemplary one between neighbors. We welcome that and would like to make joint efforts with Mongolia toward that end.

China always champions regional cooperation in its neighborhood and safeguards peace and development in the region. At the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Da Nang, President Xi Jinping, responding to the new developments and challenges in Asia-Pacific economic cooperation, reaffirmed the commitment to fostering an open economy, and called for more steps toward the building of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) and new progress in the economic integration of the Asia Pacific. In Astana, at the first summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) after its expansion, President Xi stressed that the SCO members should stay true to their original aspiration, carry forward the Shanghai Spirit, keep abreast with the times, and open new ground in promoting regional cooperation in order to ensure that the SCO continues to move forward in the right direction. At the East Asia leaders’ meetings in Manila, Premier Li Keqiang underscored the need to take China-ASEAN relations to a higher level with better quality and greater maturity, and called for the building of the East Asia Economic Community at a faster pace. We have actively advanced the mechanism of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC), a sub-regional cooperation initiative first put forward by China. We have promoted the theme of “shared river, shared future”, fostered the culture of “equality, sincerity, mutual assistance and kinship”, and advanced cooperation to the benefit of the people with a can-do spirit. Our cooperation, with its focus on efficiency and practical results, has contributed to the wellbeing of people in this region. Since the launch of this mechanism over a year ago, notable early harvest has been achieved, and the LMC Special Fund has gone into full operation. With progress made every day and results delivered every month, LMC cooperation has proven to be a mechanism with great efficiency.

China’s position on the South China Sea has been upheld by successive Chinese governments, which reflects both the continuity of China’s policy and our firm resolve to uphold sovereignty. All the littoral states of the South China Sea are China’s neighbors. It has always been our hope to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation. Since the beginning of this year, we have worked actively to ease the situation in the South China Sea. We have restored and reinforced the consensus between China and ASEAN countries to peacefully resolve disputes through dialogue and consultation by the countries concerned, and facilitated the joint efforts of regional countries to develop the rules of the South China Sea. With agreement reached on the framework of a code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea ahead of schedule, we have officially declared the commencement of consultations on the COC text.

The mutual trust is all too precious between China and ASEAN countries; and stability has not come easily in the South China Sea. Some countries outside this region seem to feel uncomfortable with the calm waters in the South China Sea and are still looking for opportunities to stir up trouble. However, just as the high mountains cannot stop the river from flowing to the ocean, the positive trend in the South China Sea cannot be reversed. China and ASEAN countries have both the ability and wisdom to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

As a key member of the international community, China has actively worked for the settlement of hotspot issues in its neighborhood. On the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, we have kept firmly in mind the goal of upholding the international non-proliferation regime, safeguarding peace and stability of the Peninsula, and achieving the denuclearization of the Peninsula, and stayed committed to resolving the issue through dialogue and negotiation. To this end, we have fully and strictly implemented the DPRK-related resolutions of the UN Security Council. While taking concrete actions to curb the DPRK’s nuclear and missile development, we have put forward the “suspension for suspension” proposal with the aim of creating conditions for resuming dialogue and negotiation. Taking an objective and impartial stand and a responsible attitude, China has fulfilled its due international obligations and played its unique role in implementing the resolutions, promoting peace and talks, upholding stability and preventing chaos on the Peninsula. Through shuttle diplomacy, we have encouraged Afghanistan and Pakistan to agree on a bilateral crisis management mechanism, and made our contribution to Afghanistan’s domestic political reconciliation and reconstruction and the improvement of Afghanistan-Pakistan relations. We have conducted mediation between Myanmar and Bangladesh and put forward a three-step proposal to resolve the issue in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. The proposal has been well-received by both countries, contributing to a preliminary consensus and the signing of the relevant agreement between the two sides.

Fifth, we have ushered in the second “Golden Decade” of BRICS cooperation. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the five BRICS countries, the BRICS mechanism has continued to grow despite various pessimistic rhetoric, and the BRICS Xiamen Summit chaired by President Xi has been a full success. At the summit, BRICS countries decided to develop a closer, broader and more comprehensive strategic partnership, and upgrade BRICS cooperation with three pillars of economic, trade and financial cooperation, political and security cooperation, and people-to-people exchange. The summit is a milestone in BRICS cooperation, as it has opened a brighter prospect for the cooperation, and boosted international confidence in the future of emerging markets.

With the first ever Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries, the Xiamen Summit introduced a new approach to cooperation, namely BRICS+. The dialogue, which invited the leaders of five major emerging market and developing countries in the world such as Egypt, focused on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, deepened practical cooperation between BRICS and African, Latin American, Middle East and Eurasian countries, and built a new platform for South-South cooperation with a global impact.

In addition to the major outcomes in these five areas, we have firmly safeguarded national sovereignty and security, actively served China’s opening-up and domestic development, accelerated the capacity building to protect overseas interests, explored new ways of conducting public diplomacy, and launched the reform of the mechanisms and systems for our external work. These efforts have enriched the contents and expanded the outreach of China’s diplomacy.

China has made all-round progress and ground-breaking achievements on the diplomatic front since the 18th CPC National Congress. A most important reason behind this is the leadership and personal commitment of General Secretary Xi Jinping. Over the past five years, recognizing and riding the trend of the world and the times, General Secretary Xi has put forth a series of new ideas, measures and strategies that have provided guidance for the advance of China’s diplomacy. With tireless efforts and outstanding leadership, General Secretary Xi has engaged in intensive interactions with other world leaders to safeguard China’s national interests, enhance China’s international standing, and establish the profile of China as a major country in the world.

Experts and friends,

The 19th CPC National Congress which concluded with great success has charted the course for China’s external relations. General Secretary Xi Jinping made it clear in his report to the Congress that China will endeavor to foster a new form of international relations and build a community with a shared future for mankind, which identified the overarching goals of China’s foreign policy in the years ahead.

These twin objectives are inspired by the fine traditions of the 5000-year Chinese culture emphasizing the pursuit of the common good, by the core values championed by China’s peaceful foreign policy for over six decades, and by the CPC’s global vision of delivering benefits to the people of China as well as those of all other countries.

To foster a new form of international relations, we need to find a new approach to developing state-to-state relations with the following core principles. First, mutual respect. Countries of different size, strength or wealth, and with diverse systems, religions and civilizations, are all equals. Second, fairness and justice. The law of the jungle which puts the weak at the mercy of the strong must be rejected, and the legitimate rights and interests of all countries, in particular the developing countries, should be upheld. And third, win-win cooperation. The outdated mindset of zero-sum game or winner taking all should be replaced with a new approach of working for common development and shared benefits.

To build a community with a shared future for mankind, we need to come up with solutions to various global challenges. All countries and peoples live on the same planet, and thus have their future closely intertwined like passengers on the same boat. We need to make this world a big, harmonious family where all peoples’ needs for a better life can be met. To be more specific, we will build a five-in-one world, namely a world of lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity, and a world that is open, inclusive and enjoys a well-preserved ecology. This vision of our world is both inspired by the five-sphere integrated plan for our domestic development, and it echoes well with the trend of human progress and the shared aspirations of all countries.

The year 2018 will go down as the year for the beginning of the implementation of the decisions taken at the 19th CPC National Congress. As socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, we also need to gain a new outlook, make new accomplishments and take new responsibilities in the conduct of China’s foreign policy.

We will continue to break new ground in pursuing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in line with the strategic plans of the 19th CPC National Congress. The Congress’ report stressed at the very beginning of the foreign affairs section that “The Communist Party of China strives for both the wellbeing of the Chinese people and human progress. To make new and greater contributions for mankind is our Party’s abiding mission.” China, as the world’s largest developing country, will continue to take its development the top priority in governance. Modernization for all the 1.3 billion-plus Chinese people will be an extraordinary endeavor in history, and will be the biggest contribution of the Chinese nation to human progress. Above all, China needs to create a more favorable external environment and stronger external impetus for completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and for achieving the two centenary goals. At the same time, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a developing China also needs to consider and contribute to global wellbeing, shoulder its due international responsibilities for world peace, and play its role as a major country in promoting common development. For China’s diplomacy in the new era, we will take a longer and broader perspective, and be even more open-minded and resourceful in our diplomacy. We will give more consideration to the overall interests of the world and humanity, and work in a proactive manner.

Living in a world of major changes, transformations and adjustments, we will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, and strengthen friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. We will firmly uphold the existing international system with the UN at its core, and protect and expand the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. We will follow the principle of achieving shared benefits through consultation and collaboration in engaging in global governance, and strive for a more equitable and fairer international political and economic order. We will continue to treat all countries as equals, address international disputes through peaceful means, and work for greater democracy and rule of law in international relations. We will continue to act as a responsible major country to contribute to world peace, promote global development, and uphold the international order.

First, we will expand China’s network of global partnerships and promote a new form of international relations. In keeping with the historical trend, China has called for embracing a new approach to state-to-state relations that features dialogue rather than confrontation and partnership instead of alliance. As General Secretary Xi Jinping has explicitly pointed out, those who share the same ideal and follow the same path can be partners; those who seek common ground while shelving differences can also be partners. Guided by this inclusive and open-minded vision, China has established partnerships with over 100 countries. These countries are different from each other and our partnerships vary in formulation and format. Yet, the essence of partnerships is the same: treating each other as equals and pursuing win-win cooperation, while transcending differences in social system and development stage. This important practice by China, offering a new option for countries exploring approaches to state-to-state relations, is widely recognized and welcomed. Going forward, we will continue to work with other countries to expand converging interests and enhance the quality of partnerships, to create enabling conditions for and lending new impetus to our endeavor in building a new form of international relations.

In this endeavor, major countries have a key role to play. We will continue to enhance coordination and cooperation with Russia, the United States, Europe and other major countries and country groups. Hence, we will be able to build a framework for major-country relations of overall stability and balanced development that contributes to global peace, tranquility and harmonious development.

Second, we will start from our neighborhood and other developing countries in building a community with a shared future for mankind. China and its neighbors, connected by mountains and rivers, share the same aspiration for peace and development. This has created natural conditions for our joint endeavors. President Xi’s initiative to build a community with a shared future is meant to be oriented to China’s neighbors and other developing countries as a priority. We will make steady progress toward this goal by starting from our neighborhood and working with other developing countries.

China will deepen relations with its neighbors in line with the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness and the policy of forging friendship and partnership in its neighborhood. We will deepen win-win cooperation with our neighbors and help friendly countries boost their capacity for self-development through major events next year, such as the 15th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership and the formulation of a China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030. We will ensure the success of the two international conferences to be hosted by China and participated mainly by our neighbors next year, namely the Boao Forum for Asia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Qingdao summit, with a view to enhancing the regional consensus on mutual support and lending new impetus to regional cooperation. We remain committed to upholding stability in the South China Sea and promoting maritime cooperation with regional countries through the two wheels of implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and holding consultations on a code of conduct (COC). We will also work with regional countries to push for an early conclusion of the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in an effort to open a new chapter in Asia-Pacific cooperation.

China will, in keeping with the principle of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests and the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith, strengthen solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries. We will continue to make full use of the existing institutional platforms for cooperation with African countries, Latin American and Caribbean states, and Arab states respectively. Another significant event on China’s diplomatic agenda for 2018 will be hosting the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. At the forum, we will discuss plans for future development with our African brothers and sisters, and roll out new cooperation measures and explore new growth areas, to lift our cooperation to a new level. In particular, in meeting the aspiration of African countries, we will work to further synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with the Agenda 2063, making the Belt and Road cooperation a new, strong driver for China-Africa all-dimensional cooperation. We will also hold the ministerial meetings under the China-CELAC Forum and the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, which will further enrich China-CELAC and China-Arab cooperation.

Third, we will comprehensively advance the Belt and Road Initiative to benefit all other participating countries through win-win cooperation. President Xi Jinping outlined the blueprint for the Belt and Road Initiative while addressing the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. We are ready to make solid efforts with all the other parties to follow through on the 270 outcomes of the first BRF, develop the follow-up mechanisms, and ensure the success of ministerial meetings in key areas in preparation for the second forum to be held in 2019. We will work for real results in facilitating policy, infrastructure, trade, financial, and people-to-people connectivity and reach consensus with more countries for Belt and Road cooperation. We will focus on flagship projects along the key routes and at key junctions to reap early harvest to the benefit of our people. Through our work at the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China-Laos Economic Corridor, and China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, at the Piraeus port and Kyaukpyu port, at the China-Laos railway and China-Thailand railway in Asia and other railway projects in Africa, Europe and Latin America, we will strengthen new driving forces for and further upgrade Belt and Road cooperation. By earnestly implementing the principle of shared benefits through consultation and collaboration, we will ensure that this international public good plays its role of boosting development of countries and regions along the routes.

In addition, President Xi Jinping has announced at the BRF that the first China International Import Expo will be held in Shanghai next year. As the first expo devoted to expanding imports anywhere in the world, it testifies to China’s readiness to open its market and share its development opportunities with the rest of the world.

Fourth, we will actively explore a way of resolving hotspot issues with Chinese characteristics and play a bigger and more constructive role in upholding world stability. China is ready to take part in the peaceful settlement of hotspot issues, and actively explore a Chinese approach of constructive engagement. We will continue to advocate and practice the following three principles in the handling of hotspot issues, i.e. non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs or imposition of one’s own will on others; taking an objective and impartial approach and refraining from seeking one’s selfish interests; and striving for political solutions while rejecting the use of force. These principles have stood the test of time, yielded positive outcomes and received endorsement from more and more countries.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula, which has been caught up in a vicious cycle of provocation and confrontation, has remained grave. However, it is important to highlight that the hope of peace remains alive, and the possibility of negotiation still exists. War is by no means acceptable. China believes that parties need to give serious consideration to China’s “suspension for suspension” proposal, take the first step toward de-escalation to at least take the situation out of the “black hole” of confrontation, and endeavor to create the right conditions and atmosphere for the resumption of dialogue and negotiation.

China has put in more efforts and borne greater cost than any other party in addressing the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. China believes that all the parties’ efforts must be guided by the letter and spirit of relevant UN Security Council resolutions, which represent the common position of the international community and constitute an international responsibility that all UN members must fulfill. China, for one, has been implementing the resolutions in all earnest. China will not support or accept the demands of any party that are inconsistent with the resolutions or measures that go beyond the resolutions, still less unilateral actions, for they will only undermine the unity of the Security Council and the legitimate interests of other countries.

In recent days, the Middle East is again embroiled in turbulence. China has always firmly supported the Palestinian people’s efforts to restore their lawful rights. We support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that enjoys full sovereignty, with East Jerusalem as its capital and based on the 1967 border. The status of Jerusalem must be determined through dialogue and negotiation on the basis of UN resolutions, and the two-state solution remains a viable, fundamental solution to the Palestinian issue. We appeal to all parties to be level-headed and exercise restraint, and avoid creating new turbulence in a region already fraught with challenges. To continue its constructive role, China will implement President Xi’s four-point proposal for resolving the Palestinian issue, and work to convene a meeting in Beijing this year that brings together Palestinian and Israeli advocates of peace. The Syrian issue is likely to enter a new phase of political settlement. China supports dialogue and negotiations aimed at reaching a future political arrangement. We support joint counter-terrorism actions for the sake of regional stability and efforts to build lasting peace and security through reconstruction.

China will direct more attention and resources to the issue of Afghanistan. Before the end of the year, I will be joined by my Afghan and Pakistani counterparts in Beijing to discuss peace, reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan, improvement of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and cooperation among our three countries. The three-way foreign ministers’ meeting, the first of its kind, aims to build more consensus and produce tangible outcomes. In the meantime, China will continue its mediation for a proper, phased settlement of the situation in Rakhine state, Myanmar.

Fifth and finally, we will step up efforts to serve China’s domestic development and overseas interests in line with our national conditions and the needs of our people. In the course of this year, the Foreign Ministry has hosted successful events to promote five Chinese provinces, which helped Yunnan, Anhui, Jilin, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Jiangxi to increase their international profile. We also organized lecture tours to universities and Party schools, which enhanced the public’s understanding of the international landscape and China’s foreign policy.

In 2018, we will explore new ideas and approaches to better serve China’s development. To provide a better stage for Chinese provinces and municipalities to engage the world, the Foreign Ministry will present more of them under the theme of “China in a New Era”, and facilitate various initiatives of strategic importance for national development, most notably the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the planning and construction of the Xiongan New Area and the organization of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. We will also tap the resources at the disposal of the Foreign Ministry and our overseas missions to provide tailor-made information services for the reform and development at home.

The protection of Chinese nationals overseas is always a priority for us. Guided by a people-centered philosophy, we will continue to build capacity and institutions, deepen the reform of consular services, and improve the WeChat version of the consular hotline 12308 and other information platforms for our nationals to make consular services more accessible and popular. Recognizing China’s growing overseas interests and the new patterns of Chinese nationals and businesses going abroad, we will do more to facilitate their travel and mobility. We will also improve the mechanism and institution of consular protection, explore a system for safeguarding the safety and security of overseas Chinese nationals and businesses, and provide a reliable safety net for them.

Experts and friends,

Let me end by quoting from a poem, “With the rising tide and favorable wind, it is time to sail the ship and ride the waves.” The world is changing like never before, and China is on the final leg of its march toward national rejuvenation. In a great era that is unfolding before our eyes, let us follow the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, keep our mission firmly in mind, live up to the trust placed on us, and scale new heights in our major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. In this process, I welcome active participation and suggestions from all of you.

Thank you!” — Press release

       ==========D.K.

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EU boosts aid in Ethiopia amid worsening humanitarian situation

The European Commission has announced new emergency assistance of €15 million to help people in Ethiopia who are facing increasingly dangerous levels of food insecurity due to severe drought, bringing total EU humanitarian funding in 2017 to over €91 million. The support comes as the number of refugees arriving from neighbouring countries such as Eritrea, Somalia, and especially South Sudan is constantly increasing, as is the number of internally displaced people.

“Ethiopia is facing humanitarian crises on many sides – from those devastated by drought to the challenges brought by an upsurge in refugees from neighbouring countries. The EU is committed to support those in need in Ethiopia. Our new aid will enable humanitarian organisations to step up emergency food assistance and the treatment of malnutrition,” saidCommissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

The funding will also help address water supply, livestock protection, shelter and protection, notably for the increasing numbers of internally displaced people.

Due to consecutive low performing rain seasons, Ethiopia is facing the most critical levels of food and nutrition insecurity in 10 years, especially in its southern and south-eastern pastoral areas. The country also hosts the second largest number of refugees in Africa – over 880 000, which generates mounting humanitarian needs.

The EU also provides development aid for Ethiopia worth €745 million over 2014-2020 through the European Development Fund.

Background

Ethiopia is one of the countries that have been most affected by the El Niño phenomena. While it is still recovering from the 2015-2016 drought, the current Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) induced drought has taken hold in the south and south-eastern lowlands.

The number of people needing emergency food assistance has now reached 8.5 million. An estimated 3.6 million children and pregnant and lactating mothers are suffering from acute malnutrition. The prolonged drought has also caused massive livestock losses and has forced over 360 000 people out of their homes.

Ethiopia also hosts refugees in 25 camps located in Tigray, Afar, Somali, Gambella, and Benishangul Gumuz regions. It has been facing an increasingly growing influx of refugees mainly from South Sudan and Somalia, but also from Sudan and Eritrea. Meanwhile, escalating tensions and violent incidents along the Oromia – Somali regional border since September have resulted in a surge of displaced people across the two regions, leaving thousands in a highly precarious and vulnerable position.

At the same time, the number of internally displaced people now stands at over 1.3 million, following an escalation of internal conflicts since September.

For More Information

Factsheet Ethiopia

Factsheet Horn of Africa