Archive for October 6th, 2017

Africa: The Secretary’s Report on Whether the Government of Sudan Has Sustained the Positive Actions That Gave Rise to E.O. 13761 (2017)

Report
Bureau of African Affairs
October 12, 2017


On January 13, 2017, the President issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13761 (“Recognizing Positive Actions by the Government of Sudan and Providing for the Revocation of Certain Sudan-Related Sanctions”), which was subsequently amended by E.O. 13804 of July 11, 2017 (“Allowing Additional Time for Recognizing Positive Actions by the Government of Sudan and Amending Executive Order 13761”). Section 10 of E.O. 13761, as amended by E. O. 13804, provides that “[o]n or before October 12, 2017, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and based on a consideration of relevant and credible information from available sources, including nongovernmental organizations, shall provide to the President a report on whether the Government of Sudan (GOS) has sustained the positive actions that gave rise to this order, including carrying out its pledge to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan; continuing improvement of humanitarian access throughout Sudan; and maintaining its coordination with the United States on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism.” Section 10 of E.O. 13761 also provides that “[a]s much of the report as possible, consistent with sources and methods, shall be unclassified and made public.”

The Secretary of State is providing to the President this report pursuant to Section 10 of E.O. 13761, as amended by E.O. 13804. This report describes GOS actions between January 13, 2017, and October 12, 2017, (the reporting period) in the following five areas: 1) maintaining a cessation of hostilities (COH) in Darfur and the Two Areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states; 2) improving humanitarian access throughout Sudan; maintaining its cooperation with the United States on: 3) the conflict in South Sudan, 4) countering the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA); and 5) addressing the threat of terrorism.

This report concludes that the GOS has sustained the positive actions that gave rise to E.O. 13761. This conclusion is based on a consideration of relevant and credible information from available sources, including U.S. government observation and monitoring; relevant and credible reporting from outside sources; and U.S. government regular bilateral interaction with the GOS to develop areas of cooperation and address issues of concern, particularly related to maintaining a COH, improving humanitarian access, and addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism.

This report does not represent an endorsement of all of the GOS’s actions or behaviors in the reporting period. In fact, the U.S. Government continues to have a range of concerns about the GOS’s record and activities, including 1) its lack of progress towards a signed ceasefire with the main opposition groups in Sudan’s internal conflict areas and, more broadly, towards achieving a sustainable peace consistent with the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Roadmap Agreement; 2) its lack of progress in establishing rule of law in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan; 3) impunity for past atrocity crimes; 4) continuing areas of government interference in humanitarian operations; and 5) a number of issues related to human rights, including arbitrary detention, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and limitations on religious, political, and press freedom. Rather, this report assesses that the GOS has sustained the positive actions in the five areas noted above that gave rise to E.O. 13761. It remains in the U.S. national interest to recognize the GOS’s positive actions, and to build upon these actions to address other areas of concern in Sudan and the surrounding region. Per E.O. 13761, as amended by E.O. 13804, as a result of the publication of a Federal Register notice on or before October 12, 2017 stating that the GOS has sustained its positive actions, and the provision of this report to the President on or before October 12, 2017, the sanctions relief specified in E.O. 13761, as amended by E.O. 13804, will become effective on October 12, 2017.

However, the U.S. Government will retain a number of tools to address ongoing concerns in Sudan. The national emergency with respect to Sudan, established in E.O. 13067 of November 3, 1997, will remain in effect. The Darfur-related sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13400 of April 26, 2006 will remain in place as a means of addressing issues with respect to the conflict in Darfur. Moreover, the U.S. Government will maintain the authority to designate persons, including malign actors in Sudan, pursuant to other relevant sanctions authorities as appropriate. Sudan also remains on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, leaving in place restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance, restrictions on defense exports and sales, controls over exports and reexports of dual use items, and miscellaneous other restrictions.

Moving forward, the U.S. government will continue to emphasize the importance of, and press for, the continuation of sustained progress by the GOS under the five areas that gave rise to E.O. 13761, including further improvements in humanitarian access. Additionally, the United States will engage with the GOS on a framework to achieve further progress on these and other U.S. interests, including ensuring the GOS is committed to the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) on North Korea and is taking significant steps to improve its respect for human rights and religious freedom. The United States will continue to use diplomatic engagement to encourage and press for further progress in these areas and is prepared to use other existing tools, including targeted sanctions as appropriate, if the GOS engages in destabilizing or problematic activities in these areas.

Maintaining a Cessation of Hostilities in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile

(The GOS has sustained positive actions in maintaining a COH in conflict areas in Sudan by refraining from military offensives during the reporting period. This restraint stands in contrast to past behavior, such as the major Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) military campaign that targeted the Jebel Marra area in late 2015 and early 2016 and the dry season offensives that the SAF launched annually in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states since the conflict in these states began in 2011. Throughout the course of the reporting period, Sudan’s stated policy was to adhere to a unilateral COH in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and end military offensives in Darfur. On July 2, the GOS extended its unilateral COH pledge through October 2017. Sustaining a COH between the government and the armed opposition movements will be needed to allow space for the parties to sign formal, negotiated COH agreements, as both sides pledged to do under the AUHIP Roadmap, and would be a key step forward towards a sustainable end to these conflicts.

During this period, and in the future, we will continue to press the GOS to protect all its civilians, and address violence that occurs in Darfur and elsewhere within Sudan as the result of inter-communal clashes, criminality, and violence among militias and armed groups. Some of these groups were previously supported by the government but are now often unaccountable and operating independently. The focus of this track was to obtain a cessation of offensives and bombing by government forces, while encouraging progress by the government in addressing root causes of violence. In early August, the GOS began a weapons collection campaign targeting armed groups, although it is too early to assess its effectiveness. We will continue to urge the GOS to disarm these groups in an evenhanded way that does not spur more violence, and to find durable solutions to criminality, inter-communal conflicts, and the other persistent security issues that preclude the sustainable peace and stability needed for the return of Darfur’s refugees and internally displaced persons. Further, in many areas, government forces and those of the armed movements remain in proximity with no clear lines of control or disengagement between the two sides. As long as the opposing forces remain in such proximity, without a negotiated and monitored COH, a continuation of small-scale skirmishes remains possible.

In this reporting period, we have no confirmed evidence that the GOS, including the security forces under its command or control, initiated offensive military operations. Furthermore, there have been no confirmed reports of GOS aerial bombardments – a trademark of GOS offensives in previous years. The assessments set forth in this section are based on a consideration of relevant and credible information about the actions of the GOS. While we are aware of conflicting accounts regarding certain incidents, many of those accounts did not withstand scrutiny upon further efforts to corroborate information.

Darfur: The UN Secretary-General’s August 30 report to the Security Council on the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) reaffirmed the improved security situation in Darfur and highlighted the absence of significant hostilities between the GOS and armed opposition. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM‑MM) opposition factions have also announced unilateral COH pledges. On March 13, the GOS released 259 armed opposition prisoners belonging to JEM, SLM-MM, and the SLM-Abdul Wahid factions, as a sign of confidence-building towards a negotiated peace. Notwithstanding these positive developments, these movements and the GOS were unable to finalize and sign a formal COH agreement despite international mediation and support.

On May 19-20, immediately following informal COH consultations between the GOS and SLM-MM and JEM, fighting broke out in North and East Darfur between Sudanese government and SLM-MM forces. The U.S. government, as well as other sources, assessed that armed SLM‑MM forces arrived at two separate border points and entered, unannounced, into Sudan, which provoked clashes with GOS forces. We urged both parties to show restraint and to resume negotiations, and raised concerns over reports of subsequent clashes, looting, and other violence that occurred in the days following. Neither the U.S. government nor UNAMID, which conducted an extensive survey of the conflict areas, found any evidence of aerial bombardment. While UNAMID and others have confirmed accounts of looting and harassment of civilians in the immediate chaos and aftermath of the late May clashes in North Darfur, official reports indicate that the majority of the looting and harassment was committed by opportunistic armed militias and bandits, rather than GOS forces. That said, we remain concerned about the extent of the violence during these incidents, including GOS pursuit of opposition forces following initial fighting, as well as reports of attacks on civilians by armed militias.

On September 22, reports indicated that government forces clashed with protesters from the Kalma Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camp near Nyala, South Darfur. According to credible sources, a large number of IDPs gathered at Kalma to protest the visit of Sudanese President Bashir to the area. When GOS security forces attempted to disperse the IDPs, a clash allegedly ensued between the GOS forces and the IDPs. As a result, six IDPs were killed, and twenty-six IDPs and two GOS security personnel were also injured, according to reports. We have raised our concern about this incident publicly and with the government, particularly regarding the government’s use of live ammunition against protestors, and called for an investigation. More broadly, we have regularly called on the GOS to ensure that all members of its security forces operate within the chain of command and control, adhere to international human rights standards, and are held accountable for excessive use of force.

Throughout the reporting period we urged the GOS to improve access for UNAMID and to adhere to its Status of Forces Agreement. The aforementioned August UNSG report on UNAMID noted continued improvement in UNAMID’s operating environment, with fewer criminal incidents and movement restrictions. On September 26, the UN also reported improvement in the issuance of visas for UNAMID personnel, and the clearance of shipments bound for the mission, some of which had been awaiting clearance since 2015 accruing significant demurrage charges. Between July and September, the GOS facilitated the clearance of more than half of all pending shipments. Challenges remain, however, in obtaining visas for UNAMID human rights section personnel. On September 22, a UN-AU-GOS tripartite coordination mechanism agreed to resolve outstanding issues on visas and shipments and to cooperate towards the completion of UNAMID’s mandate, including the establishment of a temporary operating base in Golo, Jebel Marra. In August, the GOS released one UNAMID human rights employee who had been detained since November 2016.

As appropriate, the U.S. Government could use the Darfur sanctions authority (E.O. 13400) to designate actors for a range of activities in connection with the conflict in Darfur, including threatening the peace process in Darfur or stability in Darfur and the region, violations of international law in Darfur, and heinous conduct with respect to human life or limb in Darfur.

South Kordofan and Blue Nile (the Two Areas): Unlike all previous years since the Two Areas conflict began in 2011, there have been no confirmed aerial bombardments in Southern Kordofan or Blue Nile states during the recent dry season, or at all within this reporting period. In the Two Areas conflict zone, there were some reports of intercommunal fighting, criminal activity, attacks on civilians by armed groups, and isolated and minor skirmishes between government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) opposition forces. Despite the skirmishes, both sides have refrained from major offensives, and the SPLM-N released 132 prisoners of war during the reporting period. Notwithstanding these positive developments, the two sides have made only limited progress in negotiations towards signing a monitored COH agreement or agreeing to modalities to allow humanitarian access in SPLM‑N-controlled areas. Moving forward, we will continue engagement in support of negotiations under the AUHIP.

Improvement of Humanitarian Access Throughout Sudan

While humanitarian access remains constrained, and further progress is needed, relief organizations have cited the steady improvement in humanitarian access in government-controlled areas and an improved operational environment since January 2017. During the reporting period, the GOS took meaningful steps toward the expansion of humanitarian access, continuing a gradual reversal of longstanding constraints. In December 2016, the GOS issued revised Directives and Procedures for Humanitarian Action that largely adhere to international humanitarian principles for timely, impartial, and effective humanitarian access, and that address most of the key constraints cited routinely by relief organizations. If fully implemented, the revised Directives would enable significant progress toward the ultimate goal of sustained, unfettered humanitarian access. Since December 2016, and through the reporting period, the GOS has improved freedom of movement for humanitarian personnel in many areas of the country, and allowed new access to areas that were previously unreachable due to a combination of insecurity and government restrictions. Relief agencies received additional and more timely approvals for travel from the capital city of Khartoum to state capitals. Further, relief agencies secured access to several previously inaccessible areas of Sudan during the reporting period, enabling the delivery of assistance to additional populations in parts of the Darfur region and government-controlled areas of Blue Nile State. Furthermore, GOS efforts to facilitate transport and delivery of life-saving food assistance to South Sudan, via humanitarian corridors through Sudan, constitute additional positive actions.

Positive developments in humanitarian access are tempered by the uneven travel approval process, which contributes to a continued challenging operating environment. Increased travel approvals are focused in government-controlled areas, and do not extend to border regions or near locations controlled by armed opposition groups.

Interference with impartial needs assessments, restrictions on certain travel, and inconsistent freedom of movement for humanitarian personnel remain. The GOS consistently restricts transport of assistance and relief operations in areas of the country that are under the control of opposition groups or near conflict frontlines, citing security concerns. Moreover, there are concerns that access improvements to date could be primarily the result of actions by specific GOS officials, rather than institutional changes supported across the federal and state levels and across multiple security sectors. For example, field travel remains constrained where state-level officials are inconsistent in applying the new, simplified GOS travel procedures or where local security forces have not accepted the new process. Continued involvement of GOS security services can delay emergency operations and risks compromising the impartiality of humanitarian efforts when security personnel accompany relief staff when speaking with affected populations.

The United States upholds international humanitarian principles. The U.S. government will continue to engage Sudan for full, timely, and impartial humanitarian access throughout the country, as continued cooperation is expected. Ongoing U.S. engagement will seek to build on gains to date and to avoid any regression by the GOS in areas where progress has been made.

Maintaining Cooperation with the United States on Addressing the South Sudan Conflict

The U.S. government assesses that the GOS has sustained positive actions in refraining from efforts to undermine peace in South Sudan during the reporting period. We will continue to both urge the GOS to maintain this policy and seek to stop the historical patterns of retributive proxy support provided by both Sudan and South Sudan to armed opposition groups in each other’s territory. During the reporting period, the GOS, along with other regional countries, urged a peaceful resolution of the South Sudan conflict. While certain opposition actors were present at times in Khartoum, and low-level contacts continued with SPLM-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) groups within Sudan, we do not assess that Sudan provided any significant arms or other material support to opposition groups operating and engaging in conflict in South Sudan. This stands in contrast to earlier years of the conflict where credible reports indicated that the GOS provided significant arms and material support to opposition forces. Even as the conflict worsened in South Sudan during the reporting period, this was a result of the actions of the warring South Sudanese parties and not related to action by the GOS. The GOS is also working within the context of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional organization to support efforts to stop the fighting and implement the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS).

Pursuant to the South Sudan sanctions program (E.O. 13664), the U.S. Government has the authority to designate persons, including Sudanese actors as appropriate, determined to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, a range of actions related to the conflict in South Sudan, including actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan.

Maintaining Cooperation with the United States on Addressing the LRA

The GOS has sustained positive actions in cooperating with the United States to eliminate the threat of Joseph Kony, whom the State Department listed in 2008 as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under E.O. 13224, and the LRA during the reporting period. The GOS took the actions we requested toward identifying any LRA presence within Sudanese territory and is prepared to undertake or support operations to eliminate the LRA threat if present. The SAF participated in a counter-LRA workshop to help identify and avoid potential misunderstandings during AU- Regional Task Force operations and offered to make forces available to support counter-LRA efforts. During this workshop, Sudan hosted an American flag officer from U.S. Africa Command.

The LRA is designated pursuant to the Central African Republic sanctions program (E.O. 13667), and the U.S. Government therefore has the authority under this program to designate persons, including Sudese actors as appropriate, who provide financial or material support to the LRA.

Maintaining Cooperation with the United States on Addressing the Threat of Terrorism

Since January, Sudan has continued its cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism (CT) efforts against terrorist groups in Sudan and North Africa, and has worked to counter terrorists' attempts to transit Sudanese territory. The Sudanese government's actions against terrorists have been notable, significant, and have contributed to advancing U.S. CT objectives and the global fight against terrorism. The U.S. government will continue to engage the GOS to expand and deepen CT cooperation where possible.

The U.S. Government retains broad authorities under E.O. 13224 to designate persons, including Sudanese persons as appropriate, determined to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States, as well as persons determined to be owned or controlled by, or to act for or on behalf of those persons, and persons who provide material support to designated terrorists.

Other Issues of Focus During the Reporting Period

We have used our increased leverage and influence with the GOS resulting from improved bilateral relations during the reporting period to work towards progress on a range of U.S. policy priorities beyond the five tracks described above, including human rights and religious freedom, and the implementation and enforcement of prohibitions outlined in UNSCRs related to North Korea. The GOS has taken some positive actions in these areas. However, more progress is needed for Sudan to meet international standards; we will continue to press for positive change.

Human Rights: While the GOS’s positive actions in maintaining a COH in conflict areas in Sudan served to address one of our most critical human rights concerns – indiscriminate aerial bombardment – the U.S. government also engaged with the GOS on a range of other serious, ongoing human rights issues, including detention, torture, and political, religious, and press freedoms. Our sustained pressure on a range of human rights issues has led to some progress, including the late August presidential pardon of human rights champion Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, along with four other activists. Lastly, the United Nations Security Council’s 1591 Committee’s “Panel of Experts” and the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Independent Expert (IE) for Human Rights in Sudan had improved access throughout Sudan during the reporting period. The IE highlighted in his final report to the Human Rights Council that the GOS had appointed a Chairperson for the Sudan National Human Rights Commission, the government’s national human rights ombudsman. Prior to the appointment, the position had been vacant for nearly four years.

Religious Freedom: We will also continue to press for improvements in religious freedom in Sudan. Incidents of demolition of church properties and structures used for worship, nominally related to land disputes, along with other persistent problems that have been documented in our annual Human Rights Report and International Religious Freedom Report, remain of significant concern. Moving forward, the Sudanese government has expressed its desire to take steps towards addressing its Country of Particular Concern (CPC) designation regarding freedom of worship, and it endorsed an initiative by the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor’s Office of International Religious Freedom (DRL/IRF) to work with religious groups on property registration issues. As a direct result of our engagement, in conjunction with Congressional pressure and the engagement of the Czech Foreign Ministry, the GOS pardoned and released Czech religious worker Petr Jasek and two of his associates, who had been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for “espionage.” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ghandour and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hassan have publicly urged Khartoum State authorities to review their July 19 order requiring Christian schools to open on Sundays, noting that the order threatens religious coexistence and damages Sudan’s image abroad.

North Korea: We have also used our expanded bilateral relationship to engage the GOS to fully implement all UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea, a critically important issue for U.S. national security. As it is with all UN member-states, this will be a vital part of U.S. bilateral engagement going forward, and also vital for broader regional and global security.

The U.S. Government has a number of authorities providing for designations of counterparties, including Sudanese counterparties, to certain North Korea-related activities.


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Sixth Committee Speakers Highlight Country‑Specific Initiatives Illustrating Best Rule of Law Practices in Local, National Settings, as Debate Continues

As the Sixth Committee (Legal) continued its consideration of the report of the Secretary‑General on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities, speakers spotlighted country‑specific initiatives that put that principle into practice and made its application more effective.  (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3543.)

A new era was emerging in his country, the representative of Colombia said.  Together with the United Nations team, his Government had spear‑headed new initiatives aimed at judicial reform.  That reform included its Special Jurisdiction for Peace, as well as the passage of a law that permitted the reintegration of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members into society.

Senegal’s delegate described the “houses of justice” in his country, which were provided free of charge to make justice available to all.  Those establishments were able to settle minor conflicts using alternative means for dispute settlement.  They not only used local languages, thus dispelling any language barrier, but were also in physical proximity to the people they served.

On an international platform, the rule of law was also being made more effective on the ground by Slovenia too, according to that country’s representative.  With women’s empowerment a priority in her country, her Government was providing workshops for 900 refugee women in Lebanon.

Ghana’s representative noted that the rule of law was at work in her country’s legal institutions through access to legal representatives and legal aid.  All citizens were ensured equal access to the legal system and legal representation.  On top of that, the Justice for All Programme gave prisoners on remand their own access to proper legal representation.

However, offering a note of caution, the representative of Indonesia recalled violations of international humanitarian law in the State of Palestine.  The rule of law at the international level would always be a fiction if the international community did not minimize its politicization.

Zimbabwe’s delegate also weighed in, stating that the “rule of law should not be an abstract concept in academic discourse”.  The issue could not exist in a vacuum, independent of the realities on the ground.  As a small State, his country depended on the rule of law for protection from “the aggressions of the rich and powerful”.  The Organization should continue to be guided by respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States.

In that regard, the representative of Sri Lanka stressed that the rule of law should always be context specific.  It was not a concept that would conform to an external prescription that ignored domestic realities.  More so, all States, especially developing ones, should have an equal opportunity to be a part of the development of international law, she said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Singapore, Peru, India, Syria, Brunei, Libya, Guatemala, Burkina Faso, Russian Federation, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nicaragua, Cuba, South Africa, Mauritius, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Lebanon, Costa Rica, Tonga, United States, Mongolia, Thailand, Ethiopia, Uruguay, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Viet Nam, China, Ukraine, Eritrea, Zambia, Brazil, Argentina, Togo, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Gambia, Serbia, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Venezuela and Iran.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Qatar, Russian Federation and Syria.

The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, 6 October, to continue consideration of the rule of law and take up the subject of criminal accountability.

Statements

LUKE TANG (Singapore), associating himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non‑Aligned Movement, affirmed the importance of the rule of law at both national and international levels.  Small States such as his depended on a rules‑based multilateral system for survival and success.  In regard to strengthening rule of law, he cited programmes of both the Office of Legal Affairs and his Government’s that focused on disseminating information and building necessary capacity.  Singapore also supported the United Nations online Audiovisual Library of International Law.  Reaffirming the importance of registration of treaties, as noted in the Secretary‑General’s report, he voiced support for efforts to make United Nations rule of law assistance more coherent and accessible in a way that better recognized local actors and conditions.  Citing the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes, he also welcomed the establishment of the new office of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in his country.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA VELÁSQUEZ (Peru), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Non‑Aligned Movement, highlighted the contribution by the United Nations in advancing an international system based on multilateralism.  Noting that his country had recently signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he also expressed support for the General Assembly resolution establishing the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for the Syrian Arab Republic.  Stating his country’s firm commitment to the work of the International Criminal Court, he added that, at the national level, his Government was establishing mechanisms to fight corruption.

YEDLA UMASANKAR (India), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that rule of law defined modern societies and nation States.  As globalization picked up pace, it was imperative that countries continued to come together to define rules of cooperation in order to prevent chaos.  Regrettably, there were areas where the international community had not been able to develop international rule of law.  In that regard, the rise of terrorism was alarming, as well as other emerging challenges, such as artificial intelligence, cyber security or maritime piracy.  In his country, the independence of judiciary, legislature and executive branches, a free media and a vibrant civil society, and a strong tradition of electoral democracy were the basis of rule of law.

AMMAR AL ARSAN (Syria), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that rule of law was “an indivisible whole” and it was not permissible to focus on some of its principles while ignoring others.  The main challenge to rule of law was not the inadequacy of international instruments, but the double standards and a selective approach by some influential countries.  The crisis experienced by his country was an example of flagrant interference in the internal affairs of a country, with some Governments supporting, funding, and arming radical terrorist elements.  Turning to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, he urged colleagues to read document A/71/799, a letter sent by his delegation to the Secretary‑General showing the legal violations involved in the General Assembly resolution that had led to the adoption of the Mechanism.  There were dangerous political intentions underlying the Mechanism, he said, and Syria could not acknowledge its legality.

ADI FAISAL OMAR (Brunei), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, affirmed the importance of rule of law and the leading role of the United Nations in coordinating efforts to strengthen it at the global level.  In that context, he cited the usefulness of the Programme of Assistance, particularly for small States such as his own.  The elucidation of international commercial law through the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) was also extremely useful; the country had based several pieces of domestic legislation on that Commission’s models.  Participating in meetings on rule of law at the regional and international levels as well, the country remained committed to working closely with all partners to abide by the international framework, especially in the maintenance of international peace and security.

MAMADOU RACINE LY (Senegal), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the new dynamic approach of the Secretary‑General’s report showed the resolve of the Organization to strengthen and coordinate United Nations activities in the area of the rule of law.  However, a culture of lawfulness must be created, and marginalized groups must have access to justice.  Senegal had inscribed those as important elements in its own judiciary, working to make justice available to all by establishing “houses of justice”.  Those houses settled minor conflicts using alternative means for dispute settlements, and provided guidance for citizens involved in the legal system.  They were physically close to the people they serve, free of charge and were not very formal.  Local languages were used in those houses as well, thus removing any language barrier, he said.

ESSA A. E. ESSA (Libya), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the promotion of the rule of law was an essential element for peaceful coexistence.  Strengthening the rule of law was a keystone of the efforts to respond to violent crimes and terrorism.  Building the rule of law on an international basis called for respect for the United Nations Charter and the courts and mechanisms established under that Charter.  However, it was important to note the principle of non‑interference in domestic affairs and the right to self‑determination.  The rule of law was a preventive measure and it was essential to promote the concept in all its aspects, he said.

DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, said she was pleased that the Secretary‑General’s report attested to the instrumental contribution made by the United Nations to strengthening the rule of law at the national level.  Much of that work aligned with Slovenia’s priorities, she said, noting that women’s empowerment was a priority in her country’s development cooperation.  In that regard, her Government was currently providing workshops for 900 refugee women in Lebanon, and was engaged in a project in Jordan that focused on empowerment through the education and vocational rehabilitation of Syrian refugee families.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala), associating himself with CELAC and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that while the United Nations had supported many Member States in establishing and maintaining rule of law, it must do more.  The principle had a clear impact on poverty eradication and fostering gender equality, in addition to fighting corruption and impunity.  In order for people to have access to justice they must be aware of the rights they held and the mechanisms available to ensure those rights.  Furthermore, access to justice must be measured not only in quantitative terms, but also in qualitative terms.  Guatemala was strengthening its investigation of violations of human rights, he said, lauding the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, a novel institution established with help from the United Nations at the request of his Government.  That Commission was “a daring attempt to overcome structural obstacles” and strengthen the Government’s ability to fight impunity.

DIE MILLOGO (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, called for increased access to justice, especially for vulnerable groups such as women and children.  Any action to strengthen rule of law must be based on internal solutions adapted to the specific context of each country.  Highlighting how citizens had an important role in influencing national Governments, he noted that the people of his country had chosen to build a State that respected individual rights.  The Constitutional Commission with multiple stakeholders had been established, and after broad consultations, had given the President a draft constitution that would soon be subject to a referendum.  Burkina Faso was also resolutely implementing international treaties that it was party to.

LARISA CHERNYSHEVA (Russian Federation), noting the section in the Secretary‑General’s report on enhancing the effectiveness and coherence of United Nations efforts in improving rule of law, said that her delegation was “not sure that the Sixth Committee was the right place” for discussing matters relating to peacekeeping operations.  Those should be considered within the competent bodies, specifically the Third Committee.  The international dimension of rule of law should be the focus of the work of the Sixth Committee, she stressed, calling for more detailed information about the international mechanisms which were enjoying universal support.  Voicing regret that the International Court of Justice, one of the six principal organs of the Organization, was mentioned only in passing, she added that the focus of the report had shifted to non‑United Nations institutions such as the International Criminal Court.  Furthermore, it was not fully clear why the report also focused on a non‑legitimate mechanism to deal with crimes in Syria.  That was a mechanism established by the General Assembly which, in violation of the Charter, had exceeded its powers.  She urged delegates to not support it.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the rule of law was fundamentally imperative for a secure international landscape.  A strong foundation was in place to transform Afghanistan into a country of peace and stability.  It was conducting a major overhaul of its judicial and other institutions to enhance transparency within those bodies.  Its anti‑corruption justice centre was taking bold measures to investigate and prosecute officials, holding them to account; some 21 cases had already been completed in that area.  A culture of meritocracy was also in place for the recruitment of officials, as well as to ensure transparency in the issuing of Government contracts.  Those actions demonstrated the seriousness with which Afghanistan was pursuing good governance.  A reform agenda was an important initiative that demanded the full support of all Member States, he said.

INTISAR TALIL AL-JUBOORI (Iraq), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said her country had always been committed to the rule of law.  That was confirmed in the 2005 Constitution of Iraq, which contained the principle of respect for State sovereignty and non‑interference.  The Iraqi Anti‑Corruption Academy had been established to fight corruption nationally and internationally.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had supported her Government to build more accountable institutions in order to deal with crises and enhance the rule of law.  In 2015, the Iraqi National Security Service and UNDP created a strategy to build civil society capacity.  UNDP also provided legal assistance to refugees and those displaced by assisting with documentation, for example by providing birth certificates to children who had been born to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) fighters and the women who had forced to bear those children.

ALINA JULIA ARGÜELLO GONZÁLEZ (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that her country respected the rule of law, and that every State had the responsibility to preserve democracy, transparency and fairness.  She stressed in particular the importance Nicaragua attached to the protection of human rights of women and children who were sometimes very vulnerable, as well as to the restoration of rights in the areas of health, education, access to land and access to justice.  Strengthening the rule of law meant that the international community should respect the judicial systems of all States, as well as the right to self‑determination.

MIRTA GRANDA AVERHOFF (Cuba), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, affirmed that a true rule of law, as stated in the Secretary‑General’s report, began with a reformed United Nations.  It was also important to note that the high‑level Declaration clearly stated in paragraph 36 that a true rule of law implied democratizing international economic, monetary and financial organizations, so that they served the development of the people rather than the permanent enrichment of the few.  Her country was also committed to working towards a broad and profound reform of the Security Council in order for it to become an inclusive, transparent and democratic organ reflecting the genuine interests of the international community.

SABONGA MPONGOSHA (South Africa), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, noted that his country’s Constitution contained a unique founding provision that entrenched the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law.  Citing section 232, he stated that when interpreting any legislation, every court must prefer any reasonable interpretation of the legislation that was consistent with international law over any alternative interpretation.  However, he pointed out that the content of international law must in and of itself be fair if it were to promote the rule of law.  Fairness had both substantive and procedural dimensions, he said, encouraging delegates to pause and ask themselves if the rules being made were truly fair.

RISHY BUKOREE (Mauritius), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that equality before the law, accountability to the law, and separation of powers were some of the important components of the rule of law.  They guarded people against despotism and the Government against anarchy.  Rule of law had enabled his country to attract investments and benefit from economic opportunities.  The Constitution implied legal processes and substantive norms that were consistent with human rights.  Every international treaty Mauritius adhered to was codified in national legislation.  Customary international law must also be respected; the statute of the International Court of Justice acknowledged its existence.  When it came to rule of law, the United Nations Charter was the most important document.  It had helped create a better world as well as an Organization where all States, whether big or small, were entitled to one vote.  Unfortunately, some States advanced exceptionalism, he said, expressing the hope that the notion of “might is right” would soon give way to rule of law.

YANG JAIHO (Republic of Korea) said that the dissemination of international law was vital, and would not only address various global and regional challenges but would also promote and advance the rule of law in a deeper and wider way.  However, when it came to the dissemination of international law, it was a stark fact that many States were facing a scarcity of resources.  He commended the activities of the Programme of Assistance, and took note that the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs continued to share legal publications and information online.  While laudable, those could never be sufficient.  The Republic of Korea had played its part to increase the dissemination of international law, with various institutions and organizations focused on those specific issues.  The Center for International Law had launched the Seoul Academy of International Law in 2016 with a view to training and educating those working in that field.

VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda), associating herself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that laws were only as good as their implementation.  Calling for mechanisms that enforced the just application of agreed‑upon laws, in particular the principles enshrined in the Charter, she stressed that rule of law was a common denominator of peace, security and development.  International justice systems must avoid political manipulation, and at the national level, partnerships between stakeholders were essential.  National context should be at the centre of rule of law, she said, adding that Rwanda’s recent tragic past and “real life experience” of what it took to remove discrimination and violations of rights, including the most basic human rights to life, was the context of her country’s application to rule of law.

SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka), recalling how her country had suffered “under the yoke of terrorism” and an accompanying culture of impunity, said Sri Lanka was therefore acutely aware of the value of a nation built on the principles of democracy and the rule of law.  Achieving justice in times of transition from conflict — through accountability, redress to victims and the recognition of their rights — promoted civic trust and strengthened the rule of law.  In that regard, States had a duty to guarantee that violations would not reoccur and to reform institutions which, in the past, had proven incapable of preventing abuses.  Another important principle underpinning the rule of law was that of sovereign equality and non‑interference, as well as the prohibition on the threat or use of force and the obligation to settle international disputes peacefully.  It was therefore vital that all States, including developing countries, had an equal opportunity to participate in the process of developing international law.  The rule of law was not a concept that could be externally forced, nor could it conform to an external prescription that ignored domestic realities.

MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), associating herself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the Secretary‑General’s report gave Member States the opportunity to explore implementing the rule of law on national and international platforms.  Access to legal representatives and legal aid was provided for under the Constitution of Ghana.  Its legal aid, together with civil society organizations, had developed a robust mechanism for ensuring that all citizens of Ghana had fair access to the legal system.  In addition, its Justice for All Programme afforded prisoners on remand access to legal representation, she said.

The representative of Lebanon said that while there was no agreed‑upon common definition of the rule of law, it was based on principles such as equality before the law and ensuring fundamental rights.  Strengthening the rule of law meant greater respect for existing international treaties, including the Charter.  The basic role of international law to advance the rule of law was important to small States, which were often decisive in the preparation of landmark conventions.  Lebanon was a part of the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example.  Disseminating the rules of international law was crucial.  On a national platform, the Lebanese National International Humanitarian Law Committee, established in 2010, had laid out a plan on how to incorporate relevant laws into the country’s domestic legislation.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica), associating himself with CELAC and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that despite extraordinary progress in social indicators, the international community was confronting a plethora of new problems such as climate change, mass migration and terrorism.  Calling for a robust international order based on the rule of law, he said that national experience and international evidence showed that countries where the principle was enforced had better living conditions for their citizens.  Costa Rica was committed to the legal mechanisms provided by international law, and he called on all States to comply fully with the decisions of the International Court of Justice.  It was not possible to live in peace without the confidence provided by rule of law, he stressed.

MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), emphasizing the importance of  capacity‑building initiatives, said that the ability to understand sophisticated and cooperative responses set under international law was necessary for all key players, including small island developing States such as his country.  Rule of law at the national and international levels played a critical role in ensuring an enabling environment for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Acknowledging that there were existing gaps in international law, he added that dissemination of international law must also include information on those gaps, and guidance on actions to address those gaps.

MARK A. SIMONOFF (United States) said that when delegates in the Sixth Committee debated on the important work of the International Law Commission and other items, “we breathe life into the words of the Charter” which set out the progressive development of international law as one of the functions of the General Assembly.  Rule of law demanded that all people, in all corners of the world, whether stateless or not, received the benefits conferred by the Charter.  Domestically, rule of law functioned best with an independent and impartial judiciary, he stressed, also commending the work of the private legal associations in their efforts to disseminate international law.

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, outlined various steps his Government had taken to maintain the rule of law as an integral part of the national development agenda.  Mongolia had improved the conformity of domestic law and regulations with international human rights treaties and conventions.  As Party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the country had abolished the death penalty, and had adopted laws concerning the rights of the child.  Mongolia was also paying particular attention to combating corruption in the public sector, he said.

VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that his country, in support of efforts by the United Nations to disseminate international law, had been co‑hosting relevant regional courses.  Noting that many diplomatic conferences had been successfully convened under the auspices of the United Nations, enabling the Organization to codify international law, he recalled the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which Thailand had signed and ratified in September.  The international community must intensify the effort to ensure the rule of law for those were marginalized, including women and children, older persons, persons with disabilities and persons under custody.

ELIAB TSEGAYE TAYE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, cited the Secretary‑General, who said in his report that there was no single model for the development of the rule of law at the national level.  He expressed gratitude for the support his country had received from United Nations entities in its national efforts to strengthen the rule of law.  However, much more needed to be done to ensure the universalization of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as to ensure the full implementation of various international agreements that would enable the international community to effectively address the challenge of climate change.

MARINA SANDE (Uruguay) recalled that the United Nations had been created to “sow the seeds of peace” through a system that would enable Member States to solve disputes peacefully.  The coexistence of countries was only possible if norms were established.  Treaties between States obligated those States to behave in a certain way.  There should be common will in international law to support countries, so that, in their domestic legislation, there were rules fostering the full respect of human rights, an independent judiciary and a regulatory framework.  States had a responsibility to comply with their commitments and to apply international treaties, while aligning national legislation with those standards.

VUSUMUZI NTONGA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, stressed that “rule of law should not be an abstract concept in academic discourse”.  The Organization should continue to be guided by respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States, he said, adding that “small States such as ours depend on rule of law for protection from the aggressions of the rich and powerful.”  Though his country supported international efforts to end impunity, the international criminal justice system operated in a selective manner, thus undermining confidence in it.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that it was critical that the Organization’s rule of law assistance was duly factored into the ongoing reform initiative in the peace and security pillar.  Calling on the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to facilitate in‑depth discussion regarding the impact of rule of law on eliminating poverty and reducing inequalities, he added that it would be particularly interesting to learn from Member States’ experiences and innovations in that area.  It was also necessary to address the financial concerns of the International Criminal Court for conducting investigations and prosecutions into cases referred to it by the Security Council.

KYYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that to strengthen the rule of law, his country had launched a strategic plan to protect the legal rights of individuals and the national interest, as well as to inspire public trust and confidence in the justice system.  He noted that Myanmar’s State Counsellor had championed the promotion of the rule of law before she came into office.  Rule of law centres had been established in 2015 under the guidance of the Pyithu Hluttaw Rule of Law and Tranquillity Committee.  Four centres had been opened so far, providing training with a substantive focus on local justice issues linked to international rule of law principles.  As well, with the democratic transition in Myanmar, a series of reforms on the practice of policing had also been introduced.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that her country was continuing a legal harmonization process to align its legislation with international treaties to which it was a signatory.  Together with other members of ASEAN, it was striving to build South‑East Asia into a zone of peace, stability and prosperity.  In the context of complex developments in the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea, she called upon all concerned parties to exercise self‑restraint and settle disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law, including the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Furthermore, all parties should fully respect diplomatic and legal processes, implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and expedite the completion of a legally binding code of conduct.

ZHANG PENG (China) said that the United Nations and other international organizations, along with all Member States, had a greater role to play in advancing communication in the area of international law.  Voicing his appreciation for the efforts of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs and other relevant entities, he also hailed the positive contribution of the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.  Because teaching and promoting a wider knowledge of international law at institutions of higher learning was high on his Government’s agenda, it had contributed expertise and wisdom to the capacity‑building efforts of developing countries in international law, he said.

IGOR BONDUIK (Ukraine), aligning himself with the European Union, said that the many emerging threats confronting the international community required responses grounded in international law.  In addition to judicial and economic reforms, Ukraine was making progress against corruption and conducting banking sector reforms.  Rule of law at the international level should be strong and effective in the promotion of human rights and State sovereignty.  Recalling the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), he condemned the human rights violations conducted by the Russian Federation in Crimea.

AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that lack of compliance with international law was the root cause of many international conflicts.  Emphasizing the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, he added that Eritrea had been taking measures to achieve a peaceful and inclusive society, including by establishing community courts and ensuring the participation of women in those courts.  Advancing rule of law was an evolutionary process that involved all stakeholders and it was vital to recognize the importance of national ownership in the matter.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia), noting that his country had been recognized in the Secretary‑General’s report for many of its recent efforts towards national reconciliation, said the document had drawn special attention to the creation of its Special Jurisdiction for Peace and for its work to ensure the peaceful co‑existence of its citizens and the protection of women and girls.  While Colombia had enjoyed a strong legal tradition, it had also been beleaguered by violence for many years.  Today, a new era was emerging, where a united Colombia was recommitted to the rule of law.  Together with the United Nations team, the Government was spear‑heading initiatives aimed at judicial reform, including by passing a law allowing for the reintegration of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members into society.  The peace agreement with that group underscored Colombia’s ownership over its own transition process, he emphasized, calling for the United Nations to employ a cooperative approach with States in all its work related to the rule of law and the maintenance of international peace and security.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and ASEAN, recalled the violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws in Palestine and said that rule of law at the international level would always be a fiction if the international community did not minimize its politicization.  At the national level, domesticating international law did not mean much unless there was improved knowledge on the part of people, including Government officials, practitioners, academicians and students.  Her country had enacted a law concerning public information, obliging all Government institutions and courts to publicize legislations, court rulings and jurisprudence.

MUKI M. BENAS PHIRI (Zambia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that rule of law hinged on independent, efficient and effective judicial systems.  Unless it was held together by a functional judiciary, rule of law dissipated and the nation was ruled by the whims and vagaries of fellow human beings.  For that reason, judicial independence was recognized in many international and regional human rights instruments, he said, adding that Zambia’s vision of becoming a prosperous middle income country by 2030 had led to fundamental policy shifts.  The Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission was ensuring that all provisions of the country’s amended Constitution were operationalized systematically in order to translate them into an accessible and accountable justice system.

PATRICK LUNA (Brazil) said that abiding by the rule of law at the international level meant that no single country, no matter how powerful, was exempt from rigorous compliance with its legal obligations or beyond reproach for circumventing international law.  Either the Charter must remain at the centre of the international order, or there would be no order, he warned.  Debates on the rule of law might be complicated due to the difficulty in identifying, in different languages and legal traditions, expressions that encompassed all dimensions of the concept, he said, adding that “something gets lost in the translation”.  Access to justice challenged the root causes of poverty, exclusion and vulnerability, given that such access enabled the full enjoyment of rights and public services.  It was crucial to ensure that migrants, refugees and asylum seekers had a legal identity.  States should be encouraged to provide free and effective legal aid to vulnerable populations.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), welcoming the reform processes spear‑headed by the Secretary‑General, noted that the Organization’s capacity‑building activities were pivotal in establishing rule of law, especially in situations of conflict.  Justice and peace were complementary to each other, he stressed, calling on the international community to continue the fight against impunity.  Turning to the impact of the rule of law on the Sustainable Development Goals, he said that an international network of legal assistance providers could be helpful in buttressing rule of law.  Finally, he highlighted the work of the Treaty Section whose databases were crucial to all working in the field of international law.

DEKALEGA FINTAKPA LAMEGA (Togo), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that his country was party to 222 multilateral treaties, covering all aspects of international law.  Those treaties, as well as various regional and bilateral agreements, had been incorporated into the national legislation.  The Government had also adopted a plan of action to modernize the legal system and make the judicial system accessible to all.  Included in that plan were programmes to improve the legal framework, strengthen prison administration and modernize equipment and logistics.  Lauding the crucial role played by the Office of Legal Affairs in facilitating and promoting an international framework of legally binding mechanisms to settle disputes, he encouraged the Treaty Section to continue organizing workshops on the matter.

MOHAMMED AL AJMI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of respecting the Charter and international law, two crucial pillars when dealing with the threats the international community was facing.  His country had adopted a democratic constitutional system that highlighted respect for the rule of law through the separation of powers while still maintaining cooperation between those sectors.  At the international level, his Government remained committed to international conventions, principles and laws.  However, ongoing violations of human rights weakened resolve to respect the law, he said. That was demonstrated by the violations being committed by Israel, which was continuing to build illegal settlements and defy all resolutions and international legal norms.  More must be done and all possible measures should be taken to ensure respect for the rule of law at the international level.

ABDULLAH ALSHARIF (Saudi Arabia) said the law should be applicable to everyone, “whether the ruler or the ruled”.  His country was currently studying all international treaties; that emanated from Saudi Arabia’s desire to accede to the appropriate treaties that were consistent with the values of the country.  Those treaties should have no contradiction between international law and sharia, as both upheld human rights.  On a national level, men and women had both voted in municipal elections, and women were currently assuming high‑level Governmental posts.  In addition, there was a prohibition against inequalities in salaries between men and women.

AMADOU JAITEH (Gambia) associating himself with the African Group, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that to preserve the dignity of its people, in line with international practice, his country had devised a three‑step approach in its National Development Plan, focusing on human rights, peace and security, and development.  The Government relied heavily on the rule of law as the vehicle to promote, protect and respect the values of human rights.  The Gambia had prioritized security sector reform, emphasizing inclusivity, respect for human rights and rule of law.  His Government also attached great importance to economic growth and development; that was why the connection between rule of law and development was highly appreciated and at the centre of the country’s development agenda.

SANDRA PEJIC (Serbia) said that at the national level, rule of law was the key prerequisite for political stability, without which there was no economic growth or social development.  At the global level, the rule of law was a precondition for international peace and stability, and played a critical role in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  Recalling that his country had participated in the establishment of the International Criminal Court, he voiced strong support for further strengthening of the Court’s institutional capacity.  “The Rome Statute’s acceptance should be universal” and impunity should never be allowed, he stressed, also emphasizing his country’s long‑standing commitment to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  Indeed, it had cooperated with the Tribunal substantially and without exception on all matters related to serious international criminal crimes, while also trying crimes in its own courts.

MOHAMMED BENTAJA (Morocco), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, called for the adoption of an integrated approach to the United Nations work, based on the primacy of international law and one that fostered the peaceful settlement of differences in line with the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non‑interference in States’ domestic affairs.  In the world’s current complex environment — when international relations had seen major changes and nations were confronted with emerging challenges including climate change, migration and large refugee flows — he described the rule of law as an “essential lever” possessed by the United Nations to pursue all aspects of its work.  Through Morocco’s long‑standing commitment to peacekeeping operations, it had helped many countries rebuild their national institutions and re‑establish the rule of law.  The Programme of Assistance was another critical tool to build the capacity of developing countries, he said, calling for meetings held for those purposes to be funded from the regular United Nations budget.

HUMAID ABDALLA ALNAQBI (United Arab Emirates), noting that his country’s foreign policy was based on partnerships and good neighbourliness, said that his region continued to suffer from crises due to the expansionist policies of some countries.  Rule of law was critical to safeguarding regional stability and promoting human rights.  By creating development‑oriented legislation and providing opportunities for industry, his country was guaranteeing economic progress.  Since its birth, the Emirates had been at the forefront of rule of law in the region.  The “flexible national legislation” contributed to the maintenance of peace and security, as well as the total absence of governmental corruption and low crime rates.  Condemning those States that provided safe havens to terrorists, he said they were responsible for the increase in terrorism lately.

The representative of Egypt, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that international security and stability depended on rule of law, which was the best foundation for peaceful settlement of disputes.  Calling on the international community to resolve conflicts without politicizing them, he said that it was necessary to put an end to foreign occupation.  Reiterating the role played by the United Nations and international bodies, he added that the Organization must provide support to Member States while also respecting their territorial integrity and sovereignty.  A more flexible approach that took into account the unique features of each Member State was essential, he concluded.

FÁTIMA YESENIA FERNÁNDES JÚAREZ (Venezuela), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted that the rule of law helped all States “stand on an equal footing”.  It further helped underpin and bolster Government responsibilities to protect all people under their jurisdictions.  States should refrain from applying or enacting unilateral sanctions and other measures that violated international law and hindered the development of other nations, she stressed, also calling for the revitalization of the General Assembly and reform of the Security Council.  The latter, in particular, was linked to achieving the rule of law at the international level, and the Council must avoid going beyond its mandate or taking an overly security‑based focus to its work.  Among other things, she said the web compendium of international treaties was a useful tool which should be made available in all the United Nations official languages, a task which should not be hindered by a lack of resources.

ABBAS BAGHERPOUR ARDEKANI (Iran), while underscoring that the principle of State immunity was one of the cornerstones of the international legal order, said that a handful of countries seemed to believe that they could breach the fundamental principle of State immunity by unilaterally waiving it under an unsubstantiated legal doctrine not recognized by the international community.  Each nation had the sovereign right to shape its model of the rule of law and administration of justice based on its specific traditions, needs and requirements.  Domestic legislation must not violate the basic principles of international law, the international obligations of the State or the sovereign rights of other States, nor must it be applied unilaterally to extraterritorial matters involving other countries.  Warning against “norm-setting” through flawed processes that undermined multilateral legal frameworks, he said threats to the rule of law at the international level were not due to a lack of proper norms or insufficiency of rules, but instead were deeply rooted in unilateralism, disregard for international law and disrespect for the international community’s common interest.

Right of Reply

The representative of Qatar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Syria’s delegate had made many false claims.  Qatar had played a pioneering role, in collaboration with partners, to bring the Syrian regime to accountability by establishing the Mechanism to investigate the crimes conducted by that regime.  When it came to anti‑terrorism, Qatar had a good record as opposed to the Syrian regime whose oppressive practices had led to the prevalence of ISIL.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that Kiev had been raising anti‑Russian provocations in various Committees of the General Assembly.  The tragedy in the east of Ukraine was the consequence of the significant military operation unfurled by Ukraine’s Government against their own people in 2014.  The International Criminal Court had not been effective or impartial; however, since Ukraine had contacted the structure, the Russian Federation hoped the Court would demonstrate objectivity.

The representative of Syria, expressing regret that some representatives were politicizing issues and deviating beyond the topics assigned to the Committee, said that Qatar’s delegate “probably does not know the United Nations Charter very well”.  Condemning the “terrorists financed by that Government” he added that on 15 August, two charities working as a front for Qatari intelligence had transferred $15 million to Al‑Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant.

The representative of Qatar said Syria often used the United Nations as a forum to make baseless allegations against other States.  Qatar’s history in the fight against terrorism was clear, but the Syrian regime took any chance to hide its own oppressive policies.  Indeed, the resolution creating the Mechanism had been a “milestone” in achieving justice and fighting impunity.  It had proved that the international community wished to see those perpetrating violations in Syria — especially the regime, which even used chemical weapons against its own people — was held to justice.  “We cannot take any steps backwards where that is concerned,” he stressed, adding that his delegation reserved the right to respond in writing to all allegations made by the representative of Syria.

The representative of Syria advised the representative of Qatar not to speak about legitimacy, as his country remained totally removed from that concept when it came to terrorism.  Recalling a recent statement by the Head of State of Qatar to the effect that his country “may have a different vision regarding the roots of terrorism” or about who ought to be defined as a terrorist, he stressed that was exactly the case when it came to Al‑Nusrah.  Regarding the so‑called International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, he recalled that he had made a very definitive statement yesterday, including by drawing attention to a letter contained in document A/71/799 in which his delegation had alerted the Secretary‑General to the grave violations to its sovereignty resulting from the Mechanism’s establishment.  Qatar wished to continue its support for terrorism, while at the same time working to sabotage and subvert the Syrian political process in Geneva, he said.

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Unilateral Sanctions Impede Sustainable Development, Speakers Say, as Second Committee Debates Macroeconomic Policy

A more equitable trading system and the cessation of unilateral sanctions would be critical to achieving sustainable development, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today during its debate on macroeconomic policy questions.

Namsuk Kim from the Development Policy Analysis Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs introduced the Secretary-General’s report on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/72/307).

He noted that many States had expressed their disagreement with imposition of unilateral economic measures, adding that they went against principles of the United Nations Charter, norms of international law or the rules-based multilateral trading system.  Such measures hampered trade flows, negatively impacted socioeconomic development in affected countries and weakened their contributions to international sustainable development.

Iran had been experiencing economic coercive measures, and it remained opposed to the application of unilateral economic and trade measures against other countries, said that country’s representative.  The use of such measures adversely affected developing countries, international economic cooperation, and the promotion of a non-discriminatory and open multilateral trading system.  Despite such sanctions, Iran’s economy had demonstrated unparalleled potential for expansion and growth, he continued.  Not only did economic measures fail to impede Iran, but they solidified collective resolve to enhance domestic production.

In a similar vein, Cuba’s delegate said his country had rejected unilateral coercive economic measures, including the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on it.  The blockade caused deprivation to the Cuban people, constituted the main obstacle to the country’s development and macroeconomic policy objectives, and was the source of significant economic damage.

The representative from Syria said she had hoped the Secretary-General’s report on coercive measures would include an in-depth assessment of affected countries, but it only spoke briefly of unilateral measures, mainly their unintended consequences.  She voiced opposition to unilateral economic measures, as they contravened globalization measures by the same Governments that imposed them.

The high level of uncertainty in the international policy environment and the overall outlook on external debt sustainability in developing countries continued to worsen, noted the representative from the Philippines.  Expressing regret for the emerging mistrust in the trading system and the rising trend to resort to unilateralism and protectionism, she said such trends “endangered trade as a main driver for inclusive growth”.

Venezuela’s representative, while noting concern about the “effects of the capitalism crisis”, said the international community must redefine what was just and equitable.  Development processes must be autonomous and respect the sovereign management of resources without intermediation of transnational corporations.  Unilateral and coercive measures, she echoed, were incompatible with the United Nations Charter and hindered development efforts.

The delegate from Belarus echoed those sentiments, adding that current global conditions “did not inspire optimism”.  Expressing concern over the decline in global trade particularly for middle-income countries, she called for coordinated assistance and the cessation of unilateral sanctions.  She remarked that such measures also had an extraterritorial impact on regional economic cooperation.

Speakers also presented the report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Trade and Development Board (documents A/72/15 part I, II, III, IV and V), and the Secretary-General’s reports on international financial system and development (document A/72/306), external debt sustainability and development (document A/72/253), international trade and development (document A/72/274), and world commodity trends and prospects (document A/72/254).

Also speaking were representatives of Ecuador, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Maldives, El Salvador, India, China, Singapore, Russian Federation, Mexico, Guatemala, Qatar, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iraq, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Nepal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Kenya, Algeria, Maldives, Cabo Verde, and Togo, as well as the Holy See and Common Fund for Commodities.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 9 October, to discuss sustainable development.

Introduction of Reports

TUDOR ULIANOVSCHI, President of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Trade and Development Board, introduced reports (documents A/72/15 part I, II, III, IV and V) highlighting the need for enhanced collective actions to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Urging the international community to focus on collective actions, he called attention to the significant progress made by UNCTAD, as seen in the Nairobi Maafikiano document.  That consensus document strengthened the role of the Conference as the primary focal point for trade and development, and supported the gainful integration of all countries into the international economy.

He said that UNCTAD had in 2016 launched the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development and the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-Commerce and Digital Economy.  Recognizing the need for the Conference’s work to feed into the General Assembly, the Board elected to postpone its annual session to June 2018.  He encouraged Member States to provide inputs on the work of the Board to Geneva.  Continuing, he noted several high-level dialogues and deliberations which furthered efforts to enhance investment policies, and address trends in the financial markets and flows, among others.  The Board also considered assistance to the Palestinian people, and he stated that many delegations expressed concern at the worsening socioeconomic conditions in the Palestinian territory.  Other discussions highlighted economic development in Africa, among others.

ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Director of the Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on international financial system and development (document A/72/306).  He said analyses of high frequency data on developing countries had shown that they were subject to periodic episodes of high volatility.  Developed country central banks were introducing new measures, including the reduction of interest rates, which would increase the risk of volatility in developing States.  Institutional investors, who were the main drivers of portfolio flows, could play a role in financing, but they currently had a short-term bias.  Reallocation of investment to the long-term would require changes to incentives.  International financial flows were important because they played specific roles in financing activities benefiting all of society.  Official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries fell by 3.9 per cent in 2016, with many individual contributions below the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent.  Noting that there was no single solution in addressing developing country financial stress, he said the best was likely prevention.  International and national systems should help countries return to financial stability, while not compromising the Sustainable Development Goals.  Some reforms to the financial regulatory system were proceeding well, but others required more effort.  Efforts to include all elements of the Goals into the financial system reform agenda were still in their infancy.  International public financial institutions played a unique role, and new development banks were now contributing resources to many sustainable development projects.

STEPHANIE BLANKENBURG, Head of Debt and Development Finance Branch, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the report of the Secretary-General on external debt sustainability and development (document A/72/253).  Noting that the overall outlook on debt sustainability was worsening, she said current policy initiatives to bolster it and mobilize resources could prove too gradual to mitigate the growing risks.  The report provided a comprehensive overview of debt indicators, debt sustainability and main directions in international policy initiatives to mitigate global challenges.  Regarding trends and debt indicators, the post-financial crisis period demonstrated that the debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios in developing countries remained stable; however, those indicators concealed troubling increases in debt to export ratios and increases to debt service burdens.  She called attention to the plight of small island developing States which registered among the worst debt indicators of any group.  Given the increase in natural hazards because of climate change, she urged for greater creditor actions to reduce the debt burden for most disaster-affected countries.  Least developed countries were also a growing concern.  While welcoming the 0.32 per cent gross national income contributions to ODA, she however noted that the 0.7 per cent international target was missed.  Problematic trends continued in large private sector debt and debt service ratios in the private sector and she expressed concern that countries remained ill-equipped to successfully manage the related challenges.  The international community’s reliance on volatile markets and unstable domestic financial systems called for greater efforts to risk mitigation.  To that end, she encouraged greater focus on State-contingent debt instruments, soft-low principles and the promotion of new financial instruments.  She urged Governments to consider immediate policy coordination, enhanced debt relief or cancellation, and the improvement of data and analysis on debt sustainability.

NAMSUK KIM, Development Policy Analysis Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/72/307).  He said the Secretariat had invited Governments, relevant international organizations, programmes and agencies, within and outside the United Nations system, to provide their views and any pertinent information on that matter.  Twelve Member States and three regional commissions had replied.  Member States expressed their disagreement with the imposition of unilateral economic measures as an instrument of political and economic coercion, stating that those actions were not in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, the norms of international law or the rules-based multilateral trading system.  They also expressed concern about the negative impact of unilateral economic measures on the socioeconomic development of affected countries.  The regional commissions concurred, indicating that unilateral sanctions adversely impacted populations of affected countries, especially the most vulnerable groups.  Such measures hampered trade flows and their potential contribution to development.

MARISA HENDERSON, Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the report of the Secretary-General on international trade and development (document A/72/274).

The report demonstrated that the value of international trade increased from $5 trillion in 1994 to $24 trillion in 2014, she said.  Twenty years ago, 60 per cent of world trade was between developed countries, 30 per cent between developed and developing countries, and only 10 per cent in South-South trade.  Recent trends had pushed the expectation that trade would be split equally in three ways.  In less than three decades, trade facilitated significant economic gains; however, the 2016 trade values declined for a second consecutive year despite growth in GDP.  Similarly, the overall trade volume growth from 2008 to 2016 was weak at 1.3 per cent and reflected deeper structural challenges.  Investment spending slumped in the United States, and China continued to rebalance its economic system away from investment and towards consumption.  Thus, the ratio of trade in China over GDP declined from 65 per cent in 2005 to 35 per cent in 2015.  Parallel declines were observed in many East Asian economies.

The benefits of innovation in information communications technology (ICT) were exhausted and trade regulatory harmonization had not progressed fast enough to match incentives, she continued.  Additionally, least developed countries’ exports were on a downward trend since 2011 and many such countries struggled to compete in global economy.  The Sustainable Development Goal targets called for the integration of poorer countries in the global economy; however, the current system lacked inclusiveness and remained unequal.  “Gains from openness and globalization have not been shared equitably or fairly,” she stated.  The international community must address that shortcoming with dialogue and action, including through technological assistance and capacity-building for least developed countries.  Without action to address those gaps, the lack of trust in trade and trade policy could erode the legitimacy of international trade measures.

Ms. Henderson also presented the Secretary-General’s report on world commodity trends and prospects (document A/72/254), noting that 2016 marked an end of the five-year downward trend in commodity prices.  However, the subsequent increase in 2016 prices met with a reversal during the first four months of 2017, as several commodity groups dropped again in price.  She stressed that commodity-dependent developing countries must diversify to reduce their vulnerability to commodity price volatility in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In an ensuing discussion, the delegate from Iran requested greater clarity on the Conference’s work to promote regional integration and best practices.  Mr. Ulianovschi responded that discussions during the recent high-level panel included a focus on the African region, with a view to establishing larger cooperation to facilitate trade.  The discussion included efforts to reduce barriers, including through the promotion of a “single-window” system in national customs departments to ensure automatic data sharing and exchange.

Jamaica’s representative asked about the impact of regular trade changes and regulatory requirements on banks and financial institutions, to which Mr. Trepelkov said that data on the sustainable development impacts of all financial regulatory efforts was currently limited.  “Efforts to include all dimensions of sustainable development into the reform agenda are still in their infancy,” he said.  While it would be too premature to draw conclusions based on the regulatory reforms, preliminary data showed it would likely become more challenging.

Statements

MARIO A. ZAMBRANO ORTIZ (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reaffirmed the importance of debt restructurings being timely, effective and fair.  Sovereign debt matters should concern both developed and developing countries.  It should be considered as a matter with the potential to adversely impact the global economy, he continued, stressing also the need to assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability.  Debtors and creditors must work together to prevent and resolve unsustainable debt situations.  Many commodity-dependent developing countries and economies in transition continued to be highly vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations.  As such, it was essential to improve the regulation, efficiency, responsiveness and transparency of commodity markets to address excessive price volatility.

He noted with concern the steady increase in the illicit flows of funds, particularly from developing countries, and the negative impact it posed to sustainable development and rule of law.  The Group reiterated its call for greater international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows.  As the United Nations was the only universal forum where tax matter issues could be discussed in an open and inclusive manner, the Group reiterated the need to upgrade the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to an intergovernmental body and provide it with the resources to carry out its work.  The Group also reaffirmed that coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions, did not contribute to economic and social development.  Stressing the need to work towards a freer and fairer multilateral trading system, he stressed the need to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that the global economy had undergone a prolonged episode of relatively slow growth following the 2008 financial crisis.  In 2016, the global economy experienced the slowest rate of growth since 2009, expanding by just 2.3 per cent.  Real international trade growth fell below the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) during 2015-2016 for the first time in 15 years.  The global economy also experienced protracted weak investment growth, falling commodity prices and growing vulnerabilities to increased external debt.  Despite modest recovery in early 2017, economic growth in many regions remained below the level needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addressing those issues, she stressed the need to enhance international cooperation to mobilize resources for development.  Continuous capacity-building was also needed, especially to tackle illicit financial flows, asset return and tax matters.  She urged developed countries to fulfil their commitments, as ODA remained the main source of development financing for many least developed nations and small island developing States and an additional $100,000 per year was needed for climate financing.  In addition, there was a need for improved market access and enhanced investment inflows for sustainable development-related sectors.  International trade was an engine for inclusive economic growth, especially in goods and services related to labour-intensive sectors and rural economic activities.  As such, an open, rules-based, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system was imperative.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, expressed concern that merchandise exports of least developed countries in 2015 contracted by 25 per cent.  Calling upon members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to address the marginalization of least developed countries in trade, he emphasized the need for developed and developing members to implement duty-free and quota-free market access on all products originating from the least developed countries.  Looking ahead to the eleventh WTO ministerial conference to be held in Buenos Aires, he called for an outcome that produced tangible progress in the areas of relevance for least developed countries.  Many of those countries still struggled with a heavy burden of external debt, which continued to present a major obstacle for economic growth and sustainable development.

He called on the international community to undertake measures to address the debt problems, especially through full cancellation of all multilateral and bilateral debt owned by least developed countries to creditors, both public and private.  For their part, development partners must increase their ODA and other concessional lending to ensure debt sustainability.  Corruption, tax evasion, transfer havens and money laundering had serious impacts on domestic resource mobilization.  Increased international cooperation was essential to recover stolen assets and return them to their countries of origin.  He also urged donor countries to fulfil their ODA commitment of 0.2 per cent of their gross national income.

COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Alliance of Small Island States, voiced concern about the persistent tendency by some nations to view international trade openness as a zero-sum game as well as a rise in protectionism.  Strongly rejecting such policies and attitudes, which ultimately constrained aggregate demand and perpetuated the current low-global-growth environment, he voiced the Community’s commitment to the maintenance of an open, rules-based international trading system as embodied by the WTO.

As trade benefits accrued unevenly and increased competition had led to economic dislocation, he underscored the obligation of policymakers to develop and implement programmes to help workers be reskilled, educated and trained to compete for the technology-based jobs of tomorrow.  Governments should also fully address the unique vulnerabilities of small island developing States as well as the persistent economic and social challenges of States in special situations, such as middle-income nations.  “With the unique challenges that Caribbean [small island developing States] face in the context of sustainable development, we insist that our specific needs and circumstances — especially as they relate to scale, capacity and local context — are also taken into consideration,” he said.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, noted that small island developing States continued to feel the impact of a slow recovery from the global economic and financial crisis.  As commodity-dependent countries, those States were particularly concerned about declining commodity prices, especially in fishing and agriculture.  Also contributing to a negative economic impact were the declining performance of their export sectors, reduction in tourism revenues due to the downturn and the impact of climate change on fish stocks and crop yields.  Structural constraints faced by island States made diversifying their economies difficult, she observed.  Turning to natural hazards, such as recent hurricanes, she said that they were not just one-off events.  Instead, they signalled the beginning of an even more challenging recovery processes.  Island States had to contend with many systemic factors making recovery and rebuilding more difficult.  That process was made possible through additional borrowing, compounding existing debt problems.  Though small island developing States were the most highly indebted countries in the world, concessional financing remained elusive because of their middle-income status.  As such, the Alliance reiterated its call for a GDP plus criteria to gauge eligibility for concessionary financing to better reflect inherent and structural vulnerabilities faced.  Turning to the Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development process, she commended the interagency task force’s work but called for a depoliticizing of the Forum’s activities.  She expressed disappointment at the lack of engagement on issues critically important to the bloc, such as climate change and trade.

PABLO JOSÉ SORIANO MENA (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of CELAC, stressed the importance of reforming the international financial system, especially the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to enhance the voice and participation of developing countries in international decision-making and establishment of norms in economic matters and global economic governance.  In addition, developing countries should scale up international tax cooperation and combat illicit financial flows to mobilize domestic resources for the Sustainable Development Goals.  There was also a need to eliminate safe havens creating incentives for the transfer abroad of stolen assets and illicit financial flows.  He emphasized the importance of disclosure and transparency in source and destination countries, including in financial transactions between Governments and companies for relevant tax authorities.

He recognized the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development in countries of origin, transit and destination.  Remittances from migrant workers could be equated with other international financial flows, such as foreign direct investment (FDI) or ODA.  He also stressed the importance of debt relief, including debt cancellation and restructuring.  Debt restructuring should have as its core element a determination or real payment capacity so it would not compromise national growth.  There was an urgent need for the international community to constructively cooperate with the United Nations and international financial institutions to enhance transparency, supervision, regulation and good governance of the international financial system to examine options for an effective, equitable, independent and development-oriented debt restructuring and international debt resolution.

ASHISH KUMAR SINHA (India) stressed that open trade was a means of creating employment and contributing to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through greater economic activity and revenues.  Developing countries derived significant benefit from an open, fair, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory trading and financial system.  Trade liberalization could contribute to increased growth by enhancing access to technology, intermediate and capital goods and increased competition, which in turn could reduce poverty through employment creation.  He also emphasized the continuing relevance of ODA for several developing countries, especially the more vulnerable least developed countries and small island developing States, although Governments must also expand domestic revenue basis, stop leakages and corruptions and attract investment.  The Addis Agenda recognized that the foremost driver of domestic resource mobilization was economic growth requiring Governments to strengthen tax administration and combat corruption.

ZHANG YU (China) said the international community must strengthen policy coordination to promote reforms for a more inclusive and equitable global economy.  She called for States to avoid protectionism and promote the integration of developing countries into the international markets.  China undertook numerous efforts to facilitate trade and strengthen macroeconomic policy growth on many fronts, including the provision of interest-free loans and assistance to States struggling to repay debts.  China additionally promoted digital financial inclusion, as demonstrated in recent reforms for rural financial institutions.  Corruption, the illicit exploitation of natural resources, and tax evasion remained significant challenges.  In response, China participated in the “Skynet” operation which recovered 240.8 million Chinese yuan.  She called on all States to fulfil their ODA commitments.  To that end, China established and provided financial assistance to numerous regional and international development funds.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that while there had been a 2.7 per cent acceleration of the world gross product in 2017, many regions remained below the level needed to achieve sustainable development.  There remained a high level of uncertainty in the international policy environment and the overall outlook on external debt sustainability in developing countries continued to worsen.  She underscored the need for freer and fairer trade through a rules-based, transparent, equitable and inclusive multilateral trading system.  She also expressed regret for the emerging mistrust in the trading system and the rising trend to resort to unilateralism and protectionism.  “This endangers trade as a main driver for inclusive growth,” she stressed.  As a middle-income country, the Philippines was highly dependent on primary commodities and was thus concerned with the volatility of prices.  Noting that her country remained among the fastest growing economies in Asia, she said the Government was working to lower poverty and combat illicit financial flows.

LUM HUI ZHEN (Singapore), associating herself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States and ASEAN, underscored the need to strengthen the role of the United Nations in global economic governance.  Emphasizing that “global problems required global solutions”, she noted that no one country could have all the answers in today’s interconnected world.  In that context, the United Nations must play a key role in ensuring that multilateral institutions worked together in a complementary manner.  Moreover, strengthening the relationship between the United Nations and G-20 must be part of efforts to enhance global economic governance.  Respecting the mandates of relevant multilateral institutions was also critical.  “Economic and financial issues are inherently complex,” she added.  “Of course, the current global financial architecture, established over several decades, has to evolve,” she continued.  In that regard, Bretton Woods Institutions and other international organizations must adapt to the new challenges and be more inclusive to give developing countries a greater say.  Stressing the need for an open, rules-based, multilateral trading system, she said that WTO, for all its limitations, was the ultimate forum for all trading nations to work together.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), noting that his nation had been experiencing economic coercive measures, said it remained opposed to the application of unilateral economic and trade measures against other countries.  The use of such measures adversely affected sustainable development efforts of developing countries and generally had a negative impact on international economic cooperation as well as worldwide efforts to move towards a non-discriminatory and open multilateral trading system.  Such actions constituted a flagrant violation of the principles of international law set forth in the United Nations Charter as well as basic principles of the multilateral trading system.  Iran’s economy had demonstrated its unparalleled potential for expansion and growth.  Not only did economic sanctions fail to impede Iran, but they solidified collective resolve to enhance domestic production.  Achieving one of the highest global growth rates in 2016 had proven that Iran’s economy could become the most vibrant emerging economy within the next 20 years.  Its strategic choice for achieving such sustainable and balanced growth was extensive global partnerships.

TAMARA KHARASHUN (Belarus) said current global conditions did not inspire optimism, and she expressed concern over the decline in global trade.  The Secretary-General’s reports on macroeconomic policy painted a complex picture, which emphasized the importance of joint efforts by all States to promote global partnership.  The international financial system required favourable conditions to eradicate poverty on a sustainable basis.  She recognized the important role of UNCTAD, particularly in research on trade and investment policy.  As a middle-income country, Belarus called for coordinated assistance and the cessation of unilateral sanctions.  Sanctions, she remarked, had a significant extraterritorial impact on regional economic cooperation.  Similarly, she called for enhanced regional integration, as well as the full inclusion of new members in the WTO.  Belarus was the only member of the Eurasian Union of States without membership in the WTO.  In closing, she urged for an agreement on technological mechanisms to help bridge digital divides.

Mr. GONZALEZ-PEÑA (Cuba) said the international environment was an obstacle for most countries in the South, and structural changes would be urgently required on the economic, commercial and international levels.  He called for the mobilization of predictable and unconditional resources for developing countries to meet their development goals, as international public financial flows were insufficient to cover funding gaps.  Cuba supported external debt relief, including the cancelation and restructuring of debt, and he urged for the implementation of a fair and development-oriented multilateral sovereign debt restructuring mechanism.  His country rejected unilateral coercive economic measures, including the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on it.  The blockade caused deprivation to the Cuban people, constituted the main obstacle to the country’s development and macroeconomic policy objectives, and caused significant economic damage.

Mr. MASLOV (Russian Federation) stressed that stimulating trade required regional integration.  His country had strengthened integration with neighbouring countries through a regional economic union, which now had one service market.  By 2025, it would have one oil, gas and energy market.  One of the union’s priorities was to focus on sustainable development.  By pooling efforts, other integration could establish one economic space from the Atlantic to Pacific.  Partnership must be open to all countries and must be done so based on mutual interest and respect.  The Russian Federation was broadening cooperation with multilateral financial institutions, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.  It was committed to the implementation of the financing for development agenda.

Mr. PINEDA-GONZALEZ (Mexico) associated himself with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and called for the convergence of economic financial tools at all levels.  Public policy required partnership and improved public-private investment.  Reforms to the international financial system, he said, must be sequenced, phased and gradual and with respect to the structural gaps facing middle-income countries, including Mexico.  To that end, all States must work collectively to defend world trade, promote greater financial inclusion, strengthen sustainable management, reduce debt and address illicit financial flows.

ROUA SHURBAJI (Syria) said one of the most important obstacles to development was unilateral economic measures as a means of political coercion against developing countries.  She had hoped the Secretary-General’s report on that topic would include an in-depth assessment of affected countries, but it only spoke briefly of unilateral measures, mainly their unintended consequences.  She voiced opposition to unilateral economic measures, as they contravened globalization measures by the same Governments that imposed them.  The sustainable development agenda called on Member States to refrain from unilateral financial and trade measures, which impeded the achievement of development goals.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala), associating himself with CELAC, called for strengthened cooperation on tax matters and illicit asset recovery.  He urged for increased attention to commodities, noting that his country’s GDP depended on agricultural commodities which were vulnerable to speculation and market manipulations.  Additionally, the impact of climate change as well as other disasters threatened Guatemala’s food security and employment.  To that end, he underscored the importance of regulation to mitigate risks and ensure an equitable trade system.  He called for the international community to address illicit financial flows.  In response, Guatemala promoted numerous domestic actions and policies to enhance asset recovery and international cooperation.

Ms. AL-SHAMMARI (Qatar) said economic crises, high unemployment and debt burdens were all challenges affecting the common global vision of promoting economic growth, especially in developing countries.  She stressed the importance of the multilateral trading system, which would contribute to sustainable development and employment creation.  It was vital to push forward the Doha Development Round in strengthening the multilateral trading system to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Her country supported a United Nations system that would step up efforts to create a favourable economic environment, but opposed the use of unilateral coercive measures that negatively affected the multilateral trading system and economic cooperation.

Ms. OEHRI (Liechtenstein) said her country’s policies and regulations to combat illicit financial flows and criminal activities were internationally recognized, and set in international standards.  She emphasized the importance of asset recovery through international cooperation and with trusted legal instruments.  Liechtenstein’s financial intelligence unit led the fight against illicit financial flows, and highlighted the linkages with human trafficking, slavery and terrorism.  She urged for the strengthening of rule of law and hoped that such national initiatives would be included in the Committee’s work on the sustainable development agenda.

MARIANNE LOE (Norway) said her country allocated 1 per cent of its GDP to ODA, the greater part of which was spent in developing countries.  She urged States to utilize ODA in catalytic ways to leverage additional resources of finances, and noted new measures by multilateral banks.  Domestic resource mobilization should be decisive and entail more effective tax collection and a broadening of the tax base.  Low-income countries should be protected from tax erosion and corruption, she said.  Curbing massive illicit flows remained a key priority.  Trade was crucial for development and growth, and to that end, she expressed concern that protectionism and isolation would reverse common development.  She encouraged a strong sharing system and the use of trade as a development policy instrument, particularly in integrating developing countries into the global financial system and through responsible borrowing and lending.  She called attention to signs of new debt distress in some countries and urged States not to repeat expensive lessons from recent history.

CRISTIANE ENGELBRECHT SCHADTLER (Venezuela), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, expressed concern about the “effects of the capitalism crisis”.  The international community must redefine what was just and equitable.  Development processes must be autonomous and respect the sovereign management of natural resources without intermediation of transnational corporations.  States must work together to combat plundering of those natural resources and the resulting loss of proceeds from them.  Unilateral and coercive measures, she continued, were incompatible with the United Nations Charter and hindered development efforts.  Venezuela also called attention to the responsibility of developed countries in financing development and urged them to fulfil their pledge of 0.7 per cent GDP to ODA.  Turning to debt, she called for an enhanced analysis to resolve “distortions from the neoliberal capitalism model”.  Similarly, she encouraged the international community to drop prices of commodities, stop the “contagion” of financial crises and address the negative impact of debt.  To that end, she called for the establishment of an international mechanism for restructuring debt.

Mr. ALI (Iraq) noted that developing countries had lower rates of foreign debt to GDP, but the international community must make further efforts to lesson debt burdens.  He also called for an increase in humanitarian and cultural support for his country in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Such help would allow it to overcome challenges, achieve development and boost prosperity in the entire region.  It was essential that Iraq overcame the effects of terrorism and regained its natural resources in achieving development.  His State had managed to reduce its budgetary deficit and increase non-oil revenues.  Supporting slow-growing economies would help them move towards sustainable development, create conducive working environments and reduce the brain drain of their populations.

KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said recovery in global trade and strengthened investment would translate into increased resources available for the Sustainable Development Goals.  His country had exerted its utmost to mobilize more domestic resources by creating an enabling environment and adopting necessary policies and measures to promote economic growth as well as improve revenue administration through improved tax policy and more efficient tax collection.  It had also invested significant resources to improve infrastructure and connectivity and actively participated in regional integration so that trade could thrive.  However, as a least developed country and landlocked with a small economy, it needed continued external support such as ODA.

Ms. SRISAWANG (Thailand) stressed the need for better global economic governance as well as strengthened developing country voices in global economic and financial decisions.  The developing world also needed free and fairer trade, the elimination of trade barriers and a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system.  The WTO played a crucial role in dispute settlement and regional as well as bilateral trade were also vital.  Adding that efforts were also needed to better finance sustainable development, she stressed the importance of ODA as well as domestic resource mobilization through good governance and domestic and international public-private partnership.

NECTON D. MHURA (Malawi) associated himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries.  His State strived to respond, adapt and engage in cooperation at all levels, however he noted numerous risks associated with “shaky” policy and the unequal global economic architecture.  Each country had a primary responsibility for its development; however, he said national efforts should be complemented by supportive global programmes, measures and policies to expand opportunities for development.  Each country existed under specific circumstances, and all were impacted differently by external shocks.  Therefore, national contexts remained the primary detectors on how States respond and implement sustainable development.  He welcomed reforms to the development system and stated his country’s intention to seek greater international partnerships.

YEMDAOGO ERIC TIARE (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his nation had made significant macroeconomic progress characterized by an average annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent.  However, despite progress, numerous challenges remained, including a high poverty rate of 40.1 per cent.  The Government endeavoured to maintain fiscal viability, including through a robust macroeconomic framework which was the bedrock of the national development plan.  He called for an end to protectionism, which distorted trade and was contrary to agreements in the WTO.  To that end, he invited developed countries to lift non-tariff barriers.  He encouraged the development of a more fair and equitable international trade system, wherein the global trade market would form major economic blocks to work collectively, particularly in Africa.  Burkina Faso said there was a need to bolster international economic and South-South cooperation, and combat illicit financial flows.  Middle-income countries were particularly affected, and faced additional challenges in servicing debt.  In response, he called upon donor countries to provide greater support to mitigate the risk of new debt crises and tackle infrastructure deficits.

PHILIP FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77, said one of the key aspects in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals was growth.  Establishment of a recent forum on financing for development was a notable achievement but the outcome could have been more ambitious, as it did not provide enough guidance or lead to the needed results.  Trade was needed to promote structural change and sustained economic growth, but developing countries needed an inclusive, fair and transparent system.  There was also an urgent need to work further to curb illicit financial flows.  That must be a common endeavour as it would never be met without the participation of source, transit and destination countries.

LOK BAHADUR POUDEL CHHETRI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the global outlook was still uncertain after the economic recession.  Sluggish economic growth, declining ODA and decreasing commodity prices were affecting the health of many developing countries.  In least developed countries, the trade balance was worsening, with widening deficits and low preferential market access in key sectors.  Such conditions were worse in landlocked countries, where trade access was more difficult and integration was needed to gain a market edge.  Stressing the importance of trade as a key economic enabler, he said implementing the Doha Round was in the interest of all WTO members.

GEBEYEHU GANGA GAYITO (Ethiopia) associated himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries.  He said the commodity sector remained critical, however economic stability of commodity-dependent countries, including Ethiopia, was affected by the global price slump.  In that regard, he highlighted the importance of sustainable and productive economic diversification.  Achieving structural transformation remained one of the country’s development pillars.  Towards that objective, Ethiopia promoted economic diversification by adding value to its primary products, and called for relevant entities to intensify capacity-building programmes in line with national priorities.  Ethiopia implemented a national financial inclusiveness strategy and continued endeavours to expand financial services through an inclusion council.  He urged all States to measure and track illicit financial flows, as Africa lost billions of dollars’ worth of its resources that could have been used to finance its anti-poverty projects.  Ethiopia established necessary legal and institutional frameworks to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism, however those remained global challenges that required enhanced international cooperation and coordination, he said.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria), associating himself with Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said the relevance of ODA could not be overemphasized.  Nigeria, like most developing countries, was concerned that the total amount of ODA from developed countries was far below the target of 0.7 per cent of GDP.  As such, he reiterated the call on developed countries to meet the target.  As a founding member of the WTO, Nigeria was committed to the principle of the multilateral trading system and would continue to comply with its market access commitments.  Nigeria called for other countries to grant market access and support a non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system.  In that regard, his country would stand ready to support any effort to achieve a single package on trade facilitation, services, agriculture, development and least developing countries issues.  The Government established a presidential enabling business environment council, and issued three executive orders to promote business transparency and efficiency.  Nigeria also remained committed to the recovery and repatriation of illicit funds to countries of origin, and invited the private sector to participate more in international public funding.

VUSUMUZI NTONGA (Zimbabwe) said trade was needed to promote economic growth, human development and prosperity in reducing poverty and inequalities.  It was important for the WTO to have rules that created flexibilities for developing countries to enact policies promoting domestic manufacturing capabilities, stimulate technology transfer and promote access to affordable medicine.  Governments across the world derived their wealth and economic power mainly through trade, manufacturing and agriculture.  They should also be able to tax, borrow and regulate financial markets, but the current international financial system threatened those abilities owing to its several fundamental weaknesses.  He also noted that the problem of illicit financial flows continued to stifle efforts of many developing countries to achieve sustainable development and eradicate poverty, as it undermined the tax bases of those countries.  Funds lost through illicit flows should be used to finance development programmes and infrastructure projects.  Several studies had indicated that without the problem of illicit financial flows, most developing countries could have achieved their domestic and internationally agreed development programmes.

Ms. HAMDOUNI (Morocco), associating herself with Group of 77, encouraged Member States to adopt a compromise approach to implement development programmes.  Her country adopted numerous rigorous macroeconomic policies and reforms to strengthen financial globalization and trade openness.  Her Government put together a trade development strategy for 2016 to 2020, and presented its voluntary national report.  Morocco continued to promote strong regional South-South cooperation with an emphasis on African partnerships.  Illicit financial flows were a major challenge to the region, thus Morocco favoured strengthening measures to combat money laundering and abusive use of financial system

ARTHUR AMAYA ANDAMBI (Kenya), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country had a high fiscal deficit because of macroeconomic-related development challenges including a low export base and falling commodity prices.  Low export earnings had exacerbated the situation of the rising current account deficit, which had further depleted scarce foreign exchange reserves from the high import bill.  However, the economy had recorded a growth of 5.9 per cent in 2016, up from 5.6 in 2015.  Moreover, Kenya’s public debt remained sustainable.  A recent Debt Sustainability Analysis showed that the risk of distress for the current debt level was still low.  The recorded rise in debt level was directly attributed to the increase in development spending on infrastructure.  That spending was expected to alleviate binding constraints to the productive capacity of the economy, ultimately leading to a decline in debt ratios.

MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said unilateral coercive economic measures should be eliminated.  Algeria wished that the Secretary-General’s report, in pointing out studies on unemployment in developed countries due to trade liberalization, also paid attention to similar effects in developing countries, including those where manufacturing and industrial sectors were in nascent stages.  While ODA remained crucial, best practices — including those aimed at transforming long-term commitments in immediate liquidities, guaranteed by international institutions — were likely to be an instrumental solution, he said.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said international financial institutions must align their policies and lending decisions more closely to efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  In the case of Maldives, investment in infrastructure was crucial for achieving the Goals — building adequate hospitals, roads, harbours, airports, seaports and houses.  Infrastructure projects in the Maldives were directly linked to almost all the Goals.  Yet the narrow financial sector in the country did not have the capacity to provide adequate financing for those investment programmes.  Moreover, the country needed investments in such programmes in external hard currency, as it had to import almost every material used and the impact on its balance of payments tended to be high.  The only option was to go to external financing.

JOSÉ LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said much remained to be done to mobilize adequate and predictable financing to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  The time had come to focus on each State’s specificities and needs, and to adapt responses on a country-by-country basis, he said, adding that a national financial framework could be an important tool to mobilize resources.  Emphasizing the real threat of climate change, he said financing and development finance were critical for small island developing States, yet several obstacles persisted regarding preparing viable projects, eligibility and access to finance.

Mr. DONKO (Togo), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that the major challenge to development was funding and urged Governments to honour financing commitments.  However, although ODA had remained vitally important, especially for poorer countries, it was insufficient in meeting all needs in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Financing for development was also dependent on public policies that brought in a more favourable business environment.  In addition to measures to collect public resources, Togo had improved its ability to collect revenues, increasing its tax base and leveraging resources for development.  It had also optimized financing of infrastructure by taking advantage of public-private partnerships and had improved the business environment in attracting foreign investment in infrastructure.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, noting with concern the steady decline in international trade in 2015 and 2016, agreed with the Secretary-General’s report that the solution should not be less trade, but better trade.  That should be guided by the principles of inclusivity and equity for all and consistent with Pope Francis’s call for an inclusive economy focused on the common good.  Underscoring the need to give special attention to least developed countries, he said that even a modest lowering of protective tariffs on some agricultural products could significantly benefit small farmers in those countries.  Large external debt variations among developing countries would require careful monitoring and additional capacity-building, as well as possible recourse to further debt relief mechanisms.

The representative of the Common Fund for Commodities said new European Union regulations entering force in January 2018 would hopefully enhance the transparency and efficiency of commodity price discovery, directly affecting the investment climate in commodity-dependent developing countries.  Less volatility in commodity markets could improve investments in those countries at the grassroots level of commodity value chains.  He expressed hope that the flow of commodities, including South-South trade, could greatly benefit from technological development.

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Unilateral Sanctions Impede Sustainable Development, Speakers Say, as Second Committee Debates Macroeconomic Policy

A more equitable trading system and the cessation of unilateral sanctions would be critical to achieving sustainable development, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today during its debate on macroeconomic policy questions.

Namsuk Kim from the Development Policy Analysis Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs introduced the Secretary-General's report on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/72/307).

He noted that many States had expressed their disagreement with imposition of unilateral economic measures, adding that they went against principles of the United Nations Charter, norms of international law or the rules-based multilateral trading system. Such measures hampered trade flows, negatively impacted socioeconomic development in affected countries and weakened their contributions to international sustainable development.

Iran had been experiencing economic coercive measures, and it remained opposed to the application of unilateral economic and trade measures against other countries, said that country's representative. The use of such measures adversely affected developing countries, international economic cooperation, and the promotion of a non-discriminatory and open multilateral trading system. Despite such sanctions, Iran's economy had demonstrated unparalleled potential for expansion and growth, he continued. Not only did economic measures fail to impede Iran, but they solidified collective resolve to enhance domestic production.

In a similar vein, Cuba's delegate said his country had rejected unilateral coercive economic measures, including the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on it. The blockade caused deprivation to the Cuban people, constituted the main obstacle to the country's development and macroeconomic policy objectives, and was the source of significant economic damage.

The representative from Syria said she had hoped the Secretary-General's report on coercive measures would include an in-depth assessment of affected countries, but it only spoke briefly of unilateral measures, mainly their unintended consequences. She voiced opposition to unilateral economic measures, as they contravened globalization measures by the same Governments that imposed them.

The high level of uncertainty in the international policy environment and the overall outlook on external debt sustainability in developing countries continued to worsen, noted the representative from the Philippines. Expressing regret for the emerging mistrust in the trading system and the rising trend to resort to unilateralism and protectionism, she said such trends endangered trade as a main driver for inclusive growth.

Venezuela's representative, while noting concern about the effects of the capitalism crisis, said the international community must redefine what was just and equitable. Development processes must be autonomous and respect the sovereign management of resources without intermediation of transnational corporations. Unilateral and coercive measures, she echoed, were incompatible with the United Nations Charter and hindered development efforts.

The delegate from Belarus echoed those sentiments, adding that current global conditions did not inspire optimism. Expressing concern over the decline in global trade particularly for middle-income countries, she called for coordinated assistance and the cessation of unilateral sanctions. She remarked that such measures also had an extraterritorial impact on regional economic cooperation.

Speakers also presented the report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Trade and Development Board (documents A/72/15 part I, II, III, IV and V), and the Secretary-General's reports on international financial system and development (document A/72/306), external debt sustainability and development (document A/72/253), international trade and development (document A/72/274), and world commodity trends and prospects (document A/72/254).

Also speaking were representatives of Ecuador, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Maldives, El Salvador, India, China, Singapore, Russian Federation, Mexico, Guatemala, Qatar, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iraq, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Thailand, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Nepal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Kenya, Algeria, Maldives, Cabo Verde, and Togo, as well as the Holy See and Common Fund for Commodities.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 9 October, to discuss sustainable development.

Introduction of Reports

TUDOR ULIANOVSCHI, President of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Trade and Development Board, introduced reports (documents A/72/15 part I, II, III, IV and V) highlighting the need for enhanced collective actions to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Urging the international community to focus on collective actions, he called attention to the significant progress made by UNCTAD, as seen in the Nairobi Maafikiano document. That consensus document strengthened the role of the Conference as the primary focal point for trade and development, and supported the gainful integration of all countries into the international economy.

He said that UNCTAD had in 2016 launched the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development and the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-Commerce and Digital Economy. Recognizing the need for the Conference's work to feed into the General Assembly, the Board elected to postpone its annual session to June 2018. He encouraged Member States to provide inputs on the work of the Board to Geneva. Continuing, he noted several high-level dialogues and deliberations which furthered efforts to enhance investment policies, and address trends in the financial markets and flows, among others. The Board also considered assistance to the Palestinian people, and he stated that many delegations expressed concern at the worsening socioeconomic conditions in the Palestinian territory. Other discussions highlighted economic development in Africa, among others.

ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Director of the Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General's report on international financial system and development (document A/72/306). He said analyses of high frequency data on developing countries had shown that they were subject to periodic episodes of high volatility. Developed country central banks were introducing new measures, including the reduction of interest rates, which would increase the risk of volatility in developing States. Institutional investors, who were the main drivers of portfolio flows, could play a role in financing, but they currently had a short-term bias. Reallocation of investment to the long-term would require changes to incentives. International financial flows were important because they played specific roles in financing activities benefiting all of society. Official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries fell by 3.9 per cent in 2016, with many individual contributions below the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent. Noting that there was no single solution in addressing developing country financial stress, he said the best was likely prevention. International and national systems should help countries return to financial stability, while not compromising the Sustainable Development Goals. Some reforms to the financial regulatory system were proceeding well, but others required more effort. Efforts to include all elements of the Goals into the financial system reform agenda were still in their infancy. International public financial institutions played a unique role, and new development banks were now contributing resources to many sustainable development projects.

STEPHANIE BLANKENBURG, Head of Debt and Development Finance Branch, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the report of the Secretary-General on external debt sustainability and development (document A/72/253). Noting that the overall outlook on debt sustainability was worsening, she said current policy initiatives to bolster it and mobilize resources could prove too gradual to mitigate the growing risks. The report provided a comprehensive overview of debt indicators, debt sustainability and main directions in international policy initiatives to mitigate global challenges. Regarding trends and debt indicators, the post-financial crisis period demonstrated that the debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios in developing countries remained stable; however, those indicators concealed troubling increases in debt to export ratios and increases to debt service burdens. She called attention to the plight of small island developing States which registered among the worst debt indicators of any group. Given the increase in natural hazards because of climate change, she urged for greater creditor actions to reduce the debt burden for most disaster-affected countries. Least developed countries were also a growing concern. While welcoming the 0.32 per cent gross national income contributions to ODA, she however noted that the 0.7 per cent international target was missed. Problematic trends continued in large private sector debt and debt service ratios in the private sector and she expressed concern that countries remained ill-equipped to successfully manage the related challenges. The international community's reliance on volatile markets and unstable domestic financial systems called for greater efforts to risk mitigation. To that end, she encouraged greater focus on State-contingent debt instruments, soft-low principles and the promotion of new financial instruments. She urged Governments to consider immediate policy coordination, enhanced debt relief or cancellation, and the improvement of data and analysis on debt sustainability.

NAMSUK KIM, Development Policy Analysis Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General's report on unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/72/307). He said the Secretariat had invited Governments, relevant international organizations, programmes and agencies, within and outside the United Nations system, to provide their views and any pertinent information on that matter. Twelve Member States and three regional commissions had replied. Member States expressed their disagreement with the imposition of unilateral economic measures as an instrument of political and economic coercion, stating that those actions were not in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, the norms of international law or the rules-based multilateral trading system. They also expressed concern about the negative impact of unilateral economic measures on the socioeconomic development of affected countries. The regional commissions concurred, indicating that unilateral sanctions adversely impacted populations of affected countries, especially the most vulnerable groups. Such measures hampered trade flows and their potential contribution to development.

MARISA HENDERSON, Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the report of the Secretary-General on international trade and development (document A/72/274).

The report demonstrated that the value of international trade increased from $5 trillion in 1994 to $24 trillion in 2014, she said. Twenty years ago, 60 per cent of world trade was between developed countries, 30 per cent between developed and developing countries, and only 10 per cent in South-South trade. Recent trends had pushed the expectation that trade would be split equally in three ways. In less than three decades, trade facilitated significant economic gains; however, the 2016 trade values declined for a second consecutive year despite growth in GDP. Similarly, the overall trade volume growth from 2008 to 2016 was weak at 1.3 per cent and reflected deeper structural challenges. Investment spending slumped in the United States, and China continued to rebalance its economic system away from investment and towards consumption. Thus, the ratio of trade in China over GDP declined from 65 per cent in 2005 to 35 per cent in 2015. Parallel declines were observed in many East Asian economies.

The benefits of innovation in information communications technology (ICT) were exhausted and trade regulatory harmonization had not progressed fast enough to match incentives, she continued. Additionally, least developed countries' exports were on a downward trend since 2011 and many such countries struggled to compete in global economy. The Sustainable Development Goal targets called for the integration of poorer countries in the global economy; however, the current system lacked inclusiveness and remained unequal. Gains from openness and globalization have not been shared equitably or fairly, she stated. The international community must address that shortcoming with dialogue and action, including through technological assistance and capacity-building for least developed countries. Without action to address those gaps, the lack of trust in trade and trade policy could erode the legitimacy of international trade measures.

Ms. Henderson also presented the Secretary-General's report on world commodity trends and prospects (document A/72/254), noting that 2016 marked an end of the five-year downward trend in commodity prices. However, the subsequent increase in 2016 prices met with a reversal during the first four months of 2017, as several commodity groups dropped again in price. She stressed that commodity-dependent developing countries must diversify to reduce their vulnerability to commodity price volatility in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In an ensuing discussion, the delegate from Iran requested greater clarity on the Conference's work to promote regional integration and best practices. Mr. Ulianovschi responded that discussions during the recent high-level panel included a focus on the African region, with a view to establishing larger cooperation to facilitate trade. The discussion included efforts to reduce barriers, including through the promotion of a single-window system in national customs departments to ensure automatic data sharing and exchange.

Jamaica's representative asked about the impact of regular trade changes and regulatory requirements on banks and financial institutions, to which Mr. Trepelkov said that data on the sustainable development impacts of all financial regulatory efforts was currently limited. Efforts to include all dimensions of sustainable development into the reform agenda are still in their infancy, he said. While it would be too premature to draw conclusions based on the regulatory reforms, preliminary data showed it would likely become more challenging.

Statements

MARIO A. ZAMBRANO ORTIZ (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, reaffirmed the importance of debt restructurings being timely, effective and fair. Sovereign debt matters should concern both developed and developing countries. It should be considered as a matter with the potential to adversely impact the global economy, he continued, stressing also the need to assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability. Debtors and creditors must work together to prevent and resolve unsustainable debt situations. Many commodity-dependent developing countries and economies in transition continued to be highly vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations. As such, it was essential to improve the regulation, efficiency, responsiveness and transparency of commodity markets to address excessive price volatility.

He noted with concern the steady increase in the illicit flows of funds, particularly from developing countries, and the negative impact it posed to sustainable development and rule of law. The Group reiterated its call for greater international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows. As the United Nations was the only universal forum where tax matter issues could be discussed in an open and inclusive manner, the Group reiterated the need to upgrade the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to an intergovernmental body and provide it with the resources to carry out its work. The Group also reaffirmed that coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions, did not contribute to economic and social development. Stressing the need to work towards a freer and fairer multilateral trading system, he stressed the need to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that the global economy had undergone a prolonged episode of relatively slow growth following the 2008 financial crisis. In 2016, the global economy experienced the slowest rate of growth since 2009, expanding by just 2.3 per cent. Real international trade growth fell below the world's gross domestic product (GDP) during 2015-2016 for the first time in 15 years. The global economy also experienced protracted weak investment growth, falling commodity prices and growing vulnerabilities to increased external debt. Despite modest recovery in early 2017, economic growth in many regions remained below the level needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addressing those issues, she stressed the need to enhance international cooperation to mobilize resources for development. Continuous capacity-building was also needed, especially to tackle illicit financial flows, asset return and tax matters. She urged developed countries to fulfil their commitments, as ODA remained the main source of development financing for many least developed nations and small island developing States and an additional $100,000 per year was needed for climate financing. In addition, there was a need for improved market access and enhanced investment inflows for sustainable development-related sectors. International trade was an engine for inclusive economic growth, especially in goods and services related to labour-intensive sectors and rural economic activities. As such, an open, rules-based, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system was imperative.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, expressed concern that merchandise exports of least developed countries in 2015 contracted by 25 per cent. Calling upon members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to address the marginalization of least developed countries in trade, he emphasized the need for developed and developing members to implement duty-free and quota-free market access on all products originating from the least developed countries. Looking ahead to the eleventh WTO ministerial conference to be held in Buenos Aires, he called for an outcome that produced tangible progress in the areas of relevance for least developed countries. Many of those countries still struggled with a heavy burden of external debt, which continued to present a major obstacle for economic growth and sustainable development.

He called on the international community to undertake measures to address the debt problems, especially through full cancellation of all multilateral and bilateral debt owned by least developed countries to creditors, both public and private. For their part, development partners must increase their ODA and other concessional lending to ensure debt sustainability. Corruption, tax evasion, transfer havens and money laundering had serious impacts on domestic resource mobilization. Increased international cooperation was essential to recover stolen assets and return them to their countries of origin. He also urged donor countries to fulfil their ODA commitment of 0.2 per cent of their gross national income.

COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Alliance of Small Island States, voiced concern about the persistent tendency by some nations to view international trade openness as a zero-sum game as well as a rise in protectionism. Strongly rejecting such policies and attitudes, which ultimately constrained aggregate demand and perpetuated the current low-global-growth environment, he voiced the Community's commitment to the maintenance of an open, rules-based international trading system as embodied by the WTO.

As trade benefits accrued unevenly and increased competition had led to economic dislocation, he underscored the obligation of policymakers to develop and implement programmes to help workers be reskilled, educated and trained to compete for the technology-based jobs of tomorrow. Governments should also fully address the unique vulnerabilities of small island developing States as well as the persistent economic and social challenges of States in special situations, such as middle-income nations. With the unique challenges that Caribbean [small island developing States] face in the context of sustainable development, we insist that our specific needs and circumstances � especially as they relate to scale, capacity and local context � are also taken into consideration, he said.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, noted that small island developing States continued to feel the impact of a slow recovery from the global economic and financial crisis. As commodity-dependent countries, those States were particularly concerned about declining commodity prices, especially in fishing and agriculture. Also contributing to a negative economic impact were the declining performance of their export sectors, reduction in tourism revenues due to the downturn and the impact of climate change on fish stocks and crop yields. Structural constraints faced by island States made diversifying their economies difficult, she observed. Turning to natural hazards, such as recent hurricanes, she said that they were not just one-off events. Instead, they signalled the beginning of an even more challenging recovery processes. Island States had to contend with many systemic factors making recovery and rebuilding more difficult. That process was made possible through additional borrowing, compounding existing debt problems. Though small island developing States were the most highly indebted countries in the world, concessional financing remained elusive because of their middle-income status. As such, the Alliance reiterated its call for a GDP plus criteria to gauge eligibility for concessionary financing to better reflect inherent and structural vulnerabilities faced. Turning to the Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development process, she commended the interagency task force's work but called for a depoliticizing of the Forum's activities. She expressed disappointment at the lack of engagement on issues critically important to the bloc, such as climate change and trade.

PABLO JOSA� SORIANO MENA (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of CELAC, stressed the importance of reforming the international financial system, especially the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to enhance the voice and participation of developing countries in international decision-making and establishment of norms in economic matters and global economic governance. In addition, developing countries should scale up international tax cooperation and combat illicit financial flows to mobilize domestic resources for the Sustainable Development Goals. There was also a need to eliminate safe havens creating incentives for the transfer abroad of stolen assets and illicit financial flows. He emphasized the importance of disclosure and transparency in source and destination countries, including in financial transactions between Governments and companies for relevant tax authorities.

He recognized the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development in countries of origin, transit and destination. Remittances from migrant workers could be equated with other international financial flows, such as foreign direct investment (FDI) or ODA. He also stressed the importance of debt relief, including debt cancellation and restructuring. Debt restructuring should have as its core element a determination or real payment capacity so it would not compromise national growth. There was an urgent need for the international community to constructively cooperate with the United Nations and international financial institutions to enhance transparency, supervision, regulation and good governance of the international financial system to examine options for an effective, equitable, independent and development-oriented debt restructuring and international debt resolution.

ASHISH KUMAR SINHA (India) stressed that open trade was a means of creating employment and contributing to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through greater economic activity and revenues. Developing countries derived significant benefit from an open, fair, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory trading and financial system. Trade liberalization could contribute to increased growth by enhancing access to technology, intermediate and capital goods and increased competition, which in turn could reduce poverty through employment creation. He also emphasized the continuing relevance of ODA for several developing countries, especially the more vulnerable least developed countries and small island developing States, although Governments must also expand domestic revenue basis, stop leakages and corruptions and attract investment. The Addis Agenda recognized that the foremost driver of domestic resource mobilization was economic growth requiring Governments to strengthen tax administration and combat corruption.

ZHANG YU (China) said the international community must strengthen policy coordination to promote reforms for a more inclusive and equitable global economy. She called for States to avoid protectionism and promote the integration of developing countries into the international markets. China undertook numerous efforts to facilitate trade and strengthen macroeconomic policy growth on many fronts, including the provision of interest-free loans and assistance to States struggling to repay debts. China additionally promoted digital financial inclusion, as demonstrated in recent reforms for rural financial institutions. Corruption, the illicit exploitation of natural resources, and tax evasion remained significant challenges. In response, China participated in the Skynet operation which recovered 240.8 million Chinese yuan. She called on all States to fulfil their ODA commitments. To that end, China established and provided financial assistance to numerous regional and international development funds.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that while there had been a 2.7 per cent acceleration of the world gross product in 2017, many regions remained below the level needed to achieve sustainable development. There remained a high level of uncertainty in the international policy environment and the overall outlook on external debt sustainability in developing countries continued to worsen. She underscored the need for freer and fairer trade through a rules-based, transparent, equitable and inclusive multilateral trading system. She also expressed regret for the emerging mistrust in the trading system and the rising trend to resort to unilateralism and protectionism. This endangers trade as a main driver for inclusive growth, she stressed. As a middle-income country, the Philippines was highly dependent on primary commodities and was thus concerned with the volatility of prices. Noting that her country remained among the fastest growing economies in Asia, she said the Government was working to lower poverty and combat illicit financial flows.

LUM HUI ZHEN (Singapore), associating herself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States and ASEAN, underscored the need to strengthen the role of the United Nations in global economic governance. Emphasizing that global problems required global solutions, she noted that no one country could have all the answers in today's interconnected world. In that context, the United Nations must play a key role in ensuring that multilateral institutions worked together in a complementary manner. Moreover, strengthening the relationship between the United Nations and G-20 must be part of efforts to enhance global economic governance. Respecting the mandates of relevant multilateral institutions was also critical. Economic and financial issues are inherently complex, she added. Of course, the current global financial architecture, established over several decades, has to evolve, she continued. In that regard, Bretton Woods Institutions and other international organizations must adapt to the new challenges and be more inclusive to give developing countries a greater say. Stressing the need for an open, rules-based, multilateral trading system, she said that WTO, for all its limitations, was the ultimate forum for all trading nations to work together.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), noting that his nation had been experiencing economic coercive measures, said it remained opposed to the application of unilateral economic and trade measures against other countries. The use of such measures adversely affected sustainable development efforts of developing countries and generally had a negative impact on international economic cooperation as well as worldwide efforts to move towards a non-discriminatory and open multilateral trading system. Such actions constituted a flagrant violation of the principles of international law set forth in the United Nations Charter as well as basic principles of the multilateral trading system. Iran's economy had demonstrated its unparalleled potential for expansion and growth. Not only did economic sanctions fail to impede Iran, but they solidified collective resolve to enhance domestic production. Achieving one of the highest global growth rates in 2016 had proven that Iran's economy could become the most vibrant emerging economy within the next 20 years. Its strategic choice for achieving such sustainable and balanced growth was extensive global partnerships.

TAMARA KHARASHUN (Belarus) said current global conditions did not inspire optimism, and she expressed concern over the decline in global trade. The Secretary-General's reports on macroeconomic policy painted a complex picture, which emphasized the importance of joint efforts by all States to promote global partnership. The international financial system required favourable conditions to eradicate poverty on a sustainable basis. She recognized the important role of UNCTAD, particularly in research on trade and investment policy. As a middle-income country, Belarus called for coordinated assistance and the cessation of unilateral sanctions. Sanctions, she remarked, had a significant extraterritorial impact on regional economic cooperation. Similarly, she called for enhanced regional integration, as well as the full inclusion of new members in the WTO. Belarus was the only member of the Eurasian Union of States without membership in the WTO. In closing, she urged for an agreement on technological mechanisms to help bridge digital divides.

Mr. GONZALEZ-PEA�A (Cuba) said the international environment was an obstacle for most countries in the South, and structural changes would be urgently required on the economic, commercial and international levels. He called for the mobilization of predictable and unconditional resources for developing countries to meet their development goals, as international public financial flows were insufficient to cover funding gaps. Cuba supported external debt relief, including the cancelation and restructuring of debt, and he urged for the implementation of a fair and development-oriented multilateral sovereign debt restructuring mechanism. His country rejected unilateral coercive economic measures, including the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on it. The blockade caused deprivation to the Cuban people, constituted the main obstacle to the country's development and macroeconomic policy objectives, and caused significant economic damage.

Mr. MASLOV (Russian Federation) stressed that stimulating trade required regional integration. His country had strengthened integration with neighbouring countries through a regional economic union, which now had one service market. By 2025, it would have one oil, gas and energy market. One of the union's priorities was to focus on sustainable development. By pooling efforts, other integration could establish one economic space from the Atlantic to Pacific. Partnership must be open to all countries and must be done so based on mutual interest and respect. The Russian Federation was broadening cooperation with multilateral financial institutions, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. It was committed to the implementation of the financing for development agenda.

Mr. PINEDA-GONZALEZ (Mexico) associated himself with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and called for the convergence of economic financial tools at all levels. Public policy required partnership and improved public-private investment. Reforms to the international financial system, he said, must be sequenced, phased and gradual and with respect to the structural gaps facing middle-income countries, including Mexico. To that end, all States must work collectively to defend world trade, promote greater financial inclusion, strengthen sustainable management, reduce debt and address illicit financial flows.

ROUA SHURBAJI (Syria) said one of the most important obstacles to development was unilateral economic measures as a means of political coercion against developing countries. She had hoped the Secretary-General's report on that topic would include an in-depth assessment of affected countries, but it only spoke briefly of unilateral measures, mainly their unintended consequences. She voiced opposition to unilateral economic measures, as they contravened globalization measures by the same Governments that imposed them. The sustainable development agenda called on Member States to refrain from unilateral financial and trade measures, which impeded the achievement of development goals.

JORGE SKINNER-KLA�E (Guatemala), associating himself with CELAC, called for strengthened cooperation on tax matters and illicit asset recovery. He urged for increased attention to commodities, noting that his country's GDP depended on agricultural commodities which were vulnerable to speculation and market manipulations. Additionally, the impact of climate change as well as other disasters threatened Guatemala's food security and employment. To that end, he underscored the importance of regulation to mitigate risks and ensure an equitable trade system. He called for the international community to address illicit financial flows. In response, Guatemala promoted numerous domestic actions and policies to enhance asset recovery and international cooperation.

Ms. AL-SHAMMARI (Qatar) said economic crises, high unemployment and debt burdens were all challenges affecting the common global vision of promoting economic growth, especially in developing countries. She stressed the importance of the multilateral trading system, which would contribute to sustainable development and employment creation. It was vital to push forward the Doha Development Round in strengthening the multilateral trading system to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Her country supported a United Nations system that would step up efforts to create a favourable economic environment, but opposed the use of unilateral coercive measures that negatively affected the multilateral trading system and economic cooperation.

Ms. OEHRI (Liechtenstein) said her country's policies and regulations to combat illicit financial flows and criminal activities were internationally recognized, and set in international standards. She emphasized the importance of asset recovery through international cooperation and with trusted legal instruments. Liechtenstein's financial intelligence unit led the fight against illicit financial flows, and highlighted the linkages with human trafficking, slavery and terrorism. She urged for the strengthening of rule of law and hoped that such national initiatives would be included in the Committee's work on the sustainable development agenda.

MARIANNE LOE (Norway) said her country allocated 1 per cent of its GDP to ODA, the greater part of which was spent in developing countries. She urged States to utilize ODA in catalytic ways to leverage additional resources of finances, and noted new measures by multilateral banks. Domestic resource mobilization should be decisive and entail more effective tax collection and a broadening of the tax base. Low-income countries should be protected from tax erosion and corruption, she said. Curbing massive illicit flows remained a key priority. Trade was crucial for development and growth, and to that end, she expressed concern that protectionism and isolation would reverse common development. She encouraged a strong sharing system and the use of trade as a development policy instrument, particularly in integrating developing countries into the global financial system and through responsible borrowing and lending. She called attention to signs of new debt distress in some countries and urged States not to repeat expensive lessons from recent history.

CRISTIANE ENGELBRECHT SCHADTLER (Venezuela), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, expressed concern about the effects of the capitalism crisis. The international community must redefine what was just and equitable. Development processes must be autonomous and respect the sovereign management of natural resources without intermediation of transnational corporations. States must work together to combat plundering of those natural resources and the resulting loss of proceeds from them. Unilateral and coercive measures, she continued, were incompatible with the United Nations Charter and hindered development efforts. Venezuela also called attention to the responsibility of developed countries in financing development and urged them to fulfil their pledge of 0.7 per cent GDP to ODA. Turning to debt, she called for an enhanced analysis to resolve distortions from the neoliberal capitalism model. Similarly, she encouraged the international community to drop prices of commodities, stop the contagion of financial crises and address the negative impact of debt. To that end, she called for the establishment of an international mechanism for restructuring debt.

Mr. ALI (Iraq) noted that developing countries had lower rates of foreign debt to GDP, but the international community must make further efforts to lesson debt burdens. He also called for an increase in humanitarian and cultural support for his country in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Such help would allow it to overcome challenges, achieve development and boost prosperity in the entire region. It was essential that Iraq overcame the effects of terrorism and regained its natural resources in achieving development. His State had managed to reduce its budgetary deficit and increase non-oil revenues. Supporting slow-growing economies would help them move towards sustainable development, create conducive working environments and reduce the brain drain of their populations.

KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People's Democratic Republic) said recovery in global trade and strengthened investment would translate into increased resources available for the Sustainable Development Goals. His country had exerted its utmost to mobilize more domestic resources by creating an enabling environment and adopting necessary policies and measures to promote economic growth as well as improve revenue administration through improved tax policy and more efficient tax collection. It had also invested significant resources to improve infrastructure and connectivity and actively participated in regional integration so that trade could thrive. However, as a least developed country and landlocked with a small economy, it needed continued external support such as ODA.

Ms. SRISAWANG (Thailand) stressed the need for better global economic governance as well as strengthened developing country voices in global economic and financial decisions. The developing world also needed free and fairer trade, the elimination of trade barriers and a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system. The WTO played a crucial role in dispute settlement and regional as well as bilateral trade were also vital. Adding that efforts were also needed to better finance sustainable development, she stressed the importance of ODA as well as domestic resource mobilization through good governance and domestic and international public-private partnership.

NECTON D. MHURA (Malawi) associated himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries. His State strived to respond, adapt and engage in cooperation at all levels, however he noted numerous risks associated with shaky policy and the unequal global economic architecture. Each country had a primary responsibility for its development; however, he said national efforts should be complemented by supportive global programmes, measures and policies to expand opportunities for development. Each country existed under specific circumstances, and all were impacted differently by external shocks. Therefore, national contexts remained the primary detectors on how States respond and implement sustainable development. He welcomed reforms to the development system and stated his country's intention to seek greater international partnerships.

YEMDAOGO ERIC TIARE (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his nation had made significant macroeconomic progress characterized by an average annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent. However, despite progress, numerous challenges remained, including a high poverty rate of 40.1 per cent. The Government endeavoured to maintain fiscal viability, including through a robust macroeconomic framework which was the bedrock of the national development plan. He called for an end to protectionism, which distorted trade and was contrary to agreements in the WTO. To that end, he invited developed countries to lift non-tariff barriers. He encouraged the development of a more fair and equitable international trade system, wherein the global trade market would form major economic blocks to work collectively, particularly in Africa. Burkina Faso said there was a need to bolster international economic and South-South cooperation, and combat illicit financial flows. Middle-income countries were particularly affected, and faced additional challenges in servicing debt. In response, he called upon donor countries to provide greater support to mitigate the risk of new debt crises and tackle infrastructure deficits.

PHILIP FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77, said one of the key aspects in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals was growth. Establishment of a recent forum on financing for development was a notable achievement but the outcome could have been more ambitious, as it did not provide enough guidance or lead to the needed results. Trade was needed to promote structural change and sustained economic growth, but developing countries needed an inclusive, fair and transparent system. There was also an urgent need to work further to curb illicit financial flows. That must be a common endeavour as it would never be met without the participation of source, transit and destination countries.

LOK BAHADUR POUDEL CHHETRI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the global outlook was still uncertain after the economic recession. Sluggish economic growth, declining ODA and decreasing commodity prices were affecting the health of many developing countries. In least developed countries, the trade balance was worsening, with widening deficits and low preferential market access in key sectors. Such conditions were worse in landlocked countries, where trade access was more difficult and integration was needed to gain a market edge. Stressing the importance of trade as a key economic enabler, he said implementing the Doha Round was in the interest of all WTO members.

GEBEYEHU GANGA GAYITO (Ethiopia) associated himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries. He said the commodity sector remained critical, however economic stability of commodity-dependent countries, including Ethiopia, was affected by the global price slump. In that regard, he highlighted the importance of sustainable and productive economic diversification. Achieving structural transformation remained one of the country's development pillars. Towards that objective, Ethiopia promoted economic diversification by adding value to its primary products, and called for relevant entities to intensify capacity-building programmes in line with national priorities. Ethiopia implemented a national financial inclusiveness strategy and continued endeavours to expand financial services through an inclusion council. He urged all States to measure and track illicit financial flows, as Africa lost billions of dollars' worth of its resources that could have been used to finance its anti-poverty projects. Ethiopia established necessary legal and institutional frameworks to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism, however those remained global challenges that required enhanced international cooperation and coordination, he said.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria), associating himself with Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said the relevance of ODA could not be overemphasized. Nigeria, like most developing countries, was concerned that the total amount of ODA from developed countries was far below the target of 0.7 per cent of GDP. As such, he reiterated the call on developed countries to meet the target. As a founding member of the WTO, Nigeria was committed to the principle of the multilateral trading system and would continue to comply with its market access commitments. Nigeria called for other countries to grant market access and support a non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system. In that regard, his country would stand ready to support any effort to achieve a single package on trade facilitation, services, agriculture, development and least developing countries issues. The Government established a presidential enabling business environment council, and issued three executive orders to promote business transparency and efficiency. Nigeria also remained committed to the recovery and repatriation of illicit funds to countries of origin, and invited the private sector to participate more in international public funding.

VUSUMUZI NTONGA (Zimbabwe) said trade was needed to promote economic growth, human development and prosperity in reducing poverty and inequalities. It was important for the WTO to have rules that created flexibilities for developing countries to enact policies promoting domestic manufacturing capabilities, stimulate technology transfer and promote access to affordable medicine. Governments across the world derived their wealth and economic power mainly through trade, manufacturing and agriculture. They should also be able to tax, borrow and regulate financial markets, but the current international financial system threatened those abilities owing to its several fundamental weaknesses. He also noted that the problem of illicit financial flows continued to stifle efforts of many developing countries to achieve sustainable development and eradicate poverty, as it undermined the tax bases of those countries. Funds lost through illicit flows should be used to finance development programmes and infrastructure projects. Several studies had indicated that without the problem of illicit financial flows, most developing countries could have achieved their domestic and internationally agreed development programmes.

Ms. HAMDOUNI (Morocco), associating herself with Group of 77, encouraged Member States to adopt a compromise approach to implement development programmes. Her country adopted numerous rigorous macroeconomic policies and reforms to strengthen financial globalization and trade openness. Her Government put together a trade development strategy for 2016 to 2020, and presented its voluntary national report. Morocco continued to promote strong regional South-South cooperation with an emphasis on African partnerships. Illicit financial flows were a major challenge to the region, thus Morocco favoured strengthening measures to combat money laundering and abusive use of financial system

ARTHUR AMAYA ANDAMBI (Kenya), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country had a high fiscal deficit because of macroeconomic-related development challenges including a low export base and falling commodity prices. Low export earnings had exacerbated the situation of the rising current account deficit, which had further depleted scarce foreign exchange reserves from the high import bill. However, the economy had recorded a growth of 5.9 per cent in 2016, up from 5.6 in 2015. Moreover, Kenya's public debt remained sustainable. A recent Debt Sustainability Analysis showed that the risk of distress for the current debt level was still low. The recorded rise in debt level was directly attributed to the increase in development spending on infrastructure. That spending was expected to alleviate binding constraints to the productive capacity of the economy, ultimately leading to a decline in debt ratios.

MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said unilateral coercive economic measures should be eliminated. Algeria wished that the Secretary-General's report, in pointing out studies on unemployment in developed countries due to trade liberalization, also paid attention to similar effects in developing countries, including those where manufacturing and industrial sectors were in nascent stages. While ODA remained crucial, best practices � including those aimed at transforming long-term commitments in immediate liquidities, guaranteed by international institutions � were likely to be an instrumental solution, he said.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said international financial institutions must align their policies and lending decisions more closely to efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In the case of Maldives, investment in infrastructure was crucial for achieving the Goals � building adequate hospitals, roads, harbours, airports, seaports and houses. Infrastructure projects in the Maldives were directly linked to almost all the Goals. Yet the narrow financial sector in the country did not have the capacity to provide adequate financing for those investment programmes. Moreover, the country needed investments in such programmes in external hard currency, as it had to import almost every material used and the impact on its balance of payments tended to be high. The only option was to go to external financing.

JOSA� LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said much remained to be done to mobilize adequate and predictable financing to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. The time had come to focus on each State's specificities and needs, and to adapt responses on a country-by-country basis, he said, adding that a national financial framework could be an important tool to mobilize resources. Emphasizing the real threat of climate change, he said financing and development finance were critical for small island developing States, yet several obstacles persisted regarding preparing viable projects, eligibility and access to finance.

Mr. DONKO (Togo), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that the major challenge to development was funding and urged Governments to honour financing commitments. However, although ODA had remained vitally important, especially for poorer countries, it was insufficient in meeting all needs in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Financing for development was also dependent on public policies that brought in a more favourable business environment. In addition to measures to collect public resources, Togo had improved its ability to collect revenues, increasing its tax base and leveraging resources for development. It had also optimized financing of infrastructure by taking advantage of public-private partnerships and had improved the business environment in attracting foreign investment in infrastructure.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, noting with concern the steady decline in international trade in 2015 and 2016, agreed with the Secretary-General's report that the solution should not be less trade, but better trade. That should be guided by the principles of inclusivity and equity for all and consistent with Pope Francis's call for an inclusive economy focused on the common good. Underscoring the need to give special attention to least developed countries, he said that even a modest lowering of protective tariffs on some agricultural products could significantly benefit small farmers in those countries. Large external debt variations among developing countries would require careful monitoring and additional capacity-building, as well as possible recourse to further debt relief mechanisms.

The representative of the Common Fund for Commodities said new European Union regulations entering force in January 2018 would hopefully enhance the transparency and efficiency of commodity price discovery, directly affecting the investment climate in commodity-dependent developing countries. Less volatility in commodity markets could improve investments in those countries at the grassroots level of commodity value chains. He expressed hope that the flow of commodities, including South-South trade, could greatly benefit from technological development.

Source: United Nations

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Sixth Committee Speakers Highlight Country Specific Initiatives Illustrating Best Rule of Law Practices in Local, National Settings, as Debate Continues

As the Sixth Committee (Legal) continued its consideration of the report of the Secretary General on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities, speakers spotlighted country specific initiatives that put that principle into practice and made its application more effective. (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3543.)

A new era was emerging in his country, the representative of Colombia said. Together with the United Nations team, his Government had spear headed new initiatives aimed at judicial reform. That reform included its Special Jurisdiction for Peace, as well as the passage of a law that permitted the reintegration of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members into society.

Senegal's delegate described the houses of justice in his country, which were provided free of charge to make justice available to all. Those establishments were able to settle minor conflicts using alternative means for dispute settlement. They not only used local languages, thus dispelling any language barrier, but were also in physical proximity to the people they served.

On an international platform, the rule of law was also being made more effective on the ground by Slovenia too, according to that country's representative. With women's empowerment a priority in her country, her Government was providing workshops for 900 refugee women in Lebanon.

Ghana's representative noted that the rule of law was at work in her country's legal institutions through access to legal representatives and legal aid. All citizens were ensured equal access to the legal system and legal representation. On top of that, the Justice for All Programme gave prisoners on remand their own access to proper legal representation.

However, offering a note of caution, the representative of Indonesia recalled violations of international humanitarian law in the State of Palestine. The rule of law at the international level would always be a fiction if the international community did not minimize its politicization.

Zimbabwe's delegate also weighed in, stating that the rule of law should not be an abstract concept in academic discourse. The issue could not exist in a vacuum, independent of the realities on the ground. As a small State, his country depended on the rule of law for protection from the aggressions of the rich and powerful. The Organization should continue to be guided by respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States.

In that regard, the representative of Sri Lanka stressed that the rule of law should always be context specific. It was not a concept that would conform to an external prescription that ignored domestic realities. More so, all States, especially developing ones, should have an equal opportunity to be a part of the development of international law, she said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Singapore, Peru, India, Syria, Brunei, Libya, Guatemala, Burkina Faso, Russian Federation, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nicaragua, Cuba, South Africa, Mauritius, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Lebanon, Costa Rica, Tonga, United States, Mongolia, Thailand, Ethiopia, Uruguay, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Viet Nam, China, Ukraine, Eritrea, Zambia, Brazil, Argentina, Togo, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Gambia, Serbia, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Venezuela and Iran.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Qatar, Russian Federation and Syria.

The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, 6 October, to continue consideration of the rule of law and take up the subject of criminal accountability.

Statements

LUKE TANG (Singapore), associating himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non Aligned Movement, affirmed the importance of the rule of law at both national and international levels. Small States such as his depended on a rules based multilateral system for survival and success. In regard to strengthening rule of law, he cited programmes of both the Office of Legal Affairs and his Government's that focused on disseminating information and building necessary capacity. Singapore also supported the United Nations online Audiovisual Library of International Law. Reaffirming the importance of registration of treaties, as noted in the Secretary General's report, he voiced support for efforts to make United Nations rule of law assistance more coherent and accessible in a way that better recognized local actors and conditions. Citing the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes, he also welcomed the establishment of the new office of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in his country.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA VELA�SQUEZ (Peru), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Non Aligned Movement, highlighted the contribution by the United Nations in advancing an international system based on multilateralism. Noting that his country had recently signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he also expressed support for the General Assembly resolution establishing the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for the Syrian Arab Republic. Stating his country's firm commitment to the work of the International Criminal Court, he added that, at the national level, his Government was establishing mechanisms to fight corruption.

YEDLA UMASANKAR (India), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that rule of law defined modern societies and nation States. As globalization picked up pace, it was imperative that countries continued to come together to define rules of cooperation in order to prevent chaos. Regrettably, there were areas where the international community had not been able to develop international rule of law. In that regard, the rise of terrorism was alarming, as well as other emerging challenges, such as artificial intelligence, cyber security or maritime piracy. In his country, the independence of judiciary, legislature and executive branches, a free media and a vibrant civil society, and a strong tradition of electoral democracy were the basis of rule of law.

AMMAR AL ARSAN (Syria), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that rule of law was an indivisible whole and it was not permissible to focus on some of its principles while ignoring others. The main challenge to rule of law was not the inadequacy of international instruments, but the double standards and a selective approach by some influential countries. The crisis experienced by his country was an example of flagrant interference in the internal affairs of a country, with some Governments supporting, funding, and arming radical terrorist elements. Turning to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, he urged colleagues to read document A/71/799, a letter sent by his delegation to the Secretary General showing the legal violations involved in the General Assembly resolution that had led to the adoption of the Mechanism. There were dangerous political intentions underlying the Mechanism, he said, and Syria could not acknowledge its legality.

ADI FAISAL OMAR (Brunei), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement, affirmed the importance of rule of law and the leading role of the United Nations in coordinating efforts to strengthen it at the global level. In that context, he cited the usefulness of the Programme of Assistance, particularly for small States such as his own. The elucidation of international commercial law through the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) was also extremely useful; the country had based several pieces of domestic legislation on that Commission's models. Participating in meetings on rule of law at the regional and international levels as well, the country remained committed to working closely with all partners to abide by the international framework, especially in the maintenance of international peace and security.

MAMADOU RACINE LY (Senegal), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said that the new dynamic approach of the Secretary General's report showed the resolve of the Organization to strengthen and coordinate United Nations activities in the area of the rule of law. However, a culture of lawfulness must be created, and marginalized groups must have access to justice. Senegal had inscribed those as important elements in its own judiciary, working to make justice available to all by establishing houses of justice. Those houses settled minor conflicts using alternative means for dispute settlements, and provided guidance for citizens involved in the legal system. They were physically close to the people they serve, free of charge and were not very formal. Local languages were used in those houses as well, thus removing any language barrier, he said.

ESSA A. E. ESSA (Libya), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the promotion of the rule of law was an essential element for peaceful coexistence. Strengthening the rule of law was a keystone of the efforts to respond to violent crimes and terrorism. Building the rule of law on an international basis called for respect for the United Nations Charter and the courts and mechanisms established under that Charter. However, it was important to note the principle of non interference in domestic affairs and the right to self determination. The rule of law was a preventive measure and it was essential to promote the concept in all its aspects, he said.

DARJA BAVDAZ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, said she was pleased that the Secretary General's report attested to the instrumental contribution made by the United Nations to strengthening the rule of law at the national level. Much of that work aligned with Slovenia's priorities, she said, noting that women's empowerment was a priority in her country's development cooperation. In that regard, her Government was currently providing workshops for 900 refugee women in Lebanon, and was engaged in a project in Jordan that focused on empowerment through the education and vocational rehabilitation of Syrian refugee families.

JORGE SKINNER-KLA�E (Guatemala), associating himself with CELAC and the Non Aligned Movement, said that while the United Nations had supported many Member States in establishing and maintaining rule of law, it must do more. The principle had a clear impact on poverty eradication and fostering gender equality, in addition to fighting corruption and impunity. In order for people to have access to justice they must be aware of the rights they held and the mechanisms available to ensure those rights. Furthermore, access to justice must be measured not only in quantitative terms, but also in qualitative terms. Guatemala was strengthening its investigation of violations of human rights, he said, lauding the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, a novel institution established with help from the United Nations at the request of his Government. That Commission was a daring attempt to overcome structural obstacles and strengthen the Government's ability to fight impunity.

DIE MILLOGO (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, called for increased access to justice, especially for vulnerable groups such as women and children. Any action to strengthen rule of law must be based on internal solutions adapted to the specific context of each country. Highlighting how citizens had an important role in influencing national Governments, he noted that the people of his country had chosen to build a State that respected individual rights. The Constitutional Commission with multiple stakeholders had been established, and after broad consultations, had given the President a draft constitution that would soon be subject to a referendum. Burkina Faso was also resolutely implementing international treaties that it was party to.

LARISA CHERNYSHEVA (Russian Federation), noting the section in the Secretary General's report on enhancing the effectiveness and coherence of United Nations efforts in improving rule of law, said that her delegation was not sure that the Sixth Committee was the right place for discussing matters relating to peacekeeping operations. Those should be considered within the competent bodies, specifically the Third Committee. The international dimension of rule of law should be the focus of the work of the Sixth Committee, she stressed, calling for more detailed information about the international mechanisms which were enjoying universal support. Voicing regret that the International Court of Justice, one of the six principal organs of the Organization, was mentioned only in passing, she added that the focus of the report had shifted to non United Nations institutions such as the International Criminal Court. Furthermore, it was not fully clear why the report also focused on a non legitimate mechanism to deal with crimes in Syria. That was a mechanism established by the General Assembly which, in violation of the Charter, had exceeded its powers. She urged delegates to not support it.

MOHAMMAD YOUSSOF GHAFOORZAI (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that the rule of law was fundamentally imperative for a secure international landscape. A strong foundation was in place to transform Afghanistan into a country of peace and stability. It was conducting a major overhaul of its judicial and other institutions to enhance transparency within those bodies. Its anti corruption justice centre was taking bold measures to investigate and prosecute officials, holding them to account; some 21 cases had already been completed in that area. A culture of meritocracy was also in place for the recruitment of officials, as well as to ensure transparency in the issuing of Government contracts. Those actions demonstrated the seriousness with which Afghanistan was pursuing good governance. A reform agenda was an important initiative that demanded the full support of all Member States, he said.

INTISAR TALIL AL-JUBOORI (Iraq), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement, said her country had always been committed to the rule of law. That was confirmed in the 2005 Constitution of Iraq, which contained the principle of respect for State sovereignty and non interference. The Iraqi Anti Corruption Academy had been established to fight corruption nationally and internationally. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had supported her Government to build more accountable institutions in order to deal with crises and enhance the rule of law. In 2015, the Iraqi National Security Service and UNDP created a strategy to build civil society capacity. UNDP also provided legal assistance to refugees and those displaced by assisting with documentation, for example by providing birth certificates to children who had been born to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) fighters and the women who had forced to bear those children.

ALINA JULIA ARGAELLO GONZA�LEZ (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that her country respected the rule of law, and that every State had the responsibility to preserve democracy, transparency and fairness. She stressed in particular the importance Nicaragua attached to the protection of human rights of women and children who were sometimes very vulnerable, as well as to the restoration of rights in the areas of health, education, access to land and access to justice. Strengthening the rule of law meant that the international community should respect the judicial systems of all States, as well as the right to self determination.

MIRTA GRANDA AVERHOFF (Cuba), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement, affirmed that a true rule of law, as stated in the Secretary General's report, began with a reformed United Nations. It was also important to note that the high level Declaration clearly stated in paragraph 36 that a true rule of law implied democratizing international economic, monetary and financial organizations, so that they served the development of the people rather than the permanent enrichment of the few. Her country was also committed to working towards a broad and profound reform of the Security Council in order for it to become an inclusive, transparent and democratic organ reflecting the genuine interests of the international community.

SABONGA MPONGOSHA (South Africa), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, noted that his country's Constitution contained a unique founding provision that entrenched the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. Citing section 232, he stated that when interpreting any legislation, every court must prefer any reasonable interpretation of the legislation that was consistent with international law over any alternative interpretation. However, he pointed out that the content of international law must in and of itself be fair if it were to promote the rule of law. Fairness had both substantive and procedural dimensions, he said, encouraging delegates to pause and ask themselves if the rules being made were truly fair.

RISHY BUKOREE (Mauritius), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that equality before the law, accountability to the law, and separation of powers were some of the important components of the rule of law. They guarded people against despotism and the Government against anarchy. Rule of law had enabled his country to attract investments and benefit from economic opportunities. The Constitution implied legal processes and substantive norms that were consistent with human rights. Every international treaty Mauritius adhered to was codified in national legislation. Customary international law must also be respected; the statute of the International Court of Justice acknowledged its existence. When it came to rule of law, the United Nations Charter was the most important document. It had helped create a better world as well as an Organization where all States, whether big or small, were entitled to one vote. Unfortunately, some States advanced exceptionalism, he said, expressing the hope that the notion of might is right would soon give way to rule of law.

YANG JAIHO (Republic of Korea) said that the dissemination of international law was vital, and would not only address various global and regional challenges but would also promote and advance the rule of law in a deeper and wider way. However, when it came to the dissemination of international law, it was a stark fact that many States were facing a scarcity of resources. He commended the activities of the Programme of Assistance, and took note that the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs continued to share legal publications and information online. While laudable, those could never be sufficient. The Republic of Korea had played its part to increase the dissemination of international law, with various institutions and organizations focused on those specific issues. The Center for International Law had launched the Seoul Academy of International Law in 2016 with a view to training and educating those working in that field.

VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda), associating herself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said that laws were only as good as their implementation. Calling for mechanisms that enforced the just application of agreed upon laws, in particular the principles enshrined in the Charter, she stressed that rule of law was a common denominator of peace, security and development. International justice systems must avoid political manipulation, and at the national level, partnerships between stakeholders were essential. National context should be at the centre of rule of law, she said, adding that Rwanda's recent tragic past and real life experience of what it took to remove discrimination and violations of rights, including the most basic human rights to life, was the context of her country's application to rule of law.

SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka), recalling how her country had suffered under the yoke of terrorism and an accompanying culture of impunity, said Sri Lanka was therefore acutely aware of the value of a nation built on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Achieving justice in times of transition from conflict � through accountability, redress to victims and the recognition of their rights � promoted civic trust and strengthened the rule of law. In that regard, States had a duty to guarantee that violations would not reoccur and to reform institutions which, in the past, had proven incapable of preventing abuses. Another important principle underpinning the rule of law was that of sovereign equality and non interference, as well as the prohibition on the threat or use of force and the obligation to settle international disputes peacefully. It was therefore vital that all States, including developing countries, had an equal opportunity to participate in the process of developing international law. The rule of law was not a concept that could be externally forced, nor could it conform to an external prescription that ignored domestic realities.

MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), associating herself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said that the Secretary General's report gave Member States the opportunity to explore implementing the rule of law on national and international platforms. Access to legal representatives and legal aid was provided for under the Constitution of Ghana. Its legal aid, together with civil society organizations, had developed a robust mechanism for ensuring that all citizens of Ghana had fair access to the legal system. In addition, its Justice for All Programme afforded prisoners on remand access to legal representation, she said.

The representative of Lebanon said that while there was no agreed upon common definition of the rule of law, it was based on principles such as equality before the law and ensuring fundamental rights. Strengthening the rule of law meant greater respect for existing international treaties, including the Charter. The basic role of international law to advance the rule of law was important to small States, which were often decisive in the preparation of landmark conventions. Lebanon was a part of the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example. Disseminating the rules of international law was crucial. On a national platform, the Lebanese National International Humanitarian Law Committee, established in 2010, had laid out a plan on how to incorporate relevant laws into the country's domestic legislation.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCA�A (Costa Rica), associating himself with CELAC and the Non Aligned Movement, said that despite extraordinary progress in social indicators, the international community was confronting a plethora of new problems such as climate change, mass migration and terrorism. Calling for a robust international order based on the rule of law, he said that national experience and international evidence showed that countries where the principle was enforced had better living conditions for their citizens. Costa Rica was committed to the legal mechanisms provided by international law, and he called on all States to comply fully with the decisions of the International Court of Justice. It was not possible to live in peace without the confidence provided by rule of law, he stressed.

MAHE'ULI'ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), emphasizing the importance of capacity building initiatives, said that the ability to understand sophisticated and cooperative responses set under international law was necessary for all key players, including small island developing States such as his country. Rule of law at the national and international levels played a critical role in ensuring an enabling environment for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Acknowledging that there were existing gaps in international law, he added that dissemination of international law must also include information on those gaps, and guidance on actions to address those gaps.

MARK A. SIMONOFF (United States) said that when delegates in the Sixth Committee debated on the important work of the International Law Commission and other items, we breathe life into the words of the Charter which set out the progressive development of international law as one of the functions of the General Assembly. Rule of law demanded that all people, in all corners of the world, whether stateless or not, received the benefits conferred by the Charter. Domestically, rule of law functioned best with an independent and impartial judiciary, he stressed, also commending the work of the private legal associations in their efforts to disseminate international law.

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, outlined various steps his Government had taken to maintain the rule of law as an integral part of the national development agenda. Mongolia had improved the conformity of domestic law and regulations with international human rights treaties and conventions. As Party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the country had abolished the death penalty, and had adopted laws concerning the rights of the child. Mongolia was also paying particular attention to combating corruption in the public sector, he said.

VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that his country, in support of efforts by the United Nations to disseminate international law, had been co hosting relevant regional courses. Noting that many diplomatic conferences had been successfully convened under the auspices of the United Nations, enabling the Organization to codify international law, he recalled the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which Thailand had signed and ratified in September. The international community must intensify the effort to ensure the rule of law for those were marginalized, including women and children, older persons, persons with disabilities and persons under custody.

ELIAB TSEGAYE TAYE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, cited the Secretary General, who said in his report that there was no single model for the development of the rule of law at the national level. He expressed gratitude for the support his country had received from United Nations entities in its national efforts to strengthen the rule of law. However, much more needed to be done to ensure the universalization of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as to ensure the full implementation of various international agreements that would enable the international community to effectively address the challenge of climate change.

MARINA SANDE (Uruguay) recalled that the United Nations had been created to sow the seeds of peace through a system that would enable Member States to solve disputes peacefully. The coexistence of countries was only possible if norms were established. Treaties between States obligated those States to behave in a certain way. There should be common will in international law to support countries, so that, in their domestic legislation, there were rules fostering the full respect of human rights, an independent judiciary and a regulatory framework. States had a responsibility to comply with their commitments and to apply international treaties, while aligning national legislation with those standards.

VUSUMUZI NTONGA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, stressed that rule of law should not be an abstract concept in academic discourse. The Organization should continue to be guided by respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States, he said, adding that small States such as ours depend on rule of law for protection from the aggressions of the rich and powerful. Though his country supported international efforts to end impunity, the international criminal justice system operated in a selective manner, thus undermining confidence in it.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that it was critical that the Organization's rule of law assistance was duly factored into the ongoing reform initiative in the peace and security pillar. Calling on the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to facilitate in depth discussion regarding the impact of rule of law on eliminating poverty and reducing inequalities, he added that it would be particularly interesting to learn from Member States' experiences and innovations in that area. It was also necessary to address the financial concerns of the International Criminal Court for conducting investigations and prosecutions into cases referred to it by the Security Council.

KYYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that to strengthen the rule of law, his country had launched a strategic plan to protect the legal rights of individuals and the national interest, as well as to inspire public trust and confidence in the justice system. He noted that Myanmar's State Counsellor had championed the promotion of the rule of law before she came into office. Rule of law centres had been established in 2015 under the guidance of the Pyithu Hluttaw Rule of Law and Tranquillity Committee. Four centres had been opened so far, providing training with a substantive focus on local justice issues linked to international rule of law principles. As well, with the democratic transition in Myanmar, a series of reforms on the practice of policing had also been introduced.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement, said that her country was continuing a legal harmonization process to align its legislation with international treaties to which it was a signatory. Together with other members of ASEAN, it was striving to build South East Asia into a zone of peace, stability and prosperity. In the context of complex developments in the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea, she called upon all concerned parties to exercise self restraint and settle disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law, including the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea. Furthermore, all parties should fully respect diplomatic and legal processes, implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and expedite the completion of a legally binding code of conduct.

ZHANG PENG (China) said that the United Nations and other international organizations, along with all Member States, had a greater role to play in advancing communication in the area of international law. Voicing his appreciation for the efforts of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs and other relevant entities, he also hailed the positive contribution of the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law. Because teaching and promoting a wider knowledge of international law at institutions of higher learning was high on his Government's agenda, it had contributed expertise and wisdom to the capacity building efforts of developing countries in international law, he said.

IGOR BONDUIK (Ukraine), aligning himself with the European Union, said that the many emerging threats confronting the international community required responses grounded in international law. In addition to judicial and economic reforms, Ukraine was making progress against corruption and conducting banking sector reforms. Rule of law at the international level should be strong and effective in the promotion of human rights and State sovereignty. Recalling the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), he condemned the human rights violations conducted by the Russian Federation in Crimea.

AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that lack of compliance with international law was the root cause of many international conflicts. Emphasizing the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, he added that Eritrea had been taking measures to achieve a peaceful and inclusive society, including by establishing community courts and ensuring the participation of women in those courts. Advancing rule of law was an evolutionary process that involved all stakeholders and it was vital to recognize the importance of national ownership in the matter.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LA�PEZ (Colombia), noting that his country had been recognized in the Secretary General's report for many of its recent efforts towards national reconciliation, said the document had drawn special attention to the creation of its Special Jurisdiction for Peace and for its work to ensure the peaceful co existence of its citizens and the protection of women and girls. While Colombia had enjoyed a strong legal tradition, it had also been beleaguered by violence for many years. Today, a new era was emerging, where a united Colombia was recommitted to the rule of law. Together with the United Nations team, the Government was spear heading initiatives aimed at judicial reform, including by passing a law allowing for the reintegration of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members into society. The peace agreement with that group underscored Colombia's ownership over its own transition process, he emphasized, calling for the United Nations to employ a cooperative approach with States in all its work related to the rule of law and the maintenance of international peace and security.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement and ASEAN, recalled the violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws in Palestine and said that rule of law at the international level would always be a fiction if the international community did not minimize its politicization. At the national level, domesticating international law did not mean much unless there was improved knowledge on the part of people, including Government officials, practitioners, academicians and students. Her country had enacted a law concerning public information, obliging all Government institutions and courts to publicize legislations, court rulings and jurisprudence.

MUKI M. BENAS PHIRI (Zambia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that rule of law hinged on independent, efficient and effective judicial systems. Unless it was held together by a functional judiciary, rule of law dissipated and the nation was ruled by the whims and vagaries of fellow human beings. For that reason, judicial independence was recognized in many international and regional human rights instruments, he said, adding that Zambia's vision of becoming a prosperous middle income country by 2030 had led to fundamental policy shifts. The Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission was ensuring that all provisions of the country's amended Constitution were operationalized systematically in order to translate them into an accessible and accountable justice system.

PATRICK LUNA (Brazil) said that abiding by the rule of law at the international level meant that no single country, no matter how powerful, was exempt from rigorous compliance with its legal obligations or beyond reproach for circumventing international law. Either the Charter must remain at the centre of the international order, or there would be no order, he warned. Debates on the rule of law might be complicated due to the difficulty in identifying, in different languages and legal traditions, expressions that encompassed all dimensions of the concept, he said, adding that something gets lost in the translation. Access to justice challenged the root causes of poverty, exclusion and vulnerability, given that such access enabled the full enjoyment of rights and public services. It was crucial to ensure that migrants, refugees and asylum seekers had a legal identity. States should be encouraged to provide free and effective legal aid to vulnerable populations.

MARTA�N GARCA�A MORITA�N (Argentina), welcoming the reform processes spear headed by the Secretary General, noted that the Organization's capacity building activities were pivotal in establishing rule of law, especially in situations of conflict. Justice and peace were complementary to each other, he stressed, calling on the international community to continue the fight against impunity. Turning to the impact of the rule of law on the Sustainable Development Goals, he said that an international network of legal assistance providers could be helpful in buttressing rule of law. Finally, he highlighted the work of the Treaty Section whose databases were crucial to all working in the field of international law.

DEKALEGA FINTAKPA LAMEGA (Togo), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said that his country was party to 222 multilateral treaties, covering all aspects of international law. Those treaties, as well as various regional and bilateral agreements, had been incorporated into the national legislation. The Government had also adopted a plan of action to modernize the legal system and make the judicial system accessible to all. Included in that plan were programmes to improve the legal framework, strengthen prison administration and modernize equipment and logistics. Lauding the crucial role played by the Office of Legal Affairs in facilitating and promoting an international framework of legally binding mechanisms to settle disputes, he encouraged the Treaty Section to continue organizing workshops on the matter.

MOHAMMED AL AJMI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of respecting the Charter and international law, two crucial pillars when dealing with the threats the international community was facing. His country had adopted a democratic constitutional system that highlighted respect for the rule of law through the separation of powers while still maintaining cooperation between those sectors. At the international level, his Government remained committed to international conventions, principles and laws. However, ongoing violations of human rights weakened resolve to respect the law, he said. That was demonstrated by the violations being committed by Israel, which was continuing to build illegal settlements and defy all resolutions and international legal norms. More must be done and all possible measures should be taken to ensure respect for the rule of law at the international level.

ABDULLAH ALSHARIF (Saudi Arabia) said the law should be applicable to everyone, whether the ruler or the ruled. His country was currently studying all international treaties; that emanated from Saudi Arabia's desire to accede to the appropriate treaties that were consistent with the values of the country. Those treaties should have no contradiction between international law and sharia, as both upheld human rights. On a national level, men and women had both voted in municipal elections, and women were currently assuming high level Governmental posts. In addition, there was a prohibition against inequalities in salaries between men and women.

AMADOU JAITEH (Gambia) associating himself with the African Group, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that to preserve the dignity of its people, in line with international practice, his country had devised a three step approach in its National Development Plan, focusing on human rights, peace and security, and development. The Government relied heavily on the rule of law as the vehicle to promote, protect and respect the values of human rights. The Gambia had prioritized security sector reform, emphasizing inclusivity, respect for human rights and rule of law. His Government also attached great importance to economic growth and development; that was why the connection between rule of law and development was highly appreciated and at the centre of the country's development agenda.

SANDRA PEJIC (Serbia) said that at the national level, rule of law was the key prerequisite for political stability, without which there was no economic growth or social development. At the global level, the rule of law was a precondition for international peace and stability, and played a critical role in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Recalling that his country had participated in the establishment of the International Criminal Court, he voiced strong support for further strengthening of the Court's institutional capacity. The Rome Statute's acceptance should be universal and impunity should never be allowed, he stressed, also emphasizing his country's long standing commitment to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Indeed, it had cooperated with the Tribunal substantially and without exception on all matters related to serious international criminal crimes, while also trying crimes in its own courts.

MOHAMMED BENTAJA (Morocco), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, called for the adoption of an integrated approach to the United Nations work, based on the primacy of international law and one that fostered the peaceful settlement of differences in line with the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non interference in States' domestic affairs. In the world's current complex environment � when international relations had seen major changes and nations were confronted with emerging challenges including climate change, migration and large refugee flows � he described the rule of law as an essential lever possessed by the United Nations to pursue all aspects of its work. Through Morocco's long standing commitment to peacekeeping operations, it had helped many countries rebuild their national institutions and re establish the rule of law. The Programme of Assistance was another critical tool to build the capacity of developing countries, he said, calling for meetings held for those purposes to be funded from the regular United Nations budget.

HUMAID ABDALLA ALNAQBI (United Arab Emirates), noting that his country's foreign policy was based on partnerships and good neighbourliness, said that his region continued to suffer from crises due to the expansionist policies of some countries. Rule of law was critical to safeguarding regional stability and promoting human rights. By creating development oriented legislation and providing opportunities for industry, his country was guaranteeing economic progress. Since its birth, the Emirates had been at the forefront of rule of law in the region. The flexible national legislation contributed to the maintenance of peace and security, as well as the total absence of governmental corruption and low crime rates. Condemning those States that provided safe havens to terrorists, he said they were responsible for the increase in terrorism lately.

The representative of Egypt, associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that international security and stability depended on rule of law, which was the best foundation for peaceful settlement of disputes. Calling on the international community to resolve conflicts without politicizing them, he said that it was necessary to put an end to foreign occupation. Reiterating the role played by the United Nations and international bodies, he added that the Organization must provide support to Member States while also respecting their territorial integrity and sovereignty. A more flexible approach that took into account the unique features of each Member State was essential, he concluded.

FA�TIMA YESENIA FERNA�NDES JASAREZ (Venezuela), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement, noted that the rule of law helped all States stand on an equal footing. It further helped underpin and bolster Government responsibilities to protect all people under their jurisdictions. States should refrain from applying or enacting unilateral sanctions and other measures that violated international law and hindered the development of other nations, she stressed, also calling for the revitalization of the General Assembly and reform of the Security Council. The latter, in particular, was linked to achieving the rule of law at the international level, and the Council must avoid going beyond its mandate or taking an overly security based focus to its work. Among other things, she said the web compendium of international treaties was a useful tool which should be made available in all the United Nations official languages, a task which should not be hindered by a lack of resources.

ABBAS BAGHERPOUR ARDEKANI (Iran), while underscoring that the principle of State immunity was one of the cornerstones of the international legal order, said that a handful of countries seemed to believe that they could breach the fundamental principle of State immunity by unilaterally waiving it under an unsubstantiated legal doctrine not recognized by the international community. Each nation had the sovereign right to shape its model of the rule of law and administration of justice based on its specific traditions, needs and requirements. Domestic legislation must not violate the basic principles of international law, the international obligations of the State or the sovereign rights of other States, nor must it be applied unilaterally to extraterritorial matters involving other countries. Warning against norm-setting through flawed processes that undermined multilateral legal frameworks, he said threats to the rule of law at the international level were not due to a lack of proper norms or insufficiency of rules, but instead were deeply rooted in unilateralism, disregard for international law and disrespect for the international community's common interest.

Right of Reply

The representative of Qatar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Syria's delegate had made many false claims. Qatar had played a pioneering role, in collaboration with partners, to bring the Syrian regime to accountability by establishing the Mechanism to investigate the crimes conducted by that regime. When it came to anti terrorism, Qatar had a good record as opposed to the Syrian regime whose oppressive practices had led to the prevalence of ISIL.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that Kiev had been raising anti Russian provocations in various Committees of the General Assembly. The tragedy in the east of Ukraine was the consequence of the significant military operation unfurled by Ukraine's Government against their own people in 2014. The International Criminal Court had not been effective or impartial; however, since Ukraine had contacted the structure, the Russian Federation hoped the Court would demonstrate objectivity.

The representative of Syria, expressing regret that some representatives were politicizing issues and deviating beyond the topics assigned to the Committee, said that Qatar's delegate probably does not know the United Nations Charter very well. Condemning the terrorists financed by that Government he added that on 15 August, two charities working as a front for Qatari intelligence had transferred $15 million to Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant.

The representative of Qatar said Syria often used the United Nations as a forum to make baseless allegations against other States. Qatar's history in the fight against terrorism was clear, but the Syrian regime took any chance to hide its own oppressive policies. Indeed, the resolution creating the Mechanism had been a milestone in achieving justice and fighting impunity. It had proved that the international community wished to see those perpetrating violations in Syria � especially the regime, which even used chemical weapons against its own people � was held to justice. We cannot take any steps backwards where that is concerned, he stressed, adding that his delegation reserved the right to respond in writing to all allegations made by the representative of Syria.

The representative of Syria advised the representative of Qatar not to speak about legitimacy, as his country remained totally removed from that concept when it came to terrorism. Recalling a recent statement by the Head of State of Qatar to the effect that his country may have a different vision regarding the roots of terrorism or about who ought to be defined as a terrorist, he stressed that was exactly the case when it came to Al Nusrah. Regarding the so called International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, he recalled that he had made a very definitive statement yesterday, including by drawing attention to a letter contained in document A/71/799 in which his delegation had alerted the Secretary General to the grave violations to its sovereignty resulting from the Mechanism's establishment. Qatar wished to continue its support for terrorism, while at the same time working to sabotage and subvert the Syrian political process in Geneva, he said.

Source: United Nations

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