Mr. Secretary General,
Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to begin by congratulating Mr. Vuk Jeremic on his election as President of the 67th session of the General Assembly. I am convinced that with his leadership and drive, this high institution will be capable to face the numerous challenges that will arise in the next twelve months.
I also wish to express my gratitude to his predecessor, H.E. Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, and I join others in congratulating him for his work, and wishing him all the best in his new endeavour.
Spain bestows a fundamental role to the United Nations. For this reason, I have wished to be present in the opening of this General Debate, the first one that has taken place since my taking oath of office as President of the Government of Spain. It is always an honour for a Head of Government to address the United Nations General Assembly. I do it today on behalf of a country committed with the International Community and with the pursuit of joint solutions to the problems we face.
The result of this commitment is our desire to serve once again in the Security Council for the period 2015-2016. In my statement, I would like to refer to the reasons that justify Spain’s willingness to work in the Council with an open and constructive spirit, committed to peace and international security, to the promotion and protection of human rights, and to the search of a sustainable development for all.
Besides the seriousness of the economic and financial situation, the international society is facing today numerous and more complicated challenges than ever. This Organization and its General Assembly are key in order to confront them. Year after year we discuss these problems here and their possible solutions. Therefore, I believe that we should ask ourselves today if we have made an improvement since last year.
And even if it seems to be the contrary, I believe we have. In one year we have witnessed the unbreakable will of the Arab citizens to consolidate democratic systems in their countries. In Spain we have gone through a difficult but successful transition to democracy, and therefore, we know that the road is not, and will not, be easy. Our experience can be useful to all the Arab countries that are experiencing a process of transition to democracy. I would like to reaffirm our commitment to building open, inclusive and democratic societies, whose institutions satisfy the yearning for dignity and development of its citizens.
In these processes, there is no room for movements that promote violence, whatever its justification. Any attack or aggression, against people or institutions, is not acceptable and deserves our complete condemnation. Last year we have also dedicated our efforts to finding solutions to the crisis in the Horn of Africa, and especially to the situation in Somalia. The difficulties continue, but Somalia is advancing towards normality.
Cooperation in the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean is greater than ever, and during our recent Presidency of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coasts of Somalia, we have moved forward in the search of an international response to this criminal phenomenon. In this regard, the humanitarian efforts in this region have allowed an improvement of the situation. Four months ago, Spain and the World Food Programme signed an agreement to locate in the Canary Islands the largest food storage facility in the world. This WFP facility will allow a faster and more efficient assistance to food emergencies in the African continent.
Afghanistan keeps moving forward in the direction of stability, a road that Spain has pursued together with the Afghan people for more than a decade. With this effort, we have left behind resources, infrastructures, and unfortunately, the life of many fellow citizens. My country will continue contributing to the development of Afghanistan and its search for the necessary stability and security.
This year, in Rio de Janeiro, we have reaffirmed our common vision in favour of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future. Since its beginnings, Spain has been committed to the Millennium Development Goals with the biggest cooperation programme of its history, with a value of almost 1 billion dollars, implemented through the Spain-UNDP MDG Achievement Fund. The negotiations are in process in order to set new goals for sustainable development and to adapt the institutional structure of this commitment. Spain will maintain an active and constructive presence in this process.
The fight against international impunity has also shown important advances this year. The International Criminal Court has initiated its first case against a former Head of State, demonstrating that reaching the end of impunity for serious crimes is closer than ever for the international society. I would like to reiterate today the call for the universal adoption of the Rome Statute.
I would like to make a special mention to the valuable and increasing role that Latin America has played in the development of this multilateral system. The achievements and the progress that the region has reached in the areas of consolidated democracy, economic growth and regional integration are reflected in its greater international presence.
Latin America has shown its potential in the consolidation of the multilateralism that this organization promotes. Spain is proud to share this spirit in the Ibero-American Summits and will be hosting this year’s Summit. This forum proves the Ibero-American Community’s bet in favour of dialogue, equality and mutual respect, with our eyes set on the future.
I believe that these steps forward, which are not the only ones, are proof of an encouraging year despite its difficulties, and that the multilateral system is responding to the present crisis, promoting the respect and the active protection of Human Rights, as well as the presence and participation of women in all areas.
But of course, there are problems where there has been little or no progress at all and some others that have emerged throughout the present year. These are the ones that deserve as much or even more of our attention. Therefore, we need to be focusing on them with great determination in the next 12 months.
Firstly, I would like to mention the crisis in Syria. A year ago, in this Assembly, an urgent appeal was made to the Syrian regime to end the abuses and crimes committed against its people. Despite the International Community’s efforts, the situation has not ceased to deteriorate. Thousands of innocent victims, the unbearable suffering of civilians and the serious risk of the conflict expanding to neighbouring countries, are forcing us to act. Today I want to reiterate an appeal to end all violence in Syria and call upon President Assad to accept his responsibility and make way to a political process that will allow a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We support the efforts of the Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi to reach this end. The International Community, the United Nations, the Arab League and the European Union continue to be prepared to come to Syria’s support.
In this uncertain regional scenario, Lebanon has managed to keep itself away from the spiral of violence, an achievement that has been reached in good measure thanks to the UNIFIL contingent, in which Spain is an active participant.
Another year has passed, and we have not seen progress in the Middle East Peace Process. We defend that the solution to the conflict in the Middle East includes the existence of two States, the Israeli and the Palestinian, living in peace and security. Any delay in achieving this goal will lead to a growing frustration that will affect the rest of the world. The International Community, and above all, the actors involved, must have the courage to adopt the necessary measures and decisions to achieve that global, just and durable peace that responds to the legitimate yearnings of both peoples. My government, committed to the goal of peace, is convinced that the creation of a viable Palestinian State is a crucial element in the solution of the conflict. It will bring beneficial effects for the security and welfare of Israel, for the return to normality in the regional relations and finally, 10 for the International Community as a whole. Until that moment, the parties must avoid endangering the viability of the two-state solution.
I am going to participate in the Sahel Summit that will take place tomorrow in these Headquarters. I consider the situation in Mali and the entire region to be particularly serious. The humanitarian crisis has been aggravated by political instability and an armed revolt, which has deteriorated into terrorist movements, causing considerable harm to the people of Northern Mali. Spain firmly condemns violence and supports the efforts of the United Nations, the African Union, and ECOWAS to reach a solution to this crisis. These efforts must count on the decisive support of the countries of the region, whose people also endure the insecurity caused by this situation, and above all, they must be led by the people of Mali themselves, who need to overcome their institutional crisis and re-establish the territorial integrity of their country.
I would like to highlight the efforts of the International Community in general and of the E3+3 group that are dedicated to relaunching conversations with Iran with the goal to eliminate any doubts raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding its nuclear enrichment programme. These conversations are sustained by the willingness to reach a political and diplomatic solution; an opportunity we hope will be seized by all the involved actors. We reiterate our appeal to Iran to comply with the mentioned resolutions without delay, and that it ratifies and observes the Additional Protocol of the Comprehensive Safeguard Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
I would also like to express our support to the six-party talks as a framework to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis raised by the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. We consider that this country must put an end to its nuclear activities with military ends in a complete and verifiable manner and must comply with all UN Security Council resolutions in this matter and respect its commitments to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
This year we have moved towards a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. However, as reflected in the cases I just mentioned, there is still much to do. To achieve this, Spain will continue to work together with the United Nations, for we believe that only through a concerted effort of the International Community we can reach solutions. My country’s wish to serve on the United Nations Security Council in 2015-2016 responds precisely to the conviction that Spain can continue playing an active role within the Council in the search of joint solutions to common problems. This conviction is supported by Spain’s accomplishments until today, by our demonstrated commitment to multilateralism and by the initiatives led by our country in the search of international understanding and sustainable development.
To the best of its possibilities, Spain will continue to contribute towards Peacekeeping Operations, providing troops and through the United Nations Support Base of Quart de Poblet in Spain. Our commitment with the United Nations remains strong, actively participating in those initiatives that we have been supporting in the past few years because we believe that they are key to achieve the future that we desire.
Disarmament and Non-proliferation must be shared objectives for the entire international community. We consider that it is necessary to reactivate the Conference on Disarmament with an ambitious programme of work. Spain also supports renewing the mandate of the UN General Assembly in order to proceed with the negotiations of an Arms Trade Treaty. We will continue to work on it so it will become a solid, effective and legally binding document which reflects the defense of human rights and international humanitarian rights.
As members of the Human Rights Council, we will continue to defend the undeniable link between the respect for human rights and peace and security in the world. We will equally continue to work towards a universal moratorium on the death penalty.
My country will continue to support the negotiations within the United Nations of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. Terrorism is a scourge that unfortunately Spain knows very well. I would like to take a moment today to remember and pay tribute to all the victims of terrorism. During the month of July, a High Level Conference on Victims of Terrorism was held in Madrid within the framework of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, in which we reiterated the important role that victims play in the complete delegitimization of terrorism, be it social as well as moral. I would like to thank the support of the Secretary General and of the President of the General Assembly in this task.
After a first year of much work and substantial results, we will continue to push forward the goals of UN Women. In this regard, Spain, which has been the biggest donor to this entity during its first year, maintains its commitment to equality between men and women and with the efforts to put an end to violence against women and girls.
My country is a firm defender of dialogue and the use of peaceful means in order to resolve controversies, and for this reason, together with Morocco, we will present an initiative to promote mediation and to develop national and local capacities in the Mediterranean region. This initiative will be the first implementation of Resolution 65/283 of this General Assembly and of the work of the Secretary General and the Group of Friends of Mediation.
Spain maintains its active commitment to a just, long-lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the dispute in Western Sahara, one that foresees the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in accordance with the principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter. As member of the Group of Friends, Spain firmly supports the work of the Secretary General, of his Personal Envoy and of MINURSO.
Between countries that are friends and allies, as is the case between Spain and the United Kingdom, a direct and sincere dialogue must overcome any differences. For this reason, I would like to call upon the United Kingdom to renew the bilateral dialogue regarding the decolonisation of Gibraltar in accordance with the parameters indicated by the United Nations, as reflected in the Brussels Declaration of 1984. We have already lost too many years. Mr. President,
The efforts of the Member States of this Organisation will not be sufficient if we do not accompany them with the necessary adaptation of the United Nations to the current world. The Secretary General has launched a process to reform this Organisation, which my country is following closely. I would like to reiterate that Spain supports the efforts of the Secretary General, and we call upon the rest of the Member States to continue having an open dialogue on its proposals, analyzing them without prejudice and showing the sufficient courage to break the status quo when necessary.
In this regard, I would like to reiterate our support to the reforms of the Secretary General in matters of Peacekeeping Operations. Likewise, Spain is a firm driving force behind the initiative “United in Action”, which is an essential wager to modernise the United Nations system, to improve its effectiveness and efficiency in the fight against poverty and inequality, and in this way, do more with less. Proof of Spain’s commitment to this initiative is that my country has been the biggest donor, providing more than half of its total funds.
The Security Council also needs to adapt to the challenges of the XXI century as soon as possible, a reality which is very different from the one that we were born into. In the coming months, we will continue to be open to the dialogue on this subject, and we hope that under the direction of President Jeremic, we will be able to find a common ground between the different positions on this matter, in order to build a new Security Council that is more effective, inclusive, representative and responsible to the General Assembly.
We are facing many challenges. Spain’s hopes that when we meet again in twelve months time, the list of problems will be shorter and that the United Nations will be more effective and efficient. We expect that it will continue to be a guarantor of international peace and security, a driving force for the protection of human rights and the promotion of sustainable development for our future and that of our children. This United Nations General Assembly can count on Spain to strive in this endeavour with the same determination as always.