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Plenary Statement by Belarus Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov at the 15th Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, 29 July 2008, Tehran

Distinguished Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Belarus believes that this Ministerial is a very important platform to address issues of substance before the NAM, especially in advance of the upcoming UN General Assembly. Therefore, we particularly value the efforts of the Government of Iran and the Cuban Presidency to provide this opportunity, and a good timing, to us to coordinate our moves in due time before important debates and action of the UN in New York.

I’d like to concentrate on four subjects which are, in our view, of particular interest and importance among the gamut of major issues addressed in the Havana Non-Aligned Summit.

Above all, the key issue, the top strategic goal, i.e. a higher level, and a better leverage, of global political relevance for the Non-Aligned Movement.

We in Belarus continue to believe that the current contribution of our Movement to changing the world − i.e. making it more secure, prosperous and, what is extremely important for all of us in NAM, just − is still too modest to correspond to the real potential of the NAM.

At the same time we do have really important and impressive tools and levers to be heard – and not only to be heard but also to be taken in consideration. We just have to have more resolve to use them. Let me give you just two examples.

We have six members of the Non-Aligned Movement in the United Nations Security Council. Why then do we allow the Council to encroach into the field of competence of other principal organs of the United Nations, so important and unique to all of us here, like the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council?

We have the majority, the overwhelming majority, in the United Nations General Assembly. Why then do we allow just a few UN members to continue to manipulate the Assembly?

NAM should learn not to be shy of using tools available to it.

Look how we are being played around by the tool of the utterly important human rights issue.

We should ask ourselves: why it is the non-aligned countries that are constantly on the defensive on human rights? Why it is the NAM countries that are always the target of the so-called country specific resolutions on the situation of human rights? Is it indeed the case that we are the biggest violators of human rights? Certainly not.

We find ourselves in this situation because we fail collectively to understand that human rights is a convenient tool of our opponents that are united in their effort to promote their political and economic interests at our expense. And because on many issues, including human rights, we are all too often disunited in deed, albeit always united in word, we cannot offer a collective counter response.

Belarus, like many other non-aligned countries, persistently seeks such a response. We believe that the importance of human rights issue demands that it becomes for our societies, for the international community the area where we should apply and reinforce the vision and spirit of Havana. Belarus strongly advocates that in addressing politically sensitive issues not a divisive – the one our opponents use – but a non-confrontational constructive approach should be found and should prevail.    

We are profoundly grateful to those non-aligned countries that helped us two years ago using the leverage of our unity to ensure the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the resolution 61/166 “Promotion of equitable and mutually respectful dialogue on human rights”. It was a rare and a remarkable victory of our unity. On the basis of the achieved we together, all the NAM, should and must find the way we should go forward in protecting our interests on the non-confrontational foundation.

The principle of this non-confrontational approach should be: it is not someone against someone, it is that we all stand for implementing together human rights, according to our culture, religion and specificity. We in NAM together must devise how to make this approach a universal standard in the UN system.

Another aspect is that in human rights issue there are areas of particular importance to NAM and its members, issues that should actually be treated as major new threats to the global well-being and security of human beings. I have in mind trafficking in persons, above all women and children. More often than not it is our sisters and brothers, our daughters and sons who are trafficked.

It should be then up to us, the NAM, to be the leaders in rallying the whole of the international community against this evil.

An important tool for this purpose was created at the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly by the adoption of the resolution 61/180 on improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons.

At the initiative of Belarus and through collective efforts of many non-aligned countries we have determined in a non-confrontational manner, by consensus a priority direction for the international cooperation on human rights. It envisages adoption of practical steps to limit the demand for trafficked persons and prosecute the traffickers who perpetrate these crimes and also leaves less space for confrontational moves in the human rights area.

Now at the upcoming 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly we together should achieve the necessary next stage – a decision of the General Assembly to elaborate a global plan of action to combat and prevent trafficking in persons. The necessary foundation for this was laid down by the resolution of the ECOSOC on strengthening coordination of the United Nations and other efforts in fighting trafficking in persons adopted by consensus at the initiative of Belarus in New York last Friday.

In October Belarus will be ready to table a draft resolution on the subject because, in our view, success in eliminating this crime is achievable only through involving all partners in a concerted and decisive effort. We cannot fundamentally change the situation without broader political support and engagement of all of the United Nations Member States. This is precisely the reason for Belarus to propose a strategic long-term approach of the United Nations to the problem. Moreover, this approach is consistent with the position of the Non-Aligned Movement on combating trafficking in persons as stipulated in numerous agreed NAM documents.  

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The global financial crunch and the global food crisis are high on the concern list for almost everybody. The causes of the financial crisis are many and varied. But the underlying concern is, in our view, that the international community has to undertake practical measures to minimize the inherent risks within the international financial system caused by the dominating use of US dollar as the sole world reserve currency.

We cannot be any more dependable on the policy and economic situation in one single country. This is not anti-US – this is pro us, the majority of the countries of the world. The time has come to develop a basket of several world reserve currencies. It can be done through concrete actions of many countries of the world. In many regions of the world these actions are already becoming more and more visible. We do believe that the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement are in a position to contribute substantially to forming a brave new architecture of the international financial system which will be much more to the interests of members of NAM than the outdated, obsolete and degenerate system established by the mighty few in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War – when the NAM was not even in the offing.

And finally, for the moment. Energy prices eruption is changing and challenging the world in a strategic manner. Fewer and fewer countries will have access to energy to provide for the development and social needs of their peoples. Even those of us donned with oil and gas are more and more concerned about the future.

But new types of energy are coming on the horizon — alternative and renewable energy sources. Let us be realistic — only a limited number of developed countries have necessary capacity to effectively do this job. Concentration of these technologies in the hands of the very few will inevitably announce a new era – the era of the energy gap. Other problems will then seem peanuts. 

In this regard at the last general debate in the General Assembly Belarus proposed to hold during the next session of the General Assembly (September 2008 – September 2009) an informal thematic debate on securing access to technologies of alternative and renewable energy sources for all countries.

We must collectively find ways and means to make the technologies of alternative and renewable energy sources affordable for all countries – well in advance before it is too late. We are convinced that the United Nations should elaborate an international mechanism that could help to secure access to technologies of alternative and renewable energy sources on an open, equitable, non-discriminatory basis, with due respect for the intellectual property rights.   

Allow me to express our sincere hope that this alternative energy access initiative will be supported by the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement. It would be another reflection of our aspiration to demonstrate − not in word, but in deed − our solidarity in achieving more prosperous, secure and just world: if not for today, then for tomorrow.

I thank you.

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