Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus V.Makei at the General debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (September 26, 2019, New York)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
“Never forget” – so was and still is the key leitmotif of the international community since 1945.
Indeed, the memories of tens of millions of victims who perished in World War II, of the Nazi atrocities and criminal policies of genocide allowed us to arrive at a global order that is still instrumental in avoiding a new global conflict. The latter’s consequences would be disastrous for the entire planet. Yet, unfortunately, we have come closer than ever before to the brink of the precipice.
Peace and security, sustainable development, and climate change are the most acute and urgent contemporary issues that humanity needs to address today. It is these issues that are consistently invoked in all international venues.
For a number of challenges that the world community faces, like terrorism, transnational crime, drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, illegal migration, it is actively seeking common solutions. At the same time, adequate and, most importantly, timely responses are yet to be found for a multitude of new emerging risks.
We increasingly realize that no single state or even a group of states wield potential that is sufficient to address the challenges and save the world from a catastrophe, no matter whether it is military, economic or climatic.
Belarus falls in the group of those states, which believe that all these global challenges require effective common solutions and must be undertaken on the same global scale. The key elements of this approach are the following:
- involvement of every single UN Member States without distinction in the implementation of agreed measures;
- mobilization of all available political, economic, intellectual and other resources;
- realization by the United Nations to the full extent, which is universal in its composition and mandate, of the role of a leader in uniting and coordinating international efforts.
Unfortunately, we are increasingly confronted with the fact that multilateral United Nations mechanisms either do not work or work badly. What is more, they become hostages to biased approaches, mutually excluding claims and excessive ambitions.
Cases abound when some apply measures that undermine the norms and principles of international law, including the United Nations Charter. These actions seriously hurt multilateralism.
Dozens of local conflicts are tearing the world apart, with many of them capable of escalating into a new global war. We are convinced that both hot and frozen conflicts should be resolved through dialogue, exclusively on the basis of fundamental principles of international law, including respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, non-use of force or threat of force.
As a result, we find ourselves today in a situation of very contradictory and dangerous realities. It is patently clear that what is required of us is to find responses to common challenges before these realities bring about catastrophic consequences.
I think many will agree that it is not the store of achievements, with which the international community would like to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations next year.
The UN anniversary summit should provide a powerful incentive to a quest for such responses. And, above all, it should contribute to a serious increase in the United Nations’ role in strengthening peace and security, restoring dialogue and trust, and, most importantly, preventing the threat of a global conflict.
Belarus would like to encourage world leaders, who will gather in this hall in one year’s time, to focus on these issues more than on anything else. Indeed, if the anniversary Summit is to become just another protocol-type event, everyone will lose: both the Organization and all of its members. The ominous ghost of World War III may then truly become a reality.
Specifically, over the past few years Belarus has been vigorously advocating the need to stop confrontation and resume a broad dialogue on key issues of international security.
Such a dialogue will enable all of us, and above all, great powers, to find ways to agreement on how we can preserve peace and provide a concerted effective response to ever- growing global challenges.
Events that occurred in recent months justify in their conviction those like Belarus, who have consistently advocated a new negotiation process, similar to the last century’s Helsinki process in the mid-70s. The new process should stabilize international relations, strengthen international dialogue and increase predictability.
Just as recently as in August, the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) became ineffective. The treaty was one of the pillars of the modern disarmament architecture and one of the symbols of the end of the Cold War.
There is now a real danger that such missiles, with a flying time of several minutes, will appear in various regions of the globe, including in Europe. This will inevitably entail increased tension, a new spiral of political and military confrontation, as well as an increased risk of a nuclear apocalypse. That is why we urge immediate concerted action to preserve the achievements of the INF Treaty in our common home – in Europe.
In his statement delivered on September 3, 2019 at the High-level United Nations conference “Countering Terrorism through Innovative Approaches and the Use of New and Emerging Technologies”, held in Minsk, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said that Belarus, as a Party to the INF Treaty, did not withdraw from it and did not intend to produce or deploy these missiles provided that such missiles would not pose a threat to our security.
Consequently, the leader of Belarus came up with the initiative to develop a declaration of responsible countries on the non-deployment of medium and shorter-range missiles in Europe.
Our country urges all to set about working on the draft declaration at once. We call upon states on both sides of the Atlantic, who do not remain indifferent to the fate of humanity, to support us in this endeavor. The United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe could be proper venues for this work.
We see the value in this document if it is to set out clear and firm commitments by countries not to deploy medium- and shorter-range missiles on their territory and to abandon their production.
We understand that the initiative’s implementation will require political will and will involve a laborious negotiation process. But, as some pundits used to say “The one who walks finishes the journey” (“Viam supervadet vadens”). After all, ideas for the treaties on the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons, on the reduction of nuclear arsenals, and on conventional weapons also once were considered like a pipe dream.
With every year, the topic of the increasing role of technology in the world has been sounded increasingly louder, including from this rostrum.
On the one hand, we witness emergence of new technologies, which open up unprecedented opportunities for progress in many areas of human life. On the other hand, what also emerges is the risk that technologies and resources may be used for malign purposes. A striking example of this kind were the recent drone attacks on infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, which further destabilized the situation in the Middle East and, in particular, in the Gulf region. Belarus strongly condemns such actions, no matter who undertakes them.
The Great Albert Einstein put the matter absolutely right in his time by saying that: “Technological progress is like an ax in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
In fact, we are in the initial stage of a long-term global process, which is already dubbed the “Technological arms race”. The concern is that the race can be used by both the forces of good and the forces of evil. And the task before us is to do whatever it takes to deprive the forces of evil a single chance to gain dominance.
In the context of existing interstate contradictions and increased competition, cyberspace is increasingly becoming an arena of confrontation, too. We constantly hear news about devastating hacker attacks. All this points to the scale of the threats in this area, while it simultaneously emphasizes the need to expand interstate digital cooperation and enhance mutual confidence in the information sphere.
Speaking at the anti-terrorism conference in Minsk I mentioned earlier, the President of Belarus proposed to establish a “digital neighborhood belt”.
It is about concluding bilateral and multilateral agreements aimed at ensuring international information security.
Such agreements could be based on the ideas of digital sovereignty and neutrality, as well as on countries' non-interference in each other's information resources.
Digital sovereignty should guarantee the state’s ability to control its information field, prevent and block cyberattacks, and provide reliable protection for critical infrastructure.
Digital neutrality means that countries should not take action in cyberspace that affects other states’ security.
Ultimately, such agreements can lay the basis for designing international rules for responsible behavior in the virtual space.
“Waves of digital security” that would emanate from such agreements, as the President of Belarus starkly put it, would strengthen interstate ties and increase effectiveness of common anti-terrorist efforts in cyberspace.
Belarus stands ready to enhance cooperation and strengthen connections on international information security with all countries, and with its neighbors, in particular.
The global economy, which is increasingly becoming feverish, does not remain unaffected by the current global turbulence.
World trade and financial flows have been consistently on the rise. Economic cooperation at the regional level is gaining in significance. Wealth is growing in many places worldwide. Important regional integration initiatives have been underway.
Yet, problems abound here.
Interstate political differences find their reflection in protectionism in trade and in sanctions. Speculation in financial markets persists. Artificial barriers have been erected against some countries wishing to accede to the World Trade Organization. The world's leading economies launch full-scale trade wars against each other, which only serve the purpose of distracting from problem resolution and add to the risk of a real war.
The language of unilateral coercive measures, which should have no place in the United Nations, continues to be a reality in relation to a number of countries, including the freedom-loving Cuba.
All of this leads to another painful problem, namely, the uneven nature of economic globalization. By many estimates, it did not become the “wave that lifts all boats together." As a result, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
Regional economic blocs do not take full advantage provided by inter-regional cooperation.
The last point deserves particular attention.
Some analysts foresee a global order in the future as a world built around regions rather than around great powers. Indeed, as experience shows, there is less space for political fragmentation in places where regional integration is successfully developing.
We are deeply convinced that regional processes must effectively interact with each other. Belarus has been actively involved in various regional integration processes.
Moreover, for years we have been consistently advocating the need to strike partnerships and achieve compatibility among various integration associations.
In 2020, as chairman of the Eurasian Economic Union, Belarus plans to hold in Minsk, together with the Eurasian Economic Commission, the first forum on Sustainable Development Goals. The event will not only help our Eurasian integration partners “check the clock” and exchange experiences in how they work towards attaining the SDGs. It will also allow the Eurasian Economic Union region to speak with a single, its own, voice in the global debate on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda, while raising common problems and simultaneously emphasizing the diversity of our states.
In principle, Belarus proceeds from the assumption that regional economic organizations should be proactively involved in efforts to implement the SDGs. They should also contribute to the coherence of economic policies pursued by Members of integration organizations in the interests of sustainable development. This, in turn, will contribute to a multiplier effect for their national economies, which essentially constitute the supporting frame for the entire system of regional and global sustainability.
Moving along this path, as well as launching a comprehensive security dialogue proposed by Belarus, could make important inputs to the resolution of the current geopolitical uncertainty.
I would like to dwell on another important issue. Against the backdrop of the planet’s ever-rising population, and the resulting increased exploitation of its limited resources, we are witnessing how the problem of climate change is getting increasingly worse.
It may well be the case that we are approaching the point of no return, unless a decisive action is taken here. In the meantime, the international community’s attempts to reduce emissions are clearly lagging behind the destructive dynamics triggered by climate change.
The Climate Summit, which was held here a few days ago, gave us the hope that the world community will consolidate its efforts and will implement significant initiatives in order to reduce emissions.
Belarus, as a responsible stakeholder when it comes to combating climate change in a collective way, intends to make an unconditional commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 35% by 2030 compared to 1990, and to do so solely from its own resources.
Launching a motivational mechanism for the transfer of advanced knowledge and technologies to developing countries, as well as climate investments would provide a powerful boost to the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Today, the world and the United Nations, on the eve of its anniversary, are facing another important frontier. We will successfully cross this symbolic frontier if we can find the right answers to the ongoing and emerging challenges in the areas of politics, economics, and technology.
To this end, we need, as we never did before, to restore confidence among states at the global and regional levels.
We will have to learn again to be good neighbors and to solve problems together in our home, on our planet.
Belarus stands ready to continue to make its best contribution to this, in any format and at any venue, including in Minsk.
What is most important is to make our world calmer, fairer, cleaner, and to give our nations hope for peace and prosperity.
Thank you for your kind attention.
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