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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization

Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson, Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations Sixty-second Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. President,

The annual report of the Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, on the work of the Organization is an excellent overview of the achievements during the past year, as well as of the complex challenges facing us. The report helps us keep a focus on the main issues - on the need for good governance and accountability, both within the Organization, but also in Member States.

Mr. President,

We thank the President of the General Assembly for his initiative to make Climate Change the theme for the General Debate of this Assembly and the Secretary General for organizing the high level event on 24 September, which has played an important role in consolidating the global consensus on the need to act. The Kyoto Protocol provides a basis for the continuation of effective action in reducing emissions and the Bali meeting in December should decide to start a process leading to a comprehensive post-2012 climate agreement. Global warming is already devastating the lives of millions and how we address this issue will be a test of our commitment to the values of the United Nations. The poorest in developing countries tend to be hardest hit, those who are least responsible for causing climate change. We have to focus on their needs in our common effort in fighting this global threat. Adaptation to climate change should therefore be dealt with as an integral part of our efforts in attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

In her statement in the general debate last week, the Foreign Minister of Iceland emphasized development issues. The Foreign Minister reiterated Iceland's strong commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and highlighted the importance of women's empowerment. Official Development Assistance (ODA) plays a vital role in achieving the MDG's. Our ODA has doubled over the past four years and we aim to be among the top contributors. Increased aid effectiveness is also central to development results. We support the follow-up on the Report of the High-level Panel on System wide Coherence which will make the UN more effective in delivering results on the ground. We support the Panel's recommendations concerning gender. Gender mainstreaming has to be addressed in a more systematic manner. We support the establishment of a new gender entity and a new post of Under-Secretary General to strengthen UN's performance in this field of work. The excellent work of UNIFEM must be built upon within the new structures.

On HIV/AIDS Iceland fully shares the views of the Secretary General in his report and we believe that the fight against AIDS should remain a priority and that the United Nations should become a model workplace with regard to the issue. The need has indeed become clearer than ever for a sustainable response over the longer term.

Mr. President,

The United Nations is the premier international organization responsible for maintaining peace and security. This is a complex, multidimensional task. We support strongly the reinforcement of the work of the UN in the field of conflict prevention. This is indeed in line with the holistic approach we have increasingly applied to our work. "No security without development and no development without security" as has so often been said in this hall.

UN Peacekeeping activity with over one hundred thousand persons has increased rapidly. The new peacebuilding architecture is beginning to prove its existence and value for peacebuilding operations. Iceland will continue to contribute to the Peacebuilding Fund.

Millions experience assaults on their personal security including through terrorism. We welcome the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which will be an important plan of action in our fight against terrorism. It is now up to us, the member states, to implement it. This successful partnership should be a motivation for us to finalize a comprehensive convention on international terrorism during this General Assembly.

As a small island state without a military of its own, Iceland is concerned at the current situation in the field of disarmament where, despite continued efforts of the majority of Member States over a number of years, very little progress has been achieved, some of which is outside the UN framework. Our failures in this area pose a threat to peace and security. Now is the time to renew our efforts. The international community must react collectively and firmly, within the UN framework, to maintain international peace and security. The conclusion of an arms trade treaty would certainly be a significant achievement.

Mr. President,

The protection and promotion of fundamental human rights is one of the primary aims of the United Nations. The Secretary-General notes in his report the significant progress the international community has made in advancing human rights standards and mechanisms. Iceland welcomes this development. The establishment of the Human Rights Council was an important event. Work should continue on its consolidation.

Finally, Mr. President,

Most of our work within this institution is interlinked and it is evident that poverty, inequality and the lack of economic and social rights can make the exercise of political and civil rights difficult. We are now about half way to our deadline for the Millennium Development Goals and we will soon need to deliver on our promises. It is incumbent upon those who have the good fortune to be prosperous to join in solidarity with others to make these rights available to all. The security challenges which we face this century are such that they can only be addressed in solidarity with others, within this organization.


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