December 14, 2017

Address by the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Glafcos Clerides at the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Millennium Assembly, which rightly has gathered here an unprecedented number of Heads of State and Government, is indeed a truly historic event. it is a significant effort to mobilize the forces of international cooperation at the highest possible level. An effort which we sincerely hope will give a strong impetus to the desire of humankind to construct a more just and secure world that will guarantee the survival, development and prosperity of the peoples of our planet.

Allow me, Excellency, to express my congratulations to those who have initially conceived the idea of the Millennium Assembly, and to thank particularly His Excellency the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, for his thought-provoking Report entitled “We the-Peoples”. We look forward to an action-oriented final document of this important meeting, which will provide the blueprint for our common efforts in addressing the challenges that lie ahead.

Mr. President,

We recognize that despite the many positive developments that have occurred on many fronts, ruthless conflicts, poverty and inequality are still commonplace in the world. The spread of endemic diseases, should be a major call for mobilization for all of us. The principles of justice and international law should prevail when conflicts arise. Respect of human dignity and rights should be indiscriminate and unquestionable, while fundamental freedoms should be firmly embedded in all societies.

Mr. President,

Globalization accelerated the proliferation of global transactions, the increase in productivity, trade, technological advances and foreign investment. It has however, created new challenges such as widening of the gap between rich and poor, including the digital divide, the expansion of criminal networks and the illicit trafficking in narcotics and arms around the world.

The benefits of globalization need to be equally distributed around the world. The gap between rich and poor needs to be bridged before it widens even more. The greatest possible emphasis should be given to the needs of those less privileged, who are daily faced with the spectre of hunger, disease and lack of opportunities. This is clearly in the interest of an increasingly interdependent world. It should not be forgotten that inequalities inexorably lead to conflicts.

The heavy burden of external debt is a major cause of concern for many countries. Imaginative policies of debt relief is a necessary component of any effort to secure poverty eradication.

Mr. President,

The second part of the 20th century has seen an international effort to protect human rights. Progress has been registered. However, we have a long way to go in order to fulfill this lofty goal.

Despite the recent economic growth and social progress, hundreds of millions of people still live in poverty and misery. The natural recourses of the planet are rapidly being depleted while the environment is continually degraded. Many countries lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Unemployment and income inequality contribute to the deterioration of the social and political fabric of many nations. In particular, we should focus our efforts on securing the rights and setting the ground for greater advancement of less fortunate groups of our citizens. In this context, further efforts should be initiated in the areas of gender equality and children’s rights, particularly of those children who so often pay a disproportionately high price in areas of armed conflict. We should institute effective policies in the pursuit of youth employment, as well as policies for disabled people, who constitute one-sixth of our planet’s citizenry and who should have the opportunity to become fully engaged in, and contribute to the development of our societies.

We deeply feel the pain and agony of the families of missing persons all over the world and in my own country, who are waiting to be informed of the fate of their missing loved ones in a convincing manner. Solutions based on political expediencies or considerations cannot give answers to this problem, the very existence of which constitutes an affront to the conscience of humanity. Humanitarian spirit, commitment and action by those who are in a position to give an answer to the relatives are what is needed.

From this forum, I wish to add my voice and strongly appeal to all concerned to cooperate in the struggle to end the agony and uncertainty of the relatives of each and every missing person.

We, the Leaders of our countries, lets unite our efforts and take concerted action so that practices and policies resulting in missing and disappeared persons are not condoned by the international community.

The proliferation of armed conflict calls for our immediate attention. The ravages of war are nowhere more evident than in Africa, where the continuous outbreak of conflicts stands as a major obstacle to development. Our Assembly should send a strong message regarding the need for a sustained policy of conflict prevention, peace-building, reconciliation and international cooperation.

Mr. President,

While one often sees the tendency of pursuing a “pragmatic” approach for the settlement of disputes, nevertheless it is our firm belief that the United Nations should always act based on the solid foundation of the principles of its Charter. This kind of approach will gain the confidence of its members with regard to its objectivity and fairness and lead to permanent solutions.

The Organization should always be a beacon of hope for small states that look to it for justice and by concrete actions should alleviate their fears that political expediency, so often associated with the exercise of power politics will not prevail over international law.

Mr. President,

Security Council resolutions must be respected and implemented to safeguard international legality so that the concept of collective security will sink deeply into our collective consciousness and find its practical application in the full respect of the principles of the U.N. Charter.

There is no more flagrant example of this failure in implementing the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council than the case of Cyprus where numerous resolutions remain unimplemented for over a quarter of a century. This failure constitutes nothing less than an affront to the international community and a glaring example of the prevalence of impunity.

We are now engaged in yet another effort to solve the Cyprus problem. I will participate in the forthcoming negotiations, as always, with good will and determination to find a just and viable solution within the parameters established by the United Nations resolutions, a solution that will meet the interests and restore and safeguard the human rights of all Cypriots without discrimination.

Mr. President,

The framework for the construction of a better world is this very Organization of which we are all members. Our guiding principles for the attainment of this goal are those enshrined in the U.N. Charter. We have the tools to proceed. What we absolutely need, however, is the political will to move forward. Let us hope that this Millennium Assembly will strengthen our determination to work together, in a spirit of solidarity, to achieve the much-desired goals of peaceful coexistence and prosperity in our common home, the planet Earth.

Thank you, Mr. President.