Expert Warns of Underperformance in Development by Commodity-Dependent States at Joint Meeting of Second Committee and Economic and Social Council


Expert Warns of Underperformance in Development by Commodity-Dependent States at Joint Meeting of Second Committee and Economic and Social Council

Despite many commodity-dependent countries underperforming in development and falling further into debt, the global economy lacks an adequate response to the crisis, a Nobel Laureate told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) and the Economic and Social Council as they met today for their annual joint meeting.

Joseph Stiglitz, Professor at Columbia University, Nobel Laureate and Co-Chair of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, cited the “natural resource curse”, noting that developing countries and emerging markets do not get compensated adequately for their natural resources, while companies tend to use their market power to avoid paying for the extraction-related environmental damage, he said.

While States that are rich in natural resources also have problems in political economy, in particular due to rent-seeking behaviour, he drew attention to the examples of Norway, which leveraged natural resources for innovation and knowledge to achieve a more sustainable growth, and Indonesia, which also succeeded in moving up the value chain with Brazil following suit.

In the first of two panel discussions, on the theme “Commodity-dependence and sustainable economic development — voices from the field”, Chola Milambo (Zambia), said that, while his country remains dependent on the mining sector, especially the export of primary mineral products like copper, measures are being undertaken to mitigate commodity dependence and support economic diversification by promoting value addition and encouraging partnerships for technology transfer and digital connectivity.

Arlene Beth Tickner (Colombia) highlighted the two components of reindustrialization in her country, namely the move from an extractive economy to a decarbonized, productive and sustainable knowledge economy, coupled with a holistic, comprehensive agrarian reform aimed at food sovereignty.

Rafael Dubeux, Adviser to the Minister for Finance of Brazil, described his country’s ecological development plan, focused not only on decarbonization, but also strengthening the technological aspects of its productive sector, which is expected to grow by using renewable energy, the bioeconomy and critical minerals.

Closing the first panel, Tri Tharyat, Director General for Multilateral Cooperation of Indonesia, outlined the “2045 Golden Indonesia” plan aimed at elevating the country from its current middle-income status and creating an enabling ecosystem that upholds a just, transparent, inclusive and sustainable international trade system and fosters collaboration and solidarity among nations, particularly in the Global South.

In the second panel discussion, on the theme “Leveraging commodities for sustainable economic development — expert panel perspective”, Mohammed Belal, Managing Director for the Common Fund for Commodities, stated that the free market system is not working for all and cited an example of Côte d’Ivoire which produces 45 per cent of the world’s cocoa, but receives only 4 per cent from the $100 billion chocolate industry, while millions of its farmers survive on 78 cents per day.

In line with this, Miho Shirotori, Director of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) Division on International Trade and Commodities, stressed that structural transformation strategies for commodity-dependent developing countries need to incorporate new dimensions and new parameters, arising from the decarbonization imperatives and avoiding the commodity trap with critical minerals.
Lynda Pickbourn, Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts, said that, while gold, crude oil and cocoa make up 80 per cent of exports from Ghana, where six foreign gold-mining firms had generated $5.2 billion from 1990 to 2002, the country’s Government only received $87.2 million in royalties and almost 7 million Ghanaians live in poverty. In a similar vein, Tawanda Mutasah, Vice-President of Global Programs at Oxfam America, underscored the critical need for transparency in commodities, contract disclosures, and access to and clarity of information.

Closing the second panel, Amir Lebdioui, Associate Professor at Oxford University, stressed that natural resources under the right conditions can act as a lever of economic upgrading and technological capability accumulation. He provided the examples of Malaysia, a commodity-dependent nation that has diversified through resource-based industrialization in terms of job creation, and Chile, which has diversified beyond its extractive sector.

The joint meeting heard addresses by Paula Narváez (Chile), President of the Economic and Social Council, and Carlos Amorín (Uruguay), Chair of the Second Committee.

In its afternoon session, the Committee concluded its previous discussion on sustainable development.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 11 October, to hold a joint discussion on eradication of poverty, and agriculture development, food security and nutrition.

Opening Remarks

CARLOS AMORÍN (Urugay), Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), noted today’s discussion, “Leveraging Commodities for Sustainable Economic Development”, aims to identify the opportunities and challenges associated with this type of resource. This issue is of special importance because, although commodity markets have had profound implications for the development of most developing countries, their patterns and rules have remained rigid over the past 200 years. There is no doubt, he said, that the current structure does not generate much added value for producing countries who want to keep production costs low. Further, as producing countries have low income, most of the profits from the final derived products remain in industrialized countries. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that more than 100 countries are dependent on commodities, their economies highly sensitive to the volatility of the prices.

In this context, he cited the Political Declaration of the SDG Summit, which emphasized the urgent need to promote funding for sustainable development, including by promoting policies that allow adding value to exportable products. He emphasized that the adoption of innovative technologies, marketing and bargaining helps prioritize more sustainable patterns of consumption. Above all, new generations are demanding greater transparency and a more equitable distribution of income in the value chain, and that each product have a human connection. The commodity resolution that will be negotiated in the Committee “should be a first step to identify points where we can come together under our common objective of our peoples and societies to incorporate sustainable development processes”, he stressed.

PAULA NARVÁEZ (Chile), President of the Economic and Social Council, said that dependence on commodities is a challenge faced by the majority of developing countries. “We need to speed up our actions urgently to achieve the SDGs and energy transition,” she stressed, also giving an example of many developing countries that have abundant resources and reserves of various metals and minerals which are essential for energy transition. Noting that her country is one of the main world producers of copper and lithium, which are important for car manufacturing and electric batteries, she said that the role of developing countries is usually relegated to just extraction and exports of minerals, along with other commodities, despite the fact that many countries do have the potential to improve their processing capacity.

Calling for commodities to be a driver for sustainable development, she said: “We must think in a new way about our resources.” Producing countries can enter markets with higher profit margins. They can make their economies more sustainable and not be subject to global commodity price fluctuations. She also said that this joint meeting is a forum for a frank and sincere exchange of ideas that can be building blocks for the Second Committee’s considerations. “It will therefore be a key contribution to the activities of the Economic and Social Committee during my mandate as President,” she emphasized.

Keynote Address

JOSEPH STIGLITZ, Professor at Columbia University, Nobel Laureate and Co-Chair of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, underscored that there has been a long history of commodity-dependent and commodity-rich countries not performing well. This is called the natural resource curse. While some would expect these countries to have greater equality, for the most part, they have not managed the resources well and are marked by more inequality. Some of the reasons are related to the failure of markets, others to political economy. One aspect is that natural resources are marked by high volatility of prices. That, combined with the value of the resources they are exporting, leads to high exchange rate volatility and hinders risk management, especially for poor countries. This stymies the development of countries and complicates their competition with imports. Adding to these issues is the functioning of the global economy, with a strong proclivity to overlending.

Although it is often said that States borrow too much, the lenders are supposed to have experts in risk management assessing the level of debt the countries could sustain. Countries with natural resources may overborrow and end up having a debt crisis, he pointed out, highlighting that the global economy does not have a satisfactory mechanism to resolve this issue. The restructuring is thus going to be “too little, too late and too costly”. Further, there is the issue of an imbalance in market power, he noted. As a result, developing countries and emerging markets do not get compensated adequately for their natural resources. More so, companies tend to use their market power to avoid paying for the extraction-related environmental damage. States that are rich in natural resources also have problems in political economy, in particular due to rent-seeking behaviour. This leads to a competition for rents, diverting resources from productive activity.
He went on to highlight that, in addition to not paying the fair market value and refraining from compensations for environmental damage, the developed countries have relegated the developing ones to the lower ranks in the value creation chain. This has precluded the economic transformation required for development, he observed, warning that the model that worked in East Asia will not yield satisfactory results these days. Because the share of manufacturing in global output and employment increases, it cannot generate the jobs necessary for the expected increase of population. There is a need for another model, he emphasized. The alternative lies in leveraging commodities for sustainable development, with investment at the core. Noting why this did not happen after the end of colonialism, he said that the neoliberal trade regime had a system of escalating tariffs, the intellectual property regime restricted access to knowledge and technology and other aspects of the neoliberal architecture were designed to keep developing countries poor.

Turning to the need for a global minimum tax as part of the solution, he recalled that the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation advocates for a 25 per cent tax rate. He continued by expressing hope that countries will be able to start leveraging natural resources for their development in light of the death of the neoliberal ideology, existential threat posed by climate change, end of hyperglobalization, new geopolitics, and artificial intelligence and robotization. He drew attention to the example of Norway, which leveraged natural resources for innovation and knowledge to achieve a more sustainable growth that would drive the country forward. After recently introducing restrictions on the export of nickel, Indonesia has also succeeded in moving up the value chain. Brazil is now deliberating on how the Amazon could be used as a sustainable source of income, he said.

Panel Discussion I

The first panel discussion, on the theme “Commodity-dependence and sustainable economic development — voices from the field”, was moderated by Juan José Martinez Badillo, Chief of the New York Office of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and featured the following panellists: Chola Milambo (Zambia) via video link; Arlene Beth Tickner (Colombia); Rafael Dubeux, Adviser to the Minister for Finance of Brazil, via video link; and Tri Tharyat, Director General for Multilateral Cooperation of Indonesia (pre-recorded video).

Mr. BADILLO noted that some estimates show that under current conditions, the average commodity-dependent country would need 190 years just to cut in half their dependence compared with other nations, making it clear “we need to act now”.

Mr. MILAMBO noted that Zambia’s economy remains dependent on the mining sector, especially the export of primary mineral products, notably copper. This situation has rendered the economy highly vulnerable to commodity price volatility and shocks, affecting stability in gross domestic product (GDP). Copper prices declined from $10,000 per metric ton in March 2022 to $7,500 per metric ton in July 2022 against a backdrop of global economic shocks owing to the war in Ukraine. As a landlocked country, to escape the trap of commodity dependence, Zambia will leverage advances in technology innovations to inform policy decisions on economic transformation and diversification as well as the developments at the regional and international levels. He also stressed the importance of avoiding transition from a rural poor to an urban poor country.

Among the measures being undertaken to mitigate commodity dependence and support economic diversification are promoting value addition and encouraging partnerships for technology transfer and digital connectivity. He affirmed that his country will take full advantage of opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area. At the multilateral level, he called on the international community to give greater attention to the power of structural transformation in uplifting millions out of poverty. Developing countries should continue to work with UNCTAD and development partners. Multilateral development banks must use their knowledge and advisory services to assist States through an orderly transformation, while countries need instruments to leverage private sector resources. It can be argued, he stressed, that no country has sustainably graduated from least developed lower income status to higher income without going through structural transformation.

Ms. TICKNER highlighted the two components of Colombia’s reindustrialization policy, which seeks to move from an extractive economy to a decarbonized, productive and sustainable knowledge economy and which guarantees life, peace and social and environmental justice. “The first is the reduction of dependence on commodities such as oil and coal, which currently represent around 45 per cent of Colombia’s exports, and the energy transition.” The second is a holistic, comprehensive agrarian reform and food sovereignty,” she said, adding that over $4 trillion is needed to close the financing gap for developing countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Colombia’s electricity generation matrix is the sixth cleanest in the world — 77.98 per cent of the installed capacity is from hydraulic energy, and 2.75 per cent is from non-conventional energy sources, with a total of 80.72 per cent of renewable energy production,” she stressed, adding that her country has a level of solar radiation that is 60 per cent higher than the world average and wind speed twice that of the world average.

Mr. DUBEUX noted that Brazil is working on its “ecological development plan” — which is an economic plan with very strong environmental and technological components. The name of the country, he recalled, originates from the tree, Brazilwood, and the country has always been very dependent on commodity exports, including sugar cane, coffee, gold and iron ore. Despite tremendous opportunities, the Government is concerned not only with decarbonizing its economy but strengthening the technological aspects of its productive sector. While there is room to grow using renewable energy, the bioeconomy and critical minerals, the challenges include how to employ those assets to move up from the bottom of the worldwide value chain.

He emphasized that Brazil’s current electricity grid draws 90 per cent of its energy from renewables, and that the grid’s installed capacity will double its use of solar and wind power. The plan prioritizes research and development funds, workforce training, technical education and improved integration between universities and the private sector. Brazil is further changing tax incentives to make them dependent on incorporation of technology and industrialization rather than on the export of raw materials. He also cited the idea of payment of environmental services, as mentioned by Mr. Stiglitz.
Mr. THARYAT said that his country has set forth a visionary goal named “2045 Golden Indonesia” and is aiming to reach a per capita income between $20,000 and $23,200. “We recognize the importance of creating a mature and globally competitive industrial sector,” he stressed, adding that the goal is to elevate Indonesia from its current status as a middle-income country. Further, Indonesia’s strategic road map includes creating an enabling ecosystem, upholding a just, transparent, inclusive and sustainable international trade system and fostering collaboration and solidarity among nations, particularly in the Global South. “By strengthening both upstream and downstream sectors, we aspire to create a more equitable and mutually beneficial global economic landscape,” he concluded.

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Panel Discussion II
The second panel discussion, focused on the theme “Leveraging commodities for sustainable economic development — expert panel perspective”, was moderated by Mariangela Parra-Lancourt, Chief of the Strategic Engagement and Policy Integration Branch in the Financing for Sustainable Development Office of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, featuring panellists: Mohammed Belal, Managing Director for the Common Fund for Commodities; Miho Shirotori, Director of the UNCTAD Division on International Trade and Commodities (via video link); Lynda Pickbourn, Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Mount Holyoke College; Tawanda Mutasah, Vice-President of Global Programmes at Oxfam America; and Amir Lebdioui, Associate Professor at Oxford University (via video link).

Mr. BELAL stated that “the free market system is not working for all.” Commodities produced in developing countries can have a transformative role in those economies, but the benefits do not always accrue where they are most needed. “In layman’s terms, we all screwed up with our future,” he stressed, as the world left for future generations will be worse than the one this generation inherited from its parents. According to UNCTAD, commodities account for more than 60 per cent of total merchandise exports in 45 of 54 countries in Africa, leaving them highly vulnerable to global prices and shocks. While Côte d’Ivoire produces 45 per cent of the world’s cocoa, it receives only 4 per cent of the $100 billion value of the chocolate industry, with millions of its farmers surviving on 78 cents per day.

Turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he noted it is considered one of the richest countries in terms of mineral worth at $24 trillion — almost as rich as the United States and $8 trillion richer than China. Madagascar produces 80 per cent of vanilla, but when the country set a floor price, all major brands stopped buying from them. Citing other examples, he stressed that “the market is not working for them.” The poorest smallholders in a so-called free-market economy are working harder to subsidize consumers in developed countries and “ladies and gentlemen, we can do better.” In a global coffee market worth $460 billion, producer countries including Brazil, Colombia, Viet Nam, Uganda and Indonesia share only $25 billion, while non-producer Germany earns $6.85 billion — more than Africa. He called for an urgent change in such inequities.

Ms. SHIROTORI said that structural transformation strategies for commodity-dependent developing countries need to incorporate new dimensions and new parameters, arising from the decarbonization imperatives. “We can avoid repeating the commodity trap in dealing, for example, with critical minerals, and for that, regional cooperation, particularly South-South cooperation, can play a very important role,” she stressed. The international community can be a part of the solution, as enhancing technology transfer, reducing market concentration and increasing funds for investment are necessary to achieve structural transformation. “We now have to think about the energy mix,” she said.

Ms. PICKBOURN noted that gold, crude oil and cocoa make up 80 per cent of exports from Ghana, but despite 37 straight years of per capita GDP growth, the performance of its manufacturing sector “has been dismal” — accounting for less than 5 per cent of GDP, down from 12 per cent in 1985. The Ghanaian economy has therefore failed to generate decent employment, with the majority of those entering the labour force working in the informal sector — harvesting copper from toxic piles of imported electronic waste without protective gear, or “darting through lanes of traffic selling everything from batteries to world maps — most of which are also imported”, she stated.

She noted that six foreign-earned mining firms dominate gold exports, benefiting from lenient taxation, loopholes and incentives. While they generated $5.2 billion from 1990 to 2002, the Government received $87.2 million in royalties. “Gold mining is more lucrative for foreign investors than Ghana,” she stated. The World Bank reported that 850,000 Ghanaians have been pushed into poverty, joining the 6 million already in that category, roughly one fifth of the country’s population. “Ghana’s experience offers a cautionary tale,” she said, calling for reforming fiscal regimes in such countries to maximize tax revenue from commodity exports. Commodity-dependent countries are at a negotiating disadvantage with powerful transnational corporations and need a radical change — a supranational body to regulate production and pricing mechanisms in commodity markets: “something similar perhaps to OPEC [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries], but even better”, she stressed.

Mr. MUTASAH said that it is impossible to achieve the discussed goals without transparency, and transparency in commodities is critical. “There is no way we can work effectively on commodity markets if we are not adapting and adopting a global approach, if we have individuated country approaches,” he emphasized, adding that contract transparency and disclosures, as well as access to and clarity of information, are very important.

Mr. LEBDIOUI said that natural resources under the right conditions can act as a lever of economic upgrading and technological capability accumulation. He pointed to Malaysia, one of the few examples of a commodity-dependent nation that has diversified through resource-based industrialization in terms of job creation. He further cited Chile, which has diversified outside of the extractive sector. He noted that biodiversity is not just a commodity but “a bank of ideas for innovation”. However, turning commodities into an engine of structural transformation does not happen with market forces alone, as the role of industrial policy is critical in value addition. He further noted that those who control processing and value addition activities, as history shows, “are not just there waiting for developing countries to take over their markets” — citing the example of tariffs levied by the European Union.
The representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, noted that it is reported that 94 of commodity-dependent countries are developing States. This phenomenon is prevalent in Africa, Oceania and South America, affecting at a disproportionate rate those countries with special needs. For most developing countries, the solution is to transform their economy structurally. Nevertheless, this has been imparted for decades by the unfair and unbalanced international economic order that has perpetuated poverty and hindered development. In light of this, diversifying economies is challenging for most of these countries. The added value of the commodities they produce is limited due to difficulties in access to finance, technology and adequate infrastructure, he noted. To address this situation, human and physical capital accumulation is required. Developing countries also need financial support and investment, including foreign direct investment (FDI) in specific areas of the value chain. This includes industries that are non-traditional that facilitate technology acquisition and innovation.

The representative of Botswana, speaking for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that such countries continue to heavily depend on a narrow range of commodities, which makes them susceptible to external commodity price shocks, hampers their competitiveness and restricts the expansion of their export basket. They require adequate productive capacities through effective investment and robust industrial policies. They also need to attract investment in manufacturing and services sectors and overcome trade- and transport-related disadvantages through better infrastructure.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said the bloc, through the Global Gateway and its strategic corridors approach, endeavours to better link manufacturing centres in commodity-dependent developing countries to international trade routes. On the need to reform multilateral development banks and create innovative financing instruments, he said that it is crucial — especially in commodity-dependent, least developed countries — to have sufficient investment projects tabled and bankable.

The representative of Malaysia asked the panel for their insights on effective mechanisms for developing nations to establish robust governance and transparency measures within their commodity sectors.

The representative of Poland, recalling the European Union-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes, where about 34 million tons of goods were exported, asked the panellists how, specifically, developed countries can assist developing countries in building resilient regional food supply chains.

The representative of Guatemala, noting hers is a middle-income country, asked about the most significant contribution to achieve structural changes for commodities-dependent countries.

The representative of Zimbabwe recalled that the country’s economy is 88.2 per cent commodity-dependent, with mining at 55.9 per cent, and unilateral coercive measures hampering it since 2002, making it costly to secure financing to service debt. Inviting investors to “do business with us,” he called on the United Nations to identify and steer diversification.

The representative of Argentina asked how important external debt is in relation to commodities, how to move ahead within multilateral frameworks for progress, and the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) going forward.

The representative of India said that new technologies like artificial intelligence and geospatial data can be deployed to help developing countries leverage their strengths in commodities exports, particularly in agriculture.

The representative of Mexico, noting with concern the volatility of global flows of agricultural products, raw materials, minerals, metals and energy, called for the effective distribution of basic products to avoid shortages. She called for the resumption of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The representative of Algeria, noting that 50 per cent of African countries are considered commodity-dependent, called for supporting the efforts of such countries to strengthen their economies and highlighted the achievements of his Government in diversifying its economy.

The representative of Costa Rica noted that middle-income countries are also dependent when it comes to uncertainty, asking how they can develop resilience to sudden shocks in commodity prices.

Ms. PARRA-LANCOURT informed delegates that due to time constraints, panellists would respond to them in writing.

Closing Remarks
Ms. NARVÁEZ, Economic and Social Council President, noted that the exchange of ideas will surely inform the negotiations and foster greater substance and depth in the work of the Committee and Council to better take advantage of commodities for sustainable development. The opportunities, challenges and key policies outlined by speakers should enable a better conceptual framework to identify opportunities on how to address improving the position of producing countries in international markets, and hopefully lead to a shift in thinking towards greater added value through marketing, processing and other innovative approaches. As Chair of the Council, she stated: “I am committed to bolstering endeavours to ensure that debates on commodities are still a priority over the coming months,” as such resources could constitute a launching pad to increase financing for sustainable development and achieve the SDGs.

Mr. AMORÍN (Uruguay), Second Committee Chair, underscored that the discussion on commodities must be revitalized and tailored to current realities. In this vein, countries must implement policies promoting greater added value to have a greater negotiating parity with those involved in the changes of the value chain. More so, they should diversify and sophisticate their exports. He also emphasized the need to generate new alternatives to exploiting commodities. This should be done through green transformation and development of clean technologies to move away from commodity-based towards knowledge-based economies, he said.

Continuation of Statements on Sustainable Development
ARAKSYA BABIKYAN (Armenia) noted that many developing countries continue to bear the dire consequences of climate change, despite being the least contributors. In that regard, innovative financing tools such as debt-for-climate swaps are of utmost importance. Armenia has set a goal of 40 per cent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030 and net-zero status by 2050. Noting that development is significantly impacted when States face socioeconomic humanitarian consequences of the use of force and other forms of coercion, she stressed that as a result of the latest military aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan, more than 100,000 people have been ethnically cleansed and forced to leave their homes. This mass displacement to Armenia requires immediate humanitarian response and resource mobilization from the international community and specialized UN agencies, including ensuring the safe and dignified return to their ancestral homeland.

KARLITO NUNES (Timor Leste), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Least Developed States and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that his country endorses the Secretary-General’s five recommendations to rescue the SDGs. “Timor-Leste places great importance in guaranteeing its people’s well-being by leaving no one behind, building sustainable infrastructures and climate resilience, mobilizing investment in education, quality infrastructure and ICTs [information and communications technology], as well as building strong institutional arrangement to support progress,” he stressed. In that regard, he called on development partners to continue supporting knowledge-sharing as well as providing resources and sharing technology.

TAHMINA HASANOVA (Tajikistan), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to address the SDG financing gap and called for further and timely discussions at the UN on the proposal for a SDG stimulus. Turning to climate and water-related issues, she noted that over the past decades Tajikistan has lost thousands of glaciers, which will significantly impact future food security, water availability, and ecosystems in Central Asia and beyond. She called for the adoption of concrete measures, including organizing expeditions to study glaciers, and affirmed her country’s readiness to work with the international community within the newly created Group of Friends of Glaciers, and to prepare for the International Conference on Glaciers in 2025 in Tajikistan. During the 2023 Water Conference, her country’s President proposed to host the Water Conference in Tajikistan at the end of the Decade of Action in 2028, she said.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania aligned himself with the Group of 77 and China, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries. Education is a key enabler for the fulfilment of the SDGs, he said, pointing to ongoing education reforms that provide graduates with the required skills and knowledge through an increased budget for education and the widening of access to higher education loans. However, challenges remain, among them, a lack of reliable access to electricity. With ambitious renewable energy targets, and building on existing milestones, the percentage of the population with access to electricity has grown dramatically over the last four years from 67.5 per cent in 2018 to 78.4 in 2022, he said. It’s a priority to connect rural areas to the electricity grid, he added, concluding that at the current pace, it is expected that by June 2024 all villages in mainland Tanzania will be connected.

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TIÉMOKO MORIKO (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said that his country is committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda despite the devastating effects of climate change. As an agricultural country, his Government plans to improve the sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity and raise awareness among the population on methods to preserve the environment. “These measures have made it possible for Côte d’Ivoire to step up our climate ambitions,” he added. The speeding up of climate financing using innovation mechanisms has made it possible for the Government to develop critical tools. Further, he welcomed the upcoming Conference of Parties to be held later in 2023 as an opportunity to come up with solutions for contemporary challenges.

MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Least Developed Countries, noted that in 2022, his country ranked 104 among 163 countries in the SDGs progress report. Bangladesh, like many States, has faced setbacks to implementation, including the COVID19 pandemic, market shocks, inflation and supply chain disruptions. However, it is on track to achieve quality education and eradicate poverty. The education system is prioritizing critical thinking and science, technology, engineering and math, with girls making progress, as the 2022 Global Gender Gap Report ranked it 71 out of 146 countries in that regard. Noting that the Government is spending $1 billion annually on climate mitigation and adaptation, mostly out of domestic resources, he called for special drawing rights (SDR) reallocation and debt treatments for developing countries.

ALARA İSTEMİL AYDİL (Türkiye) said that recent losses caused by several crises have been much higher for low-income countries. “The hard-won development gains are at constant risk of being swept away by a devastating earthquake, a forceful tropical storm, the onset of a severe drought or the emergence of an epidemic,” she added. Hence, global efforts must focus on reducing and preventing disaster risks, in addition to managing them and their impacts. She urged the need to focus on national green energy targets and supporting the transition of developing countries, especially least developed, small island developing and landlocked developing States, to sustainable energy services. Türkiye will continue its efforts towards increasing the share of renewable energy sources in its national energy mix as well as increasing energy efficiency. She also called for sound evaluation of the main reasons of sand and dust storms to be supported by scientific knowledge and data.

ROYSTON ALKINS (Guyana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that there are structural impediments to global progress that must be addressed. He re-emphasized Guyana’s priorities related to climate action, energy transition, early warning systems for all and sustainable use of freshwater resources. “We recognize that water resources are critical for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty,” he said, calling for the promotion of efficient water usage at all levels. He also expressed hope that during the fourth International Conference on Small Island States, to be held in Antigua and Barbuda in 2024, development partners will join the discussion to ensure that a bold new programme of action for those countries is agreed upon and adopted.

MUHAMMAD ZULASRI BIN ROSDI (Malaysia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), reported that his country’s Government has allocated $154 million this year for disaster risk management. It has also worked to advance the adoption of digital technologies, especially in rural and underserved urban areas, with Digital Economy Centres aiming to provide communal Internet access to areas that lack connectivity. Through the National Agrofood Policy 2021-2030, the Government aims to strengthen the local agrifood industry and promote socioeconomic growth, inclusivity and resilience, with a focus on supporting smallholder farmers and food producers, who constitute about 75 per cent of the agrifood sector. As the world’s second-largest palm oil producer, Malaysia plays a leadership role in ensuring global food security, leveraging on palm oil’s availability, affordability and sustainability, he said, noting that the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil certification scheme addresses environmental, social and economic aspects of palm oil production comprehensively.

BULELANI MANDLA (South Africa), aligning himself with the Group of 77, expressed deep concern over the lack of progress in achieving the seven global targets of the Sendai Framework. That is worrying, considering that the review represents the last chance to course-correct before 2030. In the past 20 years, climate-related disasters have almost doubled, with Africa suffering the greatest economic impact with losses equivalent to 12.3 per cent of its total GDP, he said, adding that developing countries need an estimated $70 billion annually for climate change adaptation. Access to financing, capacity-building and the transfer of technology must be provided in line with the Sendai Framework and other relevant agreements, most notably the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, he said, adding that partnerships are another way to speed up implementation of the Sendai targets.

Mr. USKOV (Russian Federation), aligning himself with the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, said that promoting sustainable development, environmental protection and adaptation to climate change are of permanent importance for his country. “We are confident that the key to the success of our climate actions is their scientific validity and non-partisanship,” he said, highlighting that the climate track should not become hostage to politicization and competition. Underscoring the Russian Federation’s commitment to achieving the targets set in the Paris Agreement, he added that it is counterproductive to link the climate agenda with peace and security issues or to consider environmental issues in the Security Council. He went on to say that developing cooperation in the use of nuclear energy to meet the needs of all interested States is a priority for his country.

AHMED SAEED IBRAHIM (Eritrea), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries, the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations and the African Group, said that crises are being felt the world over, especially by the least developed States. “These crises are undermining our efforts to achieve the SDGs,” he warned. Resources are being channeled to other objectives, not the achievement of the SDGs. Eritrea is investing in poverty eradication and is prioritizing food security, education and health care. “We are seeking to preserve our soils; we use organic fertilizers produced in local factories to improve the quality of the food we produce,” he emphasized. Other projects are focused on collecting rainwater, furthering clean energy initiatives and establishing disaster early warning systems. Eritrea is committed to combating climate change. He warned countries against meddling in the internal affairs of other Member States, adding that the world must reject polarization and unite in efforts to combat climate change.

KENNETH WELLES (Federated States of Micronesia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Alliance of Small Island States, noted his country’s geography and climate detrimentally affect and restrain meaningful progress towards sustainable development. On hazard risk reduction, he noted that typhoons or cyclones are now a fact of life for the region, and “with our atolls barely at a maximum elevation rarely more than two metres above sea level, and many islands as wide as two football fields, there is really nowhere to go.” He affirmed that one of “our best shots for avoiding the climate reckoning that lies just around the corner is a fast-acting mandatory approach, which should be modeled on the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer”. By phasing out harmful refrigerants that are ozone destroyers, the Montreal Protocol has put the ozone layer on path to recovery.

THANOUPHET XAIYAVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, ASEAN, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, voiced support for the Secretary-General’s call for reform of the international financial architecture and global institutions, and for the proposed SDG Stimulus. In addition to the 17 SDGs, his country has adopted SDG 18, titled “Lives safe from unexploded ordnance (UXO)”, he said, stressing that unexploded ordnance remains a threat to its national development. Looking ahead to the presentation of its third voluntary national review at the 2024 High-Level Political Forum, he said track analysis is needed for selected SDGs so that those which require greater attention and support can be identified, while considering the country’s limited resources. Joining others, he called on developed countries to fulfil their commitment to support countries in special situations.

HARI PRABOWO (Indonesia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, ASEAN and the Group of Friends for Disaster Risk Reduction, said that the world is at a critical juncture in terms of reaching the SDGs. The financing gap and limited fiscal space remain the most significant issues, especially for the Global South, and therefore mobilizing and providing adequate financing should be a priority. Technology transfers, capacity-building and international collaboration should also be encouraged. In terms of concrete steps when it comes to building resiliency and inclusiveness, he pointed to policies that strengthen digital infrastructure and foster digital literacy. Fulfilling the 2030 Agenda represents the highest hope for the realization of a sustainable, resilient and inclusive world, he said.

AHMED SAEED IBRAHIM (Eritrea), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries, the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations and the African Group, said that crises are being felt the world over, especially by the least developed States. “These crises are undermining our efforts to achieve the SDGs,” he warned. Resources are being channeled to other objectives, not the achievement of the SDGs. Eritrea is investing in poverty eradication and is prioritizing food security, education and health care. “We are seeking to preserve our soils; we use organic fertilizers produced in local factories to improve the quality of the food we produce,” he emphasized. Other projects are focused on collecting rainwater, furthering clean energy initiatives and establishing disaster early warning systems. Eritrea is committed to combating climate change. He warned countries against meddling in the internal affairs of other Member States, adding that the world must reject polarization and unite in efforts to combat climate change.

CHOLA MILAMBO (Zambia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, noted the SDG Summit Political Declaration “is an important to-do list” towards the SDGs, including reform of the international financial system. He stressed that by 2030, some 660 million people will remain without electricity and close to 2 billion people will rely on polluting fuels and technologies for cooking — with 548 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa alone still using wood, charcoal and animal waste for cooking and heating, exacerbating deforestation and biodiversity loss. In addressing environmental matters, in 2023 his Government passed the Zambia Environmental Management Amendment Act to address solid waste management, sustainable consumption of goods and services, and cleaner production technologies.

ISMAÏL MERABET (Algeria), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said that the international community must focus on ending poverty, developing education and capacity-building, ensuring access to quality health care, empowering women and girls and protecting the environment, taking into account the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The SDG financing gap must be reduced and predictable, sustainable and sufficient development finance provided to developing countries. The promotion of investments is also needed to build sustainable economies, he added, underscoring that reform of the international financial architecture, international financial institutions and multilateral development banks are critical to better addressing global challenges. Moreover, it is important to refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures that are not in accordance with international law and the UN Charter, he said.

RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania) said that chemical weapons dumped at sea present significant environmental and health risks as they slowly degrade and leak toxic substances that pose a danger to human health, marine ecosystem and economic activities. He cited recent scientific studies have revealed cytogenetic damage in native Baltic Sea fish species located close to chemical munition dumpsites and said that, every year, beachgoers around the Baltic Sea confuse white phosphorus ammunition residues with amber, placing clots of phosphorus in their pockets and suffering burns as a result. He also mentioned the explosions that blew holes in the Nord Stream gas pipelines, particularly considering the blasts happened near a historical dumping ground for chemical weapons. “The time has come for concrete steps,” he said, expressing support for a database on chemical munitions dumped at sea with voluntary shared information.

BOUKARY SOUMARÉ (Mauritania), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that his Government is determined to pursue and strengthen policies aimed at harnessing economic growth for the poorest sectors of society. Recently, it undertook actions for the distribution of full coverage health insurance cards free of charge to more than 620,000 households. “This aims to help the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society and facilitate for them access to basic health services,” he added. On the environmental front, Mauritania is facing the full force of the devastating effects of climate change. Despite the unpredictable climate and growing needs, Mauritania is resolved to making its contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is the “moral obligation” of international and financial partners to help the States of the Sahel to address these challenges, he added.

PAULINA FELICIANO FRANCISCO ABDALA(Mozambique), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, recalled that hers is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to disasters, with an estimated 20 million people affected by droughts, floods, storms, tropical cyclones and epidemics over the last 40 years. Mozambique has developed an early warning system strategy for floods and cyclones, contributing to reducing the number of people affected by climate-change-induced disasters. In the region, she noted that her Government is working with Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to operationalize and host the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre to enhance coordination of regional disaster risk preparedness, response and early recovery. Further, the country’s President, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, has been entrusted by the African Union to be the African Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction.

GIRUM GETACHEW SHIFERAW (Ethiopia) aligned himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the African Group. He said that addressing the environmental challenges faced by the Horn of Africa requires a complete transformation in how to tackle the substantial financing gap for sustainable development, climate finance, high debt burden, technology transfer and capacity-building. His country is actively integrating the SDGs into its 10-year development plan and is committed to reducing its climate vulnerability. Its Green Legacy Initiative aims to plant 50 billion seedlings by 2030 and since 2019 has successfully planted more than 25 billion seedlings across more than 4 million hectares of land. His country is also implementing an agriculture State to combat desertification by restoring 22 million hectares of degrading land and soil, with the goal of achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030, he added.

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Ms. AL HADDABI (Oman) aligned herself with the Group of 77 and China and reiterated support for the SDGs. She said that education is one of the most important sectors, outlining the strategy for strengthening human capital, which includes, among other things, strict standards in the choice of educators and teachers. She was proud to report that in 2024 illiteracy will be eradicated in Oman. Other important sectors include climate and environment, she said, adding that more than $190 billion has been invested in reducing the negative effects of climate change and building a green future. Financial stability is also important, she said, with social protection remaining a priority. In conclusion, she affirmed her belief that the 2030 targets and objectives will be achieved within the allocated time frame.

EMIL BEN NAFTALY (Israel) said that the past few days have been devastating for each and every Israeli. Israel has suffered an unprecedented terror attack. Over the past three days following Hamas’ attack, Israel has suffered more than 900 fatalities. On 7 October, “savage” Hamas terrorists attacked civilians in what can only be called a barbaric “pogrom”, gunning down and “murdering anything that moved”, including the elderly, mothers and their babies. The world has tried to reason with these terrorists before. The international community sought to rehabilitate Gaza, giving hundreds of millions of dollars in aid every year. These funds did not go to the sustainable development of Gaza. They were exploited for terror.

Money enters Gaza and goes straight into building terror tunnels, he said. Hamas lets its people starve and Hamas leaders hide in hospitals and schools using civilians as human shields. “And their textbooks, often funded by UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East], teach them to die as martyrs by killing Jews and glorifying jihad; not what we had in mind for SDG 4,” he said. The horrifying testimonies of young Israeli women, brutally raped, fully show Hamas’ abuse of women. “The list is long; we can show Hamas’ total disregard of the SDGs,” he added. “Any comparison between a democratic State that is subject to international law and a terrorist organization that burns children and their parents is unacceptable,” he stressed. Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization. “They do not want development,” he said. “They want one thing only: the annihilation of the Jewish State.”

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar), aligning himself with ASEAN, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of 77 and China, noted that according to the Sustainable Development Report, Myanmar was showing an overall upward trend in their SDG index score until 2021. Regrettably, the illegal military coup and the military junta’s atrocities have reversed all hard-earned progress. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the people in Myanmar are now experiencing increasing air strikes against civilians and brutal mass killings during the ground operations. The military has essentially deprived the people of their rights and opportunities under a number of goals, including quality education and access to health services. On the other hand, the National Unity Government is taking an inclusive, collaborative approach and has resumed routine immunizations in some areas. He urged the UN and the international community not to fail the people of Myanmar.

Mr. AL SHEHRI (Saudi Arabia) said several programmes under his country’s Vision 2030 have led to improved financial stability, sustainability and the development of national industries and human resources. Highlighting his country’s leading role in mobilizing resources for sustainable development, he said Saudi Arabia has contributed more than $87 billion in development assistance and supported 5,000 projects in some 166 countries. He called for a balanced and just approach in efforts to protect the environment and highlighted the Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives, which aim to, among others, combat climate change and reduce the impact of carbon emissions. In 2023, his country also established an international organization for water based in Riyadh, which seeks to develop complementarity of international efforts to address water-related challenges, he added.

The representative of the United States condemned the appalling attacks by Hamas militants from Gaza. Terrorism is never justified, he said, and reiterated support for Israel’s right to defend itself. These terrorist attacks have serious consequence for the advancement of the SDGs, he said, adding that there is the path to greater stability or there’s the path of terror that Hamas is engaged on that has not improved lives for anyone, including Palestinians. He expressed a firm commitment to the SDGs more broadly and said that, since 2021, more than $100 billion has been spent to boost development progress around the world. Focusing on just a few of the goals will not bring sustained development, he said, adding that gender equality is inexorably linked to economic growth, education and reduced inequality. The United States has proudly committed $17.5 billion since January 2021 to address global food insecurity.

GIULIANA NATALE (Canada) unequivocally condemned the terrible multi-front terror attacks against Israeli citizens by Hamas, further calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the children, women and men being held hostage. As the international community is facing one of the most challenging times in generations, she called for advancing the very foundations of the 2030 Agenda, including gender equality and the respect for human rights. On the environment and climate change, Committee resolutions should aim to advance key and recent intergovernmentally negotiated agreements and frameworks such as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the Paris Agreement. “Our efforts should be focused on ensuring resolutions are relevant and action-oriented, rather than creating parallel discussions and new resolutions on a subset of issues or regional initiatives. Turning to access to finance, she welcomed publication of the multidimensional vulnerability index — the culmination of decades-long advocacy by small island developing States.

JAMES LARSEN (Australia) condemned the attacks on Israel by Hamas and called for them to stop. Turning to the meeting’s substantive agenda, he voiced support for robust efforts that respond effectively to climate change and urged Member States to fulfil their commitments under the Paris Agreement and focus on driving forward global progress and ambition on biodiversity, environmental protection and disaster risk reduction. Australia will work closely with countries in special situations, namely least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, to ensure that the UN and the international community are better positioned to respond to their unique challenges, he said, welcoming the final report of the High-Level Panel for the Development of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index for Small Island Developing States. Australia will also champion inclusion, promoting the role of Indigenous Peoples in sustainable development and achieving SDG 5, on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, he said.

SAHAR NASSER-ABUSHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, aligned herself with the Group of 77 and China and said COVID19, climate change, conflicts, unilateral coercive measures and ongoing crises have immensely slowed down efforts to realize the 2030 Agenda. She stressed the importance of working together, now more than ever, to bring the SDGs back on track, recover and build a better, more resilient future for all. The 2030 Agenda recognized there will be no sustainable development without peace and called for the removal of obstacles that prevent the realization of the right to self-determination of people living under colonial and foreign occupation, which continue to adversely affect their development, she said, adding that Member States have pledged to leave no one behind, but that it is regrettable the State of Palestine will most likely be left behind.

Development in Palestine is still out of reach because of the entrenched Israeli settler occupation, she said. Despite the obstacles and challenges, she expressed full commitment to the 2030 Agenda and noted the establishment of the governmental mechanisms needed to support the implementation of the SDGs and the development of a new national plan. She reiterated calls to the international community to shoulder its responsibilities in accordance with international law and take concrete measures to end the occupation of Palestine and unleash the State of Palestine’s full potential towards sustainable development. She regretted some delegations’ provocative statements on matters unrelated to the agenda, which create toxicity and amount to blatant incitement that should neither be promoted nor condoned.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, called poverty an affront to the God-given dignity of millions of people. Poverty is not simply a lack of financial resources, but rather it takes many forms, including a lack of basic needs such as housing, electricity, safe drinking water and sanitation, as well as a lack of access to health care and education. Education creates the conditions necessary to break the vicious cycle of poverty and lack of opportunity, so investment is vital and should begin with appropriate assistance and support for the family — the “first and fundamental school of social living”. Parents in particular are the primary educators and have the right and responsibility to ensure that their children receive an adequate and integral education that promotes their well-being in all dimensions of human life, he said.

WILFRED BIYA, Permanent Observer of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said that energy access is the area of sustainable development that has the most co-benefits for other SDGs, thus playing a catalytic role for the entire 2030 Agenda. However, globally in 2021, 675 million people still lacked access to electricity, and 2.3 billion people had no access to clean cooking fuels and technology. The situation is even worse for least developed countries and Sub-Saharan Africa, where most people without access to electricity live and where international efforts should be focused. The disparity in renewable energy financing received by developed versus developing countries has more than doubled over the past six years, he said, calling for an urgent boost in the flow of public funds from the developed to the developing world.

KALLIE ANN AULTMAN, observer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that in the first half of 2023 alone, more than 200 climate- and weather-related disasters were recorded, impacting more than 75 million people, and she recommended prioritizing the development of disaster risk laws, policies and plans at all levels. Disaster laws are foundational, she said, adding that they identify roles, responsibilities and coordination mechanisms before, during and after a crisis, and therefore save lives. She also recommended scaling up investments for disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation, including through innovative partnerships and financing mechanisms. Early warning systems save lives, she said, and added they are worth their cost tenfold. She concluded by saying that hazard risk reduction is imperative for sustainable development. “It is nearly impossible for countries like Türkiye, Syria and Libya to develop when they continue to face one disaster after another,” she said.

CHRISTOPH KLOSE, of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said that the agency’s programmes promote policy coherence and unlock investments for the adoption of technologies, as well as local skills, especially for women and youth. “Through the Private Finance Advisory Network, we have helped climate and clean energy projects to leverage over $2 billion in financing,” he said, adding that the work is on track to harmonize standards, especially for low-carbon steel and cement. In recent months, UNIDO has been aligning partners to launch a technical assistance facility with Germany and others to support developing countries on industrial decarbonization. “We are creating the tools and guidelines necessary to facilitate the adoption of green hydrogen and promote clean, carbon-neutral industries,” he stressed.

Right of Reply

The representative of Iraq, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responding to a statement made on 9 October, said his Government remains committed to all Security Council resolutions, and has always ensured that its foreign policy is balanced and cooperative. Iraq is engaged in partnerships and projects in the region towards achieving the SDGs, he noted, calling for all topics that have little to do with the work of Committee on sustainable development to be eschewed.

The representative of Azerbaijan expressed regret that Armenia’s delegate had yet again politicized the work of the Committee to disseminate disinformation about her country. Claims of military aggression were local counter-terrorist measures taken by Azerbaijan in its territory in response to armed provocations and lasted less than 24 hours. Noting that a visit by a UN team did not see any damage to civilian infrastructure or cultural and religious structures, she stressed that “Armenia’s claims of so-called ethnic cleansing are supported by no evidence.” Some residents of the Karabakh region have left based on personal choice, and she confirmed that her Government is committed to creating conditions for them to stay and reintegrate.

The representative of Israel said he had listened to representatives of the Palestinian authorities hijacking every possible issue in the Committee to serve their agenda. Their true colours were shown — celebrating the carnage with candies and songs, and for them to criticize Israel means supporting armed terrorists massacring people in their beds, and abducting children and grandmothers to Gaza — “meaning they are monsters”. Noting that Israel’s delegates in the UN have previously stretched their hands for peace, he stressed: “Time and time again they spit on our hand — and for what they did now, there is no forgiveness.”
The representative of Armenia, responding to Azerbaijan’s reply, said that the mass exodus of her people from Nagorno-Karabakh was not voluntary but ethnic cleansing by Baku. She pledged that Armenia will continue to appeal to the United Nations and respective bodies to protect the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and uphold the norms of international law.

The representative of Azerbaijan, responding to Armenia’s statement, rejected it as slander, deception, hatred and territorial claims. She added that Armenia must understand that mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity is an absolute imperative and that the goal of a peaceful, safe, developing and sustainable region cannot be achieved by disrespect for international law.
Source: United Nations



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