Jagdeo at U.N
UNITED NATIONS, CMC – Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo made his last speech to the United Nations General Assembly late Wednesday, saying he was proud to be the first Guyanese President to leave office under the constitutional term limits he had himself signed into law.
In addressing the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly Debate, Jagdeo looked back over the past 12 years, saying that despite “timeless values of peace, equality and justice” that informed the work of the United Nations, challenges to the international community had changed dramatically.
The rise of China, India, Brazil and other developing countries in a world that was interconnected through instant communications and globalized trade and finance “presented the organization with great opportunities,” he said.
But he called for collective action to take advantage of these opportunities, asserting that the recent record on that front was not good.
“We must struggle to achieve rights in a new way – and as many have said before me, alongside the physical security challenge, there are many other aspects to human security and the realization of rights,” he said.
Jagdeo said there are four other elements of security that need to be properly understood “to ensure well-being for all of the world’s people” – food security, energy security, resource security and climate security.
“If we are to avert the biggest economic and social catastrophe ever seen, we have to stabilize our planet’s climate,” the Guyanese President urged.
“At the absolute limit, this means stabilizing global temperatures at a maximum of two degrees above pre-industrial levels.” he continued.
Jagdeo said those challenges were also opportunities in the sense that there was enough human ingenuity and resources to improve the situation and create new platforms for peace, development and physical security.
He said that could happen through “integrated, sustainable development” in which responses to security challenges were integrated, changing global paradigms.
He said since food, energy, minerals and other commodities were increasingly provided by the developing world, it could lead the “transformational shift required,” noting that much of the structure needed to solve problems in an integrated way already existed within the United Nations.
Jagdeo said next year’s “Rio+20” Conference could be a starting point for the necessary changes.
But, for that to happen, he said consistency was needed in efforts to address all forms of insecurity.
Underscoring that peaceful peoples everywhere must be supported in asserting their basic rights, Jagdeo said the global response to the Arab Spring was “remarkable for its inconsistency”, and also supported the right of the Palestinian people to full statehood.
Around the world, he said support for development, food, energy and resource security must be rapidly upgraded, and efforts to complete the Doha Trade Round, as well as to meet the Millennium Development Goals, redoubled.
Jagdeo said the world must “move beyond the global insanity that is our response to climate security”, by building trust between the developed and developing world, stressing that Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, developed in cooperation with Norway, could be a model.
“Existing pledges on greenhouse gas emissions under the Copenhagen Accord will not contain global temperature rises within limits that will avert catastrophic c1imate change, and some states will face extinction,” he said.
“Moreover, the anaemic delivery on financial pledges made at Copenhagen, and formalized in the Cancun Agreements, is leading to a disastrous break down in trust between the developed and developing world,” he warned.
“And the prospects for reaching an internationally legally binding agreement on climate change at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, would appear rather bleak.
“There is, therefore, an urgent need for high order political leadership to re-energise the c1imate change process and deliver credible results,” Jagdeo continued.
In order to make progress in all those areas, he said, the Security Council must become more democratic through an expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent membership categories.
In addition, he called for reform of the UN Security Council, especially favouring developing countries, adding that “practical solutions” to all current crises were also needed.
“Fifty-four African countries have no permanent seat on the Council. Neither do the thirty-three countries that comprise the Latin America and Caribbean region,” he said.
“Guyana strongly supports early reform of the Security Council through an expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories and enhanced representation of developing countries. But we also need practical solutions as well,” he added.
“And in devising these, today’s developed world needs to catch up with the realization that the world has changed, and it is in their vital national interests to do the work that needs doing.
“Food security is not just about people in poor countries – prices in Europe and the United States are rising too. Energy insecurity will hit today’s developed countries and destroy their competiveness as rapidly as it will hit the developing world. Resource insecurity is already driving up imported inflation in Europe and elsewhere. And c1imate insecurity could be the tipping point for today’s powers to be relegated to history with ail the suffering that will entail for their people,” Jagdeo continued.
“So the narrative is changing, distinguished colleagues. And I hope that we will rise to the challenge. From now on, I will watch proceedings in this chamber from afar. But for all of my invocations for the United Nations to do better, it remains the place where noble ambitions are pursued,” he said in his farewell.