63RD UNGA GENERAL DEBATE MARKED BY CALLS FOR SOLIDARITY

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
08USUNNEWYORK911 6 October 2008 Solo uso oficial United States Mission to the United Nations in New York

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUCNDT #0911/01 2802326
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 062326Z OCT 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5066

UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000911

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PHUM, PBTS, ECON, AORC, UNGA
SUBJECT: 63RD UNGA GENERAL DEBATE MARKED BY CALLS FOR
SOLIDARITY

REF: USUN 831

SBU - NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The 63rd UN General Assembly (UNGA) General
Debate took place September 23-29, with 111 Member States
addressing the Assembly. The overarching theme was a call
for collective action to address the global financial, food,
environment and energy crises and reinvigorate efforts to
meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Most speakers
emphasized the need for poverty eradication and UN reform —
whether in response to the PGA’s call for Members to do so or
because those issues aligned with their own priorities is
unclear — but offered few concrete proposals to address
these issues. Despite recent global events in Georgia and
elsewhere, the tone of the Debate remained relatively
conciliatory, with predictable exceptions. Some Member
States lauded U.S. development assistance and peace-keeping
efforts, while the usual crowd (i.e., Iran, Venezuela, the
DPRK, and Cuba) delivered anti-U.S. vitriol. President of
the General Assembly (PGA) d’Escoto delivered markedly
toned-down opening and closing remarks to the Debate
following his incendiary remarks to open the 63rd General
Assembly (Reftel). It remains to be seen if the relatively
balanced and collaborative tone of the General Debate augurs
for significant progress on key issues as the 63rd UNGA
committee meetings commence. END SUMMARY.

WHA: GROWING DISCONTENT WITH CAPITALISM


2. (U) While most speakers throughout the General Debate
touched upon the financial crisis, none were as critical as
the Central and Latin American speakers. The first speaker,
Brazil’s President Lula, set the tone with a impassioned call
that "We must not allow the burden of the boundless greed of
a few to be shouldered by all." The Central and Latin
American leaders sharply criticized capitalist policies,
which they viewed as favoring speculation and directly
causing the financial crisis. They called for greater
oversight of the markets and for more socially-responsible
economic policies. Immigration was a central theme, with
calls for greater protection of immigrants’ rights and
reunification of families split by immigration laws, as well
as open borders for migrant workers. Cuba labeled the United
States a "threat to international security," and accused it
of legalizing torture and holding innocent persons in
"concentration camps." Opening by stating that "the religion
of neoliberalism has failed," Venezuela chastised the United
States for its "fundamentalist" leadership and "neoliberal"
policies, which the speaker said had resulted in the ruling
class swindling millions of "brothers and sisters." Bolivia
accused the United States of interfering in its internal
affairs. Without referring explicitly to the United States,
Ecuador blasted the alleged use of torture and clandestine
imprisonment of suspected terrorists, stressing that the
fight against terrorism could not be used as an excuse to
disregard international law. Perhaps most surprising was
Honduras’ intervention, which was markedly more critical of
capitalist policies than in previous years, making Honduras
yet another at least rhetorical convert to the Hugo
Chavez-led "social democracy" movement in the region. All of
the Caribbean states echoed financial concerns but also
called for urgent international action on climate change to
which they attribute the devastating hurricanes that have
ravaged their small island states.

WESTERN EUROPE: UNITED UNDER FRENCH EU LEADERSHIP


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3. (U) The Western European speakers focused on several
common themes, calling for greater international cooperation
in countering the effects of the food, financial, and energy
crises and of climate change. They emphasized the need for
increased efforts to achieve peace and stability in the
Middle East, Africa, and the Caucasus, expressing their
support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
More than speakers from any other region, the Western
European leaders underscored the importance of respecting
human rights and called upon Member States to adhere to the
principles outlined in the Universal Declaration on Human
Rights, with Spain and the Netherlands calling for universal
elimination of the death penalty. In one of the strongest
speeches of the General Debate, French President Nicolas
Sarkozy asserted Europe’s desire to be a world leader in many
global issues. Notably, he proposed the establishment of a
continent-wide "economic space" to foster a partnership
between Europe and Russia. The UK solicited global support
for the United States as it worked to stabilize its financial
markets.

EASTERN EUROPE: DEBATING RUSSIAN INFLUENCE


4. (U) Unsurprisingly, many eastern European countries voiced
concerns about Russian activity in the region. Georgian
President Saakashvili pointed out the global security
implications of the conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
In one of the most well written speeches of the General
Debate, the Lithuanian President said, "Nations of the former
Soviet Union still have to fight against the revisionism
seeping down from the Kremlin towers." Estonia also
denounced Russia by name. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov justified his country’s actions in Georgia, by
indicting the failed "uni-polar" approach of the
anti-terrorism coalition. Russia defended the concept of
having spheres of influence. Speakers frequently asked the
international community to support their country’s view of
regional security and territorial disputes, including,
Kosovo, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nevertheless, almost all of the eastern European countries
called for greater regional and multilateral cooperation to
overcome the "frozen conflicts" that create instability and
endanger international security.

THE MIDDLE EAST: IRAQ, THE PEACE PROCESS, AND LEBANON


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5. (U) Stability and peace in Iraq remain a concern, with
several Middle Eastern countries expressing support for
continued efforts to improve security and restore Iraq’s
regional role. Iraq called on the international community to
bolster its efforts to combat terrorism and strengthen
diplomatic missions in Iraq. Regarding the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many countries urged a
peaceful, comprehensive solution to creating a Palestinian
state. Israel encouraged both to live "side-by-side" in
peace and the Palestinian territories advocated a two-state
solution, using the 1967 borders. On Lebanon, several
countries lauded the elections and subsequent creation of a
national unity government. Lebanon requested the
international community stop Israel’s threats of war against
it. Of a more flagrant nature were remarks by Iran and
Syria. Iran argued that Iraq was attacked under false
pretenses and the United States opposes other nations’
progress. Syria blamed the United States for creating an
"abominable" humanitarian situation in Iraq and questioned
the efficacy of the Annapolis talks.

AFRICA: FOOD AND ENERGY CRISES, CLIMATE CHANGE, UN REFORM


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6. (U) The main topics African countries highlighted were the
effects of the following: the food and energy crises on
poverty reduction, food subsidies on developing-country
exports, and climate change on food and energy shortages.
Ugandan President Museveni noted that high food prices
benefited African farmers. Several countries also called for
ending the U.S. "embargo" against Cuba and some supported
Taiwan participation in UN activity. A large number called
for reform of the Security Council, often with specific
references to the AU position advocating two permanent seats
with veto power and five non-permanent seats. Noteworthy
remarks include: South Africa calling on Zimbabwe to finalize
its power-sharing agreement; Mauritania justifying its
position following the August coup d’etat; Somalia requesting
assistance from the international community to combat piracy;
and Senegal insisting that extremism and intolerance were
contrary to Islam. There were several interventions of a
particularly objectionable nature. Zimbabwe accused the U.S.
of committing "genocide" in Iraq. Sudan insisted that Darfur
was its responsibility and "foreign conspiracies that
threaten peace," were, in fact, seeking regime change.
Eritrea claimed that the United States deliberately fomented
conflict to exert its control through "misguided and
domineering policies."

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA:
COUNTERING TERRORISM IN PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN


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7. (U) Many speakers highlighted the need to fight terrorism
with political will, popular support and economic strategy.
Several countries called for increased investment in
Afghanistan’s development, describing how Afghan conflict
affects the region. The Indian Prime Minister welcomed
democracy in Pakistan and said his country was committed to
working on the dispute over Jammu Kashmir. Afghan President
Karzai called Pakistan’s elections "promising," while
highlighting border security issues in the context of
international terrorism. Pakistani President Zardari
highlighted the price Pakistan has paid for the war against
terror and declared that a democratic Pakistan is reaching
the national consensus necessary to confront and defeat the

terrorists. The SCA countries also argued for prioritization
of progress toward the MDGs, particularly the need for water
and investment in energy infrastructure.

EAST ASIA: FOCUS ON ECONOMICS, DPRK AND CLIMATE CHANGE


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8. (U) Asian countries discussed the deleterious impacts of
the global food, energy and financial crises on their
economies. Many called for deeper regional integration to
temper the turbulence of global financial markets. Australia
offered its own suggestions for addressing the financial
crisis. China proclaimed its development success the result
of reforms and opening its economy - trends it pledged to
continue. Japan, which is preparing a draft resolution, and
Australia reiterated calls for the total elimination of
nuclear weapons. They were joined by others from the region
in focusing on the need to resolve the North Korean nuclear
issue. Japan, Korea, Australia and Cambodia were among the
countries urging the DPRK to uphold its commitments and
continue progress through the Six-Party Talks. The DPRK,
meanwhile, justified its recent freeze on dismantling its
nuclear facilities by blaming the "U.S. insistence on
unilateral inspection" which it claimed violated its
sovereignty and fell outside of agreements reached through
the Six-Party Talks. The DPRK lashed out against the United
States as "the worst peace breaker and human rights violator
in the world," and blamed the Republic of Korea and Japan for
failing to redress historical grievances. Pacific island
nations appealed for countries to redouble efforts to address
climate change and rising sea levels - which they maintain
threaten the security of their people - and sought support
for a GA resolution calling for Security Council review.
Burma claimed that "unjust" sanctions are preventing it from
becoming the region’s rice bowl and a reliable energy source.
Wolff