Posted by Zia H. Shah MD - Twitter: @ZiahShah1
It gives me pleasure to congratulate you, and your friendly country, on assuming the presidency of the General Assembly in its current session. I wish you success in your mission. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to your predecessor Nassir AI-Nasser, and to the brotherly State of Qatar, for the outstanding stewardship of the previous session. I would also like to salute the Secretary General of the United Nations for striving to preserve the role of the organization and enhance its effectiveness. I assure you of Egypt’s support to all the efforts he is exerting for this purpose.
Coming here today and addressing the General Assembly carry meanings reflected in the fact that I am the first Egyptian civilian President elected democratically and freely, following a great peaceful revolution hailed by the world. This revolution established a genuine legitimacy, through the efforts of all Egyptians, inside and outside Egypt and with the Grace of God.
Today, every Egyptian shares a sense of self-confidence, which puts him/her on higher moral grounds. We have taken several steps on the road towards establishing the modern state the Egyptians aspire for. One that is in tune with the present, is based on the rule of law, democracy, and respect for human rights, and does not compromise the values firmly embedded in the souls of all Egyptians. A state that seeks justice, truth, freedom, dignity and social justice.
The Egyptian revolution that was founded on the legitimacy that I represent before you today was not the product of fleeting moment, or a brief uprising. Nor was it the product of the winds of change of spring or autumn. Rather, this revolution, and all the ones preceding it and following it in the region, were triggered by the long struggle of authentic national movements that sought a life of pride and dignity for all citizens. It is thereby reflecting the wisdom of history, and is sending a clear warning to those attempting to put their interests before those of their peoples.
The vision of the new Egypt that we strive to realize for our nation also constitutes the frame of action we present to the world, and which should guide our cooperation with the international community, in a spirit of equality and mutual respect, entailing non-intervention in the affairs of other states as well as the implementation of the international principles, agreements and conventions. Today we reiterate our commitment to them, particularly the United Nations Charter, which Egypt took part in drafting.
Post-revolution Egypt, having freed itself from the contradictions of a bygone era, is among the leading nations defending justice, truth, freedom, and dignity. We endeavor, on this moral and civilizational basis, and from the platform of the United Nations, to advance these human and spiritual values, through sustained work, genuine efforts, and the quest to solve problems and address their root causes, without relinquishing the principles of law, or the well-established values, to which the members of the international community must adhere, to avoid grave consequences.
The New Egypt is determined to regain its standing among nations, and assume an effective role in global issues, stemming from the will of its people, as well as the legitimacy on which its regime is founded. This will is rooted in Egypt’s ancient and modern history, its Arabic and Islamic spheres, as well as its African identity. Egypt’s involvement in Arab, Islamic and African issues is the reflection of the essential role it plays in defense of
interconnected fates and interlinked interests and values.
The first issue which the world must exert all its efforts in resolving, on the basis of justice and dignity, is the Palestinian cause. Long decades have passed since the Palestinian People expressed their longing for restoring their full rights and for building their independent state, with Jerusalem as its capital. Despite their continued struggle, through all legitimate means to attain their rights, and despite the acceptance by their representatives of the resolutions adopted by the international community as a basis for resolving its problems, this international legitimacy remains unable until now to realize the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people. The resolutions remain far from being implemented.
Our brothers and sisters in Palestine must also taste the fruits of freedom and dignity. It is shameful that the free world accepts, regardless of the justifications provided, that a member of the international community continues to deny the rights of a nation that has been longing for decades for independence. It is also disgraceful that settlement activities continue on the territories of these people, along with the delay in implementing the decisions of international legitimacy.
Proceeding from the perspective of defending truth, freedom, and dignity and from my duty to support our Palestinian brothers and sisters, I place the international community face to face with its responsibilities which require the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace and the end of all forms of occupation of Arab lands, and the implementation of relevant international resolutions. I call for immediate and significant measures to put an end to colonization, settlement activities, and the alteration in the identity of Occupied Jerusalem.
The entire Palestinian leadership has charted a clear path towards the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people, within and outside Palestine. The Arab world has given it its full support. The latter has also presented a comprehensive peace initiative based on just peace. One that restores the usurped rights of the Palestinian People, is founded on international legitimacy, and lays the foundation of an independent sovereign Palestinian state. One that also achieves the security and stability the peoples of the region have long been waiting for.
On that basis, I assure you of Egypt’s full support to any course of action Palestine decides to follow in the United Nations. I call upon all of you, just as you have supported the revolutions of the Arab peoples, to lend your support to the Palestinians in their endeavors to regain the full and legitimate rights of a people struggling to gain its freedom and establish its independent state.
I say it loudly to those wondering about our position vis-a-vis the international agreements and conventions that we have previously adhered to: we are committed to what we have signed on. We also support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and are determined to pursue all efforts side by side with them until they regain their rights.
From this podium and at this eminent gathering I must address the issue that weighs heavily upon all of us. The bloodshed in Syria and the humanitarian crisis that has unfolded, must be stopped. The blood that is shed in this country that is dear and near to us is far too valuable to continue to be shed, and the Syrian people, dear to our hearts, deserve to hope for a future of freedom and dignity. This has been the essence of the initiative I proposed last month in the holy city of Mecca, and have reiterated on subsequent occasions to avoid the worst, and prevent the continued sufferings of the Syrian people, and the evolvement of the conflict into a full scale civil war, with negative effects extending outside Syria and its immediate neighbors.
Egypt, along with the three other countries involved in our initiative, has held meetings, that have shown that there are many areas of commonalities. We will continue to work to put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and provide them an opportunity to choose freely the regime that best represents them. One that reinstates their country amongst democratic states, so that it can once again resume its regional and international roles based on solid legitimate foundations. I would like to emphasize that the initiative is open to all those who wish to positively contribute in resolving the Syrian crisis.
Egypt is committed to pursue the sincere efforts it has been exerting to put an end to the catastrophe in Syria, within an Arab, regional and international framework. One that preserves the unity of this brotherly state, involves all factions of the Syrian people without racial, religious or sectarian discrimination, and spares Syria the dangers of foreign military intervention that we oppose. Egypt is also committed to supporting the mission of AI-Akhdar Al-lbrahimi, the joint special representative of the UN and the league of Arab states to Syria, and continuing the current efforts aiming at unifying the Syrian opposition and encouraging it to propose a comprehensive unified vision of the steady democratic transfer of power in a manner that preserves the rights of all constituencies in Syria, and maintains their essential places in the new Syria.
I cannot omit to reiterate here today Egypt’s commitment to working with its Arab brothers and sisters to reclaim our rightful position in the world. This Arab nation is an integral component of Egypt’s vision of its national security, which extends from the Arab Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean, and is thriving with opportunities of cooperation and constructive engagement with the entire world.
Egypt also considers that the extremely valuable contribution of the Arab world within the wider Islamic sphere is of vital necessity to promote joint action within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Egypt will exert all efforts to ensure that the next OIC conference, to be held early next year in Egypt, strengthens mutual understanding between Islamic countries and the rest of the world, and sets in motion the principles of the dialogue of civilizations, and gets rid of the causes of misunderstanding used by fanatics on both sides to wrongly prove that differences between us are great, and achieve political goals completely unrelated to the ideals of religions, as well as to human values and ethics.
Our brothers and sisters in Sudan need, more than ever, your support.
This country seeks to achieve stability and development and works on building healthy ideal relations with South Sudan. I believe that this nascent state, together with Sudan, are ready to become a center of cooperation between the Arab world and African countries. Sudan has made great sacrifices in its quest for peace and stability. It has committed itself to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It was also the first country to recognize the nascent state of south Sudan. But let me be frank: it has not received the support it deserves. The time has come for international efforts to rally to support it and work on settling differences between Sudan and its neighboring South Sudan to resolve all outstanding issues.
The success of the difficult transitional phase the Somali people have gone through by electing His Excellency Hassan Sheikh Mohamed as their president is a positive step towards unity and stability. I call upon all
Members of this Assembly to support the efforts of the Somali Government in fending off those seeking to hinder the efforts exerted to achieve stability, reconstruct public institutions, and realize the aspirations of the Somali people for a better future.
The principles of justice and righteousness are linked to achieving security and stability in the world, particularly in the Middle East. Over many years, some have wrongfully sought to attain stability through oppression and tyranny. Some of us have, alas, applauded their bad deeds. But now that the peoples of the region have regained their freedom, they will not tolerate being deprived of their rights, whether by their own leaders or outside forces.
The will of the people, especially in our region, no longer tolerates the continued non-accession of any country to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the non-application of the safeguards regime to their nuclear
facilities, especially if this is coupled with irresponsible policies or arbitrary threats. In this regard, the acceptance by the international community of the principle of pre-emptiveness or the attempt to legitimize it is in itself a serious matter and must be firmly confronted to avoid the prevalence of the law of the jungle.
Cognizant of the danger that the status quo entails on the security of this important region, with its natural resources and trade passages, Egypt stresses the necessity of mobilizing international efforts to hold the conference on achieving a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction before the end of the current year 2012, with the participation of all concerned parties without exception. And I say it very clearly: the only solution is to get rid of nuclear weapons, and all weapons of mass destruction. But we also emphasize the right of all countries of the region to the peaceful use of nuclear energy within the framework of the NPT, with a commitment to honor their obligations in this respect and provide the necessary guarantees to the countries of the region so as to remove any doubts surrounding their intentions.
Mr. President, The concepts of justice, truth and dignity encompass, in our view, the frameworks that govern international relations. A simple analysis of such relations will undoubtedly reveal the extent of injustice inflicted upon the African continent. I will not enumerate the previous commitments made in this hall to boost development and economic growth in Africa through aid and investments. The world has the responsibility to support Africa’s efforts, beyond mere promises, through providing the assistance needed to redeem its treasures stolen over consecutive eras, the last of which was when some thought that supporting unjust regimes would assist in achieving a fake stability that protects their interests, while these regimes were spreading corruption and smuggling their wealth outside the country.
I am aware that achieving the desired goals can only be realized through an active participation of the peoples of this continent, and their assumption of their responsibilities. This is something that we, as Africans, are ready and willing to do in our quest for a better future for our countries.
Today, we, as Africans, have to achieve for our continent a new set of ambitious goals that would ensure Africans are on the right track towards sustainable development, and realizes their aspiration for a better future, and a real participation of African in the international economic system.
I assure you that Egypt continues to support its brothers and sisters in Africa, and is ready to cooperate with any relevant stakeholder within the continent or outside to raise living standards in Africa, through the exchange
of expertise and best practices.
My speech leads me to talk about justice, freedom and dignity within the framework of the current international system. Egypt’s young men and women did not revolt only because of the internal situation, but they also expressed the aspirations they had at the regional and international levels.
This youth representing the majority of the Egyptians believes that real legitimacy is the one derived from the people’s will, not the one imposed by an assertive authority that lacks any legal or moral basis. We look similarly to
the current situation in the international financial system, and stress the need to work diligently to reform it, based on the same principles, to renew its legitimacy, and preserve its credibility. This is a legitimate quest for
peoples and nations that express themselves, and seeks to participate in shaping a new world, and a better future for their children.
Revitalizing the General Assembly, since it is the only democratic forum representing all member states, and reforming the Security Council, which still reflects an arrangement agreed upon in an era very different from today’s realities, must remain high on the priority list of issues we must start tackling with the necessary seriousness.
I would like from this podium to emphasize the need for the United Nations to give special attention to supporting issues of women and youth. I have proposed during the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran a new initiative to establish a UN body solely dedicated to youth issues, giving particular attention to the issues of education, training, employment, and improving their participation in political life. The aim is to build the capacity of future generations to realize their aspirations.
Egypt would like to stress that the international system will not get fixed as long as the application of double standards remains. We expect from others, as they expect from us, that they respect our cultural particularities and religious points of reference, and not seek to impose concepts that are unacceptable to us or politicize certain issues and use them as a pretext to intervene in the affairs of others.
What Muslims and migrants are going through in a number of regions worldwide, in terms of discrimination and violation of their human rights, and vicious campaigns against what they hold sacred, is unacceptable. It is opposed to the most basic principles of the Charter of the Organization where we meet today. These practices have become pervasive enough thatthey now carry a name: Islamophobia.
II. We must join hands in confronting these regressive ideas that hinder cooperation among us. We must act together in the face of extremism, discrimination, and incitement to hatred on the basis of religion or race. The General Assembly, as well as the Security Council, has the principal responsibility in addressing this phenomenon that is starting to have implications that clearly affect international peace and security.
The obscenities recently released as part of an organized campaign against Islamic sanctities is unacceptable and requires a firm stand. We have a responsibility in this international gathering to study how we can protect the world from instability and hatred. Egypt respects freedom of expression.
One that is not used to incite hatred against anyone. One that is not directed towards one specific religion or culture.
A freedom of expression that tackles extremism and violence. Not the freedom of expression that deepens ignorance and disregards others. But we also stand firmly against the use of violence in expressing objection to these obscenities.
Before I conclude, I must state that the severity and recurrence of financial and economic crises, must lead us to review the international economic decision making process that affect the fate of peoples that do not participate in their formulations, yet are the first to bear their negative consequences on growth, trade, the environment, as well as on the social fabric of society, as a result of unfair trade rules and the conditionality’s imposed on the transfer of technology and access to the necessary financing for development.
There is a need for a new global economic governance centered on people, and aiming at consolidating cooperation between partners in development on the basis of mutual benefit and interests.
I have laid before you our vision. A vision shared by the Egyptian people. I have also attempted to briefly outline Egypt’s views on the main issues in the Middle East, Africa and the world. From this perspective and place of responsibility, I reaffirm the need for all member states to collectively address, swiftly and seriously, these issues, in tandem with other crucial and persisting matters. This is needed to safeguard the credibility and effectiveness of this inclusive organization and to uphold the noble principles on which it stands tall.
I trust that the United Nations is capable of assuming its intended role in addressing all global and regional challenges through dialogue, understanding and joint cooperation between its member states on the basis
of the principles of international law.
Meanwhile, post-revolution Egypt will exert all possible efforts to strengthen cooperation and engagement with all members of this organization. We will always remain at the forefront of international endeavors aiming at achieving freedom, justice and dignity of all peoples, as well as maintaining the security and stability of all our countries.
May God’s peace and mercy be upon you.
I thank you Mr. President.
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