In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,
At the outset, I would like to thank Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande for his remarkable efforts as the President of the last session of the UN General Assembly, wishing you success in presiding over the work of the current session, wisely and objectively.
Convening this year’s high-level General Assembly session is of a key importance since it coincides with the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations as well as with the global outbreak of coronavirus that has taken a heavy toll on people, economy and society.
Egypt, by virtue of its history and location and the fact that it is an African, Arab, Islamic, and Mediterranean country and a founding member of the United Nations, has a vision of its own regarding the approach that should be adopted to improve the performance and enhance the effectiveness of the international multilateral system with a special focus on the United Nations.
I would like to take this opportunity to present some pragmatic measures to achieve our common goals in the three pillars of the United Nations.
The first pillar, with regard to maintaining international peace and security, it has become necessary for all of us to adopt an approach that guarantees the implementation of resolutions issued within multilateral frameworks, while prioritizing the implementation of the stable and consistent rules and principles in the Charter of the United Nations and International Law. Thereby, countries should have a political will to implement and abide by the resolutions and to accomplish the tasks of the United Nations in two ways.
One of them is via closely following up on the implementation of what has been agreed upon and taking all necessary measures to help states comply with their obligations and build their capacities, taking into account the principle of national ownership. The other is holding states that are deliberately violating international law and UN resolutions, those of the Security Council in particular, accountable.
In this context, it is no longer acceptable that the binding Security Council resolutions in the field of combating terrorism would not be effectively implemented, since they provide the necessary legal framework to deal with this deadly epidemic, and that some countries are not fully committed to them thinking that they will not be held accountable for political reasons.
It is regrettable that the international community continues to turn a blind eye to the support a handful of countries provide to terrorists either by providing them with money and weapons or safe havens and media and political platforms. They also help facilitate the movement of terrorist fighters to conflict areas, especially to Libya and Syria before.
Egypt's keenness to establish international peace and security aims to spare the people the scourge of armed conflicts by launching comprehensive political operations based on the references included in the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Regarding the crisis in Libya, Egypt adheres to the path of political settlement led by the United Nations on the basis of the political agreement signed in Skhirat, the outcomes of the Berlin conference and the Cairo Declaration launched by the Libyan Speaker of Parliament and the Commander of the Libyan National Army, which is considered a joint and comprehensive political initiative to end the conflict in Libya. It includes specific steps and a clear timetable to restore order and establish a consensus government that would meet the aspirations of the Libyan people.
The crisis does not only affect the Libyan interior affairs but also the security of neighboring countries and international stability. Egypt is determined to support the Libyan brothers to rid their country of terrorist organizations and militias and to put an end to the flagrant interference of some regional parties that bring foreign fighters to Libya so as to realize the known ambitions and foregone colonial illusions.
Therefore, we have previously declared and we are reiterating here that Egypt will confront the continuous fighting and act of crossing the red line represented in Sirte - Jufra line in defense of its national security and the safety of its people. We also renew the call for all parties to return to the political track in order to achieve the peace, security and stability the brotherly people of Libya deserve.
If we truly seek the implementation of international resolutions and the achievement of lasting peace and security in the Middle East region, this is not more worthy than the issue of Palestine whose people still aspire to have the most basic human rights; living in their independent state along with the rest of the region.
Gaining this right has drained generations and depleted many resolutions to the extent that it has been burdening the human conscience.
There is no way to get rid of this burden and to open up the horizons of peace, cooperation and coexistence except by realizing the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state, the capital of which is Eastern Jerusalem so that peace and security would prevail for all peoples of the region.
The international community must fulfill its commitment to achieving the long-overdue peace. It also should address the measures that aim to seize the lands of the Palestinians and undermine the foundations of a settlement and the two-state solution adopted by international resolutions and upon which the peace process was based. Egypt initiated it in pursuit of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.
Arriving at a comprehensive political solution has become a matter of urgency to put out the fires of war and implement all elements of a political settlement in accordance with the Security Council resolution No. (2254) without abridgement or stalling to ensure the unity and territorial integrity of Syria and its institutions, meet the aspirations of its people, and completely eliminate terrorism.
By the same logic, it’s time to take a firm stand in order to end the crisis in Yemen by implementing the terms of reference for conflict settlement in accordance with Security Council resolution No. (2216), the Gulf initiative and the outcomes of the comprehensive national dialogue, in a manner that respects legitimacy, guarantees Yemen’s unity and independence and by putting an end to the exploitation of its lands to target neighboring countries or to obstruct freedom of navigation in Bab al-Mandab Strait.
With regard to the issue of the Renaissance Dam, I would like to convey to you the Egyptian nation’s great concern about this project that is being constructed by a neighboring and friendly country on the river that has given life to millions of people over thousands of years.
We've spent almost a decade in painstaking negotiations with our brothers in Sudan and Ethiopia, in an endeavor to reach an agreement regulating the filling and operation of the dam and strike the required balance between achieving the development requirements of the friendly Ethiopian people and safeguarding Egypt's water interests and ensuring its right to life.
Over the course of this year, we have gone through successive rounds of intensive negotiations where the government of the United States of America made invaluable efforts to bring the three countries' positions closer through the talks that it backed with the assistance of the World Bank over several months. We also entered, wholeheartedly, into the discussions intiated by my brother, the Prime Minister of Sudan. Then, we entered into the rounds of negotiations the Republic of South Africa, current AU chair, called for. However, these efforts "unfortunately" did not yield the desired results.
The River Nile is not restricted to a party and its waters are considered a matter of survival for Egyptians without infringing our brothers’ rights.
The Security Council’s response to Egypt's call to hold a consultation session on this subject last June 29 confirmed the importance of this issue and its direct connection with preserving international peace and security. The international community, hence, shoulders the responsibility of encouraging all parties to reach the desired agreement that achieves our common interests. However, the negotiation period should not be extended indefinitely, thus imposing the status quo, because our peoples yearn for stability and development and for a promising new era of cooperation.
As for the second pillar of the United Nations, which is achieving sustainable development, Egypt firmly believes that supporting development efforts is a prerequisite for strengthening international peace and security and establishing a stable world order. It is the best way to prevent extremism and reduce armed conflicts and humanitarian crises.
Egypt has supported the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and played a pivotal role in support of the Secretary-General's efforts to reform the development system, believing in the importance of enhancing the organization's ability to achieve these ambitious goals.
The grave crisis sparked by the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic necessitates offering support to developing countries especially Africa via providing stimulus packages for their economies and easing the burdens of accumulated debts on them as well as making use of the tools available to international financial institutions. Thus, an enabling environment that can help these countries contain the effects of the pandemic, deal with the current problems, such as terrorism and irregular migration, and address causes of conflicts, would be created.
With regard to the third pillar of the United Nations, the international human rights agenda is assuming an increasing importance for its direct impact on promoting human development, improving the level of provided services, preserving people’s human rights to ensure a decent life for all and dealing with the challenges they face at all levels, which supports, at the same time, the stability of the international system.
We have strengthened our efforts in the field of human rights at all levels: political, economic and social since we believe that they should complement one another, particularly as per the Egyptian constitution and the amended articles that would guarantee rights and freedoms of future generations, establish the Senate and its role in supporting the democratic system and ensure adequate representation of women in the House of Representatives to at least a quarter of the seats. The constitution also includes articles that provide for regulating the work of state institutions and agencies, reinforcing separation of powers and enshrining the principle of rotation of power.
Citizenship can be promoted and justice, equality and equal opportunities can be achieved in several ways without discrimination for any reason. Several efforts could also be made to empower Egyptian women, combat violence against them, call to a new religious discourse, affirm freedom of belief, assert the state’s role of building places of worship without discrimination, and empower people with special needs. Additionally, these efforts support investing in youth, particularly through their inclusion in the decision-making process, establishing direct dialogues with them through periodic youth fora and implementing youth training and qualification initiatives to participate effectively in public work.
As for the economic level and in line with the vision of Egypt 2030, it is true that had it not been for the support that the people of Egypt gave to state institutions, it would not have been possible to pass the difficult stages of the structural reform program, whose success would have made a great contribution in fortifying the economy and curbing its losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. Egypt is also among a few world countries that managed to achieve a real growth rate despite the pandemic, control inflation rates, and cause the decline in unemployment rates to their lowest in twenty years.
We have also established major national projects in the fields of infrastructure, provided adequate housing and energy supply, and devised social programs targeting the low-income brackets to provide them with the necessary protection and mitigate the effects of reforms on them. Health care, a fundamental right, has been prioritized; many initiatives have been adopted and the stages of the comprehensive health insurance system covering all Egyptians started to be implemented, all of which are efforts that directly contribute to protecting a citizen's right to a decent life.
In the midst of all this, I cannot help but pointing out that we have never failed to fulfill our humanitarian duty to take in about six million migrants and refugees fleeing wars, political crises and difficult economic conditions. Egypt currently hosts them on its land and among its people; they enjoy all the services the state provides for Egyptians, without any significant aid or support from our international partners despite the importance they attach to the rights of these migrants.
We should address the issue of equitable geographical representation on the Security Council to ensure that it better reflects our world today and the current balance of power, which differs greatly from what it was during devising the international system.
Egypt stresses the importance of the expansion of the Security Council in both the permanent and non-permanent categories in a way that enhances its credibility and achieves a just and equitable representation of Africa to rectify the historical injustice endured by the African continent and to respond to its legitimate demands as stipulated in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration .
Confronting the grave challenges caused by the coronavirus outbreak and the existing regional and international problems necessitate upholding the principle of international cooperation and solidarity to face these challenges and to avoid conflicts. If “hope is born in the womb of suffering”, we may find in the current crisis what drives us to breathe new life into our relentless efforts to reinforce international multilateral action coupled with the support provided by the United Nations.
As a founding member of this organization and as a country that contributed in the creation of human civilization since the dawn of time, Egypt will spare no effort to achieve the vision of renewal and reform. Since Egypt has a firm conviction and strong belief in the idea that “the land accommodates all” and as long as the conflict prevention, peacemaking and international cooperation are the rules and factors governing relations between states and peoples in order to achieve development, security, stability and prosperity for current and future generations, Egypt will make the utmost efforts to achieve that vision.
Thank you, Mr. President.