Statement by H.E. Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, at the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 65th session of the UN General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals
(New York, September 21, 2010)
Distinguished Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Russia is committed to international development cooperation and is ready to step up constructive interaction with a wide range of partners including the private sector and civil society to ensure the timely achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We believe that the sustainable social and economic development of all countries throughout the world is a crucial element in any modern collective security system.
United Nations is a unique mechanism for the harmonization of interests of various countries and the main international forum for adopting coordinated decisions on development issues.
As far as regional organizations are concerned and informal international groupings, including the G8 and G20, they are called upon to pursue their efforts in this area following the standards of economic and humanitarian cooperation set forth within the framework of the UN General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Over the last five years, the international community has achieved certain positive results. Nevertheless, the recent reports on MDGs have shown uneven progress in the implementation of individual goals as well as regional discrepancies. Unfortunately, significant falling behind the schedule has been noted on goals and targets related to universal primary education, reduction in child and maternal mortality, and in reducing green-house gas emissions. At the geographical level the challenges are most acute in Africa.
Clearly, primary responsibility for the achievement of the MDGs rests with national governments. Yet, it is obvious that radical improvement in the social and economic situation in the most vulnerable developing countries will only be possible with powerful coordinated support by the entire international community.
Russia has been consistently increasing its contribution to the international development cooperation. In 2008 Russia’s aid to developing countries totaled USD 220 million and in 2009 about USD 800 million. And this is not taking into account debt cancellation amounting to billions of dollars.
Quite naturally, we attach particular importance to assisting the CIS region. During the global crisis Russia issued countries in need with preferential loans and grants for the amount exceeding USD 4.6 billion. Our country initiated the creation of the EURASEC Anti-crisis Fund in the amount of USD 10 billion, 7.5 billion of which was contributed by the Russian Federation. We call on all Member States to support the draft resolution on cooperation between the UN and EURASEC to be submitted for the consideration by the 65th session of the General Assembly.
We intend to continue to pursue these efforts in support of the Members of the Commonwealth of Independent Sates, as well as developing countries in other regions, first of all in Africa.
In a globalized and interdependent world, failure to address the needs of low-income countries increases the risks to the entire global economy, undermines stability and security in most of the regions of the world and increases the danger of the spread of terrorism, infectious diseases, and uncontrolled migration.
To counter these threats more effectively, Russia together with other countries is ready to more efficiently utilize the scientific capacities and advanced technologies, in particular information and communication technologies, as a powerful tool to bridge the gap between the developed and developing countries and - as a result - to promote global development.
Recently, we have witnessed yet again what a tremendous damage to development can be inflicted by natural and man-made disasters. Earthquakes, floods, wildfires, tsunamis, hurricanes, industrial and infrastructural breakdowns not only claim thousands of human lives, but consume enormous financing to repair the damage, thus diverting resources from development goals. It is obvious that increased preparedness for such disasters is costly, but it is considerably less expensive than the cost of recovery and rehabilitation.
This is why we consider it is important to dramatically improve coordination of our collective efforts and to ensure a wider use of modern technologies to respond to natural and man-made disasters and to develop mechanisms for the application of such technologies in the interest of the entire international community. In fact, this may become a new promising form of development cooperation. Here I would like to recall the initiative launched by President Medvedev to establish an environmental risks insurance fund. We invite all partners to elaborate this initiative.
In our interdependent world the development agenda is closely interlinked with security issues. At times, in order to pursue the objectives enshrined in the UN Charter the international community is forced to resort to such tool as the economic sanctions. Meanwhile there has long been an established consensus on the need to respect the so called “humanitarian limits” of the sanctions, and to avoid their negative impact on civil population. We note that in the recent years the UN Security Council has striven to be strictly guided by precisely this understanding.
At the same time we cannot help but express our serious concern with the persisting practice of unilateral coercive measures, which are a voluntaristic manner imposed by certain states against any particular developing countries beyond what is stipulated in the UN Charter or authorized by the UN Security Council. We are convinced that such practices run counter to the efforts aimed to achieve the MDGs and must be brought to an end.
It is in the interest of all countries - without exception - to eradicate poverty and overcome underdevelopment. A poor person cannot be free. The capacity to provide decent social and economic living standards is one of the key attributes of a democratic state. These issues were thoroughly discussed at the Global Policy Forum on democracy standards held recently in Yaroslavl. In his address to the Forum, President Medvedev spoke in favor of developing universal understanding of such standards to help establish a positive unifying agenda in modern international relations.
We hope that this Summit will promote more active and coherent efforts of governments, international financial and trade institutions, business community and NGOs to ensure that the MDGs are met on time.