H.E. Mr. Muhammed B.S. Jallow
Vice President Of The Republic Of The Gambia
STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. MUHAMMED B.S. JALLOW VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 78TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
21st September 2023
Mr. President – Ambassador Dennis Francis,
The Secretary-General – Mr. Antonio Guterres,
Your Majesties and Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Heads of Delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I bring you warm greetings and a goodwill message of peace, progress, and stability from His Excellency, President Adama Barrow, and the Government and People of The Gambia – Africa’s Smiling Coast.
Mr. President, we congratulate you on your election as President of the 78th Session of the General Assembly and thank your predecessor, H. E. Mr. Csaba Korosi for his sterling leadership during the 77th Session.
We also express our gratitude to Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of our organization, for his hands-on leadership during these heady and turbulent times the world over.
The world is facing numerous crises and a multiplicity of daunting challenges that raise serious questions about the readiness and viability of our multilateral institutions and arrangements, in the event of another crisis or pandemic.
The priorities of our times urgently warrant our collective attention and action. We must, therefore, undertake major reforms and organize our institutions better to make them fit for purpose. Achieving this has to begin with renewing our faith in both the Charter of the United Nations and inclusive Multilateralism.
For these reasons, we believe that the theme for this Session, “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all,” mirrors The Gambia’s national ethos of peace, progress and prosperity.
Our world is in dire need of rebuilding that lost trust, and our multilateral institutions must assist in regaining it by, first, reforming and retooling themselves. From underdevelopment to climate change, unsustainable debts to cost-of-living crises, and conflicts to marginalization, we need to cooperate better and share the burden of solutions equitably through greater partnerships and solidarity.
We have seven more years before the Decade of Action ends, yet the story on our global attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is not very positive. It is a story of unfulfilled commitments, weak international cooperation, and lack of genuine global solidarity. It is a story that is all too common when it gets to implementing global commitments.
Consequently, we must recognize these global challenges and redouble our efforts by re-committing ourselves to the attainment of the SDGs in the Global South. If we remain on our current trajectory without effecting corrective action, the world’s most vulnerable peoples would be left behind much further we can ever fathom. As LDCs, we call for the steadfast implementation of the new Doha Program of Action so that it would not be another lost decade of unfulfilled commitments.
In view of the current harsh economic realities across the Global South, many developing countries are contending with unsustainable debt burdens that are compromising their ability to dig themselves out of poverty. In the quest for post-pandemic recovery, debt servicing is severely shrinking our economies, especially in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
It is essential to find ways to address this burden urgently, as most of our countries run the risk of being left behind. Our goal is to recover by building back our economies much better and faster and to create the policy space that would, once again, generate growth. With a deep sense of urgency, the international community should step up its efforts through new and existing initiatives towards finding durable solutions to the debt problem. In sum, we must get back on track to attaining the SDGs.
The issue of debt relief for LDCs is linked to the necessity for greater reform of the international financial institutions (IFIs) and their decision-making mechanisms, particularly those relating to development finance and debt. We join other developing countries in calling for reforms that ensure our greater participation and a stronger voice in decision-making. Also, we would like to see mechanisms developed that adequately mainstream our concerns and interests in decisions that affect us.
In this context, we strongly welcome the recent designation of a permanent seat for the African Union at the G20 group. This will immensely amplify Africa’s voice and participation in global geopolitical and development issues that concern the well-being of its people.
One of the important global issues affecting Africa in negatively disproportionate ways is Climate Change. Africa is paying a very heavy price for global warming, even though it is the least contributor to climate change. Cataclysmic weather events that currently impact our world clearly make it imperative and urgent to undertake collective action to tackle climate change for a more livable world.
The world is neither short of climate action commitments nor the financial resources to match our ambition, but we are short of the genuine political will to act decisively. When shall we meet the $100 billion annual commitment to combat the phenomenon? Shall we ever agree on the modalities for the “Loss and Damage Fund” at COP28?
These are important questions to ask, considering the prevailing mistrust that continues to characterize the global dialogue on climate change and climate action. We have to act soonest and rebuild trust in our collective fight against global warming.
In The Gambia, through our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, we are acting through various initiatives and projects to combat climate change. We call on Member States and the international community to fulfill their commitments toward mother earth with a greater sense of urgency.
On behalf of the people of The Gambia, I extend our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to the States of Turkiye and Morocco in the wake of the recent earthquakes that have struck their nations. Our thoughts are with the affected communities as they recover from these tragic events.
Additionally, we stand in solidarity with Libya, the United States, Greece, and all other countries that have endured the devastating consequences of severe floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters exacerbated by the effects of climate change. These events serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for collective action to address the challenges posed by our changing climate. The Gambia reaffirms its commitment to working together with the international community to mitigate and adapt to these growing threats.
Our world is also facing a lot of challenges relating to maintenance of international peace and security. In Africa, we continue to face the threat of terrorism, piracy, re-emergence of unconstitutional change of governments, civil strife, and armed conflicts across the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. The scenario is similar across parts of the Middle East.
The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict is another matter of serious geopolitical concern, in view of its wider global impact. The institutional failures, human suffering, and huge number of lives lost should serve as a wake-up call for all Member States.
It is an understatement to state that the institutions, mechanisms, and processes we have created in the aftermath of World War II are inadequate, with reference to preventing the scourge of war. It is thus pressing to revisit our responses to conflicts and devise new and effective arrangements for conflict resolution and management.
Today, we are beholding the weaknesses of our institutions and arrangements, exacerbated by mistrust and lack of true international solidarity. In the face of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, we call on the warring parties to give peace a chance.
We further call on them to respect the sanctity of human life. It is only through negotiation and political dialogue that such conflicts can end. We also call on our brothers and sisters in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa to choose peace over armed conflict.
Since our political transition in 2017, The Gambia has committed itself to the consolidation of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Good governance, accountability, and institutional reforms are progressively taking root in our society. Sustaining and building the peace that we have so heavily invested in will remain a priority for the Government. We have also instituted transitional justice mechanisms that have yielded substantial results, and we are fully committed to implementing the recommendations of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) set up in 2018.
West Africa is facing serious challenges in connection with development, democratic governance, the rule of law, peace, and security. As we grapple with these regional challenges, let me assure you that, in The Gambia, we are truly committed to nurturing our young democracy, institutional building, protecting and promoting fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as women and youth empowerment. We are now enjoying the dividends of democracy, and we believe it is the best form of governance for our people.
Furthermore, in our quest to inclusively deliver the dividends of democracy and build a more secure and prosperous Gambia, the Government recently developed a new Green Focused Recovery National Development Plan 2023-2027 as successor to the 2018-2021 National Development Plan (NDP).
While appreciating the support and partnership received during implementation of the NDP, The Gambia solicits the continuous support and partnership of all her friends, partners, and the international community to successfully implement its new development masterplan.
The pursuit of peace around the world is one of the central pillars of the United Nations’ work. Adaptability of the organization to resolve ongoing, new or emerging peace and security challenges is worthy of sober reflection. Peacekeeping missions in situations where terrorism, violent extremism or gang violence is endemic demands serious dialogue within the organization.
No society should be held hostage because our institutional arrangements are ineffectively suited for action in such situations. Traditional peacekeeping has worked in a lot of situations, but it has come under enormous pressure in recent times. Such difficult experiences, as exemplified in some peacekeeping missions in Africa, flag the wisdom for reform.
As a demonstration of our commitment to peacekeeping undertakings, in support of the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Peace (A4P), we have agreed with Bangladesh, through the support of the Secretariat, to jointly deploy a battalion in a suitable peacekeeping mission. This is an innovative arrangement where our two countries will collaborate to advance peace.
Allow me to share some thoughts on topical international political developments and situations that require our attention. The maltreatment of migrants across the world is a matter of serious concern to my delegation. Migrants are human beings with human rights, and they deserve to be treated humanely.
We are appalled by the cruel and degrading treatment meted out to migrants at certain borders in Africa and beyond. We call on the United Nations to investigate these incidents and crimes committed against migrants, with a view to protecting them and their families. Criminalizing migration or treating migrants as criminals is unacceptable. Let us open legal pathways for migration and the regularization of the status of migrants in line with our international commitments, including those under the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a longstanding issue that requires a lasting resolution. Central to the conflict are concerns related to territorial disputes and settlement activities, which have continued over time. We express concern over the loss of life and injuries suffered by Palestinians in the region.
We call for the rejection of divisive laws and any rhetoric that may exacerbate tensions. It is essential to address extrajudicial actions and to work towards improved conditions in the West Bank. A peaceful resolution, ideally through a two-state solution, remains a priority. The absence of an ongoing peace process is a matter of concern for the international community, and we encourage collective efforts to reignite diplomatic initiatives.
The US embargo against the people of Cuba has been sustained unnecessarily. This should end, as it serves no useful purpose. Good neighborliness and friendly cooperation are better options between Cuba and the United States.
In the context of the situation in the Moroccan Sahara, we believe that fostering greater regional peace and cooperation remains a priority. Various approaches and proposals have been put forth to address this complex issue. It is our hope that through constructive dialogue and negotiations, a mutually acceptable solution can be reached that will benefit both parties involved and contribute to the resolution of the regional dispute.
We call on the international community to tone down their rhetoric and put an end to provocations in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea. My delegation fully supports the One-China policy and recognizes Taiwan as part and parcel of the Peoples’ Republic of China. Peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, and a win-win approach to development characterize the bilateral relationship between our two countries.
Allow me to highlight that reform of the United Nations, especially the Security Council is long overdue. Africa’s marginalization and under-representation in the membership of the Council calls for corrective measures. After more than seventy-five years of existence, this body deserves urgent reforms to regain the world’s trust.
In furtherance of this submission, my delegation strongly supports the common African position on this important issue.
In conclusion, rebuilding trust across the wide spectrum of issues that I have raised is a matter of topmost priority. The prudence of rebuilding trust in our multilateral institutions across the globe is glaringly evident. To avoid exclusion of the most vulnerable members in this Decade of Action, The Gambia submits that we invest heavily in global solidarity. We can all make a difference if we commit to rekindling global solidarity. Concerted global action, sustained international solidarity, and increased partnerships are the antidote for our global challenges.
Thank you for your attention.