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Posted: Friday 19 January, 2024 at 10:02 AM

Remarks by the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Dennis Francis, at the Opening of the 19th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Kampala, Uganda

By: (SKNIS), Press Release

    19 January 2024 


    [As Delivered]


    Your Excellency, Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda,


    Your Excellency, Jeyhun Bayramov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan,


    Your Excellencies, the Heads of State and Government of the Movement,


    Esteemed Ministers,


    Permanent Representatives,


    Distinguished Delegates,


    I am deeply honoured to join you in Kampala today on the occasion of the 19th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.


    I am especially grateful to His Excellency, Mr. Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, to the government and people of Uganda, for their invitation and gracious hospitality.


    Let me also convey my warm congratulations to the Government of Uganda for assuming the chairmanship of the Movement.


    Your known astute and insightful leadership assures me that under your guidance, NAM will effectively tackle forthcoming challenges, bolstering its profile and influence.


    Allow me also to commend the outgoing Chairman, the President of Azerbaijan, His Excellency, Ilham Aliyev, for his successful stewardship of the Movement, notably in broadening its connection with the people through initiatives like the NAM Parliamentary network and the NAM youth organisation.


    This year’s Summit’s theme – Deepening Cooperation for Shared Global Affluence – recalls the movement’s founding principles: cooperation and collaboration – urgent prescriptions in the current setting.


    Our world is beset with profound, multifaceted challenges – which demand creativity and consensus-building to fashion effective solutions.


    Unhappily, it is precisely in the opposite direction that we are headed.


    Widening inequalities are breeding fresh grievances, while mistrust and geopolitical competition are hampering efforts to realize our aspirations of achieving sustainable development by 2030.


    In Ukraine, the Middle East, and here, in Africa, crises and conflicts are laying bare the limits of the multilateral system, raising legitimate questions as to the relevance and value of the United Nations itself, in terms of its ability to resolve global issues –and whether we, as a global community, can deliver on the promise of peace and prosperity for all.


    There is no doubt that the world is deeply fragmented, complicating the mission and under-mining the traditional mechanisms adopted by the UN in addressing major problems.


    And while we must, out of necessity, engage in introspection and adopt more effective strategies and methods to achieve delivery and meaningful impact, the one thing we must work hard to avoid the loss of our ability to find common purpose and to act decisively when the moment demands it.


    I must tell you that I am deeply concerned and indeed dismayed about the ongoing calamity in the Gaza Strip; and so, I call upon this Movement to exert its influence in bringing a halt to the carnage that we are all haplessly witnessing.


    That situation behoves us to ask: We must ask: how much is enough? And does the very concept of enough even exist in this setting?


    Looking to the future of the region, I reiterate my urgent call on all parties to refrain from any action that could further spill-over into neighbouring countries.


    The General Assembly, encompassing the voice of the vast majority of Member States, has been clear.


    In that regard, I renew the demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for the release of all hostages.


    This stands as the only credible course of action to authentically address – let alone resolve – this conflict.


    The wanton prosecution of violence only inspires inter-generational and cyclical appetite for retribution and reprisal.


    After various iterations of war over several decades, I am convinced that a negotiated political solution is the sole path through which both Israelis and Palestinians will see realized their fundamental right to a life of peace, based on a two-state solution.


    As President of the General Assembly, I will support and encourage any and all initiatives to that end. You can count on me to remain steadfast in that commitment.




    It is precisely for these reasons that I chose “peace” as the first of four priorities of my Presidency – reflecting its foundational importance as a pre-requisite for achieving prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.


    The history of NAM itself teaches us important lessons that remain valid today, bearing in mind that the Movement was formed at a time of unprecedented global division – when the world appeared to be on the brink.


    Given NAM’s commitment to, and advocacy for, peace – representing more than half of global population – it has an indispensable role in guiding our world pragmatically, towards a more secure, more just and more prosperous future for all, where harmony and peace prevail.




    As we make complex choices about the kind of world we wish to forge, we must never lose sight of the fact that today’s challenges – be it war, poverty, natural disasters, climate change and sea-level rise, energy crises and food shortages – all have a human face.


    In whatever way we respond, we must ensure that we always assign pride of place to the “human” dimensions and consequences of our actions.


    Pursuit of a human-centred vision of international cooperation offers the prospect of refocusing the international community’s attention away from a path of self-destruction – towards one of safe, just evolution.


    To that end, let us strengthen the prospect for peace through investing in human security. Let us respect and uphold human rights.


    And, let us keep human welfare and human dignity at the very centre of all we do.


    This is clearly the intent of the Charter in the expression “We the Peoples of the United Nations”.


    This includes ensuring that the technologies revolutionizing our existence do much more cement our shared humanity – rather than to subdue and subordinate it.


    As Kofi Annan wisely observed nearly two decades ago, “No society can long remain prosperous without the rule of law and respect for human rights.”


    As you set about strategizing how best to employ the NAM formulas of cooperation to achieve shared global affluence, I am hopeful that you will keep the late Secretary-General’s precepts in mind.


    As the UN’s largest group, constituting two-thirds of the membership, NAM’s critical mass empowers it to play an influential role in shifting the balance of the geopolitical landscape from conflict and confrontation to diplomacy, from suspicion and mistrust to trust-building dialogue, and from violence and aggression to tolerance, understanding and peace.


    To move the dial, we need swift action in priority areas.


    On nuclear disarmament, NAM has the capacity and the influence to de-escalate confrontation – by promoting multilateralism as the core principle of negotiation, and multilateral diplomacy as the means to achieving progress.


    In the area of conflict prevention, NAM countries can lead the way – by upholding international norms, respecting human rights, and vehemently countering entrenched racism, intolerance and xenophobic attitudes that provide fertile ground for terrorism and discord, for conflict and strife.




    I urge NAM to undertake an in-depth assessment of the New Agenda for Peace, given its focus on conflict prevention.


    Perhaps nowhere is the value of international cooperation of more profound consequence than in our pursuit of a sustainable future for all.


    Indeed, our promise to leave no one behind hinges on our ability to build strong and diverse partnerships, share knowledge widely and strategically – and strengthen our joint capacities to reach the most vulnerable.


    The Summit of the Future, in September 2024, will offer a historic opportunity to fast-track the achievement of the SDGs – and forge a new global consensus to transform our multilateral system to deliver with better impact for people and planet.


    Ahead of the Summit, in April 2024, I will host the first ever Sustainability Week in the General Assembly, the flagship initiative of my Presidency, featuring mandated high-level events on transport, tourism, infrastructure and energy, as well a signature event on debt sustainability.


    I invite the Members of the Movement, both individually and collectively, to engage meaningfully in these events – and to participate at the highest levels, to take lead in shaping the new, multilateral frameworks that will carry us into the coming decades.




    The potential of NAM to drive substantive progress – across the global agenda – especially in fostering peace and security, remains formidable.


    My Team and I are ready to support the Ugandan Chairmanship in any effort to further elevate NAM’s strategic engagement and influence, as we mould the future for safety and security and for shared affluence.


    Together, let us therefore deepen our cooperation.


    Let us work fervently together to rebuild trust and to open new pathways of cooperation and partnership – to ensure that, indeed, global affluence is shared equitably by all, so that no one is left behind.


    I thank you.






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