The President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr. James Alix Michel, has addressed the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) in New York on Tuesday, which is a momentous occasion for the international organization as it celebrates its 70th anniversary and as an overarching tenet seeks to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda which includes the Sustainable Development Goals.
In his speech, the President called for concerted action to address the global challenges which arise from the adverse climate change, famine, war, poverty, the development constraints faced by SIDS, and the reform process of the United Nations and post second world war institutions to make them more relevant to this era.
President Michel spoke of the fact that real “determination” to solve issues concerning the entire world is sorely lacking and that inaction would certainly condemn future generations to an uncertain fate.
“Look around us. What do we see? A world lacking in determination. A world torn apart by vicious wars and conflicts. A world where poverty, hunger, famine, and epidemics continue to grow unabated. Where inequality, injustice, and disparity are on the rise. A world where environmental degradation and despoliation go unchecked. A world – our world – menaced by climate change,” said President Michel.
Speaking about the United Nations, President Michel noted its important place in today’s world, however, also commented on the need for deep reform to make it more representative of realities facing the 21st century.
“… Its lofty ideals are as relevant today as when it was founded. However, its structures of governance – in particular, the Security Council – are not. In today’s world, it represents a fundamentally undemocratic and unrepresentative institution,” said President Michel.
The President reiterated the principle of determination with which these reforms could take place making the United Nations and other post-1945 institutions inclusive and democratic.
A central theme of the President’s speech was the need for resolute action on climate change and embracing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
He made particular reference to the fact small island states were among the smallest contributors to a changing climate yet were the ones to bear the full brunt of it.
President Michel noted: “Many challenges still remain. Especially for Small Island Developing States (SIDS). We are the sentinels of nature and the guardians of our oceans. But the action of inaction – as the case may be – of others threaten our livelihood and very existence.”
He further said that the entirety of the world would need to embrace the notion of sustainable development and drew on His Holiness Pope Francis’ speech earlier in the week noting “we must break the present growth model and give primacy to the protection of nature over consumerism, thereby minimizing the effects of climate change.”
As the Paris climate conference approaches, President Michel emphasized that a universal and binding agreement to tackle climate change is needed.
“We cannot allow ourselves to be condemned to the wrong side of history by our collective failure to reach an agreement. The stakes are too high. An agreement is within our reach provided we are able to summon collective political will and leadership,” he said.
Speaking about the specificities of Small Island Developing States, President Michel described not only the vulnerabilities facing them but also underscored the necessity to find a tailored approach in tackling their challenges taking into account a vulnerability index which would in turn not hamper their development.
For SIDS and coastal states, President Michel opined that Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda, which refers to conservation and the sustainable use of oceans, is primordial and provides the basis for a vibrant Blue Economy.
He said, “For oceanic nations, the sea is our lifeblood and the Blue Economy the catalyst upon which we learn to thrive.”
However, he also added that without security, these ends could not be achieved. The international community, as in the case of Somali piracy, would need to act together to securitize the oceans.
It was the President’s desire that the successful model of international cooperation used to end piracy, could be replicated to stop terrorism and find a viable solution to the refugee crises.
“The growing refugee crisis reminds us that we should all shoulder the burden of fighting the ideologies of hate and embrace bonds of fraternity and solidarity,” said President Michel.
President Michel also noted the primacy of diplomacy and shared his enthusiasm for the rapprochement between the United States of America and Cuba.
Seychelles is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) .