MARC GARNEAU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, recalling that in his former career, he saw the entire world from space, said that humanity must find a way to get along with each other and to care for the planet. Noting the steps Canada is taking on climate change, including a $170 per metric ton price on carbon by 2030 and increasing its emissions reduction targets, he said that the capacity for human ingenuity has always existed; what is now needed is political will. With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, the international community must scale up the production and equitable distribution of vaccines, while also focusing on rising debt levels and liquidity challenges of the least developed and middle‑income countries. This can be done through a more robust spirit of global solidarity that reflects the values and interests of the United Nations, he said.
Isolationism contributes to growing authoritarianism, he said, pointing out that during the COVID-19 crisis, some seized the opportunity to erode civil liberties, freedom of expression and other universal human rights. Canada will continue to press for democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar, and support efforts to end the military dictatorship in that country. Raising the case of Michael Korvrig and Michael Spavor, who were imprisoned by the Government of China after Canada applied both Canadian and international law, in response to a request for the extradition of a Chinese citizen, he said the two men paid a heavy price for Canada’s commitment to the rule of law. “We continue to oppose the way these two fine people were treated,” he said. He thanked those who participated in the development and signing of the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State‑to-State Relations.
The number of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons is hitting record highs year after year, he continued. “We must listen to their voices and give them a place at the table.” Humanitarian assistance must keep pace, but it cannot be a substitute for addressing the root causes of the problems which force people to flee. Canada will provide refuge for those who defend democracy and uphold human rights, he said, adding that it is committed to welcoming 40,000 refugees from Afghanistan. Canada fully acknowledges the hardship that racist colonial policies inflicted on generations of indigenous peoples. Going forward, the Government is determined to uphold their rights and to improve their living standards. He concluded by saying that during the past year, the United Nations has proven that it is up to the operational challenge of delivering in the most difficult situations. “We know what must be done. We must marshal the political will to do it,” he said.
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