SAULI NIINISTÖ, President of Finland, spotlighting the Helsinki Final Act, pointed out that the entire world and the United Nations needed the “Helsinki Spirit” in order to solve problems together. Therefore, to end this pandemic, the solution must be global. Global action was also needed in order to be better prepared for future pandemics. To improve resilience, a “One Health” approach was required. Enhancing international collaboration on research and development and exchanging information on emerging threats was vital. It was also important to reflect upon the long-term ramifications of the pandemic, which had resulted in an increase in extreme poverty and inequality and a deterioration of gender equality.
Turning to climate change, he stated that the rapid loss of biodiversity alone should be a cause for immediate global concern. Yet, that urgency was still not reflected in actions. “We have to use the upcoming COP26 conference to put ourselves on a sustainable course. It is our common responsibility, that of Governments and institutions, of companies and individuals, to step up,” he stressed. More ambitious emission-reduction plans were needed well ahead of the meeting in Glasgow. Furthermore, the ongoing transition away from fossil fuels needed to be sped-up. The quality of climate finance needed to be increased, particularly regarding the least developed countries and small island developing States. To that end, finance ministers should take climate change into account in all of their decision-making.
The events of Afghanistan in the past weeks were a reminder of the fragility of peace and security, he continued. The country’s humanitarian needs were immense and it was critical for the international community to act together to ensure the access of humanitarian assistance. United Nations agencies staying on in Afghanistan played a key role here. “Women and girls in Afghanistan must not be forgotten or made invisible,” he emphasized. The diplomatic toolbox of the United Nations Charter needed to be used to its full potential, to build peace where needed and to prevent conflicts where possible.
As a member of the Human Rights Council, he emphasized that Finland would do its best to work for the benefit of peace, stability and prosperity across the world. Promoting the rights of persons with disabilities was a cross-cutting priority for his country. Another key theme was the rights of all women and girls. The recently launched Generation Equality campaign, which Finland co-leads, had an important role in mobilizing different actors for gender equality, he noted.
In an era of intensifying great-Power competition and rapid technological progress, the world was also faced with a serious risk of a new arms race, he warned. If the unravelling of the international arms control system was allowed to continue, it would reduce predictability and increase the likelihood of unintended escalation. The most important task now was to uphold and strengthen the existing arms control architecture. It was also important to develop new solutions to respond to emerging challenges and technologies, by strengthening confidence-building, verification and transparency. In nuclear arms control, he welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty. Engagement between all the nuclear powers would be beneficial for global security, he stated.