General Debate
    His Excellency
    Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson
    Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
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    Statement summary

    GUDLAUGUR THÓR THÓRDARSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation of Iceland, expressed his regret that, around the world, calls for human rights, peace and stability were too often ignored, while the threat of climate change intensified.  “To build a more just and peaceful planet for all of us, we need all nations united, our United Nations,” he said.  Pointing to the urgent need to ensure a fast reach of vaccines to countries around the world, he noted that his Government contributed ISK 1 billion to the COVAX initiative and started vaccine sharing through the same mechanism.

    While the consequences of the pandemic were disastrous around the world, he warned the effects of climate change were bound to be even worse.  Looking ahead to COP26, he said States should honour their commitments to the Paris Agreement.  Iceland aimed to reduce greenhouse‑gas emissions by more than half by 2030, become carbon‑neutral by 2040 and fossil-fuel‑free by 2050, among other initiatives.  He urged high-income countries to support lower‑income ones to advance their climate ambitions, highlighting that his country’s main contribution was focused on exchange of knowledge and experience in the use of green energy solutions.  As well, the health of the world oceans was under pressure and concrete steps were needed to ensure stronger regional and international cooperation on ocean affairs, he said, citing recent gains made in this regard by the Arctic Council.

    Turning to the Sustainable Development Goals, he said his Government involved private sector partners and civil society in the development and humanitarian work.  He also highlighted the importance of gender equality for economic and social progress.  Lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms often leads to conflicts, humanitarian and political crises, he said, pointing to the recent military coup in Myanmar and the situation in Afghanistan.  The Taliban and other parties must respect international law, seek an inclusive political settlement, and ensure humanitarian access and safe passage for all, or else be held accountable.  Announcing that Iceland will run for a seat on the Human Rights Council for the term 2025-2027, he added that the complexity of modern conflicts and crises continues to grow with the marriage of emerging factors, including climate change, cyberthreats and disinformation.  The Security Council needed to act with greater foresight based on a broader view of security.  “We need more transparency and openness within the United Nations system and among Member States,” he said stressing the need to bring the United Nations closer to the people of the world.


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