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All people who live in democracies have the right to be governed in a way that the majority approves — that’s the foundation of the thing we call “democracy”.
And so it is in Belarus, a country that professes to be “democratic” and is a country that boasts a “democratic constitution” that guarantees the rights and responsibilities of citizens, government, the judiciary and the military. Therefore, no one could seriously argue that Belarus isn’t a democracy.
However, even in the best democracies, disputes can arise and sometimes those disputes relate to ‘who really won’ the most recent election.
Sometimes, it’s merely a case of ‘sour grapes’ where the losing side in the election won’t accept the results and subsequently mobilize their base to protest the loss, or to keep its base ‘fired-up’ until the next election, or they use the uprising to embarrass the governing party to induce it to submit to certain political demands. Which seems a bit sketchy, but it happens.
So, who won?
Thus far, no one has proven that the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, fraudulently won the August 9th election — nor has anyone proven that the opposition party led by Svetlana Tikhanouskaya lost the election, although tens of thousands of her supporters have been protesting every day since the election results were announced.
Which could be everything, or it could be nothing.
Therefore, what we need is an international effort, perhaps led by the UN, to investigate allegations that President Lukashenko stole the election and is refusing to step down, and have the UN publicly announce their findings.
Then, and only then, will we know who has won the Belarusian election.
How to Build Enough Momentum to Find the Truth of the Matter
1: Telephone Diplomacy Works
In 1990, then-U.S. President, George H. W. Bush’s telephone diplomacy worked wonders when Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, invaded the tiny country next door to Iraq on 2 August 1990. President H.W. Bush subsequently telephoned almost every world leader and convinced them that it was necessary for the world to deal with the murderous Iraqi dictator and to evict Iraq’s military from Kuwait.
It took only one weekend for H.W. to create a ‘Coalition of the Willing’ with the noble goal of evicting the Iraqi Republican Guard from peaceful Kuwait. And HW’s plan worked magnificently. In a matter of weeks, Kuwait was liberated with the help of several countries.
2: “How Many Divisions Has the Pope?”
In 1981, Poland’s new Prime Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law (to purportedly) crush a rapidly growing pro-democracy trade union movement known as Solidarity which threatened his (autocratic at best, and dictatorial at worst) leadership of Poland.
America’s President Reagan quickly conferred with the Pontiff of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II (who was shot in a failed assassination attempt two weeks after that phone call in 1981) to ask what help the Church could offer to the people of Poland, most of whom were Christians of either Catholic or Russian Orthodox Church persuasion.
The quote above; “How many divisions has the Pope?” was uttered by former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin commenting on how much military power the Catholic Church didn’t have in comparison to the dozens of military units (divisions) that the former Soviet Union did have during Stalin’s time in power.
As it turned out, the fall of Soviet communism had much to do with the Catholic Church and its (even more powerful in Russia) brethren, the Russian Orthodox Church. So much so, that the Western attempt to engineer the fall of Soviet communism, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and end the Cold War would’ve failed without the help of tens of millions of Catholic and Orthodox Christians in the former Soviet Union.
How many divisions, indeed.
In today’s Belarus, most of the population there profess Christian belief and attend some kind of church, although, as in 1980’s Poland, most would be adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church, not Catholic. Still, there are many more Christians than Belarusian soldiers were you to count them by division strength.
In 1980’s Poland when (Christian) Polish soldiers were ordered to fire on (Christian) Solidarity movement supporters to end the many street protests, the soldiers refused to shoot their (Christian) brethren. And when the soldiers and police refuse orders to shoot, the largest majority wins.
Let’s hope that the situation in Belarus doesn’t ever approach that level of danger and drama, but it could be that if a fair and transparent body finds the Belarus leader has illegally held onto power after losing the recent election, that the threat of mobilization of millions of Belarusians by the Churches combined with the present level of citizen protests could provide the impetus for President Lukashenko to step down before things get out of hand.
That’s called a ‘leveraged exit’ in the diplomatic world where the leader will lose if world leaders proceed one way, but lose by a much wider margin if world leaders proceed another way regarding Belarus.
3: The UN ‘Soft Power’ Option
Of course, the United Nations has plenty of powers that it can bring to bear for a successful conclusion in Belarus, but only if it decides to do so. Unless a UN member proposes (basically sponsors) such an action, it usually doesn’t happen.
But the situation in Belarus is practically crying out for UN involvement — to at the very least! — have the UN independently verify which side won the August 9 election.
- The UN General Assembly could convene to discuss the matter and create a UN Resolution calling on President Lukashenko to step down if the evidence proves there’s been major fraud committed by the government or its agents.
- Further steps could be employed by the UN Security Council if it feels regional stability could be affected, employing a wide array of options against the Lukashenko regime if the evidence proves major fraud was committed by the government or its agents.
Such Security Council resolutions could involve trade restrictions against Belarus, ‘No Entry’ to any UN member country by Belarusian government officials, closing of Belarusian embassies and consulates around the world, and all airline traffic to and from Belarus could be cancelled until further notice, oil and gas shipments to Belarus could be diverted or delayed, and other options could be employed besides that very short list.
Life would quickly become very difficult for the present leader of Belarus if he’s found to have engaged in some kind of major election fraud.
Which to Choose?
It seems the first order of business is to ascertain whether the election was fraudulent or whether the results are merely unpopular with a vocal minority of voters.
Second, some kind of diplomacy must be employed to convince the Belarusian leader that it’s a fight he can’t win (if there has been election fraud) and that he must step down immediately in exchange for minimal prosecution.
Third, pressure must be brought to bear in a unified fashion, where the lightest punishment is first employed (the powerful Christian demographic added to the existing protest pool) and punishments are increased every 14-days (UN General Assembly resolution) followed by UN Security resolutions (closing Belarusian embassies and consulates) followed by curtailment of oil and gas to Belarus, and finally closing the airspace of Belarus to civilian airlines and closing of land borders especially to passenger trains — all designed to increase the pressure on President Lukashenko to step down for the good of the country.
At no time (assuming he’s guilty, which hasn’t been proven yet) should he feel that he could win, and he must be made to realize that every subsequent 14-days his life will be worse than in the previous 14-days.
So, let’s find out if there indeed has been election fraud — before we proceed! — because it’s astonishingly easy to depose a world leader when the facts become known in such cases. And then the UN, the Churches, and the citizens of that country can all work together to build a better future for their people no matter what has occurred.
Historically speaking, deposing a leader is the one thing that works every time that we actually try — but please! — let’s get our facts straight before we proceed further.
UK Prime Minister speech to the UN General Assembly: September 26, 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May spoke on behalf of the UK at the UN General Assembly 2018
On behalf of the United Kingdom let me begin by paying tribute to an outstanding leader of this United Nations, who sadly passed away this summer.
Kofi Annan was one of the great Secretaries General, a tireless campaigner for peace and progress, and a champion of human rights and human dignity – whose influence will continue to be felt around the world for years to come.
Over the course of his lifetime he witnessed the extraordinary progress that we as a community of nations have made since this organisation was founded.
Progress in which we have more than halved the number of people living in extreme poverty in this century alone.
Progress in which the number of people killed in conflicts has fallen by three-quarters in just over three decades.
And progress in which millions of our citizens lead healthier and longer lives and where – thanks to advances in human knowledge – in medicine, in science and in technology – we are presented with huge opportunities in the years ahead.
Yet today – many are concerned about whether this progress will continue, and fearful about what the future holds.
For the end of the Cold War did not – as many once believed – lead to the inevitable supremacy of open economies and liberal democracies co-operating on the global stage for the common good.
Today instead we face a loss of confidence in those very systems that have delivered so much.
The belief in free markets has been challenged by the financial crisis of 2008, by the concerns of those feeling left behind by globalisation, by the anxieties about the pace and scale of technological change and what that will mean for jobs, and by the unprecedented mass movements of people across borders with all the pressures that can bring.
And after the military interventionism at the beginning of the century, people question the rationale – and indeed legitimacy – of the use of force and involving ourselves in crises and conflicts that are not ours. While at the same time being repelled by the slaughter in Syria and our failure to end it.
These doubts are entirely understandable. So too is the demand for leadership. So those of us who believe in inclusive societies and open economies have a duty to respond: to learn the lessons of the past, to meet people’s concerns with practical actions not beguiling illusions and to renew our confidence in the ideas and values that have done so much to benefit so many for so long.
For be in no doubt, if we lack the confidence to step up, others will.
In the last century – whether in the rise of fascism or the spread of Communism – we have seen those on the extreme right and extreme left exploit people’s fears, stoke intolerance and racism, close down economies and societies and destroy the peace of nations. And today once more we see worrying trends in the rise of these movements in Europe and beyond.
We have seen what happens when countries slide into authoritarianism, slowly crushing the basic freedoms and rights of their citizens.
We have seen what happens when corrupt oligarchies rob their nations of the wealth, resources and human capital that are so vital to unlocking a brighter future for their citizens.
We have seen what happens when the natural patriotism which is a cornerstone of a healthy society is warped into aggressive nationalism, exploiting fear and uncertainty to promote identity politics at home and belligerent confrontation abroad, while breaking rules and undermining institutions.
And we see this when states like Russia flagrantly breach international norms – from the seizing of sovereign territory to the reckless use of chemical weapons on the streets of Britain by agents of the Russian GRU.
We have to show there is a better way to meet the concerns of our people.
That way lies in global cooperation between strong and accountable states based on open economies and inclusive societies.
That ensures strong nation states provide the bonds that bring citizens together and ensures power remains accountable to those it is there to serve.
That celebrates free markets and has the confidence to reform them when they need to work better.
And that demonstrates that delivering for your citizens at home does not have to be at the expense of global cooperation and the values, rules and ideals that underpin this.
Indeed cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive.
Only global cooperation based on a set of agreed rules can ensure competition is fair and does not succumb to protectionism, with its certain path to lost jobs and international confrontation.
And it is only global co-operation which can harness legitimate self-interest towards common goals, producing agreements on global challenges such as climate change, proliferation and increasing inclusive economic growth.
We see this cooperation here today at this UN, as we also saw it at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting earlier this year.
And here today – as Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth – I deliver a clear statement on behalf of the Heads of Government of its fifty-three equal and independent member states. We reaffirm our shared commitment to work together within a rules based international system to address shared global challenges and foster a fairer, more secure, more sustainable and more prosperous future. This commitment takes account of the special requirements of least developed countries, and of small and otherwise vulnerable economies, and it benefits all our citizens and the wider world.
But it is not enough for us merely to make the case for cooperation. We need action, at home and in the community of nations, to show how our ideas and values can deliver practical benefits for all our people in all parts of the world.
We must recognise the legitimacy of people’s concerns and act to build a global economy that works for everyone.
We must invest in the patient work of building open societies in which everyone has a stake in the future.
And we must act to uphold the international rules based system – and stand up for our values by protecting those who may suffer when it is violated.
Let me take each in turn.
First, we must respond to those who feel that the global economy is not working for them.
The pace of globalisation that has left too many people behind.
The fear that our children and grandchildren may lack the education and skills to secure the jobs of tomorrow.
And the risk that technological change could become a source of inequality and division rather than the greatest opportunity in history.
In the UK we are driving investment in industries of the future to create new jobs – from low-carbon technologies to Artificial Intelligence.
We are investing in education and skills so that workers are ready to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.
And we are making sure people play by the rules – so that business and innovation is celebrated for creating jobs not demonised because of grievances over tax not paid or rights not respected.
And while we strive to make our own economies work for all our people – we should do the same at a global level.
In an increasingly global economy, it is not enough to ensure people play by the rules at home.
We need global co-operation to set and enforce fair rules on trade, tax and the sharing of data.
And these rules need to keep pace with the changing nature of trade and technology.
So we need to give the World Trade Organisation a broad, ambitious and urgent mandate to reform. This must address the areas where it is not functioning effectively; deal with issues that are not currently covered; and maintain trust in a system which is critical to preventing a return to the failed protectionism of the past.
Fair and respected rules are essential for business to flourish and drive growth. But recent history shows that this cannot be sustained without deeper partnerships between governments, business, international financial institutions and civil society to ensure that growth delivers for everyone.
That is why I recently visited Africa – along with British businesses – to promote trade and investment, and encourage a new partnership based on shared prosperity and shared security.
It is why at this General Assembly I co-hosted an event with Prime Minister Trudeau, Prime Minister Kagame and President Akufo-Addo calling for more support for investment and job creation for young people in the continent.
It is why the United Kingdom will maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on official development assistance. And we will put our development budget at the heart of our international agenda, and do more to create jobs, improve skills and increase investment in emerging economies – in both our interests and theirs.
For the best way of resisting protectionism is to ensure that this century is defined by open markets that really deliver for all our people.
Second, we must build countries, not only economies, that work for everyone – inclusive societies where every citizen has a stake in the future.
These are the firm foundations on which strong and accountable nations are built. And history has consistently taught us that giving people a stake in society is the best way to ensure stability, security and economic growth.
There is no one right way to do this.
Every country must choose its own path.
But the basic tenets are common across the world.
They include a government that is transparent and accountable.
An independent judiciary to enforce the rule of law.
Free and fair elections and a free and open media.
The freedom of expression, a right to redress and property rights that are reliably enforced.
And equality, freedom of thought, opinion, religion and conscience – all found in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed 70 years ago.
Those of us who believe in these tenets must set an example in defending and strengthening them at home and abroad.
That is why we must call out hate speech, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of prejudice and discrimination against minorities wherever we find it.
Like many leaders, I suspect, I do not always enjoy reading what the media in my country writes about me. But I will defend their right to say it – for the independence of our media is one of my country’s greatest achievements. And it is the bedrock of our democracy.
So too, will I defend objectivity and impartiality in the face of those who treat truth as just another opinion to be manipulated.
This challenge has only become more complex with the rise in social media, and online information. That is why we agreed at the G7 Summit in June to step up our efforts to respond to disinformation. And why, together with our partners, and with tech companies, we are leading efforts to reclaim the internet from terrorists and others who would do us harm.
And just as we must stand up for the values that we adhere to, so we must support countries and leaders who choose to take the often difficult steps towards a more inclusive society.
The United Kingdom will use all the levers at our disposal to do so.
Through our aid budget and commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals we will not only protect the most vulnerable but also bolster states under threat and help others sustain their progress.
Through global campaigns we will help countries to end scourges such as modern slavery and sexual violence in conflict.
And we will mobilise wider support through our alliances and membership of multilateral organisations – not only the UN, but also international financial institutions, the G7, the G20 and NATO.
And just as there is no single recipe for an inclusive society, so there is no single model for balancing the democratic demands of our public with the imperative to co-operate internationally.
The vote by the British people to leave the European Union was not a rejection of multilateralism or international co-operation. It was a clear demand for decisions and accountability to lie closer to home.
I believe the role of leadership in these circumstances is clear: it is delivering on the democratic wishes of our people and international cooperation working with allies and partners in pursuit of our shared values.
Third, we must have the will and confidence to act when the fundamental rules that we live by are broken.
This is not about repeating the mistakes of the past by trying to impose democracy on other countries through regime change.
But we should not allow those mistakes to prevent us from protecting people in the face of the worst violations of human rights and human dignity. We should not allow those mistakes to paralyse the international community when its long-established norms are violated. And we should not let our inability to prevent some of the worst conflicts today stop us from making every effort to ensure they do not happen again in the future.
For if we stand back, we allow the world to become divided into spheres of influence in which the powerful dominate the weak, and in which legitimate grievances go unaddressed.
This is not just a moral imperative. It is also a matter of self-interest. For when barbarous acts and aggression go unchecked – dictators and terrorists are emboldened.
So, we must have the confidence to act.
When the Syrian Regime used chemical weapons on its people again in April, it was Britain together with France and America who took military action to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.
And when earlier this year, Russia used a toxic nerve agent in a sickening attack on the streets of Salisbury, the UK with our NATO, EU and other allies took action, expelling over 150 Russian intelligence officers: the largest collective expulsion ever.
In Burma, following the damning report of the United Nations fact-finding mission, we should show the same confidence to hold accountable those responsible for the appalling atrocities repeatedly inflicted by the Burmese military on the Rohingya, Shan and Kachin peoples since 2011.
Similarly we should gather evidence of Daesh’s crimes worldwide, so ensuring justice for their victims and deterring those who might conduct such crimes in the future.
But accountability alone is not enough. We must do more collectively to prevent such atrocities in the first place, and address the causes of instability that can give rise to them.
The United Nations has a critical role to play. And it has a wide range of levers to do so from sanctions – which show the leaders of Iran and North Korea that they cannot act without consequence – to peacekeeping missions such as that in South Sudan, which is helping to prevent suffering and the collapse of law and order.
But to be able to draw effectively on these levers, the Security Council must find the political will to act in our collective interest. The UN’s agencies must deliver the reforms that the Secretary General has started – to become more agile, more transparent and better coordinated on the ground. And to support these reforms, we must also ensure proper funding is targeted specifically at those parts of the UN that deliver results.
70 years ago the General Assembly agreed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today we must renew the ideals and values on which that Declaration was founded.
In doing so, we must learn the lessons of the past and show through our actions how co-operation between strong and accountable states with open economies and inclusive societies can best deliver security and prosperity for all our people.
As Kofi Annan said at the start of his second term as Secretary General: “I have sought to turn an unflinching eye to the failures of our recent past, in order to assess more clearly what it will take for us to succeed in the future.”
In that spirit, let us show unflinching resolve to renew the promise of freedom, opportunity and fairness.
A promise which has delivered for more people, in more places than at any other period in our history.
And let us ensure that promise can be fulfilled for our children and grandchildren – and for every generation to come.
Published 26 September 2018
Transcript courtesy of GOV.UK
Transcript and video of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly, New York City, United States on September 20, 2017 on the vast array of challenges to the existing international order and the shared values of fairness, justice and human rights that unite United Nations member countries.
Full Transcript of Theresa May’s UN Speech, September 20, 2017
“Mr President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin by expressing my sincere condolences to the government and people of Mexico following the devastating earthquake. I also want to reiterate my sympathies to those affected by the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean. Our thoughts are with them all at this time.
As we meet at this General Assembly we face challenges that go right to the heart of who we are as nations. Challenges that test our values, our vision and our resolve to defend the rules and standards that underpin the security and prosperity of our fellow citizens. As I argued in my speech here last year, many of these challenges do not recognise or respect geographical boundaries. I think of course of the terrorism that has struck so many of our countries including my own 5 times this year. And fuelling that terrorist threat the increasing numbers being drawn to extremist ideologies not only in places riven by conflict and instability, but many online in their homes thousands of miles away from those conflicts. I think of the climate change which is depleting and degrading the planet we leave to our children.
And I think of the vast challenges that come from the mass displacement of people. Many are refugees fleeing conflict and persecution. Others, are economic migrants, prepared to risk everything on perilous sea crossings in the desperate search for a better life for themselves and their children. Through this migration we also see the challenges of economic inequality between countries and within them. This inequality, together with weaknesses in the global trading system, threatens to undermine support for the forces of liberalism and free trade that have done so much to propel global growth. And it is pushing some countries towards protectionism in the belief that this best defends the interests of their own people.
And as the global system struggles to adapt we are confronted by states deliberately flouting for their own gain the rules and standards that have secured our collective prosperity and security. The unforgiveable use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against its own people and perhaps foremost in our minds today the outrageous proliferation of nuclear weapons by North Korea and a threat to use them.
I believe that the only way for us to respond to this vast array of challenges is to come together and defend the international order that we have worked so hard to create and the values by which we stand. For it is the fundamental values that we share, values of fairness, justice and human rights, that have created the common cause between nations to act together in our shared interest and form the multilateral system. And it is this rules-based system which we have developed, including the institutions, the international frameworks of free and fair trade, agreements such as the Paris Climate Accord and laws and conventions like the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which enables the global cooperation through which we can protect those values.
Indeed, the defining purpose of the UN Charter is to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, to achieve international cooperation in solving problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character; and to be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations in the attainment of those common ends. And I do not see these as vaunted ideals to be held for their own sake. These values and the rules they imbue are central to our national interest, to our security and prosperity. And the international system with the UN at its heart is the amplifying force that enables countries to cooperate and live up to the standards in word, spirit and deed, to our collective and individual benefit.
If this system we have created is found no longer to be capable of meeting the challenges of our time then there will be a crisis of faith in multilateralism and global cooperation that will damage the interests of all our peoples. So those of us who hold true to our shared values, who hold true to that desire to defend the rules and high standards that have shaped and protected the world we live in, need to strive harder than ever to show that institutions like this United Nations can work for the countries that form them and for the people who we represent.
This means reforming our United Nations and the wider international system so it can prove its worth in helping us to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. And it means ensuring that those who flout the rules and spirit of our international system are held to account, that nations honour their responsibilities and play their part in upholding and renewing a rules-based international order that can deliver prosperity and security for us all.
First, we must ensure that our multilateral institutions can deliver the aspirations on which they were founded. Think of UNHCR looking after those who’ve been driven out of their homes. The OPCW striving for a world free of chemical weapons. UNICEF helping children in danger. These are all vital missions where the UN surely has a unique role to play. And that is why the UK has over 70 years been such a pioneering supporter of these organisations and more.
But we should also acknowledge that throughout its history the UN has suffered from a seemingly unbridgeable gap between the nobility of its purposes and the effectiveness of its delivery. When the need for multilateral action has never been greater the shortcomings of the UN and its institutions risk undermining the confidence of states as members and donors. Even more importantly they risk the confidence and faith of those who rely upon the blue helmets, who rely upon that sign I stand in front of today coming to their aid in the darkest of hours.
So we must begin by supporting the ambitious reform agenda that Secretary-General Guterres is now leading to create a more agile, transparent and joined-up organisation. Much of this work will be practical and unglamorous. It will require the UN to deliver better cooperation on the ground between agencies, remove competition for funding and improve gender equality. But it will also require real leadership to confront damaging issues that have beset the UN. So I welcome the Secretary-General’s new circle of leadership on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse in UN operations and I’m pleased to be part of this initiative.
We, the nations of the UN, need to give the Secretary-General our backing for these reforms and as an outward-looking global Britain and the second biggest funder of the UN the UK will remain committed to spending 0.7% of GNI on development and humanitarian support. We will use our military to support peacekeeping and our diplomats will continue to work to tackle conflict and support peace building. In turn the UN and its agencies must win our trust by proving to us and to the people we represent that they can deliver. And that is why we will remain generous in our funding but set aside 30% to be paid only to those parts of the UN that achieve sufficient results.
But this is about more than technical reforms, important as they are. It is also about reforms that enable the United Nations to truly respond to the global challenges of the 21st century. At last year’s General Assembly we undertook to do far more to resolve the challenges of refugee and migration flows. We agreed to develop global compacts to address the causes and the consequences of the mass movements of people we see today. This was an important step to elevate significantly our global response and enable us collectively to tackle this challenge of our times.
So in the year ahead as well as agreeing the principles of these compacts we must ensure they can be applied in practice. We must do more to identify, protect and support refugees and those hosting them near conflicts. And on migration our starting point must be that it can benefit both countries and migrants themselves but only when it is safe, orderly, well-managed and legal. If we do not manage this effectively, we will fail both our own citizens and those taking these dangerous journeys. And we will push more people into the curse of modern slavery and the hands of the human traffickers and organised criminal groups that drive this inhuman industry.
But the steps we are agreeing through these compacts alone will not be enough. For if people cannot find jobs, opportunity and hope for themselves and their families where they live they will continue to look elsewhere. And so as the United Nations and as members, we must work harder to combine the efforts of our development programmes with the private sector and the international financial institutions. To support the creation of jobs and livelihoods that will address not just the consequences, but the causes of this great challenge of our time. For the truth is that despite our best efforts, we are not succeeding. We must do more.
The same is true with terrorism, where again the challenges we face today are vastly different from those of previous eras. When terrorists struck London and Manchester this year, the world saw our cities come together in defiance. Our parliament carries on. Ariana Grande came back to Manchester and sang again. London Bridge is bustling with people. Our communities came together at the Finsbury Park mosque in North London. And Londoners got back on the Tube. The terrorists did not win, for we will never let anyone destroy our way of life.
But defiance alone is not enough. As leaders, we have all visited too many hospitals, and seen too many innocent people murdered in our countries. In the last decade, hundreds of thousands have been killed by terrorists across the world. This is a truly global tragedy that is increasingly touching the lives of us all. This year is the tenth anniversary of the death of the woman who introduced me to my husband, and who was known well to many of us in this United Nations. Benazir Bhutto was brutally murdered by people who actively rejected the values that all of us here in this United Nations stand for. In a country that has suffered more than most at the hands of terrorists. Murdered for standing up for democracy, murdered for espousing tolerance, and murdered for being a woman.
When I think of the hundreds of thousands of victims of terrorism in countries across the world, I think of their friends, their families, their communities, devastated by this evil, and I say enough is enough. So of course, we must continue to take the fight to these terrorist groups on the battlefield. And the UK will remain at the forefront of this effort, while also helping to build the capabilities of our alliances and our partners to better take on this challenge. And we must also step up our efforts as never before to tackle the terrorist use of the internet. For as the threat from terrorists evolves, so must our cooperation. And that is why today, for the first time in the UN, governments and industry through the Global Internet Forum for Counterterrorism will be coming together to do just that.
The tech companies have made significant progress on this issue, but we need to go further and faster to reduce the time it takes to reduce terrorist content online, and to increase significantly their efforts to stop it being uploaded in the first place. This is a major step in reclaiming the internet from those who would use it to do us harm. But ultimately, it is not just the terrorists themselves who we need to defeat, it is the extremist ideologies that fuel them. It is the ideologies that preach hatred, sow division and undermine our common humanity. We must be far more robust in identifying these ideologies and defeating them across all parts of our societies.
As I said in the aftermath of the attack on London Bridge this summer, we have to face the fact that this will require some difficult conversations. We all need to come together, to take on this extremism that lives among us, and to nurture the common values that must ultimately win out. These are the values of this United Nations. And yet, despite our best efforts, we as nations and as a United Nations have not found the ways or the means to truly take on this threat. And that is why today, as I talk about UN reform, I ask the Secretary General to make this fight against terrorists and the ideologies that drive them a core part of his agenda, at the heart of our development, peace building, and conflict prevention work. And to give this effort the prominence it surely requires. I’m calling on the Secretary General to make this a theme of next year’s General Assembly and use this to harness the efforts of governments, the private sector, and civil society so that we can truly strike the generational blow against this vile evil in our world.
And as we do so, we must clearly strike the balance between protecting our people and protecting their freedoms. And we must always guard against those who would use the fight against terrorism as a cover for oppression and the violation of human rights. So as we look at the situation in Northern Burma, I call on the Burmese authorities to put an end to the violence, allow humanitarian access, and fully implement Annan Commission recommendations.
And so by reforming our multinational institutions, we can strengthen their ability to deliver for the people we serve, protect the vulnerable and fight injustice. We can enable multilateralism to multiply the effect of our individual commitments through its convening power and spending power. Through the economies of scale it can bring, the standards it can set, the moral leadership it can harness, and the legitimacy it can confer. But multilateralism can only reflect the values that individual states project, and can only multiply the commitments that they are prepared to make. It is strong nations that form strong institutions, and which provide the basis of the international partnerships and cooperation that brings stability to our world.
And so it falls to us all to decide whether we will honour the responsibilities that we have to one another. I’ve talked about the role of the UN in stepping up on counterterrorism. But this is an area where we as states have critical responsibilities, which the UN cannot itself address alone, for it is inescapable that the terrorism conflict and the instability that we see across the world is in many cases driven by the actions of states acting through proxies.
So when countries back groups like Hezbollah to increase instability and conflict across the Middle East, support so-called separatists in Ukraine to create instability on Europe’s eastern borders, or give tacit support to criminal groups launching cyber-attacks against our countries and institutions, they call into question the very rules and international systems that protect us. And that is why, both globally, but also in our own continent of Europe, the UK will remain steadfast in our commitment and responsibility to ensure the security and stability of our friends and allies as we have done for generations.
And just as it the responsibility of nations not to seek to advance their interests through terrorist or proxy groups, so it is also the responsibility of each of is to act together in the face of the most egregious violations of our common rules and standards. Clearly responsibility for the chaos and tragedy that we see in Syria lies firmly at the door of Asaad. He and his backers have continually frustrated the efforts of the UN to act as the broker of peace through the Geneva Process. As responsible states, we must not abandon our support for the UN’s attempts to secure peace and stability in Syria. And indeed, we must continue to call on all those with influence on the regime to bring them to the table.
But in recent weeks, the UN has also confirmed what we all knew, namely that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on its own people. In the face of that, we have a responsibility to stand up, to hold the Syrian regime to account. This responsibility sits with us all, but a particular special responsibility lies on the shoulders of the permanent members of the security council. And as one of these five members, the United Kingdom takes our special responsibility seriously.
So I am proud that we have used the full weight of our diplomacy to ensure that we have not had to exercise our veto in a generation. Seeking to foster international cooperation, not frustrate it. But others have not done so. One country in particular has used its veto as many times in the last five years as in the whole of the second half of the Cold War. And in so doing, they have prevented action against a despicable regime that has murdered its own people with chemical weapons. As a result, in Syria, the United Nations has been blocked. This has undermined the values that we hold dear, and the international rules based system that is the basis of security and prosperity around the world.
Now we face an even more immediate, global danger in the activities of Kim Jong Un and his regime in DPRK. Time after time he’s shown contempt for the international community of law-abiding states. Contempt for his neighbours and contempt for the institutions and rules that have preserved peace and security. On this challenge, the UN in recent weeks has shown it can step up to the task. With last Monday’s security council resolution creating the biggest sanctions package of the 21st Century. We have seen regional and global powers coming together and as in its founding charter putting aside limited self-interests to show leadership on behalf of the wider world. But despite these efforts, DPRK continues to defy and provoke the international community and threaten its neighbours. And unless all security council members continue to live up to the special responsibilities that are placed upon us, and in seeking to resolve this crisis, be prepared to take on necessary measures to tackle this threat, we will not be able to bring stability to the Korean Peninsula.
So as the world looks on, I am calling for further steps and for nations with this special responsibility to work together and exert the pressure we know is necessary to force Kim Jong Un to change his ways. Let us not fail this time. Let our message to North Korea be clear. Our determination to uphold these rules is stronger by far than their determination to undermine them.
Mr. President, throughout the history of this United Nations, countries have shown time and time again that by being true to our values, rules, and standards, it is possible to come together and to deliver in ways that have the most extraordinary impact on the lives of the people we serve. I believe we can do so again. We must do so again, and we will do so again.
Published: 20 September 2017
Updated: 22 September 2017
Transcript courtesy of:
Department for International Development Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Prime Minister’s Office,
10 Downing Street
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP