According to President of the Republic Tarja Halonen, the UN Millennium Declaration and Millennium Development Goals have proved to be effective tools in reduction of extreme poverty. “The work must continue with enhanced determination,” she said in her speech at the UN General Assembly in New York on 21 September 2011. The guiding principles of the United Nations Charter – peace and security, human rights and development – have served well for decades.
“Recent events in Northern Africa and the Middle East have once again emphasized that development, human rights and peace and security are interlinked,” said President Halonen.
The fruits of economic growth fuelled by globalisation have not been equally distributed between and within nations. “This is wrong and this is not sustainable.” President Halonen referred to the work of the UN High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, which she is co-chairing. “[The Panel is] fully convinced that the eradication of poverty and sustainable development are interlinked and can be reached together.”
Reaching a solution to the Middle East conflict is more pressing than ever, the President said. “We need the urgent resumption of negotiations that will lead, within an agreed time-frame, to a two-state solution, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security.”
President Halonen stressed the importance of involving women in both peace processes and the building of society in order to harness its full human resources.
“The record is far from impressive at the moment, as the number of women around the negotiation tables continues to be strikingly low,” said the President. The UN has been at the forefront of support for empowering women. In the rapidly evolving situation in the Arab world, women and men have marched together for a better future. “It is important that they continue to participate side by side in building a democratic society. Democracy cannot be achieved without full participation of women.”
President Halonen argues that the importance of the United Nations has very much grown in the era of globalisation – the ‘G193 group’ has been a success. No country can solve all challenges on its own. “Every country should be part of the solution. Common responses are needed more than ever.
“I have had the opportunity to lead Finland’s delegation to the UN General Assembly since 1995. We have witnessed a remarkable widening of our common global agenda. Today’s decisions will affect not only us but also the future generations. A change is necessary for the survival of humankind. I am confident that the United Nations is the sole universal forum to respond to the challenges that the world is facing.”