On 19-23 September, the United Nations held the 78th session of its General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, bringing together world leaders and representatives for a discussion on the full spectrum of today’s international issues.
Liberals including European Council President Charles Michel and Prime Ministers from European Union Member States attended the high-profile assembly, holding speeches on topics that matter the most for our shared European and global future.
In his intervention, President Michel condemned the situation in Ukraine, calling it a “crime scene” and an “attempt at cultural genocide”. For this he called for a reform of the United Nations Charter to stop flagrant abuses of the right of veto by Security Council members and involve more regional organisations in the UN’s governance:
“For the last 19 months, a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia, has been brazenly waging a war of conquest against a neighbouring country which has never threatened it, shamelessly flouting our founding principles.”
“This brutal war is being waged with all its horror and disregard for human life. The General Assembly has condemned this war on several occasions. The European Union, together with others, has vowed that this impunity cannot last forever and that justice will be done.”
Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Croo highlighted the successful policies implemented to reduce carbon emissions in the energy sector and urged members to continue investing in sustainable and green energy:
“Our changing climate is reason for concern: we witnessed some extreme climate events this year. But let us look at our recent climate track record and we will see that there is a reason for grounded optimism.”
“A record-breaking €340 billion have been invested in renewable energy globally this year. Prices of renewables keep going down year after year. The Chair of the International Energy Agency called it the beginning of the end of the fossil-fuel era.”
“We should not despair: we should organise. We should speed up the green transition instead of talking ourselves down.”
Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel highlighted the endless fight for human rights and equality in Europe and beyond, and the efforts that Luxembourg is taking in this respect.
“It’s a shame that in 2023, human rights depend on where you are born, on your religion, sex or sexual orientation. And it’s not about human rights, it’s also about civil rights, economic rights, rights to education, rights to be different, rights to diversity, women’s rights, rights of the capacity to choose yourself and not let someone else think what is good for you.”
“We’re celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights, and for us the defence of human rights for women and children will stay a priority.”
Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte called on all UN member states to back Ukraine as long as necessary and under any circumstance, to ensure any violation of international law and human rights abuses can stop immediately.
“Every day, millions of people feel the effects of Russia’s aggression. Above all the Ukrainian people, who are the victims of terrible crimes. Every day they live in fear.”
“I’m calling on you. Speak out against Putin and Russia’s violation of the UN Charter. Support the peace plan. And support Ukraine. Even if it takes time. Even if there are setbacks. Especially if it takes time and there are setbacks. And tell Russia to give back the stolen children of Ukraine.”
It’s been a good day at the #UNGA in New York.— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) September 22, 2023
Obviously the war in Ukraine was high on the agenda. Russia’s aggression goes against everything we’ve built together since the Second World War. We must all take a stand against that aggression. The Netherlands has made its… pic.twitter.com/tPNogA4DLv