STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. TSOGTBAATAR DAMDIN, MP, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF MONGOLIA, AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 74TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, 28 September 2019
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The world, we live in today, is indeed, complex, at times chaotic, uncertain and unpredictable. It is faced with mounting challenges, including protracted conflicts, persistent poverty and hunger, terrorism and violent extremism, and a fast-changing climate. Democracy, although still prevalent as never before, is challenged and tested as to its strength. Inequalities are deepening, global military spending and arms competition are increasing, respect for international norms and institutions are weakening. Multilateralism is being more than often challenged. In short, at times it feels more like the world of pre-1990s.
Yet, the Cold War era is long over. Back then we had existential stand-off of antagonistic ideologies negating each other completely. The stand-off was existential, I repeat. Compared to that, in today’s world there is virtually no other existence-threatening enemy, except for terrorism and the climate emergency. If one looks at the foreign policy documents, constitutions and laws of the absolute majority of the countries, it would be revealed that war and violence are prohibited. Basically, all the countries today pursue growth, progress and prosperity for their own people within their own jurisdictions through international cooperation.
This general situation coupled with the unprecedented level of education and information-saturation of the mass, science and technological progress apparently makes us believe that our reason is unshakably strong and extremely unlikely to yield to irrational urges.
Therefore, in the present world when we go in our international debates into provocative and adversarial territory, we seem to have inner belief that it will not degenerate into violent, coercive interaction. However, that may be an erroneous overconfidence in our intellect, humanity and reason.
We should not forget that we at the core remain social animals. Aggression and anger triggers counter-aggression and angry response. In addition to that, we have an unprecedented exposure to the risk of the anger and frustration of few to multiply and explode into the mass irritation due to the interconnectedness through the social media. The later unchartered before and unique territory should always be kept in mind now. We are yet to fully understand the social change that the IT era is offering.
On top of all the above-mentioned under-known realities, we should not forget that we have piles of nuclear weapons that can put all the differences to an end at once and for good along with all the virtues the life offers. And this is not the way we would want to settle and end our differences. Indeed, after living for 30 with odds years in the world without an enemy in a full nuclear sense, we are used to taking global peace for granted. Hence, we often control little our rhetoric as to its potential to aggravate animosity. However, in today’s environment we should not overestimate the strength of our reason and underestimate the risk of our animal instincts.
The world we know today is no longer misleading through the apparent political correctness. It increasingly is unveiling its rigidity and roughness with honesty. This reminds us to chill down and assess anew the risks and dangers.
In light of all the above, we ought to realize that compared to the Cold War era our present world is a brotherhood of nations. Hence, there are no differences today that cannot be overcome, should we settle for respecting and understanding each other, before anything else.
Over the past high-level week the international community has come up united in its resolve to speed up the collective action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and addressing the climate emergency. Mongolia strongly supports the pledge to make the coming decade one of action and delivery through supporting the most vulnerable and reaching the furthest behind first.
I wish to applaud the leadership of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for hosting the Climate Action Summit earlier this week.
The Summit proved instrumental in building the momentum to turn the tides as 77 countries along with over 100 cities committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, 70 countries pledged to boost their NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) by 2020, and a dozen of governments doubled their contributions to the Green Climate Fund.
Science tells us that any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees would lead to a catastrophic and irreversible damage to the ecosystem that supports us.
Like many other developing countries Mongolia has contributed the least to the global heating. Yet, in Mongolia, over the last 80 years, annual mean temperature has increased by 2.26 degrees Celcius. As a result, 77 percent of the territory has been affected by desertification and land degradation. The permafrost area had shrunk more than twice over the last 40 years, and more than 800 lakes have dried out.
Given the fact that over 80 percent of the rural people’s livelihood is dependent on nature, climate change is already having a devastating impact on our people, on our lives and the economy.
On its part, Mongolia is faithfully fulfilling its NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) to reduce by 14 percent its Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Furthermore, a more ambitious NDC target along with sound climate change legislation and policies are being developed.
Mongolia has abundant solar and wind power resources and aims at increasing the share of renewable energy to 30 percent of its energy mix by 2030, up from the current 3 percent. To this end, the Government has introduced feed-in tariffs for wind, solar and hydropower energy, and is working to refine the relevant legislation in support of renewable energy.
We are also working to set up a multilateral institution for Electricity grid interconnections to ensure energy security, job creation and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in Northeast Asia through tapping its wind and solar energy potential.
Mongolia is willing to contribute not only to energy security, but also to peace and security in Northeast Asia.
Back in early 1980s Mongolia first proposed the idea of creating a regional security dialogue mechanism.
Later, in 2000 we proposed to have an informal meeting of Foreign Ministers of the NEA countries on the margins of the ARF Ministerial meetings to start discussing the least contentious issues. Some countries at that time were not ready to start engaging in such a format. Perhaps now the time is more conducive to explore such opportunities. Hence, I reiterated our proposal at the last ARF Ministerial meeting held August 2 in Bangkok.
Mongolia is, indeed, the only country in NEA which does not have any unresolved issues, be it territorial or political with other countries in the region, or any other country in the world. Our aim is to provide a neutral ground for constructive dialogue and engagement.
I am pleased to note that the UB Dialogue on Northeast Asia, hosted by Mongolia annually since 2014, is evolving into an open and inclusive mechanism for facilitating talks, promoting mutual understanding and confidence-building and searching rooms for compromise when necessary. Its agenda has also expanded to cover both traditional security issues as well as those related to energy, infrastructure, green growth, investment and humanitarian cooperation.
The overall security situation in Northeast Asia still remains complex.
As a country with a well-recognized nuclear-weapon-free status, Mongolia stands for a de-nucleriazed Korean Peninsula and welcomes a series of high-level recent summits between the main stakeholders.
I join the others in underscoring the importance of a continued dialogue, the implementation of the Joint Statement by the US and the DPRK as well as the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Here, I wish to support the idea proposed by President Moon Jae-in of the ROK on September 24 to transform the Demilitarized Zone into an international peace zone.
Achieving sustainable development for the people and the planet will not be smooth and easy. But we are all in this together. The heightened interdependence of the human family requires an effective global partnership to secure our common future.
Full implementation of the Vienna Program of Action for the LLDCs needs to be closely aligned with the SDGs and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development. We expect that its 5-year review in December this year will come up with an ambitious roadmap for accelerating its implementation.
The LLDCs continue to face considerable challenges inherently linked to their geographical handicap and remain largely marginalized in the global trade. Their combined share in global exports declined from 1.2 percent in 2014 to 0.98 percent in 2018 with commodities accounting for the bulk of their exports. Increased international assistance for export diversification, value-addition, infrastructure development, institutional and productive capacity-building and better market access remain essential for the LLDCs.
Mongolia is proud to contribute to the South-South Cooperation through promoting interests of LLDCs and initiating the establishment of a think tank back in 2006. Today the Ulaanbaatar-based International Think Tank is actively engaging in global dialogues on related issues through providing evidence-based advisory services and organizing regional and international workshops.
I wish to invite all member states and development partners to support the work of this Center of Excellence. On its part, the Government of Mongolia has been contributing USD 100,000 annually to this institution over the last several years.
In these turbulent times, democracy has been tested in many corners of the world. Some countries are having hard times to manage a downward spiral while others were able to withstand it and strengthen the people’s power.
Nearly three decades ago in 1990, Mongolia made a historic choice to democracy and market economy. Though the road leading to multi-party system, parliamentary democracy, free elections, open markets, human rights and the rule of law has been bumpy with knolls and holes, we were able to build democracy and are proud of its solid achievements. Today, our citizens enjoy human rights, fundamental freedoms, private property and freedom of expression and movement.
Democracy unleashed the inherent potential of individuals and the private sector has come to produce over 80 percent of our GDP. The access to information and the right to assembly allow for greater transparency, online and offline social interaction, and freedom of speech.
Moreover, over the recent years, Mongolia has taken a host of measures aimed at strengthening merit-based professional civil service, cutting red tape, promoting rule of law and fighting corruption head-on.
Globally, Mongolia was proud to serve as Chair of such representative international organizations as the International Conference of New and Restored Democracies, the Community of Democracies and the Freedom Online Coalition sharing with others its lessons learned in democratic consolidation.
No doubt that democracy needs to be nurtured as we move forward with its consolidation. Accordingly, governance reform issues, including better checks and balances, securing the independence of the judiciary, greater authority for local and municipality levels are being broadly discussed as the Parliament considers amendments to our 1992 Constitution.
Recognizing that active involvement of all people in this exercise is of paramount importance, the Parliament is set to decide on the national referendum on the amendments. I could not agree more with the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he “urged all governments to respect the right to active, substantive and meaningful participation” in his message to the people and the Government of Mongolia on the International Day of Democracy on the eve of the 30th anniversary of our democratic transition.
The world today is home to the largest generation of young people in history, 1.8 billion.
The youth is a source of new ideas, innovation, energy and dynamism. Constructive engagement of young generation in addressing global issues is critical. This was vividly demonstrated last weekend when millions of the youth marched on Climate Action Strike demanding climate justice, action and accountability. Their resolve has helped to boost the momentum at the Climate Action Summit.
With a view to utilizing better social media in promoting a culture of peace, non-violence and tolerance among the youth my Ministry organized a unique forum, called “Peacebook Forum” in collaboration with the Facebook Inc. last April in Ulaanbaatar.
Furthermore, my Ministry, together with the UN, hosted the first ever Northeast Asia Forum on Youth, Peace and Security in June 2019. At the Forum, our initiative to create a completely digital Peacebook Journal of International Relations was highly appreciated by the participants.
The journal would run and publisize research works on global issues by scholars and peacebuilders from around the world. The benefits for the youth in creating such a journal would include promotion of a culture of peace, tolerance, intercultural and interreligious dialogue, enhancement of the voice and participation of the youth in decision-making for the prevention and resolution of conflicts.
Furthermore, to encourage critical, analytical, scholarly academic thinking on global peace and security issues among the youth we also proposed the creation of an award – the Peace, Progress, Prosperity Promise Award to inspire a scholarly research work competition.
In advancing these initiatives we will be working together with all our interested partners, including the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Youth.
As we are nearing the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, Mongolia reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the world Organization as the center of multilateralism.
My delegation highly commends the Secretary-General’s bold reforms in peace and security pillar, repositioning the UN development system, management and gender-parity initiatives – all designed to make the world Organization fit to meet the current manifold challenges.
Our collective efforts must be redoubled to uphold and strengthen multilateralism in promoting peace, security and sustainable development while ensuring that no one and no country is left behind.
I thank you for your attention.