Harper's speech to the United Nations

Here are the remarks Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to make to the United Nations General Assembly this afternoon:

Merci beaucoup.

Messieurs les co-Présidents

Monsieur le Secrétaire général,

Excellences,Mesdames et Messieurs.

For over 65 years the nations of the world, exhausted, some shattered – by years of war, created the United Nations.

Canada was one of them.

One of many, in fact, of whose experience convinced our people of the possibility of a better world, one in which nations peacefully settle their differences.

Canadians today believe in this objective and will continue to strive to live by those principles to make it possible.

Such principles are enshrined in the charter of this organization:

That same UN Charter endorsed with happiness and hope by a former Canadian government, on that auspicious June day in San Francisco in 1945.

These foundational beliefs recognize the sovereign equality of countries.

They remind us of the obligation to settle disputes peacefully.

And, they demand we seek justice, and uphold the human rights of all people.

These are values that Canadians hold dear.

And, as the universal membership of this body implies, so do peoples the world over.

This widespread consensus continues to convince the idealist in all of us that so much more is possible in this world of ours.

At the same time,it makes the gap between aspiration and achievement so disappointing.

It calls us onward to do more,as successive Canadian governments have worked diligently to do for almost a lifetime.

These ideals, as well as an acute awareness of the broad concerns of the international community, especially those of the developing countries continue to animate the Government of Canada, the government that I lead today.

And these ideals have the enthusiastic support of the Canadian population.

And I do not know the day or reasons that would make us stop our efforts in this direction.

As always, the question that arises is how to proceed.

Our preference is for useful action.

An action that produces tangible results.

An action that helps people in their struggle against oppression, disasters and poverty.

Let me just run through some of those actions.

As a founding member of the UN,and the seventh-largest contributor to its finances, Canada has been a consistently reliable and responsible participant in UN initiatives around the world.

This was so in the earliest days of the UN.

It was so during the difficult days of the Cold War,of de-colonizationand of the struggle against apartheid.

It is so today.

Canada continues to pay, for instance, a heavy priceto fulfill our UN obligation to support the lawful government of Afghanistan.

We pay it in both the resources of Canadian taxpayers,but also with profound sorrow,in the priceless lives of our young men and women who serve there in the Canadian Armed Forces,as well as, sadly,civilians who have also given their sweat and their lives in the service of both our country, and of the people of Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan,our military effortshave gone hand-in-hand with our reconstruction and development programs there.

In particular,Canada supports those, such as the Dhala dam, which will have enduring economic benefit.

And we have also invested heavily – and we will continue to do so – in other programs that improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens of this country.

Our international engagement is not certainly not limited to Afghanistan.

In fact, we put our efforts elsewhere.

We are committed to doubling aid to Africa, so that Canada is a leader in the G8 in terms of fulfilling that commitment.

And we are on track to double our overall development assistanceby March of next year.

Further, we have untied food aid, and all Canadian aid will be untied by 2013.

Such measures significantly extend the purchasing power of Canadian aid funds.

Canada was also among the firstlast year at l’Aquila, to double support for agricultural development.

And during the economic crisis,we have acted,in concert with G-20 partners,to increase the lending capacity of development organizations like the Inter-American Development Bankand the African Development Bank

In particular, we have made a significant contribution to peace and security in Africa,including to peace initiatives, humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in the Sudan,since taking office in January 2006.

Canada has also used his leadership to restore peace in Sierra Leone.

And as you all know, we're very much involved in Haiti, both before and since the terrible earthquake terreq ui hit the country this year.

Canada was among the first nations to provide various forms of practical help.

And he is committed long term to help the people of Haiti to rebuild their country severely damaged.

Most recently, Pakistan has faced devastating floods.

Canada has again responded quickly.

These actions originate Canadian ideals.

Let me say one thing: this assembly should know that Canada is eligible for the Security Council.

If we are elected, we are ready to serve.

And, if called upon to serve on the Security Council we shall be informed by these ideals and strive to further them,just as we have striven to implement Security Council resolutions.

I should also mention Canada’s role this year as chair of the G8 and host of the most recent meetingof the G20.

We have tried to ensure that these gatherings serve the broader interests of the entire global community.

In preparation for the G20 we conducted wide-ranging outreach sessions,including with the Secretaries General of the Commonwealth, the Francophonie and, of course, this organization.

We used our chairmanship of the G8to reach out to leaders from Africa and the Americas and to secure an agreement to enact the Muskoka Initiative, for maternal, newborn and child health.

Such progress has literally essential to achieve the most feasible of the UN Millennium Development Goals: halving the frightful mortality among mothers and children in developing countries.

We strive to mobilize donor nations and private foundations.

Together, we should collect more than 10 billion dollars over five years.

This will contribute significantly to the Secretary General's Global Strategy for the health of mothers and children.

Similarly, we announced here two days ago that taxpayers will carry out a reconstruction reinforced the Global Fund to Fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

We did these things for one simple reason:To alleviate the suffering and indeed, to save the lives of people all over the world, who are among the millions suffering from these grave and debilitating diseases.

Actions such as these are a moral imperative.

It is essential that we strive to make a significant, actual difference in the lives of the world’s most disadvantaged people.

Who, seeing his neighbour distressed, will pass by on the other side of the road?

That is why we have also used our chairmanship of the G8 to further the essential ethicof accountability.

We published the first accountability reportto ensure that as donor countries,we fulfill the pledges that we make.

Our words must be translated into actionand must makea real difference to those who need our help.

And to that end, as many of you also know, Canadian taxpayers have forgiven debts totalling a billion dollars,owed by the world’s poorest countries.

Our Aspirations

However, let us not limit our horizons by looking just at the least we can do.

Much higher goals are within our capacity,if we will but reach for them.

In the short time that I have with you today, there is one thought above all others that I wish to share with you.

It is the urgent need for all states of the twenty-first century world in adopting an enlightened view of sovereignty.

As I said before, respect for sovereignty is a fundamental principle of the United Nations.

However, the global recession of the last two years has taught us – hopefully-a painful lesson. We are brutally reminded that in this shrinking world, we all travel in the same boat and not alone.

And how we travel together is very important.

Because our interests are all linked together: climate change to health threats and pandemics including of course, for the economy.

For example, nations that do not consider the effects of their economic choices on others, may not only hurt their trading partners, but themselves as well.

Those who succumb to the lure of protection is ,soon find that trading partners denied a market also lack the means to be a customer.

To recognize thatis to understand the need for enlightened sovereignty, the idea that what’s good for others may well be the best wayto pursue one’s own interests.

In business,it is called win-win.

And it is good for business.

In international affairs,it is good for development and for justice.

And it is in the spirit of the UN Charter.

It is therefore of the highest importance,in a passionate world of competing interests and principles, where every person left to himself does what is right in his own sight -in such a world the need foran enlightened, expansive view of sovereignty is as great now as it ever was.

At the outset of these remarks, I referred to the origins of the UN.

It was founded at the end of the greatest and most destructive war that had ever disturbed the ocean of humanity.

That war was certainly attributable in part to an extreme and pernicious nationalism.

But, we should never forget that appeasement and expediency also allowed fascism to gather such strength, that it required the whole and undivided effort of the world’s free peoples to subdue it.

The UN’s mission has grown over time, but its core job remains the same –through peace and development,to build a better world.

To prevent war and conflict, yet at the same time,to uphold what is rightand to protect the weak and the poor from those who prey upon them.

The Government of Canada has always been deeply committed to these goals and toward the organization that cultivates.

It still is today.

And as we attend to our own affairs, in, for example, the protection of our Arcticor the promotion of our tradeor the pursuit of our values,we shall be guided by the same advice we prescribe for others.

We will listen to their concerns.

We will speak the truth.

We will act with vigour,

And we will do all these things ever mindful that peace and opportunity for allremain always our ultimate purpose.

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