Ilves at General Assembly: Unless it does more, UN will lose relevance (1)

Toomas Hendrik Ilves delivering his final speech as President of Estonia at the UN General Assembly in New York. Sept. 21, 2016. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Scanpix)
By Lauri Tankler
9/22/2016 10:42 AM
Category: News

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves addressed the UN General Assembly as the Estonian head of state for the tenth and final time on Wednesday, calling on the UN to confidently and more aggressively seek solutions to global issues, or else the organization would lose relevance.

Ilves' speech reminded the General Assembly that a member state of the UN, Russia, continues to violate a fundamental principle of the UN Charter signed 71 years ago.

"The prohibition on the use of force to change borders lies at the heart of the UN Chater," Ilves reminded his listeners. "It was blatantly violated and yet the UN could not make a difference."

"We need global norms," he continued. "Just as we need international law, we need also the mechanisms to enforce it. Unless the UN starts to do more, it will, over time, lose relevance."

Ilves found that the UN should contribute more earnestly to solving global issues, recalling the organization's ability to handle the refugee crisis that followed World War II. "When we face a global challenge, the UN should be the first place to come to for a solution, not the last stop when all other options have been exhausted," he noted in his address.

"In Germany alone there were 24 million refugees, 12 million of which were from outside of Germany and 12 million of which were external, as Germany had been destroyed and people were living under the open sky, far away from home," Ilves said in an interview with ERR. "And so this isn't unprecedented. And this is a situation in which the UN could be doing a lot more."

The Estonian president's address to the 71st UN General Assembly can be read in full here.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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