Toqayev's Speech At General Debate of The UN General Assembly's 78th Session


Qasym-Jomart Toqayev spoke at the General Debate of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly September, 2023 in New York.

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Ladies and Gentlemen, Today humanity faces enormous shifts unseen in a century and has entered yet another period of geopolitical confrontation. The essence of the threat comes from the simultaneous erosion of fundamental principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.

The displacement of these pillars puts an increasingly heavy burden on the existing structure of international relations and creates confrontations. The pattern of non-compliance, suspension and withdrawal from key international legal instruments is extremely concerning as it could lead to the point of no return.

This situation disrupts the trading system, weakens the supply chains that drive economic life, damages food security, and accelerates inflation. Current negative trends further exacerbate human suffering. 108 million people are forcibly displaced, more than 1 billion live in poverty, and 2 billion do not have access to essential medicines.

The ultimate result is humanity’s loss of confidence in the future stable development of the world.

The younger generations no longer believe that the world they inherit will be a better one. Therefore, Kazakhstan finds it necessary to restate its unwavering commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter. The leaders gathered here are responsible for the fate and future of humankind.

Yet, as we approach the UN’s 80th anniversary, we have come almost full circle to the Organization’s point of departure.

The resolution of political issues by force in fact results only in deadlock. Dialogue is the only way to create a conducive environment that enables agreement on new principles and norms. Despite best efforts, conflicts persist in many regions of the world. We urge all parties to seek diplomatic solutions to the conflicts based on the UN Charter and universally recognized international law.

In this regard, Kazakhstan commends all the efforts and plans proposed by different states and groups of countries in support of a political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. Diplomacy and dialogue should always prevail in seeking the resolution of international disputes.

We must therefore together exert the greatest efforts to stabilize the only system of global institutions we have. 

We will not succeed in tackling these challenges without a comprehensive reform of the Security Council. It is an urgent need of our time that meets the interests of the vast majority of humanity.

I am strongly convinced that the voices of Middle Powers and all developing countries in the Council need to be amplified and clearly heard.

Since the Security Council appears unable to move beyond deadlock, it should become more representative so that other countries – including Kazakhstan – can play a greater role in the maintenance of peace and security. In our own region, the growing engagement of member-states has been a positive force in the transformation of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia into a full-fledged international organization that can contribute to continental mediation and peace-making.

Similarly, as the current chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Kazakhstan put forward the Initiative of World Unity for a Just Peace and Harmony. This initiative – which we invite you to join– comprises a New Security Paradigm, a Fair Economic Environment, and a Clean Planet.

Open dialogue between the Global South and the Global North is its central pillar. Of all the challenges we face, perhaps the most destructive is the threat of use of nuclear weapons.

30 years ago, Kazakhstan voluntarily renounced the fourth largest inherited nuclear arsenal. 

That is why the logic of the nuclear agenda must be reversed. Only mutual trust and cooperation between nuclear powers – on the path to a world free of nuclear weapons – can produce global stability.

In this context, Kazakhstan declares its continuous commitment to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We support the development of new mechanisms in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation. A Strategic Plan for the complete renunciation of nuclear weapons by 2045 could well be the most significant contribution to global security of this generation of leaders.

At the same time, COVID-19 has painfully illustrated our vulnerability to future biological risks and threats. Kazakhstan appeals to the Secretary General and the President of this Assembly to launch the process of establishing an International Agency for Biological Safety.

We welcome the Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace. This strategic document must confront a trust vacuum and growing hostility in the world.

In the upcoming Summit of the Future next year, Kazakhstan will play a constructive and supportive role to adopt a Pact for the Future. But the search for peace is not just about the banning of weapons or the signing of declarations. Interreligious and interfaith dialogue plays a key role in fostering a culture of peace.

We are therefore concerned about recent acts of profound disrespect towards holy books. Such barbaric acts against Islam or any other religions cannot be accepted as expressions of freedom, free speech and democracy.

All holy books, including Quran, deserve legal protection against vandalism. Finally, a culture of peace can only be based on the principles of unity in diversity and mutual respect.

I am proud therefore of the outstanding role of the Astana-based Congress of the leaders of world religions. In brief, Kazakhstan is a peace-loving nation that pursues its own national interest while continuously searching for peaceful solutions of pending international issues.

Independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty are core principles that will guide my people now and in the future.

We will continue cooperation with our major allies on all strategic issues.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We need new assessments that will enable us to tackle pressing global economic problems while ensuring the right to development.

To do this, we require an open, transparent and inclusive multilateral trading system based on WTO principles and rules. We also need to think about a better global food security system.

Nearly 10 percent of the world’s population faced hunger last year.

We must boost voluntary information exchange on food security, including volumes of production, and the export and import of food products. In concert, we must enable the transparent tracking of funding from the international community in response to food crises.

Kazakhstan is ready to act as a regional food supply hub. We have all the required resources, infrastructure and logistics in place for these purposes. Kazakhstan is already a reliable link for nearly 80% of overland transit traffic between Asia and Europe.

The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route – the so-called “Middle Corridor” – can significantly strengthen East-West engagement.

This route could increase the pace of trade between critical markets, cutting by almost half the amount of time required to transport goods via the maritime route.

Dear friends, The urgency of climate action risks to become a cliché. But it is a dangerous cliché because immediate, effective and transformational steps are urgently required to prioritize environmental protection.

Central Asia is one of its front lines. Even if we successfully limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by 2030 – which looks increasingly unlikely – we will experience between 2 and 2.5 degrees of temperature rise in Central Asia.

Despite the long road of the Paris Climate Agreement, we must all remain committed to a carbon-free future. The climate agenda should not be used to introduce measures restricting trade and investment cooperation.

Instead we must focus on positive change, such as Climate-Positive Actions identified by the United Nations including investing in green jobs, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and ensuring that all climate actions are fair, inclusive, and involve women at all levels.

Yet without proper funding, ambitious plans to combat climate change will remain unmet. In this regard, we propose to launch Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) in Kazakhstan.

A gradual, sustainable, and socially responsible transition away from coal would be a big bonus for global climate change goals. Kazakhstan’s initiative to open the Project Office for Central Asia on Climate Change and Green Energy in Almaty can lead on these issues.

We look forward to hosting a Regional Climate Summit in Kazakhstan in 2026 under UN auspices. In our region we have seen that water scarcity has created serious economic and other challenges in transboundary river basins.

This will be replicated across the world: by 2040 global demand for water may outstrip supply by as much as 40%.

We must therefore combine political will and economic resources to address this critical global issue simultaneous with climate action. 

Next year, we will assume chairmanship of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. We will continue efforts to prevent further degradation of the environment and its impact on livelihoods around what was once the fourth largest lake on the planet.

Today it is the world’s largest lake – the Caspian Sea – that also faces ecological challenges including shallowing, water diversion, and the pollution of flora and fauna. Saving the Caspian Sea must be a matter of common priority that requires long-term international cooperation. Ladies and Gentlemen, Kazakhstan is committed to further enhancing multifaceted cooperation with the countries of Central Asia.

Our region can play a more active role as a “cohesive and independent” part of the international community while contributing to global development processes. Fortunately, economic activity is growing. Over the last five years, intraregional trade doubled to 10 billion US dollars.

Our regional agenda includes Afghanistan which must become a stable, prosperous state and a reliable trade partner.

In this context, it is timely to establish a UN Regional Centre for SDGs for Central Asia and Afghanistan in Almaty. I call on all Member States to support our initiative. Excellencies, Let me also present a brief update on our domestic reform efforts.

Despite global, regional and geopolitical challenges, our society and government are building a Just and Fair Kazakhstan.

In a very short period of time, we have reformed our institutions, amended our constitution, curtailed the powers of the presidency, reset political and economic systems, and battled corruption. Much was done in only two years.

The mindset of our people, particularly of the younger generation, has already changed substantially in that time. The Presidential mandate has been limited to one seven-year term.

This proposal was supported by the people of Kazakhstan in the public referendum and will remain unchanged in the future. We will firmly adhere to the formula of “a Strong President, an Influential Parliament, and an Accountable Government”.

These reforms are based on principles of justice, equality, fairness, and freedom.

It is my personal credo that the rule of law must prevail in all circumstances.

We understand that only political reform and investments in human capital can make our economy more resilient and robust.

Kazakhstan has made significant progress in achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls. We introduced a 30% quota for women, youth and persons with disabilities in the electoral party lists. It will allow them to participate more actively and equally in the political life of the country.

In my recent State of the Nation Address I have presented a new economic policy that is designed first of all to provide all citizens the necessary opportunities for decent life.

We are giving greater attention and value to young people who work hard and – with the support of the Government – will contribute to the sustainable development of the country and its leading position in international fora.

The health, well-being and good education of the younger generation are key priorities of Kazakhstan’s state policy. I place my hope in the younger generation. They will drive our country into future. At home and abroad we are working for that better future. Let us rekindle the spirit of unity and collective action that underpins the United Nations. Let us remember that our shared commitment to a better world transcends our differences.

Kazakhstan stands ready to collaborate with all Member States in the pursuit of a brighter, more just, and sustainable world.

Thank you.

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