Lithuanian President Grybauskaite says the UN should stand up for freedom, equality, and humanity.

Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania. is shown addressing the general debate of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak.

“This November”, according to the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, “The world will remember l00 years since the end of the First World War.” According to the President, “It caused the fall of empires and opened a window for small nations in Europe, including Lithuania, to achieve their dream to live independent and free, enjoying their culture and traditions.”

In her statement during the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, the Lithuanian President stated “To prevent such war from ever happening again, she said, “multilateral institutions were created to safeguard political independence and territorial integrity. Yet when the world faced its next big crisis, these institutions failed to act and remained powerless bystanders as humanity plunged into another World War.”

She went on to say, “Today, we wish to think that our multilateral institutions, including these United Nations, are strong enough to take a stand against aggression and disregard of international rules. Yet sometimes reality tells a different story. We see the world that is more fractured and institutions that are crumbling instead of sheltering us from the use of force and economic storms.”

From the Lithuanian President’s viewpoint, “In almost every major crisis of the last decade – from Syria to Ukraine, from Myanmar to Yemen – the UN Security Council was unable to play a meaningful role because of inability of states to rise above their national interest and constructive use of veto.” She added, “Organizations created to abolish weapons of mass destruction are toothless against dictators who develop nuclear arms and chemical weapons on civilians in our cities.”

On the subject of the global economy, Lithuanian President Grybauskaite said that “As the tide begins to turn for the global economy, the World Trade Organisation is facing paralysis, and rising global trade tensions could wipe away our achievements in sustainable development and poverty reduction.” She added that “We cannot reject globalisation because fighting it will only make us poorer. In the last 25 years, free trade gave more than l billion people an opportunity to escape extreme poverty. However, globalisation also has a dark side, which must be confronted by acting against exclusion, inequality, and falling labour standards.”

In her concluding remarks, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite stated the following: “We cannot let the voices of nationalism and division win over dialogue and cooperation. On all major challenges – terrorism, climate change, and achieving women empowerment – there is simply no alternative to working together.”

“So far,” she added., “We have been too quiet, too passive, too ignorant. We must stop taking an easy way out, blaming institutions for our domestic failures.” The President added, “We must recognize that we, the Member States, have the power and resources to enable the United Nations to stand up for freedom, equality, and humanity.”

“Because we are the United Nations, so let’s take responsibility for our future, empowering the UN to act.”

Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of "Baltic Review" based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body's work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.

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