President delivers speech at UN General Assembly session

President delivers speech at UN General Assembly session Piotr Nowak/PAP

Polish President Andrzej Duda took part on Wednesday in the 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 75), during which he appealed for a declaration of "global solidarity" to overcome current crises in the world and supported human rights in Belarus.

Formally, the General Debate began on Tuesday. The speeches of the participants in the virtual session were pre-recorded and played in the UN General Assembly Hall in New York.

Duda listed several key issues for Poland, including compliance with international law, the multilateral cooperation of states, international humanitarian law, protection of human rights and environmental responsibility.

The Polish president began his speech with a reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said has "forced us to embark upon a completely new reflection exercise, as well as to look for solutions to problems which the world has not grappled with for years on such a huge scale."

When referring to the adopted declaration, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the UN, Duda said he would like it to be an expression of the longevity of ideas which formed the basis for cooperation and a testimony of the political will to implement them. He added that he wished "it was a declaration of 'global solidarity,'" Duda added.

The president observed that Poland had intensified its presence within the United Nations system. "We held a two-year-long mandate in the Security Council, we hosted the climate conference COP24 in 2018, and our soldiers returned to the UN-peace keeping force in Lebanon, as part of UNIFIL."

Duda pointed to the immense achievements of the UN in securing peace, containing conflicts, and stabilizing the situation in many regions of the world.

He declared Poland's readiness for a constructive discussion and active engagement while defending the achievements of UN, which "are undeniable and constitute a common political legacy of humanity."

However, in his opinion, "construction through destruction of things that already exist is not only costly, but very risky at the same time. It creates the danger of shaking up the foundations of the strenuously developed rules and values and supplanting traditions, as well as historical experiences."

As the president noted, the theme of this year's session is the search for common and unified answers to today's global challenges. "Whenever we talk about community building in Poland and discuss common and selfless action in the name of a higher purpose, then there is always one word which springs to mind: solidarity," he said.

"Therefore, today, 40 years since the establishment of 'Solidarity' (trade union - PAP) in Poland and 75 years since setting-up of the United Nations Organisation, I wish to urge all Heads of State and Government and all Esteemed Delegates to co-create the idea of a 'global solidarity,'" Duda stated.

He expressed his belief that just like the 'Solidarity' movement in Poland changed the course of history, 'global solidarity' might become the plan to help overcome contemporary crises in the world.

According to him, three of these crises are particularly tangible and painful. The first, as he noted, is the socio-health crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

"The second one is either the newly emerging or the re-emerging crisis of the quality of relations between states. Unfortunately, it is increasingly the case that the relations turn into a confrontation, rivalry and even imperial domination," the president observed.

The third crisis, as he said, results from a lack of relevant tools for efficient transformation of economies to allow them to maintain a permanent and stable level of economic growth while taking care of the quality of the natural environment. "That definitely is one of the most fundamental challenges facing humanity today and in the nearest future," the head of Polish state noted and added he believed these crises will remain unsolved unless we focus on the idea of 'solidarity.'

Another issue that the president raised during his speech was the violation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons, which was repeatedly the case in recent years. "Poland did not and does not accept the fact that chemical weapons are still in use," he declared.

"It is only through the enforcement of the fundamental principles and norms of international law enshrined, among other values in the Declaration on Principles of International Law adopted by the General Assembly half a century ago, will we succeed in building a lasting peace and a safe world of equal states and free nations with no spheres of influence," the president observed.

As he noted, Poland keeps underlining, in an incessant and consistent manner, the importance and the unique role of human rights and international humanitarian law.

"Therefore, I have appealed to the international community, through the UN Human Rights Council in which Poland currently holds a three-year-long mandate, to pay attention to the violation of human rights in Belarus. I am glad that the Council has held a meeting dedicated to this issue," Duda said.

"In the name of solidarity we should all speak with one voice and demand that fundamental human rights be respected both in Belarus and in other places across the globe," the president stated.