Muscat: Oman’s contribution to the objectives of regional peace, humanitarian assistance, multilateralism and climate protection has been praised by the President of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, who recently visited Muscat at the invitation of the Omani government, hailed the Sultanate’s unremitting and substantive role in championing peace, security and cooperation in the region.
“I am pleased with Oman’s active involvement and contribution to the UN. I wish to commend Oman’s unwavering commitment to multilateralism and advancing the objectives of the United Nations in all areas, including international peace and security, development and human rights. Oman has a particularly important role to play in the region in encouraging peaceful cooperation,” said Maria Espinosa.
In an exclusive interview to the Editor-in-Chief of Oman Daily Observer, Abdullah bin Salim al Shueili, she added: “Your country has long recognised that in our interconnected world, we cannot ignore crises that occur outside our own borders. Oman has led by example, from serving as a mediator in the region, to facilitating the Iran nuclear deal and supporting UN efforts to broker peace in Yemen. Oman is continuing to play a vital role in mediation efforts and commitment to peace, as well as being an active regional broker in the Middle East.”
Commitment to multilateralism
The former Ecuadorean Foreign Minister and veteran diplomat, who had been inaugurated as President of the 73rd UN General Assembly on September 17, 2018, was on a maiden visit to the Sultanate primarily to promote multilateralism, as well as secure Oman’s support for the priorities of the 73rd UN General Assembly.
The official said her “packed programme” included meetings with a number of high-level Omani government dignitaries. She also delivered a lecture at the National Defence College where she spoke on the importance of multilateralism and the role of the UN General Assembly in the maintenance of international peace and security.
“I met with representatives of civil society especially women and young people to listen to them and find out how we can bring the UN closer to people and people closer to the UN.
“It was also my pleasure to meet with the Omani Women Association and to hear them.”
I express my gratitude at the generous hospitality accorded to me and my delegation during this visit. I also commend Oman’s commitment to multilateralism and advancing the objectives of the UN particularly in the maintenance of international peace and security,” she said.
The UN General Assembly President applauded in particular the Sultanate’s support for the Global Pact on Migration — an historic deal agreed by 164 UN members in Morocco last December to ensure safe and orderly migration. “We strongly recognize the role that Oman is playing in the region and as an honest broker, as well as the humanitarian assistance you are extending to many people. I am also delighted by Oman’s support for the Global Compact on Refugees. The Compact is also about burden-sharing, about countries working together to better manage the question of supporting refugees, and Oman has been a great supporter of the Compact.” The Sultanate, it may be noted, has extended medical and humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing conflict in neighbouring Yemen.
Asked if she was hopeful that the Compact, spurned by a number of world powers, would be embraced in letter and spirit by UN Member States, Maria Espinosa stated: “The answer is yes, I am very hopeful. The Global Compact provides us with the best tools to address international migration in a manner that is fair and inclusive, that brings the perspective of migrants, countries of origin, transit and destination, and which also enable Member States to work in a collaborative way.”
The successful adoption of the Global Compact in Marrakesh, Morocco and its endorsement by the General Assembly was a victory for multilateralism, said the official. The Global Compact, Espinosa points out, has been constructed to help governments design and implement sound migration policies and practices.
Commenting on the humanitarian crisis in Syria unleashed by seven years of brutal conflict, the UNGA president appealed for stepped-up efforts to “bring the war to an end.’’ “Firstly, let me say that only a politically negotiated solution will help to bring the conflict in Syria to an end. There is absolutely no hope for a military solution. The people of Syria have suffered long enough. It is time to bring the war to an end. All parties and countries with influence in the region need to come back to the negotiating table.”
Maria Espinosa also welcomed the appointment of Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen as Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria. “I firmly believe that we need to seize this opportunity, this new momentum, to move forward, to develop confidence building measures and to work towards durable peace for the sake of Syria and its people, for the sake of the region, for the sake of the world,” she stressed. Turning to the perils of global warming, the official welcomed the Sultanate’s commitments in support of climate protection. “Oman has a special vulnerability to the potential impacts of climate change. You have managed a great achievement in your efforts to control emissions growth by 2 per cent during the period from 2020- 2030,” she said.
The Sultanate, the official said, has been invited to participate in a key international forum that seeks to add new momentum to recent successes in climate protection. “There is no greater challenge to the world today than climate change. This is why I chose environmental action as one of my priorities. Only by acting together can we make our goal-net of zero global emissions by 2050 a realistic, achievable goal,” she said.
“In meeting ministers, I have extended an invitation for your country to attend the High-Level meeting on the Protection of the Global Climate on March 28, which is designed to build on the success of COP24. I am counting on Oman’s participation!”
Importantly, women’s rights and gender diversity objectives also figured in the UNGA president’s interactions with authorities and women’s groups during her recent week to the Sultanate.
Affirming the importance her presidency is according to these goals, she added: “As the fourth woman to assume the Presidency of the General Assembly, I have dedicated my term to helping all women and girls, and women in politics. My experience shows that women often have to work twice as hard for their achievements to be recognized or simply to have a chance. Gender equality and the empowerment of women are among my top priorities. I am counting on your support in promoting gender equality and empowering women, to understand that without the contribution of half of the world’s population we cannot achieve anything. We need the women, we need the men. It’s about an equal partnership. Where would the world be without us!”