At UN Southeast Asian ministers highlight regions efforts on Global Goals

Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn of Cambodia addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak “I wish to emphasize here the responsibility of the rich countries which have the means to turn these goals into reality,” he said, noting that two billion of the world’s inhabitants still live in poverty and 1.2 billion have to survive on a daily budget of $1.25. “Based on those figures alone, it is clear how urgent a task the 17 SDGs present.”Turning to non-governmental organizations, media and governments that have criticized Cambodia’s treatment of the opposition and its rules on slander and incitement to racial hatred, Mr. Sokhonn accused them of transforming “the least of our weaknesses into crimes of State.” “Multilateralism, international law, peace, cooperation and development are also the key elements to build a peaceful, stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific region,” the Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam, Phạm Bình Minh, told the Assembly’s annual debate. Viet Nam is strongly committed to implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a plan of action has been developed, he said. It is also working with UN agencies to craft the One Strategic Plan 2017-2021, as part of the UN’s ‘Delivering as One’ initiative, to assist Viet Nam in SDG implementation, he added. SDG implementation also encompasses efforts to restructure the economy and transforming the growth model, develop sustainable infrastructure, ensure social justice, address inequalities and protect the environment, he stressed, adding that as one of the countries forecasted to be hardest hit by climate change and sea-level rise, Viet Nam is expediting procedures for the early ratification of the Paris Agreement, and is planning its implementation. Viet Nam believes it essential to bring into full play its domestic resources and to mainstream sustainability into its development vision, strategies and policies, with the people at the centre, he said, also calling on developed countries to uphold their responsibility for assisting developing nations especially in the areas of financing, capacity building, technology transfer, and trade facilitation. Regional countries are working to promote initiatives for political, economic, social and cultural cooperation and integration, including new generation free trade areas, but the Asia-Pacific region also contains risks of conflict, especially in the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea. With regard to recent “complicated developments” in the South China Sea, Viet Nam calls upon all parties concerned to exercise self-restraint and solve disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, fully respect diplomatic and legal processes, implement the Declaration on the Conduct of parties on the South China Sea (DOC) and expedite the completion of the Code of Conduct in South China Sea (COC), he said. Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said that the Government is formulating a national SDG roadmap, establishing a broad-based and inclusive committee to oversee and monitor implementation of SDGs. He also stressed the importance of vocational training to prepare youth for the labour market and also prepare human capital for nation-building. The graduates of the Technical and Vocational Educational Training programmes have a 90 per cent employability rate. Malaysia is also working to make it the start-up capital of Asia through the establishment of Malaysian Global Innovation and Creative Centre. In the fight against terrorism, Malaysia has incorporated de-radicalisation and rehabilitation programmes towards changing the mind-sets of radicalized extremist individuals and avoiding relapse. So far, the success rate is around 97.5 per cent, he said. Malaysia has also widened the definition of human trafficking and migrant smuggling under the 2007 act to include labour exploitation.Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon highlighted the need for real political will to achieve the ambitious aims of the SDGs. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of Malaysia addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak