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President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Official website of the

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan


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President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev spoke at the General Debate of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly

September 20, 2023

UN Headquarters, New York City, USA

The primary purpose of the Head of State's visit to New York City was to attend the General Debate of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.

Speaking from the main international rostrum, the leader of Kazakhstan stated that today humanity faces enormous shifts unseen before 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, – noted the President.

President Tokayev emphasized that the leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly session are responsible for the fate and future of humankind.

– 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, – Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said.

At the same time, the Head of State expressed the view that it will not be possible to tackle these challenges without a comprehensive reform of the Security Council.

– 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, – noted the President.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pointed out that out of all the challenges facing humanity, perhaps the most destructive is the threat of use of nuclear weapons. He reminded that 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, – stated the Kazakh leader.

The Head of State emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated our vulnerability to future biological risks and threats. In this regard, Kazakhstan appealed 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, – the President said.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stated that 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, – stressed the Head of State.

The Kazakh leader emphasized the need for new assessment that would enable the world 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, – suggested Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

A significant portion of the statement focused on combating climate change.

– 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 the Six 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, – the President said.

Kazakhstan has proposed to launch the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) program in the country. President Tokayev said that a gradual, sustainable and socially responsible transition away from the use of coal would be a big bonus in achieving 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, – the Kazakh leader said.

The speech noted that water scarcity creates serious economic and other challenges in transboundary river basins in Central Asia. Tokayev warned that the same situation will be replicated all over the world: by 2040, global water demand may exceed supply by 40 per cent.

– 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, –Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stressed.

He added that Kazakhstan is committed to further enhancing multifaceted cooperation with the countries of Central Asia. The region can play a more active role as a "cohesive and independent" part of the international community, contributing to global development processes.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized that Afghanistan should become a stable, prosperous state and a reliable trading partner. He advocated for support for the initiative to establish a UN Regional Centre on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Central Asia and Afghanistan in Almaty.

The Kazakh President also provided an overview of domestic reforms, including amendments to the Constitution, and the resetting of the political and economic system. He emphasized that these reforms are based on the principles of justice, equality, impartiality, 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, – the Kazakh leader noted.

The President added that Kazakhstan has made significant progress in achieving gender equality, and empowering women and girls.

In his recent State of the Nation Address, the President presented a new economic policy that is primarily aimed at providing all citizens with the necessary opportunities for a decent life.

– 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 the 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, – concluded Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.



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