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Prime Minister: “We are here to search for solutions to global and regional problems, in a dialogue and with mutual respect for our differences”

  • Former Prime Minister Marjan Šarec (2018 - 2020)

The Slovenian Prime Minister addressed the UN General Assembly at its 74th session, which is centred around the theme of Galvanising multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion.

The Slovenian Prime Minister addressed the UN General Assembly at its 74th session

The Slovenian Prime Minister addressed the UN General Assembly at its 74th session | Author Tamino Petelinšek, STA

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In his address he noted that we have already been guided for nearly three quarters of a century by fundamental principles such as the sovereign equality of all states, collective security, the development of international law and the fulfilment of obligations in good faith, the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, friendly international cooperation, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“Respect for these fundamental principles under the aegis of the United Nations prevents us from slipping into global chaos and world war. We live in a connected world – one in which we all have an interest in each other’s prosperity. Our commitment to multilateralism stems from our values and our firm conviction that our current global issues can only be addressed collectively. Nationalism and populism create attractive but empty phrases. However, seeking real solutions for our problems can be complicated and difficult, and therefore broader agreement is required. That is why we are here, to search for solutions to global and regional problems, in a dialogue and with mutual respect for our differences.”

The PM added that Slovenia also votes in favour of effective multilateralism, and emphasised three key areas: the rule of law and human rights, the fight against climate change and the sustainable development goals and challenges associated with new technologies.

Prime Minister Šarec also noted that human rights have been strengthened over the past seven decades, but this progress cannot be taken for granted. “We must resist all attempts to weaken the existing protections of human rights. This is the greatest treasure that we can and must hand down to our children.” He emphasised the need to preserve the progress made regarding gender equality, the rights of the elderly and the UN Secretary-General’s “Circle of Leadership” initiative, aimed at preventing and responding to sexual exploitation and abuse.

He also noted that a fast and decisive response to significant violations of human rights is crucial in order to keep crises from developing into full-blown conflicts. “Therefore I call on the members of the UN Security Council to support a code of conduct relating to mass atrocities and to refrain from the use of the veto in the event of mass atrocities.”

He also referred to the Western Balkans region and reiterated that Slovenia will continue to support the stability and European orientation of the Western Balkans. “We actively support regional cooperation, progress on reforms on the path to the EU, regional reconciliation, and a positive future for young people.”

In order to assist countries in punishing perpetrators, Slovenia together with several other countries has introduced an initiative for negotiations on a multilateral treaty on mutual legal assistance and extradition for domestic prosecution of international crimes. We thank all of the countries that have expressed support for the initiative, which now number 69 countries; we sincerely hope for a further increase in support in the months before the beginning of negotiations on the treaty this spring.

According to the prime minister, convincing young people to join the fight against climate change on the global level is crucial and creates a sense of urgency. He added that the exploitation of natural resources, especially water, creates inequalities and increases the risk of conflicts. Therefore it is important for us to think about our economic models and to make them sustainable. “The circular economy model, where assets are reduced, reused and recycled, is inseparably connected with the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

He also noted that for Slovenia, the transition to a sustainable and green economy is a strategic priority task. Slovenia will continue to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and within that framework we will pay particular attention to the sustainable use and management of natural resources, especially water, support for a circular economy and the preservation and protection of biodiversity. Slovenia will also continue to do its part in the implementation of Agenda 2030.

At the end, the prime minister mentioned the technological progress that now bestows us with enormous benefits due to increased productivity and quality of life, but at the same time brings new risks for countries and individuals. “Since more and more people are reaping the benefits of artificial intelligence, we have to be better prepared for the threat of so-called “algocracy”, including through the regulation of the impact of artificial intelligence on the protection of human rights”.

He said that he was particularly pleased that with UNESCO’s support, Europe’s first artificial intelligence research centre will be located in Ljubljana. In relation to the centre, whose objective will be to provide an open environment with an emphasis on management and policies associated with artificial intelligence, Prime Minister Šarec also expressed his hope and expectation for its final approval by the United Nations at the UNESCO conference in November.

“I believe that during this critical period we have to realise our ideas and ideals, and not give up on them. We have to express our best hopes, and not our deepest fears. We have to provide sufficiently strong leadership that will recognise that countries have common interests and that people share common principles and ideas in our shared humanity”, concluded the prime minister.