Every year on Oct. 24 according to resolution No. 168 adopted in 1947 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the UN Day is celebrated. It is noteworthy that this year marks 20 years of the UN presence in Kazakhstan; on Feb. 16, 1993 the UN Office was opened in Kazakhstan.
Since joining the UN (Mar. 2, 1992), Kazakhstan has actively participated in all of its major events and hosted major international forums under the UN auspices. Thus, Kazakhstan has established itself as an active and responsible UN member. Proof of this was seen in the official visits to our country by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (2002) and Ban Ki-moon (2010). In this capacity, Ban Ki-moon also participated in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Summit, which took place on Dec. 1-2, 2010 in Astana.
Today, two decades later, it is reasonable to state that this interaction developed and is still developing dynamically and bringing visible results. Kazakhstan is a member of almost all UN specialised agencies, two regional commissions of the organisation (Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Kazakhstan is periodically elected a member of a number of functional commissions of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as well as a member of the Executive Boards of UNICEF, UNESCO and UN Women. For the period from 2013 to 2015, Kazakhstan is a member of the Human Rights Council of the UN.
Our accession to these structures is not purely formal. We consider our membership in the UN as a possibility for direct and active participation in decision-making, proposing initiatives and carrying out activities that have a positive influence on the course of world events. President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan clearly formulated this position for our country. The head of state not only appreciates the role of the UN and its activities, but also seeks maximum use of the potential of the organisation for the benefit of the people of Kazakhstan and the entire international community. This is confirmed by the fact that since 1992, the president visited the United Nations headquarters in New York 10 times and participated in the work of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
We are grateful to the UN for its contribution to the development of our state, especially in the first years of independence, and we appreciate the assistance of the organisation in training of national personnel and holding market reforms in various sectors of the economy, assisting sustainable development, fostering the social and economic rehabilitation of the suffering regions of Semipalatinsk and the Aral Sea and solving problems related to health, children’s rights, gender equality and other areas of importance to our country.
Kazakhstan assumes that the UN is now in as great a demand as ever, and there is no alternative to it. Only under the auspices of this world organisation, will humanity be able to find effective, collective responses to global challenges. It is in our common interests to continue to consolidate in every way the UN system as a major global asset that we should value.
Today, the head of state sets new tasks for the country’s foreign ministry aimed at expanding Kazakhstan’s presence in the international arena and its active participation in tackling regional and global issues. Kazakhstan put forward its candidacy for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018 in line with the initiative of President Nazarbayev. The UN Security Council is the only international body with authority to decide questions of international peace and security. Security Council decisions are binding for all UN member states.
Having chaired a number of international organisations, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the OSCE, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), our country has gained valuable experience in solving the most complex and important issues of the international agenda.
We consider our membership in the Security Council, above all, as a huge responsibility to all members of the international community. We are determined to make a productive and useful contribution to the work of the Council in maintaining international peace and security. In the case of election to non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council, Kazakhstan, along with all other countries, will contribute to international peace and security, will support efforts to reform and transform the Security Council with a view to converting it into a more representative and transparent body able to effectively counter new challenges and threats.
Kazakhstan’s election campaign is focused on ensuring nuclear, water, food and energy security in the world, as the problems in these areas exist on every continent. Every country in the world has faced famine, water shortages, a lack of fuel or has been exposed to nuclear testing.
The official start of the campaign to promote the candidacy of Kazakhstan to the UN Security Council began on Sept. 17 in Astana, where a presentation to the diplomatic corps accredited in Kazakhstan took place. Along with this, in the course of participation of the Kazakhstan delegation in the 68th session of UNGA on Sept. 24-29 in New York, bilateral meetings on the promotion of the candidacy of Kazakhstan to the UN Security Council were held. At present, a number of countries have already expressed their support for our candidacy, which testifies to the credibility of Kazakhstan on the part of the international community as a potential member of the UN Security Council.
Another initiative of the head of state is the idea to establish a UN Regional Centre (Hub) in Almaty, which President Nazarbayev first announced during a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in September 2011.
Our position is based on the fact that in the vast area between Vienna and Bangkok, there is no effective and meaningful representation of the UN. Kazakhstan proposes to raise the status of the current UN presence in Almaty to the regional level. Today, 18 representative offices of organisations, programmes, funds and specialized agencies of the UN operate in Almaty. The overwhelming majority of them already have regional and sub-regional status.
It should be noted that host countries receive large political and economic benefits from the creation of international centres on their territories. The experiences of Vienna, Geneva and Bangkok, along with New York, in investing resources in the development of cities as UN centres, are remarkable.
In order to promote the hub, consultations with international organisations, non-governmental organisations and United Nations agencies in Almaty were held. During the consultations, all of the representatives supported the idea of establishing a regional hub. In general, the work within the UN system organisations and the comprehensive strengthening of its role in the international arena remain among the main foreign policy priorities of Kazakhstan.
The position of our country in the UN is formed based on the interests of Kazakhstan on the full range of issues on the international agenda. At the same time, we are fully aware of the fact that in a global world, national interests, the concerns of any country cannot be resolved without taking into account the interests of other countries and the international community as a whole. Without diminishing the role of other international organisations, we believe that it is the United Nations that represents that platform where the alignment of interests of major importance for all or the vast majority of countries takes place, the strategy for their solutions is jointly elaborated and coordination of efforts towards those solutions is implemented.
That’s why we strive to promote first of all through the UN our initiatives on major regional and global issues. Moreover, all our initiatives and practices are carried out within the UN in accordance with our obligations under other international organisations to which we are a part. Among these are the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Customs Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, CICA and others.
The experience we have acquired over two decades proves the fruitfulness of this approach. At that, particular attention of our country to its activities within the UN is paid to cooperation with the UN in the field of security, economy, environment, social development, international law, human rights, the fight against terrorism, organised crime and drug trafficking. It is in these areas that the problems, challenges and threats arise that are faced today by almost every country and which can only be overcome through the collective efforts of all mankind.
Kazakhstan has put forward a number of initiatives aimed at finding adequate answers to the above questions. These include proposals to convene the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, the creation of the Register of Global Environmental Problems with mechanisms for their solutions, the adoption of the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia and the development of a global energy and environmental strategy. Kazakhstan is also a party to all 13 international universal conventions against terrorism. Our country prepared an annual national report on the work done in the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee. We support the creation and took an active part in international anti-terrorist coalition activity.
It is impossible to overestimate the contribution of our country in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and global nuclear disarmament. We voluntarily renounced the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal. And that is a credit to the President of Kazakhstan who has stood for the conduct of peaceful policy since the early days of our independence.
In a video message to participants of the Forum for a Nuclear Weapons Free World, which was held in October 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also noted the global leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev in nuclear disarmament and called Semipalatinsk a powerful symbol of hope. International recognition of the leadership of Kazakhstan and its president forces us to move forward and develop new, up-to-date initiatives.
In December 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution proposed by Kazakhstan, which established the “International Day against Nuclear Tests.” This day is August 29. It was on this day in 1991 that our country closed the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. The Treaty on a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in Central Asia (the Semipalatinsk Treaty) then came into force. Our country is an active member to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and calls for its early entry into force. Thus, the moral leadership of Kazakhstan in the sphere of combating the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament cannot be doubted.
Since Oct.10, 2003, Kazakhstan participated in the UN Standby Arrangements System and provided a list of military personnel, armoured vehicles and transport to be sent to UN peacekeeping missions. Kazakhstan not only financially supports UN efforts in carrying out such operations, but also takes a direct part in them by sending military observers to serve in some UN peacekeeping missions.
In this context, we aim to improve the functioning of the UN in the interest of sequentially increasing the organisation’s capacity needed to support the operations and planning of new missions against a rapidly growing demand for peacekeeping operations, improving the UN mechanisms for post-conflict rehabilitation, developing partnerships and improving the mechanisms of the UN interaction with regional organisations, in particular with the OSCE, SCO, CICA, CSTO, in order to increase international capacity in conflict prevention, peacekeeping operations and post-conflict rehabilitation of countries.
The geopolitical situation of the republic requires a relentless fight against the drug business and drug trafficking. We stand for the comprehensive development of international cooperation in the fight against this common evil. Our country has ratified all the major UN conventions in this area and contributed to the establishment of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for combating illicit drug trafficking in Almaty.
Kazakhstan is also making a significant contribution to the implementation of the agreements reached at the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. A national concept of transition to a green economy, national programmes for sustainable development in energy, water, municipal demands, agriculture and industry have been developed. According to the final Rio+20 document, “The Future We Want,” Kazakhstan has also completed the development of the constituent documents of the Partnership Programme “Green Bridge”. The document is based on decisions of the sixth Conference of Ministers of Environment, Economy and Social Protection in Asia and the Pacific (Astana, 2010) and the seventh Pan-European Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” (Astana, 2011). We have also made a voluntary commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and have increased investment in development based on clean technologies.
Kazakhstan chaired the latter 20th Session of the Commission for Sustainable Development (September 2013). It is already clear that not all the plans in the “Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs) document endorsed by the UN member states will be achieved by 2015. Kazakhstan believes that unfulfilled goals of the MDGs must go into the agenda of the international community after 2015 and, in conjunction with the provisions of the document “The Goals of Sustainable Development” should be its foundation. The agenda for development after 2015 should, in the opinion of our country, include the question of sustainable and inclusive economic growth and strengthening the resilience of the impact of external factors such as climate change, financial and food crises.
With specific regard to Kazakhstan, we have made visible progress in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. Poverty reduction, education access and the rights of women of all been improved. We are beginning to implement the agenda of “Millennium Development Goals Plus.” Our priorities are the issues of poverty reduction and the reduction of unemployment, the reduction of maternal and child mortality, ensuring sustainable development, improving the environment, preventing HIV/AIDS and promoting gender equality.
Kazakhstan attaches great importance to cooperation with the United Nations to protect and promote human rights. We believe the basic documents in this area include the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In February 2010, Kazakhstan passed its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) within the UN Council on Human Rights. It has shown significant progress in the protection of human rights in our country. Our state is elected to the UN Council on Human Rights for 2013-2015. We intend to do everything in order to make the fullest possible implementation of the recommendations of member states of the United Nations, non-governmental organisations, treaty bodies and the special procedures of the UN Council for Human Rights presented during the UPR. Kazakhstan calls for a global partnership in the fight against human trafficking based on the fact that this question is closely related to human rights.
We attach great importance to cooperation with UNESCO. Currently, Kazakhstan is a member of the Executive Board of UNESCO for the period 2009-2013. On our initiative on the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly, a resolution to declare 2010 the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures was adopted. It was on our initiative that the last session of the UN General Assembly declared 2013-2022 the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures. The official inauguration of the decade took place a month ago in Astana. Considering that public inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue contributes to strengthening of peace and security, Kazakhstan has put forward the idea of and has successfully hosted a congress of world and traditional religions every three years.
Kazakhstan intends to purposefully use the opportunity of the UN and its organisations to take concrete measures to solve problems. Among the most pressing problems is the recovery of territories of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and the Aral Sea. A number of projects on the territory of our country are implemented under the auspices of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). Total funding from various sources in support of the UNDAF for 2010-2015 is expected to reach $79.6 million.
Recognising the UN as a universal and indispensable tool of international relations, Kazakhstan strives through the community of nations to make its due contribution to the solution of common problems of humanity. The election of our country as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council would contribute to this. We have already begun to address this strategic objective and we expect that this will happen.
The author is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan.