It is a little over a year since Kazakhstan formally announced its candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2017-2018. And it has been a year of steady progress and sustained achievement.
Our diplomats have been working world-wide to take our foreign policy and international relations to new frontiers. We have built new and exciting partnerships with countries in the South Pacific, Africa and Latin America – areas that in the past have been largely terra incognita for my country.
Our ability to reach out to so many regions over the past year has shown that food, water, energy and nuclear security – the issues at the heart of our UN Security Council campaign – strike a chord with audiences the world over.
We have seen, in all the nations we have visited, diverse as they are – be it island states, developing nations, emerging markets or established global players – that these issues are of the utmost importance to everyone. Out commitment to these essential issues has been recognised in Samoa, Ethiopia, Guinea, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and the United States alike. Kazakhstan, moreover, has been playing an active role in addressing them in our region and beyond.
With regard to food security, Kazakhstan initiated and is now working with partners in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to establish the Islamic Organisation for Food Security, which will be headquartered in Astana.
On water security, Kazakhstan, alongside its Central Asian neighbours, has been endeavouring to develop common solutions to the acute and growing challenges of water supply in the region – one of the driest in the world.
On energy security, we have pushed forward with the development of our extensive traditional resources as well as promoting new, clean and alternative solutions through initiatives such as the Green Bridge and Expo 2017, which will be focused on the theme 0f Future Energy.
I’m pleased to say that preparations for EXPO 2017 are already under way. The purpose-built EXPO city is being constructed on the outskirts of Astana’s Yessil River’s left bank, alongside the impressive modern architecture that has come to symbolize contemporary Kazakhstan.
But our EXPO, focusing on Future Energy, is more than bricks and mortar. It has transcended the merely physical to become an important feature of our international diplomacy. We hope that our EXPO will both drive the energy agenda and produce real results outside the Central Asian region and across the world.
Energy security is an issue facing all nations, but it affects are felt most by those facing significant development challenges. This is why we are providing resources to 60 countries to enable them to take part in the EXPO – countries that would otherwise not be able to afford to do so. We are also pursuing initiatives to support nations facing acute energy problems such as working with the UN Economic and Social Commission for the Asia-Pacific Region to provide funding for biomass energy for nine small island developing states.
Nuclear security is, of course, an issue on which Kazakhstan has a justly renowned record. Ever since our early days of independence, when we relinquished the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal and closed the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site (both inherited from the USSR), nuclear security has been at the centre of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy.
We have continued to work hard to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime and push forward the global nuclear disarmament agenda. With our partners in Central Asia, we have taken great steps towards establishing the region as a nuclear free zone that has been recognized as such earlier this year by the five nuclear weapon states. And, in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), we are working to establish a low-enriched uranium fuel bank in Kazakhstan to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy around the world.
The Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan has had a busy and productive year with regard to the four pillars of our UNSC campaign – food, water, energy and nuclear security – but there has been much more besides. We are also continuing with initiatives such as our proposal to establish a UN hub for regional diplomacy in Almaty and the launch of our first dedicated agency for official development assistance, KazAID.
We have also furthered discussion and debate on Central Asia in the international community by providing support for a new, independent think-tank, the Eurasian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA). Its launch in Brussels in November was attended by some of Europe’s most prominent politicians and statesmen, including Dr Vaclav Klaus, former President of the Czech Republic, Dr Benita Ferrero-Waldner, former foreign minister of Austria and the ECFA’s first chair, Lord Lamont, former Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, and Franco Frattini, former foreign minister of Italy.
The ECFA aims to promote informed and unbiased debate on the critical issues facing Eurasia, Central Asia and Europe. It is my hope that through the ECFA, audiences throughout the world will gain a greater understanding of the challenges, prospects and importance of Central Asia to the international community.
From its foundation in the aftermath of World War II, the principles, values and actions of the United Nations have been the cornerstones of international peace and stability. Kazakhstan is committed to advancing the role of the UN and supporting its efforts to overcome the many threats and challenges facing the world today.
We are confident that our common efforts will help strengthen this unique institution and help build a better, safer and more prosperous world for all.
Kazakhstan looks forward to working with all our partners in the international community as we strive to achieve these goals.
The author is Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.