“Our world has clear rules”

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Federal Chancellor Scholz at the UN General Assembly “Our world has clear rules”

In his speech held at the 77th General Assembly of the United Nations, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz accused Russia of “sheer imperialism”. He promised further support to Ukraine and announced a reconstruction conference for the country that would take place in Berlin. Speaking in New York, Scholz urgently called for an increase of international partnership and involvement for mastering the current challenges.

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Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks before the UN General Assembly.

In his speech in New York, Federal Chancellor Scholz called for an adjustment of the rules and institutions of the United Nations to reflect the reality of the 21st century.

Photo: Federal Government/Köhler

In his first speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed the complex crises of the present day. He highlighted that compliance with the UN Charter continued to be the foundation of a peaceful and multipolar world. “This Charter is our collective rejection of a world without rules. Our problem isn’t the absence of rules. Our problem is the lack of willingness to abide by and enforce them,” said Scholz in New York on Tuesday.  

It must never become reality that “the rules are made by those who can dictate them to us by dint of their military, economic or political power,” and it was the job of the global community to make sure that the world that is becoming ever more multipolar works together, he said on the occasion of the opening event of the General Assembly.  

A clear response to sheer imperialism

Speaking before the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Federal Chancellor used clear words to condemn the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Olaf Scholz described Russia’s actions as “sheer imperialism”. At the same time, he called for solidarity and support. Scholz pointed out that “Putin will only give up on his war and his imperialist ambitions if he realises that he cannot win this war”. However, he added that “if we want this war to end, then we cannot be indifferent to how it ends,” and that the global community would neither accept dictated peace against Ukraine nor the announced sham referenda in the areas occupied by Russia.

Reconstruction conference

Scholz expressed his gratitude on Tuesday for the fact that “141 countries in this room categorically condemned Russia’s war of occupation.” At the same time, he pointed out that this alone was not enough. The Federal Chancellor therefore announced further international aid for Ukraine: “Financially, economically, with humanitarian assistance, and also with weapons.” He added that Ukraine could also rely on international support for rebuilding the country. In this context, the Federal Chancellor and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen are hosting an expert conference in Berlin on 25 October. “Together with supporters of Ukraine from all around the world, we will think about how we can manage this Herculean task.”

Supply security must not be jeopardised

In his speech, Federal Chancellor Scholz also mentioned his predecessor Willy Brandt, who had spoken about the connection between war and famine before the United Nations back in 1973. With regard to the current situation, Scholz said: “Those who want there to be no hunger must ensure that Russia’s war does not prevail – this war, which even in countries far away from Russia is leading to rising prices, energy scarcity and famine.” He continued to say that Russia alone had prevented Ukrainian grain ships from putting out to sea, had bombed ports and destroyed agricultural enterprises. He expressed his respect for the mediation efforts of UN Secretary-General Guterres and Turkey that had made grain exports from Ukraine possible once again.

Food security and climate change

The Federal Chancellor pointed out the great challenges of this day and age: “We must stand by our pledges and help to solve the great problems of our world.” He said that among these were the current food crisis and human-made climate change, and mentioned that Germany has been making quick progress in these areas, with its own technical innovations.  “We want to be climate-neutral by 2045, and we want to contribute to enabling all countries around the world to take this route – in Asia, in Africa and in some South American countries,” said Scholz.

Regarding the issue of food security, the Federal Chancellor stressed that nobody should starve in a world as rich as ours and that it had to be ensured that people could feed themselves and their families: “This is why we are responsible for making this possible with the help of financial aid from the rich countries.”

Protecting human rights

The Federal Chancellor emphasised the community’s duties with regard to the protection of human rights. As the second biggest donor to the UN system and the second biggest donor of humanitarian assistance, Germany had taken in millions of refugees in recent years, he said. He added that more help was necessary, for example where hundreds of thousands were made to endure suffering in prison camps or jails, where women were deprived of their rights and where war crimes were committed as had been the case in Mariupol, Bucha and Irpin. “We will bring the murderers to justice,” Scholz said.

With regard to the report by the former High Commissioner for Human Rights about the situation of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, the Federal Chancellor stressed that China should implement the High Commissioner’s recommendations.

Cooperation on a level playing field

Towards the end of his speech, Federal Chancellor Scholz pointed out that nationalism and isolation would not solve the challenges of our age. He said that he was convinced that “more cooperation, more partnership and more involvement is the only reasonable response, whether for the fight against climate change or global health risks, inflation and disrupted supply chains or our approach to displacement and migration”. Scholz stressed that openness and cooperation could safeguard peace and prosperity, and that this also applied to cooperation with the countries of the Global South – “cooperation that not only claims to take place on a level playing field, but where actors genuinely see eye to eye.”

Reform of the UN Security Council

The Federal Chancellor repeated his plea for a reform of the UN Security Council: “We must adapt our rules and institutions to the reality of the 21st century,” he emphasised.

The Federal Chancellor asked for support for Germany’s candidacy for the Security Council – as a permanent member and initially as a non-permanent member in 2027/28. He stressed that Germany was willing to take on greater responsibility.

At the same time, he emphasised that the up‑and‑coming, dynamic countries and regions of Asia, Africa and southern America had to be given a stronger political voice on the world stage.

Talks with different committees

The Federal Chancellor first took part in the opening event of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. He also attended the EU-US Global Food Security Summit in New York. It was important to act quickly and to reduce the insecurity with regard to global nutrition, the Federal Chancellor said, adding that the Global South was hit the hardest. Scholz pointed out that important agreements had been made and campaigns had been initiated – for example, the Alliance for Global Food Security that was established during Germany’s G7 Presidency. “We have a joint interest and joint responsibility to address the global food security crisis,” Scholz said. 

Federal Chancellor Scholz also met with heads of state and government of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and with heads of state and government of the African Group. On Wednesday, the Federal Chancellor will be attending a meeting of the Global Crisis Response Group (GCRG) on the level of the heads of state and government, in which Germany has become particularly involved in the issue of global food security. In addition, he will be talking to representatives of Jewish organisations.

Bilateral talks

The Federal Chancellor will be leading various bilateral talks during his trip, for example with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the Presidents of South Korea, Chile and Niger. On the sidelines of the General Assembly, the Federal Chancellor has already met with Turkey’s President Erdogan to exchange views. This conversation also focused on the situation in Ukraine following Russia’s war of aggression.

The 77th General Debate of the United Nations takes place from 20 to 26 September 2022. Around 150 heads of state and government are expected in New York. In addition to the war in Ukraine, the main items on the agenda include the global food situation, the energy supply, the economy, sustainable development and education.