In his speech on Tuesday to the 78th meeting of the UN General Assembly, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke about the Russian war of aggression in no uncertain terms: “Peace without justice is a dictated peace. It is high time for Moscow to understand this, too.” Scholz continued by saying that Ukrainians were “fighting for their lives and their freedom, for independence and territorial integrity of their country, for safeguarding the very principles which all of us here have committed to in the UN Charter.”
He pointed out that the consequences were not limited to the region around Ukraine: “This war has unbearable consequences around the globe, and that’s why it is good and right for the world to be involved in a search for peace,” Scholz said. In view of a possible end of the war, Federal Chancellor Scholz highlighted two aspects in his speech: “At the same time we must steer clear of any pseudo-solutions where ‘peace’ is merely a word. Peace without freedom is oppression.” Scholz added that Russia was responsible for this war and that “it is Russia’s president who can stop it at any time by giving a single command”.
An anniversary marked by war
The Federal Chancellor’s speech coincided with a special anniversary. This September marks 50 years since the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR joined the United Nations. This step, Scholz said, was an opportunity for Germany, as the “initiator of terrible wars and horrendous crimes”, to re-join the family of peace-loving nations. The anniversary is commemorated during the week of the UN General Assembly.
Greater cooperation based on universal rules
The words spoken before the UN 50 years ago by the Federal Chancellor at the time, Willy Brandt, still hold true in view of the anniversary: “In a world in which everybody increasingly depends on everybody else, peace policy must go beyond one’s own front door.” Scholz stressed that it was still the order of the day to seek more cooperation rather than less.
He went on by saying that, unlike 50 years ago, the world no longer knew two but a great number of centres of power, and that the United Nations was the place to start for anyone seeking order in this multi-polar world, as it was the only organisation to fully satisfy the call for universal representation and sovereign equality.
Scholz countered the view of those who believe that the UN is marred by inconsistency and disagreement, saying that blockades by a few countries should not distract from the fact that “we as the vast majority of states agree on many things”. This included the “three universal golden rules”, he said:
- renunciation of violence as a means of political action,
- respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of all countries,
- and to grant these very rights to others.
The global challenges of our times could only be solved based on these principles, Scholz stressed.
Global challenges: moving beyond the status quo
When it comes to tackling global challenges, Germany does not stop at the status quo. First and foremost this included human-made climate change, the Federal Chancellor pointed out, saying that rather than “waiting for others, we must join forces to do more to achieve the Paris climate targets”. He reported that he was glad to be able to say that since 2014, Germany had tripled its contribution to global climate financing to 6 billion euros. “This is a crucial and over-due signal, before we take stock in Dubai in December.” For the 2023 Climate Change Conference in Dubai, Scholz called for clear goals for the development of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency, adding that Germany would be just as ambitious when it came to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. “Climate protection or progress: this is a trade-off that does not work,” Scholz said. This was why he planned to “keep up a fast pace and promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda” at the 2024 UN Future Summit that Germany is preparing together with Namibia.
However, he also pointed out that investments were essential to be able to lead the global economy, energy supplies and infrastructure into a resource-friendly, climate-neutral future. Germany promotes a “reform of the multi-lateral development banks to enable them to contribute more effectively to financing global public goods, such as climate and biodiversity protection and pandemic prevention”.
Planning provides for the structures of global governance to be examined at the UN reform summit that is to take place in September 2024. One key issue in this context will be the implementation of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030.
Reform: UN must reflect present-day realities
Just like Germany, the UN must not stick to the status quo in view of the global challenges. They had to look towards the future and in particular address the question of “how innovation and technological progress can be used by all of humankind,” Scholz said.
At the same time it was also essential for the UN to reflect the realities of a multi-polar world itself: “So far it is not doing this sufficiently. This is most obvious when looking at the structure of the Security Council,” the Federal Chancellor pointed out, adding that Africa, Asia and Latin America clearly deserved a more prominent role. Scholz said that this was why he was advocating for open-ended discussions about a reform of the United Nations, which should not be blocked by Germany or any other individual country by making excessive demands.
Until this type of reform has been realised, Germany would like to accept responsibility as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, which is why Scholz asked for support for Germany’s candidacy for 2027/2028.
A packed agenda in New York
Prior to the UN General Assembly, an SDG Summit took place on Monday. On Wednesday, the Federal Chancellor is attending the climate summit of the UN Secretary-General, as well as giving a short speech at a meeting of the UN Security Council. In the evening, the Federal Chancellor will be presented the “Global Citizen Award” by the Atlantic Council, before returning to Germany.