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General Debate of the Second Committee 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Monday, 08 October 2018
H.E. Mr. Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Philippines
UN Headquarters, New York


Congratulations on your election as Chair of the Second Committee.

Mr. Chair,

The Philippines aligns with the statement delivered on behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations, the statement delivered by Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and the statement delivered by Costa Rica on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries.

The Philippine Government’s socio-economic agenda focuses on peace, progress and sustainable development - with no Filipino left behind. 

Ambitious no doubt but if you don’t reach for the stars you won’t get far off the ground. As in war so in government, friction wastes energy and resources, delays progress and sidetracks endeavor. So we stay focused and ambitious.

Mr. Chair,

Our mid- and long-term development plans incorporate all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in their guiding frameworks. We cannot go wrong choosing them as our aims on the national level because SDGs represent the first genuinely universal statement of truly universal needs and desires, compatible with the equal peace, progress, safety and security of peoples everywhere.

In pursuing these national priorities reflecting universal goals, we stress the link between the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental—and the urgency of reducing extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is a drag on progressive endeavors because they negate the moral imperative of universal attainment. All or none; and no one advances at the expense of another. Generational sacrifice for the next generation is unfair unless willingly shouldered. All the worse for some vague larger purpose to which totalitarian societies are partial. We have outgrown visions and matured into practical compassion. In the famous formulation: no one a mere means; each and everyone’s wellbeing the ultimate end and overriding concurrent concern. 

Against the backdrop of rising protectionist sentiments and hostility to multilateralism, the Philippines supports an open, predictable, rules-based and transparent environment for trade and investment. Economic progress is about trade. It is what economies do: make and trade—and never better than under WTO rules.

Reform of the UN Development System is of crucial importance. Multilateralism is not a self-evident good if it cannot function effectively as such because of inefficiency, redundancy, and waste—otherwise it is just what we all experience unilaterally at one time or another in government at home—but in the UN’s case without relevant purpose.

We must restore the UN to its historic role as an organization first and foremost of states, for state-sponsored multilateral purposes that are always in strict accord with the UN’s charter goals. It is far more than a podium for the expression of grand grievances by anyone pushing their way in. The first responsibility for a world going for the most part well devolves on states which alone have the wherewithal to achieve that.

We need a more realistic statistical measure of middle-income countries. We cannot afford a scatter-brained scatter-shot approach where only one buckshot pellet hits the mark wasting all the others. We don’t have the luxury of throwing money at problems hoping some hit the spot.

Migration is not just a desperate measure to get away from badly governed states—though that seems to be the common denominator—it is also an enabler of development. Thus remittance flows are potential sources in the aggregate of substantial private capital—if properly handled. Too loosely and they will be lost; too tightly and they will be eaten up by fees.

Disaster risk reduction and climate action must inform national development plans and be integrated into UN programs. If something can go wrong it will; weather is not predictable until it’s too late; worse yet its destructive power at any point of place and time is inestimable well beforehand. Therefore capacity-building for climate action must be based on national capacities and needs and the imperative to extend international help. We have made rather an art out of it by necessity.

We have the responsibility to rescue and relieve any part of humanity under threat of, or already undergoing violent extinction in great numbers and with great cruelty. Our interventions must be swift but also careful that they do not by inadvertence or design worsen the situation.

Lastly, the Philippines champions family farming—in many places a dying concern yet it accounts for 80 percent of world’s food. And even when not profitable it feeds the farmers.

The Second Committee is a model of consensus building and in its spirit proceed with our work. Thank you.