They said it: Leaders at the UN, in their own words

Suriname's Foreign Minister Yldiz Pollack-Beigle addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly,Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Lots of leaders saying lots of things about lots of topics — topics that matter to them, to their regions, to the world.

That’s what the speechmaking at the U.N. General Assembly invariably produces each year. And each year, certain enormous topics and certain louder voices dominate.

Here, The Associated Press takes the opposite approach and spotlights some thoughts you might not have heard — the voices of leaders speaking at the United Nations who might not have captured the headlines and the air time on Saturday.


“If there were no United Nations, today, we would be calling for its creation.”

— Yldiz Pollack-Beighle, foreign minister of Suriname


“For more than 70 years, the U.N. has been the epicenter of our rules-based multilateral system, where its work, from advocating values of mutual respect to promoting development, has made an impact on people all over the globe. And in spite of this, it still faces its fair share of criticism. The United Nations may not be perfect, but it is the best hope that we have to achieve a future that we want together.”

— Erywan Yusof, foreign minister of Brunei


“I am proud to stand here, one year later, representing a people who have fought against adversity from that day, to attain some form of normalcy in their lives. … Twelve months ago, the international community heard our cry and have stood with us. This has made us stronger and more motivated. … Let us set the example for a better future for all mankind.”

— Francine Baron, foreign minister of Dominica, which made an impassioned appeal last year for global action on climate change and help for itself and other small island nations after being ravaged by Hurricane Maria


“At the heart of our sovereign nations, our cultures and our languages, lies an individual being, who, at the very core, seeks a life of purpose, happiness and the opportunity to live in peace and prosperity. The challenge of our time is to pursue and achieve a sustainable future for all in the face of burgeoning threats to our shared humanity.”

— Dennis Moses, foreign minister of Trinidad and Tobago


“I call on the UN to lift the arms embargo on Somalia. This embargo has been long-standing; it is what is leveling the field in our battle with the terrorist groups. When our force has the same fighting arsenal as the enemy, the odds are split. Stronger fighting capacity would enable us to have the upper hand, it would entirely dismantle the terrorists, and possibly within a shorter time.”

— Ahmed Isse Awad, foreign minister of Somalia

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