Hun Sen says World Needs New Deadline for Agenda 2030

Prime Minister Hun Sen addresses at the Leaders’ Meeting on “Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond” on September 29. Photo screenshot from PM Hun Sen's Facebook page.
  • Sao Phal Niseiy
  • September 30, 2020 9:47 AM

Citing financial difficulties associated with meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for more aid and lashed out at the EU during a UN leaders’ meeting on Sept. 29.

PHNOM PENH--Prime Minister Hun Sen Tuesday (Sept. 29) said that global efforts to meet targets outlined by the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development have been undermined by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as rising unilateralism and protectionism.

Speaking at the Leaders’ Meeting on “Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond” on Tuesday, Hun Sen suggested that the deadline of 2030 Global Agenda needs to be rescheduled due to the fact that the efforts to achieve it have been greatly weakened. 

“I believe, in this context, the deadline of 2030 to achieve the milestones and goals of sustainable development might need to be reset,” Hun Sen said.

“Certainly, this requires thorough reassessment in all aspects, including the timeframe, strategic directions, action plans and resources for achieving our agenda in the aftermath of COVID-19,” he added.

Hun Sen went on to point to factors such as COVID-19, which has greatly disrupted the world, but also he alluded to rising nationalism and protectionism. Hun Sen has repeatedly highlighted how friction between the world’s superpowers affects smaller countries like Cambodia.

He went on to reaffirm Cambodia’s unwavering and firm support for the UN while encouraging the intergovernmental organization to provide active assistance to its members, especially developing countries.

During this difficult time, he said, it necessitates that global peace and security is maintained by the robust global institutions like the UN with full support from all of its members. This was just a day before the Cambodian government clashed the UN representatives over alleged human rights abuses committed by Cambodian authorities.

More Aid for Poor countries

Citing the financial difficulties in meeting targets set out by the 2030 Agenda under the circumstances, Hun Sen called for greater aid to lower income countries.

“Ensuring the continuity of international aid, especially financial assistance to developing countries geared towards sustaining the momentum of the reform for the 2030 Agenda,” should be a priority, Hun Sen added.

He also recommended that the world should turn the crisis of COVID-19 into opportunities for domestic reform, including revenue collection systems and enhanced economic competitiveness.

Between increased multilateral aid and domestic reforms, Hun Sen said he hopes to see more economic growth, which could then allow governments to allocate more spending to areas prioritized by the 2030 Agenda such as education, agriculture, health and social protection.

Hun Sen then went on to request more countries offer preferential trading schemes to developing countries as a means to facilitating growth through trade.

“[These] ensure that the benefits of globalization are equitably and effectively shared,” Hun Sen stressed.

He railed against the European Union’s decision to partially withdraw Cambodia’s preferential trade privileges guaranteed under the Everything But Arms scheme. He argued that this was done in a time of crisis, despite being the result of an 18-month review period following human and labor rights abuses within Cambodia.

“I believe history repeats itself in the case of the EU’s withdrawal of the EBA at a time when Cambodia struggles to survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hun Sen said during his virtual address at the 75th UN General Assembly.

This is leading to the same struggle Cambodia took on 40 years ago, he said, “[to] defend what it believes is the rightful path, that is, to defend our sovereignty and to protect our so hard-won peace.”

Hun Sen has repeatedly claimed that his leadership is all that stands between Cambodia and the violence of its past, accusing critics and political opponents of trying to bring about instability.

He also decried the unilateral sanctions and frequent interference in domestic affairs of small countries by some major powers that, he said, undermines the principle of rights to self-determination as well as sovereignty enshrined in the UN charter.

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