(ATTN: UPDATES with more details of Yoon's speech from 6th para)
By Lee Haye-ah
NEW YORK, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol called on U.N. member countries Tuesday to stand together to defend freedom and peace, saying South Korea will step up contributions to solving global issues and problems.
Yoon made the appeal in his first address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, as he outlined his vision for South Korea's increased role in the global community and acknowledged the support it received from the U.N.
"When freedom of any citizen or nation in the global community is in peril, it is the community of nations that must stand together in solidarity to defend that freedom," he said.
Yoon referred to attempts to "alter the status quo by force," nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and systemic violations of human rights.
"Such threats to freedom and peace must be overcome through solidarity and fearless commitment to the framework of universal global norms consolidated over the years within the U.N. system," he said.
Yoon explained that genuine freedom and peace can be found when there is freedom from disease, hunger, illiteracy and want of energy and culture.
"Genuine freedom is not just being free from the shackles but having opportunities to live life to the fullest with dignity," he said. "Genuine peace is not an absence of war but removing conflict and enmity that hold back shared progress of humanity and building the foundation for greater prosperity."
Yoon called on the U.N. to take on greater responsibilities to tackle the challenges of a global pandemic and pursue the global agenda for decarbonization and digital sophistication.
He said South Korea is committed to increasing its contributions to each area and has expanded its Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget while accelerating research and development for COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines.
"As a responsible member of the international community, Korea is committed to playing its due responsibility and role for the freedom of global citizens and prosperity of the global community," Yoon said.
In the response to COVID-19, Yoon said South Korea has pledged US$300 million toward the Access to COVID-19 Tools-Accelerator (ACT-A) Initiative and $30 million to the Financial Intermediary Fund of the World Bank.
South Korea will also host a ministerial meeting of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) in Seoul this November.
In the fight against climate change, the president said South Korea will step up its "green ODA," help developing countries transition to a low-carbon future and share its innovative green technologies with the world.
To narrow the digital divide between nations, South Korea will continue to more widely share its advanced digital technology and data and spare no effort in investing in education, he said.
Yoon stressed that current global challenges call for closer adherence to the U.N. system.
"Any attempt to turn away from the U.N. system and universal norms will divide the global community into blocs, further compounding the crisis and turmoil," he warned.
Yoon also credited the U.N. for South Korea's development, saying its first mission after its founding was to approve the country as the sole legitimate government on the Korean Peninsula, and to defend the country's freedom by deploying U.N. forces during the Korean War.
"Thanks to such efforts by the United Nations, Korea was able to become what it is today," he said. "As such, the Republic of Korea will protect and expand the freedom of global citizens; and together with the United Nations, we will fulfill our responsibilities to promote peace and prosperity around the world."