9 December 1999


Press Release
GA/9682



GENERAL ASSEMBLY EXPRESSES SATISFACTION AT UN’S ENHANCED INTERACTION WITH ECONOMIC COOPERATION ORGANIZATION

19991209

Continues Consideration of Causes of Conflict in Africa

The General Assembly this morning, satisfied at the enhanced interaction between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization, requested the United Nations system and the international community to continue assisting in strengthening the capacity of States members and the secretariat of the Economic Cooperation Organization to meet the challenges, and benefit from the opportunities of globalization.

The Assembly took that action as it adopted without a vote a resolution introduced by Azerbaijan on the cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization. By other terms of the text, the Assembly welcomed the ongoing Cooperation Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, as well as enhanced contacts with the World Bank. It invited the United Nations system and the international community to provide technical and other assistance to the Cooperation Organization’s secretariat and States members to strengthen their early warning system and preparedness, timely response to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.

Also this morning, as the Assembly continued its consideration of the causes of conflict in Africa and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development, a number of speakers once more drew attention to the lack of support for African problems by the world community and highlighted partiality in approaches.

Libya's representative said the Secretary-General's proposals for Africa had not been translated into action and neither had other recommendations or resolutions. The United Nations had not given Africa what it had given the rest of the world. It had withdrawn from Somalia and left a bloody struggle behind, while Angola had been left to itself. Beyond declaration or intent, what had actually been done was not commensurate with what was needed to address the problems and struggles on the continent.

Mozambique's representative said efforts by African leaders to settle armed conflict had not always been matched by the timely and adequate support from the international community. The arguments often advanced for inaction or delays had led Africans to believe that there was selective treatment from the Security Council and that the United Nations as a whole was discriminating against Africa.


General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9682 75th Meeting (AM) 9 December 1999

Those perceptions were justified. He believed the international community and the Organization could do more and do it effectively.

China's representative said that although a number of initiatives on African development had been proposed from within and outside the United Nations system, these initiatives must be urgently coordinated, so as to avoid repetition and improve efficiency. The various bodies of the United Nations should also strengthen their coordination and cooperation on African issues. Such issues could not be solved by one or two institutions alone, but needed the involvement of more bodies.

In other action this morning, the Assembly, again acting without a vote, approved the second report of the Credentials Committee. The report accepts the credentials of the representatives of an additional 53 Member States for its fifty- fourth session.

The Assembly also decided to take up consideration of the global implications of the year 2000 date conversion problem of computers on Monday, 13 December, in the morning. It further decided to begin considerations of the question of equitable representation on and expansion of the Security Council on Thursday, 16 December, in the morning. It will also take up the reports of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) on Friday, 17 December, in the morning.

Also this morning, the Assembly deferred consideration of the following items and included them on the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth session: Declaration of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of the African Unity (OAU) on the military attack against Libya by the United States Administration in April 1986; Armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations; consequences of the Iraqi occupation of and aggression against Kuwait; implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations and launching of global negotiations on international economic cooperation for development

The representative of Iran also made a statement on the cooperation between the United Nations and Economic Cooperation Organization and the representative of the United States spoke in explanation after adoption of the resolution on the subject. Statements were also made this morning on the causes of conflict in Africa by the representatives of Argentina, Republic of Korea, Norway, Japan, Colombia, Gabon, Namibia, Angola, Uganda, Nigeria and the Observer of the Holy See.

The representatives of Ethiopia and Eritrea made statements in exercise of the right of reply. The President of the Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab (Namibia) also spoke during the rights of reply by Ethiopia and Eritrea..

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to take up the reports of its Sixth Committee (Legal).


Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to consider the second report of the Credentials Committee, as well as reports of the Secretary-General on the global implications of the 2000 computer problem and on cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). It was also expected to continue its consideration of the causes of conflict and promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.

The second report of the Credentials Committee (document A/54/475/Add.1) relays notes of its meeting held on 3 December, which considered a memorandum by the Secretary-General concerning the credentials of the representatives other than those it had considered at its first meeting in October. The report indicates that formal credentials had been received from 20 Member States, and 33 additional States had provided information on appointment of their representatives to the Assembly’s fifty-fourth session by facsimile communication. The Credentials Committee accepted the credentials of the Member States concerned and recommended that the Assembly approve its second report.

Also before the Assembly was the report of the Secretary-General on the global implications of the 2000 computer problem (document A/54/525). The report states that the Organization had engaged the services of a specialized consultant to assess the year 2000 risk for its telecommunications and computing infrastructure, as well as its business applications. A Year 2000 Management Group, supported by a year 2000 team, was also set up to coordinate issues in peacekeeping, information technology, humanitarian affairs, security and safety, as well as a number of other issues. The report also outlines activities by agencies of the Organization and steps taken with Member States to resolve the problem.

The report of the Secretary-General on cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) (document A/54/168) gives a synopsis of the cooperative relationship between the ECO and agencies of the Organization, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), among others.

By the terms of an accompanying draft resolution (document A/54/L.55), the Assembly would take note with appreciation of the Secretary-General's report and express satisfaction at the enhanced pace of interaction between the two organizations.

The Assembly would also note the keen participation of the ECO in various events sponsored by the specialized agencies and programmes of the United Nations system, and call for further contacts and active participation of the two organizations in each other's meetings and activities. Further, it would request that the Organization continue assist strengthening the capacity of States members of the ECO, as well as its secretariat, to meet the challenges and benefit from the opportunities of globalization.

The Assembly would also welcome the recommendations of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) from its fifty-fifth session in Bangkok on promoting cooperation with the ECO in identified areas of mutual concern, and would invite the Commission to enhance mutual collaboration with the ECO on projects in its priority areas of transport and communications, trade, investment, energy, environment, industry and agriculture.

Cooperation between United Nations and Economic Cooperation Organization

ELDAR KOULIEV (Azerbaijan) introduced draft resolution A/54/L.55. He said that as a purely economic organization, the ECO was directing its efforts to the development of cooperation among its member countries in priority economic areas, such as transport, trade, energy and telecommunications. Moreover, it had devoted considerable effort to the preparation and conclusion of various international agreements aimed at harmonizing the respective national legislatures of its member States. The ECO region -- with its internal potential, rich natural and labour resources, and its geopolitical location at the doorway between Europe and Asia -- possessed real capacity and incentives for the dynamic development of the transport sector for the purpose of upgrading it to international levels. Moreover, the abundance of energy resources, including hydrocarbons, in the ECO region presupposed active future cooperation in the exploration, production and transportation of those resources.

However, the ECO region was vulnerable to the illegal production and trafficking of drugs, as well as to money laundering. The agreement signed between the ECO and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) in October 1998 would lead to the establishment of a drug control coordination unit in the ECO secretariat. That unit would foster coordination and cooperation among ECO member States in the prevention of illicit drug trafficking in the region. It would also serve to gather and diffuse the necessary information to the competent authorities of ECO member countries. The ECO was also actively developing cooperation among its member States in the humanitarian and cultural ones. He concluded by reviewing ECO cooperation with the UNDP, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and UNCTAD.

Turning to the draft resolution under consideration, he said that it reflected the commitment of the ECO to development of regional cooperation, and summarized the results achieved in the field of cooperation between the ECO and the United Nations system, in general. He said that the draft also offered perspectives for enhancing that cooperation.

HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said the process of globalization, with increased goods and services crossing borders, had become a fact of collective life, particularly in the field of information technology. However, it was also fragmenting labour markets in developing countries as a result of powerful transnational forces shaping the world economy. In an environment in which borders were increasingly meaningless, it was necessary to establish a framework which ensured that every State benefited from globalization and avoided marginalization. No country should have to face the challenges of globalization alone, and measures to avoid such a fate should be comprehensive and coherent.

Integration policies should be established at the international level, tariffs should be lowered, and impediments to regional groupings eliminated. Oil and gas reserves in the ECO region provided all the ingredients for a sound industrial and economic base, and ECO members needed to intensify trade among themselves in order to gain access to global markets. The region also boasted considerable agricultural potential, but the political, economic and social challenges were also enormous. Protection of the environment, particularly the Caspian Sea, was among the major challenges. The region also continued to be vulnerable to narcotics trafficking and to natural disasters such as earthquakes.

The ECO region’s major goals were smooth movement of goods and capital among its member States, thereby ensuring gradual integration and access to global markets. The ECO secretariat had been focusing at regional and international levels to facilitate its members’ participation in the international economy. It was also establishing common social, economic and political goals and pursuing closer ties with other regional and subregional organizations. The region was also involved in a number of joint programmes with United Nations agencies, and there was ample opportunity to expand such cooperation.

Action on Draft

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization (document A/54/L.55) without a vote.

Speaking in explanation of position after adoption, MIKE GALLAGHER (United States) said his country interpreted operative paragraph 8 of the draft as encouraging contact between the international financial institutions and the secretariat of the ECO. The United States welcomed that. In many cases, however, specific financial institutions had not yet decided what constituted appropriate relations with individual Member States. His country did not believe that the Assembly should interject itself into the middle of such contentious issues.

MATEO ESTREME (Argentina) said that, despite efforts made by the African countries, the perspective had not improved. Economies had deteriorated. Moreover, the persistence of violence and its terrible humanitarian implications constituted a great concern. In that context, it was necessary to create the minimum conditions for development, in order to reach a lasting peace. In that regard, support by the international community, the United Nations agencies, and the institutions of Bretton Woods were indispensable.

It was also essential, he continued, to look at United Nations initiatives to strengthen good governance, such as social development, the elimination of discrimination against women and regional integration. His country had collaborated with Africa in humanitarian activities and technical cooperation. By eliminating the causes of conflicts, particularly poverty and marginalization, a lasting peace could be reached. However, the international community must continue to provide assistance.

SUH DAE-WON (Republic of Korea) said it was important to enhance all efforts to harmonize various international and bilateral initiatives on African development to achieve maximum efficiency and effectiveness. On the political front, many African countries had met with notable success in recent years. Important progress had also been made in some of the most intractable conflict situations on the continent, in particular, in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Democracy and good governance, along with sustainable development, were fundamental to long-term peace and prosperity in Africa, he continued. Good governance underpinned by democracy and respect for human rights, and buttressed by free market principles, best ensured peace, stability and prosperity in the long run. Moreover, technical assistance and exchange could play an enormously beneficial role in increasing the potential for development on the African continent. In that regard, his Government had played an important role. For example, in coordination with the UNDP, his country would be hosting in January a high-level forum on South-South cooperation in science and technology for sustainable development in the next century.

Turning to conflicts, he said that it was necessary to build up the capacity to prevent conflicts through early warning and pre-emptive action. Moreover, rapid response was crucial to containing deadly conflict and its tragic humanitarian consequences. Certainly, African countries themselves must take additional steps to enhance their own peacekeeping capacity. Along those lines, he supported United Nations efforts to upgrade Africa’s peacekeeping capacity, including staff exchange programmes between the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), training assistance and coordination with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), among others.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said the gloomy and sombre picture often painted of Africa was far from complete. There had been many positive developments on the continent, including the demise of apartheid, the restoration of a peaceful Mali, the recent democratization of Nigeria, and the long and difficult path from civil war to elections in Mozambique.

However, the challenges facing African countries were significant. The region had the largest number of people living on less than $1 a day. Present growth rates were too low to reduce the number of poor people, and this was because of conflicts, a lack of international support and recent climatic conditions. It was imperative that African countries, together with the international community, counter this trend through partnerships aimed at reversing the reduction in development assistance, increasing foreign direct investment, and making effective use of resources. Norway would contribute by maintaining its level of assistance at 0.89 per cent of gross national product (GNP) in 2000 and would gradually increase it to 1 per cent. The country would also increase its bilateral assistance to Africa to 50 per cent of its total aid budget, and would support initiatives to make development assistance more effective in poverty reduction.

Turning to security issues, he said the United Nations was the organization best suited to lead and coordinate complex multi-functional peace operations, but often needed to draw on strong regional or subregional organizations as in the case of ECOWAS in the peace operations in Sierra Leone. It was, therefore, important to strengthen the regional capacity for participation in peace operations.

He concluded by stressing that Africa was not a poor continent, but was rich in human and natural resources. The efforts of African countries to meet the dual challenges of building peace and development deserved the active support of the international community, in a partnership where the United Nations continued to be in the forefront.

YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said the problems of poverty and conflict which plague Africa were ones that were difficult to solve, because they were so deeply rooted in the history of the continent and its communities. The two issues were also so interrelated that they created a vicious circle, in which the recurrence of conflict made poverty worse and poverty made post-conflict rehabilitation and reconciliation more difficult.

He said the tasks of peacemaking and economic development were primarily the responsibilities of the countries concerned. It was evident, however, that their efforts should be supported by strong international cooperation at the regional and global levels. In that regard, the Africa-Asia Business Forum was held in Kuala Lumpur in October in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Malaysia. Some 149 African and 129 Asian companies ones participated in the Forum, which was aimed at promoting trade and investment among the businesses of the two regions. Negotiations between those businesses had already produced $2.45 million worth of contracts.

QIN HUASUN (China) said that while Africa had generally maintained stability and enjoyed some economic growth in the past year, the continent was still the least developed region of the world. As the world was entering the new millennium, Africa was in danger of becoming further marginalized.

He said African issues could be resolved through economic development. Although a number of initiatives on African development had been proposed from within and outside the United Nations system, these initiatives must be urgently coordinated and prioritized so as to avoid repetition and improve their efficiency. The priorities should include: stopping the continuous “downslide” of official development aid; reducing the debt burden of African countries; helping African countries in human resources development through education and technology transfer; helping to reform economic structures; supporting capacity- building on trade and market access; and helping to ensure Africa’s integration into the globalization process.

The various bodies of the United Nations system should also strengthen their coordination and cooperation on African issues, he continued. African issues could not be solved by one or two institutions alone, but needed the involvement of more bodies. The General Assembly should play a more important role in mobilizing the international community to increase input to African issues.

CARLOS DOS SANTOS (Mozambique) said, while the responsibility for resolving conflicts and promoting sustainable development lay with Africans themselves, they needed the unconditional support of the international community if they were to succeed in their efforts. Many initiatives had been proposed to address the various aspects of the African situation, both from within the United Nations and outside. However, most such initiatives were yet to be implemented and were still simply on paper. The crucial stumbling block was usually a lack of financial and other resources to translate them into concrete action. Another equally important factor had been lack of coherence, coordination and harmonization. That had resulted in overlapping and investment in less crucial areas.

With adequate financing for development, Africa should be able not only to generate economic growth, but, more importantly, to improve the living standards of its people by enhancing education, health care, infrastructure, and reintegration of refugees and displaced persons, thus, gradually reducing poverty throughout the continent. A number of African countries had shown that was possible. Financing for Africa's development would have to come from all sources: substantial increased official development assistance (ODA), reversal of current financial trends, domestic savings, diversified foreign direct investment and international financial institutions. External debt was still an impediment to sustainable economic growth, and the useful Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative had not yet reversed the trend. Solutions needed to match the magnitude of the problems, and action had to be speedy and effective.

Efforts by African leaders to settle armed conflicts had not always been matched by timely and adequate support from the international community. The arguments often advanced for inaction or delays had led Africans to believe that there was selective treatment from the Security Council, and that the United Nations as a whole was discriminating against Africa. Those perceptions were justified. He believed the international community and the Organization could do more and do it effectively.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the report of the Secretary-General provided Member States with a realistic view of the African panorama. He said the Economic and Social Council recognized that there were agreements on the priorities of Africa’s development. United Nations programmes, bilateral donors and multilateral institutions needed better coordination and should help broader financial help. It was also necessary to define the parts to be played by Governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society.

To bring about progress in Africa there must be solidarity between donor countries and their African social partners. Regional integration was also essential. The persistence of certain international and domestic conflicts of the continent constituted a challenge as did the magnitude of poverty and debt. However, he said, the progress made so far foreshadowed a raising of the African spirit.

CHARLES ESSONGHE (Gabon) said simple declarations of intention must be transformed into action, in order for Africa to take its rightful place in the international community and to participate in building a better world. In order to help the continent, practical measures as recommended by the Secretary- General’s report should be put in place. As yet there had been little progress on the ground. Many African economies were still handicapped by the burden of debt, and hampered by a hostile international economic environment. A clear correlation between conflict and the unfair distribution of the fruits of globalization had already been made, but still little was being done to establish a more equitable system.

He said Africa continued to make progress in the areas of good governance and the establishment of democracy, but those efforts needed international support. There must be an increase in development assistance and foreign direct investments. United Nations bodies such as the Economic and Social Council could help in this regard. There was also a need to reinforce contributions to the Organization of African Unity (OAU)/United Nations Fund for conflict prevention in Africa. He welcomed the close cooperation between the OAU and the world body.

GUMA IBRAHIM AMER (Libya) said that while the Secretary-General had participated in assisting Africa in a concrete manner, his proposals had not been translated into action. Neither had other recommendations or resolutions. The United Nations had not given Africa what it had given the rest of world: it had withdrawn from Somalia and left a bloody struggle behind; Angola had been left to itself and humanitarian assistance was way below the required level because the Organization had received only half of what had been requested to meet humanitarian assistance needs in Africa in 1999. What had actually been done was not commensurate with what was needed in addressing the problems and struggles afflicting Africa.

He said Africa could not access world markets and ask for fair prices for its export commodities. External debt had bled its economies dry. However, despite problems and conflicts, despite support and declarations -- whether limited or absent -- Africa was working on the basis of its potential, and opportunities to overcome economic difficulties and strengthen economic cooperation on the continent. He said African wisdom had also made it possible to convince warring parties to resolve conflicts. He cited the Democratic Republic of the Congo, noting that dialogue and negotiations were now taking place. In that context, the Fourth Extraordinary African Summit, held last September, was a clear indicator of the will and determination of African leaders to take up the challenge of establishing peace on the continent. The international community should support those efforts.

He called for an international work programme that would end malaria, and the AIDS crises which afflicted half of Africa's countries. It was up to the United Nations to strengthen and increase its aid to Africa for industrialization and development plans. There should be a revision of the unfair conditions that were now applied by international financial institutions and imposed on governments. He called for the removal of obstacles that obstructed African products from reaching world markets.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said the recent experience in Sierra Leone should teach the Organization lessons how lack of resources could result in delayed peace and denied development. The United Nations had the capacity to stop those horrors as long as there was the will to act on time. That could be done in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Therefore, cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU, as well as sub-regional organizations, should be increased. Regional cooperation and integration were also important for African recovery.

He said the declining growth of many African economies was caused by lowered commodity prices. Consequently, the international community should assist those countries to improve their access to markets. Adequate flows of official development assistance compatible with agreed targets, as well as increased foreign direct investment, were indispensable to the region’s economic recovery. It was also important that their efforts toward recovery be complemented through capacity-building and technical assistance. That assistance should be redesigned so as to close the gap between African and industrial countries by speeding up the transfer of knowledge, skills and expertise.

He said the gravest threat to Africa’s sustainable development was HIV/AIDS. Its spread had serious implications for the future of the continent and the pandemic must be urgently addressed.

JOSEFA COELHO DA CRUX (Angola) said that regional and subregional organizations had an important role to play in preventive diplomacy, confidence- building, armament control and the peaceful settlement of disputes. It was important to strengthen those institutions capable of carrying out the peace efforts, in order to generate a combination of instruments to prevent and monitor conflicts, on one hand, and to manage those international peace instruments with special relevance to the regional context on the other.

With regard to confidence-building, she said the reality of regional conflicts did not differ with the end of the cold war, taking into account the fact that the common terms of Africa’s strategic unity had disintegrated as a result of the end of global military bipolarity and re-emerging geo-strategic interests. She added that armament restrictions were a necessity, since: no economy could resist an unlimited expansion of military spending; technological advancement was a functional imperative for defense; and regional military balances were dynamic. He supported the holding on international conference on small arms and legal weapons in 2001.

Economic and social problems were among the root causes of conflicts, he continued. Nevertheless, in most situations the lack of political will by the international community perpetuated crises. In Angola, under the Lusaka Protocol, the United Nations was engaged in a costly and very complex peacekeeping operation, after obtaining assurances of political will from both parties to the peace agreement –- the Government of Angola and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). As a corollary to the lack of political will and wish for peace, UNITA had deceived everybody, in particular the United Nations, which had the mission to quarter, disarm and demobilize the UNITA army.

In a political fraud, she said, instead of demobilizing, UNITA mobilized new troops; instead of disarming, it reinforced its military capacity; instead of transferring to the State the areas under its control, it occupied new areas in the “diamond belt.”

She said that the international community could and should do more to make Jonas Savimbi take the consequences for that warlike and criminal behaviour.

African countries were more than ever aware of their responsibilities even if they recognized that the majority of their problems arose from legacies and injustices left by the colonial rule, she said. Moreover, the refugees and the displaced population had generally become a considerable burden to the neighbouring countries. To minimize the impact of such a situation on the host countries, international support and solidarity were of essential importance Thus, she called upon every government, United Nations agencies and international humanitarian organizations to pledge their support.

HAILE MENKERIOS (Eritrea) emphasized that Africa, despite many obstacles inherited and internally exacerbated, was making an effort to solve its problems. Cooperation in its endeavours should be undertaken not as charity but in the interest of the collective good. There had been political and social reform, regional cooperation and positive achievements as a result of vigorous measures taken by African States.

He said that despite the efforts of the OAU, conflicts in Africa had increased during the second half of the 1990s. In the case of Eritrea and Ethiopia, the OAU had prepared and presented a peace package which had since been rejected by Ethiopia as “unacceptable…and not following the path to a peaceful resolution of the conflict”. In a statement by its Prime Minister, Ethiopia had also called on the international community to stop its “futile attempt to pressure the Ethiopian Government to sign the existing technical arrangements”. The representative of Eritrea said that in the face of this response, his country stood ready to defend its dignity and sovereignty.

He said the Security Council had supported and endorsed the OAU peace proposal as fair and balanced and had consistently declared its strong support for the continued OAU efforts, which had the backing of the European Union. Ethiopia’s rejection of the peace proposals, he went on, was an affront to the collective stand and will of the entire international community. If that attitude were not challenged, the world would have failed not only Africa in its efforts at peace and development but risked undermining the credibility and capacity of its instruments for peace and security.

MATIA MULUMBA SEMAKULA KIWANUKA (Uganda) said African countries were still facing challenges of peace, democratization, human rights and sustainable development. In that regard, yesterday in Nairobi, the President of Uganda and the President of Sudan signed an agreement by which they committed themselves to normalize relations between the two countries. Regarding democratization, Africa had been ruled by authoritative regimes for many years, but now there was a shift from those regimes to democratic reforms. The continent was moving forward and it was important to sustain an agenda for democratization and good governance. For that to happen, it was necessary to produce leaders committed to peace and to the economic transformation of the continent.

Despite those achievements, however, there were still many challenges. The signing of peace agreements represented the beginning of progress, but did not mean peace. In that context, the role of the international community and, in particular, the Security Council was essential. Moreover, elections were not a panacea, they must be accompanied by democratization and good governance. Regarding conflicts, he said, they could be predicted and prevented. In that context, the United Nations and the Security Council in particular should devote more resources to provide rapid response.

He then reviewed the negative and tragic consequences provoked by small arms. African conflicts were fueled by them, he said. It was important to continue the convening of international and regional conferences to take steps against small arms. In addition to that, to consolidate peace, partnership was essential. That could lead to economic growth. But, without a rapid response to conflicts, there would be no peace.

OLUSEGUN APATA (Nigeria) said that since its independence, his country had played a major role in facilitating peaceful resolution of conflicts in different parts of the continent. Recently, its President had participated in a meeting of the Gulf of Guinea Commission whose principal goal was to promote peace and stability through development.

He said there were many organizations, including the United Nations, involved in peace-building in African States emerging from situations of conflict. However, the impression was often given that those in the donor community were competing among themselves, resulting in duplication of efforts, programmes and projects. For example, the UNDP, World Bank and several bilateral donor agencies duplicated efforts in the area of governance. Furthermore, implementation of policy on issues of external debt burden, ODA, market access and foreign direct investment had not removed Africa’s need for access to the markets of industrialized countries. He said several developed countries had not met the target for ODA, which was less than 1 per cent of GNP.

He recalled that African leaders had launched the Cairo Agenda for Action, to relaunch Africa’s economic and social development as an initiative to move the continent out of poverty and transform the economies of African countries, enabling them to become equal partners globally. The region's leaders, he said, were working assiduously to an early realization of the African Economic Community, since economic integration was one way to prevent conflict and promote social and economic development.

GEORGE PANIKULAM, Observer for the Holy See, said the parties to conflicts in Africa often rejected initiatives undertaken by the international community, which rendered its concerted efforts ineffective. Poverty had become a chronic factor in some parts of the continent, and even official development assistance to the region had been falling.

Meanwhile, he added, there were many weapons available in Africa. It was estimated there were more than 8 million small arms in West Africa. Leaders of areas rich in diamonds sold them to acquire more sophisticated weapons, and poorer countries even mortgaged crops to acquire small arms. In spite of the Secretary- General’s recommendations for them to reduce such purchase of the commodity to 1.5 per cent of the GNP, and to impose zero growth in their defense budgets for 10 years, many of those States continued to buy weapons.

He said that was a strange paradox as impoverished countries acquired large quantities of weapons to kill, and richer countries profited from the thirst for power of a few persons, dooming millions to utter starvation. Until the constant flow of arms to Africa was effectively curbed, he stressed, conflict situations were going to continue causing an even more dangerous turn of events.

He said resolving conflicts remained the first step towards security and development in Africa, but concerted action and political will of both the African leadership and the international community were needed for the continent’s sustainable development. The international community must work to cancel foreign debts, open markets without setting burdensome conditions and grant preferential economic assistance, among other measures. However, those initiatives must respect the peculiar situation of Africa and the requirements of its different regions and populations.

Right of Reply

Speaking in a right of reply, BERHANEMESKEL NEGA (Ethiopia) said that Eritrea's representative, in referring to the crisis between their two countries, had engaged in the usual style of double speak in an attempt to mislead the General Assembly. Ethiopia from the onset had shown commitment to and respect for the peace efforts of the OAU and continued to be engaged with the its efforts. It was an insult to the intelligence of the Assembly for Eritrea to accuse Ethiopia of rejecting the OAU proposals, when it was Eritrea that had not had faith in the OAU’s efforts.

In making its accusation, he continued, Eritrea had not mentioned the cause of the crisis between the two countries which was Eritrea’s aggression in occupying Ethiopian territory. Ethiopia had repeatedly asked Eritrea to withdraw from its territory but it had refused. Eritrea should not be judged by what they said but by what they did and were doing. What they were doing made those who knew them sceptical, especially when they posed as disciples of peace. After their armed aggression on Ethiopian territory, they presented themselves as victims of aggression, when they were the aggressors. When in February 1999 Ethiopia was able to liberate part of its territory, Eritrea suddenly became converts to the OAU peace proposals. That was a public relations gimmick and time-buying tactic to regroup, as it subsequently did in March, June, September and even October.

So, one had to ask, what were they doing now? Were they sending more and more troops and digging trenches? Ethiopia believed they were. Eritrea shamelessly accused Ethiopia of obstruction, when its only demand was the full restoration of its sovereignty; nothing more, nothing less. Ethiopia had accepted the two basic documents drawn up by the OAU and endorsed at the heads of States and government level and would not accept any alteration or dilution of those documents, as that would be tantamount to rewarding aggression.

Before giving the floor to Eritrea for a response, the President of the Assembly, THEO-BEN GURIRAB (Namibia), said he was ashamed and disappointed by the attitude of the two States. Many friends outside of Africa had taken the opportunity of the current debate to reiterate solidarity with support for Africa and had pledged to continue to assist Africa to achieve peace, in order to allow for development. The Assembly had a lot of work ahead of it and, therefore, appealed for restraint and brevity. The two States had made their case many times before and the Assembly now wanted to see an end to the conflict between the two sisterly countries.

Mr. MENKERIOS (Eritrea) said he understood the frustration at the unfortunate continuation of the conflict which could and should be resolved by peaceful means. The deliberate modification by Ethiopia of the established border left by the colonial Power was the source of the conflict. Eritrea had demanded an independent investigation to establish who was responsible for the crisis and who was the aggressor. Ethiopia had rejected such an investigation. The reason for the rejection must be that it knew what the results would be -- that it was the aggressor. "Let us wait for the results, instead of asking the international community to make decisions", he said.

He said the OAU peace package called for four things: the cessation of hostilities; the redeployment of troops to positions held before hostilities commenced; the placement of international monitors; and the demarcation of borders according to treaties and international law. Ethiopia was rejecting all of that. Were they afraid of the outcome of legal demarcation? Moreover, were they ready to sign tomorrow and start the peace proposals? Those proposals had taken 18 months to prepare and his country was now ready to sign. Was Ethiopia?

Mr. NEGA (Ethiopia) regretted that he had to take the floor once again, but he wished to point out that third parties, including the OAU, had established that Eritrea was the aggressor in the conflict between the two countries. The OAU in its findings had rejected the Eritrean assertion that Ethiopia was the aggressor. He said it had been agreed by all parties that the occupied territories had been administered by Ethiopia before the crisis. He reiterated Ethiopia’s acceptance of the two OAU basic documents that called for the complete withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the disputed territory. His country was ready to sign an agreement, but called on Eritrea to show its commitment to peace by full withdrawal.

The PRESIDENT then informed the Assembly that draft resolution would be submitted at a later stage.

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