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H. E. Mr. Phandu T.C. Skelemani, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

29 September 2008

Statement Summary

PHANDU T.C. SKELEMANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Botswana, said the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights afforded the chance to reflect on building a more just world order. To help societies realize their full potential, States must continually strive to improve governance to ensure responsiveness to people's wishes. In that context, it was imperative that the will of the people expressed in free and fair elections be respected by all political leaders. Heads of State or Government must avoid the temptation to change their constitutions to stay in power.

Botswana was determined to promote respect for human rights at home and abroad, and was aware of the need for international support in that endeavour. Noting that Botswana was a party to the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, he fully supported the Court's work, explaining that there should be no exceptions as to what the Court could or could not do.

Taking up African developments, he welcomed the signing of an agreement by political parties in Zimbabwe, saying that it should have a positive impact in Zimbabwe and the wider African region. "This is a good beginning", he said, adding that no party should attempt to obstruct implementation of the accord, as the crisis could only be resolved through it. He called on the global community to help the process succeed with "much needed" financial and technical assistance. He also congratulated former South African President Thabo Mbeki for his contribution to peace and democracy in Africa.

He said the United Nations was required to respond effectively to twenty-first century challenges, and in managing relations between States, leaders were called on to set a higher standard. Language employed in international forums should not be formulated to shame States. States, especially major Powers, should refrain from using weapons to resolve conflict, as military conflict demonstrated a failure of diplomacy and an inability to employ resources to benefit human life. Meeting the Millennium Development Goals should be a primary focus.

Welcoming initiatives by development partners, he said Botswana had always made effective use of such resources, and also envisaged a time when such assistance would no longer be needed. The Secretary-General's report outlined "a mixed and uneven score" in achieving the Goals. The world was seriously lagging on every target, and the process had highlighted new challenges hindering attainment. It was imperative to accelerate progress.

"Our people deserve a life free from fear and want," he said, adding that that was not a privilege, but a human right that States had a duty to respect. Children in developing countries continued to die from preventable diseases, and closing such gaps urgently necessitated sound national policies, matched by increased official development assistance (ODA); fairer international trade regimes; more global partnerships; full implementation of debt relief measures; and greater access to markets.

Conflicts continued to flare, making peace a remote possibility in some parts of the world, he continued, noting that in Africa, substantial time, energy and resources had been expended with little or no success. Strides had been made in Liberia and Guinea-Bissau, but, regrettably, Darfurians faced hunger, and he was concerned at the continually worsening situation in that area. On Somalia, he welcomed the signing of the Djibouti Agreement, and called for committing to an all-inclusive process so that Somalis could live in peace. He reminded leaders to put their peoples' interests first.

[Source: GA/10758]


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