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H.E. Mr. Aníbal António Cavaco Silva, President

24 September 2008

Statement Summary

ANÍBAL ANTÓNIO CAVACO SILVA, President of Portugal, said guaranteeing peace, security and sustainable development was a shared responsibility.  How the world achieved those goals would determine its common destiny.  Global challenges implied collective responsibility, and the United Nations was the forum which best embodied that collective duty.  In a globalized world, only strong multilateral institutions could promote the fundamental values of peace, democracy, human rights and sustainable development, and Portugal was committed to supporting effective multilateralism.

Actions must be made on clear assumptions, he asserted, saying first that States must make every effort to ensure the United Nations had the means to fulfil its mission.  Second, greater representation in the United Nations bodies must be ensured, and actions must be more transparent.  He asked whether it was reasonable to have a Security Council without reforming its working methods, in which countries like Brazil and India had no permanent seats, and Africa was not represented with that status.  Third, States must guarantee fulfilment of human rights declarations, bearing in mind that the ultimate beneficiaries of doing so were all the world’s peoples.

Portugal had been committed to that common effort, notably through involvement in peacekeeping operations.  He paid tribute to all Blue Berets, who had made the ultimate sacrifice for the ideals of the United Nations Charter.  On Africa, he said the continent deserved urgent attention, a belief that had led Portugal to hold the Cairo and Lisbon Summits with its African partners.   Portugal also supported African efforts to achieve the goals of peace, sustainable development, access to health and education, and integration into the global market.

In that context, he congratulated the Angolan people for the “civic way” in which the recent electoral process had been carried out.  He welcomed the political agreement in Zimbabwe, and congratulated Guinea-Bissau on the anniversary of its independence.  That country was a member of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP), and had undertaken increasing duties as an operational partner in the regional organizations to which it belonged.

On terrorism, he noted that, although much had been done, implementation of the United Nations Global Strategy was fundamental for success against that scourge, and respect for both human rights and freedom was crucial.  On the equally destructive “common enemies” -- hunger and extreme poverty -- Portugal reiterated firm support for the Millennium Development Goals, and was directing most of its development aid to Africa.  He was pleased at the creation of a high-level working group on the global food crisis, and called for working together on challenges posed by climate change.  The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was a landmark in the promotion of human rights.

“We are the United Nations, and the Organization’s destiny is in our hands,” he said.  He hailed the Assembly’s consensus on Security Council reform, and Portugal had had the honour of being directly linked to its result, having submitted its candidacy to a non-permanent membership for the 2011-2012 biennium.  Its candidacy must be read in light of the United Nations values that States had long defended.  “We stand for an equal representation of States”, as that was the best way to guarantee justice.

[Source: GA/10751]