at theWorld Summit on Sustainable Development

03 September 2002

. Your Excellency President Thabo Mbeki,
. Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
. Your Excellency Secretary General Kofi Annan,
. Your Excellency Executive Director, United Nations Environment Program, Klaus Toepfer,
. Distinguished Delegates,
. Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me on behalf of the People and Government of the Republic of Rwanda and on my own behalf, to express our appreciation to the People and Government of the Republic of South Africa for hosting this important Summit, and for the warmth and generosity with which my delegation and I have been received in Johannesburg.

Let me also take this opportunity to commend the dedication and commitment with the United Nations' organs have organised this Summit.
I would like to take this opportunity at the outset to extend our heartfelt sympathy to the various nations, which, since the Rio Summit, have experienced natural disasters such as the current floods and droughts which continue to wreck havoc in many countries on different continents. The continuation of these disasters stands as a living testimony for the need to confront our environmental challenges with greater urgency, consistency, and dedication than ever before.

Indeed, as we review the past decade's accomplishments since Rio in 1992, we have to conclude unfortunately that environmental degradation remains a serious threat to our planet, as demonstrated by, continued loss of biodiversity, desertification, sharp climate change, and global warming. Alternative sources of energy particularly in poor countries remain scarce leading to serious deforestation, while poverty and ignorance continue to affect millions and millions especially in the developing world.


Turning now to my Country, as you may be aware, just two years after Rio, Rwanda fell victim to the 1994 Genocide in which over 1 million people were killed. As a consequence, the Rwandan social fabric and the entire economy were devastated.

These tragic events notwithstanding, we attach great importance to the Rio Principles; we are fully committed to implementing Agenda 21 and Post-Rio developmental goals, including those contained in the Millennium declaration and the Beijing Platform for Action. In this context, Rwanda has, among other things:

  • Ratified and initiated the 3 Rio Conventions and other international instruments agreed upon in Rio and beyond;
  • Developed Programs which have as the central focus social development and poverty eradication, environmental management especially on land degradation, modernisation of agriculture, gender mainstreaming, human settlement programs, land tenure questions, and democracy and governance; .
  • Laid greater emphasis on combating HIV/AIDS and other major killer diseases such as malaria.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In addition to actively supporting international conventions, we have had to meet our specific challenges. For example, we have had to mend our social fabric, to rebuild and to continue consolidating unity and reconciliation, to uphold human rights, and to promote governance, democracy and the rule of law. We have established, in most of these cases, specific participatory mechanisms and institutions to address these key national challenges and issues. We are convinced that we are on the right path, and our modest achievements indicate this.


The Johannesburg Summit constitutes a unique opportunity for rededicating ourselves to the Rio Principles and Agenda. Let us also be mindful of the contemporary context in which we make this recommitment: that of globalisation. As we all know, globalisation presents us with enormous
opportunities, challenges, and risks as demonstrated by immense capacities of generating greater wealth and technological innovations and advancement. But unless these capacities are employed to uplift the human race from misery, we risk turning these opportunities into "missed opportunities" with grave implications. The outcome of this includes freezing our planet into the unstable camps of "haves" and "have-nots" - of wealth alongside poverty.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before we leave Johannesburg, let us develop a greater sense and desire of inclusiveness and responsiveness to the needs of the World's citizenry. Only then can we turn the agenda of human development from a distant wish into a concrete reality. The Johannesburg Summit offers an opportunity for adopting a realistic action plan towards this noble mission.

I thank all of you for your attention.