SAUDI ARABIA
 
 
 

STATEMENT

BY

 HE OSAMA BIN JA'AFAR FAQEEH
THE MINISTER OF COMMERCE
THE HEAD OF THE SAUDI ARABIAN DELEGATION

AT
THE WORLD SUMMIT FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT 

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
3 SEPTEMBER  2002










Your Excellency President Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki 
Your Honor, Your Highnesses,
Your Excellencies Heads of Delegations

          I am honored to convey to you the greetings and best wishes of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd ibn Abd al-`Aziz and Crown Prince, `Abd Allah ibn `Abd al `Aziz. I sincerely thank Your Excellency and the friendly Government of South Africa for hosting this highly regarded international summit. I would like to further express our appreciation of the outstanding efforts and successful endeavors to employ the outcome of this Summit in attaining the goals of sustainable development for human kind and to instigate the agreed principles within a suitable frameworks in order to achieve our common objectives on equality, and equitable opportunities for all segments of the world community to live in peace, dignity and prosperity.

          I would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to HE the Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan for his outstanding reports on the outcome of this Summit's preparatory committees, his valuable recommendations and practical plans of actions.

Mr. President,

          Holding this international Summit on sustainable development is in itself an acknowledgment of all nations' unequivocal equal rights to obtain their legitimate share of the outcome of such comprehensive development and to enjoy equitable opportunities through effective participation in decision-making on all aspects of international economic issues. It also reaffirms the need for full adherence to the principles of constructive cooperation to deal with the growing challenges facing our world today. This obligates us to start a new phase of serious collective efforts to face such challenges and shoulder the responsibilities with the aim to formulate a clear vision and well defined goals. We should also strive to accommodate our common priorities and contain all inseparable issues in a comprehensive strategy in order to realize a reasonable and fair balance between the basic fundamentals of true partnership, among all members of the international community, and ensure full respect of national sovereignty, human dignity and cultural diversity, within the noble objectives of the United Nations Charter.

          We sincerely hope that this Summit will result in objective, transparent decisions that reaffirm full adherence to the principles of justice, freedom, equality, and eliminate all aspects of grievances, subjugation and deprivation so as to truly contribute to the achievement of human aspiration for sustainable development and prosperity within an atmosphere of mutual respect, peace and security.

Mr. President,

          Recently issued reports by the United Nations have indicated that initiatives and efforts exerted in the areas of sustainable development, since the approval of Agenda 21 in Rio 92, were seriously hampered. Such weak results and the lack of progress in the implementation of those initiatives did not meet the modest expectations of developing and least developed nations. This is primarily due to the fact that those initiatives lacked practical plans of actions and pragmatic work programs, in addition to harsh conditionality combined with sharp decline in development aid, that have resulted in heavy financial burdens and consequently limited the tangible results of development.

          In spite of the relative improvement of some countries' economic conditions during the nineties, due to the positive impact of globalization, trade liberalization, information technology application and modern communications methods, the majority of developing countries did not have their fair share in these positive results. They continued to suffer from declining growth rates, increasing poverty, acute food shortage, serious unemployment, contagious diseases and severe debt burdens. These factors combined, have led to the marginalization of a large number of these countries and further widened the gap of inequality, economic and social imbalances.

Mr. President,

          Since its establishment over a century ago and based on its deep-rooted conviction in international cooperation and the mutual responsibility of world community in fighting underdevelopment and deprivation, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has deployed its capabilities and resources towards advancing economic, social and environmental development not only at the domestic level, but also through its effective presence and generous contributions to international development institutions. The Kingdom has provided monetary and development assistance in the form of outright grants and concessionary long term loans, to a large number of developing and least developed countries worldwide, to help enhancing their capabilities in facing development challenges. During the last three decades, the Kingdom's total aid amounted to 76 billion dollars, of which 40 billion dollars were granted during the past two decades, representing about 4% of the Kingdom's GDP. This assistance was extended to 73 developing countries, 41 of which are in Africa. Furthermore, the Kingdom answered the Sixth Islamic Summit Conference call by canceling 6 billion dollars of its official aid benefiting a number of developing and least developed countries.

          In this context, we call upon advanced nations to reaffirm their commitment to the true concept of North-South economic and technical cooperation by adopting effective and practical methods in mobilizing sufficient financial resources required for the. implementation of meaningful development programs in developing and least developed countries. Advanced economies should also ensure effective participation of developing economies in international decision making process with faithful cooperation aiming at protecting their rights and preserving their human dignity. We believe that this can be achieved through a sincere endeavor to realize the following objectives:

  1. Developed countries should renew their commitment to allocate 0.7% of their annual GDP for development aid programs during the          current  decade, and adopt effective methods of delivery of this aid to the needy countries.
  2. Adopt creative methods to deal with the heavy burden of foreign debt of least-developed nations by canceling the greater part of such debts and alleviating the burden or converting it into equity financing.
  3. Improve the multilateral trading system to ensure that developing nations' exports reach international markets, without obstacles, enhancing these nations' ability to attract investments, and facilitating the utilization of modern technology especially in the fields of pharmaceuticals to fight epidemics and infectious diseases.


Mr. President,

          The establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in early 1995 was an event of great significance in international socio-economic relations. The creation of this Organization has provided the third pillar of the international economic system, entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the rules of the multilateral trading system and serve as a forum for comprehensive multilateral trade negotiations.

          However, the WTO has not been able to fulfill the aspirations of developing nations. It has not been able to ensure faithful implementation of the Uruguay Round Agreements by its major members and has failed to prevent new trade protectionist measures. This has led to a growing feeling of injustice among developing nations who have strong doubts about the fairness of the multilateral trading system. There is a wide-spread perception among those nations that the benefits of such system have eluded them.

          In addition, WTO which rightly takes pride in the creation of a liberal international trading system, based on the rule of law, transparency, predictability and mutual benefits, is deeply distorted by the fact that some of its members do not always adhere to these principles. The Kingdom joins other developing nations in demanding that the multilateral trading system be fair to reflect the reality of its membership, equitable to advocate the benefits to all nations, and transparent to preserve the integrity of the system. It should refrain from imposing unjust demands upon acceding countries that far exceed the current obligations of the founding members. The Organization must strive to protect its principles in order to achieve the universality of the system so that it could effectively contribute to the objective of sustainable development.

Mr. President,

          The Government of Saudi Arabia fully supports the notion that the main objective of this Summit should be to confirm full adherence to the Third Millennium Declaration through which world leaders have expressed their determination for peace to prevail all over the world based on the principles of international legitimacy that stem from the noble objectives of the UN's Charter. However, the inability to achieve a just peace in the Middle East, due to the continuing Israeli aggression and occupation of Arab lands, represents a major hindrance to any meaningful development and fuels to the atmosphere of instability and continued tension. This increases the burdens on Arab countries and obstructs their efforts aimed at the continuation of economic and social development.

Mr. President,

          It is well-known that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a major world producer and exporter of oil. Yet it is still a developing country where the oil sector represents the major component of its GDP and more than 85% of its total exports. In its endeavor to achieve sustainable development, the Kingdom adopted three decades ago a self-imposed economic reform strategy to facilitate the implementation of bold decisions through concerted efforts, aiming at diversifying its economic base through the creation of new productive streams to our GDP. The mainstay of this strategy aims at unleashing the vigor and vitality of the private sector through privatization, foreign investment, tourism and further liberalization of our trade regime. It is out of this real experience that the Kingdom can highly appreciate the enormous challenges facing developing nations in their endeavor to overcome these difficulties and realize their legitimate ambitions.

Mr. President,

          The Saudi delegation has effectively participated in the preparatory meetings of this Summit and expressed our views on the issues under discussion. I would like here to briefly summarize the Saudi position on these issues:

First: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia looks forward with great interest to the outcome of this Summit as it represents a historical event and a qualitative leap in the UN's efforts to achieve sustainable development and the culmination of unrelenting work by all relevant international agencies in order to achieve this goal.

Second: Tackling the outstanding development issues calls for strong political will in giving top priority to eradication of poverty, hunger and diseases in order to realize acceptable living standards and preserve human dignity for all people of the world. Such a goal will not be achieved without complete and sincere implementation of Agenda 21 objectives and recommendations.

Third: To ensure substantial changes in production and consumption patterns in developed countries, in order to create real opportunities, to achieve the goals of sustainable development at all levels. While developed countries represent 20% of the world population, these countries consume 85% of petrochemicals and aluminum, 80% of energy, iron, steel and paper, 75% of wood, 56% of meat, fertilizers and cement and 50%. of fish. These developed countries also produce 96% of radioactive materials, 90% of harmful gases to the ozone layer and 75% of the greenhouse effects.

Fourth: It is absolutely necessary to remove trading obstacles applied by developed countries in violation of their obligations within the framework of the WTO. The relative improvement in market access to developed countries was confronted, in many cases, by attempts to invoke new protective measures under various pretexts, including the excessive use of social, technical and environmental measures. This neo-protectionism has deprived the main exports of developing nations from reaching their legitimate destination and diminished their market share. Effective programs must also be established and implemented to support technical assistance and capacity building of developing and least-developed countries to enable them to compete and gradually integrate in the international economic system which will lead to the achievement of fair and sustainable development. The harmful economic and social effects of trade distorting policies followed by some countries due to the lack of legal and organizational frameworks should also be eliminated.

Fifth: The Kingdom's policy of protecting our natural environment stems from the teachings of Islam. Therefore, the Kingdom has adopted this policy in its endeavor to achieve development and welfare for its people without compromising the natural environment or encroaching upon the rights of future generations. The Kingdom also attaches great importance to all related environmental issues. Such issues enjoy high profile in domestic and foreign policies. This emanates from the fact that the well being of mankind is closely connected to the safety of his surrounding environment. Out of this conviction, the Kingdom has effectively participated in all international conferences and organizations in charge of the environmental protection and has joined several related international agreements. In this context, we hope that objectivity will prevail within international efforts dealing with environmental problems. These efforts should be based on serious scientific studies, genuine research, and take into consideration the necessity of transferring environmentally related technologies to developing countries in order to play an effective role in this regard.

Sixth: To reaffirm the need of serious international cooperation for finding convincing and effective solutions that take into account common but differentiated responsibilities with various environmental standards for different countries. The circumstances and needs of developing and developed countries should be taken into account so that such solutions do not require costly structural amendments, negative changes in the priorities of economic and social development or incurring additional burdens as a result of implementing those changes.

Seventh: The Kingdom also requests the elimination of discriminatory tax policies of industrial nations imposed on petroleum products under the pretext of environmental considerations. These negatively affect the opportunities of achieving sustainable development in oil-exporting developing countries, while industrial nations provide excessive subsidies, incentives and allowances to coal and nuclear energy. We find no logical or scientific justification for this, especially in light of increasing levels of production of coal fuel and the many accidents of nuclear reactors. Emphasis on, and incentives to coal and nuclear energy adversely affect the health and life of mankind.

Eighth: We believe that the comprehensive concept of human rights should be based on the realization that human communities have special characteristics, cultures, beliefs and religions, which must be acknowledged and respected. While the UN charter reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, we find 3 billion people living on two dollars a day or less. A starving human being who cannot find a morsel to eat, or potable water to drink, or a roof to provide shelter, much less medical treatment, will find in discussions of human rights nothing but an attempt to put slogans in place of painful reality- and slogans cannot feed the hungry. This international norm cannot be acceptable to everyone unless it takes into consideration the constructive contributions made and still being made by other civilizations and cultures in firmly establishing and protecting the concepts of human rights. The Kingdom adheres to the noble objectives and goals that call for the protection of human rights and preservation of human dignity based on the noble principles and values enshrined in our holy constitution that has made of mankind the noblest creature on earth. This adherence is manifested clearly in the Basic Rules of Governance of the Kingdom. Therefore, we do not accept using the noble intentions of the concept of human rights as a means of pressure in order to achieve political and economic gains that are simply an excuse to interfere in other peoples' affairs.

Ninth: Talking about economic globalization in its wider sense requires us to acknowledge that it represents a dynamic force that opens opportunities and poses challenges and risks. Its effect on various countries and societies is different because they are not equally prepared to avail of the positive characteristics of globalization or able to avoid or minimize its risks. For this reason, there is an urgent need to adopt a new method characterized by balanced rights and obligations, fairness and transparency to establish "codified globalization" that will create firm bases for real partnership. It will provide all countries with equal opportunities to benefit from the outcome of globalization and share in the benefits of trade liberalization and better market access. The international community and advanced nations in particular need to widen the scope of technical cooperation, capacity building and institutional improvement, and to facilitate technology transfer to achieve the goals of comprehensive and sustainable development in developing and least-developed countries. That will speed up their development and enable them to utilize the relative advantages available to them in increasing the economic value added of their natural resources and enhancing their competitive advantages. They would thus be able to benefit from globalization, digital economy and e-commerce, in a world of increasing dependency on advanced knowledge, to face the challenges of the 21" century.

Mr. President,

          The developing nations look forward to this Summit hoping that its decisions will be effective in realizing their ambitions to live honorably without hunger, fear or disease and provide the futurd generations with a promising chance of better life and a brighter and more secure future.
 

Thank you.