Address by His Majesty King Mswati III
of the Kingdom of Swaziland
Fellow heads of state and government,
Ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted to join you all for this world summit for social development.
Allow me to express my deep gratitude to the government and people of Switzerland for the warm welcome, excellent arrangements, and most generous hospitality that they have extended to me and my delegation, since our arrival in this beautiful lakeside city of Geneva.
I should also like to express our appreciation to the secretary-general and his staff at the United Nations, for the efficient preparations for this very important special summit.
The kingdom of Swaziland believes this summit meeting to be of the highest priority for the United Nations, and our people are following proceedings with great interest and high expectations.
The Copenhagen summit laid the foundation for a new era of commitment by all member states, to address the social challenges that face us all, in a spirit of cooperation and global partnership.
We welcome the opportunity of this special meeting to review our progress, especially in regard to the ten commitments, and to agree on ways in which we can accelerate the pace of action in key areas, identifying those issues that are threatening to undermine all our best efforts so far.
For it is clear to all that we in the developing world are not yet experiencing the benefits that we talked about at Copenhagen, and that we are in danger of missing out on the growth potential of the information technology sector, and as a result of the inequalities of globalization.
I wish to raise a number of the issues, associated with the aims of the social summit, that are directly affecting our efforts in the kingdom of Swaziland to meet the priority development objectives of our people.
The first is tile question of official development assistance. Since Copenhagen, the kingdom of Swaziland has experienced a major reduction in o.d.a flows, particularly in terms of bilateral support.
While acknowledging those few developed countries that have already met the agreed target, I would urge others to fulfil their commitments, and to maintain bilateral assistance for vital programmes.
Another issue concerns debt relief. The kingdom of Swaziland fully supports the initiative to forgive debt in those countries most in need. But at the same time, we believe that those of us who have so far escaped the debt trap, should be supported with confessional loan financing for worthwhile development projects, to help us to sustain the progress we are making.
For our part, and despite resource constraints, the kingdom of Swaziland has made substantial progress in a number of the key areas of the Copenhagen plan of action.
We are continuing to place our people at the center of all our national policies, by involving them directly in the kingdom's decision-making process. Indeed, all our national development priorities are driven by the wishes of the people themselves, through a continuous process of consultation.
We rounded off the last
century with the launch of the nation's development
strategy, based on the people's recommendations. That lays down the priorities for
government action for the following twenty-five years. The document is perfectly in tune with the spirit and the letter of the Copenhagen commitments, and is the basis for all support from our development partners.
Poverty alleviation, with particular emphasis on health and education, remains our priority for government funding and action. We have also established a gender unit to oversee true progress in our objective of realizing the full potential of our women in development.
Job creation is at the center of our development efforts, with the establishment of an investment promotion agency, and with legislation and incentives in place, to help us to bring dignity and security into the lives of all too many of our people without work.
As victims of the world wide trend in decreasing foreign direct investment, we need international support and partners in our efforts to invest in our own future, by initiating large-scale projects in tourism, agri-business, manufacturing industries, and infrastructure.
My final issue concerns the hiv/aids crisis. Aids now represents the biggest threat to the economic and social development of the kingdom of Swaziland, and its effects are now forcing us to divert funds from other development priorities, in an attempt to limit its spread.
Our analysis shows that, without urgent action, we stand to lose up to 22% of our population in the next 10 years, with a dramatic effect on our economy and on the social well being of our people.
We believe that words alone
are meaningless, without true commitment from all members to resolving this
Above all, there is a need for funding of education and care programs for the developed world, as well as making medicines affordable, and arranging the exchange of information and expertise.
We Swazi have the will and the strategy to contain the disaster and, hopefully, to reverse the infection pattern, but we cannot manage this on our own. A strong statement from the summit on the hiv/aids crisis will certainly help; but most of all, we need direct and urgent action from all member states.
One of the major adverse effects of the HIV/aids crisis is on the well being of our children. As negative influences impact more and more on our daily lives, we have realized that our children are in danger of losing the moral values, that include the sense of identity and discipline, that makes them uniquely swazi, and that helps to protect them from many of the dangers of the modern world.
We hope to receive substantial
international support for a new initiative, to regain
the values that guided parents to bring up their children in a responsible manner, and
that we hope will instill in our youth a sense of self-belief and pride. .
the kingdom of Swaziland believes that the commitments made at Copenhagen represent the best hope for improvement in social welfare standards around the world.
The disappointing lack of progress since then clearly indicates that a new approach is needed, with much stronger commitment from all members, in the spirit of willingness to -truly address the priority issues.
Words alone cannot help our people. Let Geneva 2000, above all, be the catalyst for action, and not just another "talk show". The whole world is watching, and our people expect and deserve results: we cannot afford to fail.
Thank you and may almighty god bless us all.