HIS EXCELLENCY MR MATHIEU KEREKOU,
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BENEIN
AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE OF THE LEAST
DEVELOPED COUNTRIES (LDCs)
Cotonou, 5th August 2002
Chairmen of the Constitutional Institutions;
the High Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations,
in charge of the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing
Countries and Small Island Developing States;
the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO);
and Gentlemen, Honourable Ministers;
and Gentlemen, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps;
and Gentlemen, Representatives of the International Organizations;
and Gentlemen, Heads of Delegation;
1971, the United Nations Organization decided to name as the Least
Developed Countries (LDCs) a category of countries that are deemed
structurally hampered in their development and, therefore, need
a special attention from the International Community so as to sustain
their current development efforts.
is the very first time when our country, Benin, has been entrusted
with the responsibility to organize a Ministerial Meeting of these
countries, the 12th Ministerial Conference of the LDCs whose Representatives
are here present. On behalf of the Beninese people and
their Constitutional Institutions, I would like to express my most
heartily and cordial welcome in our country to our sisters
and brothers from the Least Developed Countries, the Landlocked
Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States.
all the peoples in the Least Developed Countries throughout the
World, it is a great pleasure to live with positive hope that the
most deprived will gain access into the Kingdom of God.
according to the Holy Scriptures, they [the poor] hold, in the doomed
land, a privileged position that ensures their access to the Heavenly
let us not worry, it is also said that every human being will earn
his/her daily bread by the seat of his or her brow.
poverty should not be viewed by us as a humiliation and even less
so as a position of honour or a fatality.
we are poor among the poorest, or less poor among the wealthier,
let us stand proud and noteworthy, united and strong, comforted
by our belonging to the Community of the Free Nations of our Planet.
means that the Benin people and Government are happy and honoured
to see you in such large numbers and firmly determined to tackle
the biggest scandal represented by the extreme poverty in our respective
countries, at the beginning of the 21st century and 3rd millennium.
the fact is that, despite the fast advances registered in Science
and subsequent related practices in modern technologies as well
as the unprecedented growth of wealth generated, so many countries
and so many peoples throughout the world still bitterly suffer from
hunger, thirst, illiteracy, malaria, AIDS and many other related
last report of the Conference of the United Nations on Trade and
Development (CNUCED) as published in June 2002, has it that the
number of extremely poor people will increase by one hundred and
thirteen million (113,000,000) in the LDCs by the year 2015 should
the current trend persist. This is how the LDCs Group numbering
32 in 1981 shifted to 42 in 1990, peaking at 49 countries in 2001
out of which 34 can be found in Africa, while others are anxiously
waiting on their passes to enter the LDCs.
sharp increase in the number of the poor worsens our concern and
anxieties on the real nature of the New World Order and on the actual
determination of the international community, wealthy countries
and the development institutions to eradicate poverty and promote
a genuine and sustainable development in all the continents.
we should also acknowledge that the woes that have been undermining
and hampering our development, by dangerously jeopardizing every
day our socio-economic situation as poor, for which our development
partners though partly responsible hold us liable, are as follows:
Lack of democracy;
Lack of patriotism and real will so as to resolutely get down to
work to help our countries cope with poverty.
such circumstances, if we let ourselves continue to sink into mediocrity
and become naïve enough to believe in international conferences
outcomes and relevant resolutions, promises made and adopted programmes,
without caring for their being implemented with consistency, our
countries shall not start off any development.
and Gentlemen, Honourable Ministers;
and Gentlemen, Heads of Delegation;
and Gentlemen, Dear Participants.
with so many challenges that it is up to us to take up, we must,
here now, draw lessons from our repeated failures so that the 3rd
LDCs Programme of Action for the decade 2002-2010 as adopted in
Brussels on 20th May 2001 by the 3rd United Nations Conference on
LDCs may record the expected results because the international community
is more and more aware of our advanced condition of poverty.
new awareness may be accounted for by the Millennium Summit held
in NEW YORK in the UNITED STATES from 6th to 8th September 2001
and the international gatherings that all paid a special attention
to the crucial issues of poverty in LDCs.
same is true of: the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade
Organization held in DOHA in QATAR from 9th to 14th November 2001,
the International Conference on Development financing in MONTERREY
in MEXICO from 18th to 22nd March 2002, the United Nations Extraordinary
General Assembly on Children held in New York from 8th to 10th May
2002, the World Food Summit held in ROME in ITALY from 10th to 13th
June 2002 and the G8 Summit held in KANANASKIS in CANADA from 20th
to 28th June 2002.
are significant changes in mentality as well as qualitative transformations
that we appreciate with proper judgement.
establishing the United Nations Bureau especially entrusted with
LDCs issues, the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan,
concretely materialized the real political will of the international
community to effectively combat poverty.
appointing Ambassador Anwarul Karim CHOWDHURY from BANGLADESH, a
man of experience and commitment as his High Representative, he
provides himself with the necessary means to succeed.
the High Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General,
I can reassure you that, whether as Chairman of the LDCs Coordinating
Bureau or not, our country, Benin, along with our Government, will
constantly provide you with its support and assistance so as to
fulfil of your noble and exciting international mission.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Ministers;
Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of Delegation;
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Delegates to the Conference.
critically and thoroughly analysing the issues on your agenda, you
will have during your deliberations to harmonize your various concerns,
set priorities to be achieved in order to promote a real development
of LDCs, share our viewpoints with the rest of the world very soon
in Johannesburg in SOUTH AFRICA at the World Summit on Sustainable
Development and during the 57th United Nations General Assembly.
like, therefore, to invite you to draw up, during your working sessions,
a critical and rigorous balance sheet of what has been achieved
and what remains to be done by us as LDCs, individually and among
ourselves, and by us as LDCs in conjunction with the rest of the
international community, in particular with the most rich and industrialized
countries of the world.
is high time or us to become fully aware of our state of poverty
that is far from being a fatality.
is why the Cotonou Conference should serve first and foremost as
a clear manifestation of our common political will to extricate
ourselves together from our category of LDCs.
Gods Grace, we can if we sincerely so wish!
is with these words of faith and conviction that I declare open
this day, Monday, 5 August 2002, the COTONOU Ministerial Conference
of the Least Developed Countries.
LIVE SOLIDARITY BETWEEN THE LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES, LANDLOCKED
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AND SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES!
LIVE INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION!
SUCCESS TO YOUR WORK SESSIONS!