MINISTER OF FOREIGN
BEFORE THE 56TH
SUNDAY 11 NOVEMBER 2001
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In view of the catastrophic events, which took place on September 11th, it is only fitting that before anything is said, we offer once again our deepest condolences to the Government and people of the United States. This was a stunning and brazen act of terrorism that claimed thousands of precious human lives and caused untold physical destruction, without parallel in history. That brutal attack has put us all on notice: it is no longer business as usual. It was truly the day the world changed!
This tragedy, one way or another, affects us all. No one country is immune from terrorism; in as much as it is beyond the capacity of any one country to counter it. The international community must work and cooperate together, ideally through the United Nations, so that counter measures assume a face of legitimacy and acceptability. In this respect the Security Council resolution 1373 provides us with the necessary framework. We, in Djibouti, have already established the required mechanism to counter terrorism in all its aspects, from our soil. We are also in the process of examining the existing international conventions and protocols on terrorism with a view to signing and ratifying them all. While doing all these, however, we must not lose sight of the plight of the people of Afghanistan — the fear, desperation and starvation facing ordinary people in this looming crisis. We must not also squander the extraordinary opportunity we now have to examine all possible or probable root causes of terrorism, including attitudes, frustrations, and attendant economic and political conditions.
May I join the other delegations that preceded me to offer you our congratulations on your assumption of the Presidency of the 56th session of the General Assembly. You are no stranger to issues facing the United Nations. Your vast experience coupled with your demonstrated capacity and skills will indeed be vital to our deliberations. We would also wish to express our appreciation to your predecessor, H.E. Mr. Hard Holkeri of Finland, whose able and exemplary leadership of the 55th session has resulted in real achievements.
This is also the inaugural session of Mr. Kofi Annan's second term. His first term was notable for the extent to which he was able to institute much needed reforms, restore the relevance and central role of the United Nations, and enhance its capacity and effectiveness. He has recognized that far too many exist at the margins, mired by abject poverty, debt, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, TB and malaria. He has, in effect, become the voice of the world's silent majority. No wonder, therefore, that, together with the organization he heads, he is a corecipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. We once again congratulate him whole heartedly for this distinct and rare honor bestowed upon him and the United Nations system.
The Secretary General is to be commended for the breadth, focus and relevance of his report on the work of the organization. The United Nations has a vital role to play in today's rapidly evolving world, and the report offers a comprehensive update on all its activities. With reference to peace and security, as the Secretary General states, we must all be struck with the number of conflicts in the world today. Preventing the occurrence of conflict is a central priority and means our focus needs to shift from a culture of reaction to one of prevention and long term development. Beyond conflict, there is an unsettling amount of human suffering caused by natural disasters and complex emergencies, which continue to grow in scale and number, escalating the need for humanitarian assistance.
We are pleased to note the continued emphasis the Secretary-General places on the problem of extreme poverty, noting that the international community has launched a sustained campaign to make the right to development a reality for everyone. The emphasis is one of participation by the poor, ending rural poverty, ensuring well-being of children and strengthening the economic capacity of women. If we have to halve the number of people in poverty by 2015 as called for by the Millennium Declaration, there will have to be substantial increase in ODA, lasting debt relief to the poorest countries, and lowering of protectionist measures in developed countries. The LDCs, in particular, face formidable obstacles, such as declining resource flows, inadequate social services, lack of infrastructure and environmental constraints. The Brussels Declaration and Program of Action for LDCs for the Decade 2001-2010, in essence calls for an increase in external resource flows, including ODA and foreign direct investment, expansion of current debt relief, wider preferential market access and technical assistance.
Somewhat, silently but very rapidly, the world is drifting toward another dangerous crisis — the looming scarcity of water. By 2025, one in every three people worldwide will be affected. Some 2.7 billion people live in regions facing severe water shortage, and again Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa, containing some of the most densely populated lowest income countries will be hardest hit. Even now 450 million people in 29 countries, including my country Djibouti, face acute water shortage. And, unlike oil and most strategic resources, freshwater has no substitute for most of its uses. Whether the needs are for drinking, for agriculture or for environmental issues, such as survival of lakes, rivers and wetlands, we have a potential crisis in our hands, which will have a bearing on food security, hunger and poverty. A combination of global warming, wasteful practices, aridity, and lack of rainfall, means that sources traditionally relied upon by millions are now slowly drying up. There is increasingly not enough water for all our needs. This, in a nutshell, is the problem. Besides international treaties and institutional mechanisms, there are many things, which the international community must do to alleviate the crisis. The time to do that is Now!
While the recent international terrorism in the U.S. has dominated, and rightly so, the world's headlines and attention, other pressing problems, such as the AIDS pandemic, remain with us. The Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to this scourge earlier this year had gone a long way toward mobilization of collective solutions, actions, and commitments. The fear, however, is that much of these non-binding commitments might not be realized. The Global AIDS Fund initiated by the Secretary General is making some progress. Contributions to date, however, fall far short of the goal. The statistics of contraction and death, of social and economic devastation, particularly in Africa, are by now familiar to us all. In determining what to do, the debate has revolved around treatment vs. prevention. Ideally, the best hope would be a preventative vaccine, but this is not a promising solution, either. As one expert put it: "We are at the end of the beginning of this epidemic, not the beginning of the end!"
The growth and spread of information technology, coupled with demise of the cold war, have been key factors in the past decade in shaping our views about development and global economy. With the advent of globalization, trade grew, capital flowed, investments increased, economies liberalized and barriers to trade reduced — and with all these, the private sector moved to a center stage. However, as many have observed, the number of those excluded from the parade, both countries and individuals, has been on the rise. The search for an explanation for this dichotomy has produced many troubling conclusions. For the poor who live on one dollar a day, talking about technology, growth, opportunity and prosperity is only music to their ears. These people's main preoccupation is fear of not having enough to eat today. So, finding enough to eat is a daily challenge for over three billion people on this globe. And, more than the conflict in Africa that dominates the headlines, the precarious hand-tomouth existence defines life on the continent, more than two generations after most of its countries gained independence.
So, whatever may be the reason for the pervasive hunger, the fact remains that unless we address the issue of poverty in all its ramifications, we will not get to the bottom of our malaise. Obviously, millions of people in Africa and elsewhere are simply too poor to participate in the global market, and are thus left out from the benefits of globalization. The World Bank President has aptly put the issue of poverty in perspective: " If you cannot deal with the question of poverty, if you cannot deal with the issue of equity, then you are not dealing with the question of peace." He added: " We will not solve the problems of poverty or global peace or stability unless we change our perception of poor people from the object of charity to the object on which you build a better world."
The persistence and spread of poverty hamper all efforts for peace and security, development, democracy and good governance. For peace and security, there is a need to augment the capacity of the United Nations to be able to anticipate crisis, to react to emerging threats, and to follow-up with postconflict peace building programs. As the Security Council figures prominently in this picture, the inability to reform it to respond to the needs of today's international reality can only reduce the legitimacy of its workings and decisions.
During the 54th Session of the General Assembly in September 1999, my President outlined a series of proposals on the future course of peacemaking in Somalia. And, a year later, during the 55th Session, he painstakingly narrated to this Assembly the extraordinary sacrifices and burden borne by the Government and people of Djibouti, together with a number of well-meaning governments and organizations, to bring together true representatives of the Somali people, in order to seize control of their own destiny, and forge a new direction for their devastated country. What finally transpired following eight months of relentless, difficult dialogue at Arta, Djibouti, in August 2000 was the rebirth of the Somali State - Transitional National Government (TNG), the National Assembly, together with other institutions. The course has not been an easy one since that time, but the Government has persisted, gaining respect, sympathy and support from all parts of the world, spite a myriad of attempts that continue to undermine its efforts tow rd achieving lasting peace, the Transitional Government is a reality. It represents the will of the people of Somalia. The people have spoken. That if what matters. As my President repeatedly stated, saving Somalia from the brink of disintegration required moving away from the usual, standard practice revolving around few, familiar, self-anointed proxies of the people. He suggested it was time to move beyond them; time to empower the people; time the Somali people to assume leadership and responsibility of their own destiny. We are gratified the new Government is fully engaged to bring about lasting peace in Somalia, through a spirit of dialogue, accommodation and tolerance. Building upon the outcome of the Arta Process, the Transitional Government has consistently demonstrated its unwavering commitment to reconcile with its adversaries, going a long way to engage anyone, without preconditions. Its efforts in this direction are highly recognized both by the OAU and the United Nations Security Council. Both organizations have recently condemned those individuals and faction leaders who remain outside the Arta Peace Process, and who persist in their stubbornness in blocking the peace efforts in Somalia. The efforts by the President of Kenya, H.E. Mr. Daniel Arap Moi early this month to bring some of these recalcitrants into the Arta Process is to be strongly commended. That is what is expected of us all, both morally and politically. We owe it to the people of Somalia. As wisely pointed by the Security Council in its statement on Somalia last month: " — the situation in Somalia and the objective of long-term regional stability can most effectively be addressed if neighboring states play a positive role, including in the process of rebuilding national institutions in Somalia." While Djibouti is not in the business of challenging anyone on the veracity or otherwise of information within their purview, it has nonetheless a duty to caution on the source and motivation, as well as on the accuracy, objectivity and reliability of such information, particularly as it relates to the crucial and sensitive issue of the existence of terrorist cells in one country or another. Close, open and concerted consultation and cooperation with all countries in the region on this important issue will yield invaluable, unbiased, and realistic information toward the assessment of any particular situation. Hasty, contrived, and uncorroborated conclusions, however, it must be pointed out, will only harm the unity of the coalition against terrorism, which we all assiduously support.
At a time when the attention of the international community is squarely focused on the issue of terrorism, the level of brutality and destruction against the Palestinians have increased dramatically. Israel has created the conditions for chaos and anarchy as a justification for Israeli reoccupation, even annexation of Palestinian territory. The recent incursions represent the widest military operation in years in Palestinian-controlled territory. Each day we drift closer to an unacceptable conflagration between two parties which are unequal in power, resources and international influence. Insisting on a ceasefire without offering anything in return, Israel is determined to pursue its defiance of international opinion. Conditions in the Occupied Territories from the Israeli blockade continue their alarming descent. Rising unemployment, failing business, falling incomes, travel restrictions, building and construction bans while settlement activities continue, all combine to inflame an already incendiary situation. One wonders, therefore, what more the Israelis want to hear than the imploring words of Mr. Arafat: "Let's go back to implementing the accords, let's go back to saving peace process with no conditions, no military pressures."
We call on Israel to relinquish the Orient House and other Palestinian offices in and around Jerusalem. We also urge it to go back to the negotiating table and, among other things, to implement the Mitchell Committee report's proposals. The economic hardships inflicted upon the Palestinian people need to be relieved through the release of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax money owed to the Palestinian Authority.
In the final analysis, Mr. President, Israel's security largely depends in the implementation of the principle of a viable Palestinian statehood. We hope the international community will also commit itself to restoring dignity and respect to the Palestinian people. Like all peoples everywhere they have a right to live in peace, and to have a meaningful existence.
In our sub-region of the Horn of Africa there is a measure of reduction in hostilities despite lingering differences and antagonisms. The people in this area of the world have suffered so much so much that they are anxious for a relaxation of tensions, free movement of people and goods and toward lasting peace, stability, development and cooperation. It is time that we devoted our resources toward development, to the betterment and needs of our own people. Let us give our people a break!- Djibouti truly believes in regional cooperation, in good neighborliness, and in the creation of opportunities for all our people. We are committed to work hand-in-hand with our friends in the region to resolve all outstanding issues in complete harmony and trust.
As a nation, we continue to be challenged by paucity of resources and declining assistance. These phenomena are now aggravated by the huge influx of drought-affected people and economic migrants. The capital city, in particular, is over-burdened by influx of people displaced by drought or political tensions in the region, thus further straining our limited infrastructure and social services. We appeal to the international community to assist us in tackling some of these pressures that have been with us for too long, and that are' proving quite unsustainable for a small country with limited means.
Thank you, Mr. President.