THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, COOPERATION AND COMMUNITIES OF THE REPUBLIC OF CAPE VERDE
HIS EXCELLENCY MR. MANUEL INOCENCIO SOUSA
AT THE FIFTY-SIX SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, November
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Mr. Secretary-General, Honorable Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to join the delegations that preceded me in congratulating Mr. Han Seung-Soo on his election to preside over the proceedings of this 56th General Assembly of the United Nations, being held at an especially complicated time in international life. Your long and brilliant career as an eminent diplomat and distinguished statesman in your country assures us that your term as president of this Assembly will be a productive one, as has been clearly evident since this Session was convened.
Mr. President, I assure you that you can count on full collaboration from the delegation of Cape Verde.
To your predecessor Mr. Harri Holkeri, of Finland, I wish to express our recognition of the skill and efficiency with which he managed the current major global issues submitted to this lofty forum during the previous session, particularly during the Millennium Summit.
My delegation is also pleased with the re-election of Mr. Kofi Annan
as Secretary-General of the United Nations. The unanimity that surrounded
his re-election reflects the tremendous prestige that he has gained in
the international community because of his vision, as well as the trust
placed in him to continue with the reforms and to consolidate the prestige
of the United Nations.
As did the delegations that preceded me, I want to take this opportunity to reiterate my congratulations to the United Nations and to its Secretary-General as joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, an award that reinforces their moral authority, so necessary in these turbulent times. This distinction, both well-deserved and heartening, helps emphasize the importance of the work of our organization under the enlightened guidance of Mr. Annan in the fostering of an international atmosphere conducive to a more just, tolerant, and mutually supportive world.
This is a gigantic and complex task, undertaken in the midst of enormous difficulties and risks and continually posing new challenges to the collective mind as we search for solutions to large and ever-growing problems that humanity must solve.
Now, when international peace and security are seriously threatened, the honor recently bestowed not only constitutes well-deserved recognition of the high degree of dedication to the cause of peace and the prevention and resolution of conflicts; it bears a message of hope that the shining ideals of justice, democracy, human rights and development for all will shape the entire world, to the benefit of future generations.
We in Cape Verde understand and properly appreciate the role and importance
of the United Nations. It was partly due to the persistent and unconditional
support of the United Nations that our struggle for national liberation
culminated, with the proclamation of our independence. And it was certainly
owing to the support of the United Nations and its specialized agencies
that Cape Verde has been able to take important steps on the road to development
and show encouraging signs of progress, year after year, as documented
in the UNDP Human Development Reports.
The tragedy that recently struck the homeland of the United States of America, causing the loss of thousands of innocent lives and destroying one of the most prestigious landmarks in this city, can only be the object of our most vehement and total condemnation.
The United States is home to the largest overseas Cape Verdean community.
That part of our Diaspora has also felt violated by the barbarous attacks
of September 11 and along with them, my country-and, indeed, all Cape Verdeans--shares
in the mourning and the distress experienced by the American people and
the families of so many other nationalities.
Cape Verde has stood ready from the outset to support actions intended to combat terrorism, in the context of a broad international coalition under the auspices of the United Nations. And therefore my government is committed to implementing Security Council Resolution 1373 to combat this scourge. Important steps have already been taken, particularly as regards endorsement of international anti-terrorism instruments.
We believe that all States have a moral and collective obligation to fight the perversion of the human spirit represented by this phenomenon. The seriousness and scope of the September 11 terrorist acts show that, from now on, terrorism must be confronted resolutely, with appropriate responses and preventive actions in order to stem the criminal violence that masquerades as prompted by political or religious motivations.
No country is safe from similar attacks or from attempts to use its
territory for the perpetration of terrorist actions. Therefore, any strategy
intended to permanently eliminate this dangerous threat to international
peace and stability must be a common one, with broad participation, in
which the United Nations plays a crucial role.
In participating in the global effort to eliminate terrorism, the developing countries are, once again, at a serious disadvantage.
On the one hand, the scarcity of resources and the lack of sophisticated means of detection and prevention make them more vulnerable to infiltration by terrorist organizations and actions launched within their own borders. On the other hand, when they attempt to respond to demands from the international community, they are forced to mobilize resources that would otherwise be dedicated to their economic and social development and to meeting the basic needs of their people.
Added to this is the fact, as was emphasized some days ago by the UN Secretary-General, that the poorer economies are the ones that will pay most dearly for the direct consequences of the terrorist attacks on the world economy. My own country, which depends heavily on tourism revenues, is already feeling the repercussions of the worldwide crisis in the transportation and hospitality industries.
There is, therefore, a critical need for the international community
to effectively help the developing countries, particularly the least developed
ones, to bear the added burden that the battle against terrorism is placing
on their economies. The industrialized countries must give evidence of
their increased solidarity and generosity in assisting developing countries,
since the effort that the latter agree to put forth and the sacrifices
imposed on their population will also be in benefit of the industrialized
A little more than a year ago, the Millennium Summit was held in this great hall. It attracted the attention of approximately 150 heads of state and government. The dialogue was active and innovative, to an extent unprecedented in the history of our Organization. A tremendous variety of sectors of civil society participated directly. Not only did the Summit provide a succinct overview of the activities of the United Nations since its founding; it also constituted a unique opportunity to present an integrated picture of the strategic objectives for the 21st century, thereby opening new avenues for addressing the challenges of globalization.
The conclusions of the Summit rekindled the flame of hope among the peoples of the world, in particular among those who believe it is possible to find effective ways of giving all countries real opportunities for development by improving their institutional and productive infrastructure and creating an international atmosphere conducive to providing them with access to the means, both public and private, to fund their development.
The drafting of the Road Map Towards the Implementation of the United
Nations Millennium Declaration gives the international community a powerful
tool for joining forces in the implementation of the major policy lines
adopted at this Summit.
Important events have taken place in the wake of the Millennium Summit. Of particular interest were the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, the Special Session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS, and the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Now we are preparing to hold, in the near future, International Conference on Financing for Development, the UN Special Session on Children, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
The specific manner in which these issues affect the African continent, home to the great majority of the Least Developed Countries, has certainly helped accelerate the decision making processes with regard to regional integration, leading to important steps that may open the way to a more promising future, despite the clouds hanging over the international scene.
As we know, a complicated combination of endogenous and exogenous phenomena has left the African continent feeling increasingly marginalized. The pace of economic growth has not been able to significantly reduce poverty. Diseases such as malaria and AIDS continue to cut lives short at a frightening rate. Several countries are the scene of instability, many of them engaged in armed conflicts and experiencing terrorist activities that kill thousands of innocents, systematically destroy property, disrupt the operations of governments, and displace population groups. The scanty positive results from the many plans and initiatives conceived and implemented to deal with the serious problems of Africa over the years have resulted in the well-known and widespread dissatisfaction, both in the international community and among African leaders.
Yet, despite the rather discouraging international climate, Africa has taken important steps that may open the way to a more promising future.
With a view to creating the instruments and mobilizing the will to face up to an increasingly complex global situation, African leaders proclaimed the African Union with a new vision for our continent. Moreover, they adopted the New Initiative for Africa recently designated as the New Partnership for the Development of Africa-under which Africans assume full responsibility for eradicating poverty and putting their countries on the path of economic growth and development, at the same time as they offer a partnership that is mutually beneficial to the international community in meeting the challenges of the new millennium.
The adoption of these two instruments and the firm commitment to promote transparent stewardship will surely open up new prospects for the establishment of peace, stability, democracy and development that can lead the continent to occupy the prominent place in the global economy justified by its immense potential.
Doubtless, there is a long road to travel before we achieve political integration based on democratic institutions and grounded in popular participation, good governance, and actions aimed at the promotion of sustainable development on the economic, social, and cultural planes. But we believe that, with the emergence of the new leadership dedicated to economic rebirth, the consolidation of democracy and good governance, and with the anticipated support of the international community, conditions will be present for a fundamental and historic turnaround in Africa.
Two of the most critical problems faced by our organization and by the African continent whose solution cannot be postponed now loom larger because of their interconnection and the bottleneck effect they have. I refer to poverty and armed conflicts.
All available data reinforce our apprehension as to the success of the battle against poverty in the world. This makes it necessary to adopt a strategy to win that war, since attaining the objective of a 50% reduction in the number of persons living in extreme poverty by 2015 appears ever more problematic. Without measures that can effectively reverse the process of socioeconomic degradation, and, especially, without the political will on the part of the international community as a whole, this goal of the Millennium Summit cannot be achieved.
It is an undisputed fact that, as a rule, conflicts occur in countries
that are marked by poverty. This cause-and-effect relationship has become
a vicious circle that cannot be terminated without efficient coordination
between the preventive diplomacy and social action of the UN, along with
more effective engagement by the industrialized countries.
Despite the efforts of the international community, the United Nations and its Secretary General toward peace and stabilization in international relations and toward democracy and human rights, certain regions of the world continue to be the scene of armed conflicts that threaten to spread and endanger peace and stability in those regions.
The terrorist acts of September 11 have added a new measure of instability, provoking an anti-terrorist military intervention in Afghanistan whose duration and consequences are difficult to assess.
The impasse in the search for a lasting solution to the Palestine question-primarily a result of the intransigence of Israel and the cycle of violence that has been set in motion-has created one of the most dangerous focal points of tension and threat to world peace.
The implementation of the Oslo Agreement must be restored. Violence must be brought to an end and the internationally-recognized rights of the Palestinians respected-including their right to have their own State-while guaranteeing the Israeli people the right to live in peace in their country within internationally-accepted borders.
Africa, presently the scene of the greatest number of armed conflicts, has taken some positive steps in the direction of peace, with the active involvement of the United Nations, the OAU, many friendly countries and a number of multilateral actors, NGOs, and elements of civil society.
However the persistence of acts of violence, namely the perpetration of criminal acts against civil targets, bear evidence that the road to political and social stabilization leading to the restoration of peace is still long and difficult.
In Angola, for example, we have seen fresh outbreaks of armed action
by UNITA, which continues to spread death and destruction. The Security
Council, once again, strongly condemned the actions of the rebel movement,
while maintaining its sanctions against that organization. But it is vital
that all countries cooperate without reservation by denying UNITA the means
to carry out its criminal actions, so that it can be persuaded to lay down
its weapons and fully abide by the Lusaka Agreement.
Cape Verde is pleased with the success represented by the transition
of East Timor toward independence, a process that constituted a remarkable
and exemplary success by our organization and particularly by UNTAET-the
United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor. From the outset
and in the most difficult moments, the Cape Verde an government and people
were always on the side of the people of East Timor in their struggle for
independence. We will celebrate together on May 20, 2002, when it takes
its destiny into its own hands and joins our great family here in the United
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I conclude this address with the hope that the outcome of this session
may make an effective contribution to a better world, a more just and mutually
supportive world of peace and cooperation-and, especially, a world of tolerance