HON. LILIAN E. PATEL, M.P.,
MINISTER OF FOREIGN
AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION OF
THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI
DURING THE 56TH
REGLJLAR SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF
THE UNITED NATIONS
WEDNESDAY, 14TH NOVEMBER, 2001 NEW YORK
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From the outset, I would like to convey the condolences of the people and the Government of the Republic of Malawi to the Government and the people of the United States of America, as well as to the people and Government of the Dominican Republic and other countries whose nationals died in the plane crash which occurred in Queens, here in New York, on 12th November, 2001.
On behalf of the Malawi delegation, I feel deeply honored to join my fellow delegates in congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of the General Assembly. My delegation looks forward to working closely with you, over the coming months, in the pursuit and search for sustainable solutions to the major global concerns and challenges that continue to confront humankind, as well as promoting international peace, security and understanding.
Let me also seize this opportunity to express Malawi's deep appreciation and thanks to your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Harri Holkeri of Finland, for his exceptional skills, expertise and unswerving commitment to the causes of human endeavor. We have noted, with appreciation, how his tireless efforts and tenacity have resulted in the accomplishment of most of the items of the agenda of his presidency.
May I also take this opportunity to congratulate our Secretary-General,
Mr. Kofi Annan, and the United Nations, as a
whole, for being jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the year 2001. This serves to demonstrate the recognition the world at large has of the great strides the world body and the Secretary-General have made in keeping with the mandate of the UN provided for under the Charter. This achievement is a rare feat that all of us have to be proud of and should serve as an encouragement for us all to do more for the good of humanity.
I would also like to reiterate the Malawi Government's congratulations to Mr. Kofi Annan on his appointment to the post of UN Secretary General for a second term of office.
It is appalling and extremely unfortunate that at a time when we thought we were making progress in human development, some people amongst us can conduct heinous and abhorrent acts of terrorism. The 11th September terrorist attacks in this country serve to remind us that the global village we are living in is under threat from people who do not value human life and democratic values. The Government of Malawi believes that no cause or rationale can justify the use of terrorism as a means of achieving individual or group goals as such acts result in indiscriminate destruction of human life and property. Clearly, it is evident that no nation will be spared the far-reaching devastating impact of the 11th September attacks.
The Government of Malawi unreservedly condemns these acts and pledges its support and cooperation in the fight against such unjustifiable criminal acts. It is our sincere hope that all those responsible for the terrorist attacks on the United States of America, and, indeed, elsewhere in the world, will speedily be brought to justice. As we all share sympathy with the victims of recent terrorist attacks, let us also demonstrate our unanimous resolve to deal with this problem in a decisive and conclusive manner by ratifying or acceding to all conventions aimed at combating terrorism. That will send a strong message to all parts of the globe about our common purpose to rid this evil from our midst.
It is common knowledge that terrorist groups and individuals or entities operate in sophisticated networks throughout the world. No country can, therefore, decisively deal with this problem alone. It is imperative that we should all pull resources to resolutely deal with the cancer of terrorism. Security Council resolution 1373 forms a sound and clear basis on which our cooperation should be anchored. It is abundantly clear that if this resolution can be seriously implemented, it may effectively frustrate and check against terrorist activities.
It will be recalled that the strategic priority of the Millennium Summit, held last year, was to find ways of reshaping and re-orienting the focus of the United Nations in ways and manner that would inspire a renewed and shared sense of universal mission, thereby enabling it to make a real quantifiable difference in the lives of "We the Peoples" in the new millennium.
And yet, regrettably, one year after that watershed event, the commitments of the Millennium Summit already seem to be anything but what they are, commitments and mere platitudes on the part of the developed countries. The Summit's much trumpeted vision, goals and collective social objectives already appear to have been consigned to the same fate of non fulfillment that has befallen similar previous commitments by the rich nations.
It is saddening, Mr. President, that at the height of a global integration drive, a shockingly large number of countries remain outside the globalization loop, while a handful of economically powerful countries of the North control the pace and terms of participation in the global economy, not least the skewed distribution of its benefits.
It is equally disheartening to note, in particular, that the African continent is nowhere near attaining even half as much benefit as it has strenuously strived for in the global economy. Now, more than ever, our continent is fast sliding deeper and deeper into a plight of deteriorating mass poverty.
This situation is aggravated by mounting external debt, crumbling public infrastructure and marginally functional social services; severe environmental degradation, rising illiteracy and rapid depletion of human resources and skilled labor force as a result of endless armed conflicts and the devastation caused by epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other transmissible infections. These are some of the many issues that we have discussed time and again in this august assembly and other fora and yet we seem to be getting nowhere.
Clearly, Africa is under the threat of 'imminent virtual exclusion from the mainstream global economy; more so if the underlying spirit, ideals, goals and commitments of the Millennium r. Summit are not faithfully upheld to ensure the concrete and effective integration of the developing countries into the global economic framework on terms that reflect a shared future of promise of equality, equity, prosperity for all and a just world.
In spite of all these apprehensions, my delegation is still encouraged by the wide global consensus on a range of major issues of critical concern to the least developed countries of Africa. The positive conclusions reached during the special session on HIV/ AIDS and the world conferences that took place this year, namely the Third UN Conference on LDCs and the World Conference on the illicit trade in small arms and. light weapons and the UN conference on Racism, reflect a newly emerging global recognition that there is an urgent need to begin concretely addressing the issues that will aggressively advance the economic and social progress of the less developed nations. The declarations and programs of action agreed at those conferences are the centerpiece of any genuine international crusade to reduce social and economic disparities and inequalities between the North and the South. Indeed, the persistence of these inequalities and injustices, in our view, is the root cause of the political, economic and social turmoil currently tearing apart the African countries and some parts of the world.
Malawi would like to re-affirm her steadfast commitment to the declarations of commitment, actions and programs agreed at these conferences.
What the developing countries need is a chance for a fresh start, which can only come about through a comprehensive package of total debt forgiveness that cuts across the existing initiatives for debt relief, including the enhanced HIPC. We need also increased technical assistance, enhanced ODA and much greater flows of capital resources and foreign direct investment from developed countries.
We would also like to insist on genuine commitment by the North to full integration of our economies into globalized markets through the removal of technical obstacles placed in the way of our exports. The United Nations ought to play a leading role in breaking down the walls of protectionism and sustain the search for measures that can help the poor nations wriggle out of their poverty and vulnerability. This is in line with the spirit of the resolutions and decisions taken at last year's World Summit for Social Development.
I take this opportunity to pay special tribute to Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the numerous initiatives that he has undertaken to prevent violent conflicts in Africa and other troubled regions of the world. The release to the Security Council recently of his special report on conflict prevention, which addresses, in-depth, the many issues that arose from the Brahimi report, is one practical demonstration of the Secretary-General's overpowering resolve to ensure that the international community addresses political disputes and tensions before they degenerate into all-out armed confrontations and violent conflicts. These pose a major challenge and real threat to international peace and security.
In the same vein, to effectively tame violent conflicts, the United Nations needs to deal decisively with the problem of illicit trade and trafficking in small arms and light weapons. Their easy availability, transfer and proliferation remains at the center of the intractability of violent conflicts, rising insecurity and instability in some parts of Africa.
My delegation is most thankful. for the success, albeit measured, achieved during the recent World Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its aspects. In spite of a spirited bid by others to waterdown the agreed global consensus and program of action, Africa takes heart in the holding of the Conference itself as a good starting point for putting in place effective measures to curb the immeasurable damage caused by these deadly weapons.
A lot of evils such as slavery, slave trade, colonialism, apartheid, genocide, HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty, starvation and many others have afflicted the continent of Africa and its people. These evils have been entrenched such that even the international media only looks forward to reporting on the tragedies befalling the continent. However, despite these ills, Africa deserves a special place in the economic, political and social spheres in the world. It is in cognizance of this fact that our leaders, in their quest for a prosperous and dynamic Africa, resolved to transform the Organization of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU).
The birth of the Union has ushered in the New African Initiative (NAI), now renamed the New Partnership for African Development, which seeks to pull Africa out of stagnation and put the continent on a new footing for economic recovery and prosperity as well as the promotion of human rights and good governance. As a developing region with very limited financial resources, we shall rely on our cooperating partners in order to ensure that our dream for a new Africa is realized. I, therefore, wish to appeal for the global support for this noble initiative being espoused by our leaders so that the people of the African continent may see real social, economic and political transformation for the betterment of their lives.
Malawi recently assumed the one-year rotating Chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). While SADC member states take pride in the relative peace and stability that prevails in much of the sub-region, we still have serious concerns about the persistent general economic slowdown and deterioration of human development in the sub-region. SADC is experiencing an unfair share of problems and challenges, which require the international community's enhanced generous assistance and goodwill.
It is common knowledge that SADC is reeling under the pressures of the untold devastation caused by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which is unraveling decades of hard-earned economic gains. The sub-region accounts for 75 percent of the world total number (i.e. 36 million) of people living with the deadly HIV. SADC's modest average economic growth rate of 3.2% becomes a cause for serious concern when compared with its staggering population growth rate of nearly the same level.
Apart from causing unfold human suffering, the continuing civil wars in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), two of the sub-region's potential economic powerhouses, have seriously hamstrung every genuine endeavor by SADC to promote itself as a prune destination for foreign capital and investment.
We, therefore, call upon the United Nations to step up its efforts in bringing pressure to bear on the belligerents in Angola and the DRC in order that the ongoing peace initiatives can yield rich rewards of early and decisive settlement. We also call upon the international community to continue rendering the vital support and cooperation to the peace facilitator in the DRC to ensure that the Inter-Congolese Dialogue bears fruit and serves to consolidate the gains achieved so far by the UN peacekeeping operation and the Lusaka peace process.
SADC would also like to see much more pressure exerted on Dr. Jonas
Savimbi in order to force the UNITA to return to the 1994 Lusaka peace
framework. Only the intensification of the UN sanctions against UNITA and
the punishment of those
violating the embargo would genuinely achieve that goal.
Attainment of durable peace and stability in the DRC and Angola, and the removal of tensions in the rest of the sub-region, would put SADC on a stronger footing for economic recovery and a firmer foundation for sustainable peace, security and tangible economic growth and development.
Time and again, Malawi has spoken in favor of the re-admission of the Republic of China on Taiwan to the United Nations membership thereby granting it the well-deserved opportunity for active engagement in international affairs. Malawi finds it grossly unjust that the hard-working and peace-loving people of Taiwan should suffer diplomatic isolation so unnecessarily.
Malawi would, therefore, like to appeal to the entire United Nations membership to look beyond the narrow political considerations and face up to the geo-political and economic realities that obtain on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. The diplomatic isolation of Taiwan remains both a curiosity and a contradiction in terms. First of all, almost every country deals with Taiwan in terms of trade and other forms of bilateral cooperation. Secondly, Taiwan's isolation violates the people of that country's inalienable right of free association within the framework of the United Nations Charter.
Lastly, Mr. President, let me renew Malawi's trust and confidence in the United Nations' leadership role in making our world a better place to live in. I would also like to re-affirm Malawi's unwavering commitment to its obligations and responsibilities as a member of the international community of nations.
I thank you.