HIS EXCELLENCY SULE LAMIDO
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
56th SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK 15 NOVEMBER, 2001
Check against delivery
Recent events have manifestly brought to the fore the importance and relevance of the United Nations in the pursuit of global peace, security and stability. Only last year in this historic hall, world leaders at the Millennium Summit reaffirmed their solemn commitment to strengthen the capacity of the Organisation in this very important area. Yet two months ago, on 11 September 2001, the efforts of our Organisation were temporarily called into question by the terrorist attacks on the United States. As a country which was directly affected by the terrorist bombings in Dar E Salaam in 1998 in which our Embassy building was destroyed and lost its nationals at the attack on World Trade Centre, Nigeria fully identifies with the rage and grief of the bereaved families and the victims of these barbaric acts.
Terrorism is a global menace which challenges the very basis of our civilisation. It must therefore be confronted globally. That is why Nigeria fully endorses the prompt action taken by the General Assembly in condemning those attacks. We fully support Security Council resolution 1373 as the measures called for in the resolution would significantly reduce the capacity of terrorists to carry out such acts. Nigeria is committed to the implementation of its provisions. Let us reflect the unity of purpose and resolve which the terrorist attacks have generated by strengthening cooperation and coordination among our countries. The terrorists and their supporters should be exposed for what they are: fringe elements undeserving of a respectable place in the comity of nations. Our strategies therefore should be informed, consistent and focussed.
In some respects, the grave challenges that we face today also offer new possibilities for cooperation previously unimaginable. Our Organisation has not only pursued the goal of international peace and security, but also served as a focal point for the promotion of other important agenda, particularly in the areas of socio-economic development, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights. These goals, which reflect the aspirations of member States to build a world free of conflict, prejudice, discrimination and oppression must remain the enduring preoccupation of our common enterprise. For this, we have a clear compass not only in the Charter of our Organisation, but also in the solemn commitment of our leaders as reflected in the Millennium Declaration. Let us strive to translate these commitments into practical policies for the benefit of our peoples.
My country's long-standing commitment to fostering the objectives of
the United Nations in the area of conflict prevention, peace and stability,
is well known. It is regrettable that conflicts and wars continue to be
waged in many parts of the world. It is particularly disheartening that
Africa has had a disproportionate share of these conflicts and wars with
devastating impact on our societies and peoples. Yet, amid the seeming
gloom, we see flickers of hope. The process of peace and stability in Sierra
Leone is gaining momentum, as the challenges of reconciliation through
United Nations funded programme of disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation
has continued to generate trust and confidence. We are equally encouraged
by recent developments in Burundi where a newly installed interim transition
government is grappling with the challenges of national reconciliation
and integration. These efforts attest to the determination of leaders on
our continent to make a success of initiatives for peace. Nigeria is proud
to be associated with these efforts. Our experience in Liberia and now
in Sierra Leone has reinforced our conviction that working in close partnership
with regional and sub regional organisations, the United Nations could
facilitate the return to peace and security in conflict areas. Let us avail
these organisations the necessary financial and logistic support.
As part of the commitment to durable peace and security, there must be a re-intensification of our resolve to eliminate all weapons of war, both conventional and non-conventional. Of utmost concern to us in Africa, is the havoc caused by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The Programme of Action adopted at the recently concluded United Nations Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons provides us a clear roadmap for effective cooperation. Its effective implementation will attest to our commitment to strengthen the forces of democracy and rule of law in the world.
We recognize the inexonerable march of globalisation, and fully embrace
the challenges of expanding opportunities in trade, finance, information
and communications technology which it portends. But the benefits should
not be limited to only a small section of the international community.
Globalisation and its twin phenomena of liberalisation and deregulation
should work for all countries. The health and stability of the global economic
system demands nothing less. For us in Africa, access to such benefits
should reflect in concrete actions and measures that would ensure our full
integration into a new fair global economic system.
Nigeria's call for a fundamental change in current debt strategies toward developing countries derives from a keen appreciation of the impact external debt on economic growth and political stability of developing countries. The fact that many of our countries have, in spite of welcome initiatives on debt relief and debt management, neither grown out of debt nor significantly been able to service their debts in a sustainable manner, warrants a bolder and more imaginative approach such as outright debt cancellation.
International efforts at resolving the debt problem should be bolstered by collective action to discourage illegal transfer of funds from developing countries and the repatriation of such funds to the countries of origin. African leaders have established a clear linkage between our huge debt burden and the activities of foreign collaborators and the transfer of funds by past leaders and individuals from our continent. We are concerned about the corrosive impact of corruption on our fledging democracies and our social, economic and political development. Let us redouble our efforts in support of an international instrument on illegal transfer of funds abroad.
At the 37th Regular Session of the OAU in July in Lusaka, the leaders of the continent endorsed the "New African Initiative" now called "New Partnership for African Development". The inaugural meeting of the Implementation Committee of Heads of State and Government on NEPAD took place in Abuja, on 23 October 2001. Based on a common vision and shared conviction on the need to urgently eradicate poverty and place African countries on the path of sustainable growth and development, NEPAD has, among its key themes, promotion of peace, democracy, human rights, sound economic management; regional cooperation and economic integration. We appreciate the support already offered and we sincerely believe that this provides the best platform for a viable partnership with our development partners.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to pose serious challenges to development
in our world. We appreciate the contribution of the international community
in combating the scourge as reflected in the outcome of the Special Session
on HIV/AIDS. Africa's resolve to meet the pandemic head on has struck a
responsive chord for which we are grateful to the United Nations Secretary-General
for his clear advocacy. I believe that we have reason to be encouraged
by the progress made in establishing structures and multilateral framework
for greater cooperation and support, in confronting the problem. Every
effort should be made to ensure that the Global Fund for AIDS becomes operational
by January 2002. Meanwhile, we should maintain the momentum so that in
the shortest possible time we bring succour to those who live with AIDS,
or suffer from tuberculosis and other related infectious diseases. This
is the expectation of African leaders who met in Abuja in April this year
to agree on a coordinated strategy on this health and development crisis.
Our attention should also focus on the campaign against malaria as a follow-up
to an earlier summit also in Abuja.
The rescheduling of United Nations Special Session on the Rights of the Child for May 2002 should provide us opportunity to ponder on the challenges which the world's children face today. For us in Nigeria the session will coincide with the passage of a far-reaching legislation now before the National Assembly, to protect our children, and beyond the OAU Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the African Child which we have recently ratified, revolutionise public perception of and defence of their rights. Indeed, in mid 2002, Nigeria proposes to host an international conference that will, inter alia, address the issue of child trafficking in our region. We look forward to your participation.
I cannot conclude this statement without reference to the question of
the reform of the United Nations. Nigeria maintains that, in order for
the United Nations to meet the complex challenges of the new century, long
overdue reforms of the Organisation must be speedily undertaken. The reform
of the Security Council, in particular, constitutes one of the major challenges
facing the United Nations today. Let us work assiduously to complete the
reform process and thereby make the enlarged and expanded council truly
representative of the United Nations membership.
May I express our profound gratitude to the United Nations Secretary-General,
Kofi Annan for his leadership of our Organisation in the past year. Nigeria
rejoices with him over his well-deserved re-election, a reward for faithful
stewardship and a signal of trust and confidence of the United Nations
membership of his shared vision for the future. No less significant is
the award to him and our Organisation, of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2001.
We wish him well and heartily congratulate the United Nations.
I thank you.