H.E. MADAME ANTONIETA ROSA GOMES
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL
THE REPUBLIC OF GUINEA-BISSAU
AT THE 56TH SESSION
THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, NY
November 16th 2001
Allow me to congratulate you for your election to the presidency of the 56'h session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which will certainly be crowned with success thanks to your qualities as an experienced diplomat with a deep understanding of this universal organization.
The delegation of Guine-Bissau, that I have the honor of heading, would like to assure you at this time of its full collaboration in the fulfilling of your noble mandate.
My extensive congratulations also go out to your predecessor, Mr. Harri
Holkeri of Finland, for the constructive way in which he led the work of
the last session.
I would also like to reaffirm the confidence and regard which my government gives to the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, for his clear leadership of the UN and his incessant search for peaceful and realistic solutions to the different conflicts and problems that affect humanity.
The Nobel Peace Prize, awarded last October to our Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to the United Nations which he so ably leads, proves not only his commitment to the attainment of peace and security, but also his important role working for the interests of humanity. For this reason for I address to him my most sincere congratulations and wishes for success in this, his second mandate to which he was reelected and encourage him to continue with his efforts to reform and adapt the organization according to the needs of the time, at the service of peace, progress and international cooperation.
Following this logic, I urge the widening and deepening of the reforms undertaken and appeal, once again, that the reforms of the Security Council for the enlargement of the number of both permanent members and non-permanent members and for the right of veto become a reality, reflecting the needs of today.
This first General Assembly of the 21S` Century represents, as was stated in the Millennium Declaration, a historical challenge for the building of new international relations.
On that occasion, our eminent dignitaries worked hard on the role that
the organization has to play in the 21 s` Century. They solemnly reaffirmed
their commitment to the noble ideals of the United Nations, as well as
their conviction in the irreplaceable role of the United Nations in the
service of peace, progress, international cooperation and in support of
the primacy of the law.
During that event, our Heads of State and Government also discussed new perspectives to confront the great challenges of globalization for the promotion of a new international human order.
In that perspective, the year 2001 was marked by the realization of some important international conferences, namely the recent 3rd World Conference Against Racism which took place in Durban, whose final declaration not only qualifies slavery as a "crime against humanity", but also launches an appeal so that appropriate and efficient measures are taken to reverse the consequences of slavery. It also recognizes that those "historical injustices" contribute to poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion, economic disparities, the insecurity of many peoples, especially those in developing countries.
Despite the alluded to perspectives for a new historical dimension, this session takes place in a moment of deep disquiet for our countries and peoples.
In fact, the wave of attacks perpetrated on 11 September of this year against the Pentagon in Washington and the World Trade Center in New York, just a few kilometers from this Assembly, is reason for great worry for my government and the President of the Republic, Mr. Kumba Yala, who promptly and strongly condemned this terrorist act cowardly perpetrated against the United States of America.
Today I reaffirm, at this august Assembly, our condemnation, without reservations, of terrorism in all its forms, wherever the place or moment that it is manifested and whatever its origin, since it constitutes a threat to security, to the peaceful relations between states, democratic institutions and to the fulfillment of human rights.
Today, more than ever, the need for the adoption of an ample strategy to combat terrorism by the entire international community is necessary.
In that context, Guine-Bissau appeals for the greater international cooperation in the matter of terrorism through, namely, through the ratification of already existing regional and international instruments and the approval, within the context of the United Nations, of a broad international convention that covers all its aspects from its definition, universally accepted, to its repression.
It is exactly in this regard that my country, Guine-Bissau, became party to the Convention of the Organization of African Unity on terrorism adopted in 1999 in Algiers and to the Dakar Declaration on this same scourge last October, and are determined to accelerate the ratification and implementation processes of all the agreements that seek to fight terrorism.
The beginning of the 21st Century, that coincides with the threshold of the new millennium, is equally marked by different focal points of tension and armed conflict that threaten peace and security and that feed the proliferation and the illicit traffic of small arms.
The sub-regional and regional organizations are, in this context, fully engaged in the search for political solutions to conflicts with the support of the international community, namely the United Nations.
From Sierra Leon t Angola, from the People's Republic of the Congo to
Burundi, from Somalia to Kosovo, from East Timor to the Middle East, the
ghosts of conflict still hover in the search for paths to solutions to
Actually, in Sierra Leon, a country of our sub-region, the Lome Agreement, concluded under the auspices of ECOWAS, and the subsequent success of the disarmament program of the parties involved in the conflict which was supported by the UN, allow for the expectation of a legitimate peace.
In Angola, a country member of the CPLP (Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries), cruel and destabilizing acts continue to take place causing enormous pain for our Angolan brothers, who are drowning in the nightmare of four decades of war. I would like to express our solidarity with the Angolan people and with the Angolan government, and appeal for dialogue as part of the solution to this conflict.
In East Timor, with the elections for the Constituent Assembly already
realized, an important step was taken in the transition to independence
that will be proclaimed in May next year, and for its acceptance as a full
and legal member of the global society.
We hope that the international community will continue to offer its valuable assistance to our inaubere brothers that can finally aspire to rebuild their country in peace.
In the Middle East, the issue between Israel and Palestine is at the crux of the matter. It is in that context that we appeal to the parties, in line with the Mitchel Plan, to implement the Accords without delay and reaffirm the fundamental principles established in Madrid and Oslo, as well as the subsequent agreements. This requires the parties to abstain from all actions that endanger the peace process and from all activity that is contrary to international law
Finally, the embargoes imposed upon certain countries, namely Cuba, continue to be worrisome, in virtue of the highly negative repercussions that affect the unprotected populations of those countries, above all affecting the women and children who appeal for a dialogue with a view to a definitive solution to those issues.
The somber scene characterized by conflict and the focus points of tension
in the world, particularly in Africa, appeals to our moral obligation to
continue to act with even greater determination and courage so as to end
those conflicts and sources of tension.
Along those lines, allow me to congratulate the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, for his last report on the "causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa", a document of great interest for the African continent.
The global economic situation, essentially after the events of 11 September
and because of its negative impact, felt especially in the least developed
countries, is also an issue of concern for my government.
The solution to the concrete problems on the international agenda, necessarily pass through not only concerted actions, but also through both bilateral and multilateral contacts, which Guine-Bissau has always adhered to.
My government believes in concerted and combined efforts with a view to fomenting economic growth and full employment in a fairer global economy. Keeping in mind that a majority of African countries have agriculture as their economic base, we appeal to our development partners such as the European Union, the United States, and Japan, among others, to open their markets to the flow of agricultural products.
The United Nations, in virtue of its lofty mission to generate an authentic
North-South dialogue, is the universal conscience that has as its greatest
priority the fulfillment of the needs of developing countries.
The programs of action originating from the series of major conferences of the last decade and of other important meetings that took place this year, are of special importance in that they contribute to the identification of needs, the formulation of objectives and the defining of strategies towards the realization of sustainable development rooted in sustainable economic growth, in social justice and in the protection of the environment. We wait now for those results translate into concrete benefits, thus opening the way for a better global economic situation.
As all of you know, Guine-Bissau continues to live through the sequels of the absurd and disastrous armed conflict of 1998/1999 that, aside from the irreparable losses of human lives, caused deep traumatisms to the whole society and destroyed or damaged the existing basic infrastructures in the country.
In addition to that, the marked decline of foreign aid and the slump in export prices of cashew nut, our main export commodity, is the basic reason for the lack of resources and the increase in the poverty level. This goes against the conscience of the citizens making them more vulnerable.
However, the unshakeable will to rebuild the country has led my government, together with some development partners, to redouble its efforts to define a strategy for sustainable development and to take measures in the realm of human rights and reconciliation.
The program for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructures and national reconciliation, the multi-annual convergence programs of stability, growth and solidarity elaborated in the framework of UEMOA, and the programs of demobilization, reintegration and social reinsertion of combatants, of the fight against poverty and the fight against AIDS, as well as other existing programs are clear examples of the will and commitment of the government in creating a new reality for society and a new action program in the name of change of this society. The President of the Republic, Dr. Kumba Yala is the main mentor and guarantor of those programs, in virtue of the sacred responsibility given to him as the highest ranking official by the voters of Guine-Bissau.
This program of action requires not only internal efforts but also external. This is why the government is reinforcing its co-operation with countries at the sub-regional, regional and international levels. Despite all efforts, Guine-Bissau continues to need the precious assistance of its development partners and of the international community to face the difficult economic and social challenges that lay ahead.
We appeal, in this regard, to the international community to reinforce its support of Guine-Bissau and sensitize donors to actively participate in next year's Round Table on assistance to the country.
The celebration, this year, of the UN Year for the dialogue among civilizations, the International year of mobilization against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance - that also coincides with the 53rd Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - represents a motive of satisfaction for my government that has translated that into the - creation of a inter-ministerial committee on human rights tasked with overseeing the respect for human rights in the country and promoting education and sensitization programs on human rights issues.
Since his landslide election to the Presidency of the nation, the President of the Republic, Dr. Kumba Yala, has multiplied his contacts at various levels with friendship visits to Guinea, Gambia, Senegal, Nigeria, Morocco, Sierra Leone and others with the aim of reinforcing co-operation and contributing to a peaceful solution in the sub-regional framework.
It is this same spirit that guided the authorities of my country to maintain vigilance in the border area with Senegal, with the objective of guaranteeing the security and tranquillity of our populations in that northern zone.
In this first year of the new Millennium and the 21st century, despite certain echoes of optimism, poverty and underdevelopment unfortunately continue to persist and have been aggravated in many areas of the world, particularly in the Least Developed
Countries (LDCs), among which Guine-Bissau counts itself.
The developing countries, in particular the LDCs, continue to be marginalized in the world economy and to be the victims of extreme poverty, mainly due to the decrease in the Official Development Aid, to the lack of productive human resources, to the weakness of domestic and foreign investments, to the slump in the price of commodity products, to the problems of debt, to HIV/AIDS and also, obviously, to armed conflicts.
This tendency is contrary to the principles enunciated in the Millennium Declaration and to the collective responsibility incumbent upon the whole international community for the respect of the principles of human dignity, of equality and equity, as well as the assurance that globalization becomes a positive force for all the population of the planet.
To overcome this situation it becomes imperative to take care of the integration of developing countries in the world economy, and to oppose the marginalization of these countries, ensuring a sustainable, accelerated and durable economic development as well as the elimination of poverty, inequalities and misery. In this context, we are pleased the results of the 3rd United Nations Conference on LDCs that took place in May of this year in Brussels.
We are certain that the results of the International Conference on Financing for Development to take place in Monterrey, Mexico in March of next year will translate in concrete actions able of inverting the aforementioned negative tendencies.
Co-operation frameworks such as the EU/ACP, the Tokyo Conference on Development (TICAD), the American initiative "African Growth and Opportunity Act" and the decisions of the G8 in Geneva on the creation of a fund for the fight against contagious diseases and AIDS on the African continent, and look forward to the perspectives of the next summit of this group on African problems.
Given the particularly difficult economic situation it faces, Africa continues to look for realistic solutions for the continent, and is giving clear proof of the determination of improving the situation of the economies of the countries of the continent.
Beyond the programs of structural adjustment and other development programs adopted for the continent, the "New African Initiative", resulting from the fusion of the plans presented by the Heads of State of Senegal and South Africa, comes at an opportune tune. This is an African plan for Africans that affords an historical opportunity to developed countries of finding a genuine partnership based in mutually beneficial self-interest.
This initiative, adopted unanimously at the last OAU Summit in Lusaka, should be implemented with the utmost speed. We appeal to the entire international community, and the development partners in particular, for their support to this initiative that proposes an economic re-launch, the reduction of the debt and the fight against AIDS.
It is regrettable that the response of our development partners has not always corresponded to the degree of sacrifice suffered and the degree of the problems identified. This is a paradox. It is also a paradox not to accompany the decisions of the major international conferences with practical and concrete measures destined to implement the aforementioned decisions.
The new collective challenge is to bring to light the image of a world of equality, dignity, equity and international solidarity, translated into a economic and social co-operation and in a real "social adjustment" having the human being as a center of reference.
Thank you very much.