SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE
E. EX. FRADIQUE DE MENEZES
PRESIDENT OF DEMOCRATIC PUBLIC
SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE
FIFTY-SEVEN SESSION THE NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
12 SEPTEMBER 2002, NEW YORK
Mr. Secretary General,
Excellencies Heads of State and Government
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me, in my first time as new President of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, to appear before you and to join in the deliberations of this Fifty-seven Session of the General Assembly. On behalf of the citizens of Sao Tome and Principe, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, for your election as President of this fifty-seven Session, requesting you to accept the most warm -greetings of my people and myself.
Mr. President, few people in the world have ever heard of my country - SAO
TOME AND PRINCIPE. Few people, even in this room, could find Sao Tome and Principe
on a map. We are a small island-nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast
oil West Africa. We are poor. We are remote. But despite our isolation, my people
face the same issues that face every country in the world today:
How to protect innocent people from acts of terror, violence and mass destruction;
How to eliminate the grinding poverty that still afflicts and cripples half the world's population, and affects people in every,'` country on earth,
How to save our environment and protect the world's natural resources from degradation and ultimate destruction.
As much as any people on the face of this planet, we deplore terrorism. We condemn those who kill civilians, who target women and children, and we say to them. "You are wrong to take the lives of the innocent whatever the reason, whatever the cause". That is what my people in Sao Tome and Principe believe.
And so it is that last September eleventh, my tiny nation with its population
of only one hundred and forty people - only a very small fraction of the population
of the City of New York - were horrified at the attacks on the World Trade Center
and on the Pentagon. We send our condolences to those in all the many countries
who lost friends and family there. We join in condemning those who carried out
these terrible acts. We call for their capture and incapacitation. That is what
We turn to the United Nations for .leadership. We look to the people in this
great assembly hall to speak and to act for civilization, for freedom and for
justice. An American politician, Hubert-Humphrey, said it best: "The heroes
of the world community are not those who withdraw when difficulties ensue, not
those who can envision neither the prospect of success nor the consequence of
Failure - but those who stand the beat of battle, the fight for world peace
through the United Nations".
I commend the President of the United States for coming to New York to consult
and to confer with those who represent the community of nations. This act is
consistent with the finest and most admirable American tradition. If I can use
Thomas Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence of the United States,
I will say 'that President Bush's decision to address the UN on the subject
of Iraq shows a "decent respect for the opinions of mankind".
On behalf of the people of Sao Tome and Principe, I declare our unconditional
support for' the effort to protect innocent people from acts of terrorism and
to defend our populations from weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations
must lead the way. The nations of the world must act together, as one. It is
a moral duty. Sao Tome and Principe offers what resources we have to assist
in this noble effort.
But war and terrorism and violence are not the only threats to the lives of
More insidious, more pervasive and more deadly than even war itself is the
poverty that kills many millions of men, women and children needlessly every
year. Poverty is silent, but it is insatiable. It is unrelenting. I come from
one of the poorest countries in the world. We are Grateful for all those who
have come to us and who have helped us, since our Independence on 12`h July
I take this opportunity to thank all of you.
But we cannot, and will not, continue as we are today - without clean water,
without healthcare, without electricity, without jobs, without schools, and
without even a primitive infrastructure or the capacity to build one.
Sao Tome and Principe cannot be left behind. We do not want our neighborhoods in the global village to be ghetto slums. We want to be, part of the information age. We want to receive, to learn how to use, and to master the technology that brings enlightenment, affluence and opportunity. Many years ago, another brilliant son of this country, United Slates of America, Mr. Abraham Lincoln, said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand. This
government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free". The same can be said today about the rich nations and the poor nations of our world. A house divided against itself -- our house, this planet earth - cannot endure half rich and half poor. We must do better.
Sao Tome and Principe now stands at a crossroads for development. We are strategically
situated in the most important petroleum area in the world today: the deep water
off the western coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. With exploration' success
would come enormous wealth and potential power to my country. Sao Tome and Principe
is, therefore, facing a moment of opportunity that African nations rarely encounter
or have historically squandered. Just one hundred years ago my people lived
in slavery. We picked cocoa off trees for the enrichment of distant European
landowners, while we lived in chains, without decent housing, education or even
basic human dignity. But we have come far in a very short time. My people are
brave. We are strong and we are united. Sao Tome and Principe led the way in
Africa with transition from one party rule to a multi-party system in September
1990. My country is now a robust democracy, which enjoys some of the strongest
stability in Africa. I am a product of my country's free and fair elections,
having been elected just over one year ago': the second free elected president
since our Independence in 1975. I am not a politician. I am a businessman: a
former cocoa trader. I promised my people that Sao Tome and Principe will be
a model for oil transparency and sustainable economic development, based on
democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, supporting a free-market diversified
economy. We invite you to share with us in achieving our goals.
Mr. President, Distinguish Delegates,
Let me take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to another country, with a population of more than 20 million inhabitants, which has achieved admirable economic and social progress through democracy, but which the international
community continues to fail in recognizing it as an independent and sovereign nation -- I mention Republic of China on Taiwan. ' Sao Tome and Principe hope, and urge, this Organization of United Nations, to accomplish shortly a
case considered as of justice - to declare and accept Taiwan as an independent and sovereign nation.
After saying this, I turn again to the United Nations as to say that the final challenge is perhaps the most difficult challenge for the Organization to save the earth itself. 1 appeal to those who fuel the factories of globalization, who drive the engines of progress and economic development: You are the ones who endanger the planet with your pollution. You are the ones who cut down the forests, who burn the fossil fuel, who poison the oceans, who destroy the atmosphere and who warm the planet. You are the ones who can lead the world to develop cleaner technologies, more efficient uses of natural resources and, ultimately, effective ways to restore our land, air and sea. There is no time left.
The people of Sao Tome and Principe live on two small islands in the Atlantic
Ocean. If sea levels rise from global warming, my beautiful island home will
disappear beneath the waves. We know better than most people that if we spoil
our homeland we have nowhere else to go. We rust live with the waste that we
make. and we cannot quickly grow back the trees that we cut. If we cut, down,
the trees, that shade and protect our food - the banana trees, the, cocoa trees
- we will starve. If we put poison into the water and chemicals into the earth,
we will, die. Whatever we do to bring prosperity to our land, we must do it
in a way that respects the water and air and flora and fauna that make up our
islands environment. We must find away to make progress that supports and sustains
life rather than destroying it. The planet earth is like Sap Tome and Principe
in this respect. It is nothing more than an island in the universe. We must
take care. We must do better.
Thank you and God bless you all.