Statement by
His Excellency President

Olusegun Obasanjo

57th United Nations General Assembly
15 September 2002, New York

Mr. President,

On behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, I join other delegations to congratulate you on your election as the President of the 57°' Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I have no doubt that under your able leadership, the work of the 57"' Session would be guided to a successful conclusion. Let me also acknowledge the work done by your predecessor who guided the affairs of the 56"' Session with great skill and commitment.

The tireless exertions of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, on behalf of our Organization, must not go unnoticed. He deserves our fulsome appreciation.

I welcome the newest member of our organization, Switzerland. I have no doubt that she will bring unique perspectives to the work of the United Nations, which would enhance the attainment of its objectives.

Mr. President, it is regrettable that international terrorism continues to pose threat to international peace and security. There is need for reviewed and concerted efforts on our part to confront the menace until the threat is halted. The various international instruments aimed at combating terrorism deserve our full support.

Nigeria remains deeply committed to the fight against terrorism. We are committed to the early elaboration of a comprehensive Convention on international terrorism.

Mr. President, despite the best intentions and efforts of the international community, a scourge of a different nature continues to threaten many parts of the world. I refer here to the numerous theaters of conflict around the world. People continue to expend valuable energies and resources in fighting each other, often for causes that are unproductive. The international community has a responsibility, not only to design appropriate strategies for a measured and early response to douse these conflicts, but also to find ways and means of addressing their root causes, and managing them to a peaceful conclusion. It is only then that true peace and stability will reign in the world.

While it is true that many of these conflicts have their root causes in poverty, ignorance, real and perceived injustice and absence of the basic freedoms, it is equally evident that they are often exacerbated, especially in the case of African conflicts, by the influx of small arms into the continent. The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons has continued unabated, with disastrous consequences for many developing countries. We are deeply concerned that manufacturer countries are not doing enough to limit the proliferation of these weapons through appropriate safeguards. We therefore call on the international community to consider elaborating a legally binding international instrument to control the supply of these weapons to non-state actors.

The United Nations peacekeeping role is an invaluable one in the global effort to help contain and resolve conflicts around the world. It deserves to be sustained and strengthened. Nigeria is proud to be an active participant in this peacekeeping and peacemaking effort. We remain committed to this responsibility in the conviction that we are our brother's keeper, and in the knowledge that there can be no development without peace and stability.

Mr. President, the situation in the Middle East continues to pose a serious threat to international peace and security. We reaffirm our commitment to the right of the Palestinian people to their own independence, as well as the right of the State of Israel to exist with safe and secure international borders, consistent with Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. We therefore welcome the vision and engagement of the Quartet as well as other co-sponsors of the Middle East peace process. I urge the parties in the Middle East conflict to co-operate with the international community and give the on going peace process a chance. This becomes imperative because we cannot afford a situation of continued protracted conflict in the sub-region.

Mr. President, Nigeria notes with concern the threat, which the situation in Iraq poses to international peace and security. We hold the view that any further escalation of tension would lead to very serious consequences. Nigeria therefore urges the parties concerned to exercise caution and restraint and that the matter should be resolved in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

Mr. President, there is no shortage of international goodwill and commitment to development. Various declarations and programs eloquently address the need for rapid, durable and Hare -4sustainable development, as well as to the desire for the equitable distribution of the world's wealth. In spite of this goodwill and good intention on the part of the international community, more than half of humanity lives in abject poverty and ignorance. For many countries in Africa, hunger and disease remain pervasive and deep-rooted. Human development indices for some of the poorest countries are, indeed, unflattering for a world that is so rich, but with resources so unevenly distributed.

Mr. President, it is our conviction that urgent, concrete action is required, if the lofty goals we have set for ourselves in the Millennium Declaration, to make the world a better place, are to be realized. Many developing countries require assistance from the international community in the form of increased ODA and FDI flows and efforts to alleviate their excruciating debt burden and enable them to develop their human and material resource base.

Mr. President, Africa remains committed to the attainment of the goals in the Millennium Declaration. In this regard, I am pleased to state that Africa is seeking to lift itself by its own bootstrap, through the New Partnership for African Development programs, NEPAD. As you are aware, NEPAD is designed to address, in a sustained and coordinated way, many of the developmental problems associated with Africa's under-development. We are encouraged by the support that NEPAD has so far received from the international community. The latest evidence of this support is the outcome of the recent meeting of the G8 in Kananaskis, Canada, towards the implementation of the Action Plan. It is hoped that the UN High level Segment on NEPAD would record greater successes in the much-expected endorsement of this initiative by the international community.

Mr. President, this and other programs designed to improve the living conditions of the majority of humanity may not yield the desired results if one of the greatest dangers facing humanity today is not addressed with the commitment and urgency it deserves. I speak here of the HIV/AIDS pandemic that continues to bring havoc, misery and hopelessness on humanity, especially in Africa where the pandemic is threatening to wipe entire generations. For example, it is estimated that out of the thirty-six million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, seventy-five percent of them are in Sub-Saharan Africa. The consequent toll on the human and material resources of one of the most impoverished regions of the world cannot be over-emphasized. Not only is the productive Hays -Population of Africa being systematically decimated by HIV/AIDS, but also that the efforts to combat this and other diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases are diverting scarce resources away from development programs and projects. Massive assistance is therefore required from the international community to complement the efforts of individual countries.

Mr. President, Nigeria will spare no effort to combat these scourges. While we are fully aware of the insidious nature of all of these pestilences, the spread of HIV/AIDS constitutes by far our source of greatest concern. It is for this reason that Nigeria is active in contribution to and in management of the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS.
We have also established the National Agency for the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS to coordinate government's multi-sectoral approach to the prevention, control and management of the pandemic. Mr. President, we pledge to continue to do our best in this human struggle against such a powerful, destructive force especially in generating awareness in the country on its prevention and spread. We continue, however, to count on the international community to find cures for these diseases, as well as assistance to many of our countries in these efforts. The leadership of the United Nations is critical to the success of these efforts.

Mr. President, I wish to once again draw attention to the pernicious issue of corruption and its manifestation at the international level. We have always maintained that it takes two to tango, and that the instances of corruption in developing countries have often supported by encouragement and inducements from the industrialized countries. Thus we are strongly advocating that efforts to establish a convention against corruption needs to be expedited so that we can have global action corruption.

Mr. President, there is no doubt that the United Nations has served humanity well. It has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1945. It remains the only organization to which all nations, in varying degrees and ways, are associated and committed. Humanity is the better for the existence of the United Nations; the organization provides the basis for our collective security, international cooperation and solidarity essential for human coexistence. We must therefore continue to fine-tune its implementations to make it more responsive to the needs of the times and prepare it for the challenges of the future, some of which could not have been envisaged by thefounding members.

I am pleased to note that there is general agreement amongst us on the need to reform the organization to make it more democratic in structure, efficient in management and manageable in size. Nigeria is a major proponent of the envisaged reforms, especially that of the structure and working methods of the Security Council. Nigeria envisages a new security council in which it will play the role destined by its geo-political circumstances and the challenges of the 21st century. In this regard, we are willing to contribute to efforts and stand ready to support others of like mind and circumstance in this endeavor.

I thank you all.