Mr. Jose Maria Pereira Neves
The Prime Minister and Head of Government of the Republic of Cape Verde
Fifty-Seven Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
New York, 17 September 2002
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the onset, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. President, for your
election to preside over our Session. Your diplomatic experience and renowned
competence allow us to anticipate the highest success in conducting this
General Assembly. I assure you, Mr. President, that you can count on the
full support of the Cape Verdean delegation.
To your distinguished predecessor, Mr. Han Seung-soo, I want to convey our
sincere acknowledgment for his strong leadership and guidance during a particularly
difficult time, when important steps were taken to improve the efficiency
of the General Assembly with view to reinforcing the role of our organization
in resolving the issues confronted with by the international community.
Allow me to also convey a special word of appreciation to the Secretary
General Kofi Annan for the wise and capable manner with which he has guided
the United Nations, especially in managing the Millennium Agenda that has
produced particularly important results for the international community,
as are those of the Monterrey and Johannesburg Summits.
Cape Verde welcomes the admission of the Helvetica Confederation to the
United Nations. We are sure Switzerland's presence in the UN will only benefit
the organization given its valuable and renown diplomatic experience.
Likewise, we welcome the forthcoming admission of East Timor to the United
Nations. At this time, it pleases me to recall that Cape Verde has always
stood by the Timorese people in their struggle for self-determination and
independence. This young country and its people have paid a very high price
in order to have their right to existence be recognized. It is therefore
a duty of the community of nations to mobilize all the support possible
to enable this young democracy to affirm itself and make-up for the decades
lost to destruction and violence.
The tragic events that on September 11, 2001 cast down on vital and emblematic
centers in the United States deeply chocked the world. The whole international
community mobilized itself and expressed its solidarity to the United States
of America while at the same time adopted measures adjusted to the challenges
deriving from international terrorism. Cape Verde was one of the countries
that promptly reacted to Resolution 1373 of the Security Council and keeps
firmly committed to its implementation.
The shockwaves of this catastrophe extended to all latitudes and affected
many different aspects pertaining to the relations between States. They
are reflected adversely in the economic growth, in increased expenditures
for defense and security, and the consequent impact on the distribution
of resources, in the daily routine of citizens in every country in the world,
namely in the restrictions to the mobility of people. In certain regions
of the world, there is a build-up of risks of military confrontation that
would bring about immeasurable consequences, if materialized.
Thus, today, the question of international security takes on unprecedented
importance in the relations between States. And the United Nations is called
upon to play a determining role of its assessment and management.
A safer world is a more just world. It is crucial that the United Nations
reinforce its intervening and coordination capacity in international cooperation
to promote economic and social development as guarantee for a climate of
peace and security in the world.
It is impossible to aim at a climate of peace and security while more than
half of the world's population is still subject to poverty, mal-nutrition,
diseases and ignorance. The international community has to become more committed
so that the Millennium goals may be in fact achieved in time to give meaning
to the lifes of millions of our brothers and sisters that today look to
the future without any hope, especially those in Least Developed Countries.
At the expense of great efforts, determination and high social costs, many
of these countries implemented deep reforms required by their bilateral
partners and international financial institutions. Regretfully, in many
cases, instead of getting increased support to consolidate the reforms,
these countries are being devastated by debt burden, public development
assistance is being gradually reduced and they have yet to have access to
foreign private investments. The populations are however still waiting for
the reforms to produce the promised results.
It was against this backdrop that the Monterrey and Johannesburg Summits
prompted great expectations. But the results revealed to be relatively modest.
Even so, if the consensuses reached at these Summits are effectively implemented,
they may constitute an important starting point for developing countries.
The financial commitments announced in Monterrey and the goals set in Johannesburg
in the vital sectors of water and sanitation are a contribution of particular
importance for implementing the Millennium Goals. The most important thing
now is for the decisions adopted to be in fact implemented and efforts redoubled
in order to reach new consensus in the other sectors essential for the Planet's
Cape Verde recognizes the efforts that have been carried out by the United
Nations to foster the development of Least Developed Countries and Small
Island States. In this regard, we welcome the creation of the Office of
the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing
Countries and Small Island Developing States, following the decisions of
the Third UN Conference on Least Developed Countries.
Cape Verde has achieved positive results in its struggle for economic and
social development. The people of my country have demonstrated enheightened
political maturity, which ensures stability and peace and the normal functioning
of the democratic institutions. Power changes have taken place both at the
local and national levels. The United Nations last Report on Human Development
ranked Cape Verde in a privileged position in the African Continent.
However, in spite the significant advances made in the past 20 years at
the political, social and economic levels, Cape Verde suffers from a structural
imbalance between national production and domestic expenditures, which results
in a permanent deficit of the balance of current transactions as well as
other economic imbalances. Unemployment is high and poverty affects a significant
portion of the population.
The country's development has been marked by advances and setbacks prompted
by its natural economic vulnerability as a small island with lack of natural
resources, a weak production basis and a strong dependence on external financial
flows. These conditions are aggravated by the country's location in the
Sahel region - therefore subject to prolonged droughts that weaken the environment.
In light of the above, due to the low rainfall registered until now, we
are faced with the prospect of another difficult year. This prompted the
Government to adopt emergency measures in order to alleviate the effects
of drought on the most vulnerable. To this end, we called on the solidarity
of all Capeverdans while, at the same time, hope to count on the active
support from the international community.
Poverty is another of Cape Verde's limitations and poverty reduction is
one of the major challenges facing the Capeverdean society. At this time,
we are working in collaboration with both bilateral partners and UN agencies
in medium and long term strategies to combat poverty.
In the coming years, the country will have to find rapid and durable solutions
in order to maintain the fundamental macroeconomic balances, further and
consolidate structural reforms, expand the production basis and create competitive
advantages for the economy, both at the external and internal levels. In
sum, solutions leading to economic growth and reduction of unemployment
In this context, our efforts more than ever need the proper partnerships
and foreign private investments so that we may continue with the country's
development process begun with the national independence in 1975.
We are pleased to note that in our continent some encouraging signs begin
to appear. There is a fresh wind blowing in Africa.
This year we saw the birth of a new continental organization, the African
Union, as well as a new and original partnership, NEPAD. With them, were
also born renewed hopes for a more promising future for the African people.
The globally favorable reception conveyed to these two African initiatives
is a good omen for the Continent.
Africa thus seems to be on the way to finding its own path by strengthening
its endogenous capacities to resolve the problems inherited from colonization
and conflicts oftentimes prompted by external interests.
In effect, the African Union and NEPAD were not only born based on new premises
but also on a new environment that's settling in on our Continent, opening
up to new prospects for peace and development. We note with satisfaction
the substantial advances made in Angola, Sierra Leone and in the Great Lakes
Region, pointing to the definite resolution of conflicts that one year ago
did not seem to have any solution. In this context, we should recognize
the important role of the efforts by the United Nations and the OAU in seeking
solutions to these conflicts, as well as the determining actions developed
by some countries to bring understanding between the belligerent parties.
We congratulate the Angolan government and UNITA for finally having found
the solution to a conflict that throughout many years devastated the country.
The political conditions are now in place to carry out the gigantic task
of national reconstruction. However, the graveness of the humanitarian situation
requires substantial support from the international community to help the
Angolans find a rapid and suitable solution to the extension of the problems
they are confronted with.
The positive signs that may predict a new era for Africa should not however
make us lose sight of the scope and complexity of the challenges we are
confronted with and that result from both historical circumstances and environmental
fatalities as well as accumulated human errors. It is UNCTAD's own last
report on least developed countries that recognizes that today subSaharan
Africa is poorer than 20 years ago. At the same time, the evaluation of
economic advances in the last decade in the UN/NADAF framework reveals to
On the other hand, the advance of pandemics, in spite some limited successes
in the their combat, or the serious situation of food shortages that has
affected Southern Africa unveil the seriousness and persistence of the problems
that the African Continent has to solve.
Worthy of notice is the fact that the UN's cooperation with Africa is being
strengthened. This is attested by the increasing attention dedicated to
the Continent's problems. Examples of this are the recent Security Council
meetings focusing on the situation in the Continent, the creation of an
ECOSOC ad-hoc group on Countries Emerging from Conflicts and the General
Assembly's Special Session on NEPAD. In this same line of thinking we may
consider certain decisions from the Monterrey and Johannesburg Summits.
It is our best wish that this session of the General Assembly will bring
important contributions to the challenges facing us and that will allow
the United Nations to strengthen its role as promotor of peace, understanding
and cooperation among all people in the world.