BYH.E. Mr. Jose Maria Pereira Neves
The Prime Minister and Head of Government of the Republic of Cape Verde

at the Fifty-Seven Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
New York, 17 September 2002

Mr. President,
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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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 sustainable development.

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.

Mr. President,

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 rate.

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Mr. President,

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 be disappointing.

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.

Mr. President,

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.

Thank you.