HONOURABLE MR. HIDIPO HAMUTENY
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
57TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK 19TH SEPTEMBER 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to warmly congratulate you on your unanimous election as President of the 57th Session of the General Assembly. I am confident that, given your vast experience and diplomatic skills, you will be able to steer this Session to a successful conclusion. In the same vein, our congratulations and sincere appreciation go to your predecessor, Mr. Han Seung Soo, for the outstanding manner in which he conducted the work of the 56th Session of the General Assembly.
I wish also to seize this opportunity to pay tribute to the illustrious son of Africa at the helm of our Organization, Mr. Kofi Annan, who has taken the United Nations to greater heights.
We join other members of our family of nations in welcoming the Swiss Confederation as the 190th member of the United Nations. We are confident that its membership will not only formalize that resourceful country's long involvement with the United Nations, but will also contribute greatly to the work of the Organization.
After a long and bitter liberation struggle, the people of East Timor have finally realised their right to self-determination and independence. We look forward to welcoming the Democratic Republic of East Timor, as the 192 Member of the United Nations. And just as the international community stood with the people of East Timor in their darkest hour of need, the United Nations must now assist them in their efforts to rebuild their country.
The opening of this Session of the United Nations General Assembly coincided with the first anniversary of the 11th September terrorist attack on the United States. That horrific attack has been met with vigorous international condemnation and concerted campaign by countries around the world to eradicate terrorism as a global scourge. All around, countries, including my own, continue to take domestic counter-terrorism measures to combat international terrorism.
Last week, the general debate in this chamber was, in a way, overshadowed by what appeared to be an ominous cloud of the threat of war in Iraq. Indeed, most of us have been filled with grave concern about that looming threat.
This concern has, however, been somewhat eased when the focus shifted away from the temptation of unilateral military action towards multilateralism that is so vital for the maintenance of world peace and security. In this regard, Namibia welcomes the decision by Iraq to co-operate with the United Nations Security Council.
Namibia is deeply concerned about the ever-escalating violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The continuous wanton destruction of Palestinian towns, the demolition of their homes and institutions and, above ail, the unabating loss of thousands of lives are manifestations of the tragic plight of the Palestinian people. And while rejecting all acts of violence against innocent civilians, we recognize the urgent need for the international community to address the root cause of violence, namely, the continued occupation of the Palestinian Territory by the Israeli troops.
It is thus imperative, Mr. President, for the international community to act decisively and with a renewed sense of urgency to stop the on-going carnage and destruction in the Middle East. We stand for the immediate establishment of an independent Palestinian state, existing side by side with Israel in peace and mutual security.
One of the factors, which have militated against development and progress in Africa, has been the armed conflicts in a number of countries on our continent. Such conflicts have been responsible for the aggravation of poverty and the spread of diseases.
However, it is pleasing to note that peace and security in Africa have improved over the past year or so. Developments in Angola, since February this year, fill us with hope and relief. After more than two decades of a destructive war, Angola is firmly on an irreversible road to peace. Concerted efforts by the international community are, however, required to address the urgent and burning humanitarian needs, in order to help Angola to maintain and consolidate its hard won peace.
There have been similar positive developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The cease-fire there has been holding. However, the aggressor countries have still not withdrawn their troops from that country, in line with the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement, the Pretoria Agreement and the relevant Security Council resolutions.
The United Nations has confirmed, through various reports, that there continue to be large-scale violations of human rights in the eastern part of that country. This is unacceptable and should not be allowed to continue with impunity. Similarly, the plundering of the natural resources of the DRC should not be condoned any longer.
Furthermore, in Sierra Leone, the staccatos of machine guns have fallen silent, thanks to the active intervention of the international community in that country. Successful elections were held there this year; and the people of that country are now busy with the peace-building and reconstruction of their country. We call on the international community to assist them in this regard.
In 1992, the General Assembly decided on a referendum in Western Sahara. Ten years later, the people of Western Sahara continue to endure suffering, waiting and hoping for the implementation of the UN Settlement Plan. The only hope they have is the United Nations. We, the members of the United Nations, have a responsibility towards the people of Western Sahara in their quest for self-determination. It is not a favour we shall be doing them. It is our obligation under the Charter of our Organisation.
Time is long overdue for the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to selfdetermination and independence through a free and fair referendum under the supervision of the United Nations. The Secretary-General should, therefore, continue to seek the implementation of the United Nations Settlement Plan.
The unilateral economic blockade against Cuba is causing immense suffering to the people of Cuba, an island whose people have extended deep solidarity with the people of Namibia during those difficult years of our struggle for national liberation. We reiterate our call for the lifting of this embargo.
Just as the people of Africa have began, in earnest, to address the problem of armed conflicts, that had hindered Africa's development and socio-economic progress in the past, the continent has now to grapple with yet another menace that is ravaging its population, namely, the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This scourge is no longer only a health issue. Its devastating impact is now undermining economic growth and development in Sub-Saharan Africa, with millions already infected and dying. Indeed, Sub-Saharan Africa is now facing a human crisis of monumental proportions. Millions of AIDS orphans are screaming out for help as a result of this rampaging disease.
We appeal for increased and generous contributions to the Global Health Fund to enable us to fight the scourge and other infectious diseases more effectively. In this connection, we would like to emphasize that the magnitude of the problem in a particular country should determine the allocation of the available funds.
As part of our on-going efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS scourge, Namibia will be hosting the Second Regional Conference on Orphans and Vulnerable Children from 25th to 29th November 2002. It is our sincere hope that this Conference will highlight further the fate of these children and galvanize the world for further support to ease their truly difficult plight. We are quite confident that the support of the international community will enable humanity, and Africa in particular, to conquer this ravaging pandemic.
The drought situation in Southern Africa is placing over 12 million people at rjsk of hunger and destitution. In this respect, we welcome the efforts of the Secretary-General in sensitizing the international community about the urgency of the situation and in mobilizing resources for relief. Our sincere thanks and appreciation also go to the donor community for their positive response. We encourage them to continue in this regard.
The 57th Session of the General Assembly has special significance for Africa, in the sense that considerable attention is being paid to the continent's problems. In the first instance, there is a tabling, by the Secretary-General, of the Report on the Final Review on the Implementation of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s. This Session also marks the end of the United Nations Programme for the Second Industrial Development Decade for Africa.
The conclusions of the Review are sobering in the sense that both the New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s and the Programme for the Second Industrial Development Decade for Africa have come to an end, but Africa remains marginalized within the global economy.
Also, significant for Africa at this Session, is the fact that notwithstanding the continent's rather minimal development performance during the periods just referred to, Africa has come to the 57th Session of the General Assembly determined more then ever before to launch itself on a new path of economic growth and development.
It was in the light of this determination that on Monday, the 16th September 2002, the General Assembly devoted the whole day to exploring ways in which the international community can support the African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to rebuild and rejuvenate our continent.
What emerged out of the Monday meeting on Africa was a clear sense of purpose and direction such that, while hoping for greater support from the international community to implement its new development initiative, Africa is seriously seeking to lift itself up by bootstraps.
Indeed, the African leaders have re-affirmed their commitment to the development goals of the United Nations Millennium Summit for the continent to achieve a 7% economic growth by the year 2015; and thus to be able to halve poverty on the continent by that same year.
And while NEPAD is an African Union - owned and managed initiative, the continent still need unfettered market access for its goods, increased foreign investment, elimination of external debts, and yes, more ODA as well as large infusion of technology and skills into its production processes.
In conclusion, I would like to state Namibia's position on the International Criminal Court (ICC); and this is to say that few individuals, who commit heinous crimes against humanity, do undermine international peace and security. When those who commit serious crimes go unpunished, murder and torture carry no risk. Rather, they encourage even more crimes. The entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, on 1 July 2002, represents a historic day for international justice.
As a state party to the ICC, Namibia has noticed with great concern the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1422, under chapter VII of the UN Charter, as if the ICC was a threat to peace or an act of aggression. In this context, we call upon those states which are not party to the Statute to become party to it.
In the face of growing unilateralism, the revitalization of the General Assembly, which is the collective decision-making body, is becoming even more important than ever before. In the same vein, Namibia reaffirms its position on the need to reform and democratize the United Nations Security Council in order to ensure that the Council remains responsible to the peace and security of all countries in all regions.
From this very rostrum, it has been said, time and again, that, if the United Nations did not exist, it would have to be created. These are not empty words. Rather, they are deep aspirations and commitment of humanity to the Organisation, which has stood the test of time and proven indispensable to the conduct of relations amongst states. Let us not allow multilateralism to be eroded.
I thank you.