HIS EXCELLENCY PROF. MONIE R. CAPTAN
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
TO 57TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK, 20 SEPTEMBER 2002
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasing duty to once again participate in this auspicious forum on behalf of His Excellency Dr. Charles Ghankay Taylor, President of the Republic of Liberia, and to contribute to the debate of this General Assembly.
On the onset, I wish to congratulate Mr. Jan Kavan for his election as President of the 57th General Assembly of the United Nations and assure him of the full cooperation and support of the Liberian delegation.
I also seize this opportunity to commend the out-going President, Mr. Han Seung-Soo of the Republic of Korea for the efficient and capable manner in which he conducted the affairs of the 56th Session of the General Assembly.
It is my pleasing duty to congratulate the gallant people of East Timor for their relentless struggle for self-determination leading to their independence this year. It is also a privilege for me and my government to welcome and congratulate Switzerland on its admission to membership of the United Nations.
A year ago, the world was plunged
into deep sadness as a result of a gruesome act of terrorism committed right
here in New York City and elsewhere in the United States of America. In the
wake of this barbaric act, we all entered a solemn collective pledge to battle
terrorism wherever it may exist. Consequently, not only was there a strong condemnation
of terrorism, but also there was firm support for the campaign against organized
terrorist networks. We wish to re-affirm our support for UN Security Council
Resolution 1373, and the UN conventions and protocols aimed at combating terrorism.
The Government of Liberia has subsequently forwarded those conventions not yet
ratified to the Liberian National Legislature for ratification.
The consolidated and coordinated response necessitated by terrorist attacks requires a firm commitment ensuring the passage of comprehensive legislations to meet the new dimensions of terrorism, the adoption of strict financial control regulations to curtail funding for terrorism, strengthening of customs and immigration controls, strict enforcement of laws regulating arms traffic, and the liberalization of the extradition conditions for persons suspected of engaging in terrorism.
In the global war against terrorism,
we must further act to combat the root causes of terrorism. This means that
there is a need to take concrete steps to combat deprivation, alienation, rejection,
misery and poverty.
Recent developments in the Middle East involving Israel and the Palestinians are a cause for grave concern, which require urgent and concrete actions to halt violence in that region. Both the Israelis and Palestinians have justified claims, which must be resolved in a manner other than the use of excessive violence. Violence cannot produce peace; neither can it be an arbiter of claims.
My Government is in full support of constructive efforts that will help both sides return to political dialogue in their search for a negotiated settlement. We therefore urge all stakeholders and facilitators of the Middle East peace process to undertake meaningful actions that will reduce the current level of antagonism and violence in the region and to avoid any further provocation of the situation in the Middle East. As we say in Liberia, "let us not use fire to put out a fire."
At the formation of the United Nations, fifty-seven years ago, most of Africa was still under colonial rule and therefore Africa's participation in the creation of a global mechanism for collective security was limited only to Liberia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and apartheid South Africa. Today, Africa has formed itself into the African Union and represents over twenty five percent of the membership of the United Nations. Despite this fact and considering that most of the conflicts under consideration by the Security Council are African conflicts; the continent's participation in the deliberations of the Security Council is grossly limited to nonpermanent representation with no right of veto. In essence, Africa has no real voice in our world body, even as it deliberates on issues affecting our very existence as a continent. This situation must change; Africa's contribution to collective security cannot be limited to participation in a debate that has no binding effect on decisions taken by the post-war powers.
[Since the last Session of this august body, the world has witnessed the implementation of the transition of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU). The birth of the AU signals the beginning of the African Renaissance. This great historical enterprise expresses the determination of the leaders and peoples of Africa in bringing about unity, solidarity, stability, security, sustainable development, economic prosperity, integration, the eradication of disease, promotion of democratic principles and institutions, promotion and protection of human rights, and the defense of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of African states.]
[Complementary to these stated objectives is the establishment of the requisite institutional framework to bring these objectives to reality. Some of the institutions of the Union are the Assembly of the Union, the Executive Council, the Pan-African Parliament, the Court of Justice, the Commission, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council, the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund, the African Investment Bank, and the Peace and Security Council.]
Building upon the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, the Union has established a Peace and Security Council to promote peace, security and stability in Africa; anticipate and prevent conflict, develop a common defense policy, and promote and implement peace-building and post conflict reconstruction activities. This organ will provide the capacity for the management of African conflicts by Africans, and will thus form the initial basis for Africa's contribution to collective peace and security.
Many African states, including Liberia, have provided peacekeepers for U.N. mandated peacekeeping missions around the world. Africa has come of age to contribute to international peace and security, not only because Africa has the capacity to do so, but also more importantly, Africa is a principal stakeholder in international peace and security. Liberia therefore calls for the permanent representation of Africa on the Security Council with the right of veto. This is the resolve of all Africans.
The Government of Liberia considers
the present sanctions regime imposed on Liberia through Security Council resolutions
1343 (2001) and 1408 (2002) as punitive and unjust. Not only are the sanctions
unjust, but also they have created a grave humanitarian crisis throughout the
country. Although the Government of Liberia has always regarded as unjust, unjustified
and punitive the imposition of UN sanctions on the country, it has nevertheless
consistently cooperated with the Security Council, thus upholding the integrity
of the U.N. Security Council.
The Government of Liberia is in full compliance with the demands contained in paragraph 2(a) to (d) of UN Security Council Resolution 1343 (2001). These demands constitute the only conditions for the lifting of the sanctions on Liberia as provided for in paragraph 6 of resolution 1408 (2002). Essentially, these demands called for the cessation of support to the RUF intended to lead to progress in the peace process in Sierra Leone. In order to ensure compliance with these demands, the resolution imposed several punitive sanctions on Liberia.
No one can dispute the fact that peace has been restored to Sierra Leone and that the RUF no longer exists. The defunct RUF has been demobilized and disarmed by UNAMSIL. The RUF was transformed into a political party, the RUFP, which contested the elections in Sierra Leone on April 14, 2002. All Sierra Leoneans, including the RUFP, have accepted the results of the elections without any challenge to the democratically elected government of Sierra Leone. The Government of Liberia was represented at the inauguration of the President of Sierra Leone, and fully recognizes the Government of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah as the legitimate and democratically elected Government of Sierra Leone.
Liberia is host to many Sierra Leonean refugees. The policy of the Government of Liberia has been to encourage the voluntary repatriation of all Sierra Leonean refugees in keeping with relevant international conventions. To this end, the Government of Liberia has facilitated the repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), a process that is on-going.
Since February of this year, 12,500 Sierra Leonean refugees have been repatriated to Sierra Leone. Another 5,000 have registered for repatriation with the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Monrovia and the UNHCR. At present there are 25,000 Sierra Leonean refugees still residing in Liberia under the care of UNHCR.
How is it conceivable that Liberia can today continue to be punished by the Security Council on allegations of supporting a non-existent RUF in a nonexistent war in Sierra Leone, while the Liberian Government provides protection for thousands of Sierra Leonean refugees in Liberia?
It is conceivable because of the failure to differentiate between demands and punitive sanctions. The condition for the lifting of the sanctions, according to the resolution, is compliance with the demands. However, the sanctions have not been lifted because the focus is not on the condition precedent for its lifting, but the sanctions themselves as though punitive sanctions are ends in themselves. It is illogical to suggest that the condition precedent for the lifting of the sanctions is the sanctions themselves. To assert that would suggest that one will be rewarded with a privilege if one refrains from exercising that privilege. It is therefore confusing to speak in terms of alleged violations of the sanctions as though they are any indicators of compliance with the demands, when in fact, it is compliance with the specific demands of the U.N. Security Council resolution that constitutes the only condition for the lifting of the sanctions.
In their last report on Liberia, the United Nations Panel of Experts rightfully raised the moral dilemma question as to the justification for continuance of sanctions on Liberia when the war in Sierra Leone was over. However, this moral dilemma was no dilemma for those subjecting Liberia to unjust punitive sanctions, as morality has no place in their political consideration.
If regional peace and security is the objective of the victimization of Liberia, how then do we explain the conspiracy of silence surrounding the prevailing war in Liberia waged by externally supported armed non-state actors? Can one reasonably expect peace to be consolidated in Sierra Leone or maintained in the MRU region when aggression against Liberia is left unfettered? What accounts for this conspiracy? Is it due to double standards or is it due to malice?
The current arms embargo imposed on Liberia in the midst of a war waged against Liberia by externally supported armed non-state actors has caused the displacement of a third of the population resulting into a humanitarian crisis in the country. The arms embargo has encouraged the war against Liberia because of the perceived weakness of the government to effectively defend its territory. Furthermore, it should be noted that all those countries providing arms and ammunition to non-state actors operating in Liberia are in violation of the arms embargo and the Security Council cannot ignore their actions.
The arms embargo imposed on Liberia is a flagrant violation of Liberia's inherent rights under article 51 of the U.N. Charter to defend itself against armed attacks. This violation has not only led to an impairment of the government's capacity to defend the nation, but it has contributed to the resulting humanitarian crisis that is the cause of immense human suffering in Liberia.
The direct combined consequence of the sanctions and the on-going war in Liberia is telling in every aspect of life in the country. The sanctions have exacerbated the problem of a fragile economy, and imposed suffering on an already vulnerable population. According to UNDP statistics, the unemployment rate in Liberia is estimated at 85%, while 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. Donor assistance to U.N. specialized agencies and NGOs operating in Liberia have substantially declined since the imposition of sanctions.
The education and the health sectors have suffered serious disruptions since the imposition of the sanctions. Over 60% of the children between the ages of 5-14 years were in school in 2000, compared with about 45% today. Infant mortality and life expectancy rates have significantly deteriorated. The infant mortality, which was 117 per 1000 births in the year 2000, is now estimated at over 130, while the life expectancy has declined from 54 to 47. Of the 16 functioning hospitals and 25 health centers that were operating in the country in the year 2000, only 11 hospitals and 15 health centers are now operating. At present, there are 59,370 persons per doctor.
Prior to the sanctions, over 100,000 Liberians were engaged in artisanal mining of diamonds, as either operators or laborers. Taking into consideration the average size of the extended family, which is 7, this brings to over 700,000 Liberians directly or indirectly impacted by the U.N. Security Council ban on Liberian diamonds.
A student at the University of Liberia wrote the following in an assignment paper, and I quote:
"The UN's euphemism: `Selective Sanctions' is a laughable oxymoron if not a myth. The attempt to strangulate and destroy the Liberian Government can in no way provide for a foolproof assurance that will guarantee the immunity of ordinary Liberian from such strangulation ... To regard the sanctions as `Selective' one should firstly bury his conscience to the plight of Liberians in their everyday living. Sanctions are not selective when Liberians are denied income and employment opportunities, or when primeval darkness cannot become obsolete in the face of modernity... It is time, high time, that the UN abandon its destruction of the Liberian nationstate."
I too join my compatriot in calling on the Security Council to bring to an end the suffering and victimization of Liberians by acting urgently to lift all sanctions imposed on our vulnerable country.
Despite the current state of emergency
occasioned by the critical conditions created as a result of U.N. sanctions
and the war waged by externally supported armed non-state actors; the Government
of Liberia remains committed to democracy, the rule of law, respect for human
rights, national reconciliation and national unity. To this end, a national
Reconciliation Conference has been organized by a steering committee comprised
of persons representing a cross-section of the Liberian Society. The first national
plenary of the conference was launched on 24 August 2002. The conference was
divided into five thematic subgroups: finance and management, culture and history,
good governance, education and communication, and national security.
The conference selected Catholic Arch-Bishop Michael Francis as its Chairperson. It is expected that the various pertinent issues affecting national reconciliation, especially the root cause of conflict, will be the principal focus of the conference, which has attracted delegates from all 15 political counties of Liberia, and Liberians living abroad. The encouragement and support of this process by the international community would go a long way in helping to facilitate the achievement of the objectives of the national conference. Summarizing the objective of the conference, President Taylor said, "Reconciliation is an agreement to loving one another; respecting one another; caring for one another and trusting one another."
Based upon a general improvement in the security situation in Liberia and the liberation of a key provincial town, the Government of Liberia is pleased to announce the lifting of the State of Emergency and the ban on mass public gatherings. These measures are expected to enhance the momentum of the ongoing national reconciliation conference.
Current diplomatic initiatives undertaken to bring about peace in Liberia are at two levels, the ECOWAS level and the Mano River Union level, which are parallel processes. At the ECOWAS level, the objective of the process is the facilitation of a peace process, especially with regard to bringing an end to the activities of armed non-state actors leading to an end to the on-going war within Liberia. At the Mano River Union (MRU) level, the objective of the process is the building of confidence among member states of the MRU, the development of a political will to ensure good neighborliness, and the consequent implementation of all decisions and protocols of the MRU, including those decisions taken subsequent to the Moroccan initiative. His Majesty, the King of Morocco, who has maintained consultations with the United Nations and major powers, currently facilitates this process.
These parallel initiatives complement each other and are not mutually exclusive. Settlement of the internal conflict requires the cooperation of neighboring states. The destabilization of Liberia by armed non-state actors, and the resultant humanitarian crisis, have been and continue to be sustained by external support, and no internal settlement can be sustained in the absence of the cooperation of the neighboring states of the MRU and ECOWAS. It is therefore important to encourage the Moroccan and ECOWAS initiatives as complementary efforts and not to perceive these efforts as working at cross-purposes.
The restoration of peace and security to Liberia can only be facilitated by the ending of the activities of armed non-state actors who sustain their activities through external support. This would therefore require as an essential beginning the cutting off of all external support to armed non-state actors. The achievement of this objective will require that the MRU member states adhere to the Non-Aggression and Security Cooperation Treaty of the MRU, implement the 15th Protocol of the MRU, implement all MRU decisions pursuant to the provisions of the 15th Protocol and those arising out of the Moroccan initiative. Fundamental among these decisions is the decision of the Joint Security Committee taken in Conakry, Republic of Guinea on 10th September 2001, regarding the endemic problems of dissidents. This decision called for the apprehension and the repatriation to their country of origin of all individuals, armed groups, and other para-military forces involved in the destabilization of member states.
The on-going war waged by externally supported armed non-state actors against the democratically elected Government of Liberia is a result of the total disregard and violation of the agreements and decisions of the MRU. This war must be brought to an end. The decision of the MRU on the endemic problems of dissidents was antecedent to the end of the war in Sierra Leone and intended to put an end to the destabilization of the region by armed non-state actors and create a mechanism for sustainable peace and security within the MRU region. It is therefore imperative that no uncertain signals are sent to the armed non-state actors who are currently destabilizing Liberia, otherwise the efforts of the MRU, UNAMSIL, and the international community as a whole, to consolidate peace and security would be futile thus undermining the security of the entire region. It is therefore imperative that all armed non-state actors be fully disarmed as an integral part of the efforts of the international community to restore peace to the Mano River Union.
The consistent denial of the UN
to admit the Republic of China on Taiwan into this world body is a violation
of Article 4 of the Charter of the UN which specifically states that "membership
is open to other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained
in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and
willing to carry out these obligations."
The 23 million peace-loving people of the Republic of China deserve to be represented in the United Nations. They have demonstrated their capacity and willingness to fully live up to the obligations of member states of the United Nations, as they have demonstrated in other world bodies. It is therefore the conviction of the Liberian Government that the Republic of China be allowed representation and participation in this world body. The Liberian Government continues to hold the view that only the Chinese people themselves under the principles of democracy and the respect for human rights will one day resolve the question of Chinese re-unification. Liberia encourages the continuation of the cross-straits dialogue in the interest of the greater good of the Chinese people.
Some scholars are of the view that the calculated objective of some sanctions is the achievement of a threshold of domestic suffering in which the people will rise and overthrow their government. If this is true, then it is also true that some sanctions are not intended to achieve compliance with U.N. demands, but to precipitate regime change through rebellion to internal conditions of suffering caused by sanctions. This may also explain the indifference and insensitivity to the suffering of people living in states under sanctions.
In the case of Liberia, the call for a study of the potential impact of sanctions took effect only after the imposition of sanctions, which gave an appearance of some humanitarian concern for the people of Liberia. Nevertheless, after sixteen months of the application of punitive sanctions against Liberia, the Security Council is still trying to determine the impact of their sanctions on the people of Liberia. Will death be a sufficient impact to bring about some form of moral consternation and restraint? But for everyday that a Liberian must face the agony of sanctions, the integrity of the United Nations is undermined and its conscience put to test.
The Liberian people consider their current suffering at the hands of the United Nations Security Council, a betrayal of the dream and aspiration, which inspired their forefathers to join in the formation of the United Nations. With the benefit of hindsight, the Liberian Government would have toiled in anguish as it participated in the San Francisco Conference in 1945; not in doubt of the principles we ascribed to, but in fear of the potential to distort those sacred principles.
Yet, we remain true and resolute to the ideals and principles enshrined in the Charter, and commit ourselves to work with unrelenting perseverance for the realization of peace, freedom, liberty and justice for all peoples.
I thank you.