H.E. DR. BARNABAS S. DLAMINI
RIGHT HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER
57TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK, 20 SEPTEMBER 2002
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to address this assembly on behalf of the delegation
of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
I bring with me the warm greetings and best wishes of His Majesty King Mswati III, Her Majesty the Indlovukazi, the Government and the whole Swazi Nation to all members of the United Nations family.
The Kingdom of Swaziland congratulates you on your election to the presidency of the General Assembly for the 57th session. We are confident that your wide experience and proven political and diplomatic skills will be put to the best possible use as you guide our work in the challenging days ahead. We pledge to you our fullest support in the'exercise of your demanding duties.
I would also like to express our gratitude to the outgoing President, His Excellency Hang Seungsoo of the Republic of Korea who led the General, Assembly through a particularly busy period for the United Nations. His effective leadership was needed in full during the crisis resulting from the shocking terrorist attack on September 11th.
Arid his skill was displayed through the negotiations and successful conclusions of the numerous important Summits and Special Sessions that have taken place throughout the past year.
And once again, we have been grateful for the inspirational leadership of our Secretary-General at this critical moment in world history. The past year has shown clearly that we have a leader with the commitment, skills and energy to draw all members together and guide them to the correct decisions. We commend him and the staff of the United Nations for all that they have achieved to bring peace and equitable development to all the peoples of the world.
The Kingdom of Swaziland joined the rest of the world -in' sadness at commemorating the first anniversary of the monstrous acts in September last year. Our hearts once again reached out to all those who suffered on that fateful day here in New York and elsewhere in the United States, and to all whose lives have been affected by subsequent events around the world.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the world is understandably preoccupied with the question of security and the war against terror. The Kingdom of Swaziland reiterates its strong commitment to do all in its power to support the global alliance against terrorism, and is determined to ensure that no aspect of terrorism, including its financing and organisation, may be permitted to take root within our borders.
The challenge is to ensure that any action taken to defeat terrorism does not create wider problems, and deeper divisions between members of the global family. Therefore, we believe that the only viable response to the crisis that affects each one of us, in one way or other, is to be found through joint deliberation and action here in the United Nations. To meet this challenge that has potential consequences for us all, we need a solution that takes into account the opinions and concerns of all member states.
The alternative is to risk a series of actions that may split our membership and cause lasting harm to the spirit of unity that is at the heart of our organisation.
The Kingdom of Swaziland therefore welcomes the decision to act on a multi-lateral basis on this crucial matter. We believe that our first priority in all such areas of global crisis, is to pursue all peaceful means to secure a solution, and to ensure the strict compliance of all member states to resolutions that have been taken collectively.
The situation in the Middle East inevitably is at the centre of the debate
on security and is a major factor in the decision making process in the fight
The apparent lack of any progress towards achieving permanent peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is of great concern to 'us in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Of particular sorrow is the targeting of civilians by both sides, and the suffering that has been caused as a result. We urge the leadership of the two sides to return to the spirit of conciliation and commitment to peace that brought such hope in the past.
We believe that the United Nations can take a more pro-active role in the crisis,. and we support all initiatives by the international community to bring the two sides together in discussions that lead to sustainable peace for the two peoples.
The Kingdom of Swaziland recognises the efforts of the United Nations in many conflict situations on the continent,of Africa:
We are especially encouraged by the developments towards peace in Angola since earlier this year.
The involvement of the United Nations has been crucial in the negotiations leading to the signing of the memorandum of understanding, and we commend all who have contributed to this defining moment in the history of the Angolan people.
The report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council clearly indicates the challenges for the consolidation of peace in Angola. The humanitarian and human rights aspects are of course vital, but there are also serious issues of development to consider. Angola is a developing country that has been devastated by a war that has caused untold suffering to its people, and long term damage to its prospects to achieve economic and social prosperity. It is our hope that the international community will come forward to assist in all the necessary areas, so that the Angolan people may realise their full potential through sustainable peace and development.
There is also cause for some hope in the` crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What is needed is the unwavering commitment of all sides in the conflict to abide by the agreements that they themselves have reached, to end the fighting once and for all, and to allow the people of that country to enjoy lasting peace and the chance to develop according to their needs and rights.
As we discuss the issue of conflict and global insecurity, there can be no doubt that at the centre of the problem is the issue of control of the illicit trade in resources and arms of war. We know that much of the instability in Africa is fuelled by the easy accessibility of small arms and light weapons, and we call on the manufacturing countries to consider ways in which to restrict the export of these instruments of death. Furthermore, the Kingdom of Swaziland believes that the
very future of humankind is threatened by the existence and spread of weapons of mass destruction.
The world cannot afford to relax its efforts in this matter, and vigorous and
urgent action is needed to eliminate these weapons once and for all. We call
on all nations to implement the ' commitments made at the United Nations conferences
on facilitating the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty
and in the IllicitTrade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects.
The progress made in some areas of Africa is part of a ;general trend of optimism that is spreading amongst all the countries on our continent.
We cannot deny that there remain many serious challenges to address, both in terms of conflict situations and of overall development. But the birth of the African Union earlier this year, and the overwhelming sense of dedication from all leaders towards 'achieving true peace, prosperity and sustainable development for their peoples, lends real hope' for progress in the years ahead.
We in Africa truly believe that this is the start of a new beginning for our peoples and we look forward to strong partnerships with the rest of the world to support us in our aim of raising living standards and of welcoming in a new era of success for the continent. Africa is ready for a new relationship with the rest of the world, based on trade with open markets that are free of harmful subsidies;..and with development assistance that targets the true priorities of the African people.
We have placed our trust in the African Union to be the vehicle for this shift
away from the under-development of the past, and the Kingdom of Swaziland looks
forward to working with her ' fellow members to make the new body one that will
truly address the challenges, and make a real difference in the lives of our
Of crucial importance to the success of the African Union is the role of the developed world in living up to its commitments to the continent and to all in the developing world.
The continuing increase in the wealth gap between rich and poor nations, and in the decline in overseas development assistance are disappointing reminders that the letter of the commitments are not being followed up by action.
We are all agreed that inequality amongst nations is unsustainable, and a primary cause of poverty, instability, ill health, and environmental degradation. The resolutions at the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development confirmed this- fact, and we all witnessed the reconfirmation of the verbal commitments of the developed world to programmes and targets to redress the imbalance.
The Kingdom of Swaziland joins her fellow members of the developing world in appealing for action to meet these fine words, and for a true global partnership between rich and poor, so that we may achieve our common goal of sustainable development for all.
The Kingdom of Swaziland continues to develop peacefully and quietly, according to the aspirations, and expectations of our people. Our relationship with the international community remains founded on the principles of peaceful co-existence with all, the resolution of all disputes
through peaceful dialogue, and mutual respect and due regard for the sovereignty of independent nations. We..-value our membership of the, United Nations and other international, regional and sub-regional organisations. 'Our co-operation and friendship with other countries of the world gives us an important instrument through which we can address our national economic, social and humanitarian concerns. Of particular importance is our access to international markets for our goods, and the attraction of foreign direct investment: both are central to our efforts to improve our economy and provide jobs for our people.
Poverty alleviation remains our number one priority. 66% of our people are living below the internationally recognised poverty line, and yet our classification as a lower middle income country prevents us from many of the funds and resources that are available to those in different categories. We will be working with the United Nations to ensure that this situation is corrected.
In the meantime, we are focusing all our efforts and available resources on programmes that meet the challenge of poverty in a sustainable and equitable manner. Our National Development Strategy, which is the result of direct consultation with the people themselves, provides us with a blueprint for Government action and conforms precisely to the principles under Agenda 21.
Despite all our best efforts, and limited success in many areas, we are restricted in our capacity to meet our objectives, not just through' lack of access to development funds, but by a multitude of problems that are affecting us simultaneously, and that we cannot overcome on our own. As is the case with all developing countries, we are -particularly at risk in times of global economic difficulties; and are-especiaily vulnerable to disease and the effects of changing vveather patterns.
Overshadowing all our development challenges, however, is the threat posed
by multiple health risks, including malaria and tuberculosis, but especially
that of HIV/AIDS. AIDS continues to claim the lives of huge numbers of Swazis,
and there can be no family in our Kingdom that has escaped the deadly touch
of this disease:
No sector of development is immune from the consequences of the very high and increasing HIV infection rates amongst our people, with enormous strain placed on our financial and human resources in the battle to cope. `
We are trying our best, within our limited resources. A National Emergency Response Committee has been established to provide the focus for our efforts. We are attacking the enemy on different fronts, with priority on prevention, care, counselling and treatment. Perhaps the biggest tragedy is the effect on children who have lost their parents to the disease. We are battling to provide these unfortunate orphans with the means to continue normal lives, especially in regard to food, clothing and schooling.
We are ready to embrace the approved strategies of medical care, including those that reduce mother to child transmission of the virus, and the prescription of anti-retrovirals for those who need them. However, the simple fact is that we cannot afford these costly drugs and we must rely on the sympathy and support of others. Which is why the Kingdom was encouraged by the expressions of commitment at last year's AIDS Summit and by the creation of the Global Fund. With our hopes high for support from the Fund, it came as a grave disappointment to our people to learn that our application to the Fund earlier this year was rejected, and that the criteria for selection of projects had become unclear.
We earnestly hope that our second application may meet with approval and that international support from this resource, and from those` of all who gave their solemn commitments, may at last be forthcoming to help us in this national disaster.
In the meantime, we look to our own resources to fight the battle. One answer lies in the re- discovery of practises that are within our own traditions and culture. We have resurrected rites of chastity and respect for self, that served our people well for many generations in the past, and these are finding increasing acceptance amongst the nation, especially amongst the younger generation.
As we announced last year, His Majesty has also reached out to the international entertainment community for support and we have been overwhelmed with the positive and heart-warming response. Next month sees the release of an album of music from international artists entitled "Songs for Life", whose proceeds will go entirely to HIV/AIDS programmes within southern Africa. We look forward with great confidence to the success of the album; with its aim of promoting global awareness of the crisis in many countries, and of'raising funds at a scale that will help those of us most affected to cope with its dreadful consequences.
At precisely this moment of maximum disadvantage, the Kingdom of Swaziland and others in the southern African region, have been hit hard by food shortages, affecting 21% of our people, largely through the failure of rains. We have been warned that the situation will deteriorate further in. this next season with the likely advent of the "El Nino" effect. Furthermore, the food security situation; has been exacerbated by other problems such as lack of clean drinking water in,. ':rural areas and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses and deaths Which leave families with. . severely diminished resources to cope with their basic needs.
We are making every effort from our scarce resources to help our people, and we have as one of our top priorities the construction of dams throughout the rural areas, where the crisis is the most serious. The Kingdom of Swaziland is grateful to the Secretary-General and the United Nations agencies for the efforts made towards addressing these problems through the launching of a United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal, in response to the humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa. We are grateful for the response to the Appeal, and we hope for increased support as the famine grips us even tighter.
We appreciate the direct involvement of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on the humanitarian crisis in our region Mr. James Morris, and we look forward to working with, him, and with all our international friends and partners who have been so generous with emergency food aid already, to help us over this latest crisis for the Swazi Nation.
The review of the Kingdom's constitution continues and the drafting stage is almost complete. The next phase will be the review of the draft document by the people, to ensure that their wishes have been met. This will be the final stage before the document is formally adopted.
We trust that the international community will respect the fact that this final document, the product of extensive consultation with the whole nation, will be the true expression of the wishes of the people themselves, and will serve the Kingdom of Swaziland well for many generations to come. We are grateful to all who have supported us in this nation-building exercise.
The Kingdom of Swaziland would like to extend a warm welcome to the United Nations' newest member, Switzerland.
We know of the long time commitment by the Swiss people to global peace, and
of the valuable contributions to humanitarian support in times of crisis for
others in the world. And so we now applaud the decision by them to make more
available their talents and resources for the benefit of the family of nations
through our one truly global organisation.
There now remains just one group of people that is denied the opportunity to participate in the activities of the United Nations and its associated agencies, and here I refer to the 23 million inhabitants of the Republic of China on Taiwan, a sovereign state and a constructive member of the international community.
These 23 million people have shown time' and `again that they are willing and able to contribute to the international community. At this critical time in the history of the world, which is faced with the challenges of instability, under-development and economic difficulties, we cannot afford to exclude from our joint efforts the resources and skills of the Republic of China on Taiwan. As a democratic, prosperous and peace-loving nation, Taiwan has displayed her readiness to assist the development challenges of her friends and partners, and has intervened in humanitarian crises across the globe.
The Kingdom of Swaziland believes that the United Nations has not addressed this issue of the representation and membership of the Republic of China on Taiwan in the organisation, thereby calling into question the principle of universality:: on :which the organisation is founded, and: excluding its 23 million. people from its benefits,`Further:.,we-. beIieve, that peace and .stability throughout Asia and the Pacific would benefit from the involvement in the United Nations of such a prominent, influential and peace-loving nation as Taiwan has shown itself to be.
Taiwan needs the United Nations, and the United Nations needs Taiwan. We therefore
appeal once more to our fellow members to recognise the right of the 23 million
people of the Republic of China on Taiwan to. representation in the United Nations
system, and to take the appropriate measures to achieve this objective.
We are living in dangerous times. Global tension and the possibility of wide scale conflict threaten all the hopes for a century of peace, stability' and sustainable development that were expressed at our Millennium Summit just two short years ago.
Our strength as an organisation depends on consultation and consensus amongst all member states in matters that affect the whole world. The Summits and Special Sessions that we all attend at great cost, are valuable only in so far as we carry through the resolutions we arrive at, and the commitments we make.
The Kingdom of Swaziland believes that the fundamental principles on which the United Nations was founded, still present the best and on ly chance for humankind to live and work in harmony with one another.
The Kingdom of Swaziland here re-affirms her full commitment to the founding charter of our organisation, and offers her fullest support to all its activities that have as their aim to make this world of ours safer, more equal, and more healthy for all its peoples. We look forward to working with the United Nations and her associated. agencies in the coming year, to help us to meet the development challenges of our people.
Thank you and may Almighty God bless us all.