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Mr. President,

Allow me first to express, once again to the Secretary-General and to all United Nations personnel, the condolences of my Government and the People of Botswana following the terrorist attack on the U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad on August 19TH .

We are outraged that an attack of this magnitude was carried out against international civil servants whose sole mission in that country is to help the Iraqis rebuild their country.

The death of your Special Representative Sergio de Mello and a number of his staff is indeed a loss to the United Nations family which we shall all feel for a long time to come.

Mr. President,

May I now pay my respects to you and congratulate you on your election as President of the 58th Session of the General Assembly. I pledge to you the full support of my delegation.

Let me also pay tribute to our illustrious Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, for, his dynamic leadership of the Organization and in particular for his unshakeable commitment to the reform of the United Nations. I assure him of the unwavering support of Botswana in the discharge of his onerous responsibilities.

Mr. President,

The 58th Session begins at a time when we are faced with formidable challenges to the cohesion of the international community and to the role of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security.

We have just witnessed the war in Iraq which caused deep divisions and recriminations among the Member States of the United Nations. It is important that the Member States set aside their differences and promote the United Nations as a force that can rally nations, both big and small, around common causes. For the United Nations to succeed in its mission, it is important that all Member States respect the Charter of the United Nations.

Mr. President,

Although now fewer in number conflicts continue to bedevil the African Continent. Fighting is still going on in many parts of Liberia, though there is a semblance of peace in the capital, Monrovia. It is a welcome development that the Security Council has decided to send a peacekeeping mission to that war torn country.

The peace process in Cote d'Ivoire though holding, is still fragile. Only recently, a military coup took place in Guinea Bissau. Botswana strongly condemns the coup which further tarnishes the image of Africa.

We welcome the news that through the mediation of ECOWAS, and the African Union, the military in Guinea Bissau has agreed to hand over power to a civilian interim administration until elections are held in two years time.

Mr. President,

These conflicts continue to drain Africa's energies, and undermine the continent's capacity to focus on the equally challenging tasks of development and poverty eradication. The vicious cycle of war, poverty, hunger and disease has left African people in despair. They wonder whether in this new Millennium, the dawn of peace and tranquility which they so much aspire for will ever come. The inability of the international community thus far to act resolutely to address these conflicts will no doubt make it more difficult for the continent to implement its major programmes such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Mr. President,

The conflict in the Middle East continues to be a matter of grave concern.

All initiatives towards a peaceful settlement including the "Road Map" promoted by the Quartet have so far failed. The decision by Israel and others to insist on determining who in the leadership of the Palestinians they will do business with, is an unacceptable pre-condition for genuine negotiations. Worse still, the threat to expel the democratically elected leader of the Palestinians, Mr. Yasser Arafat, is a recipe for further strife that could result in more loss of life on both sides. This development should be condemned by all who want to see peace in that land.

Mr. President,

In Iraq, despite formal pronouncements that hostilities had ended, the country is still not at peace. Instead, we see an escalation of violence with many people, including coalition troops being killed every day. The situation clearly calls for an intervention by the Security Council to ensure that the Iraqi people are given the mandate to govern themselves, and that the United Nations is given a bigger role to play in the reconstruction of the country.

Mr. President,

Botswana firmly believes that the various challenges that the international community faces today can best be tackled under a multilateral framework. The United Nations remains the foremost body for promoting the Agenda for Peace. Small states such as my own, place great hope in multilateral partnership and cooperation, for on their own, or in their small regional groupings, the challenges they face are formidable.

We, therefore, call upon all Member States to rededicate themselves to the noble ideals of this Organization.

As we direct our energies towards peace and security, we must also remain focused on the twin-challenge of development and poverty eradication. It is a global challenge requiring global solutions, and the active participation of all nations. Our performance in efforts to eradicate poverty cannot, by any measure, ' be considered successful. Poverty still remains a blemish on humanity's attempts at social-economic upliftment. The policies, strategies and programmes to redress the situation have not had the desired effect. It is estimated that about 1.2 billion people around the world still live in poverty. A large proportion of these live in Africa.

Mr. President,

It is unacceptable, that in this day and age, where billions of dollars are spent on armaments, space technology and other advances in human endeavours, such a large number of people are still poor and marginalized. We should bear in mind that there is a clearly established link between poverty, on the one hand and political instability and in security on the other, that the world is witnessing today.

Poverty breeds resentment, anger and despair.

People condemned to the margins of society feel that they have nothing to gain-by participating in the democratic process of governance. Instead they believe that they have nothing to lose by using violent means in expressing their grievances, for in their perception the international community is indifferent to their suffering.

Mr. President,

Three years after the Millennium Declaration adopted by our Heads of State, the General Assembly should take full stock of the progress achieved towards the fulfillment of the commitments contained in this Declaration.

In this regard, Botswana welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration.

It is the intention of my delegation to participate actively in the debate on this matter.

We need to measure in concrete terms whether there has been an increase in the flow of Official Development Assistance; we need to measure whether we have been able to mobilize enough domestic and international resources, including Foreign Direct Investment and private capital flows for development;

we need to measure whether we have resolved the external debt crisis; we need to measure how far we have gone to establish fair and equitable international monetary and trading systems; and above all, we need to measure how much we have achieved in the global fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.                                                                                                                          

In this context, it is regrettable that the recent talks in Cancun on trade, a key factor in poverty reduction and development, collapsed.

Earlier, Mr. President, I referred to the need by the international community to address the problem of poverty with all resources at its disposal, for the failure to do so will only increase the level of frustration, anger and the feelings of powerlessness among the poor, which in turn provides fertile ground for radicalism and extremism.

Mr. President,

Botswana strongly condemns international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Terrorism, like poverty, is now the biggest threat to civilized norms of international discourse.

The recent senseless and deliberate attack on the UN office in Baghdad, is a stark reminder that even the UN servants of peace and humanity are not immune from acts of terror.

We must support the appeal by the Secretary-General for the adoption of urgent measures to provide protection and security to United Nations staff wherever they serve.

We believe that United Nations must be empowered to play a pivotal role to mobilize international consensus around measures to curb the scourge of terrorism. In this respect, Botswana remains ready to cooperate in any way possible with relevant U.N. agencies.

Mr. President,

My delegation was most pleased that a High Level meeting of the General Assembly was convened on September 22nd to focus on sharing best practices and lessons learned in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

As one of the countries most affected by this scourge, my Government accords the highest priority to tackling HIV/AIDS.

My delegation fully supports the conclusions reached by the High Level Interactive Panel on the critical issues that must now be addressed, namely:

political leadership;

stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS;

the importance of broad-based partnerships; and

resource mobilization on a very large scale.

We call upon our development partners, both government and the private sector, to dig deeper into their pockets, to support the efforts of those developing countries struggling so hard to meet their obligations to control the scourge.

Mr. President,

Turning to the Secretary-General's reform proposals, while progress has been made in respect of the rationalization of the functions of the Secretariat, especially in the economic and social fields, formidable hurdles still remain in respect of the reform of the Security Council.

The Working Group on Security Council reforms, has in our view, done all that is humanly possible to solicit a wide range of views and to try and bridge the differences that have emerged, but regrettably, little progress has been made.

It is quite clear to us that this matter which is of vital importance to the whole Organization, will only move forward if there is political will on the part of some key Member States. his issue cannot continue to defy our collective wisdom, after ten years of deliberation. A compromise solution must emerge soon or history will judge us harshly.

Mr. President,

We welcome what now seems to be an emerging consensus towards the revitalization of the General Assembly. The speeches delivered in the Assembly, have been correctly observed by the Secretary General in his report as "repetitive and sterile". The agenda tends to be too long and often results in a duplication of issues. We share the proposal to keep the agenda short and focused, with a number of issues clustered. Long speeches should be replaced by more focused debates and interactive dialogues. We strongly believe that these modest reforms would make the deliberations of the General assembly more interesting to our stakeholders.      They would also enable issues of vital importance to be fully debated and thus make it easier to - implement the decisions reached.

In' conclusion, Mr. President, I wish to reiterate Botswana's commitment to the United Nations and its agenda. To us the United Nations is the embodiment of our collective will to accomplish the Millennium Development Goals.

I thank you.