The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation
and Communities of the Republic of Cape Verde
Fifty-Eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
New York, 29th September 2003
Ladies and gentlemen
Let me at the very
outset, offer my warm congratulations to Your Excellency, on your election
to preside over this 58th session of the General Assembly. Coming from
an island state, it gives me great satisfaction to see Your Excellency,
a distinguished son of the island of Saint Lucia, leading us in searching
ways and promoting actions to face the new and complex challenges ahead
With your our proven
skills in the field of international affairs and your wide-ranging experience
we are confident, Mr. President, that we will deal effectively with
the many crucial tasks facing this Assembly.
Let me assure you
of the full support and best wishes of my delegation, as you carry out
the task of your high office.
Let me also extend
our appreciation to outgoing President, H.E. Ian Kavan, whose committed
efforts have guided the 57th session of this Assembly to a successful
conclusion and led important deliberations aiming at revitalizing its
I wish to express
my delegation's appreciation for the indefatigable efforts undertaken
by the Secretary General to preserve and enhance the role of our organisation
during the preceding year that proved to be one of the most difficult
in its existence.
A sad sign of this was the bombing against the United Nations headquarters in Bagdad last month that took the life of Sergio Vieira de Mello as well as 21 other persons of different nationalities. It was a monstrous act that deserved strong and universal condemnation. Nothing could justify such a senseless attack against the civil personnel of an Mission whose aims were no other than helping the Iraqi people face the dramatic situation in which they are living. We thus pay our respectful homage to the memory of those dedicated persons that lost their lives in the tragedy.
are ahead of us and our organization needs to adapt so that it keeps
the purpose for which it was created and, most of all, lives up to the
expectations "we the peoples of the united nations" place
Concerns about security
have taken center stage in the world of today. We share these concerns,
as being a small island nation makes us extremely vulnerable. Small
and poor nations are often victims of criminal acts by terrorist organizations.
My country fully cooperates with the United Nations bodies in the combat
against terrorism and organized crime.
However the fight
against terror should not lead the international community to downplay
the importance of promoting development and fighting poverty and everything
associated to it: hunger, illness, illiteracy, environmental degradation.
Nor should the international community forget the need to guarantee
the respect of the rights of the peoples and individuals, combat discrimination
and all aspects that deprive human beings of their dignity.
aimed at development and empowerment of the peoples deprive terror from
breeding grounds and contribute to a more stable and just world.
This Assembly heard
very interesting proposals made by the Secretary General, concerning
the future of our organization. He stressed the need to act urgently
in the way of reforming the UN, adapting it to the realities of the
world in which we live, namely the addressing the question of enlargement
of the Security Council and increasing the number of its Permanent Members,
the strengthening of the General Assembly and the reinvigorating role
of the ECOSOC, as well as of the UN as a whole, including its relationship
with the Bretton Woods institutions.
By their size, economic
power, regional and international influence, there are obvious candidates
to be permanent members of the Security Council. Their weight in international
affairs can no longer be overlooked in the face of today's realities.
And their contribution to peace, security and development can bring
more legitimacy to the organ. The time is ripe to welcome those countries
in an enlarged and more representative Security Council, in which our
continent should have at least two permanent seats. Being a member of
the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, Cape Verde is also of
the view that Brazil should take a permanent seat in the Council.
The issues relating to the reform of the United Nations have been subject of a longstanding debate that points to an overwhelming consensus among the States that comprise the United Nations. Now it is time to act and take concrete steps towards the reforms that the world is calling for. My delegation supports the proposals made by the Secretary General and hopes that the momentum provided by acknowledgement of the challenges threats and dangers faced by the world will be seized by this Assembly and instill its members with the sense of urgency to come with appropriate, binding and pragmatic decisions relating to these issues.
Among these developing
countries the international community recognized SIDS as a special case
of development and environment. It will be during your mandate as President
of the General Assembly that, by happy coincidence, an international
meeting will be held in Mauritius to assess the state of implementation
of the Barbados Programme of Action.
Earlier this month,
Cape Verde hosted the second regional preparatory meeting in anticipation
of the Mauritius event. In this context, I would like to underline the
meaning of my country's commitment to the process of global support
to the sustainable development of SIDS, a process to which my Government
is fully dedicated.
The SIDS denomination
has now been in existence for nearly a decade. The work accomplished
by the United Nations toward a greater international awareness of the
problems of SIDS has been generally successful. I take this opportunity
to express my Government's gratitude to the entire United Nations system
for the central role it has played in cultivating and maintaining the
high degree of international awareness that is essential to our countries.
However, the recognition
of a special category of countries cannot be justified only for the
sake of awareness. One should expect that the special denomination leads
to a minimum amount of special treatment concerning the relevant countries,
commensurate with their specific disadvantages and handicaps. Regrettably
that is not the case with the SIDS: in fact, island specific special
treatment is almost non-existent even though many SIDS are in dire need
of greater differentiation in the current pattern of international cooperation.
Already in 1999,
at its 22°d special session, this Assembly heard the plea for a
special treatment of SIDS on grounds of economic vulnerability, a case
your own country, Mr. President, advocated with particular strength.
I therefore wish
to convey my Government's hope that the Barbados + 10 process, culminating
into the Mauritius international meeting, will constitute a landmark
in the history of the differentiated treatment of developing countries,
particularly of SIDS.
To appreciate the
importance of granting SIDS a special treatment that is commensurate
with their intrinsic problems, one must remember the situation of economic
vulnerability to natural disasters and adverse economic shocks most
SIDS suffer from, in addition to the context of their environmental
The need for special
consideration that is most commonly shared by SIDS is the need to see
market access preferences preserved, not eroded. Such need is no luxury,
but a prerequisite, in many SIDS, for maintaining competitiveness and
economic viability in response to the structural disadvantages resulting
from remoteness and smallness.
In short, Mr. President,
we believe that permanent handicaps such as those faced by SIDS ought
to justify permanent responses. While several SIDS do enjoy a fair amount
of special treatment, such as the treatment derived from Least Developed
Country status or the ACP and AGOA statuses, there are still areas of
international cooperation in which the absence of reference to islandness
is difficult to understand. One of these areas, of direct relevance
to the question of trade preferences, is the ongoing debate under the
Work Programme on Small Economies in the World Trade Organization, a
debate in which SIDS, regrettably, have not been able to advocate their
case under the SIDS denomination.
While I do not intend
to discuss a situation affecting SIDS outside the United Nations system,
I would like to illustrate the need for island-specific treatment by
pointing to a peculiar issue within the competence of the U.N., and
of utmost importance to my country, that is, whether or not Cape Verde
should be "graduated" from Least Developed Country status.
As you know, Mr.
President, for the second time Cape Verde is deemed to qualify for graduation
in the light of the criteria and graduation rules used by the Committee
for Development Policy and the Economic and Social Council. As stressed
by my delegation in the substantive session of ECOSOC in July, we anticipate
that a decision to graduate Cape Verde from LDC status at this juncture
would give the international community a gravely erroneous signal of
structural progress and prosperity, whereas Cape Verde still is one
of the most economically vulnerable and aiddependent countries in the
In fact, in the
light of the Economic Vulnerability Index used by the Committee and
ECOSOC our country is recognized to be one of the most disadvantaged
economies in the world. Therefore, it is difficult to understand that
a country regarded as highly vulnerable can simultaneously be seen eligible
to lose a status that provides it with the means to help it fight its
We are here faced
with a peculiar paradox: in the context of its support to SIDS the United
Nations system recognizes the permanent handicaps of a country, but,
at the same time, it envisages to withdraw the special treatment this
country has been eligible for, without leaving any alternative treatment
This, in the particular
case of Cape Verde, could lead our economy to regress and fall back
into the poverty trap.
In this context,
Mr. President, and in the light of the international recognition of
the special handicaps of SIDS my Government urges the General Assembly
to request the relevant bodies of the U.N. system to re-examine with
care the rule whereby a Least Developed Country will be seen as qualifying
for graduation. We believe that such re-examination ought to result
into a methodological reform that will do justice to the least developed
Africa has made
a remarkable effort to respond positively to the call of the international
community and its own peoples to foster development, promote democracy,
transparency, good governance, the rule of law and accountability.
In the wake of this
call the African leaders agreed to establish the New Partnership for
African Development - NEPAD, in whose success we are all engaged in
order to lead our continent out of poverty and conflicts, ushering in
a new era of prosperity and peace.
NEPAD is the great
hope for the peoples of Africa. Its adoption not only by the African
governments and civil societies but also by the international community,
particularly the G-8 and other world economic powers as a framework
for African development will help establish common goals and clear commitments
that will lead our continent in a promising new journey.
We believe that
the NEPAD project should pay special attention to the situation of the
has been achieved, both on the way of installing democratic governments
throughout the continent and to put an end to conflicts.
In this particular
we are heartened by the recent accord between the Sudanese government
and the SPLA. This constitutes a very significant step toward putting
an end to the suffering of the Sudanese people. If as we all anxiously
hope, this agreement brings peace to this great African nation it will
add to the successes already registered in Mozambique, Angola, and Sierra
Leone along with the ongoing processes in the DRC, Great Lakes and Liberia.
We must be prudent,
though. Conflicts result from unsettled social and political issues.
If these are not adequately tackled, the risk of new conflicts will
It is important
to remind that democracy and the rule of law can only develop unhindered
when and if the minimum survival conditions are assured for the populations,
there is respect of the rights of individuals and groups, including
The events in Guinea
Bissau two weeks ago illustrate the fragility of the institutions in
a country that cannot address the basic problems of the populations.
If it is true that political leaders must be held accountable for not
assuring good governance, in an environment of poverty, lack of resources
and indebtedness, good governance is easily put aside.
These events point
to the need of a stronger commitment of the international community
to help countries in distress face the tasks of fighting poverty, consolidating
democratic institutions and promoting economic and social development
- not only with promises and advices but also with concrete means.
the serious menaces that hover over mankind, a safer, more just and
more peaceful world is at the reach of our living generations.
Never before had
mankind such an array of means to face the great challenges that continue
to defy the human kind as hunger, poverty, illiteracy and curable diseases.
Hunger is a case
in point. Several experiences in different regions of the world prove
that hunger can be eliminated if there is determination and resources
are made available. It is therefore unacceptable that, in a world awash
of food, one in three sub-Saharan Africans continues to suffer from
Last July, at the
Second Session of the General Assembly of the African Union, held in
Maputo, Mozambique, Heads of States and Governments of the African Union
adopted a Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.
In this Declaration
African leaders, once again, showed their firm commitment to combat
hunger on the African continent.
Our country keeps
painful memories of the devastation that hunger brought to a large percentage
of Cape Verdeans until a few decades ago. That is why fighting hunger,
which was set as one of the main priorities by the first government
of Cape Verde immediately after the independence, continues to have
a prominent place in government policies in the framework of the poverty
That's why we support
the plea made by H. E. the President of Brazil to set up a World Committee
to Fight Hunger.
Three years ago
world leaders made available to themselves the important political tool
that is the Millennium Declaration.
There is no excuse
that the promised resources and the proclaimed will are not put to work
to achieve - and even surpass - the arduously negotiated but unanimously
agreed goals adopted in this very Hall.
Despite the difficulties
and uncertainties lingering over the organisation, the eyes of the world
are set on the United Nations because all believe that our organization
can and should be the carrier to achieve those goals.
Let's work together to make it happen!
Thank you Mr. President.