THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honored to participate, on behalf of His Excellency Moses Zeh Blah, President of the Republic of Liberia, in the debate of the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and, congratulate His Excellency, Mr. Julian Robert Hunte of St. Lucia, on his election to the presidency of the 58th session of the General Assembly; expressing the confidence of the Government of Liberia that you will faithfully honor the responsibilities to which you have been assigned.
I also wish to commend His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic for the able manner in which he steered the activities of the 57th session of the General Assembly.
Undoubtedly, His Excellency Dr. Kofi Annan deserves the commendation of this Assembly for his stewardship of our global organization and the excellent leadership which he exudes in the resolution of international questions, ranging from terrorism to the deadly AIDS pandemic and, from poverty to the imbalance in global trade and commerce.
TERRORISM AND GLOBAL PEACE
Terrorism, the menace to international peace and security has brought immeasurable grief to the world. Acts of terrorism have persuaded neither the understanding nor the empathy of the world for causes to which terrorists may aspire. Contrarily, acts of terrorism have rightly ignited widespread disdain and revulsion for their perpetrators. Today, terrorism seeks to undermine our collective freedom and must therefore require our collective will and efforts to combat this common enemy.
However, this objective is being undermined by the lack
of international consensus. The unwillingness to garner and work along
lines of international consensus have exposed cracks in our efforts to
fight terrorism, bringing into scrutiny, the structure of this world body
and the continued relevance of the Security Council. When the Security
Council appears divided on fundamental questions of international security,
the world becomes vulnerable. A divided Security Council fertilizes the
grounds for the germination of international terror and insecurity. If
the Security Council is to serve as the guarantor of international peace
and security, then that organ must, of necessity, be guided by mechanisms
that insure the judicious development of consensus and,
Additionally, our united condemnation of and fight against terrorism must never denigrate to the employment of methods not far removed from those used by terrorists themselves. To fight fire with fire will leave our global village without a single hut. We must muster the will to tackle the issues that are exploited by terrorists and terrorist organizations.
THE CONFLICT IN THE MIDDLE EAST
The conflict in the Middle East has inescapably attracted the attention of the world posing the greatest challenge to international peace and security. We are saddened by and deeply concerned about the recent turn of events which has occasioned the virtual debunking of the Road Map for Peace and ensured a classic return to violence. Admittedly, there are serious difficulties presented in the search for peace for our brothers and sisters of that troubled region. However, these difficulties should neither beset us with a sense of hopelessness nor obscure the agonies and the fears that have come to characterize the way of life in the Middle East.
We therefore call on the Governments of Israel and the Palestinian State to recognize the right to existence of each other within recognized international borders, foster pragmatic approaches to dialogue, peace, security and the virtues of good neighborliness. At the same time, we urge the United Nations Security Council to develop, strengthen and maintain international consensus on the way forward.
THE LIBERIAN CRISIS
Since our last address to this august Assembly, Liberia has been and continues to wrestle with serious political and security challenges. An insurgency, which began four years ago, reached the Liberian capital, Monrovia. Unsurprisingly, an already deteriorating humanitarian situation worsened accompanied by the widespread breakdown of law and order. Regrettably, while recognizing the intensification of the war in Liberia and the right of the Liberian people to self-defense, the Security Council maintained an arms embargo on the Government. This situation catalyzed the rapid advance of the insurgents and bestowed their cause with a false sense of international approbation. The Liberian State teetered on the verge of disintegration.
But, for the resilience of the people of Liberia and the timely intervention of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL), Liberia would have slipped into the abyss of unbridled anarchy. We will therefore remain eternally grateful to ECOWAS, particularly, the Governments and peoples of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Ghana for their leadership in the quest to stabilize the situation in my country. In similar manner, the Government of Liberia expresses immense gratitude to the Government of the United States of America, the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union for their respective roles and continued support to the ongoing efforts to restore lasting peace, security and democracy to Liberia. We must also pay special tribute to the support of the Governments of South Africa and Mozambique.
On August 11, 2003, with the deployment of a vanguard force from the friendly Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the promise of a smooth transfer of power was remarkably fulfilled. This development energized the signing, on August 18, of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in Accra, the Republic of Ghana. The Agreement establishes a framework for the formation and installation of a transitional government, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants and the restructuring of the national security apparatus. It also provides for the repatriation and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons, the rebuilding of the nation's productive capacity and the creation of democratic space for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2005. These goals can not be achieved without concerted multinational collaboration and assistance.
The Government of Liberia welcomes the passage of Security Council Resolution 1509 which establishes the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). We pledge our cooperation and support to the realization of the objectives set-out in the Resolution. Comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and a sustained program of reintegration and resettlement are sine qua non to peace, security and stability in Liberia and the West African Sub-region. The Government of Liberia is therefore beholden to the international community, with Gratefulness, for the continuous assistance and support toward the search for peace and security in Liberia and the West African Sub-region. However, unless democratic expressions and aspirations are allowed to flourish through strengthened democratic institutions, and an alternative source of livelihood is provided the disarmed combatants, the gains obtained through the support of the international community could be grievously undermined.
In this respect, Resolution 1509 which engenders a new hope for Liberia appears to be contradicted by the demands of Resolution 1343. This resolution imposes and maintains a regime of sanctions and other restrictions on Liberia. Unarguably, economic sanctions imposed under Resolution 1343 becloud Liberia with an undeserved stigma which, in effect, discourages the flow of much-needed international investment into the private sector to support Liberia's post-conflict reconstruction and development programs and, restricts the essential flow of energy needed to revive Liberia's economic infrastructure. A vibrant private sector is the key to Liberia's recovery and the cure to problems of unemployment, which provides stimulus to social unrest and political instability. If sanctions, smart or targeted are tools to accomplish political objectives, then they must respond affirmatively to the realization of the objectives. One does not administer medication to a dead person nor does one take medication to cure the illness of another. The Government of Liberia therefore calls on the Security Council to lift its regime of economic sanctions imposed on the country.
In situations such as ours, international goodwill and
assistance are often accompanied by the temptation to ignore indigenous
expertise largely in favor of expatriates. The net effect of adherence
to such temptation is the development of structures and institutions that
are neither manageable nor sustainable by the beneficiaries after the
departure of the expatriates. Even so, Liberia is blessed with its share
of endowments in human and natural resources. As can be expected, years
of political turmoil, conflicts and mismanagement have resulted into the
massive exodus of Liberia's human
Liberia, is a founding member of this world body. Irrespective of the current problems we face and our need for international assistance, Liberia will remain a respectable member of the international community. We intend to uphold our sovereign dignity in the conduct of international affairs. Liberia can not, and will not, be a subject of trusteeship.
Like most third world nations, Liberia is deeply indebted
to several international financial institutions and organizations. We
are grateful to our creditors for their patience and understanding. Determined
as we are to survive, we count on the empathy of the international community
to entreat our indebtedness with the uniqueness that it deserves and pledge
our commitment to work along with those institutions in developing appropriate
mechanisms to deal with Liberia's debt. Servicing these debts remains
a priority for the Government of Liberia. However, our capacity to make
payment is limited due to manifold problems occasioned by several years
of continuous warfare.
The United Nations General Assembly must confront the moral and legal challenges presented in the exclusion of more than 23 million people from representation in this world body. How else are we to explain the denial of the rights of a progressive and industrious people from representation at the level of the United Nations General Assembly? The fact remains, that the Government and people of the Republic of China on Taiwan have, and continue to engage in responsible self-governance. It is incontestable that the people of the Republic of China on Taiwan continue to significantly contribute to the improvement of the human family. Their achievements in the spheres of science and technology; commerce and trade; and, the arts and culture cannot be ignored.
The undaunted spirit of the great people of the Republic of China aspires to participate in the United Nations. Liberia is convinced that the participation of both sides of the Taiwan Strait in the activities of international organizations will encourage greater understanding and mutual trust between the two sides. This is consistent with the spirit of preventive diplomacy advocated by the United Nations. Liberia therefore reiterates its call for the admission of the Republic of China on Taiwan to the United Nations and its specialized agencies as well as the assumption of its rightful place in the discourse and transaction of world affairs.
In conclusion, Mr. President, today, Liberia stands in urgent need of international assistance and support. While our situation appears to be grim, it is certainly not hopeless. While many of our compatriots may have lost lives and limbs, we are still a forgiving people. While our national infrastructure may have been destroyed, we are still a resilient people. While our dignity may have been impinged upon, we are still a proud people. We, Liberians, are unified in our determination to work for a better and brighter future. We are united in fostering the faith of our founding fathers to build a nation dedicated to freedom, liberty and justice for all.
GOD BLESS YOU, I THANK YOU.