24 September, 2003
Let me first extend to you, on behalf of my delegation and in my own name, our sincere congratulations on your election as President of this session. Indeed, it is a matter of pride for all Small Island States, Mauritius in particular, to see you preside over this august assembly. My delegation wishes to assure you of its full support and cooperation during your tenure of office.
Let me also express my Government’s deepest appreciation to your predecessor, H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic for the remarkable manner in which he conducted the work of the 57th Session of the General Assembly and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E Mr Kofi Annan for his dedicated leadership of our organization. I wish to assure him of our full support in his appeal for radical reforms in our organization and the setting up of a High-Level Panel to address the issues of peace and security, and institutional reform.
GLOBAL PEACE & SECURITY
Since we were here last autumn many events of global importance have occurred. The war against Iraq was waged and hostilities were declared at an end but peace and stability in Iraq are yet to be restored.
Terrorism has continued relentlessly on its path of ghastly attacks and indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians. The geographical shift, however, in the terrorist attacks is becoming increasingly a disturbing development.
Multilateralism which was almost condemned to a premature burial is being re-energised. Unfortunately the recurring problems of HIV/AIDS, malaria, poverty, lack of development, conflicts and the ready supply of small arms and light weapons have continued to inflict death and suffering on an unprecedented scale, particularly in Africa.
The attack against the UN compound in Baghdad contains countless messages. The most significant of them is that our Organization is in urgent need of major overhaul and reform, as rightly stated by the Secretary-General.
The premature deaths of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Iraq, late Sergio Vieira de Mello, and other dedicated staff members of the United Nations which we deeply mourn should make us reflect on the dangers behind foreign policy initiatives which undermine or ignore the United Nations.
The international community is deeply attached to the legitimacy the United Nations confers on its actions. It is our collective duty to refrain from taking any measures likely to weaken it.
TERRORISM and TRANSNATIONAL ORGANISED CRIME
These horrendous terrorist acts have demonstrated anew the crucial need for the international community to tackle the root causes of terrorism.
As all small islands, we in Mauritius, remain highly vulnerable in respect of our security and terrorist threats. With limited means at our disposal coupled with the multiple demands on our scanty resources we find that it is only through international efforts and cooperation that we can win the war against terrorism.
We are particularly anxious that there be concerted and sustained action and a commitment to cooperation at international level with a view to eradicating the scourge of terrorism. All countries must cooperate to stem the flow of cross-border infiltration. The Financing of Terrorism and the proceeds of transnational organised crime need to be closely monitored.
Not winning the war against terrorism as well as that against transnational organized crime is not an option for the world today.
views with concern that, despite the stated commitment of the
international community to the cause of disarmament, the actions
of many countries do not match their rhetoric.
We reiterate our appeal to the nuclear powers for the early convening of a conference on nuclear disarmament as a first step towards complete disarmament keeping in mind that such a regime must be comprehensive and non-discriminatory.
Over the last year the international community’s ability to tackle political conflicts and find lasting solutions has been dismal.
The situation in the Middle East continues to preoccupy us. Despite the various initiatives including the latest Road Map, violence remains unabated and we fear that recent developments in the region will unleash further killings and destruction.
No solution will be possible there unless all the protagonists are taken on board. Exclusion as a policy is destined to fail. We continue to believe that President Arafat is an essential part of the solution and any attempt to sideline him will be detrimental to any peace initiative.
We call on both Israel and the Palestinian Authorities to exercise utmost restraint and to pursue their efforts for the implementation of the Road Map with a view to putting an end to the occupation and succeeding generations of Palestinians in refugee camps.
The establishment of a Palestinian State at the earliest should be the priority of the international community.
The situation in Iraq, Mr. President, is disquieting. It is important that the Iraqis regain as soon as possible total sovereignty and assume control over their own destiny through a democratic process.
The United Nations has, in the view of my delegation, a leading role to play in this process and must be empowered to do so.
CONFLICTS IN AFRICA
The African Continent has been plagued for too long by conflicts and wars that have resulted in the loss of thousands of innocent lives and the squandering of enormous wealth and resources.
Small arms and light weapons have in fact become the weapons of mass destruction on the African Continent. These weapons drain African resources and we appeal to those countries which manufacture and market these weapons of destruction to ensure that Africa does not continue to be their killing fields.
Nonetheless, during the past two years, the African Continent has demonstrated an unprecedented momentum in its efforts to seriously address these conflicts and to search for lasting solutions. There is, however, some good news out of Africa and everything is not gloomy.
The transformation of the Organization of African Unity into the African Union, the coming into operation of the various commissions of the Union and the election of Commissioners on a gender-equality basis at the Maputo Summit in July last are clear indications that Africa has chosen a new path and is confident that it will be able to meet the challenges ahead.
It is a matter of great satisfaction that peace is now slowly returning to the troubled areas on the continent. The conflicts in Sierra Leone and Angola have ended. A government of national unity is in office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Efforts under the auspices of IGAD for a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict in Somalia have been crowned with success. We do recognize that years of conflict will not be easily forgotten but what is reassuring is that African leaders are having a hands-on approach to these situations.
The recent developments in Liberia and the restoration of the constitutional order in Sao Tome and Principe confirm the ability of the African leaders to effectively address issues affecting their continent.
There is fresh confidence in African leaders’ ability to deal with flashpoints. The implementation of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union will go a long way towards preventive action being taken. We recognize that we will have to bear primary responsibility for peace and security of our continent.
NEPAD is our
basic instrument of empowerment. Having decided to take our destiny
in our own hands we are not going to engage in the blame game
but we will take action to reverse poverty and to promote good
governance. We will do whatever is necessary to attract investment.
The establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism within
NEPAD will ensure that economic development takes place in the
spirit of good governance, democracy, transparency and accountability.
We noted with regret that the rate of official development assistance to developing countries is decreasing contrary to the commitment made in Monterrey.
We therefore call on the developed countries and other key specialized institutions in the monetary, financial and development fields to deliver on their implementation plans for the Monterrey Consensus during the October High-Level Dialogue.
Monday’s High-Level Segment on HIV/AIDS in which more than hundred delegations took part demonstrates the extent of the concern of the UN membership to the pandemic of HIV/AIDS. We welcome the initiative of the General Assembly to maintain global awareness to the problem and to ensure that effective action is taken urgently to stop the spread of the pandemic.
REFORM OF THE UN
I mentioned earlier the need for reform of our Organization. It is imperative that the necessary reforms of the United Nations be undertaken to reflect in a more realistic manner the political realities in the world today.
The UN Charter
must be amended to provide for a Security Council which is more
democratic and more representative of today’s world. Should Permanent
Membership of the Security Council with veto power be retained,
we consider that India should be admitted as one at the earliest.
Likewise we believe that the African continent should be adequately
represented at the same level.
May I welcome the decision of the Security Council to lift the sanctions on the Libyan Arab Jamahariya.
SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES/ENVIRONMENT
of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will be the focus of
attention in September 2004, when Mauritius hosts the International
Meeting on the comprehensive review of the Barbados Programme
of Action. This Barbados +10 Meeting will allow us to make a full
assessment of the Programme of Action and to evaluate its success
I call on this assembly to lend the necessary support to make of this International Meeting a success.
In this regard, let me express my appreciation to the Commonwealth and La Francophonie for their active interest in supporting the cause of small island states.
As the current Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States, may I inform the Assembly that the 44 AOSIS Member States and Observers consider the International Meeting to be a very important occasion for reaffirming the partnership for sustainable development that grew of the Rio Conference. In Mauritius next year we expect to establish an appropriate framework for partnership and cooperation. The time has come to enshrine the special case of SIDS as an important component of focus and attention on the part of the international community.
We appeal to the international community to support this process and ensure the full and effective participation of all SIDS at the meeting but will also ensure its own participation in it.
INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES
Access to ICTs remains a fundamental concern in Africa. Whilst often promoted as an instrument that will allow countries to leapfrog development, there is a real fear that the digital divide could very well be yet another handicap that will add to Africa’s marginalisation.
We therefore urge that particular attention be paid to the issues of Access and Infrastructure. My delegation wishes to underscore that Mauritius, like many other small island States, has pinned high hopes that the WSIS Action Plan will provide concrete action in favour of SIDS whose geographical isolation, remoteness and other inherent constraints warrant special attention.
The failure of the WTO Ministerial Conference at Cancun has dealt a blow to the Multilateral Trading System. This is most unfortunate as there are no winners but only losers. For small developing countries in particular, a strong rule-based global trading system is a protection against the unilateralism of powerful trading countries or blocs. The serious imbalances in the WTO system coupled with the lack of effective and operational rules and disciplines to address their development concerns resulted the failure of Cancun. We should pick up the pieces from Cancun and try to construct a trading system that guarantees equity and fairness for developing countries. Only such an approach will provide the legitimacy that the WTO system so badly needs to deliver on the Doha Development Round.
In order to
successfully respond to the multifaceted challenges we are facing
in the world today we are convinced that the international community
should rededicate itself to the values of solidarity, tolerance,
mutual respect and cooperation.
In my capacity as Prime Minister this is the last time that I address the General Assembly. In 6 days’ time, I will relinquish my current post and accede to the Presidency, and my Deputy Prime-Minister will be sworn in as Prime Minister.
I am confident that he will be accorded the same collaboration and friendship that I have enjoyed during my tenure of office.
Before I conclude my statement however, Mr President, I renew my appeal to the UK to take all measures to complete the process of decolonisation of Mauritius. For years, Mr. President, Mauritius has consistently re-affirmed its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago including Diego Garcia here and in all international fora.
As I leave to-day, I have a sincere regret that this issue has not been resolved. I therefore reiterate our appeal to the United Kingdom, as a country known for its fair play and for championing human rights, and to our friends in the US to engage in a serious dialogue with Mauritius over the issue of the Chagos Archipelago so that an early solution to this issue may be found.
of the Chagossians under false pretences resulted in gross violations
of Human Rights. Hopefully this aspect of the matter will be resolved
through the British Courts shortly.