President of the Republic of Mozambique
of the African Union
at the Fifty-Eighth Session of the General Assembly
of the United Nations
New York, 24 September, 2003

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Allow me, at the outset, to join previous speakers in congratulating you on your election as President of the 58th Session of the General Assembly. You represent a region whose peoples share a common history with the African peoples. A region that we regard as a natural ally to Africa. You can, therefore, rest assured of our continued support and cooperation as you lead us over the next twelve months.

We commend your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan for the manner in which he guided the proceedings of the Assembly during the last session.

I would equally wish to commend the Secretary-General for his relentless efforts in turning the United Nations into an effective instrument for international cooperation in the search and preservation of peace and security, and in dealing with an ever-increasing array of challenges worldwide. I wish to encourage you, Mr. Secretary-General, to continue in this positive path.

Recently, the United Nations family has lost some of its best servants. We mourn the tragic death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, a dedicated servant of our organization. We reiterate our deepest condolences to the United Nations, the Government of Brazil and to Sergio's family.

We mourn also the passing away of Anna Lindh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, an outstanding diplomat and a defender of the United Nations. Her departure is a major loss for humanity, as she fought for a world order in which every nation could live in peace, harmony and prosperity. We wish to reiterate our heartfelt condolences to the people and Government of Sweden as well as to the bereaved family.

Mr. President,

I have come to this Session as a messenger of the peoples of Mozambique and Africa as a whole. A messenger of peoples that are engaged in consolidating political, economic and social reforms.

The peoples of Africa believe, today more than ever before, in the strength of their will, cohesion and unity. They believe in realizing the potential of their human and natural resources and capacities. They believe in learning from past experiences, good and bad, to restore peace and stability and generate wealth and prosperity throughout the Continent.

The peoples of Africa emulate experiences of countries like my own, Mozambique, where after years of armed conflict, a new era of peace and gradual but steady development is taking place.

Indeed, in Mozambique, peace has become an irreversible reality, cherished by all Mozambicans and all Africans. On 4 October 2003, we will celebrate the 11th anniversary of peace and reconciliation in the country.

During these eleven years, we are achieving continuous progress in consolidating peace and democracy. We are now engaged in the preparation for the second municipal elections, to be held in November 19, 2003. These elections will represent an important momentum in the consolidation of our local government experience.

In 2004, Mozambique will have the third general and multi­party elections, to elect the President and Members of Parliament. This will be, indeed, another milestone in the participation of the citizens in the reshaping of our future.

The prevailing peace and socio-economic stability have created an enabling environment for domestic and foreign investment, which is pivotal for employment generation and for poverty reduction.

The Mozambican economy has grown at an encouraging GDP rate of 7.7%, last year, resulting in increased allocation of the national budget to social sectors.

This is all the more important specially given the fact that Mozambique, like many other countries in Southern Africa, is still facing a humanitarian crisis resulting from continued unfavourable weather patterns which have stricken the whole region, over the years. We urge the international community to respond favourably to the recently launched appeal for humanitarian assistance to Southern Africa.

As part of efforts to fight poverty, the Government is implementing its Plan of Action for the Eradication of Absolute Poverty (PARPA), the Mozambican Poverty Reduction Strategy. The target of PARPA is to maintain an average growth of 8%, and reduce absolute poverty to below 50% by the end of this decade.

With the objective of creating a national vision for development in the next 25 years, the Government of Mozambique launched the "Agenda 2025", a national initiative based on a constructive dialogue with all political parties and other stakeholders on the future of the country.

Mr. President,

I am a messenger of the peoples of Africa, a continent striving to achieve peace and stability, and socio-economic development.

In July, Mozambique was honoured to host the Second Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. During this Assembly, we took important decisions laying down the foundations of the African Union and that will contribute to an effective implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

NEPAD, adopted at the Lusaka Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), in July 2001, as an African led, owned and managed initiative, is a serious commitment to addressing the challenges before the continent in order to meet the aspirations of its people. In Maputo, we adopted a Declaration that stresses implementation as the key for the success of NEPAD.

The commitment and political will of African countries to take effective and concrete measures for the implementation of NEPAD, as expressed in the Maputo Declaration, reflects the recognition that the primary responsibility for the implementation of this initiative rests with the African Governments and peoples.

Within the framework of NEPAD, we have prepared detailed and costed country and region-specific agriculture projects for implementation under the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). We also discussed the implementation of infrastructure high priority projects in energy, transport, water and sanitation, and information and technology (ICT) identified under the revised NEPAD Infrastructure Short-Term Action Plan (STAP), as well as progress in developing Medium to Long-Term Infrastructure Action Plan. We considered, in addition, steps to be taken to speed up the implementation of programmes in the areas of health and education.

Over the past two years, we have placed emphasis on creating the institutional framework for overseeing the implementation of NEPAD at regional level, integrating NEPAD priorities into our national development programmes and creating institutions to manage it, as means of bringing coherence in NEPAD matters within African Governments.

We must highlight that NEPAD incorporates an African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) whose objective is to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices leading to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated regional and continental integration.

We are happy to report that progress has been made with respect to the APRM, in particular the accession of a number of Member States of the African Union to the APRM as well as the appointment of the Panel of Eminent Persons. The Maputo Summit of the African Union has encouraged other Member States of the African Union to accede to the APRM.

Mr. President,

International support for the implementation of NEPAD is essential. NEPAD should be the framework within which the international community, including the United Nations system, should concentrate its efforts for Africa's development. In this connection, Africa's development partners are urged to continue to assist with a view to translating pledges of support to NEPAD into reality.

Yesterday, President Chirac, in his capacity as Chairperson of the G-8, convened an important meeting, which enabled us to further discuss how to operationalize NEPAD. We commend him for the initiative, which provided us with an opportunity to review commitments undertaken in previous meetings.

This is, Mr. President, the main agenda of the African Union, which seeks to build strong foundations for democracy, good governance, peace and stability, sustainable development, and to create better living conditions for all peoples of Africa.

We recognize that it is a colossal challenge for the present and future generations of African leaders, as it was when we created the Organization of African Unity forty years ago and we committed ourselves to the liberation of Africa as our main goal.

Mr. President,

In Maputo, we have also dealt with the issues of peace and security, for they continue to be the major challenge in Africa. We recognize that conflicts in the continent continue to undermine our efforts towards sustainable development.

It is for this reason that we have reiterated the importance of the entry into force of the Peace and Security Council, an important organ of the African Union that will deal with issues related to conflict prevention, management and resolution.

Step by step, with the continued support of the international community, Africa is steadily discharging its responsibilities for the maintenance of peace and stability in the Continent.

In Sao Tome e Principe, in keeping with the OAU Algiers Summit decision of 1999 on unconstitutional change of government, the coordinated action of the African Union, the Community of the Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC), Nigeria, South Africa and other key players, has enabled President Fradique de Menezes to return to power, foiling an attempted unconstitutional change of government.

The recent positive developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including the formation of the Transitional Government and Parliament, the appointment of the Army command structures as well as the deployment of MONUC forces in Bunia, have brought a new momentum to the peace process in that country. We must not allow this process to derail. All of us, including neighboring countries, have an obligation to support the Congolese people and its Government in their long struggle for peace and stability.

In Liberia, following the departure of President Taylor, we witnessed on 18 August 2003, the signing in Accra, Ghana, of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Liberia, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (Model) and the Liberian Political Parties.

The Agreement covers a wide range of issues, including the cessation of hostilities and more importantly, it provides for the establishment of a Transitional Government, which will take its responsibilities as of 14 of October 2003, until the holding of credible general elections in October 2005.

In order to conduct free and fair elections as envisaged in this agreement, all efforts must be exerted to ensure that the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of all Combatants (DDR) is fully accomplished prior to elections. This must include all combatants involved in the conflict in Liberia, including mercenary forces. Without a doubt, based on previous experiences, DDR is the key for a lasting peace and stability in Liberia and the whole of West Africa.

Let me pay a well-deserved tribute to President Kufour of Ghana and President Obasanjo of Nigeria, and indeed to all ECOWAS Member States for their critical role in this process. The regional leadership and international support in the peace process in Liberia will be meaningless if Liberians themselves fail to meet their obligations towards peace and stability in their country. We would also like to commend the Security Council for its action on Liberia, in support of ECOWAS efforts. We welcome the adoption of Resolution 1509 that decided to establish the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

With respect to Burundi, we Africans have discharged our responsibilities by establishing the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB). In this context, I am happy to inform this august Assembly that, prior to my departure from Maputo, I bid farewell to the Mozambican contingent of peacekeepers to Burundi. They are joining South African and Ethiopian forces, in a clear demonstration of our commitment to peace and stability in Burundi and the sub-region. In this regard, I would like to seize this opportunity to express our gratitude to the British Government for the assistance extended to us.

We appeal to the Security Council to adopt a resolution formally endorsing this Mission and to take the necessary measures to provide political, financial and logistical support to this operation. Failure to act decisively would lead to the deterioration of the situation, with serious implications for the stability of Burundi and the sub-region.

The situation in Guinea-Bissau remains critical after the recent coup d'etat and it must be addressed as urgently as possible, in order to allow for the adoption of solutions that will lead the country back to constitutional legality. We are working with the government of Guinea-Bissau to help in overcoming the difficult political and socio-economic situation that the country faces. We appeal to the international community to render its valuable assistance.

In the Horn of Africa, we must continue to encourage Ethiopia and Eritrea to work together, with the support of the United Nations, to strengthen peace, stability and good neighborliness, overcoming some still existing difficulties. The ongoing peace processes in the Sudan and Somalia raise our hope that lasting peace will soon be achieved in the region.

We welcome the lifting of sanctions against Libya as well as the settlement reached between all parties concerned which will enable us to bring this issue to an end.

The stabilization of the situation in Angola, Comoros and Sierra Leone are clear signs that Africa, despite the difficulties before it, is making strides towards the attainment of lasting peace, stability and socio-economic development.

Mr. President,

The peoples of Africa are fully engaged in building a continent of hope. The African Union, with the Regional Economic Communities, is committed to address the challenges faced by the continent.

Africa is endowed with human and natural resources that can contribute decisively to its own development. What we need is an opportunity. An opportunity to integrate ourselves into the world economy. An opportunity to benefit from globalization and increased interdependence. An opportunity to benefit from liberalized trade, finance and investment, instead of marginalization and exclusion. An opportunity for access to science and technology, in particular information technology.

This will be possible if, inter alia, the international community continues to seek viable and effective ways and means to address the debt burden, low levels of ODA and FDI, and market access for African products in developed countries. We are disappointed that the Cancun Conference failed to produce positive results.

Mr. President,

We continue to follow with concern the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East. We believe that both Israel and the State of Palestine have the right and obligation to accommodate each other. Peace in that region calls for maximum restraint. It calls for a give and take approach, without winners and losers. It calls for recognition that neither of the two can ensure its survival by denying the existence of the other. This reasoning should prevail if we are to reach a negotiated solution and prevent further bloodshed in that troubled region.

Mr. President,

The recent tragic events, which have claimed so many innocent lives, are a painful reminder that international terrorism continues to represent a serious threat to peace and security in the world. They further demonstrated that no country is immune from the scourge of terror, and that it is through concerted action that we can effectively address this issue. The United Nations remains the most appropriate forum for the search of the best ways and means of combating terrorism.

In Africa, we have adopted the 1999 OAU Convention on Prevention and Combating of Terrorism and other relevant instruments, as valuable tools for strengthening co-operation and provide a platform for effective action to suppress terrorism.

Mr. President,

In recent times, some skeptical people have wondered whether the United Nations had lost its credibility and relevance. The answer is clear: The role of the United Nations as the main instrument for the maintenance of international peace and security has more than ever before been vindicated.

It is through the United Nations that we can all find the much sought legitimacy of action, as it is rightly put by the Secretary-General, in tackling issues of common concern, including threats to peace and security, as well as in addressing the challenges of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and other Infectious Diseases, and sustainable development.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remain the most outstanding targets agreed by the international community, as they cover the major areas of concern for the peoples of the world. When we adopted the MDGs at the end of the Millennium Summit, we committed ourselves to meaningfully reduce the incidence of absolute poverty in the world by the year 2015.

Since the adoption of the Millennium Declaration, experience has shown that in order to attain this target we require greater international solidarity and cooperation.

The United Nations, by virtue of its universality, has shown that it has the political and moral authority to tackle not only the issues outlined above, but equally all other issues of concern to mankind. Therefore, it must be strengthened, safeguarded and adequately funded.

The strengthening of the United Nations must include the expansion of the Security Council to make it more representative. The African continent deserves a fair representation in this body with at least two Permanent Members. We equally wish to see developing nations that have shown commitment to the maintenance of international peace and security represented. In this regard we support Brazil as a Permanent Member of an enlarged Security Council.

It is for these reasons that we must continue to support the Secretary-General and the United Nations as they shoulder their responsibilities in laying the foundations for a just and lasting peace, as well as for socio-economic development worldwide. We, in Africa, reiterate our firm commitment to lend our contribution to the United Nations.

I thank you.