Permanent Mission of the Republic of Namibia to the United Nations
135 East 36`h Street, New York, N.Y 10016 Tel: (212) 685-2003 • Fax: (212) 685-1561
HON. MR. HIDIPO HAMUTENYA, MP MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AT THE 58TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, 30 September 2003
My delegation congratulates you on your assumption of this high Office. We are confident that, given your vast experience and consummate diplomatic skill, you will be able to successfully manage the proceedings of this Session of the General Assembly.
I wish also to express our appreciation for the excellent and effective manner in which your predecessor, Mr. Jan Kavan, had conducted the work of the 57th Session of the General Assembly.
In the same vein, I would like to commend the Secretary-General for his efforts to strengthen the role of the United Nations in resolving the world's burning problems.
Allow me also to pay tribute to the international workers who have recently given their lives in the service of the United Nations in Iraq. In particular, we reiterate our heart-felt condolences to the Secretary-General and the Organization for the tragic death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, that outstanding servant of the United Nations.
As we condemn terrorism and violence, in all their forms and manifestations, we honour the memory of Anna Lindh, the slain Foreign Minister of Sweden, who dedicated her life to the pursuit of peace, development and social progress.
We appear before this august Assembly every year to renew our vow to the United Nations, as the main guarantor of international peace and security. The speeches that we deliver here are a distilled expression of our collective passion for and conviction about the ideals, which the United Nations stands for.
Yet, at times, as was the case with the war on Iraq, the United Nations was sidelined, and the unique legitimacy of its authority undermined, through unilateral actions. Such actions produced a general feeling of fear and uncertainty, especially among the small and weak nations of the world.
This is why the central theme, that runs through nearly all the speeches at this Session, is the call for a return to multilateral dialogue, persuasion and collective action, as the only appropriate approach to resolving many conflicts facing the international community. Being a small country, Namibia echoes this call. Multilateralism must be the basis of global security, if smaller countries are not to feel that they are at the mercy of the stronger ones.
But, as recent events have demonstrated, big powers, too, like the smaller ones, need a multilateral framework, as the more re-assuring environment for the execution of foreign policy.
We cannot fail to re-emphasize the inseparable link between international security and economic development. Therefore, the Organization must up hold the commitments made in the field of economic development, especially the important pledges made in the Millennium Declaration.
In that Declaration, the world leaders committed themselves to help lift half of the world's poor out of misery and deprivation by the year 2015. We are talking here of 1.2 billion people around the world who are today victims of abject poverty and 800 million who are starving. Still more, some 900 million adults worldwide are illiterate.
The tragedy is that this human misery is acquiring deepening and broadening dimensions at a time when human ingenuity is ever enlarging the horizons of possibilities to do away with this terrible scourge of extreme poverty and deprivation.
Clearly, therefore, the implementation of the Millennium Declaration is a race against time. And failure to act now, and do so with a sense of urgency, will mean that we, especially the rich of this world, have failed to rise to the moral and political challenge, which is to protect that most sacred of all human rights, the right to life.
Namibia is fully committed to the implementation of the Millennium Declaration. To this end, we allocate 23% of our annual national budget to education and 15% to health. In this commitment to invest in our people, we have proceeded from the premise that a fundamental way to address the problem of poverty is to improve the productive competitiveness of our economy; and that improving that competitiveness is depended on the rapid increase in the knowledge, skills and capacities of the people with a view to empowering them to be able to escape from the trap of poverty. Skills in the field of information technology are a critical element of our human resources development programme.
The other urgent challenge, spelled out in the Millennium Declaration, is the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Namibia is devoting considerable resources and attention to this seemingly daunting battle to contain the spread and limit the impact of this epidemic on our society. In this, we are working with other countries, relevant UN agencies, the private sector and members of the civil society. In the context of this battle, the plight of AIDS orphans is given priority. However, there is a need for more generous contributions to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
In the pursuit of Millennium Development Goals, Namibia is, furthermore, working closely with its partners in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to implement a number of key regional projects. One of these is a major power project, involving the power utilities of Angola, Botswana, DRC, South Africa and Namibia.
Similarly, Namibia, together with Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, has embarked on one of the world's largest regional wildlife conservation and tourism development project. The geographical scope of this area cuts across the territories of all the five countries and covers approximately 278,000 square kilometers.
Therefore, we assure the Secretary-General that Namibia has, indeed, started in earnest and is staying the course regarding the implementation of the Millennium Declaration. However, the need remains great for additional resources in order for us to intensify our efforts.
For more than a decade now, the overwhelming majority of member States, including Namibia, has been calling for the reform of the institutions of the Organization, especially the Security Council.
At the founding of the UN in 1945, the Organization consisted of only 51 member States. This number has now grown to 191 sovereign States. But the structure of the UN has remained in some respects unchanged.
The Security Council needs to become democratic and more representative, allowing other regions and States to be represented. There is a broad consensus that by making it democratic and more representative, the Security Council would gain greater legitimacy; and, in turn, this would mean a more effective United Nations.
This call for reform is in line with the principle of democratic governance, so often demanded of the developing countries by, among others, some of those powers who presently occupy permanent seats in the Security Council.
We welcomed the fact that the Secretary General has taken on board the reform of the UN as one of the higher priorities on his agenda. His plan to set up a panel of eminent personalities to look into the reform process and recommend ways of effecting such a reform is noted with great interest.
One of the issues that underlines the need for urgent reform of the Security Council is the pathetic inability of that Organ to bring the authority of the United Nations to bear on the situation in the Middle East. The unrelenting carnage that is taking place in that region has not compelled the powers that be to accept the fact that, that situation constitutes a threat to international peace and security. Because of a lack of political will in the Security Council, there has been no ability to act collectively to put a stop to the carnage.
The continued occupation of the Palestinian territory exacerbates frustration and despair among the Palestinians. It follows, therefore, that the end of that occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian State, existing side by side with Israel, is key to peace and stability in that region.
The implementation of the UN Settlement Plan for Western Sahara would have closed the chapter on desalinization in Africa. The right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence is a Charter obligation that we cannot abdicate.
We hail the efforts of ECOWAS in Liberia and welcome the establishment of the United Nation's Mission in that country. Guided by African solidarity and the resolve of the African Union to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, Namibia has decided to contribute troops to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
Geographic proximity is not an act of choice. We abhor the continued imposition of the US embargo against the people of Cuba, and call the international community to demand the immediate lifting of this embargo.
In conclusion, I would like to stress the vital importance of international cooperation by all stakeholders in our effort to realize the Millennium Development Goals. In order to reduce the scourge of poverty and underdevelopment, developing countries need access to the markets of developed countries.
Therefore, the urgency to overcome the impasse, which has emerged as result of the failure of the WTO Ministerial Conference at Cancun, cannot be over emphasized. We call on the developed countries to demonstrate a spirit of compromise in line with their undertakings at the Millennium Summit.
Furthermore, the implementation of the decisions taken at the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development must not be allowed to become a dead letter. Still more, the promise made by the world leaders at the Millennium Summit to adorn globalization with a human face should be given a practical expression.
In short, the vision of a bright and prosperity-enhancing new Millennium must not be allowed to become a mirage or a dream that could not be realized.
Thank you for your attention.