TOME AND PRINCIPE
BY H. E. MATEUS MEIRA RITA
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND COOPERATION
OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE
AT THE FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
30 SEPTEMBER 2003 NEW YORK
Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by joining the previous
speakers in congratulating you, Mr. President, on your election. My Government
is deeply gratified by the recognition of your accomplishments as a member
of the Small Island Developing States. We are confident you will lead
the work of 58 `h Session of the General assembly with the same abilities
as your distinguished predecessor, His Excellency Jan Kavan of the Czech
On behalf of people of Sao Tome and
Principe I would like to reaffirm the principles of United Nations charter,
its role in promoting peace, development and paying tribute to Secretary
General Kofi Annan for his dedication and leadership.
We all face daunting challenges ahead.
Violence has inflamed international relations. On behalf of my country
I would like to express our outrage and regret that the United Nations'
mission in Baghdad was brutally attacked and at the tragic loss of such
outstanding United Nations professionals as Sergio Vieira de Mello. We
pay tribute to all those who died defending the peaceful way to peace
and development in Iraq.
Mr. President, as we are all aware,
Africa, among perhaps all the world's continents faces enormous challenges.
We are plagued by endemic diseases like malaria which debilitate and kill
our people needlessly. HIV/AIDS is devastating Africa's families, societies,
cultures and economies. How can we have economic development when our
people are too ill to work, or when the main breadwinner in the family
is dying of HIV/AIDS without any medical treatment? Our economy started
feeling the negative effects of these two deadly diseases. We urge all
nations to work together to mobilize human and financial resources for
the critical endeavors to control these epidemics which create constant
death and suffering for our peoples. There is no hope for progress in
Africa without first ensuring basic health so that people can work and
build their own prosperity.
Sao Tome and Principe, a small island
state with a fragile economy, is struggling. We are proud of our democracy,
our free and fair elections, our human rights and rule of law. But in
July of this year our proud and stable democracy
came under threat from forces seeking to topple our constitutionally-elected
government. They did not succeed because the international community quickly
intervened to support our elected authorities, and to negotiate a peaceful
end to the coup attempt which restored our constitutional government.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Secretary General Kofi
Annan for his personal concern for our country's well-being, as well as
for the support of the African Union, led by President Chissano of Mozambique,
and the tireless assistance of President Obasanjo of Nigeria, as well
as officials of Portugal, the United States, Angola, Gabon, the Congo
and the many others who rescued our democracy from peril.
But our democracy will remain under threat unless the government can mobilize
resources sufficient to provide basic services to our long-suffering people.
For this reason, the people and government of Sao Tome and Principe's
ask for continued international support with development aid to improve
the lot of our people and ensure the survival of our young democracy.
Mr. President, we must all work together
to strengthen multi-lateral cooperation and ensure that the United Nations
and all its agencies continue to be the for a forum where where all members
states can promote dialogue and ensure world peace, security, democracy
My country regrets that international
relations in some parts of the world have deteriorated to the point where
extreme violence is the daily norm, where infrastructures have been destroyed,
where human rights are daily violated. We lament the plight of the refugees
that this violence creates, and especially the plight of children who
often become the victims of traffickers in human beings.
The tragedies in Iraq, the Middle
East, Liberia, and Afghanistan, to name only the most egregrious, but
by no means all, can only be overcome within the multi-lateral framework
of United Nations. Unilateral actions are doomed to failure in the long
At the same time, Sao Tome and Principe
supports an urgent reform of the Security Council, to make it into a body
that reflects current realities, and not those of the Cold War era. The
Security Council must be democratised with the expansion of permanent
We observe with great concern the
spread of terrorist acts across the globe, ranging from tragic examples
like Bali in Asia, to Palestine and Israel in the Middle East, to Spain
and the U.K. in Europe, to Kenya and Tanzania in Africa, to Columbia in
Latin America and right here to New York and other sites in North America.
But fighting violence with violence is not enough. We must go to the root
of the problem, and this is the task of the United Nations.
The world is a less secure place today
than it was just a year ago. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
continues, non-proliferation treaties notwithstanding. We must ensure
the universality of these treaties and the compliance with same under
the authority of the Security Council.
Mr President, Sao Tome & Principe
strongly supports the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations,
but much remains to be accomplished. The rules of international economy
continue to be dictated by a small number of
countries who promote free markets while closing their own. Massive agricultural
subsidies in the EU and in the United States mean that the average European
or American cow earns more each day than most Africans. With each year
of the much-vaunted globalized economy we see that the rich get richer
and the poor get poorer. The latest WTO meeting in Cancun is a natural
result of this hypocrisy. Developing economies like that of my country
can only be competitive if there is a level playing field, and if all
markets are open, and subsidies and protectionism are erased. Free trade
cannot be a case of "Do as I say, and not as I do."
Sustainable development is a necessity
for all mankind. We are all interlinked on this planet of ours. No one
area alone can prosper while others fall further and further behind. Eventually
poverty and disease in one part of the world affects the lives of people
in another part of the world, be it through the spread of epidemics or
the spread of terrorism. In addition, abuses to the environment in one
part of the world inevitably impact on people halfway around the globe.
As an island nation, Sao Tome &
Principe continues to see our very existence threatened by global warming.
Our shorelines erode, our national territory shrinks as the seas rise.
Is my small country to end up nothing but a tiny volcanic peak sticking
up above the waves with the last of our people clinging to the land left
unclaimed by the rising sea? The Kyoto Protocol must be implemented by
all for the benefit of all.
Mr. President, after many years, people
in Cuba have been living under no justifiable economic embargo. Economic
embargo is blocking the development and life of the people could be better
if the economic embargo ends.
The time came for both sides to improve
confidence-building measure by going back to negotiation table and normalise
Mr. President, my country once again
asks for your attention to The Republic of China on Taiwan. This is a
country with a democratically elected government which has built a strong
economy and which has built strong ties to many United Nations member
states. Taiwan was recently affected by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
(SARS) disease, but it was beyond the reach of the World Health Organization
because Taiwan is not allowed to be a member, simply because Taiwan's
people do not accept the imposition of "one China" principle.
Despite its small size Taiwan offers
development aid to a large number of countries. Taiwan also contributes
to international security by being a strong proponent in the fight against
I call your attention that under universality
rules stated in the United Nations Charter the Republic of China on Taiwan
has to be here one day among us.
Mr President, our goal is to leave a better
world for the next generation. We cannot go along with the concept of
using force in international relations. We denounce human injustice.
We decry environmental degradation that
ultimately threatens us all. Sao Tome & Principe urges dialogue, tolerance,
and mutual understanding on all member states. We also ask all to respect
the United Nations Charter.