Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the United Nations

STATEMENT BY

HIS EXCELLENCY R. G. MUGABE

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE

TO THE 58TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

26 SEPTEMBER 2003

NEW YORK

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the United Nations

128 East 56 street. New York, NY. 10022 Tel. (212) 980-9511- Fax. (212) 308-6705 E-mail: zimbabwe@un.int.org


The President of the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Julian Hunte,
Your Majesties,
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Mr. President, let me congratulate you on your election to the Presidency of the 5e Session of the General Assembly. I am confident that your leadership as well as your vast political and diplomatic experience will successfully carry us through this session. We extend to your predecessor, Mr. Jan Kaban, our sincere appreciation for the excellent manner in which he guided the work of the just ended 57th Session of the General Assembly.

Our meeting today is overshadowed by the death of Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, along with twenty-two other United Nations workers who were killed in the line of duty in Baghdad on 19 August 2003. I join my colleagues in extending my personal condolences, and those of my Government and the people of Zimbabwe to Secretary General Kofi Annan and the bereaved families.

Against this tragedy and the inauspicious developments in Iraq, we cannot allow ourselves to treat this session as merely routine. At the heart of the tragedy in that Persian nation is the unprecedented assault on the ethic and function of multilateralism in world affairs represented by the Security Council, the only guarantor of global peace, order and security. Some powerful western nations, led by governments of the United States of America and Britain, went to a war of unclear objectives in the face of clear opposition from the rest of the world and, as we now know, with clear opposition from their own people. It was and remains an unjust and illegitimate war: unjust to the extent that it was founded and prosecuted on falsehoods; illegitimate to the extent that it was not sanctioned by the United Nations and has transformed itself into effective occupation of a sovereign people.

Mr. President, there can never be world peace under conditions of foreign invasion and occupation. There can never be world security and order when naked power suspends and substitutes with unilateralism the hallowed principle of multilateralism, on the basis of which we have made peace, kept peace, preserved and expanded it since the Second World War. This we tell you as a people from a continent that has suffered a similar fate in recent history, indeed as a people who had to overthrow foreign imperial occupation through costly struggles.

It is a strange logic that the Iraqis pay for a bad president, a bad government and a bad war by occupation and loss of their sovereignty. Let us state here quite clearly to both Britain and the United States that the Iraqi people must have the sovereign right to determine the affairs of their country restored immediately. Like all peoples of the world, their love for freedom and self-rule is just as strong, just as deep as their hatred for bad leadership and bad government. Like all peoples of the world, they are unwilling to be occupied and governed by a foreign coalition, however willing, however powerful it may be. No people want that and we of Africa know that.

We must reject the present roadmap of naked unilateralism for consent-oriented statecraft in world affairs. What is the future for the world without the UN? Mr. President, we hope the coalition that willingly went to war with Iraq without Security Council sanction, is now willing to admit that defeating others is not always the same as winning peace, that wars are not ended by proclamations but by just settlements. Indeed, we hope that they have learnt from their costly mistakes and are willing to let the UN reassert its authority in the broader search for peace and security in Iraq.

Mr. President, if we are to overcome crises that could result in calamitous wars and social breakdowns, and to achieve peace and stability with justice, we need a humane global governance under the leadership of the UN as distinct from a unilateral global state and government. Only this type of governance can make peace, build peace, indeed keep that peace for mankind.

Let it not be said that Zimbabwe enjoys criticizing USA and Britain for the sake of criticism. Our criticisms are founded on sound, fundamental principles. Let it not be forgotten that Zimbabwe was in the chair when the Security Council authorized the first Gulf War. We stood firmly by the USA, Britain and many other nations that removed Iraq from Kuwait. We did so on the basis that expansionisms and occupation of a sovereign country and people cannot be right, can never be just and warranted under any circumstance. We admired the deployment of power to just ends, under the auspices of the UN. It is the absence of the same ingredients that explain our indignation, our sharp censure of the so-called coalition of the willing that does not seem to recognize that both the Iraqis and the world are unwilling to sanction the means employed, and the end achieved.

Mr. President, the inadequacies of existing international institutions in dealing with present challenges is a sad testimony of their flawed foundational conceptions amidst changing circumstances. We have anachronistic institutions relying too comfortably on traditional norms to address new challenges. Decades after the defeat of Nazi Germany, does the world still need to rely on a system founded on the principle of rewarding the Allied powers for defeating Nazi Germany thereby bringing post-world war peace?

At its foundation, the UN collective system allowed two classes of response. If a minor power committed aggression and there was unanimity amongst the five permanent members of the Security Council, a collective response could follow. However, if a permanent member was opposed to such action it could use its veto. This approach in historical terms represents the institutionalization of a particular form of world order, the immediate post-1945 world order which sought to reward and empower the Allied powers as the only competent stewards of world peace.

But the world has changed a great deal since then. Just as many new nations have emerged since then, allied powers have also evolved in ways that easily make them actors of injustice and therefore threats to world peace. Global power is now uni-polar.

The reality today is that we cannot treat the UN system as given. The institutional arrangements in place were relevant only for a specified period and must inevitably be adapted, transformed or even radically modified as material circumstances have changed and prevailing meanings, practices and purposes have been challenged by new inter­subjective voices. In this uni-polar world of today, what can the Security Council do to one of its Permanent Members whose actions threaten world peace, I ask?

Mr. President, at a time when citizens everywhere are pressing for a greater say in national governance, it is imperative for us as Heads of State and Government to seek, in turn, a fairer representation through the democratization of multilateral organizations such as the United Nations Organization, the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization. What is good for the goose must surely be good for the gander. The present autocracy in global governance must be challenged stoutly so all nations, big or small, have equal say and equal power in the way we govern world affairs.

The UN Security Council just has to democratize and this means re-examining its composition and the way power is distributed and therefore exercised within that crucial body. I am happy that the Secretary General's current report entitled "Implementation of the Millennium Declaration", is in agreement with our concerns that the composition of the Security Council - unchanged in its essentials since 1945 - is at odds with the geopolitical realities of the twenty-first century. In the light of this stark reality, it is evident that the decisions of the Security Council, which have a decisive impact on events in the real world, increasingly lack legitimacy in the eyes of the developing world.

Mr. President, even the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of Reconstruction and Development, popularly known as the World Bank, whose raison d'etre was to provide assistance to the developing world, have succumbed to the whims of the major powers. The Bretton Woods institutions, in their current form and practice, are designed to deny developing countries the capacity to chart their independent developmental path. The extraneous conditionalities of the Bretton Woods institutions imposed by the powerful countries for the qualification or disqualification of beneficiaries are intended to further the national interests of the big powers and justify wanton interference in the affairs of small nations.

Is it not a baffling irony that a small country like Zimbabwe which after it responded positively to a distress call by an aggressed neighbor, aggressed even by UN reckoning, was deemed ineligible to access IMF/World Bank funding for that very reason? One hopes that the new and recent realization by the World Bank that land reforms are at the heart of poverty eradication mark the beginning of a new outlook on their part.

Notwithstanding this determined and resolute attempt at frustrating our land reform programme, the fast-track phase through which we reasserted our sovereign right over our land as a principal resource, is largely concluded and Is yielding tangible benefits to the vast majority of our people. There is a new sense of empowerment yielding a happy sense of ownership, which has brought thousands upon thousands of hitherto marginalized families back into the economic mainstream. Zimbabwe's National Economic Revival Programme (NERP) gives clear priority to agriculture as the engine for economic revival and growth. We are forging ahead on the basis of our own efforts and the support from nations of goodwill. We are determined to move on and succeed. A Land Review Committee set up by my Government to assess the whole reform programme, recently submitted its findings which will help in mapping the way forward to achieve sustainable development in the agricultural sector, in line with the criteria and objectives we laid for ourselves.

Mr. President, in the area of world trade, Zimbabwe believes in a multilateral trading system that serves well all the members of the trading nations. It is therefore a matter of some grave regret that the developing countries of the South and those of the developed North could not reconcile their differences and thus rendered inconclusive the Cancun mid-term review of the World Trade Organization's Doha Development Agenda. We in the South were right to reject the so-called "new issues" which the North insisted be negotiated first. We urge the North to engage in honest negotiations, and to desist from trying to use the WTO forum for hegemonic ends.

Mr. President, Zimbabwe and other countries in the sub region continue to grapple with the effects of the HIV/AIDS scourge. To combat this epidemic, my government has declared HIV/AIDS a national emergence. We have embarked on a national programme of prevention, the highlight of which consists of a mass mobilization to deepen awareness and understanding of the disease. As a result of this campaign, our infection rate in the sexually active 15 to 49 age group has come down from 35 to 24 percent. Through our national efforts, the AIDS Levy has to date raised Z$8 billion. This money is being distributed through a decentralized structure, which ensures accessibility right down to the village level. We call upon the international community to complement our efforts.

Mr. President, the situation in the Middle East remains grave and troubled. A conflict that is quite costly on both sides of the divide continues unabated, with the only response from the international community coming by way of episodic judgments that mal-distribute blame on the basis of individual national interests. Especially wrong is the belief that settlement can only come through ostracizing and even eliminating the leadership of the Palestinian people. Assassinations and extra judicial killings must be rejected as a formula for peace.

Mr. President, Zimbabwe welcomes the measures adopted by the Security Council aimed at strengthening the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We are encouraged by the increase of MONUC'S force levels under a Chapter 7 mandate, and the imposition of a 12-month arms embargo over areas in the eastern part of the Congo.

Mr. President, we also urge the international community to rally behind ECOWAS' peace initiative aimed at bringing peace to Liberia. The transition to peace in Liberia has confirmed that with international goodwill and support, African solutions to African problems are possible. To strengthen the peace process, we call upon the international community to address the humanitarian crisis facing the Liberian people as a result of the debilitating civil war.

My country remains committed to playing a positive role in peacekeeping efforts carried out under the auspices of the United Nations. Indeed we have played our part fully.

I THANK YOU.