- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 22, 2001


The annual debate in the U.N. General Assembly is an opportunity for presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers to publicly express their nations' aspirations and concerns.

Little "debate" usually occurs in or around the grand assembly chambers, and a few issues and nations dominate the coverage. This year, all ears were tuned to comments relating to the international fight against terrorism and frustration with the situation in the Middle East.

Below is a sampling of speeches that probably didn't get much attention outside the national media of each leader's country. For the full text of speeches in their original languages, see the General Assembly Web site: https://www.un.org-/ga/56.

Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, spoke on the causes of terrorism:

"The need to realize the goal of determining the matters that make for peace, together, once again underlines the need for properly representative international institutions to build the necessary global consensus," he said.

"It would seem obvious that the fundamental source of conflict in the world today is the socioeconomic deprivation of billions of people across the globe, coexisting side by side with islands of enormous wealth and prosperity within and among countries. This necessarily breeds a deep sense of injustice, social alienation, despair and a willingness to sacrifice their lives among those who feel they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, regardless of the form of action to which they resort.

"As the Durban World Conference concluded, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance remain a critical part of the practices that serve to alienate billions of people and contribute to mutual antagonisms among human beings. The international community should spare no effort to ensure that this affront to human dignity is totally eradicated."

Frederick Chiluba, president of Zambia, spoke on international peacekeeping obligations to Africa:

"Africa has always been ready and willing to participate in all efforts to restore peace where peace has broken down, irrespective of the location of the region," he said.

"Our men and women have served as peacekeepers in Europe, in Asia and in the Middle East because we believe that peace is indivisible.

"Africa, therefore, expects that, just as we are ready and willing to serve in the promotion and defense of peace everywhere, so too should the international community be full partners in the search for peace in Africa.

"In this regard, I cannot help but register our disappointment that, after the painstaking efforts by Sir Ketumile Masire to organize the Intercongolese dialogue in Addis Ababa on Oct. 15, and not withstanding the many pledges made to finance it, the dialogue could not take off due to insufficient funds. I appeal to the international community, through this august assembly, to provide the necessary assistance and conclude the DRC peace process."

I.S.G. Mudenge, vice president of Zimbabwe, spoke on racial terrorism:

"As the people of the United States grapple with the threat posed by biological weapons of mass destruction in the form of anthrax, we in Zimbabwe, who have to date been the greatest victims of this weapon, know what it means and what you are going through," he said.

"The anthrax spores that were spread by the racist regime of Ian Smith during our liberation struggle some more than 21 years ago continue to claim victims exclusively within the black population in our country to this day. We are thus not only vehemently opposed to this and other forms of terrorism, but we know the pain and loss associated with it.

"One of the most enduring features of the present and the latter part of the last century has been the persistence of the colonial legacy in many developing countries. That legacy has been evident in relations between and within states.

"In Zimbabwe, the colonial legacy is poignantly evident in the racially skewed land ownership structure in the country as a direct result of racist policies and laws of successive colonial regimes between 1890 and 1980. Over 70 percent of the best arable land is owned and utilized by approximately 4,100 white farmers mostly of British descent while over 8 million black peasants eke out a living from the remaining 30 percent of the worst arable land. Such a situation has to be corrected in the interests of equity, justice, social harmony and political stability in the country and indeed in our region of Southern Africa. On the basis of these and other objectives, we have made it abundantly clear that in correcting these imbalances no white farmer with a genuine desire to farm would be taken off the land."

Manuel Inocencio Sousa, minister for foreign affairs for Cape Verde, spoke on the price of terrorism to developing nations:

"In participating in the global effort to eliminate terrorism, the developing countries are, once again, at a serious disadvantage. On the one hand, the scarcity of resources and the lack of sophisticated means of detection and prevention make them more vulnerable to infiltration by terrorist organizations and actions launched within their own borders. On the other hand, when they attempt to respond to demands from the international community, they are forced to mobilize resources that would otherwise be dedicated to their economic and social development and to meeting the basic needs of their people.

"Added to this is the fact, as was emphasized some days ago by the U.N. secretary-general, that the poorer economies are the ones that will pay most dearly for the direct consequences of the terrorist attacks on the world economy. My own country, which depends heavily on tourism revenues, is already feeling the repercussions of the worldwide crisis in the transportation and hospitality industries.

"There is, therefore, a critical need for the international community to effectively help the developing countries, particularly the least developed ones, to bear the added burden that the battle against terrorism is placing on their economies."

Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalghem, foreign minister of Libya, spoke on the Middle East situation:

"Speaking of the situation in the Arab East regions, my country reiterates its unlimited support for sisterly Syria and Lebanon in their steadfastness in the face of the Israeli aggression, condemns all attempts to provoke them and upholds their right to recover their entire occupied lands.

"As we follow up the current state in Iraq, we once again condemn the daily violations of Iraqi sovereignty, and the continuous aggression to which Iraq is subjected. We call upon all peace-loving countries to work towards the practical lifting of the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi people, and ending all schemes aiming at the destruction of their capabilities and the division of their land."

Jakaya M. Kikwete, foreign minister of Tanzania, spoke on debt relief:

"The problem of external debt of developing countries, and particularly of the [least developed countries], continues to pose a serious challenge to the development efforts of these countries.

"External debt servicing has been crowding out priority social investments, diverting the limited revenue available domestically to overseas creditors.

"In Tanzania, for example, debt servicing averaged one-third of the entire government's budget. When another one-third is spent on payment of salaries to government employees, only a third of the budget is left to government to perform its duties, which range from maintaining law and order, to provision of basic social and economic services like health, education, water, communications and transport, etc.

"This clearly underscores the fact that debt relief and debt forgiveness will go a long way towards enhancing government capacity to discharge its duties. In this regard, Tanzania welcomes the various measures undertaken by the international community, in particular the G-8, Bretton Woods Institutions, Paris Club and other creditor countries and institutions aimed at dealing with this chronic problem.

"We particularly welcome the institution of enhanced [heavily indebted poor countries] which compresses the time for the accession and completion.

"Our only concern is that despite all these measures, the scope and magnitude of debt continues to build up to dangerous proportions. It therefore calls for more surgical measures to be taken to deal more effectively with this crippling problem."

Sule Lamido, foreign minister of Nigeria, spoke on disarmament issues:

"As part of the commitment to durable peace and security, there must be a reintensification of our resolve to eliminate all weapons of war, both conventional and nonconventional. Of utmost concern to us in Africa is the havoc caused by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The Program of Action adopted at the recently concluded United Nations Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons provides us a clear road map for effective cooperation. Its effective implementation will attest to our commitment to strengthen the forces of democracy and rule of law in the world.

"We recognize the inexorable march of globalization, and fully embrace the challenges of expanding opportunities in trade, finance, information and communications technology which it portends. But the benefits should not be limited to only a small section of the international community.

"Globalization and its twin phenomena of liberalization and deregulation should work for all countries. The health and stability of the global economic system demands nothing less. For us in Africa, access to such benefits should reflect in concrete actions and measures that would ensure our full integration into a new fair global economic system."

Ahmed Abdi Hashi, U.N. ambassador of Somalia, spoke on accusations that Somalia was a hothouse of terrorists.

"Let me at this juncture address the persistent reports in the media and elsewhere alleging, among other things, the existence of terrorist camps in Somalia.

"First, l should firmly state that the Somali government hosts no terrorists nor offers bases or training camps for them. My government has not and will not offer them any sanctuary. We will arrest and hand over immediately any terrorist who comes to our shores.

"Second, we want to challenge the veracity of these reports. It is also important to evaluate objectively the integrity of the sources of this kind of information.

"But we need to see the evidence and establish the facts in the first place. It is a fundamental principle of law and natural justice that every person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. This principle is also equally applicable to states.

"In the view of my government's serious concern about these accusations, we propose the setting up of international committee of inquiry under the auspices of the U.N. Security Council to investigate these allegations."

Monie Captan, foreign minister of Liberia, protested the diamond, arms and air embargo imposed on Liberia:

"The Liberian government's capacity to defend its territorial integrity has been impaired by a United Nations arms embargo, despite the right to self-defense as expressed in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

"The Security Council has taken no measures to prevent the ongoing killing of innocent Liberians, especially women and children who are the targets of atrocities committed in Lofa County by armed dissidents.

"Since the imposition of sanctions by the Security Council, and despite the claim by the council that the sanctions would not have any adverse effect on the ordinary people, socioeconomic indicators show that the living condition of the Liberian people have declined dramatically. Available statistics show a direct correlation between the imposition of sanctions and the decline in the living standards of the Liberian people."

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