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Global commitment key to Africa's development, Botswana's leader tells UN Assembly

Global commitment key to Africa's development, Botswana's leader tells UN Assembly

President Festus G. Mogae of Botswana
For Africa to realize its development objectives the international community must implement the decisions of recent United Nations conferences, President Festus G. Mogae of Botswana told the UN General Assembly today as it concluded its fifth day of high-level debate.

For Africa to realize its development objectives the international community must implement the decisions of recent United Nations conferences, President Festus G. Mogae of Botswana told the UN General Assembly today as it concluded its fifth day of high-level debate.

No one country could hope to successfully confront today's global challenges on its own, be it underdevelopment, poverty or threats to peace, President Mogae said in his address to the Assembly. Those were challenges that required global solutions and the participation of all global stakeholders to confront them. The United Nations remained an important unifying institution for all humanity. It was the only institution that could play the important role of fostering partnership, cooperation and multilateralism.

Africa continued to experience high levels of poverty, which was aggravated by several factors including the unfavourable global economic environment and conflicts, he said. Those challenges were further compounded by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. However, the existence of problems did not mean that the future was entirely bleak. There were positive developments that gave reason for hope. Africa had committed itself to creating an environment conducive to economic growth and development, taking a crucial step through the establishment of the African Union and the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza of the Solomon Islands said that despite the successful outcome of the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development, which included promises of economic growth and protection of the environment, doubts persisted about the practical impact of the Action Plan on developing and least developed countries. Now was the time to test the pledges made at the Summit, he said, voicing hope that its goals and objectives would be achieved.

"We have committed ourselves to similar action plans for sustainable development in the past. Agenda 21 of 1992 and the Barbados Programme of Action for small island developing States among others, are valid policy blueprints for sustainable development. Unfortunately, we have not lived up to our commitments. We all have failed," he said.

Prince Albert of Monaco said that his country's unwavering commitment to the fight against terrorism was cognizant of the importance of cutting off financing for terrorism. Monaco had signed the Convention on International Organized Crime and had enacted additional legislation to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In spite of the continued menace of terrorism, it seemed that the origins and forms of terror were now better understood and controlled.

The Government of Monaco, meanwhile, planned to increase its contributions toward UN programmes for development and environmental protection, he said, and intended to concentrate its efforts in specific areas, including the Mediterranean region and the fight against marine pollution.

Tanzania's Foreign Minister, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, said one of the serious consequences of conflicts in the Great Lakes region has been the massive displacements of people and influx of refugees, which constitute a huge burden to Tanzania. The country is currently hosting close to a million refugees from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "While we appreciate the work of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian agencies to protect the refugees, much remains to be done to offset the burden, which these refugees place upon our country," he said. The Foreign Minister noted that unfortunately, the 1951 Refugee Convention was not as elaborate on the responsibilities of refugee-generating countries or on those of the international community as it is on the responsibilities of the refugee-receiving countries. Tanzania felt strongly that there was a need to review the treaty to keep it in step with the changed times and circumstances.

Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said that the struggle against terrorism should not deter the international community from other important issues on the UN agenda. The Millennium Summit and the Secretary-General's "Road Map Toward the Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration" went hand in hand in identifying the direction of future UN activities to which Member States had committed themselves. These included poverty eradication, the struggle against HIV/AIDS, conflict prevention, and the protection of the environment.

Didier Opertti, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said that the world had this year laid the groundwork for the management of the broad spectrum of the positive and negative impacts of globalization. The recent World Summit on Sustainable Development represented the culmination of a process that complemented the results of the UN conference in Monterrey, Mexico, and the Doha World Trade Organization (WTO) Conference, which would permit the international community to coordinate its efforts to eradicate poverty and promote global development by increasing development assistance and liberalizing trade in a sustainable manner.

For his part, Choe Su Hun of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, noted that the North-South Joint Declaration was a declaration of national independence and peaceful reunification calling for opposing foreign interference and achieving reunification by the concerted efforts of the Korean nation. After the publication of the Joint Declaration, the north and the south held talks and contacts in various fields, seeking ways and means for reconciliation and unity and taking measures for cooperation and exchanges and relaxation of tension in Korea, and thus the spirit of reunification on the Korean peninsula became strongest. Despite the interference of external forces and obstacles confronting the implementation of the Joint Declaration, "It is fortunate, indeed, that the inter-Korean relations have now been placed on track again and the dialogues and contacts for implementing the Joint Declaration held in recent months by the initiative of the Government of the DPRK," he said.

Farouk Kaddoumi, Chairman of the Observer delegation of Palestine, noted that the United States was a great power and shouldered a great responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security as well as regional peace in the Middle East. Resorting to the use of force to solve problems did not help to reinforce the purposes and aims of the UN but only inspired fear and doubt. The people of the world were hoping that the US would play a positive and neutral role in international relations and be a source of technical and economic assistance. He said the Palestinians could not agree to any temporary borders and wanted a lasting settlement. He appreciated the role the Quartet was playing in the peace process. The Israeli forces must be called on to revise their strategy, put an end to the massacres and attacks on citizens and refrain from using collective economic sanctions. Israel must also halt its constant threat, withdraw from the occupied territories and lift its siege on the Palestinians, he added, calling for an international presence to protect the lives of the Palestinian people.

Also addressing the Assembly were John Briceño, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, the Environment, Trade and Industry of Belize, Blas F. Ople, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio of Senegal and Foreign Minister Mohamed el-Amine Souef of Comoros.