Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of my Government and on my own behalf, allow me to congratulate you on your unanimous election as President of the 52nd session of the United Nations General Assembly. Your election to this office bears testimony to your commitment to the cause of international peace and security. I am sure that with your guidance and wide experience in international affairs, our work will record a successful outcome. You can rest assured of my delegation's full support during your term of office.
I would also like to put on record our appreciation to the manner in which your predecessor, Ambassador Razali Ismail of Malaysia, presided over the deliberations of the 51st session of the General Assembly. His performance and innovative ideas will indeed help us tackling the challenges before our Organisation in the years to come.
Let me pay a well deserved tribute to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, for his leadership and commitment to the ideals of international peace and security demonstrated in his first year of office. I wish him well and pledge our full support and co operation as he discharges his responsibilities in our Organisation, in times of change.
Within two days, Mozambique will celebrate five years of peace and stability. Looking behind, albeit the challenges we have encountered, without a doubt, our nation has made significant progress in her quest for consolidation of peace and tranquillity, democracy and development, and we are determined to pursue further these goals.
In the political sphere, we have succeeded in creating an enabling environment in which political discussions are being carried out positively both in Parliament and by the civil society at large. As we deepen this positive experience within the framework of a pluralistic society, there is broad consensus among all Mozambicans that dialogue must continue to be the way to overcome differences and to address the development needs of our country. To this end, my Government will spare no effort in order to ensure that the Parliament continues to function normally, for we believe that this course of action remains a key factor for the consolidation of peace, democracy and national reconciliation.
The next step will be to hold the country's first municipal elections which will complement the process initiated in 1994 with the holding of multiparty general elections.
The implementation of the Structural Adjustment Programme initiated in 1987, has indeed created an attractive environment for private investment, both domestic and foreign, which is gradually and steadily leading the country to economic and social progress. It is within this multidisciplinary and global action that economic reforms are taking place, with already positive and tangible results.
Preliminary indications over the performance of the economy during the first half of 1997, estimate that GDP growth will reach about 7% by the end of this year, a figure which is higher than the originally forecast.
As I speak on this very important subject, I would like to underscore the high importance we attach to the need for flexibility with respect to implementation of initiatives for debt relief and sustainability.
My Government is encouraged by recent indications from international financial institutions concerning impending decision on the eligibility of Mozambique to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). I would hope that once such a decision is made, the time frame between the "decision point" and the "completion point" is as close as possible in order to have the desired impact on the economy. Without far reaching debt relief measures, it will be virtually impossible for the country to sustain the current growth and stabilisation of the economy. We do hope that, as soon as possible, all LDC's accede to the HIPC Initiative.
In this regard, my Government welcomes the recent admission of Russia to both the Summit of the Eight and the Paris Club. It is our hope that these steps will enable that country to play a more active and constructive role in matters related to debt forgiveness and relief, particularly in relation to countries like Mozambique. On our part, we will continue to undertake and deepen further our political and economic reforms, as we have been so doing in the last ten years, with particular emphasis on the provision of basic health care and education.
The rehabilitation of the economic and social fabrics, specially in the rural areas, are seriously hampered by the scourge of landmines. These horrible weapons have killed and continue to kill and wound hundreds of innocent citizens. Bearing in mind this situation, during the Fourth NGO's International Conference on Landmines, convened at Maputo, in February this year, my Government approved a Resolution which prohibits, with immediate effect, the production, commercialisation, utilisation and non authorised transportation of anti personnel landmines in the territory of Mozambique.
My Government has been participating fully in the negotiations within the framework of the Ottawa process. In this respect, we welcome the results achieved in the recently concluded Oslo Diplomatic Conference. We urge all countries to heed the call of the peoples of the world by joining the majority of nations in signing up the International Treaty for the Total Ban of Anti Personnel Landmines, in December this year. We wish to launch a vigorous appeal to the international community to ensure that all the provisions of this Treaty, inter alia, with respect to destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel mines, of those laid within minefields, in areas outside minefields, and international co operation and assistance, are fully implemented.
In this respect, I wish to highlight the importance my Government attaches to the issue of assistance to victims of landmines before, during and following mine clearance, in order to ensure an early and safe return and resettlement of displaced persons, with a view to ensuring a speedy resumption of economic activity, in particular in the rural areas.
I would like to express our deep gratitude to those countries and organisations which are providing their generous assistance in demining activities and invite others to join us in implementing our national demining programme.
In August this year, the Government and the civil society have jointly launched a national campaign for the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which will take place on 10th December, 1998.
The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which my country is fully associated with, represents the commitment by all peoples of the world to their faith in human dignity. The nation wide celebrations, encompassing a variety of activities, constitute a unique opportunity for all Mozambicans, and indeed other peoples elsewhere, to review and educate themselves on such an important issue for mankind. It will be an opportunity to underscore the importance of non selectivity, indivisibility and universality of human rights.
Within this framework, my Government follows with keen attention the progress being made in the Preparatory Committee for the Establishment of the International Criminal Court. The establishment of such a Court with the purpose of bringing to justice individuals accused of committing the most heinous crimes, is an important contribution to the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Court must be entrusted with clear powers in order to fully discharge its mandate. In particular, its competence and jurisdiction should be clearly defined in conformity with its objectives and taking into account the principle of complementarity.
In the African continent, we are participating in the discussions for the establishment of the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights. It is our hope that the high level meeting scheduled for next year in Addis Ababa, will succeed in finding the needed consensus on all outstanding issues pertaining to the Court.
In the last twelve months, the issue of UN reforms has gained new impetus with new developments which have taken place recently. It is a matter of fact that there is a broad consensus about the need of these reforms. Nevertheless, in so doing, it is important to find ways and means which will ensure that the legitimate rights and aspirations of all member state, in particular the developing countries, are safeguarded. This is particularly relevant with respect to the proposals for the Security Council enlargement.
Similarly, my Government has taken due note and welcomes the reform package presented by the Secretary-General in his report, document A/51/950, of 14 July, 1997 entitled "Renewing United Nations: A Programme for Reform". The report, the most comprehensive and far reaching ever produced in the annals of the Organisation, addresses vital elements which require an in depth discussion by member states.
As a country striving to strengthen peace and security both within her borders, in the regional context, and indeed in the world as a whole, we regard preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and post conflict peace building as important elements which must be strengthened in the new international context. In this connection, we are participating with other countries of the region in joint efforts aimed at reinforcing our preparedness for emergencies. Therefore, we encourage and support the Secretary-General in his endeavours to enable the United Nations deploy peacekeeping operations rapidly.
In the field of human rights, I welcome the proposed consolidation of the Office of United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and the Center for Human Rights into a single new office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. I commend the Secretary-General for this course of action, which is in line with the sentiments expressed by member states not only at the General Assembly but also within the framework of the Commission on Human Rights. The merging of the two bodies will in fact eliminate duplication of tasks, expenditures and streamline the work of the new consolidated body.
On behalf of my Government, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate Mrs. Mary Robinson for her assumption of the post of the High Commission for Human Rights. We pledge to her our full support, both within the context of the Human Rights Commission of which Mozambique is a member and also within the context of promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms world wide.
With respect to financing our Organisation, I fully agree with the Secretary-General that the current financial crisis facing us today " is directly linked to the failure of member states to discharge their obligations regarding prompt and fully payment of assessed contributions". We would really hope that the very same countries that so far have failed to fulfill their treaty obligations, would this time not only pay their dues but also assist the Secretary-General by contributing to the proposed Revolving Credit Fund.
I equally commend the proposed establishment of a Development Account resulting from reductions on non-programme costs over the next few years. We regard the establishment of such an Account as an important contribution in addressing the economic and social needs of developing countries on a more consistent and predictable basis.
We also endorse the proposed establishment the post of Deputy Secretary-General, within the framework of strengthening the leadership capacity of the Secretariat. The creation of a Strategic Planing Unit, in our view, will further enhance the ability of the Secretary General to act in accordance with the provisions of the Article 99 of the Charter. In light of the new. realities, it is our firm belief that the information gathered by this Unit will not only be brought to the attention of that body but also of the General Assembly, in accordance with the provisions of articles 10 and 11 of the Charter.
As for the proposed establishment of the "UN House" under a single United Nations flag, it is important to ensure that identity and the vast individual and unique experience as well as expertise accumulated by UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA, are preserved. More significantly, the need for decentralisation and flexibility in decision making at the country level, should be safeguarded and further enhanced, so as to ensure that every one benefits from the proposed consolidation. It is my Government's hope that the new arrangement will result in a united, co operative and coherent framework at the country level. The experience of co ordination of all UN programs and funds in Mozambique is positive and encouraging.
We have taken due note of the proposal for the establishment of a Special Commission, at ministerial level, to examine possible changes in the Charter, with the view to preparing our Organisation for the challenges of the next century. Given the complexity of the issues to be looked at, the Commission should be established on the basis of geographic representation, after adequate consultations, and provided with clear and precise terms of reference, in order to guarantee that its views are universal and as consensual as possible.
It is our hope that the proposed reforms, those being implemented within the purview of the Secretary-General as well as the ones under discussion in the Working Group, will result in greater focus of the United Nations in the economic and social spheres. Now that we have gathered consensus on an Agenda for Development, we need to secure that appropriate steps are taken by a reformed, more efficient United Nations, to realise our goals.
The trends towards the establishment of regional and continental blocs require deep co operation and integrated economies. Only combined unity of purpose and action can lend greater leverage and capacity to negotiate and make economies competitive for investment. This must be complemented by political stability and an enabling environment for domestic and foreign investment. We, in Southern Africa, are also joining our efforts towards this goal within the framework of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
These efforts will be further enhanced, to a great extent, by the recently established Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR ARC). The new organisation assembles a variety of countries from Australia, Asia and Africa. Its fundamental principles include facilitation and promotion of economic co operation, bringing together representatives of Government, business and academia.
My Government follows with renewed interest the efforts towards the mitigation of conflicts throughout the world. We are conscious of the fact that economic and social development are only possible when living in peace and political stability. Therefore, prevention, management and conflict resolution constitute a fundamental issue of our foreign policy.
In this regard, I wish to associate myself to previous speakers in congratulating most sincerely the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Congo, following decades of uncertainty. We hope that the new authorities will play a positive role in our collective efforts for regional peace and stability, particularly in the Great Lakes region. The challenges facing the new Government are indeed immense and deserve assistance and support from the international community.
Likewise, we commend the successful outcome of the electoral process in Liberia, symbolising the completion of the peace process in that country. We look forward for the reinvigoration of a united, peaceful and prosperous country, ready to contribute to the effort towards economic stabilisation of the entire region. It is our hope that the international community will spare no efforts in assisting Liberia to overcome the tragedy that has fallen on it for so many years.
ECOMOG deserves our special commendation for the role it has played for the solution of the Liberian crisis and for its current efforts for the restoration of peace and the respect of the rule of law in Sierra Leone.
We equally note with satisfaction the recent progress made for the settlement of the issue of Western Sahara, and encourage the parties concerned to continue this positive path.
The peace process in Angola continues to face serious challenges as a result of the failure by UNITA to comply fully with the agreed commitments under the Lusaka Protocol. With the recent adoption of Security Council resolution 1130 (1997), it is for this body to ensure that the provisions of all other relevant resolutions are fully complied with, in order to bring the peace process back on track and to avoid continued delays we have been witnessing over the three years of the implementation of the Lusaka Protocol.
On the other hand, my Government remains concerned about the situation in the Congo. We support the initiative of the Heads of State and Government of the region under the leadership of H. E. President Bongo, and call upon the parties to exercise maximum restraint in order not to jeopardise any further those efforts. All parties concerned must set aside their differences and work together for the attainment of a negotiated settlement, to prevent further suffering of innocent civilians and destruction of property.
Recent events in the Comoro Islands underline the need for full respect of independence and territorial integrity of all states under any circumstances. We encourage permanent dialogue among all concerned parties so as to find a negotiated settlement of the dispute within the framework of the OAU peace initiatives.
On behalf of my Government, I would like to express our solidarity to the people of East Timor. We do hope that the ongoing negotiations between Portugal and Indonesia, under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and other initiatives, will finally lead to a successful outcome of this issue, in accordance with the principles and purposes of the Charter.
On the Middle East, my Government notes with concern the deteriorationof the security situation in that area which poses great danger to the efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting solution in the region. Peace can not be achieved at the expense of other peoples' interests. The policy of establishment of new settlements in the occupied Arab and Palestinian territories should be discontinued. As we have said before, the existence of both Israel and the Palestine is an undeniable reality which nobody should ignore if we are to reach a final settlement of this long standing conflict. Dialogue and compliance with Security Council and General Assembly resolutions are the instruments through which a solution should be found in the Middle East.
We also follow with interest the developments concerning the conflicting situations in the Persian Gulf region. In the high interests of its peoples we urge all the parties concerned to act together with a view to finding an internationally accepted solution to all outstanding issues, in accordance with the principles and purposes of the Charter.
At the dawn of the new millennium, we bear the responsibility of preparing the United Nations to save not only succeeding generations from the scourge of war but also to offer an organisation that shall effectively and efficiently promote cooperation and development. We, in Mozambique, are prepared to work towards this goal.
I thank you.
*UN/DPI Photo by Eskinder Debebe