Hon. Bernard K. Membe (MP), Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation gives his Statement before the General Debate at the United Nations General Assembly yesterday in New York, USA. Hon. Membe led the Tanzania delegation on behalf of President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania. Photo by Tagie Daisy Mwakawago of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation
Heads of State and Government,
Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
First and foremost, allow me to convey to you fraternal greetings from H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania who could not attend this session due to other equally important engagements.
On behalf of the Government and People of the United Republic of Tanzania, I wish to congratulate you for your well-deserved election as the 67th President of the General Assembly. It is indeed a pleasure to participate in this General Debate under your Presidency.
Similarly, I congratulate your predecessor and commend him for the manner in which he steered the work of the 66th Session.
It would be a remiss on my part, if I do not acknowledge and commend the Secretary-General and the entire Secretariat for their service to the Organisation.
Echoing your words during the opening of the session, "We meet here amidst upheavals of unprecedented scope" characterised by multiple intra and inter-state conflicts in the world, a time of emerging and worsening conflicts, most of which are taking place in Africa and the Middle East. These conflicts have caused deaths and suffering of millions of people, among them children, women and the elderly. Undoubtedly, a new world order of lasting peace, security and freedom as envisaged in the UN Charter can be achieved through dialogue and reconciliation.
We applaud that the theme for this General Debate is "bringing about adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means".
Similarly, we welcome many initiatives undertaken at national, regional and international levels in promoting this matter.
For 50 years of Independence of the United Republic of Tanzania, we have witnessed and appreciated the effectiveness of preventive diplomacy and have even participated in various mediation processes in the region and the continent such as in Burundi, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Kenya. The involvement of the Former Presidents of Tanzania, the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Benjamin William Mkapa as well as that of H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania in these processes is a clear testimony of our continued commitment to preventive diplomacy.
We are all too aware of the dire consequences of conflicts particularly when all mechanisms provided in the Charter of the United Nations for resolving conflicts fail to find a permanent solution and lasting peace. The situation in Syria is a case in point. It is important that we find ways of strengthening the early warning mechanisms and prevent conflicts before they occur. In whatever case, we should not pursue anything that would encourage parties in conflict to resort to armed solution instead of dialogue.
While facilitating dialogue, it is also important that we uphold the principles of impartiality, objectivity and respect of international law. The unity of the entire membership is crucial in ending impunity and human rights violations wherever they occur.
The Pacific Settlement of Disputes as provided under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter has never been so pertinent. In the interest of maintaining peace and security, we should learn to keep our differences aside and not allow them to create divisions among us. I believe your Presidency will guide us towards this direction.
Situation in Southern Africa Region
Tanzania is the current Chair of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security. We have taken the mantle of leadership of this Organ at a time when some countries of the region are facing security challenges. Under the umbrella of SADC and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region of Africa (ICGLR), we have resolved to find a durable solution to the crisis in the Eastern DRC where rebel groups such as the M23 are destabilizing and threatening peace and security of the entire region. Members of ICGLR have agreed to establish an International Neutral Force comprising of 4,000 troops to address the problem. Tanzania has committed to contribute troops to the neutral force. Through African Union (AU), we are taking necessary steps to ensure that the deployment of this International Neutral Force in Eastern DRC gets the mandate of the United Nations.
Likewise, Tanzania will work assiduously with other Member States of the SADC to support the return to constitutional normalcy in Madagascar, and finalization of drafting a new constitution in Zimbabwe which will open the way to democratic elections by June 2013. We proceed in this endeavour with the firm belief that a solution in both countries will finally be achieved through effective and constructive engagement of all parties concerned.
Multilateral Development Agenda
While striving to overcome the problems of conflicts, we are equally confronted with challenges of sustainable development. This situation is further exacerbated by the effects of climate change, population growth, poverty, unemployment, hunger, diseases, growing economic inequalities within and among countries as well as lack of rule of law and violations of human rights.
The world’s economy still remains fragile after the financial crisis of 2008. Some of our developing countries fought hard to recover from the crisis including through stimulus packages, focusing on areas that could accelerate economic growth such as agriculture, which is the main stay of most developing countries including my own. Our endeavours paid off before the onset of the Eurozone crisis, which is a major threat to global economic growth.
I know for sure that the global economic crisis is far from over. Many reports are predicting the re-occurrence of the crisis which will certainly affect the flow of aid, trade, FDIs and remittances to developing countries. Despite these challenges, there is still hope for the future. We have an opportunity to prevail over the turbulent waves if we abide and work together.
Twelve years ago, in the month of September, we met in this very same chamber to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which gave birth to the Millennium Development Goals. Three years from now, we would reach the deadline we agreed. We have undoubtedly made some progress in many fronts but most of our developing States are unlikely to achieve all the goals by the set deadline of 2015.
My country has also made progress in the achievement of the MDGs. It attained Goal 2: universal primary education; way back in 2009. It has registered considerable gains on Goal 3: promoting gender equality and empowerment of women; and Goal 6: combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases. We have also achieved moderate results on other goals. However, much remains to be done to emancipate our people from poverty traps.
Our goals to achieve better livelihood for our people must go far beyond 2015. It is thus necessary that we consider the post-MDGs agenda, one that complements instead of diverting our focus from the current MDGs. My delegation proposes to have the second generation of the MDGs where all our efforts will be directed to ensure that those countries that will not achieve the MDGs by 2015 are facilitated to achieve them in the post 2015 period.
Let me underscore that, it is not worth it to divert our attention from these goals when most developing countries, especially those in the Sub-Saharan Africa are unlikely to achieve them by 2015. We believe the time is right to discuss the future of MDGs and consider the proposed Sustainable Development Goals in the light of the current MDG targets. It is equally important that the development needs of Africa should feature prominently in all post MDGs consultations and decisions undertaken in various multilateral fora.
The Secretary General has recently launched the 2012 MDG Task Force Report entitled "The Global Partnership for Development: Making Rhetoric a Reality". While alarming in some respect, the Report also offers some hope and reaffirms our inter-dependedness and common destiny.
It is important therefore to recommit ourselves to the full implementation of the MDGs after 2015 and other internationally agreed development goals. We must equally recommit ourselves to the total realisation of the internationally agreed commitments on the Special Needs of Africa and the Least Developing Countries (LDCs).
During the 66th Session of the General Assembly, H.E. President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete expressed serious concern regarding global food insecurity. Since then, the situation has gotten worse and vulnerability of many developing countries has increased. We must work collectively to address food insecurity. We must increase food production and productivity on a sustainable basis, strengthen agricultural systems and establish early warning mechanisms as we also must develop effective responses to calamities such as those in the horn of Africa and the Sahel Region. While ensuring food security, we need also to address the issue of nutrition. It is in this regard that Tanzania is a proud member of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN).
At national level, the government is undertaking various initiatives to ensure food security through Public Private Partnerships (PPP). My government has had the pleasure of hosting the Africa Green Revolution Forum in Arusha, which concluded today with the participation of some African Leaders, Ministers, Private Agribusiness Firms, Financial Institutions, Farmers, NGOs and Agricultural Experts. The Forum was organised by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
The review Summit of the 20 years of implementation of the Environment and Development Conference - Rio +20 adopted an outcome entitled "The Future We Want".This outcome is about our future and the future of life on our globe; our land; our flora and fauna; our air; and our water. My delegation welcomes this outcome which, among other things, acknowledges that eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and commits to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency.
In the outcome document, there are issues that are still outstanding that needs further consideration by this Assembly. As we move to resolve these issues we must seek the agreement of all Member States. My delegation will continue to engage other Member States on these issues and others.
United Nations Reforms
The reforms of the United Nations are long overdue. The United Nations is us - Member States, without which there is no United Nations. If We Member States cannot agree on the reforms then the UN will never be reformed. It is a fact that we have had long discussions without concrete agreements. The time has come to walk the talk.
It is important to remind ourselves that Africa is the largest Group in the United Nations and the only continent that does not have a Permanent Seat in the Security Council. This situation equally overlooks the fact that most discussions in the Security Council are about Africa. We, the African Leaders and the African Union have voiced our sentiments and agreed to have two Permanent Seats with the Veto powers. We will continue working together based on the agreed Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration which we all subscribed to. I therefore appeal to Africa to maintain its solidarity.
My country will continue to support reform of the United Nations including the Delivering as One Initiative (DaO) which has been implemented with considerable success in Tanzania since 2007. The government will continue to support the DaO process including its continuation in programme countries. The endorsement of DaO by some Members of this august Assembly is a clear testimony of the value of this approach. We believe that the 2012 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) will take into account these positive achievements.
Non-self Governing Territories
The United Nations is anchored on the principles of human rights, rule of law, good governance and democracy. We – the Member States must implement what we deliberate and agree on. Otherwise, the credibility of the UN will be at stake. The Security Council and the General Assembly have adopted so many resolutions on Palestinian Independence. Tanzania applauds the admission of Palestinian State to UNESCO. As we do so, Tanzania would like to once again appeal to the Big Donors of UNESCO to review their decision of punishing UNESCO by withdrawing their contributions. This decision impacts more on developing countries particularly African countries that usually use up to 65 percent of UNESCO funds in education, science and culture.
With regards to Western Sahara, Tanzania calls upon the UN Secretary General to continue his mediation efforts of bringing together the government of Morocco and the leadership of Western Sahara to resolve the crisis. In this regard, my delegation encourages Morocco to rejoin the AU so that together we can find a durable solution on the independence of Western Sahara.
Unilateral Sanctions and Embargos
Tanzania remains troubled by applications of unilateral sanctions and embargos imposed against Cuba and its People. As H.E. President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete said during the previous General Assembly Session, Tanzania is in full solidarity with the people of Cuba in demanding the end to all unilateral sanctions and embargos against them.
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen;
We - Member States have the duty and responsibility to make the world a better place. We should maintain the sanctity of humanity before our ambitions and desires. In order to achieve this, we should recommit ourselves to, and uphold, the objectives and principles contained in the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
I thank you for your kind attention.