Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation at the General Debate of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly
STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY AMBASSADOR Dr. AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (MP), MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND EAST AFRICAN COOPERATION OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA, AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE SEVENTY THIRD SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, NEW YORK, 27 SEPTEMBER 2018
Your Excellency, Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the General Assembly;
I wish to congratulate you madam President for your well-deserved election to preside over the work of this 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Your election to this prestigious position as the fourth woman to this post in the history of this Organisation and the first from Latin America, is not only a unique accolade to you but also a testimony bestowed on you by the Member States of the Organisation. In this regard, Tanzania pledges its full support to you and your entire Bureau.
I also wish to pay special tribute to your predecessor, H.E. Miroslav Lajcak, the successful leadership and commitment to the General Assembly during his Presidency. We wish him well in his future endeavours.
In the same manner, I commend Mr. Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General for his tireless efforts in steering the work of our Organization, especially in implementing the challenging reforms that are underway under his stewardship.
Ferry accident in Tanzania
I am greatly honoured to address this Assembly on behalf of my President, H.E. Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli who could not join his colleagues in this Assembly following the tragic ferry accident which claimed the lives of more than 200 Tanzanians and left many others wounded. We appreciate the support of the international community during this difficult moment. May the souls of the departed rest in eternal peace.
Before I proceed, let me express Tanzania’s condolences from my Government to the United Nations Community and the entire world for the demise of Dr. Kofi Annan, an outstanding humanitarian, a defender and advocate of multilateralism. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, relatives and friends. May his soul rest in eternal peace, Amen.
Theme:“Making the United Nations relevant to all people: global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies”
This year theme “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadershipand Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies” is very captivating and timely in reinforcing global governance to enhance the implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. This impetus from the United Nations comes, as it does, as multilateralism is eroding and needs to be rescued with collective and determined efforts.
Today, we are living in a world where most societies are neither peaceful, equitable nor sustainable. The world is still facing many violent conflicts and wars resulting in massive loss of lives, the threat of terrorism, destruction of the environment, refugee influxes, displaced persons, and global migration, hunger and poverty persists in many parts of the world. Addressing these challenges requires a collective visionary leadership and governance.
Unfortunately, all these miseries are mainly human-made and can be prevented if we resolve to take collective measures. Thus, continued and meaningful cooperation among member states is a prerequisite in addressing all challenges confronting the world. Through this platform, we can accentuate the relevance of this body to all nations and the people. Furthermore, we can shape global policies and norms to respond to different needs of diverse cultures and societies. Thus, a call for the United Nations to be relevant to all people is timely; and indeed, it is in accordance with United Nations purposes and principles as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
It is in facing these global challenges that multilateralism at all levels of response and especially through the United Nations and its institutions becomes essential to ensure peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies. It is undeniable fact that every sovereign state in the international system seeks to maximize its national interests and the wellbeing of its citizens. However, acting alone and in isolation minimizes the potential for realizing desired optimal results for nations acting in isolation. Globalization and the intricate web of relations that have subsequently emerged globally, renders a multilateral approach to issues of national, regional and international concern essential and unavoidable.
Unfortunately, the world is, in recent times witnessing multilateral institutions and principles being put to test. For example, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which has been the pillar and yardstick of rule based fair global trading system is being now undermined. Climate change and global warming which is already wrecking havoc to lives and property in all regions regardless of national borders can only be addressed effectively through multilateral approaches. Above all, it was the post Second World War multilateral edifice and institutions which have given us the peace we witness today albeit its shortcomings. We should be seeking to improve the shortcomings in the multilateral system we have created for ourselves for a better world rather than walking away from it.
Tanzania is unreservedly committed to the multilateralism in pursuit of its national interests. It is also through unmitigated multilateralism, that we will be able to address critical global challenges such as terrorism, extremism, radicalism, climate change, restrictive trade policies, trafficking in persons, drug abuse, pandemic diseases, absolute and abject poverty, immigration dynamics and weapons of mass destruction, just to mention a few. We are encouraged by the united chorus from this General Assembly in the defence of multilateralism and in defence of the purposes and principles of the United Nations which bind all of us together.
Diplomatic Means to Resolve Conflicts
We have seen diplomatic engagement working successfully to bring adversaries to a roundtable to address their differences peacefully. Tanzania wishes to underscore the continuous use of diplomatic means and roundtable negotiations to address conflicts between and among nations. It is in this regard, as a peaceful and stable country, Tanzania has assisted and witnessed the value of brokering peace.
Tanzania welcomes the recent talks between the US and North Korea on the Korean Nuclear Deal which paved the way for a recent signing of an agreement between North Korea and Republic of Korea. We hope this deal and others that have followed the same pattern will yield the anticipated positive outcomes sooner than later including the long outstanding humanitarian issues in the Korean Peninsula. These are some of the good examples of successful outcomes following the diplomatic engagements around the world. All these efforts have confirmed the value of dialogue in resolving and preventing conflicts.
Reforms are necessary for continuity and change. For the decades, this Assembly has continuously been discussing reforms of the United Nations and its institutions to effectively respond to the current global economic, political, social and changing security dynamics. This is the way to make our Organisation alive and relevant. Currently, the reforms are focusing on the United Nations development system, management, peace and security. My delegation strongly believes that the reforms will be objective and balanced.
Tanzania supports the reforms of the United Nations, especially the Security Council and reiterates the position of Africa as contained in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration of which we abide with. In addition, Tanzania urges the international community to make the process transparent, inclusive and democratic. All countries, poor and rich must have equal participation and their voices and positions must be heard and taken seriously. After many years of almost stalemated negotiations on the Security Council Reforms, it is necessary to move the process forward, but in a manner that will preserve the interests and positions of all parties concerned in a transparent and consultative manner.
We ought to remind ourselves that the credibility of the United Nations rests on a well-represented and responsive Security Council. The Council is what it is today, and the reforms are not advancing well because of the veto. If we are to make meaningful reforms, we should first and foremost be bold enough to decide on the future use of the veto. In this respect, my delegation wishes to stress that issues related to the veto, expansion of membership and categories should be addressed as a package and not in isolation.
Over the years and with support of the international community and development partners, Tanzania has successfully implemented various national development plans which have significantly contributed to the reduction of poverty. Furthermore, we are proud to have incorporated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our national development agenda in order to accelerate economic growth and eradicate poverty.
Drawing experiences from MDGs, it is apparent that implementation of the SDGs requires adequate, sustainable and predictable funding especially to least developed countries like mine. Thus, mobilisation of long-term innovative public and private finance is key to the realisation of the goals.
Tanzania has embarked on systematic legal and administrative reforms which have been constraining resource mobilization and accountability. The Government has embarked on a relentlessfight against corruption and public service incompetence in order to increase accountability and transparency. The Government has undertaken stringent measures to fight drug and human trafficking, illicit trade in ivory and violent extremism. As expected, these measures have generated determined resistance from vested economic and criminal elements. This has necessitated the Government to take appropriate countermeasures which have sometimes been misunderstood as too restrictive. Despite these challenges, Tanzania will continue to respect the rule of law, good governance, democracy and human rights as enshrine in our Constitution.
Irrespective of the ongoing efforts on domestic resource mobilization, developing countriescontinue to experience a global systemic issues on unfair tax regimes and illicit financial flows which contribute to capital flight and deny these countries of their rightful income. We call upon the international community to double the efforts in dealing with these systemic issues through, among other things, establishing an intergovernmental tax body under the United Nations to address evasion and avoidance of taxes. This will in turn, put at our disposal more resources for implementing the SDGs.
Peace Keeping Operations
Tanzania is among the top troop contributing countries to the UN peacekeeping missions, and we have significantly contributed to the restoration of global peace and stability. The number of our troops serving in different missions currently stands at 2,687 peacekeepers in six countries.
Despite these contributions, the participation of Tanzania in peacekeeping operations has met some challenges including attacks and killings of our peace keepers. The December 2017 attack was the worst in the last 25 years of peacekeeping history under the United Nations. We thank the UNSG and all member states that extended condolences to Tanzania, the families, friends and relatives of the demised. Our pain was relieved by many of you who stood with Tanzania during those difficult day. May the souls of the departed rest in eternal peace. Amen!
In view of the support received from the United Nations, we commend the Secretary General for promptly forming a Special Investigation Team which established the causes of the attack and actions to be taken to prevent such hostile and cowardly incidences in the future. We are also gratified that the recommendations of the investigation report will feature in the Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations which Tanzania strongly supports. Tanzania looks forward to the implementation of these recommendations.
Situation of Refugees
I wish to remind this august assembly of the historical role played by Tanzania in hosting and providing sanctuary to refugees for decades from Central and Southern Africa. We have done that out of humanity and in line with the internationally agreed principles of admitting asylum seekers and protecting refugees to which Tanzania is a signatory. Currently, we are hosting more than 330,000 refugees, mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the years, and decades of hosting refugees, Tanzania has provided local integration and citizenship as a to more than 150,000 refugees in one undertaking.
Apart from providing sanctuary to refugees, we have also been involved in initiatives to resolve regional conflicts in the Great Lakes Region that have the potential to increase refugee influxes. Currently, Tanzania has also assisted the voluntary repatriation of more than 46,000 Burundian refugees as of September 2018. The repatriation exercise was conducted transparently and inclusively in collaboration with the Burundian authorities, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and other relevant development partners. Some misguided Burundi exiles have criticised the exercise as involuntary when actually there has been bottlenecks and constraints in implementing the Tripartite Agreement due to lack of resources and mixed progress in the political and security situation in Burundi.
It is in this regard, Tanzania appeals to the international community to facilitate and support the on-going voluntary repatriation of the remaining Burundian refugees as consultations continue between Tanzania, Burundi and UNHCR. It is equally important to present a realistic assessment of the evolving political and security situation in Burundi to permit the refugees to make informed and objective decision on return to various parts of their country.
Political Situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The people of DRC continue to face challenges of peace, security and stability. The country has continuously been destabilized by warring factions and war lords that have created havoc leading to political instability in some parts of the country especially in the Eastern part of the country. This situation has not only denied DRC the opportunity to develop its country and people, but has also undermined and threatened regional peace and security. However, the current developments in addressing the protracted impasse, is making some progress with the government’s commitment to hold the long-awaited general elections later this year. The stability in DRC does not only contribute to address the refugee problem, but also accelerates prospects for regional trade, investment, and economic prosperity of the region. There could not be a better way of expressing the hopes and aspirations of the people of DRC than the statement delivered from this podium two days ago by H.E. Joseph Kabila, President of the DRC.
To this end, it is necessary to continue with the UN stabilization mission under MONUSCO and FIB in which Tanzania is a part in the eastern part of the country until elections are concluded.
US Embargoes on Cuba
In 2015, many world leaders who gathered here welcomed the historic and momentous decision taken by the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba to restore diplomatic relations. To most of us, it was the beginning of a harmonious co-existence with high hopes and expectations. However, with time, we feel and see that minimum efforts have been made to meet such hopes and expectations by ultimately lifting the embargoes which have condemned the people of Cuba for many years. We hope that, through the power of reason and the very diplomatic means that led to the reestablishment of their ties, there will be the total removal of those embargoes against Cuba, and that a new dawn of cooperation will follow not only the two countries but the whole region of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The issue of self-determination for Western Sahara has entered a new direction with Morocco re-joining the African Union, where is currently a member of the Peace and Security Council. There is a renewed opportunity for the United Nations and the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to work with the newly established AU Troika Mechanism of the African Union to address the issue of Western Sahara. Tanzania supports that initiative and we hope the process will gather momentum and reach a new status very soon.
The Question of Palestine
Tanzania reiterates its position in resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestine by supporting the two-state solution. We understand that Palestine has the right to enjoy its independence and peace as is Israel in accordance is entitled to peace and security according to the UN Charter. It is our belief that it is within the creative and resourceful ability of Israel and the determination of the Palestinian people to reach a peaceful solution that will permit Israel and Palestine to co-exist in peace and security.
As I conclude, I reiterate Tanzania’s commitment to the principles and purposes of the United Nations and to multilateralism. The Government of H.E. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli stands ready all the time to participate constructively in the search for peaceful solutions to conflicts and to contributing to the UN mandates for conflict prevention and peacekeeping. Above all, we look to this Organization to continue championing the implementation for the sustainable development goals to support Tanzania’s own efforts to achieve sustainable development goals as it heads to a middle income status and industrialization.
May God bless us all; and God bless the United Nations
I thank you for your kind attention.