Osman Saleh Mohammed, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, addresses the general debate of the 74th Session of the General Assembly of the UN (New York, 24 – 30 September 2019).
Statement of H.E. Mr. Osman Saleh Minister of foreign affairs of the state of Eritrea
DURING THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 74TH SESSION UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
30 September 2019
Heads of State and Governments; Distinguished delegates;
The current United Nations General Assembly meeting is occurring at a very auspicious time for the Horn of Africa. Positive developments are underway in the region. The sad, painful chapter of domestic turmoil and regional conflicts is giving way to new vistas of internal resurgence and regional cooperation.
In global terms, this is a sensitive and delicate period, when the world is at a crossroads; on the cusp of a new world order, so to speak.
All vital parameters indicate that the unipolar world order has come to an end or is in its twilight years. The economic power balance is inexorably changing, with a spike in attendant, intense rivalries and upheavals. In the event, the current UN General Assembly session cannot but grapple with these issues and chart out viable paths on the way forward.
Africa’s lot in the past quarter of a century has been onerous indeed. Africa’s resources were plundered wantonly; and in spite of hollow phrases of “conflict prevention” and “conflict resolution”, wars and upheavals continue to increase and fester. Almost one billion Africans remain marginalized, through the collusion of external predators, their local surrogates and corrupt entities of special interests. This tragic reality requires utmost and urgent attention for effective remedies, beyond sincere expressions of concern and understanding.
In this context, the Horn of Africa and Middle East regions have been immensely and inordinately afflicted in the past 25 years by externally instigated, intractable, internecine ethnic and clan conflicts, as well as peacelessness and wars among neighboring countries. As a result, they have been, and remain, hotbeds of instability and impoverishment.
This grim reality is in stark contrast to the promising events and hopes engendered in the early
1990s. However, the external and internal complications have obstructed and reversed laudable initiatives for regional cooperation and integration that were in the offing at the time. Furthermore, these conditions have created vacuums and favorable climates for terrorist and other subversive forces to proliferate and expand. Here again, a large part of the blame falls on corrupt local actors that avidly sought to promote their narrow interest at the expense of their peoples.
All these tribulations notwithstanding, the numerous challenges and impediments that afflicted the Horn of Africa region have been overcome at this juncture. A new promising chapter is indeed in the offing again.
We, in the region, are ready, as ever, and with the requisite political will and determination, to work with higher vigor, to promote our collective growth through robust coordination and cooperation. In the event, we wish to underline that ill-advised, obstructive and detrimental external interferences must cease fully to allow the region to effectively address its own matters.
In Eritrea, in addition to shouldering our regional responsibilities, we have embarked on a substantive and sustainable program for economic and social development. We are building our human capital, revamping our infrastructure, and developing key productive and service sectors. We are also intensifying our efforts and significantly increasing investment to ensure that all citizens, throughout the country, enjoy adequate basic services of water, health, education, transport and decent livelihoods.
Eritrea has been making modest strides towards the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in its three dimensions: economic, social and environmental, with its long-standing policy of a balanced and integrated approach to development. It has already achieved, over the past two decades, significant results in several pillars of the MDGs in spite of limited material resources as well as crippling external adversity, including imposed war and sanctions. Most notable is Eritrea’s achievement in the 4 health related MDGs.
The Horn of Africa region is prone to droughts and erratic rainfall and Eritrea’s soil and water conservation strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change and achieve food security, include the building of small, medium and large dams across the country and terracing its mountainous topography. Eritrea has been able to harvest adequate water, but will require incorporating innovative water technologies to distribute this water efficiently. Eritrea’s sustained tree planting project that also began 1994 continues with full participation of the population.
The international community will have to glean important lessons from the recent past to ensure that the current period, which many have termed as a transition towards a new global order, will lead to and enhance global stability and prosperity. In this regard, it is both timely and proper to revamp and strengthen the United Nations so that it will shoulder its obligations and responsibilities with higher effectiveness.
I thank you.