OSMAN MOHAMMED SALEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, said the world had seen much political, economic, social and technological progress in the almost seven decades since the United Nations’ creation. Yet, it was clear the United Nations had not succeeded in its paramount purpose of saving humanity from the scourge of war. In fact, there had been hardly a year in which war had not raged. In most of that conflict, some of the big powers had been the architects — the same powers that should have shouldered the biggest responsibility for maintaining peace and stability. At the same time, poverty persisted and an environmental threat risked human survival.
Indeed, it was disconcerting, he said, that the global political, economic and security architecture was inadequate to address such challenges. The General Assembly had been “emasculated”, while the Security Council was dominated by one powerful permanent member, with change resisted by those benefitting from an anachronistic order. The United Nations Charter was being “wilfully flouted” and the noble aims of protecting human rights were being selectively employed to justify external intervention, including through the imposition of sanctions.
That assessment, he said, was shared by Africa, most developing countries, the Non-Aligned Movement, the emerging powers and many in the developed world, noting that the consensus now required coordinated efforts to effect real change. No part of the world needed positive change more than Africa, which remained marginalized and almost voiceless, but had “massive” potential. A number of African countries were taking significant steps in the economic, political and social arenas amid a revitalization of the African Union.
He hoped such moves would be supported by a more conducive international environment, and by the United Nations itself. He was convinced that the Horn of Africa would overcome its difficulties and contribute to a prosperous continent. For its part, Eritrea had made “remarkable” progress in rebuilding its economy and modernizing its infrastructure, from a perspective of regional trade, investment and integration. Eritrea would continue to work to ensure a dignified, prosperous life for its citizens, in a peaceful region and more just, equitable world.
Right of Reply
The representative of Eritrea said his delegation had been “surprised” by the statement made earlier by his counterpart from Djibouti. While he would not address the specifics of the events of 2008, he would stress that Eritrea had always sought good neighbourly relations with Djibouti, and that the latter bore responsibility for the two-day skirmish in 2008. The matter of prisoners of war was part and parcel of that issue, which both sides had pledged to address. But unfortunately, it was continually brought up in various forums, including the Security Council, casting doubt on whether Djibouti was serious about addressing the matter. He stressed that the Qatari mediation process was the best way for the parties to seek normal relations. What remained was for both countries to support ongoing efforts and refrain from statements or actions that would undermine the process. The Eritrean Government would continue to back those talks, he said.