On behalf of your Libyan brothers and sisters, I have the pleasure to welcome you, Leaders of the African Union , dear brothers and sisters, distinguished guests from all the continents of the world, representing international and regional organizations who have honoured us by taking part in this opening ceremony of the Fifth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union. I welcome you to the City of Sirte commonly known to Libyans as “ al-Ribat alamami” or The Vanguard City because Sirte was the fortress for confronting and foiling colonial invasions throughout history. Sirte resisted and halted numerous imperialistic attacks waged into the heart of Africa since the Roman, Byzantine, Turk and Italian as well as the Vandal incursions. They had tried to penetrate Africa, but Sirte had always served as the vanguard for repelling these campaigns.
Fellow leaders of the Great African Union, we should remind ourselves that five years have passed since the establishment of the African Union and I would like to stress that measured by time, in this our modern age, those years have not been smooth sailing. I would in fact, like to say that the pace at which we had proceeded during those five years was not impressive and calls for concern over the future of Africa and its peoples who entertain the fear that the African Union expected to realize their aspirations and consolidate their position on this planet and under the sun, may falter the same way as the former Organisation of African Unity. For example, there are institutions within the structure of the African Union hat have so far not taken off. These financial institutions, include the Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund, the African Union Court (The Union Court), which we need to finalise. We have to accept our historical responsibility. These institutions should be established. If a member state offered to host any of these financial institutions and later realized that it could not, it would be advisable for that Member State to allow another member state to host the institution. We sometimes compete to host the institutions of the Union. This to me is a positive step, but it also means at the same time that we may not be in a position to honour our responsibility towards these institutions on which we pin great hopes for the African Union.
This Union has its objectives and principles. Paragraph (b) of Article 3 talks about the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of member states. This is something we have written into the Constitutive Act and with the approval of our peoples. What does that mean? What did we do to defend the sovereignty, integrity and independence of member states? We are in need of tools to defend ourselves.
We have finalized the Common Defence and Security Pact. This is a great achievement, but I hope that it will not remain only on paper. There should be an instrument to implement the Pact. Who should chair the Peace and Security Council in Africa? Peace and Security should be people - centred. Who should supervise peacekeeping forces in Africa, who should deploy them, who should decide and supervise interventions when the need arises as provided for in the Constitutive Act of the Union? Who should implement the Common Defence and Security Pact? It is very obvious from here that we are in dire need of a Ministry of Defence to carry out this task? Article………….. talks about social and economic integration whilst the next paragraph of the Constitutive Act talks about creating a conducive atmosphere to enable Africa to play its right role in the global economy and international negotiations. For example, if the Gambia negotiates with a giant bloc alone, and if Tunisia, Libya and Djibouti do the same, what would we gain? What is the strength of these small nations before the big international markets and big spaces? What is our position vis-à-vis China or Japan or NAFTA or the EURO?
Great Leaders of the African Union, what I have just mentioned will require a continental tool. Consequently, there is an absolute need for appointing a Minister for External Trade to negotiate with the main blocs in the name of a single African Market. This market should have its fare share of the competition and in international negotiations. We represent a big consumer and production market, but who is in a position to express that now? We are talking as individuals when we actually need to express this collectively. Here, we need to definitely have a Minister for External Trade who will be responsible for African Exports however small, because when put together, they are big and ready to be exported to international markets and be offered for sale. The Minister shall put together all demands whatever be their size and put them in one basket so that they become big when they are presented to the world market for sale. Without a Minister of External Trade, we shall not be able to play the role provided for us in the Constitutive Act. Article 4 of the Constitutive Act refers to the establishment of a Common Defence Policy for the continent. We have prepared a Pact for Defence and Security. We have also formed a Council for Peace and Security, but we need a Minister of Defence to implement this policy. We have formulated a policy, but we need some one to implement it. Therefore, we need a Defence Minister of the Union as this Minister will oversee the work of the Peace and Security Council which should be people-driven and peacekeeping and intervention forces when necessary as well as the war industries and military training for performing those tasks. There must be a Minister of the Union to supervise all these. As at now , who supervises them? No one.
We will do well to remember in this gathering, the short-comings of the Organisation of African Unity since its inception in 1963 to 2000, having wasted 40 years without making any achievement. We meet every year without achieving any of the aspirations of the African Peoples. I hope we will not drift once again, waste time and use the same approach adopted by the Organisation of African Unity.
Fifteen years had elapsed since the coming into force of the Abuja Treaty which stipulates that so much should be achieved in the first year and so much in the following year up to twenty or thirty years. Fifteen years have gone by and we have gone halfway but without taking the path of implementing the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community.
When we realized that the Organisation of African Unity has failed, Regional Communities started to take shape and to become the building blocs as a result of that failure. We were forewarned by Nkrumah since 1963 and I believe it is useful for me to read to you some of the words he uttered in 1963 when he foresaw the state in which we are today. If we have heeded what Nkrumah said then, Africa would have been like the United States of America today or something close to it, but we did not. We ignored what he said and nipped it in the bud, which is why we find ourselves where we are today.
Nkrumah says “I have cautioned you in Addis Ababa that if we were not united under a single government, incidents would occur along our boarders and our peoples in their desperate efforts to lead a happy life would turn against their own revolutionary regimes that were sincere to them”. This is precisely what has happened. All the revolutionary regimes have been overthrown and we now suffer from border problems “ Whenever we move one step forward the enemy takes six steps. As we get weaker our weakness works in their favour where everything will be to the liking of our neo-colonialist enemies.” These are the words of Nkrumah. “The call for a gradual approach to African unity is to sacrifice the continent on the altar of neo-colonialism.” Nkrumah continues to say: “time and space have been compressed and transformed into insignificant obstacles, meaning that time and space are no longer an obstacle in this age” This was what Nkrumah said in 1968 and what has become of us now that we are in the Third Millennium?
Nkrumah also says: “ As long as we are not able to establish larger industrial groupings in Africa which can only be done under a united Africa, our agriculture will be at the mercy of the foreign cash-crop markets and we will have to face instability.” “What interest does a farmer has in education and mechanized agriculture and what is the point in investing capital in development as long we cannot guarantee a fair price and a market for our produce? Who would provide that for us? We can only achieve that through a common negotiating position, a single market, a single Minister of Foreign Trade, a common export-import policy, a single customs authority and a single customs tariff. What does a farmer gain from political independence as long as he cannot guarantee remunerative return for his toil and high living standards.” This is very true. He went on to say: “African unity is the only way to cure the purulent ulcer of boarder conflicts between our respective countries” Nkrumah says: “the cure for these ailments is in our hands and we see it in every customs barrier between one African country and another.” Nkrumah since then saw that this disease in every customs barrier and he said that we should unite not necessarily at the expense of our sovereignty. Countries that complain that African unity will reduce their sovereignty, have that sovereignty now reduced without achieving unity. But we can still achieve political unity based on a common defence. Look at Nkrumah since 1963 asking for a common defence, a common foreign policy, an ordinary citizenship, a single African currency; a single African monetary zone, an African central bank. We should unite for the total liberation of the continent. We need a common defence system with an African high command to ensure stability and security in Africa. These are correct prophecies.
Nkrumah says: “there is no single independent African state today that can pursue an independent approach to economic development. Most of us who tried to do so have been destroyed and forced to rejoin the erstwhile colonial fold. There is no African nation state that can stand by itself without being forced to submit to colonialism once again.”
This situation will never change as long as we do not have a clear-cut policy at the continental level, and the first step towards an integrated economy is a single monetary zone. Our proposals should have included this since 1963; one voice for Africa; a single African currency; an African monetary zone; an African central bank and a continental communications system. Nkrumah has said this in 1963, but we dodged him and aborted his ideas. Africa is now paying the price. The average African is now a prey to diseases , underdevelopment, exploitation and extortion; he is paying the price.
Dear brothers, our time cannot be compared to the past. Actions we accomplish now had their own time different from that of the past. To explain this further, a year in the past now equals 24 days. According to the scientific measurement, what we accomplished in a year in the past, can now be accomplished in 24 days. A month then is now equal to two days and a day equal to one and half hours. What we achieved in a day then, should now be achieved in an hour; a week is equal to ten and half hours. That is if we apply this to the transfer of goods within the radius of one kilometre, whether these are solid things, liquid gas or human beings. An item that takes one year to be transported in the past, now needs only 24 days instead of one year, and what you could transport within a month in the past could now be transported within two days. That means what we could achieve in a quarter of an hour in those days could now be achieved in one minute as an hour in the past is equal to 4 minutes, a day to one and half hours and a month to 45 hours only.
Time has also changed in terms of air transport. A month now is equal to an hour, meaning that a distance that could take a month to cover in the past , can now be covered within an hour. To travel from Sirte to Cape of Good Hope, Cape Town, Pretoria or Johannesburg used to take ten to twelve months on foot, but now it takes only ten hours. Our brother, Mbeki left South Africa and arrived here within ten hours. He would have arrived here after ten year, if he had to use the old methods. Therefore, what we could do in a month in the past we can now be done in an hour, meaning that a month is equal to one hour in terms of air transport, a year to twelve hours only and a day to two minutes. What we could do in a day, we can now do in two minutes. It means to send a letter to my brother, Obasanjo in Abuja in the past, I needed one month, but now I need only one minute to open the machine and contact him. In the past, it would be five months before my letter could reach President Obasanjo, but now it would reach him from Sirte to Abuja in one minute.
If we do not take this time parameters into account, we will be at a loss and will be ignorant of the time in which we live. We should pull ourselves out of the circle of failures that beset the Organisation of African Unity and may beset the African Union as well. I would like to warn against this circle and I believe the solution is to define the mandate, and decide as to who should be given that mandate. Who is responsible? Is it President Konare? Is he the one who should have this mandate and to whom should he be answerable? Is it the Chairperson of the Union and to whom shall he report ? To the Pan-African Parliament, to the Commission, to the Union Council or to the Executive Council?
We should not repeat the past approach in which all these things remained floating, all these institutions floating. The Chairperson of the Union is just a ceremonial leader without any mandate, but we need a Chairperson of the Union even if he will be is a ceremonial one. He has no mandate ; he cannot take any decision binding on any member state of the Union.
As for Foreign affairs , there is no one in charge. This is a Union that has a foreign policy towards the outside world, but who is responsible for this foreign policy? What instrument do we use to implement the foreign policy of the African Union and who is responsible? There are foreign countries that have Assistant Foreign Ministers in charge of African Affairs, but Africa has no Minister of its own. This is funny. Countries having Assistant Ministers of Defence in charge of African Affairs and Africa not having its own Minister of Defence! At least, we know of the United States and Japan. They may be in our midst here in this gathering as our distinguished guests. Who is in charge of the following institutions? The Court of Justice, the Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund, the African Investment Bank, ECOSOCC, the Council of Plenipotentiaries duly appointed by the five regions. Do they have the mandate since the Chairperson of the Commission has no mandate? We have a Commissioner For Defence and Security, have we ever heard of him, do we know his name, have we ever seen his picture, has he ever played any role in mounting intervention forces or peace keeping forces, has he trained African troops in peace-keeping operations, has he made his presence in Darfur or along Ethiopia-Eritrea boarder or in Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone or Liberia or the Great Lakes ? Has he any power to take decisions, has he any efficiency ? Yet , he exists and indeed he was appointed by us.
The Executive Council is one of the important instruments of the African Union. It is made up of Foreign Ministers. This can become the Council of Foreign Affairs headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Union, but it is not the Executive Council responsible for all African Affairs. Foreign Ministers understand only diplomacy and are in charge of that, but we cannot ask them about what happens in the field of the environment, health, transport and communications, education and agriculture as these are not within their areas of competence. Who is responsible for the African satellite and who is responsible for African airlines? Who is responsible for African railways and who is responsible for roads that link African countries to each other? Nobody. Therefore, there must be somebody who should be in charge of these matters at the level of the Union. There must be a Minister of Transport and Communications. We accept from others outside Africa to reduce our sovereignty and to interfere in our internal affairs, but we do not accept the same in the name of African unity. When we talk of African unity, we say no on the grounds that it is in conflict with our national sovereignty, not realizing that our national sovereignty is violated and threatened by lack of unity. Yet, we are prepared to cede our sovereignty to foreign powers. We accept that, saying this is the way things work in our own time, but when we talk of ceding part of our sovereignty to the African Union, we say no our sovereignty is too big a thing to compromise.
We have no sovereignty without unity. After all, national sovereignty remains as it is and we do not have to deal with it unless a particular nation state demands that or if it is in the best interest of that particular nation state. What concerns us is our common denominators; the strategic things that can be dealt with at the continental level.
You are free to run your country through a representative council, a council of ministers with a security, economic and educational system of your choice. We in the Union have nothing with that unless you need the Union to help. But the strategic things are things in which the nation states need some relief. If the Union takes charge of the maintenance and running of major air and sea ports, railways and roads, this will be a great thing that will relieve a nation state of its national burdens, which will become the responsibility of the Union.
Generally, there is no one in the Union now who is in charge of these things. Who will implement the Union's decisions and policies at the national level? We have not resolved this equation. Who is in charge of the Union's affairs in each state? If something crops up, who will be in charge?
A minor political crisis took place in Togo recently, but with the efforts of the Chairperson of the Union, the Chairperson of the Commission and ECOWAS, this crisis was resolved. The Chairperson of the Union was in Abuja, West Africa and the Chairperson of the Commission was in Addis Ababa, East Africa. How could they deal with the Togolese problem? They had to talk to each other through the News Agencies and we heard about that. What was said on the air should have been said between the two in an office at the headquarters of the Union, but they were obliged to talk to each other on the air, because they were not in the same place. This should stop. If the President of Ethiopia was the Chairperson of the Union, the Headquarters will remain in Ethiopia where the Ethiopian President becomes the Chairperson of the Union and the Commission with it. However, if another Chairperson is appointed, the Commission should move with that Chairperson. For hundred years now, we have been calling for the United States of Africa to be patterned on the United States of America and not Europe. All Africans, including those in the Diaspora have been calling for the establishment of the United States of Africa and the pattern in those days was the United States of America and not Europe.
We are a single poor nation and Europe is made of classes, a large capitalist class and a poor unemployed class.
Africa has its peculiarities, one nation, one isolated continent, whereas Asia has a number of spaces and continents we refer to as Asia. Europe has different nations and we have our own peculiarities. There are those who say it is too early. They want graduation, but why? We have been doing that for the past hundred years and we now stand at the crossroads of achievements as we head towards the road to change. The first call for unity was made hundred years ago when the well-known African Barrister, Salvester called for the holding of the African Congress . We have posted the picture of this African with his biodata on the boards inside the halls and along the corridors.
It has been more than sixty years since the Manchester Meeting was organized by Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta and the African Trade Unionist, Johnson. Pan-African events of this nature had been organized since 1958. There was unity between Zambia and Malawi, forged by the colonialists themselves between Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland now known as Malawi. We all know about the Monrovia Grouping of 20 States with the aim of establishing the United States of Africa in 1961. We also know about the Brazzaville Group that brought together 12 countries to establish the United States of Africa. They drew up the Union Charter , the Defence Pact, the Economic Cooperation Treaty and created Communications and Postal Union in 1966. They also concluded diplomatic and legal agreements; freedom of residence and free movement of individuals, industrial ownership and development banks. Do we have to repeat the same thing, go back to square one? There was Ghana, Guinea Mali Union of the African States as the nucleus of the United States of Africa. There was the Assembly of the Union and preparatory and coordination committees for popular organisations. There was the General African Congress of the African Nations held in Accra in 1958 bringing together 26 countries with the aim of establishing the United States of Africa. There was the Organisation of the African Peoples for the establishment of the United States of Africa 40 years ago. The second congress was held in Tunis in 1960 and the third in Cairo in 1961, 40 years ago. All these trade union organisations formed a coordination committee in Conakry in 1955 more than 45 years ago. There was the Cotonou Trade Union Congress held in 1957, the African Trade Union Organisation in 1959 with its headquarters in Lagos and the Federation of African Trade Union Organisations established in Brazzaville in 1959. There was the General Congress, the Executive Council and the General Assembly held in Casablanca in 1961 and the Federation of African Trade Unions in 1962 and the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity with a membership of 31 countries and the Pan-African Youth Movement, all formed about 40 years ago. There was the Conakry Congress , the Algiers Congress, the Benghazi Congress, the Brazzaville Congress and the Federation of African Parliaments, all held a quarter of a century ago.
Pan-African Economic Projects had been going on over 40 years now. The Afro Malagasy Organisation for Economic Cooperation made up 12 countries was established in 1961, the joint Afro-Malagasy Organisation and the Antananarivo Treaty of 1966, the Customs Union of West African States with the membership of seven countries, was established in 1950. The Economic Community of West African States, the Abidjan Treaty, The Gambia River Basin Organisation, the Committee on the Rights of the Chad Victims, CILLS, the Lome Accord, the Central Bank of West African States established in 1955, the Organisation for Investment in River Senegal, the Mano River Economic Union established in 1967 and the East Africa Community established between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. An executive body was formed alongside a Council of Ministers and a Legislative Council, Customs and Economic Union of Central African States formed more than 30 years ago, the Equatorial Customs Union between Gabon, Central Africa, Cameroon, Chad and the Congo. The Economic Community of the Great Lake States, the Bank of Central African States established more than 45 years ago, The African Development Bank (ADB) established more than 35 years ago.
Major landmark inroads were made into the Organisation of African Unity, the Economic Summit of 1980, the Abuja Treaty and a series of bilateral projects and agreements. Regional Communities such as ECOWAS, COMESA, CEN SAD were established. And Africa was divided into five colonial regions. Africa should have been divided into three regions: West, Central and South. Alas, we also refer to colonial demarcations such as Africa South of the Sahara, Black Africa and White Africa.
There are those who use African constitutions as a pretext. Why do we use them as a pretext? They do not exist in order to hamper African unity. It is the reality of an independent state that it should have a constitution that should not be an obstacle to African unity. This is unfair to both the African peoples and these instruments. It is a wrong reading of the history of the continent's achievements. If we had said from the word go, the constitutions would hamper Africa's unity, we would have looked for a way out. We would have discarded any article in a constitution that hampers unity. At any rate, constitutions can be amended as they are not a holy script, particularly that they are imported; they are not African ,but they originated from Europe. Libya where we are, has laws that originated from Napoleon, from the Roman laws. All African constitutions are copied from other nations and are based on conditions different from ours. There have been amendments to the Constitutive Act, but they have so far not been ratified after two or three years. We had earlier said that there should be extra-ordinary sessions for the ratification of these amendments or anything that deserves to be ratified by our Parliaments. This should be given priority. How could we neglect something so important?
Anyway, we should adjust our lives from the socio-economic points of view, but we should not shun international cooperation as long as it is based on mutual benefit and respect. We are referring to something rather paradoxical; on the surface, it looks beneficial, but beneath, it spells disaster. There are calls or proposals for extending support, assistance to Africa. We feel indebted and grateful to those who help us, but their assistance has some humiliating strings attached to it. We do not want to be humiliated for anything given to us. If you want to help, just help, but does it make sense that when a beggar approaches you in the street, you ask him what is your religion? When he answers that he is a Buddhist, do you tell him no you must become a Muslim before I can give you a cent. What is your problem? If he is in need, just give him the cent and go your way. But to say, you must dress like me, and if you ask to which direction he faces to say his prayers and he says the west, should you say to him face towards the east? Why should you want to know how many wives he has? And when he replies three, why should you say to him I will not give you anything unless you divorce your three wives and remain with only one?
We do not want this type of charity, but this is what obtains. You are forbidden to commit “adultery”, “ circumcision” and “homosexuality” are forbidden, things that I cannot say in Arabic, things that are embarrassing. They poke their nose into our business and vilify us before they give us any assistance.
They are the ones who need Africa. It is Africa that has the wealth. 50% of the world gold reserve is in Africa and one fourth of the world's uranium is also in Africa, 95% of the world's diamond is in Africa, one third of chrome and cobalt is in Africa, 65% of world's cocoa is in Africa and 95% of the world's platinum is in Africa. Africa has 25% of river, the continent is rich in raw material and other resources, but they are unexploited, and we are compelled to sell them at a give away price, just to get some hard currency. We cannot build Africa ‘s future by begging, begging has never built a nation and cannot thus we cannot build Africa's future by knocking at the doors of the Eight or Seven Big Powers. We need a cooperation plan between the big and the small nations. We will be doing Africa disservice if we keep knocking at the doors of the big nations, stretching our hands, begging. We say oh ye good Samaritans! We are begging for debt relief, cancellation or rescheduling thereby, exposing ourselves to all forms of humiliation and insults, which serves us right, because we have over-utilized the loans.
By the way, where have those loans gone? Those who took the money, how did they use it? If you have taken loan to pay salaries of employees or soldiers or the police, this is wrong. You take loan for a viably economic project. The debt principal should go to the creditors; we do not need debt rescheduling or moratorium, not for the principal, not for the interest. It is great that you took a loan for a project and then the project remains with you. But why do we do otherwise so that people say these are minors and they need a Council of Trustees. This is why the idea of this Council has not been abandoned by United Nations. It still exists. What a shame!!
It is a question of the grown ups and children. Can't everyone be capable of running his own affairs? We want to develop a tribal system and we do not want to have a party system. We are free to do so. We are just like the bush people , the desert people who do not know parties or classes or elections.
We thank Mr. Tony Blair for being enthusiastic to lend support to Africans, but should we go to the big brothers, begging and saying please, you the rich pass your leftovers to us. It is well known that when the rich eat to their satisfaction, the crumb goes to the poor. We and Blair are at the door of big brothers because Britain alone cannot render the support needed. All the same, we thank him for making the proposal to the rich that they should pity the poor. We are not poor. We are not. The figures, the percentages I read out to you, make our Continent rich enough.
They try to stigmatise us with AIDS and AIDS related assistance. They claimed to have discovered this disease in the Eighties, but it has been with us for hundred of years. We have always lived with it. But even the multinationals are exploiting us, using AIDS as a commodity to trade in. We do not face any problem on population increase. We do not suffer from the problem of AIDS or the like. We have only 3% birth rate, AIDS regardless. Only yesterday, we were 250 million and are now 700 million and tomorrow we will be a billion. Forget about AIDS, we are not bothered by it. Every one must die, people die everyday, AIDS or no AIDS. There are those who die of cancer, mad cow disease or bird flu. Why can't we borrow from non-political institutions without strings? We borrow from them and return the principal, using the money on viable economic projects that yield benefits? We come under pressure in the name of trade liberalization so that their goods can enter our markets, whilst preventing inter-African trade to freely take place among African Countries.
We are now faced with a serious problem; that of mounting oil price, which greatly affect African countries. Some countries can even collapse as a result of that. We in Africa must integrate our economies. We have oil, we have gas, and we have water. We must integrate our African economies and share the wealth. We must come up with a decision at this Summit so that our experts, economists can carry out a study on this problem.
You cannot come to a country like Libya to sell oil at a price that stands at $60 per barrel and another person comes and sells it to me at $55, reducing the price by $5 per each barrel. Libya will become a million. We Libyans will say this money is quite good. If our brothers are to give us the water which Libya needs, we should give them oil, we can give them oil. You have only four African countries without rivers: Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. The rest, thanks to God have rivers. We must make use of Africa's water, we the four dry countries. We have the oil, we have gas in Algeria. This is your own African wealth. This issue needs to be studied. We should not depend only on what Libya or Algeria can offer in oil and gas at a cheap price. But the Algerians may not allow President Bouteflika to do that and the Libyans may not allow the Secretary of the General People's Congress For Foreign Liaison to do so. Libyans are happy that the price of oil has gone up whilst their African brothers suffer from that. We have to examine this problem.
Since 1963, we have been talking about an African market. There must be an African market, and Stock Market. I met with experts in this very place at an international level and I sought their opinions on the issue. They said an African market was a must, because the inconvenience in dealings between African countries would be overcome if there were stock exchange markets between them. If it is electronic, it would solve the problem of language in Africa, it would solve the problem of middlemen obstructing and causing prices to go up in the local markets of Africa nation states. According to a study, capital flight from Africa is about 205% that goes to the outside world, whereas what comes in is just 3% .We must absorb this 205% within an African Market.
We would like to tell our brother Kofi Annan , the UN Secretary General whom we have the pleasure of having in and midst here today that what was put to us was not about the expansion of the Security Council, but the reform of the United Nations, which to our mind means, first and foremost, reform of the General Assembly in which all nations are represented, and then the Trustees Council, the Security Council, the ECOSOC, the International Court of Justice, FAO, UNICEF, UNESCO etc.. This is the UN and its Organisations. When they told us, it was the reform of the UN, we felt delighted and said this was about the General Assembly which would be the first to reform in order to democratise the UN, the Global Parliament. If we negate democracy within the General Assembly as the World Parliament, there is no other place where we can ask for democracy.
As it is now, the General Assembly annually causes its Member Nations embarrassment, because it is just symbolic like the Hyde Park in Britain. In fact, I was told that in Hyde Park you could say whatever you want to say, but in the General Assembly, you have only five minutes to speak and its resolutions are not binding. We have permanent seats in the General Assembly, therefore we do not need any more permanent seats there. You told us of the reform of the UN, we said yes, and expressed our views on the issue, saying reform should be about the General Assembly which should be given the mandate of the Security Council and its resolutions should be binding; it should become responsible for the implementation of the provisions of Chapter Seven of the UN Charter. The Security Council should then become an instrument for the implementation of the resolutions of the General Assembly and the rulings of the International Court of Justice.
It was only the other day that the International Court of Justice pronounced its judgment on the Lockerbie Affair, saying that the Security Council has nothing to do with it even though all the resolutions on sanctions imposed on Libya were adopted by the Security Council.
We believe that reform should be about respecting the decisions of the International Court of Justice, but in the end it turned out to be about the expansion of the Security Council. At the beginning, they talked about the expansion of the Security Council and we said then you might as well dissolve the General Assembly and retain only the Security Council, distribute the seats and share the mandate and expand the Security Council to the extent that we can do away with the General Assembly. In the end, it appeared they needed only two permanent seats in the Security Council; one for the developing countries and the other for the developed countries. It means the developing countries are quarrelling over only one seat. We don't need it.
We asked for the reform of the United Nations or nothing. Dag Hammarskjold found himself in 1960 in the same situation as our brother, Kofi Annan now does. They said the recent development in Africa, which culminated in a large group of African countries joining the United Nations and whose number were only 34, places the United Nations in the position of a Union and impacts on its effectiveness and executive powers as well as its organs .The development that took place in African then by 24 African countries attaining independence impacted on the United Nations, its organs and laws, because we are now more than 50 states.
Who is the United Nations? It is us the Nations that are now represented in the General Assembly, but if the definition of the United Nations is about the states that stood together against Germany in World War II, those were the countries that were concerned about establishing the United Nations and their Force Commander was Eisenhower. There were four nations that became united against Hitler with Eisenhower as their Force Commander. That was the United Nations which was against Germany, but if we are talking about the United Nations we created, then we have to have our full rights in that United Nations.
In the presence of all these delegates, representing the various international players, we declare our rejection of the idea of linking North Africa to the Middle East. The Middle East, is just a name used in Asia. Colonialism divided Asia into the Middle East, Far East and Near East, which have nothing to do with Africa. From now on, I hope no one will try to link North Africa to the Middle East, because this a colonialist racist tag. Please excuse my language, but we normally refer to the Middle East as the “ Dirty East”.
At any rate, we are between two African leaders here, Presidents Obasanjo and Mbeki who have been awarded the medal of good African citizens for the work they and their countries have accomplished in the service of peace in Africa. Two countries that have met the cost of maintaining peace keeping forces in Africa from their national budgets in order to defuse tension in the Great Lakes Region, in Burundi, in Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and in Liberia. Alas, their efforts have not been appreciated, because they were not deployed within a context where you have a Minister of Defence that organizes and arranges them in such a way that they can have their real impact. We have 2.4 million African soldiers; we have an African Army of 2.4 million soldiers. We spend 15 billion dollars per annum on these soldiers. So why should we need troops from outside Africa?
I really feel that I have spoken for too long, but I thought I should say all what I have said despite my sore throat and despite having exhausted myself, but one has to make some sacrifice.
Once again, I welcome you all to your country, Libya. Our resources are at your disposal. I welcome all our distinguished guests, particularly our brother, Kofi Annan and other delegates.
Thank you, and Peace be Upon You.