WSSD Statements: Kuwait, Sudan
Excellency Dr. Mohammed A. Al-Jarallah
Minister of Health of The State of Kuwait
World Summit for Sustainable Development
Johannesburg, South Africa
2nd September 2002
It gives me great pleasure, speaking on behalf of the delegation of the State of Kuwait, to extend to You Sir, and the government and friendly people of South Africa, our profound thanks for the warm hospitality accorded to us.
We are pleased to see this high-level participation in the WSSD, which in our view, is a testimony to the importance attached by the entire international community to the need to safeguard our environment and to attain sustainable development with a view to ensure human dignity and clean and healthy living for our current and future generations.
The primary objective of this World Summit is to give a new meaning to the concept of cooperation towards sustainable development in the new millennium at the global level. It also strives through the adoption and implementation of strategies aimed at improving the standard of living of as many peoples and countries as possible to alleviate the indignity of poverty. Perhaps the development of a strategy for solving the problems of foreign debt of poor and least developed countries is one of the key challenges that all of us must address, each according to our capabilities and resources. The developed countries in particular should fulfil their responsibilities in terms of the degradation of the human environment and its consequences on other countries.
Governments assumed obligations to meet the targets of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 whereby some of the conference objectives in the framework of sustainable development have been achieved, especially in the fields of health, education and improving standards of living. An Arab initiative for sustainable development has been adopted which aims at overcoming the challenges facing the region's countries in their attempt to achieve sustainable development. The Initiative reiterates the region's commitment to implementing agenda 21 and the millennium development goals outlined in the Millennium Declaration bearing in mind the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities for developed and developing countries.
The State of Kuwait has an absolute belief in the right of peoples to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the charter of the United Nations. Implementation of this right is one of the primary objectives, which the United Nations must safeguard. It is needless to recall, that scores of nations in all continents gained their independence under that right. This makes it imperative on all members of the international community to demonstrate solidarity in order to lend support to the peoples that continue to languish under the yoke of foreign occupation. These peoples do need our support in their legitimate struggle to attain independence and to preserve their right of control over their natural resources and economic assets.
In line with our international commitment to the advancement of the economic and social efforts of the developing and least developed countries to combat hunger and poverty, the State of Kuwait set up several specialized agencies and institutions that offer economic and social aid to those countries. May I recall here the initiative of His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, in 1988, when he demanded in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly to write off the interests of debts owed by the developing countries. To match words with deeds, Kuwait for its part moved to drop its debt interest due on the indebted nations. In addition it called for a re-examination of the debt principals owed by the least developed nations meanwhile unilaterally cancelling some of those debts. In addition, Kuwait has consistently made special efforts to reach out with development assistance to those states. In many cases the volume of our official development assistance exceeds the percentage set by the United Nations for the developed countries. Furthermore the State of Kuwait consistently supports national, regional and sub-regional initiatives and action programs especially through financing small projects and institutional and technical cooperation in order to alleviate the burdens of extreme poverty, giving special priority and attention to the role of women. Believing in its international responsibility to contribute to the social and economic advancement of poor and developing countries, the State of Kuwait set up many funds and specialized agencies to lend economic support to these countries. One such fund is The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, through which the country financed more than 600 development projects in different fields aimed at improving the standard of life for the people in developing countries. The funds contributions have reached over 12 billion dollars.
In the framework of achieving sustainable development, the State of Kuwait is currently pursuing overall reforms in terms of restructuring its economy. These include, among other things, enactment of new laws and legislations that cover, for example, the combat of money laundering, intellectual property rights, foreign investment regulation, amendment of trade laws, amendment of the current tax system, privatisation of state owned companies while encouraging small and medium sized private businesses as these constitute a crucial driving force for reforming our national economy as a whole. All this is done taking into account the existing social security network and without prejudicing the interests of low income households, in addition to investing in environmental projects and encouraging international and regional institutions to increase their investments.
Notwithstanding the new economic windows of opportunity, globalization opens up for all countries in terms of trade expansion, capital and foreign investment flows, streamlined transfer of technology, reduced transportation and communications costs, easier flow and dissemination of information, there is a growing sense on the part of the developing nations that additional measures should be taken to fend off the technical, economic, environmental and social adverse implications of globalization. Globalization, as we perceive it, should be a new dynamic positive force that serves the common interests of all peoples of the world. Plainly put, it should ensure equity and fairness in as much as it should provide for the needs of the developing countries without jeopardizing their sovereignty or cultural identity. Special priority should be given to stimulating the partnerships and cooperation between countries of the north and south, and between the different groups representing civil society and governments bearing in mind the Arab Initiative for sustainable development. This partnership should be fair, non selective and should not contain political and economic stipulations in order to encourage the achievement of sustainable development globally.
In order to maximize the benefits of free trade and access to world markets, and to acquire the resources and technologies needed for global development, it is essential that the developed countries fulfil their obligations under the World Trade Organization framework. We must stress that trade should be used as a means of development as outlined in the Monterey consensus regarding the implementation of Doha conclusions. These include, inter alia, easier access of developing countries to WTO membership and addressing the marginalization of the least developed countries in world trade. Also, the emergence of a globalised economic system should not compromise the ability of the developing countries to exercise their inherent right of pursuing growth and progress. World Trade should not be restrictive in a way that impedes access of their exports to world markets or deny them their fair share of resources and technologies required for their development. Furthermore, setting additional arbitrary criteria under the pretext of environmental protection would have negative impact on the developing countries trade and undermine their products competitiveness and impede their progress.
The State of Kuwait has made considerable environmental contributions at the local, regional and international levels. We adopted a clear environmental strategy that aims at rational utilization of all our natural resources while safeguarding our environment in the context of sustainable development. Our engagement at the regional level is geared towards strengthening cooperation amongst the regional neighbours with a view to preserve our environment, especially as we are all coastal states of open and shared seas. For its part, Kuwait has acceded to a series of international agreements and our regional cooperation is anchored in the provisions of these accords. Kuwait supports the capacity-building approach of all society sectors, employment of scientific research in the service of maintaining a sustainable environment and the protection of human health within the framework of our overall drive to implement the whole gamut of Agenda 21 provisions. Given the importance Kuwait attaches to economic policies and measures taken at the governmental level to bolster the underpinnings of sustainable development, we have considerably and massively spent funds on the key sustainable development components like education, health care, social welfare programmes, housing, electric power and water infrastructures.
The economy of the State of Kuwait is primarily based on crude oil production and export. Against a backdrop of intense international trends and moves to adopt a host of measures and policies dealing with environmental issues and to curtail their harmful impacts, Kuwait would like to stress here that it is imperative to embrace a moderate and balanced package of decisions on the whole set of issues involved. Such a package should not do injustice to our group of developing countries; especially those whose economies depend on a single commodity i.e. oil production and export, in dealing with the economic and social implications of the implementation of international policies and programmes regarding global environmental issues. These countries must be fairly compensated in order to offset harms to their development programmes. Furthermore, we call for the provision of financial, technical and technological assistance to those countries in order to help diversify their sources of income, upgrade production quality and techniques to be in line with established environmental standards.
The Salvation of our planet must translate into a massive campaign around which mankind must rally its efforts to maintain life, which in turn would safeguard the planets riches for our forthcoming generations who hopefully will enjoy a better future.
Thank you, Mr.
H.E. ELTIGANI ADAM ELTAHIR
Minister of Environment and Physical Development
at the World Summit for Sustainable Development,
Johannesburg, South Africa
02 September 2002
Your Excellency President Thabo Mbeki, President of The Republic of South Africa, Chairman of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Your Excellencies, the Heads of States and Government representatives.
It gives me great honour, Mr. President to congratulate you upon the hosting of your great sister country to this international summit which is reckoned as a salient landmark in development deliberations in the history of mankind as it coincides with the beginnings of the third millennium with all its challenges and new development perspectives which are built on what had been agreed upong during the first Earth Summit of 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. In that sense it is a pride for all humanity to break away from the yokes of thinking about the momentary or instantaneous benefits to the wider horizon and welfare of future generations through the preservation of the environment and all that pertains to it.
If the 1992 conference is to be considered as a world-wide consensus on the plans for implementing Agenda 21, then this conference should be a real initiation of a genuine world-wide cooperation to achieve sustainable development. We look forward for such international cooperation based on mutual understanding and without political selectivism. Such cooperation can be realized through the promotion of dialogue between civilizations and respect of multiculturalism as well as through the abstinence from imposing unilateral economic sanctions .
As you know, Agenda 21 has been a rich framework which we took as our guide for setting national strategies and plans taldng into consideration the three pillars of sustainable development.
The concern for environment is demonstrated in the inception of institutions which are entrusted with the implementation of the national plans on sustainable development. On the top of these institutions is the Ministry of Environment and Physical Development, which incorporates the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources. The Ministry in collaboration with other ministries and departments formulated a number of strategies with environmental dimension e.g. The National Comprehensive Strategy (1992-2002) The Salvation Economic Programme (1992-1993). The Capacity Building Programme; Environmental Protection Act 2001, The National Strategy for Biodiversity (2001) The National Plan for Combating Desertification; Capacity building for Climate Change, Population Policy, Poverty Reduction Strategy 2002, as well as a 25 year strategy (2002-2027) which is currently under preparation. All of the foregoing list of achievements is to be found in some -detail in Sudan's National Report. Above all these concerns were incorporated in Sudan's 1998 constitution.
However, we need to mention some of the constraints that hindered or even aborted many of the sustainable development programmes particularly the economic siege (declared or undeclared) which began to clear away recently. It is to be mentioned as well that the Official Development Assistance which we used to receive from sister and friendly countries deteriorated from 800 million US dollars a year to a mere 80 million US dollars during the decode of the 1990s. This was aggravated by the fact that Sudan's foreign debt his soared to 21 billion dollars, much of it is due to interest on past debt. This influenced our strategy on poverty reduction, which is considered an important component for implementing plans on sustainable development. We hope as well that the move to multiparty system and democracy as well as the improvements in Sudan's relations will lead to better understanding and consequently an influx of foreign assistance.
It is worth mentioning as well that the Sudan has experienced civil strife at home and a flow of refugees and displaced persons from neighboring countries. The government exerted considerable efforts in reaching peace through rounds of negotiations under the Umbrella of IGAD that resulted up to now in Machakos (Kenya) Peace Framework and the current negotiations going on hoping to reach sustainable peace in the country.
At the end of my address I see it incumbent upon me to call upon donor states and international organizations to avail the necessary financial resources for the developing countries in order to help these countries in realizing sustainable development. It is a fact that these countries have experienced a serious drop in the official development Assistance through the past 10 years. We as well call upon the donor countries to cancel the debts which are burdening the poor countries and affecting their sustainable development plans as well as provide the developing countries with the necessary technology need for safe and clean production. There should be an international complementarily of responsibility towards the quality of life of future generations.
Thank you for listening