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UN2K: Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo

Address By
HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

And Chairman of G-77 and China
At The Millennium Summit of the United Nations

New York, 8 September, 2000

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Your Excellencies,

Humanity has come a long way out of the ruins of the Second World War, thanks to this august organization, the United Nations. We have emerged from the era of cold war and incessant fears of global conflagrations. A new horizon is now in front of us, predicated on ever-widening possibilities for development in all spheres of human endeavors, resulting from unparalleled advances in science and technology.

But new challenges have also emerged: challenges of poverty and new diseases that have so far defied scientific knowledge and control. The world is also faced with the scourge of internal conflicts which threaten regional peace and impede social and economic development.

Although the world has generally become a safer place to live in, thanks to the contributions of the United Nations, we must all feel deeply worried that the message of hope which this organization has been spreading, is yet to reach the millions of mankind for whom it is intended. For the vast majority of our peoples, grinding poverty has remained a fact of their everyday existence.

The national governments to whom these millions look up to, for succour, find themselves in the unenviable predicament of helplessness, incapable of bringing meaningful changes in their peoples well-being, due to the heavy burden of external debts which have crippled their capacities for national initiatives.

Old diseases, such as tuberculosis, which we all thought had been eradicated, have re-appeared with devastating consequences, especially in developing countries. In addition, we now have HIV/AIDS which continue to defy control, and has now combined with malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, to form a lethal nexus with as much potential for devastation as war itself, and thus a modern day threat to world peace and security.

The new Millennium is being shaped by forces of globaIization that a re turning our world into a village. Thus, the new millennium will demand of us, more than ever before, to live and work together as members of one human family. But up to now, globalisation has meant prosperity only for the chosen few of the industrialised countries. For us in the developing world, globalisation will continue to ring hollow and of dubious value, until we see its positive effects on our fortunes. In short, globalisation has to be seen to mean the eradication of poverty. And then, and only then, will the true spirit of good neighbourliness reign in the new global village.

The world community is challenged to evolve a new system of international co-operation that will help to eliminate abject poverty throughout the world, and integrate the developing countries into the globalized world economy. At the first South Summit of the G77, held in Havana Cuba last April, it was resolved that a new and meaningful partnership with the industrialized nations needed to be forged, in order to make this earth a better place for all of us.

We must all be concerned about the persistence of internal conflicts, more especially in our region of Africa. These conflicts have proved to be very brutal, savage, and devastating. The unfortunate destruction of lives and properties and their effects on the weaker members of the society, namely children and women, remind us as members of the UN, that our objective of world peace is still beyond many communities. Our aim in the new millennium therefore must include a renewed determination to resolve these conflicts and prevent new ones so that together all humanity will reap the benefit of peace and march forward in harmony and prosperity.

External debt has emerged as the greatest obstacle to progress in developing countries. Indeed, we note with appreciation, that a number of initiatives have been put in place. The reality, however, is that these measures are inadequate. The G-77 strongly urge creditor nations to seize this historic moment to unshackle the economies of developing countries by cancelling all their external debts. This is the only way these countries can be given the chance to effectively plan for the improvement of living standards for their peoples.

We are at the beginning of a new dawn; what it portends we cannot say. But this much we owe to ourselves and to succeeding generations: a world where all nations, all races and all peoples can live in dignity and in peace with one another. We must all resolve to strengthen and reinvigorate the United Nations for the work ahead.

The reform of the United Nations, in particular, the expansion and democratization of the Security Council is, therefore, a task which can no longer be postponed, if our organization must brace up for the challenges of the new millennium. In this respect, the G-77 pledges its willingness to enter into meaningful dialogue with all our partners so as to re-energize the UN - indeed, a body for which -there is no substitute - to meet the challenges of the 21st Century and Third Millennium.

I thank you.

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