Press Releases

    DSG/SM/170
    ECOSOC/6031
    7 October 2002

     UN WILL REMAIN MOZAMBIQUE’S CLOSE PARTNER; DEPUTY
    SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
    COMMEMORATIVE GATHERING

    NEW YORK, 4 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette to the Economic and Social Council meeting commemorating the tenth anniversary of the signing of the general peace agreement ending the conflict in Mozambique in New York on 4 October:

    Let me start by thanking the President of the Economic and Social Council for convening this meeting. It offers us a welcome opportunity to draw attention to an African success story, which is also a success story for the United Nations.

    The signing of the General Peace Agreement for Mozambique 10 years ago brought an end to a long-running conflict that drove millions from their homes, destroyed much of Mozambique’s economic and social infrastructure, and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives either directly through fighting or due to widespread hunger and disease.

    Since choosing the path of peace, the people of Mozambique have worked hard to safeguard the democratic electoral process, to create a dynamic civil society and to stress the importance of human rights. Today the dividends of Mozambique’s decade of peace are plain for all to see. Moreover, Mozambicans have brought the same courage to bear on other national challenges: the devastating floods of February 2000, and the spread of HIV/AIDS and threat of drought today.

    This experience has lessons for all countries. A number of factors stand out as particularly important:

    First is political will. Put simply, the parties had the wisdom to realize there would be no military solution to the conflict and committed themselves to resolving their differences through negotiation.

    Second is leadership. President [Joaquim] Chissano and the leader of the Resistencia National Mocambicana (RENAMO), [Alfonso] Dhlakama, demonstrated great pragmatism and flexibility in implementing the peace agreement.

    Third, and of particular relevance to this Council, is economic and social development. Very early on, the United Nations operation had the benefit of ample resources for quick-impact projects that showed the people that peace could bring at least some small but immediate improvements in their lives. Over time, Mozambique’s economy began to recover, and today it is growing robustly, often surpassing targets despite the disruptions caused by the floods. People have jobs, and therefore hope.

    Fourth is international support, from the European Union, Japan and others, including of course the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Roman Catholic lay organization dedicated to social concerns, which played a crucial mediating role.

    Fifth is the regional context. The end of apartheid and establishment of democratic rule in South Africa offered a peaceful horizon for the entire region.

    Sixth is institutional renewal. This was a major focus of the United Nations mission and included the transformation of the former opposition into a political party. The Southern Africa Development Community has also devoted its energies to creating regional mechanisms for cooperation that have opened up opportunities for Mozambique.

    Seventh is the clear mandate set out by the Security Council. This was later one of the main points made by the Brahimi report.

    Mozambique’s history over the past year defies the commonly held negative stereotype of Africa, and illustrates what effective partnership can achieve. But reconstruction is not finished, and the country faces many serious challenges. I urge the Economic and Social Council to remain engaged with the people of Mozambique in their inspiring struggle. Today should be not only a day of commemoration, but one on which we pledge our renewed commitment to their future security and well-being. As the Secretary-General said during his visit to Mozambique last August, the United Nations will remain the country’s close partner.

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