BY H.E. MR. BORYS TARASYUK,
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF UKRAINE
AT THE MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS
SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE STATE OF AFRICA
29 SEPTEMBER 1999
Ukraine appreciates and supports the Netherlands’ initiative in organizing this open and serious debate so much needed by the African nations and by the Security Council itself. Let me also express gratitude to the Secretary-General for his briefing on this topic of fundamental importance for the United Nations.
The debates in the General Assembly have clearly shown the major challenges and grievances of the mankind which, unfortunately, have become hyper-magnified most of all in Africa. Extreme poverty and lack of sustainable development, starvation and insufficient medical care as concealed roots of numerous armed conflicts swept across the continent. While economic recession and inadequate protection of democratic values gives birth to internal political instability, rebellious separatism, terror and sufferings of millions of people.
Therefore, as the highest universal organization designed to promote global peace and security, the United Nations and especially its Security Council should pay primary attention to this most vulnerable continent. In this connection, my delegation believes that the kind of response provided so far by the Security Council to the real needs of the African continent should be invigorated and further pursued with the utmost perseverance and consistency. It is our common responsibility to bring peace, prosperity and sustainable development to this vast region.
As a founding member of the United Nations, Ukraine has always followed
closely the developments on the African continent and supported the quest
for independence of the peoples of Africa. We have a long record of providing
this support in the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly, called earlier
the Committee on Decolonization. Ukraine was also a very active member
of the Special Committee against Apartheid, contributing to the elimination
of this shameful phenomenon. This experience gave us better understanding
of the deep roots of existing problems, as well as of the complexity of
In addition, Ukraine fully comprehends the problems of Africa as a nation that has regained its independence only 8 years ago, and thus had to build its new state practically from the scratch: to create institutions, introduce legislation and economic reforms, strengthen national identity.
Therefore, allow me to share some ideas on what contribution we all
can make into the efforts of the African nations to cope with their challenges.
First, we should promote advanced economic development of the region: both bilaterally and through concerted international efforts.
For decades, Ukraine maintained close traditional ties with African countries. Tens of thousands African specialists graduated with higher education diplomas in Ukraine. Miles of railroads, highways and pipelines, power stations or industrial plants were constructed by Ukrainians in many countries of this continent. After a short break, caused by our transition period, we are trying now to revive and expand these old bonds, to make our contribution to economic growth and social stability, and to keep in touch with their needs and aspirations. That was actually the main reason for Ukraine`s first participation in the July summit of the Organization of African Unity in Algiers, where I headed the Ukrainian delegation. And I`m deeply thankful to the Foreign Minister of Algiers for his kind invitation.
Second, we can see that many current conflicts in Africa are caused by militant separatism, inter-ethnic tensions or intolerance, rebellious groups which resort to military force to meet their dubious ends.
In this context, upholding the principle of territorial integrity of nations within their recognized borders Ukraine resolutely condemns any violent actions of rebels against populations and legitimate governments.
We have gained experience in how to tackle such problems both internally and in international relations. Ukraine has knowledge in settling the inter-ethnic tensions, in promoting tolerance toward national minorities. An example is the successful resolution of very delicate issues to bring back, resettle and accommodate hundreds of thousands of deported Crimean Tartars who enjoy all the rights of our democratic society and live in peace alongside with other peoples of a multinational Ukraine.
Besides, Ukraine is making its tangible contribution to resolving the complex security problems in its close neighborhood, being a guarantor of peace in Transdnistria (Moldova), active promoter of the peaceful settlement in Abkhazia (Georgia) and Nagorny Karabakh (Azerbaijan), negotiator and proponent of peaceful initiatives from the very beginning of the Kosovo conflict.
Our experience in political mediation and peacekeeping activities can be of interest to African nations, especially in view of the ongoing debate about authorizing UN peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Sierra Leone. These first signs of increased attention of the Security Council to the problems of Africa will be important not only for the Lusaka and Lome processes, but would bear fundamental significance for the entire African continent.
In this connection, a particular emphasis has certainly to be placed on closer cooperation of the United Nations with the Organization of African Unity and African sub-regional organization. All this will provide a clear testimony of whether the ill-famed Afro-fatigue syndrome and Afro-pessimism have definitely given way to Afro-enthusiasm.
Third, many conflicts in Africa are aggravated by illicit arms sales
and mercenary activity.
Ukraine was one of the initiators of drafting and adoption in 1989 of the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, and it complies in good faith with its obligations. The Ukrainian legislation envisages severe criminal penalties for such activities, which are punishable by imprisonment for up to 12 years.
One of the acute problems often referred to is the need to strengthen
arms embargoes and combat illicit arms flows in Africa. Ukraine commends
the increased attention of the Security Council to these problems, and
is ready to fully cooperate in this field.
We are seriously concerned about violations of the Council-imposed sanctions against illegal arms trade. Such incidents indicate that international regulation in those areas has some serious breaches.
Ukraine has always strictly followed the policy of selling arms and military equipment to the legitimate governments or to the companies authorized by such governments. We have established an effective and reliable export control regime for arms sales and are taking further measures to tighten it.
At the same time, the global practice now shows that no matter how strong export control measures a sovereign state can establish, it can not give the total guarantee against subsequent violations by third parties. Therefore Ukraine proposes to convene without delay, under the auspices of the United Nations, an international experts meeting of major arms producing countries. Its purpose would be to elaborate effective measures, which would prevent re-selling of arms from the “end-users” to third parties, and to close gaps in relevant international instruments.
Competent authorities of Ukraine are in a possession of relevant information on illegal arms trafficking in some countries and would be ready to share it with the Security Council, as well as with the Governments of concerned states. Ukrainian experts can participate in the work of a preparatory group to set up the agenda and work out the procedures of the mentioned expert meeting.
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Fully sharing the words of my Dutch colleague that Africa is not a land of troubles only but of happiness as well, not a continent of catastrophe but equally one of hope, I wish to assure you that likewise Ukraine was together with Africa at the dawn of its liberation, it will be together with Africa in its present challenges to help it become revived and prosperous in future.