Address by the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki at the XIV Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, Havana, Cuba 14 September 2006

Chairperson, Comrade Raul Castro Ruz,
Your Highnesses,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Ambassadors,
Distinguished Delegates, Observers and Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr President, your government and "la gente de Cuba" (the people of Cuba) for your warm and cordial welcome.

I am indeed very happy to extend our word of congratulations to President Castro and the Republic of Cuba for having been elected to chair this movement of the countries of the South, the NAM. We are confident that the Republic of Cuba, which since independence has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the liberation and empowerment of the poor, will bring the same attributes to this important organisation of developing nations.

Again, we wish Fidel Castro a speedy recovery so that this important leader of the South can take his rightful place in this conclave.
We would also like to sincerely thank the outgoing chair of the NAM, Prime Minister Abddallah Badawi of Malaysia for steering the organisation with distinction over the past three years.

In coming to the Caribbean, we reaffirm, as the Non-Aligned-Movement does time and again, the solidarity of our Movement across the divides of continents and oceans. As South Africa ends her term as a member of the Troika, we reflect on a full circle from Cartagena to Durban and Kuala Lumpur and back again to the Americas. This is a circle that has often been drawn and will again continue to repeat itself in accordance with the universality of the Non-Aligned-Movement and our endearing aspirations to make of the world a better place for us and our children.

That lies at the heart of our Movement and that is the circumference of our potential strength. It is with such an ongoing sense of aspiration and anticipation that South Africa vacates her seat on the Troika in favour of another African country, Egypt.

Half-a-century ago, Indonesia hosted an important gathering that sought to make a contribution to the ordering of the system of international relations in the period following the end of the Second World War and the onset of the Cold War. Bandung, more that anything else, was an initiative on the part of the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movement to ensure that the peoples of the South take their destiny into their own hands and give notice that colonialism, apartheid and foreign domination would no longer be tolerated.

I am confident that this resolve has not changed! In fact, it is now more than ever necessary to be vigilant and protect the legacy of our past achievements in ridding ourselves of the legacy of foreign domination and a third-world status.

Ours is therefore also more than a mere geographical bonding of countries of the South, but a commitment to respect the history of our Movement, remaining loyal to the causes that inspired us from the very beginning of our common journey.

On its recent past a cohesive and united NAM made significant advances at key global conferences and on issues culminating, among others, in the historic Millennium Declaration.

In addition, the Havana South Summit formulated a comprehensive and focused agenda for interaction between ourselves, as countries of the South as well as with the developed countries of the North.

Your Excellencies;

For us to do justice to the high ideals of our predecessors and address the ongoing pressing needs of our peoples, we must remain focused on the essential reasons why all of us, representatives of billions of the people of the world, have elected to be part of this Movement.

We cannot suggest that this will be the case if we do not set ourselves unambiguous and attainable goals - and deliver the same! In this day and age we cannot afford the luxury of waiting for things to happen of their own accord, or worse, by the will of others.

The agenda before us today recognises the need to reform the structures and methodology of our Movement and seek new coherence and solidarity if we wish to be heard. Can we, as we return to our own countries, be assured that we have taken the right decisions - decisions that will work towards the alleviation and eradication of poverty and underdevelopment and the upliftment of the masses of our peoples?

Can we go from here to gather in the meeting halls of the UN knowing that we are coherent in our solidarity to confront pressing issues of development, security and human rights in the context of the current debate on UN reform? Will we say, as we conclude this important Summit that we have interrogated all issues and formulated appropriate responses that would help us defeat the scourge of unilateralism and the continuing impoverishment and marginalisation of billions of our citizens?

Indeed, Your Excellencies, many of these issues demand principled responses from us. These include the ongoing debate on the right of access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes; the self determination of the peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara; the centrality of the UN Charter and international law in the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the scourge of terrorism and its root causes.

These challenges also include the matters of conflict resolution in Africa, the pressing matters of development, with Africa being a special case where our collective efforts are required to assist individual countries meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Indeed this Movement should have a unified and principled position and respond appropriately to the comprehensive reforms of the United Nations including the newly established mechanisms such as the Human Rights Council and the Peace Building Commission.

Our meeting here in Havana - so very close to New York, the seat of the UN General Assembly and the Security Council - seems an opportune moment for us to adopt decisions that will expedite the completion of the reform of the UN. As members of both NAM and the G77, our gathering here as the XIV Summit of our Movement, must carry a unified and unequivocal message reaffirming to the world at large that the NAM is very much alive, relevant and will continue making the necessary interventions so as to ensure that the poor and the marginalised would begin to walk tall as equals among the people of the world.

Together we must continue to say - the struggle continues and victory is certain!

I thank you for your attention.

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