Minister Dlamini Zuma Offers Message
of Support to the Fourteenth Ordinary Summit of the
League of Arab States, Beirut, 27 March 2002
Your Excellency General Emile Lahoud, President of
the Republic of Lebanon and Chairperson of the Fourteenth
of the Arab League
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses
Heads of State
His Excellency Mr. Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of
the Arab League
His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of
the United Nations
Leaders of Delegations
Allow me to express our sincere gratitude to President
Lahoud and the Lebanese Government for the warm hospitality
as well as for the kind invitation extended to us to
address this august Assembly.
The President has instructed me to convey his sincere
apologies for not being able to be here in person. On
behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement he wishes you a successful
14th Summit, which is taking place at a defining moment
in world affairs.
Solidarity, unity and co-operation among ourselves
as members of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab
League can only strengthen our voice as developing countries
in this fast changing and challenging global village.
As we meet here today the world is still plagued by
conflicts that seem intractable and this makes it impossible
for us to focus on the developmental challenges of the
21st century. The situation in the Middle East remains
a serious threat to world peace and security and hence
it occupies the minds of world leaders. Urgent, firm
and effective steps must be taken in order to secure
the rights of the Palestinian people to sovereign statehood.
Accordingly, we are distressed at the ever-deepening
Israeli - Palestinian conflict. The Non-Aligned Movement
condemns the use of disproportionate force against civilian
populations by the Israeli occupation force.
The seizures of towns and villages, the destruction
of property, extra-judicial assassinations, the obstruction
of provision of medical assistance to the injured and
other forms of collective punishment, in flagrant violation
of the Fourth Geneva Convention, have taken the region
to the precipice. We unconditionally condemn the killing
of innocent civilians on both sides of the conflict.
The continued humiliation, maligning the legitimately
elected leadership of the Palestinian people - starkly
demonstrated by the absence of President Arafat from
this meeting - only serve to harden attitudes and deepen
There can be no military solution to the Middle East
conflict. We need to take steps to encourage peaceful,
negotiated settlement of this conflict.
The Non-Aligned Movement Committee on Palestine held
a successful meeting at Ministerial level in Pretoria
on 3 May 2001 and spelt out the fundamental principles
that should guide the quest for peace in the Middle
East. It also mandated South Africa to interact closely
and at the highest possible level with all forces influential
in the Middle East conflict including the US, Israel,
the European Union and Arab states, with a view to finding
a comprehensive, just and lasting solution. In this
regard, President Mbeki convened a Peace Retreat in
South Africa in January 2002 between prominent Palestinians,
Israelis and South Africans. After extensive and frank
discussions, participants concluded that there was a
popular yearning for peace.
The Co-ordinating Bureau has played and continues to
play a critical and crucial role in forging ever-closer
solidarity and unity of action with regard to the Middle
East crisis. In this connection, the Movement welcomes
the recent US-sponsored resolution of the UNSC, which
recognises the Palestinian right to sovereign statehood,
alongside the State of Israel within secure and recognised
borders. In order to achieve this, the immediate and
faithful implementation of the Tenet Understandings
and the Mitchell Recommendations, is a necessary first
We note, with appreciation, the various initiatives
- and in particular the latest proposal by His Royal
Highness Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia - to
find a permanent and comprehensive solution to the Middle
East conflict. It is our hope that this Summit will
provide guidance and leadership to the Movement with
respect to the best way of taking this peace process
forward and fulfilling the requirements of UNSC Resolutions
242, 338 and the land-for-peace principle that we all
agree constitute the cornerstone for just and lasting
The humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Iraq remains
a cause for concern to the Non-Aligned Movement. It
is our fervent hope that the forthcoming talks between
the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, and the Iraqi
Government will serve to resolve this longstanding issue.
The Non-Aligned Movement looks forward to the day when
the rifts in the Middle East region will have been resolved
In the aftermath of the deplorable terrorist attacks
of 11 September 2001, any efforts to fight against terrorism
must be undertaken within the context of the United
Nations, the only agent for our collective security.
The growing incidence of anti-Muslim sentiments (Islamophobia)
and anti-Arab racism in the West is a cause for concern.
The vilification of any group of people, on the basis
of their ethnic origin or religious beliefs, as if they
are collectively responsible for the perpetuation of
terrorism cannot be tolerated. The deliberations of
the World Conference against Racism have become even
more relevant in dealing with the scourges of Islamophobia
and Racism, including anti-Arab sentiments.
We wish to thank esteemed Members of the Arab League,
for their crucial role in the success of that Conference.
In the same vein, we hope that the solidarity forged
at the Racism Conference will also find concrete expression
at the forthcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development
in Johannesburg and the South African Government is
looking forward to welcoming you to the Summit.
Finally, Mr. President, we are encouraged by more and
more insistent calls for closer and structured co-operation
between organizations of the countries of the South
and in particular Africa and the Arab World. The recently
adopted New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
presents a firm basis for mutually beneficial engagement
between Africa and our closest regional neighbour.
May we reiterate at this point our sincere wishes for
successful deliberations during this landmark Summit,
hosted in this beautiful city of Beirut.
Fi ammaan Allah.
Issued by: Department of Foreign Affairs
27 March 2002