Address at the 8th Asean Summit, 5 November
Your Royal Highness,
Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Ambassadors,
Distinguished Secretary General of ASEAN,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I would like to thank you most sincerely for the invitation
extended to the African Union to address this important
8th ASEAN Summit, an invitation which has ensured that
we further strengthen the relations between our two
regions of Africa and South East Asia.
As the Current Chairperson of the newly established
African Union, I bring you warm greetings from the Member
States that constitute the African Union as well as
best wishes from the peoples of Africa.
It is fortuitous that we meet in Cambodia, whose King
and Head of State belongs to a distinguished generation
of Asian leaders who came together with their African
counterparts in Bandung, Indonesia at the historic 1955
Afro-Asian Conference, to define a common future for
our respective peoples.
Arising from this, His Majesty, King Norodom Sihanouk,
became one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement
when, in 1956, together with such outstanding leaders
of the African and Asian peoples as President Soekarno
of Indonesia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Jawaharlal
Nehru of India, as well as Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia,
he signed the Charter of the Movement of Non-Aligned
Countries, leading to the first Summit of the Non-Aligned
Movement in 1961.
These early developments, which reflected our common
determination to take our destiny into our own hands
in the period after the collapse of the system of colonialism,
emphasised the reality that the peoples of Asia and
Africa share a common destiny.
They sought to shape that common destiny by ensuring
that together we act on the basis of Afro-Asian solidarity,
cognisant of the need for our peoples to improve their
lives and determine their place within the global community
of nations through joint action, based on reliance on
our resources and our collective strength. They projected
the important vision of South-South cooperation as a
central factor in the construction of a new world order.
I believe that it is these same principles that have
brought us to the 8th ASEAN Summit today. The challenge
remains that we intensify our work together, to achieve
the common objectives of the eradication of poverty,
the building of developed societies and the occupation
of our rightful place in a world that continues to be
characterised by unequal relations between a developed
North and a developing South.
In this regard, I would like to express our Continent's
deep appreciation of the fact that early next year we
will all convene in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to attend
the Summit Meeting of the Heads of State and Government
of the Non-Aligned Countries. We believe that this is
most appropriate, given the outstanding role that Malaysia,
a member of ASEAN, has played practically to translate
the vision of Bandung and the objectives of the Non-Aligned
Movement into reality.
We are here today to report to this gathering the important
recent developments in Africa that bear on the pursuit
of our common objectives, to convey a message of solidarity
to the ASEAN countries gathered here and to find ways
by which we can further deepen the cooperation between
our two regions.
Our Continent deeply admires the progress made by the
ASEAN countries in the effort to achieve regional economic
integration, driven by the common objectives to intensify
solidarity, peace and friendship among themselves and
to act jointly to provide a better life for their peoples.
We are convinced that your rich experience would be
of enormous value to us as we work to achieve the same
goals you have pursued since your Association was formed
in 1967. Accordingly, we believe that it would be important
for us for our two organisations, ASEAN and the African
Union to initiate a process for the systematic exchange
of experiences to assist our Union as it strives to
achieve its objectives.
We further believe that such an exchange will also
help greatly to indicate the areas and the ways and
means in and through which we can further intensify
our cooperation in all areas that would be mutually
agreed, consistent with our common determination to
strengthen South-South cooperation.
In this regard, I would also like to express our Continent's
appreciation for the steps taken by ASEAN further to
expand the zone of cooperation among the peoples of
Asia through various initiatives relating to China,
Japan and the Republic of Korea, as well as India.
ASEAN has for a long time successfully pursued the
goal of peace within the region. We who come from a
Continent that continues to experience conflict and
war, sincerely appreciate your achievements in this
We are therefore fully at one with you in your unequivocal
condemnation of terrorism and your determination to
act together to ensure that this scourge is defeated
and not allowed to threaten the safety and security
both of your own citizens and the peoples of the world.
Our own Continent has adopted its own Convention on
Terrorism. This is currently going through the process
of ratification. When it comes into force, it will provide
the legal framework within which the countries of Africa
can and will act together to achieve the same objectives
you have set yourselves. I am certain that it will also
greatly improve the capacity of the African Union to
cooperate with ASEAN to respond to the universal threat
In this regard, I would like, once more, to extend
our sympathy and solidarity to Her Excellency Megawati
Soekarno-Putri and through her to the people of Indonesia,
following last month's terrorist outrage in Bali that
claimed so many innocent lives.
Your Royal Highness,
You are familiar with the efforts of the peoples of
Africa to move forward towards greater integration and
unity, and the realisation of the goal of the eradication
of poverty and underdevelopment. To expedite progress
in this regard, in July, our Continent established the
African Union, the successor organisation to the Organisation
of African Unity, the OAU. The Union has also adopted
as its socio-economic development programme, the New
Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD.
The question arises naturally - what is it that drives
these new and decisive initiatives!
African experience extending over a period of more
than four decades and the understanding of the capacities
that exist within our Continent have driven the governments
and peoples of Africa to form the African Union and
to adopt NEPAD.
The unhappy experience we speak of is:
one of the entrenchment of a system of neo-colonialism;
conflicts and war;
the imposition of military governments on many countries
and therefore the denial of democracy and human rights
to millions of Africans;
the growing and further impoverishment of masses of
people that were already very poor;
the mismanagement of economies, including corruption,
leading to further underdevelopment and the growth of
a parasitic elite that has objectively acted in a manner
that is inimical to the development and modernisation
of Africa; and,
the further global marginalisation of the Continent,
even as human society is progressing through greater
integration as a result of the process of globalisation.
As we speak, Africa is the only continent where poverty
in on the rise. Over 40% of Sub-Saharan African people
live below the international poverty line of US$1 a
Africa's share of world trade has plummeted, accounting
for less than 2%. More than 140 million young Africans
are illiterate, and Africa is the only continent where
the number of children out of school is rising.
The peoples of Africa have now said that the time has
come for us to move out of and beyond this terrible
past. Our Continent has said that the time has come
that we combine our forces to overcome this legacy,
and set Africa on a new path of peace, stability, democracy
and sustained progress and prosperity.
We have taken the position that we should build on
the achievements of the OAU, which was established in
1963, even ahead of ASEAN, more speedily to address
the central issue of African political and economic
integration and to translate the vision of a shared
African destiny, African solidarity and unity into reality.
We understand very well that no African country can
succeed if other sister countries fail. War and instability
in any country threatens peace and stability in other
countries. Growing impoverishment in any country drives
people across borders to search for a better life in
Objective reality dictates that we fully grasp and
act on the reality that our countries can only develop
and meet the aspirations of the people if they combine
their resources, the limited pools of skilled people
and markets, in a manner that will both enable development
to take place and evolve in a balanced and mutually
These are the imperatives that have driven the formation
of the AU and the adoption of its development programme,
NEPAD, and thus to embark on a new, exciting and decisive
journey towards the renaissance of Africa.
The various instruments approved by the AU, including
its binding Constitutive Act, the Convention on Human
and People's Rights, the Protocols for the establishment
of an African Court of Justice, the Pan-African Parliament
and the Peace and Security Council, the Declaration
on Political, Economic and Corporate Good Governance,
and NEPAD will together radically increase the capacity
and possibility for the Continent to act together to
address the central issues of democracy, human and people's
rights, peace and stability, and social and economic
As evidence of its commitment to create the conditions
of peace and stability that are so necessary both for
the protection of human lives and sustainable development,
our Continent is hard at work finally to end the conflicts
that have engulfed such countries as Burundi, the Cote
d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia
and the Sudan.
NEPAD incorporates such areas as human resource development,
including health, education, skills, gender equality
and nutrition, agriculture, diversification of production
and market access, the debt question and capital mobilisation,
regional integration, capacity building, technological
development, including information and communication
technology, environmental protection, infrastructure,
encompassing such areas as transport, energy, water
and sanitation, good governance and the formation of
what His Excellency Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad
has taught us to understand as a smart partnership between
governments, business, labour and civil society.
Conceptualised and elaborated by Africans themselves,
NEPAD seeks to achieve a new, better and equitable deal
for Africa within the global community, starting with
the building and entrenchment of a partnership among
the peoples of Africa, first and foremost, on the basis
of reliance on our own resources.
We understood that a radically new and unprecedented
paradigm change had to be made to achieve a decisive
shift away from Africa's past of abject poverty, lack
of infrastructure, absence of modern technology, poor
human resource development and weak manufacturing industry.
This paradigm shift is based on the basic proposition
that the African development agenda has to be in the
hands of Africans and that, as was said in Bandung,
we must, in the first instance act on the basis of self-reliance.
It is this determination and new resolve that is permeating
the length and breadth of our continent, that enables
us to make bold to say that the 21st century must in
reality be an African Century.
This also requires that Africa should redefine its
relationship especially with the developed world. The
concept of partnership therefore extends to our relations
with the developed North and visualises a truly equitable
partnership and not a relationship between donor and
Pointing to the universal imperative for African development,
the founding document of NEPAD declares that 'The continued
marginalisation of Africa from the globalisation process
and the social exclusion of the vast majority of its
peoples constitute a serious threat to global stability'.
As we have already indicated, we are also convinced
that beyond the partnership among the Africans, the
partnership between Africa and the developed North,
of critical importance is also the partnership with
the countries of the South, prominent among which are
the ASEAN countries.
To achieve our common objectives in this regard, requires
that we work in a systematic, purposeful and conscious
manner in fact to deepen the relations among ourselves.
In this regard, I would like to pay tribute to a number
of the members of ASEAN that have engaged various African
countries, including our own, covering such areas as
trade, investment, human resource development and technology
It is clear that the workings of the contemporary multilateral
institutions of governance do not adequately represent
the needs and aspirations of the developing countries
of the South. This is despite the fact that the founding
principles of these institutions are sound and full
of good and noble intentions.
Clearly, we share a common interest to change this
situation in our favour. Together, we must collaborate
to ensure that we change the structures of global governance
as well as the structure of the global economy such
that we achieve democracy, equity, fairness, as well
as sustained and sustainable development. This is an
inherent part of what we seek to achieve when we speak
of a New Partnership for Africa's Development.
It is our earnest belief that multi-regional co-operation
and stronger all-round relations among the peoples of
the South increase not just the volume of our collective
voice, but the quality of this voice, adding the appropriate
weight to our demand for a just and equitable world
I cannot end without referring to the important issues
of Iraq and Palestine. It is critically important that
the matter of Iraq is resolved peacefully through the
United Nations and its Security Council. We trust that
sense will prevail so that no country or combination
of countries take it upon themselves to embark on unilateral
action against Iraq, which should itself cooperate fully
with the Security Council to resolve all outstanding
Every passing day points to the urgent need to end
the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis,
to resume negotiations and afford the Palestinians their
right to form their own independent state and secure
peace for Israel within internationally recognised boundaries.
We share a common obligation to combine our respective
strengths to help bring about this outcome.
I trust that we will all emerge out of this important
Summit with a common resolve to intensify the interaction
between the ASEAN and African countries to advance the
common agenda of greater South-South cooperation as
was visualised at Bandung and concretised with the establishment
of the Non-Aligned Movement.
I make the firm and solemn undertaking that the African
Union and the peoples of Africa are ready to embark
on this journey of cooperation, friendship and solidarity
among our peoples and regions.
Once more, I thank you most sincerely for giving us
the opportunity to share our views with you and to take
yet another step towards the consolidation of Afro-Asian
I thank you.