Never to be a Colony Again: Dignity, Defiance, and Self-Determination

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The following is my transcription of the spoken statement delivered at the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly by Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe. The statement below begins at the 8:43 mark of: 26 Sep 2013 – Address by His Excellency Robert Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe at the general debate of the 68th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (New York, 24 September-1 October 2013)Once again Mugabe’s statements are right on target, and an excellent antidote for the remarks made by Obama (some of which also appear below). We need to hear more interventions such as these at the UN, and fortunately this year we had some–more from Dilma Rousseff follows below.

Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans

Mr. President, Zimbabwe supports the reform of the United Nations to strengthen the central role in promoting multilateralism and to be effective in tackling current and future global challenges. We are convinced that the reform will strengthen the organization’s capacity to fully promote and implement the principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter, and improve its democratic decision-making. In this regard, the reform in the economic and social actions of the United Nations remain of fundamental importance to us. Our firm belief in multilateral cooperation means that we place a premium on the ability of the United Nations system to deliver efficient development cooperation. The democratic transformation of the architecture of the international financial system is quintessential, as is a root and branch reform of the international trading system. The terms of trade have hugely burdened developing countries for too long.

Mr. President, Zimbabwe supports the ongoing efforts to revitalise the General Assembly, which is the most representative organ of the United Nations. We believe that the General Assembly should take the lead in setting the global agenda, and restore its primacy that has over the years been encroached upon by other organs. We cannot accept situations whereby the United Nations Security Council is increasingly encroaching on issues that traditionally fall within the General Assembly’s purview and competence, including in the area of norm setting.

Indeed, recent events have revealed that its formal decisions, that is, the decisions of the…Security Council…have provided camouflage to neo-imperialist forces of aggression, seeking to militarily intervene in smaller countries in order to effect regime change and acquire complete control of their wealth. This was so in Libya where, in the name of “protecting civilians,” NATO forces were deployed with an undisclosed mission to eliminate Gaddafi and his family. A similar campaign had been undertaken in Iraq by the Bush and Blair forces in the false name of eradicating weapons of mass destruction, which Saddam Hussein never possessed.

We appreciate the central role that the United Nations should play in furthering multilateralism, in preference to unilateralism. In this regard, we applaud the consultations and negotiations on the eventful destruction of the chemical weapons in Syria. My country expresses its gratitude and appreciation to Russia and China for their principled stand on Syria. We hope and trust that the Syrian people will soon sit in dialogue to discuss peace and desirable political reforms.

Those Western countries in pursuit of hegemony, as they pretend to be advocates of “democracy,” must be resisted.

Mr. President, for Africa the reform of the United Nations Security Council is especially long overdue. The anachronistic and unrepresentative character of the Security Council must be redressed. For how long shall Africa continued to be denied the right to play a pivotal role in the United Nations Security Council, as it decides measures on conflicts within its [Africa’s] own borders? The Security Council needs to be more representative, democratic, transparent, accountable and accessible to the wider membership, for its decisions to have more legitimacy. Africa’s case for the correction of the glaring historical injustice of being unrepresented in the “Permanent” category, and under-represented in the “Non-permanent” category [of members of the Security Council] has been made through the clear, fair, and well-articulated Ezulwini Consensus. Zimbabwe remains steadfast in its support of the Ezulwini Consensus, which in fact is a demand.

Mr. President, Zimbabwe strongly condemns the use of unilateral economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool to effect regime change. Thus, the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, by the United States and the European Union, violate fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter on state sovereignty and non-interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state. Moreover, these illegal sanctions continue to inflict economic deprivation and human suffering on all Zimbabweans. In the eyes of our people, the sanctions constitute a form of hostility and violence against them, for the simple “crime” of undertaking the land reform program by which land was put in the hands of the then majority landless Zimbabweans. Our small and peaceful country is threatened daily by coveters and bigoted big powers whose hunger for domination and control of other nations and their resources knows no bounds.

Shame! Shame! Shame, we say to the United States of America!

Shame! Shame! Shame, we say to Britain and its allies…who have continued to impose sanctions, illegal sanctions upon our people [U.S. delegation stands and leaves the room at this point].

Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans, and so are its ample resources. Please, may these counties remove their illegal and iniquitous sanctions from my peaceful country.

If these sanctions were intended to effect regime change, well, the results of the recent national elections have clearly shown them that they cannot achieve their regime change agenda. Mr. President, we are preached to daily by the West on the “virtues of democracy and freedom,” which they do not totally espouse. Zimbabwe took up arms precisely to achieve freedom and democracy—there was none during colonialism, and it was British colonialism for that matter. Yet we have been punished by the United States, through the odious “Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act” enacted in 2001 to effect regime in the country. Now this malicious intent to continue the relentless persecution of our small, peaceful country has shown itself again through the USA’s rejection of the recent, absolutely democratic and fair elections…election results of our July 31st general elections, even as they were applauded by the African Union and all our regional organizations. It appears that when the United States and its allies speak of “democracy” and “freedom,” they are doing so in relative terms. Zimbabwe, however, refuses to accept that these Western detractors have the right to define democracy and freedom for it. We paid the greatest sacrifice, we paid the ultimate price for it, for freedom and independence in Zimbabwe, and we remain determined never to relinquish our sovereignty. At the same time we remain masters of our destiny. As we have repeatedly and loudly said, and asserted, Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.

I want to thank you for listening. [Applause]

*****

Brazil: Fighting for Information Sovereignty, Leading the Way Out of U.S. Dominance

The comments below are part of the speech delivered by Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, on September 24, 2013, at the same 68th session of the UN General Assembly:

Mr. President,

I would like to bring to the consideration of delegations a matter of great importance and gravity.

Recent revelations concerning the activities of a global network of electronic espionage have caused indignation and repudiation in public opinion around the world.

In Brazil, the situation was even more serious, as it emerged that we were targeted by this intrusion. Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information – often of high economic and even strategic value – was at the center of espionage activity. Also, Brazilian diplomatic missions, among them the

Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Office of the President of the Republic itself, had their communications intercepted.

Tampering in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of International Law and, as such, it is an affront to the principles that should otherwise govern the relations among countries, especially among friendly nations. A sovereign nation can never establish itself to the detriment of another sovereign nation. The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating fundamental human rights of citizens of another country.

The arguments that the illegal interception of information and data aims at protecting nations against terrorism cannot be sustained.

Brazil, Mr. President, knows how to protect itself. We reject, fight and do not harbor terrorist groups.

We are a democratic country surrounded by nations that are democratic, peaceful and respectful of International Law. We have lived in peace with our neighbors for more than 140 years.

As many other Latin Americans, I fought against authoritarianism and censorship, and I cannot but defend, in an uncompromising fashion, the right to privacy of individuals and the sovereignty of my country. In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of speech or freedom of opinion, and therefore no actual democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among Nations.

We face, Mr. President, a situation of grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities, and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty.

We expressed to the Government of the United States our disapproval, and demanded explanations, apologies and guarantees that such procedures will never be repeated.

Friendly governments and societies that seek to consolidate a truly strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal. They are unacceptable.

Brazil, Mr. President, will redouble its efforts to adopt legislation, technologies and mechanisms to protect us from the illegal interception of communications and data.

My Government will do everything within its reach to defend the human rights of all Brazilians and to protect the fruits borne from the ingenuous efforts of our workers and corporations.

The problem, however, goes beyond a bilateral relationship. It affects the international community itself and demands a response from it. Information and telecommunication technologies cannot become the new battlefield between States. Time is ripe to create the conditions required to prevent cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war, through espionage, sabotage, and attacks against systems and infrastructure of other countries.

The United Nations must play a leading role in the effort to regulate the conduct of States with regard to these technologies.

For this reason, Brazil will present proposals for the establishment of a civilian multilateral framework for the governance and use of the Internet and to ensure the effective protection of data that travels through the web.

We need to create multilateral mechanisms for the worldwide network that are capable of ensuring principles such as:

1 – Freedom of speech, privacy of the individual and respect for human rights.

2 – Open, multilateral and democratic governance, carried out with transparency by stimulating collective creativity and the participation of society, Governments and the private sector.

3 – Universality that ensures the social and human development and the construction of inclusive and non-discriminatory societies.

4 – Cultural diversity, without the imposition of beliefs, customs and values.

5 – Neutrality of the network, guided only by technical and ethical criteria, thus making unacceptable any restriction due to political, commercial, religious or any other purposes.

*****

Obama at the UNGA: We Only Do Good in the World, the World Needs Us

In what was possibly the most unbelievable, irresponsible, factually wrong, and offensive statement to a UN audience by a U.S. President in quite some time, Barack Obama made the following statement as part of his demagogic effort:

I have made it clear that even when America’s core interests are not directly threatened, we stand ready to do our part to prevent mass atrocities and protect basic human rights. But we cannot and should not bear that burden alone. In Mali, we supported both the French intervention that successfully pushed back al Qaeda, and the African forces who are keeping the peace. In Eastern Africa, we are working with partners to bring the Lord’s Resistance Army to an end. And in Libya, when the Security Council provided a mandate to protect civilians, America joined a coalition that took action. Because of what we did there, countless lives were saved, and a tyrant could not kill his way back to power.

I know that some now criticize the action in Libya as an object lesson. They point to the problems that the country now confronts — a democratically elected government struggling to provide security; armed groups, in some places extremists, ruling parts of a fractured land. And so these critics argue that any intervention to protect civilians is doomed to fail — look at Libya. No one is more mindful of these problems than I am, for they resulted in the death of four outstanding U.S. citizens who were committed to the Libyan people, including Ambassador Chris Stevens — a man whose courageous efforts helped save the city of Benghazi. But does anyone truly believe that the situation in Libya would be better if Qaddafi had been allowed to kill, imprison, or brutalize his people into submission? It’s far more likely that without international action, Libya would now be engulfed in civil war and bloodshed.

We live in a world of imperfect choices. Different nations will not agree on the need for action in every instance, and the principle of sovereignty is at the center of our international order. But sovereignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit wanton murder, or an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye. While we need to be modest in our belief that we can remedy every evil, while we need to be mindful that the world is full of unintended consequences, should we really accept the notion that the world is powerless in the face of a Rwanda or Srebrenica? If that’s the world that people want to live in, they should say so and reckon with the cold logic of mass graves.

In Libya, the U.S. and its NATO allies both directly terminated countless lives–and they remain countless, because the new “government” in Libya and both the UN and NATO refuse to count the dead–and they enabled the killing of thousands of others by the so-called rebels. The U.S. prolonged a war, which was coming to an end in March of 2011, by a further seven months. Benghazi was never in danger of being wiped out–but Sirte was most definitely destroyed, in large part with the help of seven months of bombing. Obama continues to spin these outright falsehoods in the hope that the world consists of ignorant and gullible people (accustomed, perhaps, to finding so many such people at home, among those who elected him).

Gaddafi was never out of power, until the U.S. and its proxies killed him out of power. That Libya was better off under Gaddafi is by very far a measurable and objective recognition of reality, that even some among his opposition have gone on the record in stating to the international media. Now Libyans continue to be killed, imprisoned and brutalized into submission–the U.S. did not stop that by any means, it enabled a wave of atrocities unlike Libya has ever known since the Italian colonial occupation. It is a disaster zone of continued violence–that Obama is misleadingly willing to recognize negative consequences, but only insofar as four Americans were killed on September 11, 2012, only reaffirms the kind of blindness he wishes to impose on his audience. Libya continues to be engulfed in civil war and bloodshed, and that is thanks in part to U.S. intervention, which is itself ongoing even if in different forms than in 2011.

As for sovereignty not being a shield for tyrants to commit murder, Obama need only put up for trial those in the U.S. responsible for torture, for unprovoked wars of aggression, and for the execution of thousands of civilians by U.S. drone strikes, or shut up. Until Obama, Bush, and their predecessors stand trial for war crimes, and crimes against humanity, they have nothing to lecture the world about ending sovereignty to prosecute injustices.

2 thoughts on “Never to be a Colony Again: Dignity, Defiance, and Self-Determination

  1. […] Fourth, unlike Samantha Power’s strange assertion, UNSCR 2118 does not create a “new norm” (and if it does, she does not specify which). Conventions against chemical weapons already exist in international law, and in formal agencies of the UN. After all, the document itself clearly names the primary one: the OPCW. If there is a “new norm” to be set, it is to be set not by the Security Council but rather by the General Assembly, as we heard Robert Mugabe explain here recently. […]

  2. […] Fourth, unlike Samantha Power’s strange assertion, UNSCR 2118 does not create a “new norm” (and if it does, she does not specify which). Conventions against chemical weapons already exist in international law, and in formal agencies of the UN. After all, the document itself clearly names the primary one: the OPCW. If there is a “new norm” to be set, it is to be set not by the Security Council but rather by the General Assembly, as we heard Robert Mugabe explain here recently. […]

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