Chairperson of the Council of Ministers, the Right Honourable Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa,
Honourable Ministers,
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General,Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, the United Nations Secretary-General Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning,
Excellencies, Ambassadors,
Esteemed Secretary-General, and
Distinguished Members of the Secretariat,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me take this opportunity to thank you most sincerely for the outpouring messages of sympathy we have received, and continue to receive from the ACP group and its member states following the passing on of President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Your messages of solidarity and support are testament to the historic bonds of fraternity and solidarity which find expression in the Georgetown Agreement of June 1975 that provides the legal framework for the establishment of our group. Over and above reflecting our historic ties, these messages most profoundly reflect our common and shared values and destiny.
Mr. Chairman, as a people, we have overcome our grief. The mood in South Africa right now is celebratory. Our people have come out in their numbers to pay homage and honour their fallen hero in the best way they know how, through song and dance. They have vowed to preserve Nelson Mandela 's legacy by steadfastly promoting freedom, justice and equality for all.
Mr. Chairman, ACP countries were a visible and significant part of the largest global social movement for the liberation of South Africa. The persistent calls from ACP countries for the release of Mandela and their propagation of the liberation struggle kept South Africa on the radar of international organisations for decades. Due to your untiring efforts and self-less sacrifices the liberation struggle of South Africa permanently captured the world's imagination. For this we shall remain eternally grateful. The solidarity we received from the ACP group and its individual member states contributed to the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, paving the way for the democratic breakthrough that ushered in a free, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa. The freedom of South Africa from apartheid and colonialism of a special type was a victory not only for South Africans, but for Africans, including those in the Diaspora, the global South and all freedom and peace loving people of the world.
Inspired by first generation Pan-Africanists such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B Du Bois and George Padmore, and pioneers of South South Solidarity such as Indonesia's Sukarno, India's Nehru and the People's Republic of China (PRC), Zhou Enlai, President Mandela, became one of the modern day's leading proponents of Pan-Africanism and South South Solidarity. In this regard, we were honoured when developing countries entrusted President Mandela with the responsibility to lead the Non-Aligned Movement at the 12th Summit in 1998 in Durban.
Mr Chairman, it was under President Mandela's watch and guidance that South Africa assumed the membership of the ACP group in 1996. By presiding over the integration of South Africa into organisations of the South, President Mandela firmly established the country as a member of groupings of countries bound by a common history and destiny; countries who bore the brunt of the trilogy of centuries of slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism. Not surprising therefore that then, as now these countries face major development challenges which manifest in poverty, underdevelopment, and disease.
As a broad framework for collaboration South South Cooperation offers us the scope to cooperate in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical fields to collectively tackle our development challenges. As a manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South South Cooperation should be used to contribute to our national well-being, national and collective self-reliance and the attainment of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Our engagement with the EU on these and other matters should be based on the principles of equality, non-conditionality, non-interference and mutual benefit. We should approach the climate change talks with the same unity of purpose. While we welcome the outcomes of Warsaw, we should call on the international community to commit to limiting global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius in a legal instrument, and agree to a common global goal on adaptation as a way to recognise that, despite its local and context specific needs, adaptation is a global responsibility. The Convention principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities (CBDR&RC) should be reflected in the individual commitments taken by Parties.
Mr. Chairman, the fundamental changes in the EU's collective attitude towards the ACP Group as a post-colonial concept pose further challenges to our group. There are growing indications that the EU is in the process of adapting its relations with the developing world and that an important element will be to push for radical institutional changes. In this context, it is likely that the EU will seek a more functional relationship with the developing world based on the changing global configuration. A new slimmer institutional arrangement is likely when the Cotonou Agreement expires in 2020 to replace the present broad ACP association.
As proposed by the Working Group on Future Perspectives, the ACP group will therefore have to reinvent and reposition itself taking into consideration the dynamics in the EU as well as the new global realities characterised by the diffusion of global power and increased multipolarity. Whilst the ACP should continue its relations with the EU, it should at the same time explore new lateral partnerships.
While aid in the form of the EDF is welcome and should continue in the foreseeable future, it should be viewed as a means to an end and not an end in itself. I have no doubt that if President Mandela were alive he would have propagated self-reliance, interdependence and partnership in the spirit of Bandung and Georgetown. In this day and age, we can no longer perpetuate colonial and post colonial modes of production and consumption, where ACP countries are merely suppliers of raw materials and commodities to the metropole. This should change. We should focus on building our productive capacity so that we beneficiate, we add value to our raw materials and commodities. It is only in this way that we can reclaim our independence and restore dignity to our people.
Mr. Chairman, as we are no doubt aware by now, it is inevitable that ACP-EU relations will be based on a fundamentally different template than the erstwhile donor-recipient model. Whilst it would be suicidal to simply curtail, this should be de-emphasised as part of the gradual process of doing away with 'donor dependence', thus extricating ACP states from the abyss of dependency.
We should maintain our unity as a group that speaks with one voice, able to secure vital concessions in our relations with the EU. From a bargaining perspective, the ACP platform is extremely important as it provides us a collective base and numerical strength which to engage the EU and other partners on critical matters of concern.
Mr. Chairman, we thank you most profoundly for having dedicated this session in honour of the memory of the late President Mandela, and we would like to take this opportunity to renew our conviction to the principles and goals that bind us together and pledge ourselves to work tirelessly for the unity and solidarity of the group.
Long live the ACP Group!
Long live the spirit of Madiba!
I thank you for your attention.