Basic Documents: Statement by H.E. President Ernesto Samper Pizano of Colombia at the Inaugural sessions
Address of the President of the Republic of Colombia Ernesto Samper Pizano at the Inaugural Session of the Eleventh Conference of Heads of State or Government of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries
Welcome to Cartagena, historical legacy of humanity. Welcome to the Caribbean, and to Colombia, the land in which dreams come true. Or, better said, the land which dreams are the harbingers of the future.
We hope that after this meeting the dreams for which the Movement has constantly striven will indeed come true in the coming years: peace, justice, and balance in international relations.
Welcome to our ever youthful, dynamic and enthusiastic Latin America, where we are able to breathe an air of optimism which invites us to aspire to perfection.
Welcome to Colombia, a country whose unfailing quest for peace has made us known to the world as the champions of tolerance as the only true road to peaceful coexistence among our peoples.
Tribute to Indonesia
I would like to pay tribute to the leadership and coordination which Indonesia has provided during the last few years as President of the Non-Aligned Movement. President Soeharto has undoubtedly been a decisive factor in the modernization of the Movement's ideas and approach to action.
It is thanks to Indonesia's commitment that we today receive a Movement which is more active in world affairs, and which has overcome the difficult obstacles identified at the Jakarta Summit.
The Principles of Non-Aligned are in force
For these next few days, the walls of old Cartagena will be the backdrop of the discussions that will lead us to reassert the principles and ideals of Non-Aligned. And, just as these walls were once the impenetrable defense of the city, so our principles and ideals remain our best defense against the injustice and violence of the world of today.
I have often been asked during this last year, what is the point of continuing with the Movement if the end of the Cold War should also mean the end of Non-Aligned.
My answer has always been that, yes, the cold War is over; but this fact has nor marked the end of poverty in the world. It has not removed the problems of the environment which we face, nor has it put an end to the concerns of our productive sectors.
And my answer has also been that, on the contrary, the collapse of the barriers which used to separate two worlds has marked the beginning of a new division in the world.
It is a division marked by the appearance of fresh barriers to progress in our countries.
There are non-tariff trade barriers which block our products from major markets.
Technological barriers which isolate us from the march of science and knowledge.
Financial barriers which limit our access to credit on equitable terms.
Information barriers, which have left the information regarding what is happening to many in the hands of a few.
The essential reason for the New Alignment, today as yesterday, is to overcome these barriers through solidarity. The challenge, today as yesterday, is to join forces in the quest for our ideal, freedom.
Freedom from the technological dependence which is creating in the developing world a dangerous sort of technological apartheid.
Freedom, in a word, from the worst of all tyrannies, the tyranny of backwardness.
The People First
In Colombia, we are placing the economy at the service of the people. We identify with the words of President Soeharto, who, during the Jakarta Summit, said that "national development must be focused on the people, must be of the people, by the people and for the people".
We firmly believe that the people must be the nucleus of our Movement. To be stronger, more legitimate and more democratic, the Non-Aligned Movement must draw closer to our people. The citizens of all our countries must be the protagonists of Non-Alignment at the end of this century and the beginning of the next millennium.
Our objective, as a Movement, must be the welfare of human beings.
Our political action must now be aimed at eradicating poverty, as in the past we ended apartheid and weakened colonialism.
Our countries have responded to the globalization of the world economy with liberalizing measures, which, to a greater or lesser degree, have brought us closer to the reality of the world market.
However, we have found that neither the protectionism of thirty years ago nor the neoliberalism of the last ten have put more bread on our peoples' table or made our international relations more peaceful.
In our fight against poverty, we must begin to combat at home what we so frequently denounce at the international level.
An Alternative Development Model
We need an alternative development model, geared to our needs and our possibilities. A new model for a New South.
An alternative model that will allow us to become competitive without failing to invest in the people, property combining the two magic words of the next century; competitiveness and equity.
An alternative model that will allow us to create a new citizen, ready to tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century.
A new citizen, more involved in politics, more productive in the economy, more concerned with social issues, more committed to the protection of the environment and more universal in his/her pacifist beliefs.
An alternative model based on a new concept of government, one that fights corruption and functions well, regardless of its size.
The Myth of Free Trade
We know that economic development and the fight against poverty also require that the practice of free trade be made a reality.
Despite the advances made by a world free of barriers to international trade and the creation of a free trade organization, a dangerous neoprotectionist tendency is spreading over the world like a shadow.
Something similar to what we feel about heaven is happening with free trade; we all know that we must go there, but no one wants to go just yet.
Such is the lesson of decades of quasi-tariff, administrative, customs and health restrictions, which now stand in the way of free access for our products to the wealthiest countries most profitable markets.
The fight against neo-protectionism must unite the countries of the South, for it is the true struggle for our people levelihood.
Tne Need for Solidarity
Never before has it been so clear that we cannot face the challenges of the new international balance individually.
Our integration into the world cannot be a solitary, suicidal venture.
The consolidation of our democracies in necessarily bound up with our capacity and will to understand one another and cooperate.
The challenges before us are even more complex than those that faced us during the Cold War.
From a world seen as ideologically divided into black and white we have passed into one that is many-hued and demands of us the ability to imagine creative solutions.
Cooperation before Confrontation
Cooperation among the countries of the developing world is not an option but an imperative if we want to become actors on the world's stage, but above all if we want to endure as nations.
Confrontation is a useless anachronism that must give away to the more realistic, pragmatic and effective instrument of international cooperation.
The best weapon we can wield against the interventionism of the powerful is our own solidarity.
That solidarity must be expressed in a search for new global scenarios for coordination to take the place of the old confined areas of the Cold War and prevent the segme on of the world into economic blocks.
The Quest for Peace
Today, as forty years ago, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries must take as its guiding principle the quest for world peace.
We must concentrate all our energies on building, not war. On creation, not annihilation. On life, not death.
We must always remember that the Movement arose when we decided that we did not want to be a part of a struggle that was not ours but of the superpowers.
The basic rules laid down in Bandung in 1955 are more valid today than ever before.
Our challenge now is to decide, on the basis of those permanent principles, a new interpretation of our commitment and embody it in a new agenda of work for the Movement; an agenda for modernization.
An Agenda for Modernization
To modernize does not mean to abandon the principles which inspired the Movement.
To modernize means to pass from good intentions to concrete action.
To modernize means to develop the capacity to bet on the future in time.
To modernize means, as Chairman Mubarak pointed out in Cairo, to accept flexibility as part of the nature of the Movement.
To modernize means to develop a Movement not merely reacts, but also proposes.
A Movement that pulls like a locomotive instead of being dragged along like a railroad car by circumstances.
A Movement that anticipates conflicts and has answers to the questions of tomorrow.
What are our answers to the environmental crisis, to the danger of the spread of drugs in the world, to the outbreaks of arms, to the neoliberal excesses? That is where the key to the future of Non-Alignment is.
The Environmental Crisis
The environmental crisis concerns us all. The change in climate, the desertification, the plundering of natural resources and the destruction of biological diversity are doing us a lot of harm.
When we leave a source of water dry, cut down a tree or kill an animal we are destroying possibilities of life for our children and for our grandchildren.
The sustainable development, obtained multilaterally, and the protection of the biodiversity must become mandates for the Movement.
The Durg Problem
The Non-Aligned nations also have a concern themselves with the transnational crime that, each day, becomes a worse threat for humanity.
The drug trafficking is a multinational problem which requires a solution that is, likewise, multinational.
As long as the high levels of consumption that there are in the United States of America, in Europe and in Asia are maintained, it is difficult to be successful with the programs to reduce the supply.
While money laundering and the diversion of chemical precursors are tolerated, the success that is achieved with respect to the production of drugs will only be temporary and will merely be reflected in the prices, in the routes or in the places of production.
Our commitment to end the drug trafficking is an ethical imperative. To prevent the youth of the world from getting poisoned. To drain the source of corruption that is impressive earnings generate. To shale off the influence of the mafias on our systems of justice.
The Subject of Disarmament
We could say something similar about disarmament. Forty years ago, the founders of the Movement of the Non-Aligned Countries launched a great political action against the arms race spurred, in its time, by the Cold War.
The resources devoted to the production of weapons, in a world that would, supposedly, advance towards peace when the bipolar confrontation ended, are resources that are urgently needed in order to alleviate hunger and thirst, to vaccinate children, to protect water and forest and so that the South have access to Science and Technology.
The Reform of the United Nations
Actually, many of the topics that preoccupy the countries of the South require that we rely on a multilateral instrument suitable for dealing with them. It is essential that the United Nations be reformed in order for it to be able to respond to the historical challenge that lies ahead.
What the developing countries expect of this reform is that the UN represents today's world. A world in 1985 countries, with serious problems and great injustices. It is our intention to democratize the mechanisms and procedures of the United Nations.
The South's Right to Objective Information
We must reflect on matters belonging very much to the present and which affect our populations negatively. For example, the right to information.
The most serious conflicts and the most distressing problems are the ones that appear live on television screens throughout the world.
On the other hand, the same does not occur with the situation of millions of human beings who, for a variety of reasons, do not appear in the global village's communications media.
The world is being informed from a northern perspective and it is acting on that basis.
Pluraility for a New Identity
Our great wealth, in the Non-Aligned countries, is our diversity and pluralism. Our rich differences should not be an excuse for conflict, but rather a motive for consensus. They represent opportunities for cooperation and solidarity, and not reasons for not getting along.
Our diversity is the best material for building a new identity for the developing world based on a culture of tolerance and cooperation.
During the next three years, Colombia will work without stopping or resting to turn the ideals of the Movement into reality.
To attain this, we will take advantage of the only weapons we can use: the ammunition of solidarity and the guns of cooperation.
The times that we live in are not the best, but they are our times.
In these times, we can choose the possibility of writing our own history or let others write it for us.
Whether the coming years become the time of the people of the South will depend on our work. A people who have the right not to be aligned with poverty, not to be aligned with suffering, not to be aligned with pollution, not to be aligned with drugs, not to be aligned with oppression, and not to be aligned with dictatorships.
In the name of those thousands of citizens of the world who, as our Nobel Prize winner Garcia Márquez pointed out, deserve an initial opportunity for life on Earth, I welcome you again to the land of magic and hope that Christopher Columbus discovered five hundred years ago.
Thank you very much.