1990 Speech

Statement to 13th Special Session of UN General Assembly, 1986
Statement by Ambassador Samir S. Shihabi, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Thirteenth Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 28 May 1986

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Mr. President:
It gives me pleasure to congratulate you on you election to the Presidency of this Thirteenth Special Session of the General Assembly. I must mention here, as I am sure other participating delegations will recall as well, the competence and exceptional capability with which you directed the proceeds of the historic Fortieth Anniversary Session which was attended by the largest gathering of Heads of States or their representatives in the history of nations. You played a large role in the success of that session.

Mr. President:
The Heads of African States, whose countries are experiencing an economic crisis that is being increasingly exacerbated, and which is exposing the political and social stability of these African nations to great dangers that we all appreciate, have called upon one another and upon the international community to increase its efforts to save this continent, a continent rich in natural resources, but lacking the means to exploit these resources and to reap the benefits of its endeavors.

I should like at the outset to reiterate from this platform that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has supported, continues to support, and calls upon others to support, all the efforts aimed at assisting Africa economically through multilateral channels, regional organizations, and bilateral action.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, connected geographically to Africa by the Red Sea, linked with its peoples by the strongest humanitarian, economic and cultural ties, besides being related to it by the large group of peoples and communities whose origins go back to the Arabian Peninsula, supports Africa in leaving behind irrevocably the past era of colonialism in its political and economic dimensions, and stands with it in supporting it as an international responsibility, in addition to the responsibility of its people to help itself become a productive economic force, such that all of us will be able to stand together before God and history in fulfilling the duty of brotherhood, religion, neighborhood and humanity.

Mr. President:
The economic crisis in Africa has reached dangerous levels in recent years, threatening the social and political fabric of many of its countries, hampering economic growth and draining production and living standards. The crisis has been exacerbated over the past years by the drought that affected a number of its countries, and by the dryness and desertification affecting its agriculture. The heads of African states have conveyed to this Session in their priority program for Africa that the crisis has reached threatening levels, and have asked for a response to their efforts to help them avoid the political and economic consequences that would result in negative effects with global dimensions. The fact that the African states themselves are prepared to shoulder the largest responsibility in their own development programs is a salient indication that the problem is being addressed from its roots.

The serious danger signals that have been conveyed by some African countries about their grave economic situation, which is accompanied by complex political and economic problems, are signals that we should read carefully. The lower production level, the imbalances in trade accounts, the fall in the prices of raw materials, and the decline of economic growth, are all dangerous signals in the life of any economic entity. Political independence, distinguished delegates, loses its real content when it is not accompanied by economic independence. The departure of colonialism from African states in tangible terms should definitely require their economic structures to become capable of standing by themselves. We sincerely hope that this General Assembly will arrive at a proper formula for international cooperation with Africa.

I should point out here that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has given to the countries of the developing world, within the framework of its official aid program between 1973 and 1981, a sum amounting to 37.2 billion [U.S.] dollars, including 17.7 billion dollars in the form of grants and non-repayable assistance, which is equivalent to 47 percent of its total official assistance. As of the end of June 1985, the share of the African countries in this has exceeded 10 billion Saudi Riyals, which is equivalent to 3 billion dollars, in the form of soft loans by the Saudi Development Fund, in addition to non-repayable financial assistance and assistance in kind worth more than 1.3 billion Riyals, equivalent to 370 million dollars.

It is worth mentioning here also that the Kingdom has contributed more than 400 million dollars to the World Food Programme, more than half of which was allocated to Africa. This is in addition to the Kingdom's participation in other international effort to assist Africa. Another passing remark I should like to make in this context is the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to available statistics for the years 1982 and 1983, is second in the world only to the United States of America in the amount of the assistance is gives to developing countries and international agencies. Moreover, the Arab Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia are far ahead of the rest of the world in the percentage of their Gross National Product that is apportioned to aid in the form of bilateral and multilateral assistance. This percentage has ranged between four percent and 15.9 percent of their Gross National Product over the past ten years. I am not mentioning these facts to draw appreciation but in order to encourage others, especially the industrial states, to assume their role in that field, where most of their contributions have not even reached 0.8 percent of GNP, which is the level recommended by the United Nations.

Mr. President:
I would like to conclude with a word of support and encouragement for cooperation with Africa, and I reaffirm that my country, while playing an important and effective role in this field, bilaterally, multilaterally and at regional levels, would be gratified to see all the capable countries participate in supporting Africa at levels commensurate with the problem; and will share in the discussion and evaluation of any program or solution that is presented by the African continent.

Our first duty, while we support Africa overcome the stages of famine in some of its countries, as well as in overcoming economic deficits in other countries, is to help Africa become capable of sustaining itself and of building its own society from its own resources in the long run. Because a society that gets accustomed to a style of life that depends on loans and grants is in fact conditioning itself upon a living standard that is impractical and unrealistic, and leads to problems which weaken countries and deprive societies from the foundations of vitality and growth.

Africa, with its tremendous natural resources, great agricultural potential and abundant human resources, is in need of comprehensive development from a humanitarian standpoint first of all, and from a material point of view secondly in all these fields, and requires of us great efforts that will enable it to benefit form those potentials. I hope that we will all try to fulfill our role in this field.