2002 Speech

Kingdom's statement to the global summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg, South Africa, given by Commerce Minister Osama Faqih

Mr. President:

Holding this international summit on sustainable development is in itself an acknowledgement of all nations' unequivocal equal rights to obtain their legitimate share of the outcome of such comprehensive development and to enjoy equitable opportunities through effective participation in decision-making on all aspects of international economic issues. It also reaffirms the need for full adherence to the principles of constructive cooperation to deal with the growing challenges facing our world today. This obligates us to launch a new phase of serious collective efforts to face such challenges and shoulder the responsibilities with the aim to formulate a clear vision and well-defined goals. We sincerely hope that this summit will result in objective, transparent decisions that reaffirm full adherence to the principles of justice, freedom, equality, and eliminate all aspects of grievances, subjugation and deprivation so as to truly contribute to the achievement of human aspiration for sustainable development and prosperity within an atmosphere of mutual respect, peace and security.

Mr. President:

Recently issued reports by the United Nations have indicated that initiatives and efforts exerted in the areas of sustainable development, since the approval of Agenda 21, were seriously hampered. Such weak results and the lack of progress in the implementation of those initiatives did not meet the modest expectations of developing and least developed nations. This is primarily due to the fact that those initiatives lacked practical plans of actions and pragmatic work programs, in addition to harsh conditions combined with sharp decline in development aid that have resulted in heavy financial burdens and consequently limited the tangible results of development. In spite of the relative improvement of some countries' economic conditions during the nineties, due to some positive impacts of globalization amid trade liberalization, the majority of developing countries did not have their fair share in these positive results. They continued to suffer from declining growth rates, increasing poverty, acute food shortage, serious unemployment, contagious diseases and severe debt burdens. These factors combined, have led to the marginalization of a large number of these countries and further widened the gap of inequality, economic and social imbalances.

Mr. President:

Since its establishment and based on its deep-rooted conviction in international cooperation and the mutual responsibility of the world community in fighting underdevelopment and deprivation, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has deployed its capabilities and resources towards advancing economic, social and environmental development not only at the domestic level, but also through its effective presence and generous contributions to international development institutions. The Kingdom has provided monetary and development assistance in the form of outright grant and concessionary long-term loans, to a large number of developing and least developed countries worldwide, to help enhancing their capabilities in facing development challenges. During the last three decades, the Kingdom's total aid amounted to 76 billion dollars, representing about 4% of the Kingdom's GDP. This assistance was extended to 73 developing countries, 41 of which are in Africa. Furthermore, the Kingdom answered the sixth Islamic summit conference call by canceling 6 billion dollars of its official aid benefiting a number of developing and least developed countries. In this context, we call upon advanced nations to reaffirm their commitment to the true concept of North-South cooperation by adopting effective and practical methods in mobilizing sufficient financial resources required for the implementation of meaningful development programs in developing and least developed countries.

Mr. President:

The establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in early 1995 was an event of great significance in international social-economic relations. However, the WTO has not been able to fulfill the aspirations of developing nations. This has led to a growing feeling of injustice among these countries which had raised strong doubts about the fairness of the multilateral trading system. The Kingdom joins other developing nations in demanding that the multilateral trading system must be fair in reflecting the reality of its membership, equitable to advocate the benefits to all nations, and transparent to preserve the integrity of the system.

Mr. President:

The Government of Saudi Arabia fully supports the notion that the main objective of this summit should be to confirm full adherence to the Third Millennium Declaration through which world leaders have expressed their determination for peace to prevail all over the world based on the principles of international legitimacy and the noble objectives of the UN's Charter. However, the inability to achieve a just peace in the Middle East, due to the continuing Israeli aggression and occupation of Arab lands, represents a major hindrance to any meaningful development and fuels the atmosphere of instability and continued tension. This increases the burden on Arab countries and obstructs their efforts aimed at the continuation of economic and social development.

Mr. President:

It is well known that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a major world producer and exporter of oil. Yet it is still a developing country where the oil sector represents more than 85% of its total exports. In its endeavor to achieve sustainable development, the Kingdom adopted a self-imposed economic reform strategy to facilitate the implementation of bold decisions through concerted efforts, aiming at diversifying its economic base through the creation of new productive streams to our GDP. The mainstay of this strategy aims at unleashing the vigor and vitality of the private sector through privatization, foreign direct investment, tourism and further liberalization of our trade regime.

Mr. President:

The Kingdom has successfully achieved many milestones in its endeavor to ascertain sustainable development nationally, regionally and internationally. Saudi Arabia has enacted environmental national laws and established national plans to combat oil-polluted seashores. On the international front, the Kingdom participated in all major conferences, joined several related organizations and ratified many international agreements. Mr. President, The Saudi delegation has effectively participated in the preparatory meetings of this summit and expressed our views on the issues under discussion. 

I would like here to briefly summarize the Saudi position on these issues.

First: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia looks forward with great interest to the outcome of this summit as it represents a historic event and a qualitative leap in the UN's efforts to achieve sustainable development.

Second: Tackling the outstanding development issues calls for strong political will in giving top priority to eradication of poverty, hunger and diseases.

Third: To ensure substantial changes in production and consumption patterns in developed countries, in order to create real opportunities, to achieve the goals of sustainable development at all levels.

Fourth: It is absolutely necessary to remove trading obstacles applied by developed countries inconsistent with their obligations within the framework of the WTO, and refrain from invoking new protective measures under various pretexts, including the excessive use of social, technical and environmental measures.

Fifth: Implement effective capacity building programs in developing countries, in order to enhance their competitive capabilities and gradual participation in the multilateral trading systems.

Sixth: The Kingdom has adopted the principle of preserving the natural environment in its endeavor to achieve development and welfare for all without compromising its fundamental elements or encroaching upon the rights of future generations.

Seventh: To reaffirm the need for serious international cooperation for finding convincing and effective solutions that take into account common but differentiated responsibilities with various environmental standards for different countries.

Eighth: The Kingdom also requests the elimination of discriminatory tax policies of industrial nations imposed under the pretext of environmental considerations. These negatively affect the opportunities of achieving sustainable development in our countries, while industrial nations provide excessive subsidies and incentives to coal and nuclear energy, in which we find no logical or scientific justifications.

Ninth; We believe that the comprehensive concept of human rights should be based on the realization that human communities have special characteristics, cultures, beliefs and religions, which must be acknowledged and respected. The Kingdom respects this international norm and adheres to the noble objectives that call for the protection of human rights and preservation of human dignity.

Tenth: Talking about economic globalization in its wider sense requires us to acknowledge that it represents a dynamic force that opens opportunities and poses challenges and risks. Its effect on various countries and societies is different due to the fact that they are not equally prepared to avail of the positive characteristics of globalization or able to avoid or minimize its risks. For this reason, there is an urgent need to adopt a new method characterized by balanced rights and obligations, to establish "codified globalization" that will create firm bases for real partnership.

Mr. President:

The developing nations look forward to this summit hoping that its decisions will be effective in realizing their ambitions to live honorably without hunger, fear or diseases and provide the future generations with promising chance of better life and a brighter and more secure future.

Thank you.