Organisation of African Unity: Opening of the Seventh Session

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Organisation of African Unity: Opening of the Seventh Session  (1970) 
by Haile Selassie, translated by Haile Selassie I Press
September 2, 1970

Opening[edit]

Mr. President,

Distinguished Heads of State and Government,

Distinguished Delegates,

On behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia and on Our own, We extend to you greetings and warmest welcome. We also welcome His Excellency U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and We should like to express Our appreciation to him for being here with us despite his many and pressing international responsibilities that make heavy demand on his time. The city of Addis Ababa and its people, which have had the privilege of being host to the Heads of State and Government on similar occasions in the past, welcome you once more with pride and pleasure to your second home.

We are happy to note that the Seventh Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government is being convened in an atmosphere of increased understanding in Africa as well as in the rest of the world. In various parts of the world, efforts are being made to resolve some of the outstanding issues of our time by negotiation and conciliation, based on the understanding and accommodation of each other's interests. This new international climate of understanding is a development of the utmost importance to the peace, well-being and progress of mankind. It is, therefore, a golden opportunity for all men of goodwill to help the movement attain such a momentum as to make it bear the greatest possible result.

As we meet for the seventh time to deliberate on matters of vital importance to our continent, we cannot but be impressed by the fruits of our previous deliberations. We see these results in the ever-increasing role our Organization is playing in continental relations and the maturity with which it is conducting its affairs. This past year has seen the implementation of some of the principles and aims enshrined in the Charter of the Organization, especially with respect to the lessening of tension among Member States and the enhancement of the spirit of co-operation to seek solutions to their common problems.

The internal crisis in Nigeria has been completely resolved due to the perseverance of the Federal Government and the firm belief of Members of our Organization in the basic principles of our Charter. We must all be happy that this challenge has been courageously and wisely met. In this connection, We would like to beg the indulgence of the Assembly to thank the members of the Consultative Committee on Nigeria for their contribution to the resolution of this problem. Now that the crisis in Nigeria is over, it is our fervent hope it shall leave no after-effect among the members of this family, We are convinced that it is in the interest of our beloved peoples to begin a new era of close and fraternal co-operation amongst all Member States by closing all aspects of crisis at this Session.

Total Reconciliation[edit]

It gives Us great pleasure and satisfaction to announce to the Assembly that total reconciliation was attained today between Nigeria, on the one hand, and Tanzania, Zambia, Ivory Coast and Gabon, on the other. We would like to thank many leaders of the OAU and especially President Jomo Kenyatta for the laudable efforts they have deployed to achieve reconciliation . We would also like to congratulate President Nyerere, President Kaunda, General Yakubu Gowon, head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria, and the Presidents of the Ivory Coast and Gabon for the understanding and co-operation they have shown to make the reconciliation possible.

The restoration of brotherly relations between the People's Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is another achievement that we are all happy about. A new chapter has also been opened by the understanding reached between the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and the Kingdom of Morocco. The settlement of the border dispute between Algeria and Morocco has ushered in a new era of understanding and co-operation for the mutual benefit of the peoples of the two sister states and of the Maghreb region. The signing of an agreement between Kenya and Ethiopia, demarcating their common borders, is another example of what can be achieved by peaceful means. It is in this light that We invite all the countries faced with similar problems to emulate the above-mentioned examples as a basis for solving their differences. One last example of co-operative effort which has achieved a satisfactory result is The case of Equatorial Guinea. The assistance given by members of the Organization to Equatorial Guinea, while admittedly not much, has nevertheless been instrumental in meeting the initial difficulties of nationhood .

These achievements can serve as testimony of our respect and adherence to the covenant we entered into seven years ago, and it is only when we continue working along this successful path that we have charted for ourselves, that the spirit and aims of our Organization will be ever-more meaningful. Although it cannot be said that all the above-mentioned peaceful settlements were executed under the direct auspices of the Orga-zation of African Unity, it is, nevertheless, true, that it has been fundamentally concerned with all those problems . Furthermore, the members of the Organization, in reaching these settlements, have been guided by the principles of the Charter, thus strengthening the Organization and cementing their unity.

Turning Deaf Ear[edit]

While this past year has been a year of co-operation and understanding among Member States, it has however been one of frustrations and set-backs in our attack on colonialism and racism. In Southern Africa, the pernicious alliance of colonialism and racism has created problems of ominous dimensions. Ian Smith and his collaborators have consolidated their regime and have declared Zimbabwe a so-called Rhodesian Republic . South Africa has elevated its inhuman policy of racial discrimination and exploitation of the African people and has extended its apartheid policy to the international territory of Namibia. Portugal has intensified its colonial wars in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea Bissau. The Western Powers, who unfortunately support these regimes, have not, despite the avalanche of appeals from freedom-loving peoples of the world, thus far ceased from rendering material assistance to these regimes. As regards Portugal, despite the great efforts Africa has exerted to persuade this Government to abandon its colonial policy, the continued shedding of innocent blood has made the colonial war not only the concern of Africa but also of the entire world. In keeping, therefore, with the nature of the problems We cannot overemphasize the need to devise a new method by which these powers could be persuaded to desist from continuing such a policy, which is detrimental to the peace and security of the continent.

It will be recalled that H.E. the President of Ca-meroun presented the Lusaka Manifesto, on behalf of the African States, to the Twenty-Fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly for its serious consideration and adoption. As you all know this Manifesto was adopted by the overwhelming majority of the General Assembly with the exception of South Africa and Portugal. The rejection by the oppressors of this widely supported Manifesto showed the depth of the abyss to which they have dragged themselves.

This conspiracy of colonial and racist forces has gradually turned into a military pact, encompassing South Africa, Rhodesia and Portugal. What then is Africa to do in the face of this far-flung conspiracy? There is only one answer — we must intensify our struggle. And in order to achieve our objectives, it is incumbent upon us all to wage a united struggle by all means available to us and, today more than ever before, the necessity of a co-ordinated and simultaneous assault by the liberation movements against their common enemies has become increasingly imperative. At this junction We should like to reiterate the paramount importance of increasing our assistance to freedom fighters in their struggle to regain their inalienable rights. To meet these challenges, We are convinced, no independent African country will take lightly its responsibility. In this regard, since we are not novices in the struggle for freedom, our continued endeavour will no doubt be crowned with success.

Distinguished Heads of State and Government,

It is a source of encouragement that the nations of the world are endeavouring to settle their differences by peaceful means. To this end We wholeheartedly welcome the acceptance of the Rogers Peace Plan by the parties concerned in the Middle East, the signing of the non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union and the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Middle East[edit]

The drawing up of a long-awaited peace plan in the beleaguered area of the Middle East should have the support and encouragement of all "peace-loving peoples of the world. It is in this spirit that Ethiopia has welcomed the peace plan initiated by the United States of America to settle the Middle East Crisis within the framework of the United Nations Security Council resolution of November 1967. We should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the parties concerned, especially President Nasser, for consenting to resolve the crisis through peaceful means. We pray that this initial move will augur a permanent and enduring-peace .

The Bonn-Moscow accord which begins to settle some of the problems of World War II is of special significance not only to Europe but to the world as well. This accord will no doubt create a conducive atmosphere for the two nations to settle their differences by peaceful means, thus providing their talented and industrious peoples the opportunity of greater heights of achievement and excellence by co-operation in many fields of human endeavour. We trust that this accord, which has brought closer two adversaries, would serve as a reminder to those who doubt the possibility of peaceful solutions to seemingly insurmountable difficulties .

At no period in history has there been a century like this one when man has lived under the heavy shadow of complete annihilation. It is, therefore, with great hope that we have welcomed the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) by the two Great Powers and we trust that these talks will be crowned with success.

These new and courageous steps, being taken in various parts of the world by thoughtful leaders, will, hopefully, create conditions that will enhance this new era of understanding among the nations and peoples of the world. In order to strengthen this new epoch of understanding, it is imperative for statesmen the world over to utilize these opportune moments that have for so long eluded them. It is with this in mind that We hope a solution will soon be found to the Vietnam war which has caused untold suffering to the Vietnamese people.

Distinguished Heads of State and Government,

One of the paramount questions of our continent is the need for economic development. Our struggle in this sphere is no less demanding since the well-being of our people ultimately depends on it. The very freedom of Africa for which we have sacrificed so much will be at stake if we fail to make our continent economically viable. It is encouraging that in order to bring about this economic independence the ground work has been laid by the establishment of regional institutions and various technical bodies. We should like to stress, in this context, the vital roles the Economic Commission for Africa and the Organization of African Unity are playing for the realization of these goals.

Stockpiling Armaments[edit]

We cannot pass without stressing the fact that the vast majority of the nations of today still remain economically under-developed. In the light of this, it is unfortunate that so much is spent on stockpiling armaments, the utility of which is limited to their capacity for destruction. As we have said on many occasions, the diversion of these resources to economic development is not only morally right but it is also politically and socially urgent, since the maintenance of international peace and security depends on closing the gap between the poor and rich nations of the world. It is our hope that the recent steps taken in various parts of the world to lesson tensions will contribute to the curtailment of stockpiling armaments, thus making available the sorely needed resources for the world's economic development. Distinguished Heads of State and Government,

It is fortunate that this Assembly precedes the forthcoming conference of the non-aligned nations in Lusaka and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations in New York. As you all know this session of the United Nations also marks the Tenth anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. We should, therefore, seize this opportunity and prepare ourselves for the task that lies ahead. It is obvious that during our deliberation this week we will be concerned with many problems and we will inevitably have various views on them. It is natural for forty-one nations to have differing opinions and different problems. It is our duty, however, to thrash out our differences and to reach a solution that will command our united stand. Because of our common problems, be they in the field of economic development or in our struggle against racism and colonialism, it would not be difficult to have a common front. It is this common front we must take to Lusaka to convince the other non-aligned nations of the justice of our cause, and thereby solicit their continued support and encouragement in our struggle to free Africa of all vestiges of racism and colonialism.

At the United Nations, our struggle this year will have to be more intense and persistent than ever before. The time is due for all small nations to take a concerted stand in defence of the principles of the charter, for we cannot afford to have that body made a mockery of by its less enlightened members who are intent on making it ineffective. In order to strengthen it and to make it effective we will have to use the weapons at our disposal, namely, our united stand and collective conscience.

UN Action Needed[edit]

We must therefore be prepared to make all issues affecting our continent figure prominently and persevere in our efforts to have the United Nations reassert its historic obligation to liberate territories still under foreign domination. In this context, the United Nations must strive to have all its adopted resolutions implemented, so that the decisions of the majority would prevail and that the minority of its members would not be able to flout them. The most recent example of this is the decelaration of intention by the new British Government to sell arms to South Africa in utter disregard of Security Council resolutions. This intention by the British Government to resume the sale of arms to South Africa should not only be deplored but any attempt to enforce it should be vigorously resisted. Distinguished Heads of State and Government,

In conclusion, We should like to remind this august Assembly of the importance of its task and the responsibilities entrusted to it by the African people. It is Our hope that this conference will achieve results from which Africa will benefit. We will not close Our statement without expressing Our appreciation to H.E. El Hadji Ahmadou Ahidjo, Chairman of the Sixth Session for his dedicated and fruitful work.

LONG LIVE AFRICAN UNITY.

This is a translation and has a separate copyright status from the original text. The license for the translation applies to this edition only.
Original:
This work is in the public domain because it was first created in Ethiopia.

Under Title XI of the 1960 Ethiopian Civil Code, copyright exists only during the lifetime of the author.

In addition, any potential Ethiopian copyrights are non-binding in the United States, according to Circ. 38a of the US Copyright Office.

Translation:
This work is in the public domain worldwide because it has been so released by the copyright holder.