His excellency dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, president of the republic of Zambia
At the plenary of the high-level segment of the 74th session of the un general assembly,
25th September, 2019
• your excellency prof. Tijjani Muhammad-bande, president of the 74th session of the united nations general assembly;
• the secretary-general of the united nations, António Guterres;
• distinguished heads of states and governments;
• honourable ministers;
• heads of intergovernmental and other organisations;
• distinguished ladies and gentlemen:
Let me join the previous speakers in congratulating your excellency Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-bande on your assumption of the presidency of the 74th regular session of the united nations general assembly, and to assure you of our fullest cooperation in the discharge of your responsibilities.
I am confident that your wealth of experience and wisdom will prove invaluable in guiding us successfully through the present session.
I also wish to extend Zambia’s sincere gratitude to her excellency ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces for the exemplary work exhibited during the 73rd session.
The theme for this session, ‘galvanising multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion” presents an opportunity to re-examine our priorities, redefine our mission, sharpen our vision, as we approach the 75th anniversary of this organisation.
It is a call for us to harness the atmosphere in which the united nations family can implement its priority programmes especially in key areas, such as alleviating poverty in order to enhance the human condition throughout the world.
The eradication of poverty is feasible; we have seen remarkable progress across every dimension of poverty.
Malnutrition and youth illiteracy have both substantially decreased.
This progress is gratifying, but it is still inadequate. One billion people continue to live in extreme poverty. If anything, the recent gains should spur us to do even more to finish the job, and to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry anymore.
We must ensure that nobody is forced to choose between sending her daughter to school, and sending her to work. Everybody has the opportunity to fully participate in their country’s economic and civic life.
Zambia applauds the leadership that the united nations provides in tackling climate change, as was illustrated only a few days ago by the hosting of the climate action summit.
Climate change is frustrating efforts to raise the standards of living for the world’s poor. Scientists have spoken, and we have seen with our own eyes, the devastating impact that climate change has had on our environment.
Early this year, three of Zambia’s neighbouring countries: Malawi, Mozambique and zimbabwe, were affected by cyclones.
Not far away, half of zambia experienced a severe drought which has since resulted in low crop productivity, and low water levels for hydro-electricity generation. Thus, opposite climatic extremes are occurring within the same neighbourhood.
As a consequence, zambia is now scaling up its efforts to diversify energy production. Other priorities include the increasing of the adaptive capacity to reduce vulnerability, and building resilience against extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding.
The impact of climate change requires global collaborative efforts, and support for the mitigation and adaptation strategies.
As a developing country, zambia needs assistance to enhance her capacity in key areas such as scientific research, early warning, rapid response, and transfer of appropriate technologies to help cope with the negative impact climate change.
Furthermore, scaling up global efforts in addressing climate change should invariably include the increased accessibility to financial support, particularly for countries with limited resources, to enable them make their fair contribution to this global effort, and also bear the general climate-change-induced cost burdens.
The need to secure and promote the wildlife flora and fauna as an environmental good for ecological and socio-economic benefit can not be overemphasised.
In this regard, Zambia appreciates the hosting of the elephant summit initiative held in Kasane, Botswana in April this year and the “Africa’s wildlife economy summit” held the following month in victoria falls town, zimbabwe, and was hosted in conjunction with the African union, and the united nations environmental programme (unep).
These summits, among other things, recognised the need for partnerships with communities, and the private sector as key in securing wildlife, and enhancing economic benefits from wildlife.
In our continued effort to support this cause, Zambia is scheduled to host a follow-on summit in May, 2020, in the tourist capital, Livingstone. I call upon our international collaborators, to work with the regional countries to achieve a successful outcome for our wildlife.
Over the past year, Zambia has made important developmental efforts, and we are determined to foster an all-inclusive development paradigm based on the Africa union agenda 2063, and the un 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
Barely a month ago, on 7th August, 2019, Zambia had the honour to host a launching ceremony in Lusaka, for the sustainable development goals sub-regional centre for southern Africa.
The establishment of the centre underscored our collective resolve as southern African countries that we can win the war against poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy, through the exchange of best practices and other joint action.
However, we must also keep in mind that most African countries could not attain the forerunner millennium development goals (mdgs), mainly because of various challenges including inadequate financial resources.
In our pursuit to achieve the sustainable development goals, the mdgs trend is, unfortunately, likely to continue, unless Africa devises more innovative ways of addressing its development challenges.
The centre in Lusaka will bring the initiative closer to home for our southern African region. It will be a vehicle for facilitating engagement between governments, and other stakeholders, to accelerate the attainment of the sustainable development goals, and for deepening regional integration.
My government attaches great importance to the needs and welfare of all with specific focus on women, children and the youth.
To this end, Zambia’s 7th national development plan has targeted the most vulnerable members of society to enhance the capacity of their involvement in the country’s economic and social life in an effort to raising their standards of living.
In this regard, my government has taken steps to ensure that there is equitable access to quality education by all Zambians by providing universal basic education within the shortest realistic timeframe.
A comprehensive programme of health reforms is also underway, and this should also result in the improvement of the well-being of our people.
The measures and programmes that the government has undertaken are, however, not enough to fully attain the objectives of these programmes of action, mainly due to limited financial resources. We call on all partners to join efforts and together, let us help to improve the lives of our peoples.
The horrifying shadows of poverty are darkened even further for Africa’s refugee children.
Zambia is a plateau of peace and a home to many refugees. We appeal to the united nations and other humanitarian organisations of the world to help us share this burden.
Together we can restore dignity, and help in looking after the refugees.
Zambia continues to make tremendous strides in the campaign to end child marriage. In this regard, we have also continued to engage traditional leaders to reform traditions and customs which promote child marriage.
Currently, we are in the process of harmonising statutory and customary law on marriage to prohibit early marriages.
We are also repealing several discriminatory and outdated statutes related to children in order to come up with a children’s code to domesticate the provisions of the convention on the rights of the child.
As a designated African union champion on ending child marriage, I am encouraged that the campaign is growing from strength to strength; however, much more needs to be done. We call on all partners to join efforts and together, let us raise our voices to protect our children and the youth.
Peace, security and the rule of law continue to be the basis for meaningful development of any society. In keeping with this understanding, zambia was for a year, until last month, chair of the southern african development community (sadc) organ on politics, defence and security cooperation. In this role, zambia contributed to the regional mechanism on conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts.
As a state party to several international instruments aimed at countering the threat of proliferation, zambia hosted a sadc regional awareness meeting on the implementation of un resolution 1540 of 2004. The resolution is a vital element in the global architecture to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to non-state actors, including terrorists.
Properly implemented world-wide, it stands as a major contributor towards preventing possible humanitarian, political, economic and environmental catastrophes should any of these weapons be used to cause large-scale casualties and suffering. It is clear that such a possibility is not just theoretical.
The spectre of international terrorism has in recent times assumed a dangerous momentum of its own. Terrorism does not discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Innocent bystanders have to bear the brunt of this scourge.
To protect human life, the international community should continue to seriously address this vice. This assembly must expedite its conclusion of the long-overdue comprehensive international convention on combating terrorism.
In our pursuit to combat terrorism, the Zambian government has recently established an anti-terrorism centre, a national body comprising all national stakeholders, to coordinate counter terrorism efforts of individual security agencies. This is in keeping with the united nations global counter-terrorism strategy.
There is no doubt that the united nations continues to remain the only multilateral institution capable of addressing the challenges of our “one world”.
The world looks up to this body to encourage dialogue among civilisations on all global challenges in an inclusive manner offering the only practical way to ensure meaningful and effective international cooperation.
To be effective and efficient there is need to reform the united nations, particularly as we will, over the coming year, commemorate its 75 years of existence, and reflect on its future.
Zambia believes that within, the united nations evolution, time has come for meaningful reform, including of the security council.
Time has come for the security council to be representative, democratic and accountable to all member states, irrespective of status. This is essential for its integrity as the custodian of international peace.
Given that Africa constitutes the second largest bloc of the un membership, proposals to reform the security council should heed africa’s call as espoused in the ezulwini consensus.
In conclusion, I wish to reaffirm, Zambia’s commitment to cooperate with the international community in addressing the numerous problems affecting our people including ending poverty.
To this end mr. President, we should not remain indecisive and indifferent to this serious issue neither should we forego this opportunity to make the world a better place for all humanity.
I thank you.