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SPEECH BY JEAN-PAUL ADAM, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS ON THE OCCASION OF THE ANNUAL DIPLOMATIC COCKTAIL, LA PLAINE ST ANDRE FRIDAY 28TH FEBRUARY 2014

04.03.2014

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

 

In this UN year of Small Island Developing States, Seychelles is thankful for the support of so many international partners in charting its course towards sustainable development.

Let me start this address therefore by expressing, on behalf of President James Michel and the government of the Republic of Seychelles to all of you who have stood by us, who have stood with us, and continue to be advocates of the cause of islands.

The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States set to take place in Samoa is a watershed moment for all nations, because the plight of islands is indelibly associated with the fate of our planet.

We are conscious that this support can only bring about change for the better- if we are ourselves are the agents of this change.

Our own national theme for this year is: Seychelles as a determined island nation, because no matter how insurmountable the challenges may seem to a small state- we cannot afford to be bystanders.

Our commitment can be the catalyst for the global commitment we need.

In 2014, we are also reaching a critical stage of negotiations for a binding agreement on climate change.  We must continue to be engaged and active leading up to the Paris conference of 2015 and end the uncertainty about our common future.

These forthcoming events spur us to redouble our efforts- and we continue to count on all your support to be successful.

Our economic reforms of 2008 have taught us that when we bring together our determination in our home grown solutions, and combine it with engagement by the international community, we can achieve the seemingly impossible.

In the year which has elapsed we have mourned the passing of an icon of freedom, Nelson Mandela.  It is appropriate therefore I think for me to remind us all of his assertion, that many things may appear impossible- until they are done.

Our determination is focused on achieving practical developments which will turn the tide in terms of sustainable development.

We are encouraged that our activism on the concept of the Blue Economy has ignited a common objective towards better harnessing the resources within our oceans towards sustainable development.

Our Blue Economy Declaration following last month’s Abu Dhabi Summit has set a path towards mobilizing more options for technical support for making blue economy centred projects a reality- from oceans as carbon sinks, to ocean based renewable energy.  We are particularly encouraged by the opportunity of the Commonwealth needs assessment study which has recently been launched for Seychelles.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Blue Economy is also about redefining Africa’s development narrative.  Africa’s oceans hold the key to many of our continent’s most pressing challenges- from energy to food security.

While we work with our partners to establish this new dynamic, Seychelles is also actively engaged in efforts to strengthen the ability of the African Union to resolve conflict and instability which continue to undermine the great strides that are being made.

We condemn the spiral of reprisals and sectarian violence threatening the Central African Republic, and have given our full support to the peace-keeping efforts there.  We are also greatly concerned by the continued instability of South Sudan and express our full support to the mediation efforts of IGAD.

We have continued to be engaged in regional security cooperation through the East African Standby Force, and the continued threats across the Sahel region have underlined our support for strengthening of the African Capacity to for rapid response to crises.

Excellences, mesdames et messieurs,

Les Seychelles sont un havre de paix. Mais dans ce monde globalisé où le sort de chacun de nous dépend de celui des autres, les Seychelles ne sauraient être à l’abri des crises sécuritaires qui secouent le monde, ici et là.  C’est pourquoi nous suivons avec beaucoup d’attention la situation en Syrie, pour ne prendre que cet exemple.

Conformément à notre philosophie de la paix,  nous n’avons pas hésité un seul instant à soutenir la décision de détruire la capacité d’utiliser les armes chimiques dans ce pays, en vertu de la résolution 2118 du Conseil de Sécurité.  Nous déplorons la situation humanitaire grave qui persiste aujourd’hui en Syrie et saluons les efforts des Nations Unies visant à améliorer le sort des civils piégés dans le conflit. Dans cette même veine, nous ne cessons de penser que la poursuite des négociations de paix de Genève reste très importante, malgré les difficultés qu’elles s’attachent.

Nous restons convaincus que notre monde ne connaitra jamais la paix générale à laquelle nous avons tous rêvée après la chute du Mur de Berlin, si la communauté internationale n'a pas une ferme volonté de lutter contre toutes les formes de terrorisme. Nous n’aurons pas la paix à laquelle nous rêvons tous,  si tous nos pays ne sont pas unis dans la volonté d'en finir avec les guerres au Moyen-Orient, avec la tragédie centrafricaine, avec le drame humanitaire au Sud Soudan, bref avec toutes ces crises qui secouent le monde.

C’est le lieu pour moi de préciser que face à tous ces conflits sur lesquels nous donnons parfois notre avis, nous ne cherchons pas à être plus grandes que nous-mêmes, mais nous le faisons pour l’Homme et pour les peuples, dont le respect des droits fondamentaux, reste au cœur de notre vision et de toutes nos démarches.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Aujourd’hui, jamais l’idéal démocratique n’a été à ce point universel. En parallèle,  jamais les sociétés humaines n’ont été aussi ouvertes, les échanges aussi intenses, et le monde aussi interconnecté. La démocratie est à l’épreuve de la mondialisation, pourrait-on dire. Mais les déficits démocratiques et la faiblesse des institutions comptent parmi les principaux obstacles qui entravent l'exercice effectif des droits de l'homme. En effet une démocratie qui ne se questionne pas et ne s’interroge pas sur ses fins, est une démocratie toujours menacée.  L’instabilité et l’insécurité s’installent facilement.

Nous estimons, à cet égard, que les organisations régionales et sous-régionales ont un rôle essentiel à jouer dans l’établissement d’institutions fortes et durables, et le renforcement de la stabilité et la paix. Le rôle joué par la COI, la SADC et certains de ses Etats membres, vis-à-vis de la crise politique à Madagascar est, de ce point de vue, assez parlant.

En cette année des 30 ans de l’Accord de Victoria, que nous avons célébrés ici ensemble, nous pouvons dire, sans fausse modestie, que Madagascar s’est engagée aujourd’hui dans la voie de l’espoir : l’espoir d’une normalité constitutionnelle retrouvée et l’espoir d’un apaisement et d’une réconciliation nationale fortement désirés. C’est une nouvelle situation qui annonce une période de stabilité politique et de croissance pour Madagascar mais aussi pour la région, malgré les quelques nuages que l’on peut voir de temps en temps.

Lors de la célébration de ses trente ans d’existence, la COI a affiché ses nouvelles ambitions. Elle a montré qu’elle avait une partition originale à jouer. Les Seychelles ont montré, à cette occasion, à quel point la mise au point de nouvelles régulations, et d’une gouvernance politique et économique plus  solidaire, au service de tous, était très importante pour le devenir de nos iles.

Nous avons proposé, entre autres, l’établissement d’un marché unique du transport aérien, et le renforcement de la connectivité maritime, dans l’Indianocéanie, ce pour le développement des échanges, de nos ressources, et le bien-être de nos populations.

En somme, les Seychelles ont affiché leur espoir de voir la COI se doter d’une trajectoire plus vaste et d’un engagement encore plus ambitieux et plus judicieux.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The issue of maritime security is still one which lies at very top of Seychelles’ diplomatic agenda.  Our concerted efforts with partners from around the world have made a significant dent in the profitability of the business model used by pirates up until now.

The establishment of RAPPIC has provided an instrument which has allowed us to build a very wide net to address the inter-linked nature of many of the criminal activities on the high seas.

The simple message that Seychelles is delivering today is that to tackle piracy in the long term- we must also tackle drug trafficking, smuggling, illegal fishing, people trafficking, arms trafficking, and all other scourges that use the freedom of the seas to undermine national borders and the rule of law.

This is why RAPPIC is evolving a wider remit into a new configuration called REFLECS 3 to address the linkages that exist among various groups, criminal and terrorist that are seeking to use areas of instability as bases for profit and fund raising.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Seychelles has also been extremely active over the last year in its treaty responsibilities.  We became one of the first signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty, limiting the procurements of weapons to fuel low level conflicts and create instability in general.

We also ratifified several key treaties including the Maritime Labour Convention, the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing as well as the African Union Treaty establishing the AU peace and Security Council.

Seychelles has also continued to demonstrate its commitment to the defense and promotion of human rights internationally throughout the last year.

We have never hesitated to open our doors to the world, and have been pleased to have welcomed two UN special rapporteurs.  We have welcomed the opportunity to engage with the highest representatives of the UN and identify best practices as well as areas for improvement.

As announced by President Michel in his State of the Nation address, a bill on the prevention of trafficking in persons will be presented to the National Assembly shortly.

In the coming year we will also move ahead in strengthening our national human rights framework by reinforcing the Paris principles in our institutions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In conclusion, please allow me to once again express my appreciation to all of you present here tonight.  All the Ambassadors and High Commissioners present in Seychelles- you are the conduit for our ideas to the world and your contribution is immeasurable.

To all the Honorary Consuls, we also appreciate your engagement in widening our reach.  You often surpass the expectations both in terms of the countries you represent and in terms of Seychelles as the host country.

Finally, my appreciation to all the MFA staff.  Your dedication, willingness to innovate and flexibility have meant that you often exceed expectations.  However you all know, that expectations continue to rise- but I have every confidence that you will rise to the challenge.

Our ongoing campaign for a UN Security Council seat is founded on the principle, that while we may not have many people- we have people who can make a difference.

 

I thank you.

 

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