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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
For Immediate Release
October 10, 1996
REMARKS BY U.S. SECRETARY STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
AT THE ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY
Organization of African Unity
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
October 10, 1996
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Secretary General Salim, distinguished
representatives, ladies and gentlemen. I'm very much honored to be here
this morning. I've been an admirer of the OAU and I am particularly an
admirer of the recent activities that you've undertaken; the new vigor
and determination that you've shown; the contribution that you've made
to peace and stability in the African region.
I think I should tell you that when I was on my way here yesterday from
Bamako, to my surprise, the pilot of the airplane came back and brought
a big cake for me, which indicated that I had now established a record
for the most miles traveled by a Secretary of State during a four year
term -- 704,000 miles. That may say something good about my endurance
and stamina. I'm not sure it says very much about my judgment and
discipline. But in any event, as you hear me this morning, I hope
you'll make allowances for permanent jet lag, now somewhat complicated
by high altitude.
It was a pleasure, as I came in this morning, to tour the Conflict
Management Center that we worked together to create, and I hope that it
will be a useful organism for the OAU. It is an important element of a
broader effort that I want to focus on today. What the OAU is doing,
and what we are doing together, to prevent and resolve conflicts, and to
strengthen Africa's democratic revolution.
I've come here on behalf of President Clinton and at his particular
request, to underscore America's commitment to Africa. We need to work
in partnership with Africa to meet the global challenges of our time.
To meet the global challenges, for example, in the fight against nuclear
proliferation and narcotics, and crime. To work together to deal with
the imperative of protecting and improving our environment. To sum it
up, we want to help Africa realize its enormous economic potential. We
want to work with Africans to avert the conflicts that claim innocent
lives and thwart your progress toward democracy and prosperity.
In the last four years, the United States has acted on many fronts to
support democracy across this continent. We have worked with you to
resolve conflicts in Angola and Mozambique. We've supported African
responses to crises in Liberia and Burundi. Most of those problems
still with us, unresolved. We're working on the President's commitment
to strengthen our trade and economic links to Africa; a commitment that
was championed so effectively by my late colleague, Ron Brown. In a
tight budgetary climate in the United States, we are also working hard
to maintain the validity of our assistance programs.
Too often, people outside this region look at Africa's future with an
exaggerated pessimism. It is certainly true that the nations of Africa
face daunting problems, but citizens after citizens, and country after
country, are showing that these problems can be overcome when
governments answer to their people, open up their economies, and manage
their resources wisely.
The winds of change, I'm glad to note, are gathering force all across
Africa. More than twenty democracies have begun to emerge just in the
last seven years. Of course there have been some incomplete transitions
and some setbacks. Some states still deny the aspirations of their
people. But, I'm glad and feel strongly that they're swimming against
the tide of the new democratic change in Africa.
As you well know, many African countries are also acting to reform their
economies. This is not an easy process, but it is the only path to
sustain growth and to find a way to raise living standards.
All over the world, a critical part of economic reform is overcoming
corruption. I'm heartened by the new priority that African democracies,
from Benin to South Africa are giving to fighting corruption. Two years
ago in Pretoria, many African governments agreed that the OAU should
work with the OECD, which is taking steps to criminalize elicit payments
of companies abroad. I hope that cooperation in this area can go
forward. I also believe that the OAU should consider a continent-wide
convention against corruption, perhaps one similar to that recently
adopted by the Organization of American States.
The effects and the efforts to build democracy and promote development
are underway on this continent, but they will not succeed until we have
secured the peace on this continent. Here in Ethiopia, for example,
only with the end of the war could comprehensive steps be taken to stave
off drought and famine. Across Africa, conflict is increasingly seen
for what it is -- an endless drain of lives and resources that squanders
opportunities for growth and prosperity.
The very best strategy for preventing conflict is to promote democracy.
This is because democracy can ensure that Africa's internal disputes are
settled by voters casting ballots, instead of soldiers wielding guns.
From Mali to Namibia to Mozambique, all across this great continent,
this is the lesson that Africans are teaching. The investments we make
in democracy today can make urgent emergency responses unnecessary
This summer, the leaders of the Great Lakes region united in a swift
response to the coup in Burundi. They were united by opposing sanctions
and calling for democratic rule and all- party talks. I urge the OAU to
build on this encouraging precedent by taking strong public and private
stands to defend legitimate governments. When you act together, you
have the very great power of principle on your side: the principle
that, first, negotiated settlements to conflicts must be implemented.
Second, that democratic institutions must be safeguarded. Third, that
military coups are unacceptable. And fourth, that election results must
Speaking of elections, I also hope that here in the OAU, you will give
even greater attention to what the Secretary General spoke about, --
your new efforts at election monitoring -- to make sure that leaders who
promise fair elections are held to their word.
The good news is that new African leadership to prevent and resolve
conflicts can be seen in every corner of the continent. The recent
ECOWAS Summit spoke clearly to Liberia's warlords, demanding
disarmament, demobilization, and an election in 1997. The South African
Development Community threw its weight behind the peace process in
Mozambique, and just last week, in Angola.
The OAU's growing efforts to monitor and mediate disputes, together with
the Secretary General's able leadership, are paying off throughout the
continent. In recent years, the OAU's quiet diplomacy has helped keep
democracy on track in the Congo and in Comoros. It has broken new
ground by sending military observers to Rwanda and Burundi.
Nevertheless, sad to say, Burundi today remains on the brink of an even
greater tragedy, and other nations are also at risk. We must develop
the capacity for an effective response in Burundi and in any other
future crisis. And we must find new ways for Africans to work together
and for the international community to support you.
The time has come to build on your expertise to create a new political
and military partnership. One that we have called the African Crisis
Response Force. There is already a good foundation to build on, as we
consider such a new force. The OAU has gained experience in monitoring
problem areas. African states have extensive experience in peace-
keeping efforts under the United Nations auspices. Many African
countries have troops prepared to participate in peace-keeping
operations, but not the resources to finance them. And several western
countries are willing to support such operations, but believe that
African nations should take the leading role. Hence, an African Crisis
Response Force would be a logical next step.
It would consist of African troops reinforced by training, equipment,
logistical and financial support. It would come from the United States
and other countries. Such a force would be developed in full
consultation with the United Nations and the OAU. It would not be a
standing force, but one that could be quickly assembled, led by
Africans, and deployed under UN auspices. Its mission would be to
protect innocent civilians, ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid, and
help resolve conflicts in Africa and beyond.
We are actively engaged in the dialogue with our African and European
partners, as well as the UN and the OAU, about this valuable new idea.
The OAU and its members will have a particularly important role to play
in shaping this partnership. I hope it will become a strong link in the
chain of successful responses. Responses to the conflict that is waging
in so many areas, and I think a series of conflicts, in which the OAU
must certainly take important cognizance.
The United States is prepared to provide substantial support for this
initiative. Support which, of course, would be in addition to the $8
million we are now providing to various OAU activities, including our
support for the new Conflict Management Center. In all of these areas,
the OAU needs the support and involvement of Africa's sub-regional
organizations. That's why we've committed $40 million last year alone,
to support ECOMOG in Liberia. It is why we have organized the Greater
Horn of Africa initiative, bringing together governments, regional
organizations, and NGOs.
The OAU plays another critical role, that is the critical role of
representing Africa's interests around the world. Africa's support for
the permanent extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty was absolutely
critical. It was also vital for the adoption by the General Assembly of
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We must continue to work together in
our campaign to adopt a comprehensive ban on anti-personnel mines; a
series of horrors that Africa knows far too well in countries that have
suffered the ravages of war and land mine laying. Finally, we cannot
hope to meet the challenges of sustainable development and women's
empowerment without Africa's continued leadership; the kind of
leadership you showed at the UN Women's Conference in Beijing last fall.
The United Nations has an important role to play in meeting the full
range of challenges that I've outlined today. To help us meet them, the
United Nations needs effective new leadership. We've made it clear that
we are sympathetic to Africa's desire for a second term. I urge you to
identify strong African candidates for the Secretary-Generalship of the
In closing, let me say that the challenges that I've outlined today are
formidable, but think of the challenges that you've already overcome
here in Africa. When I see the courageous struggle for peace and
democracy being waged by Africans from the Sahel to Southern Africa, I'm
impressed by the stubborn persistence of hope among the nations of this
continent. If we also have strength and determination, we can realize
Africa's hopes for a better future.
Thank you very much.
SECRETARY GENERAL SALIM: For that important address, and as I said
before, I will now open the floor to those who would like to ask any
specific questions. Unfortunately this particular discussion which I am
doing, is not for the press. The press is free to listen, is free to
report, unfortunately we have to restrict their freedom to ask
questions in this particular gathering. But I am sure the Secretary of
State will make available another opportunity for you to ask questions.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I'm sure I didn't answer all of their
questions, Mr. Secretary General.
SECRETARY GENERAL SALIM: Well, if no one wants to ask a question, then
let me ask a question. Especially on the issue of the question of the
African Crisis Responce Force, I think that many of our African
colleagues would like to have more clarification on a number of issues
concerning this African Crisis Responce Force. I think you have
answered some of the questions, but still there are issues like the
criteria for participation -- why some countries and not others? There
are issues like the issue of command and control, who is going to
command this African Crisis Responce Force? Who will be controlling
this African Crisis Responce Force? There are issues like the question
of enduring sustainable support for the African Crisis Responce Force
because our experience in the continent when dealing with other issues,
one of which you have alluded to in Liberia, is that there is no
difficulty in getting African preparedness, African contribution as far
as manpower, as far as offices of men to deal with crisis. What we have
learned from the Liberian crisis is that the actual sustaining of that
African Crisis Responce Force becomes a real problem. Of course there
is also the question of the ownership of the African Crisis Responce
Force. Now, I am raising this question, I had expected some ambassadors
to raise it, but I'm sure I am raising it on behalf of them because it
was raised with me when I briefed them yesterday.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Mr. Secretary General, I told you I'd take a
question or two, but you have asked me four. That's a little unfair.
(Laughter) Well, let me make some further comments on this African
Crisis Responce Force, but first let me be, I hope, suitably modest
about this. Although the United States is promoting this idea, it is one
that springs from the experience from a number of countries. We don't
have any patent on it. We don't maintain any exclusivity about it.
Indeed every good idea of this kind generates of a number of different
sources and we want to build support from the many countries that have
had a similar idea or felt a similar need.
With respect to who would participate in it, I would say that our
initial consultations have been with those who have demonstrated an
interest in it. Countries who have had experience in contributing to
peace-keeping African Crisis Responce Forces of the United Nations in
the past, and have exhibited a sincere desire to do so, not a mercenary
desire to do so. Countries that have had a background of democracy and
would have civilian control of the African Crisis Responce Force is
another important criterion, I think. So, we will begin our
consultations and broaden them as we go through this process, consulting
particularly with the United Nations and the OAU, which will have such
an important role.
Under the resolutions adopted by both the OAU and the United Nations, I
think there is fully added, with authority, to have the initial
consultations with respect to building up the African Crisis Responce
Force. But when you raise command and control decisions, questions that
I think it is proper to answer, the United Nations would have to take
the decision to launch the mission, and it would be under the control of
the United Nations as other peace-keeping endeavors, as other
humanitarian endeavors. If this idea does have merit, I would think the
genius of the idea is that the African Crisis Responce Force would be
trained and equipped with some experience in working together so there
isn't an extremely long lead time between the need for the African
Crisis Responce Force and being able to put it in the field. Sometimes
a delay of three or four months, which it almost takes, can be a very
With respect to the support for the African Crisis Responce Force, I
would emphasize that one of the reasons for our extensive consultation,
especially with our European and Asian allies and friends -- to
determine whether or not there is enough interest in this -- whether
there would be a sustained support, because none of us wants to launch
this kind of endeavor only to be frustrated by the lack of continuity in
And finally, the question about the ownership, I'm not exactly sure what
that question means, but it certainly would be predominantly in the
hands of those African countries that had committed the troops to the
endeavor. Before this kind of a African Crisis Responce Force could be
launched, of course, every country that has made a tentative commitment
would have to, in effect, confirm their commitment. I can't see any
other way it would operate. When you got ready to dispatch the African
Crisis Responce Force to a new area or to a new crisis, the countries
would then have to determine whether or not they wanted to confirm their
commitment in the African Crisis Responce Force.
Mr. Secretary General, I hope I have covered or at least taken a shot at
the four questions that you asked me. And maybe someone, during the
time that I have taken, will have come up with another one or two.
SECRETARY GENERAL SALIM: Mr. Secretary, we would be very glad to take
more, but your people have told me that you have to go for a meeting
right now with the Prime Minister. I know some of our colleagues want
to ask questions, but really, on the basis of the pleas which were put
to me by your cooperators, I want take this opportunity first to express
my regrets to all those colleagues who may want, and I am sure there are
many to ask questions. But also to take this opportunity to thank you
whole-heartedly again for having come here and for having delivered an
important address, and for having highlighted some of the issues which
are certainly of African concern. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Thank you very much.
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