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U.S. Department of State
96/10/12 Address to South Africa Institute of International Affairs
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
(Johannesburg, South Africa)
AS DELIVERED October 12, 1996
ADDRESS BY SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
AT THE SOUTH AFRICAN INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
University of Witswatersrand
Johannesburg, South Africa
October 12, 1996
Thank you for that warm welcome. Some of you may have heard that
an unnamed American newspaper has questioned my ability to pronounce
difficult African names during the course of this jet-lagged trip.
Well, I took this as quite a challenge, so I decided to give this speech
at the University in Africa with the most difficult, unpronounceable
name. That's why I came here to the University of "Wits." (Laughter)
It is an honor to speak at a university known around the world
for its principled opposition to apartheid and for its leading role in
building the new South Africa. I want to thank the South African
Institute for International Affairs for hosting me and for your work in
raising awareness of global issues in this country.
For some time now, Americans have been coming to South Africa to
celebrate with you the end of apartheid. That has been our great
privilege, and it is mine, too. But now we have new work to do. The
victory of freedom has opened new challenges for your people. It has
also opened an opportunity that our nations must grasp: the opportunity
to act together to advance common interests in Africa and around the
world. That is why today I want to speak about America's engagement on
this continent and to explain why peace, democracy, and prosperity in
Africa matters so much to the United States.
I wanted to give this speech in South Africa because your example
has inspired Americans and the world. Today, people look at South
Africa and say: If this diverse, once-divided nation can be united by
common values and aims, then so can any multi-ethnic nation in Africa
and the world. If South Africa can forge a community of interest with
the neighbors it once fought, then any region can come together. If
South Africa can elect a former political prisoner to be its President,
if it can tell the truth about its past and move forward, so can any
nation striving to overcome a painful legacy.
When people say that South Africa is a leader, it is not just a
testament to your size and your economic might. It is a tribute to the
courage, patience, and tolerance that you have shown in your remarkable
transition. It is a tribute to the optimism that you inspire in others,
through Africa and around the world.
Today, all the nations of Africa have a chance to realize the
potential that exists in their human and natural resources. This was
impossible when Africa was divided by Cold War cleavages and superpower
rivalries. It was impossible when most African nations stagnated under
single party rule, pursuing economic policies that were based upon
ideology, not experience. It was impossible when South Africa stood in
opposition to its neighbors, unable to exercise moral or political
It is possible today because all over the world, people are
recognizing the truth Robert Kennedy expressed here in South Africa 30
years ago: that our "essential humanity can only be protected and
preserved where government must answer, not just to the wealthy, not
just to those of a particular religion, or a particular race, but all
its people." The triumph of that democratic ideal ended the Cold War.
It overcame apartheid. And in country after country, it is empowering
Africans to shape their own destinies.
Of course, when we talk about Africa's renewed promise, we must
not gloss over the tragic problems of those nations still in crisis.
Nor can we underestimate the devastation caused by poverty,
environmental neglect, excessive population growth and disease. We also
dare not overlook the persistence of human rights abuses or the
continued existence of injustices like slavery.
When we speak about Africa, we must of course recognize its great
diversity. But many African nations have this in common: that they are
at a crossroads. Many countries have ended violence, but not yet
established conditions for lasting peace. Many have held elections, but
not yet solidified the rule of law. Many are freeing their economies
from the shackles of state control, but have not yet been able to free
their people from poverty. In other words, much of Africa is at a
fragile mid-point, the point at which good leadership, sound policies,
and steady international support and engagement can make the greatest
difference. That's where the opportunity lies.
All nations must cooperate, not compete, if we are going to make a
positive difference in Africa's future. The time has passed when Africa
could be carved into spheres of influence, or when outside powers could
view whole groups of states as their private domain. Today, Africa
needs the support of all its many friends, not the exclusive patronage
of a few.
The United States will do its part, not only because it is right,
but because it is in our interest to help Africa succeed.
We need African partners in our effort to meet global challenges.
African nations played a leading role in extending the Non-Proliferation
Treaty. Without the support and help of democracies like Benin and
South Africa, we might have lost our most important barrier against the
spread of nuclear weapons. Likewise, without the nearly unanimous
support of African nations, we might not have gained the UN General
Assembly's approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty last month.
We need African partners if we are to dismantle the global
networks of crime, narcotics and terror that unhappily are also gaining
a foothold here. The health and prosperity of Americans depend on
preserving the global environment, and we can only do so if we are fully
engaged in Africa. America, like the whole world, has an interest in
preserving Africa's tropical forests, which have given us effective
treatments for leukemia and Hodgkin's Disease.
We clearly have an interest in helping Africa realize its immense
and mostly untapped economic potential. As Africa's regions come
together, as its nations become more stable and free, opportunities for
investment and trade in Africa will only grow.
Our late Commerce Secretary, my friend Ron Brown, understood this.
No one ever worked harder or with more success to broaden and diversify
our trade and investment relationship with Africa, including southern
Africa, which he named one of the ten great emerging markets in the
world. We are carrying on Ron's work. U.S. trade with sub-Saharan
Africa grew by 12% last year. Our exports to Africa already exceed
those to the entire former Soviet Union. Here in South Africa, our
American Ambassador has told me that almost one new American company is
starting or expanding its operations every week. I want to pay tribute
to our Ambassador Jim Joseph, who is here with me today has and done
such a fine job here in representing America in this country that he
loves so much, South Africa.
We also recognize our interest in helping Africa resolve the
conflicts that stand in the way of a better future. Crisis after crisis
has taught us that the cost of prevention is never as great as the price
of neglect; that lifting lives is even more rewarding than saving lives.
The American people have always responded with generosity when a
humanitarian emergency sears our conscience. But if together we succeed
in being peace-makers and democracy-builders, we will not be called upon
to provide emergency relief nearly as often, and that is surely in our
interest and Africa's as well.
For all these reasons, for all these good reasons, President
Clinton is determined to intensify American engagement in Africa. In
the last four years, in a tough budgetary climate in the United States,
he has sought to protect our assistance to Africa, even as aid to other
regions declined sharply. We have provided $600 million to support
South Africa's transition to democracy. We have helped nations like
Mali and Benin consolidate democracy. We launched an initiative to
prevent conflict and achieve food security in the Greater Horn of
Africa. We have been deeply engaged in support of peace in Mozambique
and Angola. Our armed forces provided critical support for relief in
Rwanda and they helped save hundreds of thousands of lives in Somalia.
We are the world's leading supporter of eliminating landmines in Africa
-- a cause I think the world is finally awakening too.
I cannot be here today and pretend to you that there is no debate
in America about Africa's relative importance. But my travel to Africa
this past week has only strengthened my conviction that America must
remain engaged on this continent. I intend to build on the experiences
of this visit and to draw on its lessons to make that case to the
American people. We cannot and we will not walk away from Africa.
Our approach to Africa is to promote democracy, to prevent
conflict, to encourage economic prosperity and integration and to
support sustainable development. These fundamental elements are
inseparable. Political freedom is the key to peace within nations.
Economies perform best where people are free to shape their destiny.
But democracy itself cannot thrive in nations divided by armed conflict
or crippled by dwindling natural resources. Let me discuss each element
of our approach in turn.
The first is to promote democratic government, human rights and
the rule of law. I can remember when apologists for colonialism argued
that Africa was not developed enough to be "ready" for democracy.
Sadly, many African leaders have used the same excuse to justify
dictatorship. But now the tide is turning. Since 1989, more than 20
nations have embraced democratic government, rejecting what Mali's
President Konare has condemned as "the logic of 'shut up and obey.'"
The rising tide of democracy means that Africans are finally
gaining a chance to solve problems and to shape their future. In
Southern Africa, drought has not led to catastrophe in part because most
governments in this region are held accountable by their voters and by a
free press. Democracy makes it more likely that internal divisions
will be settled peacefully at the ballot box. That has been possible in
emerging democracies like Mozambique and Namibia, and certainly it's
been impossible in dictatorships such as Sudan. Democracy makes it more
likely that business people will invest, because they will have more
confidence in a place where the rule of law will protect their
Of course, democracy means more than elections. It depends on a
free press, independent courts, and a public culture in which every
person can participate fully in political and community life.
In the last four years, American assistance has helped women's groups
get involved in politics, helped human rights advocates gain a voice,
and defended independent journalists. We support institutions that
establish accountability for past abuses, like South Africa's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission. This morning I had the honor and pleasure to
sign an agreement on behalf of the United States that will provide
$400,000 for the Commission's work and had the pleasure and inspiration
of being with President Mandela and Archbishop Tutu. We are the world's
leading supporter of the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal.
Former President Soglo of Benin certainly had it right when he
said that Africa can't afford to be held to a lesser democratic standard
by the world. Nigeria's oppressive rule is especially troubling at the
moment. Nigeria should be a leader in Africa. But its rulers have
squandered their nation's potential and made it the poorest oil-rich
country on earth. The effects of corruption and drug trafficking in
Nigeria can already be felt from South Africa to North America. The
United States hopes that the Nigerian government will move forward with
political and economic reform. We are open to dialogue with its
leaders. But we are prepared to take appropriate steps if repression
When democracy is threatened, its fate depends in part on the will
of other nations to defend it. Already, many African leaders have
recognized that national boundaries must not shield abuses that threaten
whole regions. As I said at the OAU two days ago in Addis Ababa, by
acting together African nations can effectively vindicate the principle
that democracy must be safeguarded, that military coups are
unacceptable, and that election results must be respected.
The second element of our approach is to work with African nations
to resolve Africa's remaining armed conflicts and to prevent new ones.
In Africa's Great Lakes region, the United States and South Africa are
working with regional leaders to avert renewed genocide. I was in
Arusha yesterday to support the efforts to achieve a negotiated solution
to the crisis in Burundi. I had an opportunity to discuss this issue
with President Mandela this morning and found that we fully share the
goal of achieving an agreement that will restore democracy and protect
minority rights. In Angola, which I will visit Monday, we are also
working to resolve the war that has raged there for a generation.
Our experience in Angola has demonstrated the essential role the
United Nations can play in resolving conflict. We are determined to
meet our responsibilities to the UN. We are striving to improve its
effectiveness and strengthen its leadership.
Like other parts of the world, Africa also needs strong regional
and sub-regional organizations, like SADC, that take responsibility, in
partnership with Africa's friends abroad, at moments of crisis. It
needs well-trained regional forces that can be deployed rapidly when and
where they are needed for humanitarian and peacekeeping missions. It
needs a mechanism that combines the experience of Africa's armed forces
with the resources and capabilities of its non-African partners.
To meet this need, we are working with our partners in Africa and
around the world to create what we are calling an African Crisis
Response Force. This concept is not new, but it is certainly necessary.
It allows us to realize a goal that the OAU has espoused and other
nations have long shared: to build Africa's capacity for resolving
conflict -- just as we have done in many other regions of the world.
The crisis in Burundi adds urgency to the creation of such a
force. But it could meet Africa's long-term needs as well. It can help
ensure that neither my country nor any African nation will ever face a
choice between acting alone at times of crisis or doing nothing. I am
happy to say that a number of African nations have already expressed
their willingness to contribute to such a force. Based on the results
of my trip, I am increasingly confident that an African Crisis Response
Force can and indeed will be created.
The third element of our approach is to help Africa realize its
economic potential. Many countries in Africa have acted to reduce
budget deficits, privatize enterprises and deregulate economies. These
are hard and sometimes painful steps -- in Africa and everywhere else in
the world. But they are the only path to sustained growth and rising
The United States strongly supports the efforts of the
international financial institutions to help African nations succeed in
traveling down this path, and President Clinton is seeking adequate
funding for this work. We also helped to forge the consensus donor
nations reached last month to relieve more of the debt owed by the
world's poorest countries.
We applaud the World Bank's greater focus on education because
education is critical to economic development. There is no good reason
why the donor community and African countries cannot work together to
help every child in every country benefit from at least a full primary
education by the year 2010. Development also depends on unleashing the
talents of all of Africa's people. Africa's women, in particular, must
gain full access to every school, clinic, and parliament if the
continent is to succeed in tapping its full potential.
The United States also strongly supports the new measures that the
World Bank and IMF will be taking against corruption around the world.
The private sector can only thrive when ordinary citizens are not forced
to pay bribes for basic services, when contracts are awarded fairly, and
when foreign investors are not intimidated. Fighting this kind of
corruption is a global challenge. It is also an African challenge. We
are encouraged by the priority that African democracies like Tanzania
are giving to rooting out these corrosive practices.
We should also work together to help Africa become more integrated
with the global economy. Thirty-two sub-Saharan African nations have
joined the new World Trade Organization, and we are helping them to
share its benefits and to meet its requirements. In this region, SADC
is eliminating duties and non-tariff barriers. We encourage it to work
with its counterparts in East and West Africa to liberalize trade
throughout the continent.
The final element of our approach is to overcome the transnational
problems that undermine democracy, peace and prosperity. African
nations will prosper only if their economies grow faster than their
population. Africa's economies will only grow if they manage wisely the
forests, grasslands, waters and wildlife that are fundamental to every
industry from agriculture to tourism to manufacturing.
When some people look at the massive social and environmental
pressures your continent faces, they predict anarchy and chaos. They
think violence is the inevitable consequence of environmental decay,
disease, and population growth. These forces are, to be sure,
destructive. But I believe that human neglect and unaccountable
government are the most important causes of the human disasters we have
seen in countries like Liberia. Genocide is not a natural disaster.
I am convinced, as President John Kennedy once said, that
"problems created by man can be solved by man." During my trip this
week, I have been inspired by the men and women I met who are struggling
to meet Africa's greatest challenges and succeeding. Thanks to them,
infant survival rates, life expectancy and literacy are steadily rising.
Thanks to them, a higher proportion of Africa's lands are set aside for
protection than anywhere in the world.
The United States stands with them. In Africa, our Agency for
International Development is placing particular emphasis on sustainable
development. When I was in Addis Ababa earlier this week, I visited a
community where we are working with local people to pave streets, fix
bridges and create economic opportunity. (Protesters Yelling Outside) --
I've heard there is a tradition of free speech here and I'm glad it's
alive and well. (Laughter) When I was in Mali, I visited our young
Peace Corps volunteers, who are working with villagers to plant trees
and to keep drinking water safe. They are doing that in an area
threatened by the desert, and this is fascinating and heroic work . Any
American who saw what I saw this week would be proud of our country's
role on this continent and just as determined as I am to preserve it.
The goals I have talked about here this afternoon -- democracy,
peace, prosperity and sustainable development -- are goals I know the
United States and South Africa share. I also know that South Africa
faces great challenges at home -- from the old quest to assure justice
and opportunity for all, to the new urgency of fighting crime and
narcotics. The most important thing South Africa can do for Africa and
for the world is to ensure that its own transformation here at home
succeeds. We remain optimistic about the future of the South African
economy and its leadership. But I know you do not believe your
responsibility ends here in South Africa.
South Africa has already made great progress in promoting regional
cooperation and peace in Southern Africa. SADC has been a tremendous
success and under President Mandela's leadership it will only grow
stronger. But your national interest does not end even in this region.
After all, no one wants the nations that we once called the "front line
states" to find themselves on a new front line, facing instability and
poverty to the north. That is why we applaud President Mandela's
courageous leadership on human rights and South Africa's growing
engagement in the OAU.
South Africa is an important global partner for the United States,
too. Your nation has provided decisive leadership against nuclear
proliferation, not once but many times. We share an interest in
fighting terrorism, drugs and crime and protecting the global
environment. The Binational Commission chaired by Deputy President
Mbeki and Vice President Gore has already put many of these practical
issues on our common agenda and we're working together on these issues.
When I look around the world, I see very few countries with
greater potential to help shape the 21st century than the new South
Africa. I see few relationships as vital to advancing our common
interests as the U.S.-South Africa relationship.
Our nations are linked by so much shared history, so many shared
values and so many shared common aspirations. You have struggled to
become what Bishop Tutu calls "the rainbow people of God." In America,
we have struggled, in the words of Martin Luther King, "to transform the
jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of
brotherhood." Despite all of our remaining problems, our examples still
inspire the world. Nations look to us to exercise principled
leadership. Let us continue to heed their call. (Applause)
QUESTION: I believe there are people in the audience that think
differently than you; that is a democratic right. Mr. Secretary, do you
know that Israel is the birth place of Jesus Christ with growing
densities under the control of a British community. Is it the policy of
the United States, and now Europe, to sell out Christianity for the sake
of birth to counter terrorists?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I'm not sure that I grasp the essential point of
your question, but our policy in the Middle East is to promote peace
between the Israelis and Palestinians; between the Israelis and the
Arabs. That tragic part of the world has known conflict almost
continuously since the end of World War II.
We have an opportunity now that is probably greater than it has been in
at least a half of century to achieve a peaceful Middle East. Just in
the last three years, we have seen peace treaties between Jordan and
Israel; we've seen three important agreements between Israel and the
Palestinians; we've seen important economic conferences attended by both
the Arabs and Israelis, sitting alongside each other. There is real
progress there and my determination is that we shall not regress, but we
shall go forward and that's the policy of the United States.
We want to assist the parties, facilitate their efforts to achieve
peace. That's a laudable goal and one to which President Clinton is
committed and I'm devoting a tremendous amount of time; perhaps more
than any single other aspect of my role of Secretary of State.
QUESTION: Why is the United States so little excited about the crisis
in Zaire. Especially now that the government is ready to remove the
Tutsis that are there. And I just wanted to find out what sort of
dialogue is the United States prepared to be engaged in with Nigeria
after all the dialogue you have taken?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, we have concern about the leadership in
Zaire. We have for a long time. We think there should new leadership
in that country, which has greater respect for the needs and interest of
its people. We're particularly concerned, at the present time, about
the possibility of a conflict and violence on the border between Zaire
and Rwanda and we urge the leaders of those two countries to talk about
their problems and to try to find some non-violent way to deal with the
tragic flows back and forth of refugees.
With respect to Nigeria, as I said in my remarks, we are very concerned
about the direction that General Abacha has taken in Nigeria. We think
that there should be a restoration of democratic rule there. We feel
that the human rights abuses have been very prevalent in the last year
since General Abacha came to power. Now as I said in my remarks, we
would welcome a dialogue; we would welcome an indication that they are
on the path to a restoration of democracy, but failing that we are
prepared to take appropriate other steps.
QUESTION: To what extent is your proposal for an African Crisis
Response Force based on America's experience in Somalia and having its
SECRETARY: Well, we've learned from many experiences in peacekeeping
over the last several years and I think that we would try to take
advantage of all such experiences in helping the development of the
African Crisis Response Force, but let me emphasize that this idea is
not new one. It's one that has been advanced by the OAU; it's been
advanced by the United Nations; it's been advanced by a number of
individual countries. I think that what the United States is trying to
do, at the present time, is to enhance our ability to mobilize forces
when the international community has to deal with a humanitarian crisis
or has to deal with a peacekeeping situation.
We have had good conversations on my trip about such a force. I think
that Africans are very anxious that they be involved in the development
of such a force and we are too. They're anxious that the OAU be
involved and we are too. Here in Southern Africa, they want SADC to be
involved and we do too. I think that we all have a common aim and that
is to try to ensure that we have some enhanced capacity to deal with
these humanitarian crises that can come upon us so quickly and can
result in a tremendous loss of life unless we're able to move swiftly.
And so we learn from all our prior experiences in trying to mount an
enhanced capacity to deal with these problems.
QUESTION: My question has to do with the United Nations. It's often
been said in international relations circles that one of the reasons why
the U.N. is so ineffective is because the Secretary General has only had
one term. If his term was longer than one term he would be able to be
more effective and to get his job done. I would also like to know why
has President Clinton decided to veto Boutros-Boutros Gahli's re-
election? Who is he going to endorse and why does he think that that
person would do a better job? Secondly, (Laughter) if the Democratic
party wins in November, are they going to meet their debts to the U.N.?
Because obviously it's another factor that's hindering the U.N.'s
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think there were three or four questions
wrapped up there. (Laughter) First, I think that you are not correct
that the Secretary General has been limited to one term. In virtually
every case the Secretary General has had more than one term, sometimes
one-term-plus, but in most instances you will find if you look back in
history most of them have had two terms.
When the current Secretary General, for whom we have great respect, was
elected five years ago, he said that because of his age he expected to
serve only one term. Now he's changed his mind and has asked for a
second term. President Clinton considered this matter very carefully at
the beginning of this year, and after a good deal of thought and not
with any personal sense of it, he concluded that the United Nations
would be best served by new leadership. He felt personally that if he
is re-elected he would like to work very hard to enhance the capacity of
the United Nations and he thought he would be able to do that better
with the presence of new leadership. So we have made it clear and it is
our firm judgment that we will not support the present Secretary General
for a second term. That's because we care more about the U.N. and not
We feel the U.N. can be a tremendously powerful force for good around
the world. It's just indispensable. It has inefficiencies now; it has
problems now; it needs reformation and we think new leadership can make
it more effective in conjunction with an administration that is
committed to the U.N.
With respect to our own budgetary situation, the United States Congress
this year has appropriated funds to pay our responsibilities during the
current year and it has also put us on the road to dealing with our
arrearages. The United States remains, by far, the largest supporter of
the United Nations and we intend to keep it that way. We think that we
can go down this road of paying our full share and paying our arrearages
with greater cooperation from the Congress which can be enhanced with
QUESTION: In your discussions this morning with President Mandela, did
you happen to touch on South Africa's relationship with Cuba and Libya?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: As President Mandela said in a very succinct and
very adroit summary of our meeting, we touched on four topics. That was
not among them. So I can't tell you that we talked about that because
we didn't talk about that.
Thank you very much and thank you for being such a splendid audience. I
greatly enjoyed being here. I hope you weren't distracted. I wasn't.
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