Selected Speeches Of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I
OPENING THIRD SESSION OF THE SUMMIT
On behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia, and also on Our behalf, We extend a warm welcome to you all who are gathered here today at this solemn meeting in Our capital.
We recall that three years ago we met in this hall to find ways and means of resolving the problems which then faced our continent. At that meeting which has become a great landmark in the annals of African history, we succeeded to put aside our differences and unanimously adopted and signed the historic document, the Charter of the Organization of African Unity.
In spite of obstacles, we have succeeded in establishing the Organization of African Unity. This we have achieved because the unity which we seek stemmed from the deep conviction which the people of Africa hold for the acceleration of their political, social and economic development. The fact that we succeeded in laying the foundation of our unity was due primarily to the desire of all Africans to unite in a common struggle against colonialism, poverty, disease and ignorance which are enemies of Africa.
In order that what we have set for ourselves to carry out may be realized in its full significance, and so that the Charter does not remain a mere historical milestone, we should in concert continue to work with the same vigour and dedication as we have done in the past. To this end, and in accordance with the Charter, we ought to continue meeting once every year to review the year’s activities and to chart the course of action for the coming year. We should take it upon ourselves to acquaint our peoples with the progress of our achievements and with the programmes of work we set for the future.
The Charter of the Organization of African Unity has become the embodiment of all the aspirations of the African peoples. Some of the great aims of the Charter include the fostering of unity and solidarity among Member-States; the co-ordination of their efforts to raise the standard of living of their people; the defence and preservation of their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence and the eradication of all forms of colonialism, and the promotion of international co-operation.
Since May 1963 when the Organization of African Unity came into being, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government met twice while the Council of Ministers met several times, in ordinary and extraordinary sessions, to deal with Africa’s political, economic, social and cultural problems.
We draw encouragement from the important developments that have taken place in Africa and from the achievements recorded in various fields. Africa has come a long way on the road to freedom and progress and has played an active role in the community of nations.
The conference We are opening today is yet another evidence, among many, of our devotion and dedication to the cause of our continent and its people. In this spirit, we shall continue to discharge our duty to this continent for those two hundred and fifty million inhabitants for whom we are responsible, and, at the same time endeavour not to fail to play an active role in world affairs.
Africa, like the rest of the world, is today, more than ever, passing through a transitional period from the Africa that was to the Africa that is to be. We have now begun to tread the path of the future, and the task that we have set for ourselves to carry out in building a better and secure tomorrow for Africa is an arduous one. Having emerged from a period of darkness, Africa is in the process of becoming a totally free continent. Since the birth of Our Organization, the unity and solidarity of Africa are steadily growing in strength. The voice of 250 million Africans now heard at international gatherings is gaining momentum day by day. Nevertheless, if we wish to strengthen our unity, we must overcome the factors that tend to balkanize and weaken our continent.
When we met to establish our Organization, foreign circles went so far as to declare that African unity was a dream that could not be realized. They assumed that Africa was torn in different directions, bent by interstate feuds, and ventured to predict that instead of unity there would be chaos and dissention. However, by our steadfastness and devotion to Africa’s noble cause, we have proved them wrong. The Organization of African Unity, having exerted all efforts to defend with courage and conviction against the forces that undermine African unity, has emerged triumphant.
We, Member States, should walk the path of African unity with unfaltering faith. Ethiopia, for her part, will spare no effort to see to it that our solidarity and unity are maintained and strengthened. Africa must speak with one voice ringing out in powerful, harmonious tones. Our Organization provides us with suitable means of finding peaceful solutions to disputes arising among Member-States. It enables us to examine and execute measures which are essential for the defence of our continent and also helps us to adopt and undertake joint programmes of co-operation in political, social, economic and cultural fields which are vital to Africa.
Areas of Co-operation
In point of fact, the creation of the African Development Bank has given us a good basis for promoting economic co-operation. It is, therefore, in our interest to strengthen this institution and likewise the economic ties that already exist among Member-States.
In the cultural field, Africa faces many problems, mainly, as a result of the poor level of education and the lack of adequate contacts among its peoples. In view of this, great efforts must be made in the fields of education—a key to development—so as to provide Africa with the professional and qualified technicians needed for its advancement.
Bearing in mind the speed with which the Organization of African Unity has developed, and anxious to further strengthen it with the rest of the Member-States, Ethiopia shall contribute her share in giving every consideration so that the human as well as the material resources available to the Organization are wisely and effectively utilized. The resources at the disposal of the Organization should be evaluated in terms of the relative needs and mutual usefulness to the Member-States. Particular care must also be taken to avoid embarking upon costly projects for which Member-States have neither the necessary financial resources nor adequate technicians. Caution is necessary, lest such ambitious programmes may result in failure, which in turn would cause loss of interest and shake the confidence of Member-States in the Organization of African Unity. In this connection, the special committee which has been entrusted with the task of studying the problems facing the various branches of the Organization has submitted its recommendation and it deserves to be closely examined by all Member-States.
Today, the main problems that should concern us most and engage our attention are: the defence of Africa’s freedom, the liberation of our brothers who are still under colonial rule, the promotion of economic and social progress and the efficient and effective exploitation of our natural resources, the broadening of our respective systems of national education, the development of the health and wellbeing of our peoples and the safeguarding of the interests of Africa by taking concerted actions both in the political and economic fields.
Two New States
In spite of great handicaps, the process of decolonization continues. In this connection, we should like to congratulate the two new independent States of Botswana and Lesotho on their attainment of independence and welcome their membership to our Organization. We are confident that these two African sister States will contribute their share to the enterprise and endeavours of our Organization. We are well aware of the very special geographical and political situation in which these two States are placed. The Organization of African Unity should give them political and moral support and, in concert with the United Nations Organization, guarantee their independence and freedom.
As far as the question of colonialism is concerned, Ethiopia’s stand is clear. In accordance with her ideals of freedom, Ethiopia today, as in the past, is committed to defend the rights of the oppressed. Ethiopia has and shall continue to strive for the complete eradication of racial discrimination from the African Continent. She is fully aware that racial discrimination means the negation of the moral equality of all men and the deprivation of the African of his dignity and personality. As long as apartheid is practised in South Africa, Africa will have to continue to intensify her opposition until that scourge is totally annihilated from our continent. Though apartheid, that most repugnant and inhuman system of oppression that man has ever known, is still being unscrupulously practised by the government of South Africa, yet those countries that can bring pressure to bear upon it economically have refused to do so. We therefore appeal to these countries to discontinue their trade with South Africa, until such a time when that country changes its policy and grants its inhabitants their freedom.
Case of South-West Africa
For a number of years now the problem of South-West Africa has become the major concern of the African countries. Liberia and Ethiopia, as former members of the League of Nations, acting on behalf of all the African States, had sued South Africa for violating her mandate in South-West Africa by introducing the policy of apartheid into that territory and by failing in her obligation to promote the interest of the African population.
After six years of litigation, the International Court of Justice decided that the two States did not establish legal status in the case to stand before the Court, thus reversing its judgment of jurisdiction given in 1962. This unfortunate decision has profoundly shaken the high hopes that mankind had placed in the International Court of Justice. The faith man had that justice can be rendered is shattered and the cause of Africa betrayed.
Having failed in preparing the people of South-West Africa for independence, South Africa has betrayed the trust given to it by the League of Nations. In view of this and its stubborn refusal to carry out the resolutions of the United Nations in this connection, it becomes all the more appropriate to terminate South Africa’s mandate over the territory. Mindful of this, We heartily welcome the recent decision of the United Nations which revoked South Africa’s mandate over South-West Africa and thus placing it instead under its own administration. On this occasion We would like to congratulate all Member States of the United Nations which supported the resolution and especially the two great powers, the United States and the Soviet Union.
In Rhodesia, the situation has deteriorated. A year ago, a foreign white minority declared unilateral independence. By so doing, the illegal regime condemned the African majority to servitude. After the illegal declaration of independence, the Government of the United Kingdom, the authority administering that colony, announced the application of economic sanctions against the rebel regime to force it to return to the rule of law. It was obvious that the sanctions imposed would prove to be ineffective. Faced with such a situation, the Government of the United Kingdom was urged to use force—if necessary—to quell the rebellion. Unfortunately, the British Government so far displayed reluctance to use force.
Since the economic and political sanctions imposed by Great Britain have proved ineffective so far, We are convinced that if future dangerous developments in the very heart of Africa are to be avoided, the Government of the United Kingdom should put down the illegal regime in Rhodesia by all means at its disposal including the use of force.
It is our duty to help the freedom fighters of Zimbabwe to intensify their struggle to liberate their country. On this occasion, we could reassure them of our continued support. We would like to take this opportunity to convey Our sincere congratulations to President Kenneth Kaunda and the Government of the Republic of Zambia for their efforts and sacrifices in the struggle for the liberation of the people of Zimbabwe.
The Government of Portugal stubbornly holds on to the outmoded concept of regarding its African colonial territories as Portuguese overseas provinces. Portugal has incessantly oppressed the African nationalists and has constantly challenged the many resolutions adopted by the United Nations and our own Organization, calling upon her to grant independence to her colonies. We should therefore continue the struggle until the Government of Portugal succumbs to the inevitability of granting independence to her colonies. We should also call once again on all countries concerned to refrain from supplying Portugal with arms.
We are specially concerned about the Territory of Djibouti. Everyone is aware of the geographical, ethnical and economical ties that bind the Territory of Djibouti with Ethiopia. Since we have already expressed Our views on this matter on several occasions in detail, We shall not dwell on it at this point.
At this juncture, We wish to give due regard to problems that affect world peace. In this connection, We refer to the situation in South-East Asia. The Vietnam question continues to engage the attention of the whole world. If the present situation persists, it will have incalculable consequences. We should therefore appeal to all parties concerned to agree to a “cease-fire” and negotiate a settlement on the basis of the 1954 Geneva Agreement.
It is with sadness that We recall here the recent unfortunate incident of the Guinea delegation, led by its Foreign Minister while enroute to Addis Ababa. Upon learning this news and noting the seriousness of the matter We sent within hours one of Our Cabinet Ministers to Accra and Conakry with a view to obtaining the release of the delegation so as to enable them to proceed to Addis Ababa. Similarly, the Council of Ministers of our Organization considering the gravity of this question despatched a three-man delegation to both Accra and Conakry. It was Our expressed hope that their efforts would achieve fruitful results and consequently enable the Guinea delegation to participate in the present Session of the OAU. However, all attempts made so far being in vain, it is, therefore, necessary for us to take this matter as an important item for our deliberation.
The agenda we have before us is a very important one. We pray that our deliberations may proceed in an atmosphere of harmony and understanding, and We ask the Almighty God for His guidance in this regard.
November 6, 1966.
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March 8, 2017