ADDRESSES THE BELGRADE CONFERENCE
….. We are meeting at a critical juncture in his-tory. Even within the confines of these walls, the rattling of the sabres of the mighty powers clashes in our ears.
We deem it a privilege to be here today in Belgrade as the guest of Our old and good friend, Marshal Josep Broz Tito, and to address this Conference which is meeting in this, the capital city of Yugoslavia. To all who hear Our words, and to all whom they represent, We extend Our greetings and those of the people of Ethiopia.
We would also extend Our thanks to Marshal Tito for acting as host at this Conference and to the Government and people of Yugoslavia for the warm welcome which has been accorded Us here, a welcome which We have come to know to be characteristic of the friendly and generous Yugoslav nation.
We are particularly gratified at being able to speak to this Conference, called to provide a forum wherein nations sharing common attitudes and facing common difficulties may exchange views on some of the urgent problems which confront the peoples of the world today, because among those gathered here are many great world leaders, men whom We are privileged to call friends and whom We and the peoples of the world hold in highest esteem. Their presence in this hall augurs well for the success of our labours. We regret only that representatives of other nations which We believe share views similar to ours are not also numbered among those present here.
Critical Juncture In History
We are meeting at a critical juncture in history. Even within the confines of these walls, the rattling of the sabres of the mighty powers clashes in our ears. The dark and ominous clouds of world conflict loom threateningly on the horizon. Both great power groups, while disclaiming any intention of initiating aggression, have dwelt, in public utterances, upon their retaliatory might, upon their power to destroy and devastate and annihilate, upon their ability to wage a war in which tens and hundreds of millions would be the victims, in which, indeed, some of us fear that man himself might be exterminated.
These are grim days indeed, and we must call upon a high degree of courage to face each new dawn and the dangers and decisions it brings. But at the same time, we should not be cast into despair or deterred from attacking, with zeal and energy, the problems which we have met to consider. Rather, and perhaps for the first time, let us undertake a realistic and critical reappraisal of our role in history and thus achieve a complete understanding of the full extent of our involvement in present-day world events. We, personally, welcome this opportunity to demonstrate the influence which the Non-Aligned Nations can bring to bear upon global problems and the full extent of the contribution which We can make to their solution.
World’s Major Challenges
The major challenges confronting the world today are two: the preservation of peace and the betterment of the living conditions of that half of the world which is poor. These are, of course, mutually interdependent. Without peace, it is futile to talk of improving man’s lot; and without such improvement, the task of guaranteeing peace is rendered many-fold more difficult. The assault on these two problems must be made simultaneously, and all of our actions should be taken with an eye to the solution of both.
The nations which are represented here today have answered an invitation to attend a Conference of NonAligned States. We may usefully ask, as an essential first step in working out our own terms of reference and in shaping a common approach to the problems we have met to consider, what we mean by the term “non-aligned.”
We may say that no nation here feels itself so wholly within the sphere of influence of either of these two great groups that it cannot act independently of them and contrary to them whenever it so chooses and the interests of world peace so dictate. We mean, in sum, that we are all, in the ultimate sense, neutral in the cold war which rages unabated in the world today.
By the word “neutral” We do not, of course, mean that abstention from political activity which has been for so long the hallmark of a Switzerland. We can no more refrain from political activity in the year 1961 than man today can voluntarily refrain from partaking of the radioactive fall-out which will be bestowed upon him should a nuclear holocaust erupt on this globe. Nor does neutrality mean that without taking sides, we content ourselves with urging that the powers most intimately concerned negotiate in good faith to the solution of the issues in dispute between them; we have passed the point where prayerful pleading serves any purpose other than to debase those who thereby abdicate any responsibility or power to influence events.
To be neutral is to be impartial, impartial to judge actions and policies objectively, as we see them either contributing to or detracting from the resolution of the world’s problems, the preservation of peace and the improvement of the general level of man’s living conditions. Thus, we may find ourselves now opposing. now supporting, now voting with, now voting against, first the East, next the West. It is the worth of the policies themselves, and not their source or sponsor, which determines the position of one who is truly neutral.
This, We maintain, is the essence of non-alignment. Those who would righteously denounce one side on every major problem or issue while reserving nothing but praise for the other cannot claim to be non-aligned, nor can those whose policies are shaped for them elsewhere and who wait patiently to be instructed whether they are to be for or against be called uncommitted.
We in Ethiopia feel that we have achieved increasing success in incorporating this concept into our international relations. We have for many years carried on friendly relations with Western and Eastern nations. We have received economic aid and technical assistance from both West and East without in any way compromising our independence in passing judgment on issues which have arisen between the two. We have never engaged in unjustifiable attacks on either side, but at the same time, we have never hesitated to be critical of either when we have felt their policies demanded or deserved criticisms.
Only this definition of non-alignment or, if we like, of neutrality, will serve in the modern world if we intend honestly to bring our influence to bear on present-day problems. It is in the implementation of this concept that we, the Non-Aligned Nations, have our role to play, a role which, unless we compromise it, can contribute immeasurably to the twin causes of world justice and the betterment of mankind. If we raise our voices against injustice, wherever it be found, if we demand a stop to aggression wherever it occurs and under whatever guise and brand the aggressor is such, and if we do so on a wholly impartial basis, we can serve as the collective conscience of the world. On the other hand, we will quickly and surely sacrifice this privileged position if we reveal ourselves to be biased on one side or the other from the outset, if we listen with only one ear to only one side, and act in defiance of the principle of impartiality.
We Are Not A Power Bloc
For the fact is, and while the fact is hard it must be accepted if our deliberations and decisions are to bear the stamp of sincerity and reality, even the total combined weight of all of the uncommitted nations of the world here today, plus those which are not attending this Conference, cannot, in terms of pure power, be compared to the Western and Eastern powers. To cite but one example, the population of a single nation, India, represented in our midst by a great and noble statesman and Our good friend, Jawaharlal Pandit Nehru, exceeds the total population of all of the rest of the states present here. Analysed with an eye to military strength or to present day wealth, we must recognize that the uncommitted nations cannot qualify as a power bloc and that our strength resides not in military might or in economic wealth, but rather, in the cumulative moral influence which we can bring to bear on the peoples and the problems of the world.
We should not, however, under-estimate the extent of this strength, and realistically appraising its worth, we must seek ways of exploiting it for the good of mankind. In the struggle which we witness in the world today, two groups compete for our support and our adherence to their policies. The leaders and peoples of these two groups are both highly sensitive to our reactions to their policies, and the potential impact of an aroused public opinion upon them has, We believe, a far greater significance than we have heretofore realized. Each side is fearful for its cause and will reap satisfaction or dismay, as the case may be, from the judgments which we pass upon their actions. If we remain faithful to the principles of Bandung and apply them in our international life, we will maximize the influence which we can bring to bear on world problems.
But, in the exercise of this strength we must guard against the temptation to seek to aggrandize our position by acting and voting as a group simply for the sake of group action. For when we descend into the political arena as a recognized and organized and disciplined unit, our moral influence and our power to rally and shape opinion on questions of world import which is otherwise our greatest strength is compromised and dissipated. Bloc action implies, within the group, the exertion of pressures upon recalcitrant members, the compromise of positions, the sacrifice of principle for political expediency, the trading of votes for votes and adherence to the rule of the quid pro quo. All of these are inconsistent with the real source of our power: the moral element in the conduct of human affairs. How often have we all, at the United Nations, witnessed the sorry spectacle of nations voting against their will, against their own self-interest at times, as part of a bloc. And how have we applauded the occasions when members of a group, in defiance, of the policies and wishes of the group’s leaders, have voted in accordance with principle and right as they saw it.
We should be aware, too, that in relinquishing the role which we may play, if we will, in insisting upon the devotion to principle which is the antithesis of pure power politics, we play the game of those whom we seek to influence. When no one upholds the cause of right and justice for their own sake, when the small, still voice of conscience speaks no longer, immorality and lack of principle have triumphed, and in this history all of mankind is the loser.
Role Of The UN
This leads Us into the next matter of which We would like to speak to you: the supreme importance which we, and particularly the smaller nations among us, must continue to attach to the role played by the United Nations in the field of international relations. The United Nations, in the first instance, provides the forum wherein we, who claim the freedom and the position to speak frankly and openly against injustice, against desertion of principle, against the intimidation, the oppression, the subjugation of the weak by the powerful, can make our voices heard. We must be ever vigilant to assure that such an institution is preserved to us. The year 1960 has been called the Year of Africa – and rightly so. We would ask our fellow Africans to assess in their own minds the significance of the role which the very existence of the United Nations played in the liberation of the millions of Africans who in the past few years have cast off the yoke of subjugation. This is not to say that the United Nations is directly responsible for the coming of age of Africa. We do assert, however, that without the medium provided by the United Nations, wherein the African struggle for freedom could be brought before the conscience of the world, the forces of colonialism would remain far more firmly entrenched on the African continent than they do today.
Equally important, the United Nations provides the instrumentality whereby the principle of Collective Security, to which We personally have devoted Our lifetime, achieves real and tangible existence and meaning. If force must be employed in the world today in resistance to aggression and in the maintenance of world peace, surely it is preferable that it be employed through an institution such as the United Nations, in pursuance of international decisions legally and openly arrived at there. Ethiopia has not hesitated to respond in the past with all the resources at her disposal to the call of the United Nations in times of crisis, and we shall not hesitate to do so again should the call be made.
Who Gains From The UN?
Let us not delude ourselves, it is not the great powers that need or benefit from the existence of the United Nations. It is the small powers, which depend on and require and demand that it live. It is we who have the most to gain through the successful achievement of its goals, it is we who have the most to lose should it one day be relegated to a tidy niche in history, a niche already occupied by the League of Nations. We have had sad occasions to observe in the not too distant past that the great powers are capable of injustice and of abuse of power. We are all too well aware, as recent events and utterances should convince any but the most sceptical and disbelieving, that the great powers, while prepared to use the United Nations when it suits their convenience, have been equally willing to ignore and by-pass it and act independently of it when their interests so dictated. Unilateral action outside the United Nations is, however, a luxury denied to the poorer and weaker nations.
But, in the face of world opinion, massed in support of right and justice, We venture to suggest that even the great nations, powerful as they are, will hesitate to breach the peace and violate fundamental rights of mankind and of nations, in defiance of the United Nations, and thus face universal condemnation. This is our hope, our only hope, and it is our obligation to insure that the full weight of our influence is solidly ranged on the side of right and justice in this forum.
UN’s Enemy - Our Enemy
In our appraisal of the United Nations, of its structure and the field of action proper and appropriate to it, we must recognize the historically demonstrated fact that a wilful and deliberate violation by any member state of its obligations under the United Nations Charter weakens the United Nation’s prestige and threatens its destruction. Let us speak frankly; he who acts deliberately and with calculation to the injury of the United Nations, to weaken it or to endanger its existence as an effective and energetic international institution, is the enemy of all of us. He robs the world of the last, best hope for peace, robs the small nations of that bulwark which the United Nations provides against oppression and he deprives them of the forum where their voice may be raised against injustice and oppression. It is, perhaps, no accident that the United Nations headquarters resembles a structure of glass. It is a fragile, not an indestructible, institution.
At the same time, we need not delude ourselves, that the performance of the United Nations has been, at all times and on all questions, that which we might have wished. The United Nations is man-conceived and man-run, and hence, by its nature and by the nature of man, imperfect. We must be constantly alert to improve and perfect its machinery, to minimize the risk that in time of crisis it will fail us, to assure that its decisions are founded on principle and not on bias and prejudice.
The most obvious defect which We observe in the United Nations today derives from the fact that this Organization, in 1961, remains the self-same entity which was created sixteen years ago at San Francisco. Its membership has more than doubled from 46 to 99 nations, but its structure remains the same, and no measures have been taken to assure that adequate representation in its constituent organs is guaranteed to the peoples who have, since 1945, taken their places in this world body. We must not and we shall not be denied this right – for this is a right and not a privilege. The increased participation of the Non-Aligned Nations in the day-to-day activities of the United Nations is the best safeguard against the arbitrary abuse of its powers and functions by and for the benefit of a single group, and such a development would enhance immeasurably its effectiveness as a bulwark against aggression and a guarantor of the peace.
We must, too, observe that the United Nations can scarcely fulfil the role envisaged for it by its founders so long as hundreds of millions of people remain unrepresented there. We refer now not merely to those whose independence is yet to be attained but, as well, to those states, primary among which is the People’s Republic of China, which have thus far been excluded from a seat in its councils. We can hardly speak with true sincerity of a universal meeting place or of an organization whose decisions will be binding upon the world community of nations when states which we, the Non-Aligned Countries, would wish to influence are not present to hear our words or to feel the weight of our opinions. We urge both the proponents and the opponents of the admission of such states to seek an acceptable formula whereby those to whom We refer may soon be counted among the members of the Organization.
In dealing with present problems, which at the moment appear so overwhelming, let us, at the same time, do so with a clear eye to the future. Let us be far-seeing in our actions. There is no area to which this rule does not apply, and We would seek to apply it specifically, at this moment, to the problem of colonialism.
We have spoken of the part played by the United Nations in contributing to the decline of the system of colonialism. Although herself never colonialized, Ethiopia, like all Asian and African states, has a lively and vivid appreciation of the vices of this system. Ethiopia was arbitrarily included within the sphere of influence of a colonial empire when the map of Africa was carved up by treaty at the end of the 19th Century, and Our country’s invasion in 1935 was but the last act in a prolonged struggle to impose upon Ethiopians this most ignoble of human conditions of servitude. No nation in Africa, we Ethiopians proudly boast, can be said to have more consistently and more fiercely fought against the shackles of colonialism.
It is clear to Us that colonialism, defined in the classic sense, is forever finished, both in Africa and in Asia. Its last remaining vestiges are being systematically attacked and destroyed. The major powers, not entirely voluntarily and not without the exertion of continuing pressure – for His-tory knows of few instances where colonial powers have, of their own free will, relinquished control of a dependent people – have admitted that the system is out of date, and have acted to change it.
At the same time that we applaud the serpent of colonialism in breathing its last, and while we strain our every effort to speed its unlamented demise, we must look beyond it to the problems which remain, several of which, indeed, are created or at least intensified by the disappearance of colonialism from the world scene. We must recognize and deal with the attempts being made from all quarters to perpetrate colonial exploitation under new forms and to intro-duce into our continents a new system no less inimical to freedom and liberty. Independence means more than the granting of national flags and anthems, and without real and effective freedom in the economic and political spheres, liberty becomes a mere catch-phrase, devoid of content. But in our haste to escape from one system of bondage, we need not, all blindly, embrace another no less oppressive and burdensome to the free spirit of man.
Complete Responsibility For Africans
In the task which remains of exterminating the last remnants of colonialism, We maintain that we need no longer search for or call upon foreign assistance. Speaking now only for Africa, We firmly assert that free Africans are now fully able and competent themselves to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the ultimate expulsion from this continent of the last colonial elements. We go further: We claim, for Africa, the power and the ability to deal, without foreign interference, with such problems as may arise on this continent in the future, save for those few instances where Africans themselves may decide that the aid and assistance of the United Nations is required.
For above all else, we must ensure that the cold war shall not be imported into the African continent. African soil, for so long the battleground in the struggle of the African peoples for freedom, must not and shall not now be transformed into a field of hostilities in the cold war. Such a development could nullify the conflict from which Africa is only now emerging victorious, and obstruct and impede the solution of the problems which decades and centuries of colonialism have strewn in their wake.
We here are all dedicated to the betterment of the conditions of man’s life; we all know the sorrows and misery of those who do not live but merely exist, the lot of men whose living conditions are sub-standard. But when We speak of the betterment of man’s life, We mean not merely the economic improvement of living standards; We refer, in addition, to the spiritual conditions in which man lives, for just as a man without means to feed his hunger and to clothe his nakedness can take no pride in his existence as a human being, so, also is one who is reviled and discriminated against because of his race or religion, robbed of his self- respect and human dignity.
The spectre of racial discrimination which has for so long cast its dark and evil shadow over much of this globe is slowly disappearing. Men are coming increasingly to be judged by their talents and abilities rather than by the less meaningful and far more superficial standards of race and religion. But there yet remain those who, in their bigotry and ignorance, resist this flooding tide, and it is against these that our efforts must be directed. The struggle to win for our brothers in South Africa that status as free men, free to stand, heads high, among free men as equals, which so many millions of Africans and Asians have attained but yesterday, goes on. Our duty is not discharged, our course is not run, our victory not won so long as apartheid, the legitimized policy of the Government of the Union of South Africa, prevails in any area of the world.
In South Africa, an attempt has been made to legislate the inequality of the races. This attempt is doomed to failure. We here are all pledged not to pause in this strife until its emptiness and mockery are revealed for all to see and those who have used it for their own purposes have abjured this doctrine which is an insult to all men and to Almighty God in Whose image we are created. But, at the same time, let us not bemuse ourselves with the notion that it is any more possible to legislate equality, for these matters concern attitudes and values over which intellect sadly exercises but little control. Let us not recoil in hatred against those who, even while protecting their freedom from bias and prejudice, reveal by their actions that the poison of discrimi-ation has left its lasting effects, and by this reaction reveal that we, no less than they, are prey to unreasoning emotion, that we, no less than they, are susceptible to that virus which is called intolerance.
Apartheid Must Be Discredited
The African states have already imposed direct sanctions in the economic and diplomatic fields in an attempt to influence the policies of South Africa and to convince the South African leaders that it is in no sense in their interest longer to adhere to this policy. We should, during this Conference, consider if there are not additional measures which we may adopt to speed the inevitable day when the policy of racial discrimination and the principle of apartheid are discredited and abandoned.
But let us take pride in the fact that as free men we attack and abhor racial discrimination on principle, where-ever it is found and in whatever guise. We can, in addition to the economic pressures of which we dispose, bring our moral weight to bear and rally world opinion to our cause by revealing the brutality, the inhumanity, the inherent viciousness and evil represented by this policy.
It is only natural for man to strive towards a better life, to wish to educate his children while he himself was uneducated, to desire to shelter and clothe them while he himself was naked and scourged by the elements, to strive to spare them from the cruel diseases by which he himself was ravaged. But when these ends are realized at the expense of others, at the cost of their degradation and poverty, these desires, which are not intrinsically immoral or pernicious in themselves, must be frustrated, and the means by which these otherwise legitimate ends are sought to be attained must be scorned and shunned.
We ourselves, the Non-Aligned Nations of the world, seek no less than others these same objectives. And it is not by mere chance that we also count among our number the great majority of the underdeveloped nations of the world, for not until the direction and determination of man’s fate is firmly within his own grasp can he devote the totality of his strength to his own good.
In order to speed our economic development, most of us require extensive external financial assistance. We need not be ashamed of this fact, particularly when the poverty and ignorance from which our peoples suffer have been perpetuated through the deliberate and long-standing policies of others. It is surely in the interest of those who look to the uncommitted world to swing the balance between West and East that we be economically strong and free of crippling bonds which would limit our freedom of choice. Only if the Non-Aligned Nations have a real opportunity of choice can their adherence to and support of their policies be of value; a choice dictated by others or imposed by outside influence is a meaningless choice.
We believe that on this score the conscience of the world has been awakened, and that the vast majority of men today recognize the truth of what we say. There are those, however, who raise their voices in alarm, warning us that this assistance is designed only to impose upon us another but equally insidious form of subjugation. With this We do not agree. We believe that it is possible for all of us to receive assistance from diverse sources without compromising that independence and impartiality which We have already declared should be the hallmark of the nations represented here.
Nonetheless, this fear exists, and when it is coupled with the fear that two assistance programmes carried on within the same area by competing power groupings will ultimately result in the importation into our countries of the very cold war from which we seek to disengage ourselves, a powerful and compelling argument for multilateral rather than bilateral assistance is made. Happily, there already exists, in the United Nations, the effective means for the channelling and administration of massive aid programmes free of these attendant dangers. Considerable progress has already been made in this realm, and we all have cause to be heartened by the ever-increasing role which the United Nations is playing in this field, a role which is financed by the contributions of those who, recognizing the validity of our fears, are prepared to accept this technique as a means of meeting them at no sacrifice to the advancement and enlightenment of the under-developed peoples. In enlarging the scope of the United Nations operations in the field of economic development, we also strengthen its position and heighten its stature as an international force for the preservation of peace.
It is one of the tragedies of our day that while half of the world’s population is wracked by a never-satisfied hunger and remains poverty-stricken, disease-ridden and ignorant, vast amounts are spent by great powers on armaments, money which, if diverted to satisfying the basic human needs of the poorer people of the world, could transform their lives and restore to them their human dignity, their happiness in the present and their confidence and faith in the future. No nation is possessed of limitless riches, and each heightening of world tensions and the forced expenditure which calls forth greater military strength on the part of those to whom we look for aid, serves to lessen the sums available to fight misery, and the great nations cannot, even if they would, enlist their full support in this battle.
The Cold War
And yet, while we await hopefully that measure of assistance which, coupled with our own resources, could assure the ultimate triumph of the under-developed peoples over their poverty, the rich and powerful boast of the size of their military arms and the might of their forces. The one claims that it will spend the other into bankruptcy and collapse – a most worthy and noble objective. We must recognize that the cold war poses not only a military danger; the cold war robs the under-developed nations of their hopes for a happier and more prosperous future. Much emphasis has been laid on the risks to man’s life on this planet which a world arms race carries with it, and too little recognition has been given to side-effects and indirect consequences of astronomical military spending. Disarmament must be achieved not only because in this fashion will the threat of a world holocaust be dispelled, but, equally because only through a drastic reduction in the military budgets of the great powers can the vast resources required to raise all of mankind to the level of free men be freed for these purposes.
The agenda which has been placed before us at this Conference is ambitious in the extreme. In effect, we are to pass judgment, in one way or another, on virtually every question of significance which confronts the world today. This is as it should be; once having taken our places as responsible, intelligent members in the international family of nations, we cannot shirk our consequent duties.
This agenda raises both questions of principle and questions involving the application of accepted principles to specific problem areas. Both types of questions pose equally great difficulties, and there are no easy answers to the problems before us.
Right Of Peoples
We may cite one example arising out of the very language of the Charter of the United Nations. We are to dis-cuss, during this Conference, the right of peoples and nations to self-determination, a right which is an issue in various regions of the world today. We are also called upon to reaffirm our respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and the principle of non-interference and non-intervention in their internal affairs, principles which have demonstrated their essential worth and validity in the field of international relations many times over and to which we believe all here are wholly dedicated.
We deign to suggest that there is some inconsistency, some internal contradiction between these principles when closely linked together, whereas considered separately and apart, none would deny them at least lip service. Can a Government which overtly or covertly supports the violation of the territorial integrity of another state justify its actions on the ground that it seeks only to implement the principle of self-determination for all or a portion of the people of that nation? We think not. To contend contrariwise is to adopt the thesis of Adolf Hitler, who contended, in support of the action of the Third Reich in incorporating Austria into Germany, that “It is obvious that an idea embracing the entire German people and arising from its depths cannot be stopped at the frontiers of a country.”
Similarly, when we consider the topic of peaceful co-existence among states with different political and social systems, we must guard against careless use of terms or language which, for different people, have different meanings. Peaceful co-existence is not merely the absence of war.
It embraces non-interference and non-intervention in the domestic affairs of others, refraining from propaganda activities calculated to create disharmony among states short of war or among peoples of the same nation, the cessation of subversive activities designed to ferment civil disorder and revolution in other nations, and the like. The word itself is an empty bottle – it is for us to give it content and meaning.
In considering the specific problems before us, We find hardly more cause for optimism or for hopes of easy and early solutions. But, to revert to a theme earlier sounded, that upon which Ethiopia’s foreign policy is founded, it is to the United Nations that we must look for the final decisions concerning these crisis areas. Let us consider Algeria, where thousands have died in seeking those rights which we assembled in this hall enjoy as our most precious possessions. This problem, of fundamental importance for the security of the world, has already figured on the agenda of several sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and in a few days it will again be the subject of discussion there. We remain hopeful that bilateral negotiations be-tween France and the representatives of the F.L.N., here among us, will terminate in success; meanwhile, we cannot abdicate our obligations to bring our concerted weight to bear to this same end, in that forum which is particularly calculated to maximize our influence in the speedy resolution of this and similar problems. We pledge our ceaseless efforts to the achievement of the independence of the Algerian people, and we await impatiently the day when Algeria will take her rightful place as a free state in the community of nations.
Angola And Bizerta
Angola poses a particular problem for us Africans who would now take into our own hands the determination of our own fate and the shaping of our own future. Again, We are confident that within the four walls of the United Nations, Africans will secure the means whereby the people of Angola will be enabled to stand among us as free people, and the Angola problem will be expunged from the list of items which vex the conscience of the nations of the world.
The entire world has been saddened and disheartened by the recent bloodshed at Bizerta, where gallant Tunisians died in seeking only to regain for their nation those last few acres of Tunisian soil still dedicated to the maintenance of military bases. We sorrow that peaceful discussion failed to lead to a peaceful evacuation of this base. While reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation of Tunisia over Bizerta, We urge those most intimately concerned to spare no efforts that the further spilling of blood may be avoided, and We particularly urge that the resolution adopted by the emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly last week be speedily implemented.
On the continent of Africa, we have witnessed, during the past years, the sad spectacle of Africans ranged against Africans in a struggle not of their own making, in which only Africans will be the losers. Here, again, peace has largely been preserved through the efforts of the United Nations. Ethiopia has contributed to the full extent of her resources to these endeavours to resolve this problem through peaceful discussions, and Ethiopian soldiers serve in the Congo in ensuring the United Nations presence there. We may all take encouragement in the considerable improvement which recent developments have introduced into the situation there.
As our gaze travels over the map of the world, we find no quarter wholly free from problems which threaten the preservation of the peace. In Laos, a conflict had raged which, even though localized, carries with it far wider implications. We urge that the fourteen-nation conference which is even now meeting in Geneva to settle this question reach a speedy decision which will restore to this nation the serenity and tranquillity which it had earlier enjoyed.
Also in Southeast Asia, we find the problem involving the people of West Irian. Ethiopia has in the past supported the position of Indonesia on this question before the United Nations and will continue to do so.
When we speak of urgent problems, when we look to those regions most likely to emit the spark whereby the conflagration of a general war threatening the destruction of us all may be ignited, Our gaze is inexorably drawn to Berlin, an unhappy city, a city split in twain, a city divided against itself and isolated from the rest of the German people by barriers far more compelling and restraining than mere barbed wire or steel barricades. Among the many lamps signalling danger to peace, that of Berlin glows most desperately, as if it would frantically attract thereby the attention of all men devoted to the cause of peace.
The Berlin Question
Where are we, the Non-Aligned States, to turn in seeking the solution to Berlin? The Four Powers have this far proved themselves either unable, or incapable, or both, of arriving at an answer. But this problem concerns us all; can we long allow it to be the sole responsibility, the monopoly, of these four? Ethiopia supports the concept of a unified Germany. Ethiopia supports the principle of free access to West Berlin. But if this is not enough, there is left to us only to ask, rather, to demand, that this question be brought before the United Nations for resolution by it.
And so, again, We come to the United Nations. Is it inconsistent with Our own life or the principles by which We have guided Our nation throughout Our lifetime that We should do so? Surely, a nation as ill and cruelly served as was Ethiopia twenty-five years ago before the League of Nations, another tribunal which claimed to act, as a single body, in the protection of the peace and the preservation of the interests of its smallest and weakest member, should have profited by its error long since.
No, for us, for the small, the weak, the under-developed, there is nowhere else to go. If we turn to one or another of the major power groups, we risk engorgement, that gradual process of assimilation which destroys identity and personality. We must, by force of circumstances, look to the United Nations, however imperfect, however deficient, to preserve the peace and to lend us its support in our endeavours to secure a better life for our peoples, and we must concentrate our efforts, little or great, to the achievement of its stated ends, for only thus can we secure our free and continued existence.
Incapable Of Despair
This is not a counsel of despair. Our own life has demonstrated that We are incapable of despair. Men will die in defence of principle; men will sacrifice their all rather than compromise themselves and renounce that which distinguishes them from the beasts – their moral faculty. If this force in men can but be awakened and focused on the problems of each day, we shall, God willing, survive each day to the dawn of each tomorrow, and in this survival guarantee to our children and our children’s children a life-time of peace and security, under justice and right, and under God.
Sept. 3, 1961.
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 166 –