UNGA 2015: President Cavaco Silva's Comprehensive Speech

The Portuguese President, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, addressed the UNGA to speak about a wide range of issues (e.g. sustainability of the oceans, domestic violence, human rights, terrorism, international security, and Portugal-Latin America relations) and share Portugal's position in important international matters.

Social Issues
"Combating violence against women takes on a clear priority in this context. I draw attention to the alarming number of cases of domestic violence across the most diverse societies and social strata, which cannot continue unpunished."

This is an important issue. According to the UN "Several global surveys suggest that half of all women who die from homicide are killed by their current or former husbands or partners.” - this is troubling. Women are an asset; as President Obama incessantly says, when women are empowered world economies move forward; therefore, as an economist, it was natural for President Cavaco Silva to bring this topic up, specially if we think of it in terms of sustainable development in Africa, and beyond. And we can't seem to fight this type of violence effectively because the aggressors hold top positions in our society (judicial, law enforcement, academic, religious etc).

"I would also underline the importance we attach to Children's Rights, including the right to education, and to youth policies."

Since Mr Cavaco Silva mentioned Domestic Violence, he should've also discussed Paedophilia (especially when this theme was so widely discussed in Portugal recently). It is a child's right to live in safety, to grow up and play in an environment free of sexual predators; and yet our society seems to focus more on the Human Rights of the predators than those of the child's. Furthermore, Paedophilia is not tackled for good for the same reasons that domestic violence is hard to eradicate.

Migrant Crisis
"I take this opportunity to commend the High Commission for Refugees which has epitomised the humanitarian values enshrined in the UN Charter."

The High Commissioner for Refugees is the Portuguese former Prime Minister, António Guterres; therefore, this paragraph is to be interpreted as a patriotic nod to Mr Guterres (for a job well done and for representing the country well).

"On the other hand, for some years, we find ourselves faced with the threat of terrorism, which takes on more and more barbaric and worrying forms. This threat and its protagonists require strong, concerted responses and a determined fight by the international community."

Very good. The Portuguese President reminded the world that humanitarianism cannot trample security. Although we are concern with the massive migration waves, we must never forget the context in which we are inserted: we are fighting a horrid and increasingly lethal form of terrorism, inspired by religion, that stops at nothing to infiltrate our countries.

Middle East
"At a time when we are witnessing the proliferation of violent clashes in a number of regions, it must be emphasised that no conflict, no matter how complex it may be, may possibly justify barbarism, whether by States or by non-State parties."

A message to Bashar al-Assad and the opposition groups in Syria; to the PLO and Hamas; to Boko Haram,  but mainly to the Islamic State. Portugal is following these situations closely and see how it can contribute to world stability.

"I must also express our concern about the deadlock affecting the peace process in the Middle East. There will be no lasting peace without a fair resolution of the Palestinian issue which also ensures Israel's security. We urge the parties to resume the peace talks, as we are convinced that the only solution to the conflict will be the creation, based on the UN resolutions, of two states, living side by side in democracy, peace and security."

Palestinian unilateral moves to reach statehood will not be supported by Portugal. Nevertheless, it seems like everybody plays deaf when Barack Obama clarifies that the Arab-Israeli Conflict is not the heart of the Middle East destabilisation. But it would be interesting to know what the Portuguese leadership understands by "based on the UN resolutions", because Resolutions 242 and 338 (as per the Oslo Accords, now "renounced" by the PLO) mean that Israel had to withdraw from conquered territories, not all territories, taking into consideration Israel's security needs (and it didn't even mention the Arab-Palestinians, for they were not part of resolution 242 since they didn't exist) and Resol. 338 (drafted to make peace with Arab States, not with Palestinians) called for a cease-fire and the implementation of Resol. 242 – is Portugal ready to stand on the right side of history?

"I welcome the agreement reached on Iran's nuclear programme. It is now up to all parties involved to ensure its full implementation."

Portugal understands the importance of reaching a deal with Iran but at the same time, it is very cautious about the Iranian behaviour (who has many times fooled the international community and violated several UN resolutions in the past), thus urging the agreement's signatories to ensure Iran's compliance.

Portugal-Africa Relations
"Africa holds a special place in Portuguese foreign policy. My country has key partners in Africa with whom it maintains close relations in the most varied fields, ranging from political dialogue to economic links, from the approach to security issues to the establishment of mutually beneficial partnerships."

This strategic edge grants Portugal the ability to serve as a liaison between African countries and other countries, around the globe, that wish to invest in the PALOPS (African Countries where Portuguese is the Official Language) but lack understanding of the local culture and the language. In this context, Portugal should do more to strengthen the position of its own economic block (PALOPS) to project itself in the international arena - it would be an advantage to all PALOPS members.

"A number of African countries where Portuguese is the official language celebrate this year the 40th anniversary of their independence - namely Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Principe and Angola - and Portugal and the Portuguese people are associated with this important historical event."

Portugal should be particularly proud of Cabo Verde (an archipelago populated by the Portuguese): a country that is a true African success story - according to the Heritage Foundation, it ranks 3rd in the index of economic freedom for the African region (meaning that it's one of the most developed African nations).

"The situation in Guinea-Bissau deserves a particular reference. I trust its political leaders to recognise the essential value of political stability and the ability to working together in order to pursue with the necessary reforms, including in the security sector, in the fight against impunity and in socio-economic development projects."

Despite having suffered a diplomatic incident (Guinea-Bissau allowed 72 citizens with false Syrian documents to travel to Portugal without making its due diligence, in what was considered a security threat to the Portuguese Republic), Portugal is still willing to work closely with Bissau to make it more stable and secure.

International Security
"We also remain engaged on matters concerning maritime safety, especially in the Gulf of Guinea. We have participated in the development of international support strategies and have strengthened our bilateral cooperation with the African States and the regional organisations."

The Portuguese Navy has helped fighting Pirates off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Guinea, to secure the international free flow of goods. Therefore, the contribution of this small country to the international security must be acknowledged.

Portuguese Language
“The legitimate ambition of the CPLP is to see the Portuguese language recognised as an official language of the United Nations."

What is the UN waiting for? I'll go farther and say that the Portuguese Language and Culture should be considered a heritage to Mankind, given the role that Portugal played in the discoveries period – we were the ushers of globalisation, we brought the world closer; in the Portuguese Language.

Final Evaluation: One of the best speeches delivered at the UN. However, the Portuguese President could've gone further to strengthen his delivery: for instance, Spain has been trying to usurp Portuguese maritime territory and claim Portuguese Islands to itself: why didn't Portugal address this bother? Why didn't Portugal address the reparations done to the descendants of the expelled Sephardic Jews (it's something to be proud of and it would assist in the fight against anti-Semitism in the present European context)? More national pride doesn't hurt and the Portuguese need that. 

(Image Dowloaded from gadebate.un.org)


  1. "Portugal should be particularly proud of Cabo Verde"
    - I really liked a statement from Cabo Verde's address to the UNGA, that makes me agree with your statement above- they admonished that the world should "place people at the center of development." Really, a great point, like I wrote about in The Key to Development at the Times of Israel.

    1. Hi Caleb :D!

      And when you visit Cabo Verde, you immediately see the human development, it's tangible. Their government really places their people at the centre of development. For instance, there was one Island that didn't have electricity until recently because it is a very small island and it was hard to transport power there, so what did they do? They put solar energy in every home. Result: the people were happy because now they can have a fridge, other appliances, they can store as much food and cokes as they want (coke is a big thing in Africa) and all the things that come with having power.
      This is a small example, but Cabo Verde has plenty of good development stories.

      Ah, I will read that article at the Times.

      Caleb, thank you so much for your comment :D.


  2. So I need to put Portuguese on my language study list? How does Catalan rank relative to Portuguese?

    1. Hi Looney :D!

      You should: it's a beautiful language (and simpler to learn than Greek as in Portuguese you don't have declensions).
      Well, Catalan is only spoken by 4-5 million people; whereas Portuguese is spoken by over 250 million around the world. Here's what President Cavaco Silva (a conservative) said at the UN:

      "The Portuguese language is a global, economically relevant communication vehicle. About 250 million people express themselves in portuguese, from Asia to Europe, from Africa to Latin America, in their everyday lives, in commerce and business, and in culture and social networks.
      It is also an official or a working language in several international organisations, including in some of the UN specialised agencies."

      Looney, thank you so much for your comment :D.


  3. Ok, I'm a great fan of this president; I mean he was the father of Portugal's development, the best PM our country ever had. For those who don't know it, until 1990 Portugal had km and km of slums running through the sidelines of the main highways from Lisbon to Sintra and this great man built entire neighborhoods to place those people, for a lower rent, and cleaned the country. Remember the stench at the IC19, Max? He just cleaned it up and gave people dignity. Under his rule, Portugal went from developing country to industrialised country and jobs were created and Portugal thrived, until the man he's honouring in this speech blew everything up, he ruined the country...but that's what socialism does.

    Great man, great speech. Today he's addressing the Portuguese to speak of the elections result and who'll form a government. Stay tuned, Max.

    1. Hey Celeste :D!

      lol I can see that, my goodness. You're even worse than me.
      Yes, I remember: it was nauseous. It was a bloody nightmare to go to Sintra through IC19, so my parents would usually use the Marginal (Coast Road).

      Hey, outside Portugal we are all good Portuguese people. The President had to not at Guterres, it's a patriotic thing to do. But we all know what he did, him and Sócrates.
      He is? I'll see if I can watch him online on RTP's site.

      Celeste, thank you so much for your comment, girl :D.


  4. I'm proud that Portugal at least didn't follow the same BS pattern as other countries. But I leave my protest here: Cavaco Silva messed up in when he asked the coalition to make alliances with the damn socialists this week.

    1. Hi Raquel :D!

      lol the speeches were a bit boring this year, weren't they?
      It was a risky move, indeed. Let's see how it will all work out.

      Raquel, thank you for your comment :D.



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