Amb. Carlos dos Santos (Ambassador of Mozambique to Germany)

01.10.2010 - Interview conducted by James Hood

Q1. In your speech you linked the development initiatives with the progress of human rights.  Could you please tell us how development and how it relates to human rights in your country?

The importance of human rights is unquestionable, and the principles of values are also unquestionable. We have adopted a declaration many decades ago, a declaration of human rights and all countries supported that, my country included. The main problem is how do you then fulfill those rights. There are rights that have to do with things such as freedom of speech, religion, movement, and nationality. All of them are included in the declaration. But when we come to material things such as the right to food, or social things such as right to education or health, these are things that can only be achieved if there is development. That’s why at some point, the United Nations, there was a major discussion about the right to development, and the basic idea was that you have to have development so that you can fulfill all of the rights completely.

Q2.At the coming Climate summit in Mexico, what will Mozambique’s position be on development versus what is needed to combat climate change?

In general terms, the position is always that we have to have sustainable development, and what does that mean? It means as you develop and use the resources of the earth, you make sure that those resources are not impacting the environment a great deal. The big question between developed nations and developing nations, is that developed countries did quite a lot of damage in their development process because of all the emissions and big industry in the past, and still even today.  Now we are developing standards that does not allow the developing countries to use the same type of development to attain a higher level, and use the same kind of industries. We are saying that we want to save the environment, but how do we reach this same level without using the same things? You speak of clean energy, but clean energy is too expensive for a developing nation like Mozambique to be able to say we will forgo all other forms of energy. Wind or solar, we don’t have the technology, capacity, we don’t have anything.  So what is necessary is for us to work together and make sure that those who are producing more emissions not only reduce the emissions, but also to contribute to the development of the others who are not able to follow, but want to save the environment. They call these ‘equal but different responsibilities’ which means that when you say that Germany cut so much in emissions, then you tell Mozambique if you cut emissions or you don’t emit we will do this for your development. So these are the plans that we need to develop. But when you try to personalize that, this is where you find difficulties in finding a consensus.

Q3. Regional Unions such as the EU, or the African Union look to bring economic benefits through trade, but also work to promote ideals such as human rights, peace, democracy, and human security. How successful do you think the AU is in pushing member states to adhere to human rights ideals?

I am very excited on the progress that we have made. If you look at Africa twenty years ago and Africa today, we have made tremendous progress. First in terms of putting in place the norms of legislation that is required for the continent. When we moved from the organization of the African Union to the African Union, we developed a new chapter that has given greater power to the continental organization to act in countries. This means that the idea that a country can suppress or violate human rights in its own country against its own people without accountability to the rest of the world is no longer accepted in the African Union. The African Union has the right to intervene in a member state of there are breaches of human rights, and also does not accept a coup d’etat within member states.  This means that the change of government has to be through democratic means, and this was unthinkable twenty years ago in Africa. But today this is the rule, and you can see a country like Guinea, which has had a coup d’etat recently, have not been accepted as members of the Union, or have been suspended as members of the Union until they establish democratic principles and governance. We have made a lot of progress regarding this.

Q4. How can cultural diplomacy help with promoting human rights, and how would it help in your country in helping to tackle some of its challenges?

It is important to have conferences like this going on now to debate the policies, instruments, and institutions to enable governments, parliaments and civil society organizations to improve the way they do things.  This means by the ICD having a conference like this and calling on experts to speak on those subjects, helps shape the future of human rights internationally as well as among nations.  

Thank you very much for your time.