Posted by: APO | 20 October 2007

GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES TWO-DAY DEBATE ON AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT

19 October 2007

Sixty-second General Assembly

Plenary

29th Meeting (PM)

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES TWO-DAY DEBATE ON AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT;

 

SPEAKERS CALL FOR FAIR TRADE, IMPROVED AID, CREATIVE PARTNERSHIPS

 

As the General Assembly concluded its annual discussion today of ways to help African countries meet the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), speakers urged the international community to dismantle trade-distorting subsidies, improve the quality of development assistance and forge creative partnerships, in order to help African countries consolidate gains.

 

The two-day joint debate, which heard from some 40 speakers, also examined the causes of conflict and promotion of durable peace in Africa, as well as efforts to meet the goals of the 2001-2010 Decade to Roll Back Malaria.

 

Throughout the afternoon, delegates applauded African countries’ efforts to implement NEPAD in infrastructure, agriculture, environment and gender, among other areas, and notably through the African Peer Review Mechanism.  That monitoring instrument had been created to ensure that the policies of participating States adhered to agreed political, economic and corporate governance values.  The growing number of countries voluntarily participating in that mechanism was a demonstration of the “undeniable success” of NEPAD in promoting a true culture of good governance and peace on the continent, the Algerian representative said.

 

Delegates also acknowledged the United Nations for its broader efforts to support the African Union’s Peace and Security Council and related institutions, such as the Council of the Wise, the African intervention force and the rapid alert system for the continent.  However, the success of NEPAD projects and programmes depended on the degree to which stakeholders honoured their respective commitments, they explained.

 

The representative of Angola asserted that if the international community was to succeed in achieving sustained economic growth and development in Africa, development partners must shift their assistance frameworks from humanitarian and emergency aid assistance to sustained, predictable, quantitative and qualitative increases in social and economic development-targeted assistance.  Moreover, all States must do their share to greatly improve the effectiveness of development assistance, including by tackling matters related to the coordination of polices and donor rules at all levels.

 

Speakers also called for the swift and successful conclusion of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, currently at an impasse over the politically sensitive issue of agriculture, which some said was central to achieving food security on the continent.

 

Noting that one of NEPAD’s primary objectives was to halt Africa’s marginalization in the globalization process, the Observer of the Holy See said Africa’s integration into the world trading system should not reduce its ability to safeguard its citizens from structural adjustments.  He called on the international community to help African countries develop policies that promoted a “culture of solidarity”, so that their economic development might go hand-in-hand with human development.  Any new trade development, particularly those between the North and South, must improve on existing conditions, he said.

 

To achieve lasting results, Africa’s development must be anchored in the resourcefulness of its people and the partnerships they create, the observer from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.  Organizations like her own could work as auxiliaries to public authorities, and welcomed partnerships with other organizations pursuing similar goals, both regionally and locally.

 

Touching on another pivotal issue for Africa’s development, several speakers called for a newly-strengthened United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, with the post of Special Adviser filled at the Under-Secretary-General level, which would enhance the Office’s capacity to mobilize, coordinate, monitor and evaluate progress in Africa.

 

Also speaking were the representatives of Myanmar, Rwanda and Cameroon.

 

The General Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m., on Monday, 22 October, to take action on the report of its General Committee.

 

Background

 

The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue, and to conclude, its consideration of the Secretary-General’s reports on implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), as well as on matters related to the causes of conflict and the promotion of peace in Africa, and the 2001-2010 Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly in Africa.

 

Statements

 

YOUCEF YOUSFI ( Algeria) said that security remained fundamental to maintaining peace and long-term development.  He supported the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report calling for additional human and financial resources for African Union peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and acknowledged United Nations efforts to support the African Council for Peace and Security and such related institutions as the Council of the Wise, the African intervention force and the rapid alert system for the continent.  Despite those positive developments, complex problems remained in ensuring Africa’s stability, among them infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, high levels of youth unemployment, human trafficking, massive displacement of populations, terrorism and cross-border crime.

 

On development, he said that the delay in realizing initiatives for debt relief and international development assistance were impediments to realizing the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  Effectuating debt relief, liberalizing international trade and completing the Doha Round of talks were all important steps towards realizing international objectives for African development.  He appealed to the United Nations to mobilize the means to combat underdevelopment and poverty, and to reduce the growing gap between North and South.

 

Algeria was committed to reinforcing democracy and the rule of law in support of good governance and of the country’s modernization, he said.  It was participating in the African Peer Review Mechanism to that end.  A report submitted to that body in June of 2007 noted Algeria’s significant economic and social progress.  In closing, he said that he was pleased at the growing number of countries choosing to participate in the Mechanism.  That was undeniable evidence of NEPAD’s success in promoting a culture of good governance and peace on the continent.

 

U KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar), before turning to the reports before the Assembly, expressed his Government’s condolences to the people of Pakistan for the loss of life suffered in recent days, adding that terrorism in any form should be condemned.  Turning then to the reports at hand, he said malaria was a preventable disease and millions of lives could be saved if the necessary resources were forthcoming.  Malaria was costing African lives and, economically, it was costing Africa around $12 billion.  The status quo should not be allowed to continue, and the international community should provide effective assistance and adequate resources to advance the African Union and NEPAD health strategy.

 

NEPAD was a mechanism that represented the collective desire and commitment of African countries to achieve sustainable economic and social development, he said.  It was also an opportunity for African countries to take charge of their own destinies.  Notwithstanding the determined steps taken by African countries, the prospects for Africa achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 looked bleak.  Africa had demonstrated its commitment, and it was now time for the international community to do its part by fulfilling development commitments expeditiously.  In particular, he stressed the need for the Group of Eight countries to make good on their promise to double aid to Africa by 2010.

 

He said free trade was an engine of growth that could facilitate the development goals of African countries.  To fully benefit from free trade, developing countries would need a more favourable international economic environment.  The Doha Round of talks should be brought to a successful conclusion as soon as possible and should take into account the issues affecting developing countries, in particular the agricultural subsidies affecting Africa.  It was incumbent on the international community and the United Nations to help Africa.  While the United Nations had taken important steps to help the continent in recent years, it must do more to strengthen cooperation, with the aim to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

 

JOSEPH NSENGIMANA ( Rwanda) said that NEPAD’s vision of renewing development through the eradication of poverty, sustainable growth, integration into the global economy and empowerment of women was of great importance to Rwanda.  It recognized the necessity for serious commitment from African Governments to implement programmes, and for international support from development partner countries.

 

He said Rwanda hosted the first country round table of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme, which facilitated the undertaking of a comprehensive study to define national targets for the programme, the delineation of national policy challenges, and support from ministries of finance and donors at the country level.  Rwanda was also committed to give all school children access to the Internet by 2009 and laptops by 2012.

 

He said he welcomed the progress made in implementing international debt relief, but it was disappointing that official development assistance had declined, and he agreed with the Secretary-General’s assessment that there was a need for closer coordination, less fragmentation and better allocation of aid, as well as a genuine commitment to deliver on pledges.

 

He supported the convening of a high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs during the sixty-third session of the General Assembly, and said he joined others in calling for the strengthening of the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser for Africa, which oversees NEPAD, and for an Under-Secretary-General from the African Group to head it.

 

On health issues, he noted that 90 per cent of malaria deaths were in Africa, compounding the effects of poverty, weakening productive populations, and thus thwarting economic development.  There continued to be a need for further funding for prevention programmes and research.

 

Mr. CONSTANTINO ( Angola) said that NEPAD represented a unique opportunity to meet the special needs of Africa through global partnership.  The success of the initiative depended upon the degree to which all stakeholders honoured their respective commitments.  His delegation was pleased with the progress achieved thus far, but remained convinced that implementation efforts remained insufficient, which was especially evident because Africa was the only continent that was not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

 

He said that during the past year, African leaders, the NEPAD secretariat and development partners had engaged in various activities aimed at developing and fine-tuning national, subregional and regional projects in NEPAD priority areas, such as agriculture, health, education and infrastructure development.  Many of those projects awaited funding.  African countries had also been coordinating efforts to promote regional transportation and communication links.

 

In the area of transparency and governance, he said, Africa was the only continent promoting participation in a Peer Review Mechanism to improve standards of governance, economic management and respect for human rights.  If the international community was to succeed in achieving sustained economic growth and development in Africa, towards the eradication of poverty and hunger, development partners needed, among other things, to shift their assistance frameworks from humanitarian and emergency aid assistance to sustained, predictable, quantitative and qualitative increases in social and economic development-targeted assistance.  Furthermore, all States must do their share to greatly improve the effectiveness of development assistance, including by tackling matters related to the coordination of polices and donor rules at all levels.

 

He called on all States to do more to honour past commitments.  Development assistance associated with debt relief for a few African countries did not address overall development needs.  The international community must support efforts to rehabilitate Africa’s economic competitiveness, and build the capacity of Africa’s private sector.

 

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU ( Cameroon) said future reports on development in Africa should include the architecture of peace and security elaborated by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).  Despite the many successes of NEPAD, the situation in Africa was still disturbing, and the goals set out by NEPAD were far from being achieved.  The task ahead was immense, and the United Nations had a crucial role to play in mobilizing the international community into action.

 

He said effective action by the United Nations would be possible only with a newly-strengthened Office of the Special Adviser on Africa.  All vacancies should be filled, specifically the post of Special Adviser, to enhance its capacity to mobilize, coordinate, monitor and evaluate.

 

It was time, he said, for international partners to fulfil their commitments to Africa by significantly increasing their official development assistance.  Today more than ever, development was synonymous with peace; to obtain peace, the international community should fight poverty, not wars.  Ending hunger and promoting a global respect for human rights would do more for peace than anything else.

 

On 17 October, he noted, the world had celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty; on that day, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged men and women to do more to eliminate the causes and consequences of poverty, and to do more to share the world’s wealth.

 

BERNARDITO AUZA, Observer for the Holy See, applauded Africa on its “encouraging” growth during the past few years.  That progress had been driven by NEPAD, which had been designed to address the challenges facing the continent through closer cooperation among African countries, but had also prepared Africa for broader international cooperation.  Indeed, one of NEPAD’s primary objectives was to halt Africa’s marginalization in the globalization process and enhance its full and beneficial integration into the world economy.  While Africa had started to reap the fruits of its wise decisions in recent years, those positive signs stood in stark contrast with the continent’s conflicts and grinding poverty in some regions.

 

Africa still lagged behind most of the regions of the world, and the international community’s support remained absolutely necessary to help Africa address its more daunting challenges and consolidate recent gains.  To that end, the Holy See reiterated its support for a global approach to the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa.  Efforts in that arena should be guided by the African Union Peace and Security Council, assisted by the Panel of the Wise and the African Standby Force.  He added that initiatives such as the “continental early warning system” and the regional conflict warning system deserved the international community’s broad and generous support.  Such support would enhance and consolidate Africa’s increasing assumption of its share of responsibility in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding.

 

Turning to poverty eradication and sustainable development challenges, he said Africa would need a comprehensive solution to its crippling debt burden, fairer access to world markets through integration into the international trading system, and the “timely” provision of internationally-agreed official development assistance funds, among other things.  Integration into the world trading system should help Africa build its capacity to compete without reducing its ability to safeguard its citizens from the negative impacts of structural adjustments and trade liberalization.  He called on the international community to help African countries develop policies that promoted a culture of solidarity, so that their economic development might go hand-in-hand with human development.  Finally, he called on the international community to enter into strategic partnerships to bolster education and skilled labour and training.

 

SUSAN JOHNSON, Observer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that the largest humanitarian needs resulting from poverty, health crises and disasters were in Africa, noting that most African countries were off track to meet the Millennium Development Goals.  Disease and disaster were taking a toll on years of development gains.  It was unacceptable that 3,000 children died of malaria daily, especially as those were preventable deaths.

 

Despite daunting humanitarian needs in Africa, there had been many successes, she said.  She chose to speak of just one, the progress in the fight against malaria in Africa.  Between 2004 and 2006, coverage ratios in 16 countries had tripled, due to the distribution of mosquito nets.  Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies had contributed to that success through the efforts of their community-based volunteers, who “walked the last mile and visited the last house on the road”.

 

Africa’s development must be anchored in its resources and on the resourcefulness of its people to achieve lasting results.  The lack of human resources for health caused health delivery gaps, particularly in rural areas.  The Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies helped develop a generic training package on HIV/AIDS for use by Governments in developing their own health cadres.  She stressed the importance of partnership, noting that, as community-based organizations, national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies could work as auxiliaries to public authorities.  Those organizations also welcomed partnerships with other organizations pursuing similar goals, regionally and locally.


Categories

%d bloggers like this: