21 October 2008
Deputy Secretary-General

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s opening remarks to the ninth meeting of the Regional Consultation Mechanism of United Nations agencies and organizations working in Africa in support of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today, 21 October:

I am pleased to attend this ninth meeting of the Regional Consultation Mechanism (RCM).  I bring you warm greetings from His Excellency, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  Some of you may recall, this is my second time joining you for this important gathering.  I truly value the work you are doing.

First, I want to thank the Government and people of Ethiopia for their hospitality.  I also want to thank Under-Secretary-General Abdoulie Janneh for his great leadership in the service of the Economic Commission and Africa.

Allow me to commend Chairman Jean Ping for his leadership of the African Union, and Ambassador Olukorede Willoughby for his skilful stewardship of the NEPAD Secretariat.

We are meeting at a critical juncture in global development.  We are facing a financial crisis of epic proportions.  No one knows for certain, at this stage, how this will unfold.  The crisis, if not addressed timely and sufficiently, is likely to affect long-term efforts to advance the international development agenda, including the Millennium Development Goals.

The impact of the present turmoil, compounded by the food shortages and the effects of climate change, could very well derail the prospects of attaining the MDGs across the board.  We cannot separate these new challenges.  We know, for example, that rising temperatures will threaten agricultural productivity and exacerbate food insecurity, and therefore deepen poverty. 

Both climate change and food security compel us to address people's vulnerabilities.  They are both integral parts of our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

It is timely then, that this ninth meeting of RCM focuses on these interrelated challenges.  We must work together, at the global, regional and subregional levels, as one United Nations family to seek common solutions to these challenges. 

The Organization is only as relevant as it is able to deliver tangible results to people on the ground.  If we fail to act in a more coherent manner, we will fail the very people who count on us to deliver on the promises we have made. 

The African Union Commission, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Secretariat and the Regional Economic Commissions told us, and rightly so, that we need to be more coherent in our work.  We listened to you and we are aligning our actions accordingly.

The United Nations operational system is at a turning point.  And in this time of change, one could not hope for a more enthusiastic champion of vigorous reform than Secretary-General Ban.  He has stressed, time and again, that “One UN is not a slogan.  It is a management imperative and the first principle of effectiveness.”

The United Nations must be more coherent, more accountable and more effective in how it works with countries on the ground.  To this end, the Secretary-General has asked us make to make full use of existing coordination structures. 

The thrust is to assist countries to put together their own national strategies to meet the needs of their citizens.  It is essential, therefore, that we strengthen our partnership with key organizations on the African continent. 

I am encouraged by the broad range of representation at this meeting.  Times like these demand that we put our heads together.  The fact that you successfully revived the Regional Consultation Mechanism is a remarkable achievement in its own right. 

I am aware of the progress you have made in bolstering regional coordination in support of the African Union and NEPAD since our last meeting.  You involved the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Secretariat, the Regional Economic Commissions and the African Development Bank in the process.  This is commendable.

Despite these achievements, several challenges still remain.  We need to determine how to promote commitment to the Mechanism by the highest level of leadership of the United Nations agencies. 

We need more effective cluster coordination.  We must also determine ways of adequately supporting the RCM Secretariat and how to institutionalize it within the United Nations architecture. 

It is also clear that certain African Union and NEPAD priorities have not been adequately captured in the course of the evolution and transformation of the Mechanism. 

I understand a meeting was held in September to seek ways to better align the existing arrangement with the priorities of the African Union and implement the United Nations 10-year Capacity-Building Programme.  I hope the decisions of that meeting, which will be tabled today, will enable you to address some of the persistent challenges facing the Regional Consultation Mechanism.

The Secretary-General recognizes that RCM is more relevant than ever at the regional level.  This is why he has asked the United Nations family to work through the Mechanism to address one of the most pressing issues of the day -- climate change.

I trust that you will, during this meeting, determine select areas to focus on for collaborative support to climate-related actions.

When we act with unity of purpose, the United Nations can better support the efforts of African countries.  We will go a long way in backing the African Union and NEPAD to realize its vision -- from promoting peace, regional integration and good governance, to accelerating development. 

This meeting is an opportunity for us to come up with concrete steps on how we can work among the clusters of RCM to facilitate the harmonization of the various strategic plans.  I urge you to cultivate a positive spirit of collaboration and partnership in support of the African Union and NEPAD.  I hope the deliberations here will lend momentum to collective action.

I am convinced that, with a clear vision, sound leadership and bold action, we can achieve our shared objectives.  Rest assured, you have my full commitment, and that of the Secretary-General, in implementing the recommendations that emerge from this meeting. 

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For information media • not an official record