|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
26th & 27th Meetings (AM & PM)
GLOBAL CRISES THREATEN TO ERODE AFRICA’S SOCIO-ECONOMIC GAINS, SPEAKERS WARN, AS
GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS CONSIDERATION OF PARTNERSHIP FOR AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT
The African continent’s recent gains in economic growth and the higher living standards achieved by millions of Africans could be eroded by the current global financial and commodity crises, without sustained attention by the international community, according to delegates gathered today at the General Assembly’s annual debate on the state of Africa’s development efforts.
Already behind schedule for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, Africa’s vast potential could be wasted, and millions of people could remain mired in mind-numbing poverty, if sound domestic policies were not meshed with international support, delegates agreed, as they debated three of the Secretary-General’s recent reports on efforts to spur development and achieve durable peace and security in Africa.
While recognizing the considerable progress made towards the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), its Peer Review Mechanism, and the innovative ideas of a new generation of African leaders, delegates urged Governments to lay down sound policies to further support that initiative. The Partnership’s goals of building stronger economic infrastructure and creating a favourable environment for investment were crucial, if Africa was to pull out of the its economic troubles and prosper as it truly could, they said.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group, the representative of Kenya viewed the Assembly’s recent adoption of a Political Declaration on Africa’s development needs as a “clear undertaking at the highest political level” to strengthen support for NEPAD. That Declaration, adopted on 22 September at a one-day, high-level meeting of world leaders, showed how States had reinvigorated a “global partnership of equals” based on common values and shared responsibility for a common future.
Created more than seven years ago at a summit of African leaders, NEPAD was meant to develop a new vision to guarantee African renewal and development. He noted that the initiative had placed the United Nations Millennium Development Goals at the centre of the continent’s development agenda. At the country level, the Goals provided a framework for national policy and planning, while the Peer Review Mechanism offered a forum for sharing best practices. Assistance from the donor community was crucial for long-term success, he added.
While acknowledging the progress of the past decade, the representative of Ghana said that Africa faced formidable challenges beyond the control of many individual countries. For example, a “brain drain” had left many countries without the health professionals able to combat numerous health crises. Yet, at the same time, few countries had met their commitments to increase their health budgets to 15 per cent of public expenditures.
The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, agreed that Africa faced many challenges, and NEPAD was vital to providing the road map for the continent’s renaissance. He welcomed the pace of evaluations under the Review Mechanism, which was at the core of the European Union-African Union partnership on democratic governance and human rights. He urged the NEPAD Secretariat to set clear priorities and rank regional infrastructure projects by importance.
Turning to the value of partnerships, France’s representative supported ongoing efforts to strengthen the links between NEPAD and the African Union. He pointed to the adoption of the common European Union/Africa strategy in Lisbon, in December 2007, as an example of the European Union’s full commitment to Africa, and said Europe had been Africa’s first development partner.
India’s representative stressed his country’s special relationship with Africa, pointing to the Delhi Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Cooperation adopted by India and Africa earlier this year. That Declaration was based on equality and mutual respect, while the Framework, adopted at the Summit, outlined the priority areas of future engagement.
Regarding the crucial component of financing for Africa’s development, delegates urged developed countries to meet their financial commitments. The representative of Cameroon said the Secretary-General’s NEPAD implementation report showed official development assistance (ODA) flows had dropped 20.5 percent between 2006 and 2007.
He stressed that such assistance must be increased, and aid must be united and aligned with African priorities, as defined in the New Partnership. He praised the creation of the Steering Group on achieving the Millennium Goals in Africa, which backed the raising of $72 billion annually for achieving the Goals by 2015.
For his part, Myanmar’s representative said the drop in ODA and the spike in food and fuel prices, along with the recent financial crisis and impact of climate change, threatened to reverse Africa’s economic progress. The continent’s gross domestic product had jumped 5.8 per cent in 2007, after expanding for the past four years.
Turning to global trade, he said Africa represented 12 per cent of the world’s population, but its share of international trade was only 2 per cent. The expansion of an equitable and fair multilateral trading system would help promote Africa’s trading prospects. He and other delegates pushed for a successful end to the long-troubled Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations that would place a strong development dimension at the core global trade initiatives.
On the issue of peacekeeping, delegates supported the work of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council. The representative of Sierra Leone welcomed the Secretary-General’s appeal for additional conflict prevention strategies. He urged the international community to continue its efforts to restrict the arms trade, and called for increased support for the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.
Also speaking today were representatives from Thailand (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Guyana (on behalf of the Caribbean Community and the Common Market), the Russian Federation, Algeria, Tunisia, Japan, Egypt, Canada, Indonesia, South Africa, Belarus, the Sudan, Antigua and Barbuda, (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Kuwait, China, the Philippines, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Namibia, Brazil, Zambia, Cuba, Senegal, Ethiopia, Benin, Nigeria, the United Republic of Tanzania and Bangladesh.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 17 October, to elect five non-permanent members of the Security Council.
The General Assembly met today to hold a joint debate on progress in the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and international support for that initiative; implementation of the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the causes of conflict and promotion of peace in Africa; and the 2001-2010 Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries.
Before the General Assembly was the Secretary-General’s sixth consolidated progress report on implementation and international support for NEPAD (document A/63/206), which states that within the context of the global economic slowdown, and high food and oil prices, turning vision into concrete results through the implementation of the New Partnership and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals requires firm resolution and clear leadership from both African countries and international development partners.
While acknowledging African countries’ progress in implementing the New Partnership’s sectoral priorities, the report calls for urgent action to mitigate the impact of high food prices, through the launch of a “green revolution” within the context of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. While efforts have been made to reduce the debt burden of many African countries, development partners should scale up development aid and improve aid effectiveness to ensure that commitments are achieved within the set deadline.
The report concludes that the absence of appropriate policy measures by both the international community and African countries will reverse the improvement in living standards of millions of African people. African Governments should continue institutional reforms to attract private capital, perhaps, for example, by attracting the sovereign wealth funds of oil-producing countries to secure infrastructure investment. In addition, with seven countries “peer-reviewed” and 29 countries in the African Peer Review Mechanism process, Governments must implement the agreed programmes of action.
The report also recommends that the Group of Eight countries scale up and improve the effectiveness of official development assistance (ODA) disbursements to meet their pledge to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010. The current food crisis and slowed global economic growth offer a “window of opportunity” for the international community to achieve a successful outcome of the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization negotiations by removing obstacles to an open trading system in agricultural commodities, which would benefit African countries.
Further, the report concludes that African Governments and development partners should formalize compacts that outline roles and responsibilities to ensure that financing commitments are met and aligned with national systems. As new and emerging development partners have enhanced their engagement with Africa, it is crucial that traditional and new donors formulate an innovative mechanism for coordinating actions in the areas of aid, trade and debt sustainability. Finally, the report concludes that although debt relief has resulted in investments in health and basic education, the effects of steep oil and food prices are threatening sustained investment in those sectors.
Also before the Assembly is the report on implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (document A/63/212), which provides a brief overview of major peace and security developments in Africa in the past year. It underlines the serious concerns being addressed by Africa and the global community to restore peace and rebuild post-conflict countries. It also reviews progress in relation to the short-term steps proposed in previous reports to support efforts towards a conflict-free Africa, pending a substantive strategic review of the impact of new challenges to long-term peace.
Among other things, the report concludes that Africa, supported by regional, subregional and international organizations, has made strong efforts in the last decade to promote peace. For example, cooperative efforts in mediation, as in Kenya, and in peacekeeping, as in Darfur, are growing and United Nations agencies have improved collaboration with African organizations in advance of a detailed articulation of the next and broader phase of the African Union-United Nations 10-year capacity-building programme. The report draws particular attention to the critical work that an Inter-Agency Task Force has been doing to develop comprehensive operational guidelines for national efforts on post-conflict employment generation.
Yet, despite the significant progress of many African countries in improving governance, serious problems of exclusion, monopoly of power and extreme poverty remain. Post-electoral crises in some countries have also given rise to Security Council concerns that domestic issues have potential spill-over effects on regional peace. Progress was not always well established, and could be offset -– or reversed -– by new threats, including rising food and fuel prices. The report urges greater commitment by United Nations agencies and States to conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding.
Finally, the Secretary-General’s note on the 2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa (document A/63/219), highlights progress made in meeting the goals to be achieved by 2010 in the context of Assembly resolution 62/180. The report is based on data collected for the World Malaria Report 2008, which came from routine surveillance and household surveys to measure achievements to 2006 and, for some aspects of malaria control, to 2007 and 2008.
The report states that there were an estimated 247 million episodes of malaria in 2006; 86 per cent of which -– 212 million cases -- were in Africa. Of those, 80 per cent were in 13 countries and over half were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and the United Republic of Tanzania. The report also covers policies and strategies for malaria control; preventing and treating malaria; financing malaria control; and the impact of malaria control, notably for Africa.
The report concludes that in Africa, funding, products and activities for malaria control dramatically increased in 2005 and 2006. One quarter to one third of people at risk of contracting the disease had access to insecticide-treated nets in their homes. Only an average 3 per cent of children with fever received treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy, and coverage of pregnant women with two doses of intermittent preventive treatment was also very low –- 18 per cent -– compared to the target of above 80 per cent.
Use of indoor residual spraying had increased, however on a continent-wide basis there was no evidence that malaria cases and deaths were declining in 2006. Countries -- and parts of countries -- with high levels of intervention coverage showed dramatic declines in cases and deaths. The report also concludes that in at least seven African countries and areas with relatively small populations, good surveillance and high intervention coverage reduced malaria cases and deaths by 50 per cent or more between 2000 and 2006/2007.
Finally, the report recommends that States consider: more funding for insecticide-treated nets, artemisinin-based combination therapy and indoor residual spraying activities; ensuring that drug- and insecticide-resistance therapy is fully operational; strengthening health information systems; resolving current financial and delivery bottlenecks that led to stock-outs of nets; and enhancing malaria programme management at the country level.
Statement by General Assembly President
Opening the joint debate, General Assembly President MIGUEL D’ESCOTO BROCKMANN of Nicaragua reminded delegates of the global economic crisis impacting the world, and called on the Assembly to honour its commitment and continue its support for the development of the Member States of Africa. “While it is understandable that political concerns and financial constraints at home might make us waiver, we must keep in mind that this planet is our home and that Africans are our brothers and sisters,” he stated.
He also called for a concerted effort from Member States to share the burden and join together in the effort necessary to support one another in this time of crisis. This would require sacrifice from all parties, an unpopular political stance to take but one he deemed essential for the world’s recovery. Recalling the high-level debate on Africa’s development needs that kicked off the sixty-third session, he commended the enthusiasm of the world leaders that participated in that event. However, he observed that by the time the international review meeting on development financing in Doha convenes in late November, the full brunt of the financial crisis would be felt. To prepare for that, he called for delegates to reaffirm their efforts and their commitment to work together to weather future challenges.
GEORGE O. OWUOR (Kenya), speaking on behalf of the African Group, welcomed the Assembly’s adoption of the political declaration on 22 September on Africa’s development needs as a “clear undertaking at the highest political level” to strengthen support for NEPAD. Indeed, States had undertaken to reinvigorate a “global partnership of equals” based on common values and shared responsibility for a common future.
The weakened global economy resulting from the sharp rise of energy, food and oil prices was heightening adverse impacts on the growth prospects of all African economies, he said. Such dangers diminished African countries’ access to finance for investment, while the erosion of the balance of payment positions of many countries threatened to undermine policy gains made in the last decade. In view of that, Africa’s growth was projected to slow in 2008, and it was therefore essential that States’ policy actions aimed to support NEPAD goals of improving economic infrastructure and creating an enabling environment for investment.
He said NEPAD had adopted the Millennium Development Goals as the centre of the continent’s development agenda. At the country level, the Goals informed the framework for national policy and planning. The Africa Peer Review Mechanism provided a framework for sharing best practices, and assistance from the donor community was important for long-term success. Achievement of the Goals in Africa would require taking proactive measures to speed progress, notably by scaling up support to African countries.
The African Union had pledged to address conflict with the aim of achieving a conflict-free Africa by 2010, and he welcomed United Nations efforts to collaborate with the African Union to enhance peacekeeping capacity. The African Union Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development policy endeavoured to compliment the Peacebuilding Commission’s work to identify States that were at risk of becoming “failed States”.
On combating malaria, he noted strides being made by the international community and African Governments. In closing, he called for the United Nations to show “unequivocal political will” to operationalize all commitments to enhance the global partnership for Africa’s development. The United Nations must fulfil its mandate of achieving an equitable approach to the global partnership to create a better life for Africans.
PHILIPPE DELACROIX (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and the Associated States, said the Assembly’s high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs and the resultant Political Declaration adopted on 22 September highlighted the great strides Africa had made economically, as well as with its institutional organizations, with the development of the African Union. But the continent still faced important challenges and NEPAD was a key instrument as it provided a roadmap for the “renaissance of Africa”.
The European Union welcomed the pace of evaluations under the African Peer Review Mechanism. He said follow-up to the implementation of action plans subsequent to those reviews was very important. It was essential that the Mechanism lie at the core of the European Union-African Union partnership on democratic governance and human rights. NEPAD had been created to substantiate the African Union’s action through the initiatives of regional integration and to promote Africa’s economic and social development alongside security and good governance.
Further, he said NEPAD needed to set clear priorities and prioritize projects, particularly with regional infrastructure projects. The European Union noted that in the Secretary-General’s report, progress had been made in numerous areas at a national and regional level, and also with the international community. The European Union supported ongoing efforts towards strengthening the links between NEPAD and the African Union and the proposals for better integration between the two entities made by the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, in June in Addis Ababa.
As examples of the European Union’s full commitment to Africa, he pointed to the adoption of the common European Union-Africa strategy in Lisbon in December 2007. The implementation of that strategy continued in all areas, and the European Union had been Africa’s first development partner. Currently, 62 per cent of the bilateral aid allocated at the regional level by the European Union went to Africa. As emphasized at the 2005 World Summit, development, human rights, peace and security were closely linked and the search for peace on the African continent was a European Union priority.
Turning to the “Decade to Roll Back Malaria”, he said that malaria still affected 40 per cent of the world’s population and Africa was particularly hard hit. Of the 105 countries afflicted by the disease, 45 were in Africa. The European Union was aware of the logistical and economic barriers faced by countries implementing strategies to fight the disease.
Therefore, it supported the work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNITAID, the International Drug Purchase Facility, which provided considerable progress regarding access to long-lasting treated mosquito nets and artemisinin-based combination therapy. Contributions from European Union countries and the European Union Commission accounted for 60 per cent of the Global Fund. He urged the international community to combat malaria and said Millennium Development Goal 6 of halting the scourge and reversing current trends was attainable by 2015.
DON PRAMUDWINAI ( Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said continued support for Africa’s development and recovery was essential for the global community’s success. With only seven years remaining before the Millennium Development Goal 2015 deadline, the international financial, energy and food crises, and the stalled Doha Trade Round deeply undermined African nations’ ability to reach their development targets. Yet despite those formidable challenges, he commended the efforts and resolve of African leaders and citizens for their continued and determined progress.
Recalling the Assembly’s high-level meeting on Africa’s development, he reminded Member States to honour their commitments made by putting “words into deeds”. He also emphasized the need for the international community to forge and strengthen partnership with African nations, rather than fostering dependency.
That was the spirit in which ASEAN supported NEPAD, he said, recalling the long history of fraternity between Asia and Africa, with both regions sharing much common ground and aspirations for their countries and peoples. There would be, he noted, a concerted effort to strengthen their ties and deepen their collaborative relationship.
In 2005, the Asia-Africa summit in Bandung, Indonesia, marking 50 years of collaboration, launched the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership, an initiative founded in political solidarity, economic cooperation, and improved socio-cultural relations, and one that should receive the full support of the United Nations Development Programme special unit for South-South cooperation. Concluding with a reminder that the countries of ASEAN were intimately familiar with the fallout from international financial crises, having weathered the difficulties of the 1990s, he called for all Member States to join together to ensure Africa’s continued development and thus development around the world.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said Africa was beset by many challenges, including those related to inadequate infrastructure and industrialization, and the lack of requisite human and institutional capacities. The continent needed to see substantially increased investments in those areas to assure a strong basis for sustained growth and development. Africa would no doubt bear the effects of the current financial crisis, which had cast a pall over the outlook of the world economy. Its traditional markets were at stake and the threat of additional cutbacks in official assistance was a real prospect as many developed countries struggled to safeguard their financial and banking systems from collapse.
A special responsibility fell on developed countries to ensure their policies, both domestic and foreign, contributed to peace, stability and prosperity in the world. He said that while Africa was not currently on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, it was also evident that at current rates, the commitment to double aid to Africa by 2010 would not be reached. Assistance from the international community needed to be substantially increased and made more effective. Considerable gains were possible if the international community translated its commitments into results.
Turning to the issue of peace and security, he said that Africa continued to face formidable challenges in consolidating the basic conditions required for sustained peace and development. CARICOM shared Africa’s view that good governance provided the foundation for peace, security and prosperity. In that context, he noted the design and implementation of the Peer Review Mechanism as a worthy instrument.
He said perhaps the most salient lessons of the Assembly’s recent high-level Meeting on Africa was the recognition that Africa was capable of, and had made dedicate efforts towards, resolving its challenges. Nonetheless, these endeavours must be supported and complemented by the international community. CARICOM had watched the creative efforts of the Africa Union in developing new institutional arrangements, meant to accelerate integration on the continent. He said the recent visit of an East African delegation to the CARICOM Secretariat was an example of the opportunities for sharing developmental experiences through South-South Cooperation.
LESLIE K. CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) echoed the Secretary-General’s assertion that the challenges facing Africa constituted a “development emergency”. The Constitutive Act of the African Union acknowledged that the basic conditions required for sustained peace and development were not being consolidated through Africa, and that this state of affairs impeded development across the board. However, the number of African countries afflicted by conflicts had decreased over the last decade and peacekeeping efforts, especially those led by Africans themselves, had been a major factor in that improvement.
Although considerable progress had been made since 1998, with the initiation of the New Partnership, African Peer Review Mechanism and a new generation of leaders determined to mobilize resources, promote human rights and the rule of law, and build democracy and good governance, among others, the unique challenges facing Africa were formidable and beyond many African countries’ control. A “brain drain” had left many countries without the health professionals necessary to cope with Africa’s many health crises, and only a few countries had met their commitment to increase health budgets to 15 per cent of public expenditure.
Regardless of those impediments, Ghana for its part, had initiated the National Health Insurance Scheme to improve access to health care, as well as free medical care for expectant women. Even so, Ghana would still struggle to meet the Millennium Development Goal targets to improve child and maternal health and curb the speed of HIV/AIDS by 2015, and would need to continue to depend on their partnerships with agencies such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), among others, to ensure further progress, he said.
In Ghana, over 1.4 million children still did not attend school, evincing a resistance stemming from cultural and economic factors, uneven distribution of educational resources between rural and urban areas, and poor training facilities for teachers. In redressing that situation, Ghana had launched educational reforms, with a free and compulsory universal basic education plan. It was also working to retrain and upgrade its educational personnel. Engaging other mechanisms, such as the capitation grant and school-feeding programme to boost enrolment, he also noted the special attention being paid to girls’ education and the increase of girls’ enrolment.
Acknowledging Africa’s vast potential to develop into a thriving continent, he called for the “right combination of sound domestic policies and timely fulfilment of long-standing pledges of support,” so that in 2015 the success of reaching the Millennium Development Goals could be ensured.
VITALY I. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said his delegation continued to view NEPAD as a channel for attaining the Millennium Development Goals, and an important reference point for rendering international assistance to the continent. He welcomed the 22 September high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs, and, recalling the Political Declaration adopted as its outcome, looked forward to all parties assuming their responsibilities. Africa required special attention, he said, and noted progress in providing children’s access to basic education. At the same time, there were lags in attaining the Goals, particularly in areas of reducing mother and child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS.
To meet Africa’s special needs, especially in overcoming poverty, he said his Government, prompted by the concept of equitable partnership, had consistently assisted African countries. As a responsible development partner, the Russian Federation was restoring its donor potential, and would offer comprehensive assistance. It had assisted in debt write-offs, and increasing its contribution to international development programmes. Further, the Russian Government had set aside $20 million to fight malaria and $18 million to eradicate polio.
A key issue was to encourage investment in infrastructure, he said, and Africa, with his Government’s help, was carrying out projects in Angola, Côte d'Ivoire and South Africa, among other States. To encourage investment in small- and medium-sized enterprises, the Russian Federation supported efforts to enhance the efficiency of the African financial sector. He went on to say that hunger was among the main socio-economic challenges, and the recent Rome Declaration on World Food Security could serve as a basis for enhancing international efforts to combat it. Measures to enhance African agriculture were more important than ever, he added.
On settling and preventing armed conflict, he noted the African Union’s work in creating early warning systems, and welcomed the dialogue between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council. Protecting borders from mercenaries was important. Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, had taken part in all United Nations operational measures in Africa. His Government would continue to help strengthen regional stability.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria), recalling the 22 September high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs, said there had been clear recognition that, at the current pace, most African countries would not be able to attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Africa had been “penalized doubly” by the current food and energy price spikes and, in light of the current financial crises, it also ran the risk of having to cope with repercussions in the availability of development assistance.
Stressing the importance of the New Partnership as a framework created by Africans to draw attention to the major issues affecting the continent, he said NEPAD rested first on African regional potential. In that regard, he called on partners to help Africa to provide itself with the necessary conditions to become “part and parcel” of the world’s economy. Among the main decisions of the Algiers Summit was the creation of a committee that today remained the highest decision making body, which supervised the implementation of NEPAD projects. It acted as the principle interlocutor for such projects.
Turning to agriculture, he said ambitious projects had been launched, including one designed to exchange knowledge. Such projects required considerable financing, which, despite some growth rates of 6 per cent, African countries could not provide. Repeating his appreciation for contributions of many partners to help alleviate debt, he said much had to be done to ensure that African countries’ development was not completely destroyed by their indebtedness.
ODA continued to diminish, and that trend was confirmed further in 2007, he continued. The issue must be examined in the context of the Secretary-General’s Millennium Development Goal Task Force, he said, recalling that $72 billion annually would be needed between now and 2015. On trade, he said African countries were asking that specific measures be implemented to ensure that their goods accessed developed country markets. On promoting peace, he recalled that development could not occur without an environment that ensured stability. The African Union had helped to prevent conflict, notably through the creation of operational capabilities deployed throughout the continent. Despite such efforts, greater contributions were needed from partners.
HABIB MANSOUR ( Tunisia) said Africa was impacted by poverty, endemics and conflicts, all of which were hurting its ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. On the other hand, Africa was a “continent on the move” and it was making progress politically and economically, as well as on a regional level. The Assembly’s recent high-level meeting highlighted the continent’s situation. The needs and constraints of Africa were well known: the problem was the level of commitment, and with that in mind, he urged the creation of a follow-up mechanism to see how the recommendations that emerged from that meeting were being implemented.
While noting the continent’s achievements, he said the progress was not sufficient. There needed to be a strengthening of national and regional capabilities. The coordination between NEPAD and national Governments, and among countries, also needed to be improved. He questioned whether the developed countries would be able to meet their commitments and double their assistance by 2010, as outlined at the Group of Eight Summit in Gleneagles in 2005.
He said the upcoming Doha Follow-up Conference was an important opportunity to relaunch international development financing, particularly in light of the current economic crisis. Africa needed to integrate into the global economy. Ensuring a conflict-free Africa by 2010 was subject to a certain level of economic growth and stability, and the continent needed the help of its development partners to that end. The African Union had made efforts toward peace with its Peace and Security Council, but it needed broader support.
He saluted the efforts of the Peacebuilding Commission. Africa also faced many health issues, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, which impacted its prospects for development and stability. It faced “a long road ahead” to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals and eliminate malaria, which continued to be present. He urged the international community to help battle this problem.
Having heard the voices of African leaders at the Assembly’s recent high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs, SHIGEKI SUMI ( Japan) stressed that now was the time for the international community to respond to their “genuine needs”. The critical importance of private investment and infrastructure development had been highlighted at that meeting, and scaling up efforts to those ends should be considered among the most urgent priorities for the world and the United Nations, he added.
With respect for the principles of ownership and partnership essential in the promotion of sustainable development in Africa, NEPAD’s implementation consisted of its pledge to double its ODA to Africa in the areas of infrastructure development which included achieving Millennium Development Goals, combating climate change, and promoting improvements in the field of agriculture.
He also noted the proactive and flexible provision of up to $4 billion in soft loans, and the situation to double private Japanese investments to Africa over the next five years so that loans would focus on infrastructure development through enhanced public-private partnerships. He highlighted Japan’s joint public-private missions to promote trade and investment to 12 African countries, in implementation of its commitments made at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development IV, along with Japan’s donation of $92.1 million to the Japan-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Joint Framework for building partnerships to address climate change in Africa.
He went on to stress the link between peace and development, along with the importance of human security, in policy implementation, especially in the realization of Millennium Development Goals, in order to ensure that targeted growth would benefit and empower individuals and communities without aggravating social and economic disparities. In this endeavour, Japan pledged support in education, health and community development and, as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, Japan had committed to offering assistance such as extending support to Peacekeeping Operations training centres in Africa in order for post-conflict countries to obtain a durable peace.
On the Secretary-General’s report on malaria, he expressed pleasure at the progress made in the decline in malaria related deaths in several African countries, as well as the increase in funding of malaria interventions and the Global Malaria Action Plan. At the same time, he noted with concern that the number of worldwide malaria cases remained high at 247 million for 2006, and that children under the age of five are still the most likely to die of the disease. To fight the prevalence of this disease, Japan had pledged an additional $560 million this year to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt), aligning himself with the African Group, said the Assembly was meeting in the midst of “exceptional economic circumstances” sparked by the food, energy and financial crises, and Africa would be the most negatively impacted by such developments. The crises would hamper development efforts, and thus, the international community, particularly developed countries, must act at a speed commensurate with the pace of such exceptional events. Implementation of the Assembly’s 22 September Political Declaration on African development was a strong basis on which to build, and it should be reinforced by the “roadmap” adopted at the African Union Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh.
He said African countries had made major strides in implementing their NEPAD commitments, notably in infrastructure, health and agriculture, while the establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism affirmed that “real progress” had been achieved in the fields of good governance, respect for human rights and deepening democracy. On the other hand, the “Group of Eight” countries had lagged behind in achieving their stated goal to double assistance to Africa by 2010. Further, the continent’s overall share of foreign direct investment remained low.
Welcoming progress made by the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative, he stressed the need for new sources to finance African development. He called for strengthening the United Nations role, in parallel with the positive role taken by the African Union, regional organizations and institutions.
Egypt supported the United Nations steps in the last year to respond to conflicts in Africa, in coordination with the African Union, and supported peacekeeping efforts, including the large military contribution to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). He supported the Peacebuilding Commission’s activities in Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and the Central African Republic, and commended the cooperation between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council.
On malaria, he said infection rates had been reduced in various countries -- the result of programmes implemented in cooperation with the United Nations -- however proliferation of the disease in 109 countries reaffirmed the need for continued support to cut the mortality rate in half by 2010. There was a serious need for transferring technical knowledge and ensuring early diagnosis and treatment. That entailed intensifying awareness and working to improve healthcare systems. It was imperative to concentrate on enhancing regional capacities to confront malaria, and resolve trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights of existing malaria medications and vaccines.
JOHN MCNEE ( Canada) said the world had seen instability in financial and stock markets, and in some cases, triple-digit inflation in food prices. Against that backdrop, much remained to be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which required an agreed approach and sustained partnerships. For its part, Canada was meeting its commitments, and was doubling its international assistance to reach $5 billion by 2010. It was untying all food aid -– and would untie all development aid -– by 2012, in line with the Paris Declaration.
Further, Canada had helped in areas of food security, child health and education. In the last five years, education support had helped over 6 million children -– half of them girls -- attend schools in partner countries. Canadian companies were committed to being good corporate citizens, he said, noting Canada’s initiation of the Africa Mining Partnership to address issues of governance and sustainable development.
Development success was underpinned by democratic governance networks, and Canada was focused on engaging civil society, particularly women, in the political process, he said. Canada was also working to respond to crises affecting young democracies. The main objective of democracy support efforts was to enhance democratic elements that gave citizens voices in decisions that affected their lives: parliaments, independent media and political parties. At the same time, in the last year, there had been examples of defective electoral processes, and lives had been lost due to those events. Looking forward to electoral processes in other countries, he urged fulfilling promises made in that regard at the African Union Summit last year.
Canada was proud to continue its work in support of the New Partnership and the African Peer Review Mechanism, and had been the first contributor to the Review Mechanism Trust Fund. He looked forward to the Mechanism’s integration in the African Union, leading to more commitments.
Acknowledging progress in improving peace and security in Africa, he said Canada was prepared to work with partners to see the African Standby Force implementation plan realized. Canada had announced $10.3 million over three years for police in peacekeeping operations in Africa, and was participating in the international action to end peoples’ suffering in Sudan’s Darfur region. He called on all parties to halt hostilities and human rights violations, and to support work of the United Nations-African Union Joint Chief Mediator. His Government was working for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which called for elections in 2009. Those elections should be free and fair.
MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) commended the great strides made in Africa, with peace, peacebuilding and development emerging in areas formerly embroiled in conflict, and observed that these successes were due in no small part to the work of the United Nations and Peacebuilding Commission. He also noted Indonesia’s participation and significant contributions to supporting sustainable development and United Nations peacekeeping operations, commencing in 1960 in the Congo, and now presently in Darfur.
However, without reliable funding, Indonesia’s work would not have been possible, and, with that in mind, he called for the private sector’s financial abilities to be mobilized. “Clearly,” he said, “business cannot be conducted prosperously in situations of violent conflict.” To that end, Indonesia had facilitated the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission Organizational Committee task force that would focus on ways to strengthen the private sector’s involvement in post-conflict peacebuilding.
He said that international development support for Africa was visibly expanding and intensifying, and NEPAD was also great proof of Africa’s readiness and willingness to integrate into the global economy. In the face of great global crises, remarked upon so frequently in the Assembly, Africa was at a great disadvantage in fulfilling their Millennium Development Goals. It was, thus, imperative that the international community, as it did in Europe after the Second World War, continued to strengthen its support for development in Africa.
Accordingly, he continued, Asia and Africa had deepened their historical relationship with the renewal of the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP), a strong foundation for cooperation and capacity-building activities, such as agricultural developments appropriate for the continent’s weather and farming conditions, among others. That initiative, along with the Non-Aligned Movement Centre for South-South Technical Cooperation, would support Indonesia’s goal to put Africa on track to achieve the Millennium Goals. The success of Africa would contribute to global growth, peace and security, he added.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO ( South Africa) said the Assembly’s gathering today was “overshadowed by major crises”, which had a direct impact on Africa: high food and fuel prices and uncertainty in the global financial system. Those events posed a threat to the New Partnership. High food prices cut directly into the incomes of the poorest, and pressured African Government pledges in the areas of social security, healthcare and education. He called for urgent action to support NEPAD to ensure that the economic development gap between the continent and developed countries did not further increase, and undertaking a “holistic” approach to the challenges of development financing.
Collective action was needed in each of NEPAD’s interrelated priority areas, and more than ever, Africa needed the global community to show unequivocal political will to implement commitments. Despite all actions by African countries, the main constraint was the lack of resources –- financial or otherwise. To succeed, NEPAD needed to become a true partnership, and a monitoring mechanism to review the full implementation of commitments should be considered in the General Assembly’s sixty-fifth session.
Agreeing that the African Union had made substantial progress in conflict prevention, he said the global community must now “press forward with increased dedication” to assure lasting peace. The overarching goal of NEPAD’s renewal process was the “African Renaissance”, a move to break the vicious cycle of political instability, poverty and underdevelopment, the building blocks of which included increased unity, accelerated political integration and increased global support. The African Union had taken full responsibility for peace on the continent, however to succeed, a global partnership was nevertheless needed.
Finally, on malaria, he said South Africa was a signatory to the Abuja Declaration. The fight against malaria could be won by all nations, notably by destroying the mosquitoes that spread the disease. Confining the extent of the disease required eliminating it from countries where that was feasible.
U KYAW TINT SWE ( Myanmar) said his delegation was convinced that NEPAD’s successful implementation was central to the achievement of sustainable development for Africa. The international community needed to recognize Africa’s efforts. He noted the continent’s record economic growth over the past four years, with its 5.8 per cent jump in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007. But the drop in ODA and the spike in food and fuel prices, along with the recent financial crisis and impact of climate change, threatened to reverse that progress.
Turning to global trade, he said Africa represented 12 per cent of the world’s population, but its share of international trade was only 2 per cent. The promotion of an equitable and fair multilateral trading system would help promote Africa’s trading prospects. Agricultural subsidies, tariffs, non-trade barriers and other trade-distorting measures needed to be removed to expand market access for African products. A successful conclusion of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, with a development dimension at its core, was necessary to improve Africa’s trade prospects.
He called on Africa’s development partners to fully implement the commitments made at international conferences and the pledges made in 2005 at Gleneagles. He said the Secretary-General’s proposal that the external financing for Africa reach $72 billion annually deserved the international community’s fullest support. Debt relief should be provided to all African countries, which carried a heavy debt burden. It was crucial that the international community provide Africa with financial and technical support in such strategic areas as agriculture, trade, infrastructure development, health and education.
He said the Assembly’s recent high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs provided a timely and unique opportunity for the international community to assess what has been achieved so far towards implementing the Millennium Development Goals. The primary responsibility for Africa’s development rested with the African countries, and African leadership had taken bold initiatives to take charge of their own destiny, but Africa needed the international community’s support, he stressed.
Calling the response to Africa’s development needs a “critical maturity test for the whole of humankind,” ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) expressed his country’s willingness to explore innovative ways to invest in Africa, through education, trade, cooperation in technology, and extensive experience in agriculture, even though it was not a donor nation.
He encouraged the United Nations system to seek enhancement of the African Union’s role and capacity, including in the areas of regional peace and stability. Further, the Organization should undertake a comprehensive and in-depth study of price setting practices for global goods purchased by transnational companies in Africa, since Africa was vulnerable to food security. With its authority and universal legitimacy, the Security Council, in particular, must consider practical ways of encouraging development, including through support of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.
He went on to say that the active involvement of African countries had been key to the success of the Assembly’s recent high-level debate, especially in highlighting the need to ensure access of all States to the technologies that could reduce energy consumption and enhance use of alternative and renewable sources of energy. He highlighted the decision of the recent African Union Summit to press ahead with efforts to participate in a global framework of action to stop human trafficking. The joint Africa-United Nations Strategy, which had been created on the basis of the lessons and achievements of NEPAD may contribute to Millennium Development Goals achievement by African countries and would be useful for the long-term framework for cooperation between Africa and the United Nations, he said.
MOHAMAD TAHA ( Sudan) said Africa had made “considerable progress” since the implementation of NEPAD, which showed countries’ will to put the continent on the path to development. Noting the mid-way point to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he said the global community had helped Africa implement its NEPAD commitments. The Political Declaration adopted at the Assembly’s recent high-level meeting on Africa’s development had stressed the commitment by Heads of State to Africa’s particular needs.
Today, extensive consultations were underway for implementing the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, in line with resolution 62/189 on further implementation of “Agenda 21” and the outcome of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, and he called on States to implement all pledges and strengthen an inclusive world economic system. Developed countries should do away with their agricultural assistance, as he was against the idea on which such protective measures were based. He also appealed for the full implementation of strengthening of peacekeeping forces in Africa.
Despite current progress, low-income countries needed expanded assistance to cope with their indebtedness, he said. ODA was still limited, compared with 2005 pledges by the “Group of Eight” to increase that amount to $25 billion by 2010. Despite plans to provide further aid, many countries had not done so. The quality of such assistance was as important as the amount, and the creation of a suitable environment was absolutely essential to ensuring economic development.
Sudan’s wealth-sharing experience was an essential element to the agreements it had signed, he said, urging all stakeholders to help women and enhance democracy and the rule of law. On malaria, he said 3.3 billion people suffered from the disease, and the majority of Sudan’s population was in danger of infection. Studies supported that climate change and high temperatures extended the lives of mosquitoes, which propagated the illness. Increased food prices and climate change prevented attaining positive results in implementing NEPAD and the Goals in a concrete manner, and he called for a “leadership spirit” among partners, notably in facilitating developing country access to trade markets. In closing, he said all must share responsibility for development.
D. RAJA ( India) said his country had always been committed to elevating its special engagement with Africa into an enduring partnership that encompassed priority sectors integral to the development goals of Africa in the twenty-first century. Indeed, the Delhi Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Cooperation adopted by India and Africa earlier this year highlighted their shared vision and world view.
The Declaration, he continued, was based on equality and mutual respect while the Framework, adopted at the Summit, outlined the priority areas of future engagement. India was committed to work together with Africa in priority areas, such as capacity-building, agriculture, infrastructure development, health and food security, and technology cooperation. India had also expanded available concession lines of credit for Africa to US $5.4 billion.
Since 1964, India had worked with Africa through the Indian Technical and Economic cooperation Programme to place thousands of African students in professional institutions under Indian scholarship schemes. He said that more than 15,000 African students were currently studying in India’s universities and colleges. Another example of India-Africa partnership was the pan-African e-network project. India gave a dedicated satellite for e-connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa to help the continent bridge the digital divide. That project was fully financed by India and launched from Addis Ababa with a satellite hub in Dakar.
Turning to trade, he said the Secretary-General, in his report on NEPAD, had called for a successful outcome of the Doha Round of multilateral trade talks. At the India-Africa Partnership Forum Summit, the two nations had decided to work together on pressing global issues of shared concerns, including at the World Trade Organization on the issue of cotton subsidies. India had made a unilateral announcement of duty-free and quota-free market access for goods from 34 least developed countries in Africa, he said. That would spur economic activity in manufacturing, particularly for small- and medium-size entrepreneurs in Africa, as it gave them enhanced market access to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
He said Africa’s fight against malaria remained an uphill task although there had been some progress. But resources and access to treatment remained inadequate and there was no evidence that malaria was declining in Africa. The developing world’s ability to combat public health crises such as this required fundamental changes in the global intellectual property regime. The Doha Declaration enshrined the principal that trade rules on patents were not as important as public health. Access to medicine was a fundamental part of the right to health, he said.
JANIL GREENAWAY (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the recent reports and recommendations reminded the international community that Africa knew where it wanted to go and was beginning to take significant steps in the right direction. The Secretary-General said that the “New Partnership for Africa’s Development was both a vision and a policy framework for Africa in the twenty-first century,” she added.
In his address to the high-level meeting on 22 September, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, said the development needs and challenges confronting the African continent were “well known, deep-seated and fundamental”. Mr. Spencer had said that “addressing Africa’s development needs and challenges required international action and very significant international cooperation and facilitation in the form of resources, technology and a supporting international environment.”
All available information showed a large gap between promise and delivery by the international community. The Group of 77 and China hoped that the current crises, particularly the financial and economic crises, would not divert attention from the long, deep and persistent plight of Africa, she said. The Group urged that the international community remained aware that those and other crises impacted Africa most severely. Poor African countries, with their high dependence on agricultural commodity exports, were the most adversely impacted by the failure of the global trade talks and the massive subsidies of developing countries.
Her delegation reiterated its call for urgency, certainty and comprehensiveness in the response to Africa’s development needs and hoped that by the sixty-fifth General Assembly session there would be a strong mechanism in place to monitor the commitment to support and assist Africa. The Group of 77 and China was convinced that what this Assembly did in the sixty-third session would have a profound impact on the success of Africa’s vision and its development prospects for a very long time, she said.
UMARU B. WURIE ( Sierra Leone) said despite the challenges identified in the Secretary-General’s report on the causes of conflict, submitted a decade ago, there had been significant improvement in security and governance in Africa. The continent was exploring ways and means to restore and consolidate peace and stability as a pre-requisite for the achievement of development goals and Africa’s integration into the global economy. Several mechanisms, including transformations in the African Union, the establishment of the African Union Panel of the Wise, and the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission had helped many of these countries to reduce conflict.
He said the African Peer Review Mechanism was also helping the continent to improve governance and accountability. Recent developments in the West African sub-region and the Great Lakes region, post-election mediation efforts in Kenya and Zimbabwe and the democratic transition of Sierra Leone were evidence of those improvements. At the same time, many commitments and pledges to Africa went unmet. The global economic meltdown and the skyrocketing cost of food and energy were seriously compromising the strides that conflict and post-conflict societies could make. However, he remained hopeful that the commitments emanating from the recent high-level discussions on the Millennium Development Goals would be translated into concrete actions.
Continuing, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s appeal for additional conflict prevention strategies; more so than calls for increased engagement in peacekeeping operations. Implementing the African Union-United Nations Ten-Year Capacity-Building Programme and curbing the illicit trade and transfer of small arms and light weapons were also important to conflict prevention. The international community should, therefore, intensify efforts to restrict arms trade and transfer to conflict zones through support for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of those same weapons.
Also calling for increasing support to the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, he noted that Africa’s human and institutional capacities must be strengthened. That could be done, in part, by assisting the continent to address its unsustainable debt burden. Predictable and innovative sources of financing and market access through NEPAD should be ensured.
JASEM AL NAJEM ( Kuwait) said that NEPAD’s aim was for Africa to achieve balanced growth on a large scale for the reduction of poverty, and for that continent to be better integrated into the world economy. The establishment of a close connection between the success of development and political stability was also key. At the Assembly’s high-level event, Heads of State and Government had renewed their commitment to strengthen support for the implementation of the New Partnership. They had also emphasized the importance of speeding broad scale and sustained economic growth, and responding to the special needs of Africa for the timely achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Though the negative effects on the African continent of new international challenges such as the rise in food and energy prices, as well as climate change, had hindered and disrupted efforts to achieve sustainable development in many developing countries, African countries had nevertheless made efforts to incorporate NEPAD priorities in their national policies and development planning. Their work towards creating coherent institutional mechanisms was also commendable.
He went on to note African efforts to, among others, apply concepts of good governance and rule of law, combat corruption, and pursue transparent systems to consolidate democracy which directly reflected on the achievements of security, stability and sustainable development. However, he also noted the fact that no significant progress had been made towards the eradication of poverty, hunger or in fighting infectious diseases such as AIDS and malaria.
For its part, Kuwait “did not spare any effort” in continuing to provide development assistance to developing countries, especially to Africa, via official and non-official institutions. As a part of Kuwaiti foreign policy, doing so expanded the horizons of partnership and cooperation, further strengthening international trade and economic systems, and was “beneficial to all”. He said the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, established in 1961, had provided more than $12 billion in grants and loans to more than a hundred developing countries for infrastructure projects
The current rise in food and energy prices presented an opportunity for African countries to increase spending on agricultural and rural development; launch a “green revolution” and to promote intra-Africa trade and regional integration. Some salient challenges included: the attempt of African countries to overcome the vicious circle of debt burden, while also securing financial resources for development needs. He noted that bilateral agreements for debt cancellation had been announced by some donor countries. Kuwait was a pioneer in that field and was continuing to reduce and cancel debts. The Kuwait Fund for Economic Development had contributed to the alleviation of foreign debts. Finally, he said, NEPAD was not a temporary measure but rather, a set of persistent endeavours requiring patience and evaluation. However, he applauded African States for their clear, tangible efforts in satisfying international community needs and in assuming the primary role of achieving stability for the purpose of encouraging donor countries and the private sector to provide needed economic and technical support.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said the Political Declaration adopted by the Assembly on 22 September reflected the common will of all nations to enhance cooperation for African development. To implement that Declaration, “the key is to remain focused. And to do that, we must listen to African voices, respect African views” and accommodate African concerns, he said. The New Partnership showed Africa’s determination to strive for “strength through unity”, and there were ways to provide international support. First, it was essential to deliver on commitments of assistance, and developed countries should increase ODA to 0.7 per cent of gross national income.
Continuing, he said it was essential to effectively address new challenges as climate change, the food crisis and rising energy prices had eroded the African continent’s achievements. To help African countries build capacity, the global community should offer them favourable conditions in debt relief, market access and technology transfer. For its part, the United Nations should continue to place emphasis on Africa, notably by continuing input for political mobilization and resource allocation.
Without peace, development would be weak, and without development, peace would be fragile, he said, noting African countries’ progress in promoting peace. The United Nations should continue its active role in promoting dispute settlement, while the global community should continue to help eradicate poverty and remove the “root causes” of conflict in Africa. China was a friend of Africa, and at the high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs China’s Foreign Minister expressed the Government’s readiness to promote a new type of strategic partnership. In closing, he said China would continue to support African countries in such areas as agriculture, education, clean energy and in conflict prevention.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE JR. ( Philippines) said the recent financial crisis portended extremely difficult times ahead, and that meant that Africa would again bear the brunt of troubling events. The Secretary-General’s report on Africa’s development needs provided an excellent springboard for future action. Africa stood to suffer most disproportionately, with the cloud of uncertainty hanging over global trade talks, and a breakthrough was needed, especially in the reform of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies.
He said the recommendation on expanding the current debt sustainability framework to include middle-income countries was a critical element that his country had consistently advocated in the United Nations. The “G-24” communiqué called for fundamental reform of the regulatory and supervisory framework, and covered many aspects of reform, such as official development commitments and the upcoming financing for development conference. Within the World Bank, more attention should be given to Africa’s development needs.
Africa’s development needs were in “great peril” of being sidelined due to the “current conspiracy” of crises that the world faced, he said. No one could deny that the new global landscape was being buffeted by “tempestuous forces”. He called for using the resources of multilateralism to provide a clear and equitable way forward, saying that the Philippines pledged what it could to help alleviate the pain of developing countries, especially in Africa.
ASAD M. KHAN (Pakistan), welcoming the implementation of NEPAD, recalled the salient points that had come out of the recent high-level meeting on Africa, among them, a need for more coordinated and integrated actions stemming from commitments made by the international community, as well as greater participation from the private sector. He firmly believed that bolstering investments, expanding trade exports, and building capacity and human resources were the three crucial pillars to Africa’s continued progress towards meeting their Millennium Development Goal targets.
That would only happen with the continued efforts of the peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts of the United Nations. To that end, Pakistan deployed 10,000 troops, one of the two largest contingents stationed there, as part of these necessary efforts to bring stability to the region. He went on to say that Pakistan’s Africa Plan for Trade Development, with $1.8 billion in bilateral trade, was another clear example of its commitment to participate in Africa’s progress.
Still another active support initiative was the Special Technical Assistance Program for Africa, where, since 1986, hundreds of young African professionals in both private and public sectors received training in different fields, among them, administration, management and diplomacy. Pakistan planned to expand its partnership with Africa with the replication of its own programmes in Pakistan to eradicate Hepatitis-C, ensuring safe drinking water and establishing low cost housing.
He concluded by acknowledging the colossal challenges that Africa faced. However, he stated that the opportunities, means and resources to address those challenges were just as great. With the full implementation of commitments made from both the international community and NEPAD, he believed Africa would realize its full potential.
SAAD AL-ASMARI ( Saudi Arabia) said the international community was required to assist in furthering development and terminating the suffering of those States in Africa facing “these difficult times of economic crises”, especially those that had suffered socio-economically for so many decades. Saudi Arabia had contributed 4 per cent of its gross national product, which is “much more than is required of us”, and had made other major efforts to alleviate poverty. It had also contributed to funds and supported the establishment of an Islamic Bank by providing $1 billion, and an annual contribution of $25 billion to the African Development Bank.
Further contributions included, among others, $18 million in contributions to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, $500 million to the World Food Programme so that least developed countries could grapple with spiralling prices of foodstuffs and $1 billion to a fund combating poverty in the Islamic world. In conclusion, he called for greater efforts to bolster NEPAD, including through implementing international obligations, in the hopes of sustainable development.
KAIRE M. MBUENDE ( Namibia) noted the accomplishments made by African nations in advancing the continent’s development agenda, a crucial element in self-governing and ownership. Yet even with great inroads made in the areas of infrastructure development, agriculture, health and education, and environment, among others, there was still widespread poverty and nations were not on course to meet their Millennium Development Goal targets. It was here that the international community’s support was most needed, he said.
Yet, he continued, the commitments made from Africa’s development partners were not being met. The Secretary-General’s report noted that of the €60 million pledged for the Africa Water Facility, only €19 million had been disbursed. The Development Assistance Committee’s ODA had declined in 2006 and 2007. Furthermore, the “G-8” members had not fulfilled their 2005 Gleneagels commitment of doubling ODA to Africa by 2010, and the $60 billion pledged at the 2007 “G-8” Heiligendamm Summit on HIV, malaria and tuberculosis and other infectious diseases had not been met.
Namibia, for its part, had created an investment friendly environment for foreign direct investment. However, the flow of such investment was not encouraging, and was concentrated on extraction of raw materials for markets in industrialized countries. That did not lead to a transformation of the basis of Namibia’s economy. A well-packaged ODA leveraged by domestic and foreign capital, could make a significant contribution to the African development agenda, he said. Thus, a “business as usual” attitude no longer worked. He called for bold measures to ensure the burden of the current financial turmoil not be transferred to Africa, and stressed that a crisis mitigating and development finance package was essential for its future.
PIRAGIBE TARRAGO ( Brazil) recalled the recent high-level discussions on African development needs, and the Almaty Programme of Action, explaining that the importance of Africa’s development was unquestionable. All had agreed that the removal of impediments to realizing the economic potential of African countries should be the subject of serious commitments. Today’s meeting offered an opportunity to take stock of those commitments.
He said NEPAD stood out among other initiatives as it underscored African leadership in development processes. If well managed, it could be a “resounding success”. It was a major contribution to the maintenance of peace.
“For Brazil, NEPAD equals partnership”, he said, noting that his country had set about to establish close relationships with African nations, and sought reinforced cooperation, not just for -- but with -– Africa. That cooperation was multifaceted, reflecting the diversity of situations and capabilities. He drew attention to several areas, noting first, that through HIV/AIDS projects, Brazil was assisting countries by direct donation of life-saving drugs. Tomorrow, Mozambique would inaugurate the first phase of a plant, built with the support of Brazil, to produce anti-retroviral drugs.
On agriculture, Brazil had set up in Ghana the first overseas office of the Brazilian Enterprise for Agriculture and Husbandry Research. He envisaged trilateral cooperation of that office with International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Western and Central Africa. In energy, Brazil was working on projects to produce clean energy, and the economic and social impacts of such cooperation could be far-reaching. On capacity-building, Brazil, in response to requests, was building professional formation centres in Portuguese speaking countries, and later on, other nations. In closing, he said Brazil was coordinating the Guinea-Bissau country configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission.
GIDEON LINTINI ( Zambia) said that at the “heart” of the New Partnership was the commitment to place Africa on the global agenda and to encourage African institutional involvement in the implementation of objectives and programmes. For its part, Zambia had signed the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, an initiative of NEPAD and the African Union.
With key stakeholders, that priority programme aimed to study escalating costs of farm inputs, especially seeds, fertilizers and fuel, the ensuing reduced access to food for those vulnerable to the current rise in fuel and food prices, and increase use of food crops in bio-fuels and climate change effects. Another endeavour has been work on a Zambia-Tanzania-Kenyan interconnector project to facilitate interregional power trade and foster more regional integration. Financing for that project was being sought and was estimated to be some $800 million, he added.
Regarding malaria, he said that disease was the “number one killer” in several parts of the world, and particularly in many African countries, including Zambia. His country had become a world leader in the fight against malaria, having identified malaria control and prevention as an urgent health priority since 2000. Since 2001, Zambia had implemented the “Roll Back Malaria” strategy countrywide, setting a target of 60 per cent coverage for insecticide-treated bednets and preventative medicine distribution.
Continuing, he said that other significant advances attributed to partnerships with the Ministry of Health included: the reduction of malaria parasite prevalence in children by 50 per cent; reduction of moderate to severe anaemia by 60 per cent; providing more than 80 per cent of pregnant women with at least one dose of preventative medicine. The support of global, regional, sub-regional, country and community-level partners had saved many lives through such positive intervention programmes. He also called for a redoubling of efforts by the international community in its commitments to rid the continent of malaria by 2015, and more commitments from additional resources.
ILEANA NUÑEZ MORDOCHE ( Cuba), recalling the “triumph of the revolution in 1959” and Cubans’ refusal to accept their destiny be decided by colonizers, said Africa was an inseparable part of Cuba’s existence. Indeed, the deepest internationalist convictions of the Cuban Revolution allowed her country to “always be with Africa”, and Cuba’s contribution in different areas of African progress had been a great honour for the country. Cuba strongly supported NEPAD, the African Union and its institutionalization process, among other initiatives conceived for Africa.
As an observer member of the African Union, Cuba had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union Commission, and she expected it to bear fruit. Recalling the Assembly’s recent high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs, she said all statements had recognized the obstacles the region faced in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Cuba would continue contributing its human capital and experience in collaboration with several African countries. Over 1,900 Cuban medical doctors worked in 25 African nations, while 2,253 youths from 45 African countries were studying in Cuba’s universities. Africans shared the ideals of justice and equity that must prevail in the world, and for that reason, it was essential to establish a new international order, she stressed.
PAUL BADJI (Senegal) noted that the two reports before the delegates allowed for a thorough review of Africa’s development needs, accessed its performance towards the Millennium Development Goals, and helped identify the serious obstacles facing African nations, in particular malaria -- a major hindrance to continued development.
NEPAD stated two significant measures taken by Africa, the first being the “Great Green Wall”, the barrier to stop the desert advance, and the second being the launch of a high speed fibre optic network. He expressed great satisfaction that Africa had passed critical stages in its development. Institutions had been strengthened both externally and internally, and where once there had been war there were the beginnings of stability and development.
He went on to say that the high speed optic network diminished the digital divide, with small operators and large investors collaborating on expansion. Furthermore, interregional cooperation was evident with each country in which the Great Green Wall passed through taking full responsibility for its care and necessary resources.
However, NEPAD needed to scrutinize its pattern of copying programmes from other countries instead of focusing on the eight priority sectors. He also stated that the gap between the commitments development partners made verses the actual delivery on those commitments remained of great concern. As the global economic, food, and fuel crises continued, that situation would worsen. He offered hope that decisions made in upcoming donor meetings would manage to “ward off this threat”.
He concluded by noting that only an Africa rid of pandemics would be able to fully derive benefits from NEPAD. Observing that 91 per cent of the 881,000 world-wide malaria deaths happened in Africa, mostly children under 5 years of age and expecting mothers, it was clear that the heavy human toll burdened already fragile economies and challenged the progress made. He asked for Member States to double their commitment to rid malaria by 2010, and offered Senegal’s millennium villages as its contribution to this end.
DESALEGN ALEMU ( Ethiopia) said that in line with the New Partnership addressing the root causes of conflict was a matter of priority, and in that regard, the African Union had carried out multi-faceted activities. He noted with satisfaction the United Nations support for the African Union’s peacekeeping unit, and urged continued support. The African Union’s major role in conflict prevention must be further coordinated with United Nations organs, particularly the Security Council. That was a matter of crucial importance.
He drew attention to paragraph B(3) under the title “Ethiopia-Eritrea” on page six of the report, which did not reflect the full context of the existing situation. The Security Council resolution 1827 (2008) quoted by the Secretary-General did not include the phrase “failure to accept the rulings of the independent boundary commission”, and he requested a correction.
On the Secretary-General’s note contained in A/63/219, he said most of the 42 malaria-affected African countries had insufficient access to, and low capacity to make effective use of, medicines to combat the disease. Ethiopia bore the heaviest burden of that scourge; 75 per cent of Ethiopian areas were prone to malaria. The Government had adopted a national strategy to deal with the social challenge posed by malaria, which was based on the 2010 and 2015 targets of the Roll Back Malaria movement. Further, Ethiopia had carried out a two-phased national endeavour, and the first five-year strategic plan for the 2001-2005 period had been completed. He called on all stakeholders to redouble financial and technical assistance to intensify the fight against malaria.
TOMMO MONTHE ( Cameroon) said today’s debate took place two weeks after the 22 September high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs. That meeting had been proof of the “mixed results” of resolutions that were constantly renewed but never really made specific. He commended the creation of the Secretary-General’s Steering Group on achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa, which advocated mobilizing $72 billion annually for achieving those Goals by 2015. The Secretary-General’s NEPAD report stated that ODA flows had fallen 20.5 per cent between 2006 and 2007, and he stressed results-oriented management. Aid must be untied and aligned with African priorities, as defined in the New Partnership.
It was true that today’s financial crisis could create uncertainty about allocating resources to Africa, however, he was reassured by the will of development partners, in light of the Declaration adopted at the high-level meeting. An increase in the share of African countries in world exports could generate substantial resources for development. Increasing foreign direct investment was conditioned by the need for peace and security. He was pleased at the African Union’s role in the resolution of conflicts, and was likewise happy to see the adoption of Security Council resolution 1809 (2008), to commission a high-level expert group to consider support mechanisms for peacekeeping operations in Africa. There also should be specific stress on conflict prevention.
Cameroon had made the New Partnership’s aims its own, he said, noting that in the area of education, Cameroon had set up two virtual universities in the spirit of South-South cooperation. In agriculture, Cameroon had committed to setting up an agricultural bank, and wished to boost capacity for agricultural products to improve food security. In closing, he stressed efforts by institutions to bolster budget lines for Africa. What Africa needed was a contribution from all its partners to help it manage and support sustainable development.
JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU (Benin) said the Secretary-General’s reports revealed concern for the successful achievement of development objectives due to external shocks and called for “exceptional measures” going forward. They also noted that the slow evolution of small gains made in Africa’s development could be wiped out by the current crisis afflicting the international financial system. The promotion of Africa’s participation in international trade was a necessity, he said, welcoming inclusion of the least developed countries under an enhanced integrated framework, with trade assistance provided from a special trust fund to that end.
He went on to express concern for declining ODA figures and stressed that the current financial crisis did not explain the drop. He therefore urged immediate action on the part of developed countries to address that concern. Oil-producing countries should also invest more of their sovereign funds in continental infrastructure.
On malaria, he noted that the difficulties in “rolling back” the disease were due to a lack of resources in protecting the public from this scourge, despite the large number of available treatments. Benin’s efforts included a 2007 campaign to distribute insecticide-treated bednets on National Malaria Awareness Day, the free distribution of such nets and medications that targeted children less than 5, along with pregnant women.
To continue acquiring significant resources, he went on to urge that African development be bolstered by policies for conflict prevention. Though pleased with the United Nations efforts in that area, as well as the Organization’s new structures to give support to mediation, and the work being done by the Peacebuilding Commission, he nevertheless called for urgent reforms, including strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs within the Secretariat.
On efforts to meet peace and security measures in Africa, he recognized African Union capacity and the support of regional organizations. He encouraged the Security Council, as the head of the collective security system, to strengthen the peace and security structure.
T. D. HART ( Nigeria) said NEPAD was the continent’s “home grown model” and symbol for “self-help”. It was heartening that, through the programme, Africa had made progress in such areas as infrastructure and agriculture, and in 2007-2008, that three other countries had acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism, bringing the total to 29 States that had signed on. Eight more countries, including Nigeria, had been reviewed. It was also heartening that Africa continued to enjoy multilateral and bilateral debt relief, he added.
Such achievements could not have been possible without support from the global community, the United Nations and development partners, he said. It was heart-warming that United Nations peacekeeping efforts, in collaboration with the African Union and its sub-regional outfits, had helped restore peace in Africa’s hot spots. Preventive and mediatory efforts had also helped stop conflicts from festering into “tragic sores”, and Nigeria further welcomed the capacity-building assistance extended to the African Union by other United Nations agencies.
He said 2007 had seen a drop in development assistance to Africa, the World Trade Organization Doha trade talks had largely collapsed, and developed countries continued their unfair trade practices, to the detriment of poor African farmers. Moreover, it was sad that, despite the joint European Union-Africa Strategy adopted at Lisbon in 2007, the economic partnership agreements had made little progress. Such challenges, coupled with the global food and energy crises, threatened to wipe out moderate gains made through NEPAD. Political will was essential for ensuring the successful conclusion of the Doha Round, and unfair practices, including agricultural subsidies, must be “robustly resisted”.
On malaria, he said Nigeria was firmly committed to the goals of the Decade, and acknowledged the work of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In closing, he said “all hands should be on deck” to show care for the world’s needy. NEPAD was a “glowing testimony” of Africa’s determination to take its destiny in its hands and “shed the toga of underdevelopment”.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA ( United Republic of Tanzania) noted that though Africa had recorded significant achievements, in the past decade, in the reduction of armed conflicts and civil wars, it had yet to consolidate basic conditions for sustainable peace and development, and was lagging behind on several fronts, including in socio-economic areas. The series of current global crises in food, oil, financial markets, as well as in climate change, were growing concerns, especially in that they could spark the possible resumption of conflicts. Peace was an essential prerequisite for development, and the more sustainable development became, the higher the prospects for stability and prosperity, he said.
He welcomed the “bold steps” taken by African Governments, in line with NEPAD, to create conditions for growth through commitments to improve governance and harness democracy. To address governance deficits, the Africa Peer Review Mechanism had been developed. But African Governments continued to struggle with multilateral donor and private sector partnerships, and were often unable to secure necessary resources for infrastructure, improvement and social developments.
However, there was a need for African Governments to create institutional and policy reforms to attract private capital and develop private-public partnerships. It was also necessary, he continued, to deal with the systematic causes of conflicts, so as not to allow countries to lapse back into fighting. To that end, he commended the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, the establishment of the Mediation Supporting Unit in the Department of Political Affairs, and the institutional support provided to the African Union and regional security structures in Africa.
ISMAT JAHAN ( Bangladesh) heralded the adoption of NEPAD and the Peer Review Mechanism, as a concrete sign of the African countries’ movement toward good governance, yet she noted the severe impact of recent global crises on the hard-won progress made in fighting hunger and malnutrition in Africa. She also expressed concern that since 2005, ODA ratio for developed countries had declined to 0.28 per cent, falling short of the G-8 Gleneagles pledge to double aid to Africa by 2010, and stated the need for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries to substantially increase their ODA and deliver on the commitment they made at the Gleneagles summit.
She went on to say that the external debt situation was another serious concern for sub-Saharan Africa and the least developed countries, and that debt relief initiatives had been slow and inadequate. Noting that trade was critical to the success of development, she called for full implementation of the World Trade Organizations Doha development agenda.
As an active and ardent proponent of peace and development in Africa, Bangladesh was present in almost all the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Africa over the last 25 years. Currently 10,000 Bangladeshis were working in 12 United Nations peacekeeping missions, including those in the highest risk areas. He said Bangladesh’s participation in the Peacebuilding Commission also reiterated its active support to Burundi and Sierra Leone.
Within South-South cooperation efforts, Bangladesh continued its contribution to Africa’s ongoing development, adopting over the years, innovative highly successful programme ideas, among them, micro-credit which had been replicated in many African countries. Furthermore, he said Bangladesh, with the success of outpacing its own population growth with agricultural innovations, was eager to share with its fellow least developed countries, especially those in Africa, its experiences with its own Green Revolution. She concluded, saying that social and economic emancipation was essential to the development of Africa, and called for Member States to resolve to address the challenges ahead.
* *** *For information media • not an official record