|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
At Summit, Secretary-General Says Africa Can Draw Inspiration from Achievements;
Calls on Leaders to Build on Traditions, Uphold Commitment to Peace, Development
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address to the African Union in Addis Ababa, 27 January:
I am greatly honoured to join the leaders of Africa at this year’s milestone Summit.
Fifty years since the founding of the Organization of African Unity, I am here to celebrate with you — and to look ahead to the next half-century of progress.
We just observed a minute of silence to mark the passing of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and President John Atta Mills of Ghana. The peaceful transfer of power that followed their deaths was a testament to the deepening of democratic norms and values across the continent.
As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I have visited nearly 30 African countries during the last six years. In each place, I listened — to the leaders and the people.
I have seen countries emerging from war and those with long-established peace. I have seen innovation, imagination and the tremendous determination of Africa’s people to thrive and prosper.
Africa has the experience to forge solutions to its own challenges and contribute to our global goals of inclusive growth, social justice and protecting our environment.
Some of the world’s fastest-growing economies are in Africa, as Madame [Nkosazana Dlamini-] Zuma has just said. Many countries have made important gains towards the Millennium Development Goals. More African children are in schools, especially girls. More clinics are helping more women survive childbirth. More African women sit in Government and key decision-making positions.
And here, let me add my congratulations to the new Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Madame Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. I look forward to working very closely with the new African Union leadership.
At the same time, I’d like to pay my deep admiration for Dr. Jean Ping, former Chairperson of the African Union Commission, for his contribution and leadership to this great continent.
I welcome this progress. But, like you, I am still concerned about the hundreds of millions of Africans living in poverty.
That is why we are pushing for results. I count on all of you to attend the Special Event on the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) at the General Assembly in September this year at the United Nations. We must accelerate our efforts as we near the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals.
At the same time, we are looking beyond the 2015 development agenda. Next week, the High-level Panel of eminent persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda will meet in Monrovia, Liberia. I thank Her Excellency Panel Co-chair and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia for hosting this important meeting.
Success will depend on ownership by Governments and civil society.
Our destination is clear: A future where Africa’s wealth enriches all of Africa’s people. Where misrule is only found in history books. Where Africa’s goods get a fair price on the global market. Where global partnerships mean shared prosperity.
African countries averaged a remarkable 5 per cent growth over the past decade — and are projected to grow by even more than 5 per cent by 2014.
But economic expansion is not an end in itself. Wealth cannot remain in the hands of the few.
Inequality is a recipe for instability.
Africa is the world’s youngest continent. Youth here yearn for jobs and a life of dignity. We must invest in them. Last week, I appointed a Special Envoy for Youth.
Let us put a special focus on Africa’s girls and women. They can drive peace and development. Later today, we will spotlight our goal of ending maternal deaths.
We must also stand against all forms of violence. We especially need to speak out against rape and sexual violence in conflict. Governments must support victims and end the culture of impunity. I urge the males here to join my Network of Men Leaders and all to support our “COMMIT to End Violence against Women” campaign.
I applaud the African Group for leading the General Assembly’s adoption of its first-ever resolution calling for an end to female genital mutilation.
Africa has made tremendous progress in reducing both HIV infection and AIDS deaths. The United Nations will continue to support you as we work for an AIDS-free generation, especially by ending HIV in newborns.
All of these gains will contribute to sustainable development. But lasting progress demands that we also address climate change.
The United Nations is proud to support the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative. I hope all African countries will continue to contribute to progress on climate change and my “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative. This can open the way for enormous gains.
Next year, I am going to convene a summit meeting to mobilize political leadership for a legally binding global treaty on climate change — this we have to make by 2015 and allow five more years so that we will have an effective, legally binding climate change treaty. I count on your leadership.
At the same time, the international community must honour its commitments and step up development assistance to Africa. It is not enough for leaders to set targets on aid and trade. They have to follow through with results.
With so many donors facing fiscal pressures, I have warned them against reducing official development assistance. We need investments in development in order to fix the world economy. And beyond practical economic considerations, we have a moral obligation to help the poor and vulnerable people of our world.
Development is critical to peace — and peace is essential for development.
Our partnership aims to bring greater stability to Africa.
The United Nations, African Union and others are working together in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the sidelines of this Summit, I hope that regional leaders will endorse a Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework to address the structural causes of the recurring cycles of violence.
The United Nations Mission, MONUSCO, is doing everything possible to protect civilians. We are considering establishing a peace enforcement capacity within the Mission to address the threat of armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mali is under threat from extremist armed insurgents. I welcome the timely bilateral assistance to the Malian army in response to the Government’s request.
As ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) speeds up preparations to deploy AFISMA (African-led International Support Mission to Mali), I encourage the Malian authorities to embrace a comprehensive political process. This includes agreeing on a road map leading to the full restoration of constitutional order.
We are determined to do what we can to help the people of Mali in their time of need. Humanitarian agencies are helping suffering civilians. The United Nations has also sent specialists on the military and political tracks. This is a moral imperative for all in the international community. I have presented to the Security Council my recommendation on the logistics support package for AFISMA. And I am personally committed to ensuring that the United Nations stands ready, once the regrettably necessary combat operations are over, to undertake a major system-wide effort for peace-building, governance and security sector reform, physical reconstruction, and regional cooperation.
In Sudan and South Sudan, the parties have taken positive steps to resolve outstanding issues. But, they should make more progress in meeting their agreements. I am especially concerned about the dangerous humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. I call on the authorities in Sudan and South Sudan to immediately begin direct talks to allow urgently needed humanitarian assistance to reach affected civilians.
In Somalia, the United Nations and the African Union continue to work closely together. The departure of Al-Shabaab from Kismaayo and other areas opened space for peacebuilding. Better security is helping to solidify Somalia’s democracy.
Later this month, I will present recommendations to the Security Council on a new United Nations presence in Somalia, including ways to strengthen the United Nations-African Union partnership on the ground. I will work to secure urgently needed funding for AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia).
The international community must continue to urge national actors in Guinea-Bissau to come up with an inclusive transitional arrangement and road map for the full restoration of constitutional order.
In the Central African Republic, the restoration of peace and security depends on the parties observing the agreements they signed in Libreville earlier this month. They must also resolve long-standing governance, security and development issues.
I count on the African Union’s continued support to help [the parties forge a] political path that will meet the legitimate aspirations of both sides. In this context, I am pleased to see such a warm welcome for President [Mahmoud] Abbas.
Development and security demand democracy, accountability, shared responsibilities and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Peer Review Mechanism — which is now 10 years old — show this continent’s commitment to protect people from abuse and deepen democratic governance.
This year, the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons entered into force. It is the world’s first treaty to protect people who have fled within the borders of their countries.
You have fulfilled and expanded the vision of your founders. We see this in the peaceful transitions of power. We see this in the adoption of enlightened laws and constitutions. And we see Africa’s progress in the vibrant civil society that can challenge corruption and demand the good governance all people deserve.
Africa can draw inspiration from its record of achievement to manage the many complex transitions ahead.
As we celebrate Africa’s unity, I call on you, its leaders, to build on your proud traditions and uphold this continent’s commitment to peace, sustainable development, democratic rule and human rights — here and around the world.
* *** *For information media • not an official record