Opening remarks at press encounter following address to Parliament of the Republic of Malawi

Lilongwe, Malawi
UN Secretary-General
Secretary-General Visits Millennium Village School while in Malawi Secretary-General Visits Millennium Village School in Malawi.
Photograph: UN Photo / Evan Schneider

Good afternoon again ladies and gentlemen,

I just had the honour to be the first guest to address the newly built Parliament. This Parliament in magnificent and a fitting monument to a modern democracy.

I was particularly pleased to see that the proportion of women representatives is growing. Women are the backbone of any society. As we know, the backbone starts at the head.

My speech to parliament focused on Africa's development challenges, in particular, the Millennium Development Goals.

I had a simple message. We can and we will achieve the Millenium Development Goals.

The reason for my optimism is right here in Malawi.

In a few short years Malawi has gone from famine to feast from food deficit to surplus, from a food importing country to a food exporting country.

There is nothing miraculous about it. It is the result of one simple truth:

Where we try, we succeed. Where we don't try, we fail.

It is a message that Malawi can proudly proclaim across the world.

It is a message that I will take with me to the [G-20] and the Millennium Development Goals Summit meeting in September.

And, I hope, ladies and gentlemen, it is a message you too can spread around the world. The role of the media is crucially important in sending this message around the world.

In my speech to parliament I laid out four elements for success.

First, many promises have been made by the developed world. Now Africa needs the implementation of these promises.

Second, unleashing Africa's potential is a job for all — donor nations, African governments, the private sector and civil society. Africa's people may be poor, but the continent is rich — in resources and potential.

Third, the fight against poverty, hunger and disease must be coordinated. We cannot pick and choose. That is why I am going to Mwandama tomorrow morning- to see how effective integrated, holistic development is done on the ground.

The fourth element for success is leadership. Africa too has a responsibility to deliver — on development, on good governance and on human rights.

This is a responsibility for governments and for the African Union. In that regard, it is unfortunate that laws that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender entity still exists in some countries. Penal codes criminalizing homosexuality should be reformed.

This is what I have asked this Parliament. For this reason, I am very happy to report that in our discussions today with President Mutharika —; President Mutharika announced officially that he would pardon two young men recently convicted of homosexuality and sentenced to 14 years of prison. This was a very courageous decision and I applaud the leadership of President Mutharika.

I am confident that Malawi will take appropriate steps to update these laws in a way that lives up to international standards.

Malawi should be known throughout the world for its successes in combating poverty and hunger and leading the Millennium Development Goals campaign.

This is what I told Parliament today.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time and I will be happy to take some of your questions.

Thank you.

– Statement provided by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.