African leaders at UN cite ‘remarkable’ progress on MDGs and urge commitment to post-2015 agenda

President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

28 September 2015 – African leaders speaking at the UN General Assembly debate today noted that their countries were guided by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) over the last 15 years, and that the post-2015 development agenda and the new goals adopted last week, embody the collective ambition to transform the world by 2030.

“Similarly to other countries, I believe, Mozambique has achieved remarkable progress in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals,” said Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, the President of the southern African nation which recently celebrated 40 years of independence.

Worth highlighting, he explained, is the expansion of access to education, gender balance in the access to primary education and compliance with the target on infant mortality reduction.

“The commitment of Mozambique to the [post-2015 development agenda] is unequivocal and it has been expressed from the onset,” the President continued. “As you might be aware, Mozambique has been one of the 50 countries selected by the United Nations to host national consultations.”

The leader further underlined that in line with the theme of the 70th session of the General Assembly – “a commitment to action” – for Mozambique, this should include the adoption and implementation of effective structures for the prevention and management of conflicts, as well as the need to conclude a convention against terrorism.

“Emphasis should be on preventive diplomacy,” he stated. “The commitment to action we celebrate here should establish platforms for dialogue among cultures and civilizations as an essential tool to promoting tolerance, the culture of peace and a dignified and peaceful world.”

President Nyusi added that the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations is being shadowed by an unprecedented crisis at the international level.

“I am referring to the humanitarian crisis arising from the flow of refugees and migrants with no parallel in the recent history of the humanity,” he declared, urging leaders to redouble efforts. “This shocking situation is a manifestation of a succession of unresolved crisis or poorly settled situations in relation to which the international community had already forecast.”

Meanwhile, during his address to world leaders in New York, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia said his country never lost confidence in multilateralism and remained a staunch supporter of the principle of collective security embodied in the UN Charter.

“It is based on this conviction that Ethiopia has been actively contributing to the advancement of the principles and purposes of the United Nations, including by deploying its forces as part of the blue helmets since the early days of the UN,” said Hailemariam Dessalegn. “It gives us great satisfaction to note that Ethiopia is now the second largest contributor to UN Peacekeeping.”

He also underlined that despite the “many failures” of the Organization, the global community cannot afford to live without it.

“In spite of its shortcomings, the United Nations remains the only universal organization that we have – whether big or small, rich or poor – providing us with a unique platform to advance our common objectives and address those myriad problems we collectively face.”

Echoing the President of Mozambique, he noted that the reason for the remarkable progress Ethiopia has made over the past fifteen years, including in achieving most, if not all of the MDGs, is because the country took charge of its own destiny, devising its own development strategy and mobilizing domestic resources.

“But we also made the best use of development cooperation we have had with the United Nations and other partners,” the Minister added.

In his remarks, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, said that 70 years after the founding of the United Nations, inequalities among States persisted in defiance of the underlying messages of brotherhood and solidarity every religion preached. Underdeveloped countries are in their current state today because of various internal and external factors, which the world could no longer afford to debate.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

“The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals constitutes a landmark in humanity’s quest for peace and prosperity and was a prescription closely aligned with the national strategy Uganda has been following,” he said. For the first time, the Goals proclaim in bold letters the concept of universal prosperity, which would assist the prioritization of the use of scarce resources by international agencies.

In particular, the use of the word “transformation” in the Goals is most revealing, he said, stressing that the purpose of sustainable development was to ensure growth both qualitatively and quantitatively.

The President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, expressed concern about the rising threat of terrorism in Africa and called on the international community to strengthen its action against groups such as Boko Haram and Al Shabaab.

President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

He called on the international community to redouble efforts against terrorism, including by urging donors to devote more "supervision of financial circuits that power this phenomenon."

For greater efficiency in the fight against terrorism and to better address the other global challenges, Mr. Bongo also called for reform of the UN Security Council towards greater democratization of its operation. He thus called for better representation of the various regions of the world and a reform of the veto power.

The Gabonese head of State noted his concern about the delays in the negotiations prior to the holding of the climate summit in Paris in December, saying the process is still far from the required consensus on the overall deal that is ti be agreed in the French capital.

In his Assembly address, President Uhuru Kenyatta, of Kenya, said the just adopted 2030 Agenda was the culmination of more than three years intensive intergovernmental negotiation, which began with the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, Brazil in 2012.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

“We are glad to note that the Agenda recognizes ending poverty in all its forms everywhere as its overarching goal. The goals and targets set by the Agenda are universal and will apply to all countries while recognizing different realities and capabilities,” he said.

Moreover, the new Agenda recognizes that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security; and peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development. This therefore calls for building peaceful, inclusive and well-governed societies with responsive institutions as the basis for shared prosperity.

“Fundamentally, the Agenda reckons that we cannot reach our development goals without addressing human rights and complex humanitarian issues at the same time” said President Kenyatta, adding that the new development framework “commits all of us to be responsible global citizens, caring for the less fortunate as well as for our planet's ecosystem and climate action on which all life depends.”

Also addressing the Assembly, Macky Sall, the President of Senegal, said that 70 years after the founding of the United Nations, peace, which is not simply the absence of war, continues to be threatened by poverty, disease hunger and environmental degradation. With that in mind, he hoped the upcoming climate change conference in Paris could set the world on a path towards a more sustainable and low-carbon future.

President Macky Sall of Senegal addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

There could only be true peace when all nations realized that all peoples are connected and that only by working together, could real change be affected. “We can no longer have business as usual. Common sense requires that we change our vision of the present, as well as the future,” to ensure that the UN and its institutions better reflect modern realities. To that end, he called for reform of the UN Security Council in line with the African position; reform the global financial institutions, efforts to combat illicit financial flows; and measures to democratize business practices.


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