General Debate of the 64th Session (2009)
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H.E. Mr. John Evans Atta Mills, President
24 September 2009
JOHN EVANS ATTA MILLS, President of Ghana , said that the combined effects of the crises Africa continued to face, among them climate change and high food and energy prices, as well as the ongoing global financial and economic turbulence, threatened recent economic and democratic growth. Those challenges also had a profound impact on international peace and stability. The beneficial effects of globalization were still negligible in developing countries, and many citizens still lived on less than one dollar a day.
All that, he observed, threatened the recent progress made by many African countries, leaving them vulnerable to erosion by continued external threats, as well as practically ensuring that, for many, the Millennium Development Goals would not be attained in any meaningful way. He noted actions taken by African countries to mitigate those obstacles, amongst them the recapitalization of financial institutions, trade policy changes and regulatory reforms, to name a few. However, additional support was needed to bolster those efforts.
He called for developed countries to meet existing commitments on aid and debt reduction. He also called for sale of International Monetary Fund (IMF) gold reserves to help support the efforts of African countries struggling in the economic crisis, and urged the Fund to support African economies during the crisis by putting in place a new facility with relaxed conditions. Equally important was the fact that although the ongoing World Trade Organization Doha Round talks were committed to improving market access for developing countries, the current global trading system, especially tariff and non-tariff barriers, hindered and damaged earning opportunities of farmers and rural communities in poor countries.
In order for Ghana and other African countries to fully participate in global trade and achieve sustainable social and economic development, he said there needed to be enhanced access to markets. Moreover, abuse of anti-dumping rules must be eliminated, and tariff and non-tariff barriers should be reduced. However, he also noted that for their part, African countries needed to remain committed to good governance in order for any sustainable development to succeed.
Addressing climate change and how that phenomenon was risking Africa's social, economic and environmental development, he urged that at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the issue of financing, mitigation and adaptation for developing countries be a central component in the deliberations. Further, in illuminating the intricate link between security and development, he heralded Ghana's peacekeeping operation, one of the oldest and most consistent troop-contributing countries. He said that, although the increasing demands had placed a strain on an already overstretched system, it was an honour to participate in the success of such efforts of the Organization and that he was optimistic about the reform process that had already shown improvements.
Recalling Ghana's commitment to the adopting of the 1995 Beijing Declarations and Platform in Action, he said that, although there was often a huge gap between policy and practice, his Government was pursing an Affirmative Action Policy, which would ensure 40 per cent representation of women in decision-making positions. In that respect, he noted the appointment of the first female Speaker of Parliament, as well as female Ministers for Women and Children Affairs, Justice and Attorney-General, Trade and Industry, Environment and Science, among the many positions being filled by women.