BOLD ACTION BY ALL STAKEHOLDERS REQUIRED TO MOVE IMPLEMENTATION OF AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE FORWARD, GENERAL ASSEMBLY TOLD

16 October 2003
GA/10174

BOLD ACTION BY ALL STAKEHOLDERS REQUIRED TO MOVE IMPLEMENTATION OF AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE FORWARD, GENERAL ASSEMBLY TOLD

16/10/2003
Press ReleaseGA/10174

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Plenary

34th & 35th Meetings (AM & PM)

BOLD ACTION BY ALL STAKEHOLDERS REQUIRED TO MOVE IMPLEMENTATION OF AFRICAN

DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE FORWARD, GENERAL ASSEMBLY TOLD

Concluding its first-ever review of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) today, the General Assembly was told that bold action was required on the part of all stakeholders to address the various challenges and constraints that had been identified.

Assembly President Julian R. Hunte (Saint Lucia), summarizing the discussion, said the many steps taken by African leaders to accelerate economic growth, promote sustainable development, reduce poverty and improve living standards had been underlined.  However, despite the progress achieved, much remained to be done in moving forward with the implementation of the New Partnership.

The two-day debate had also been devoted to the promotion of lasting peace in Africa, he noted, which was the Partnership’s major goal.  The main focus in that regard continued to be preventing, managing and resolving conflicts, with many delegates proposing the strengthening of African capacities, including through support for regional and subregional organizations.

It was important, stated the Observer for the African Union, that the current momentum of NEPAD’s implementation be maintained so that each advance in the battle for Africa’s political, economic and social development would not be erased.  All efforts to implement the New Partnership would be fruitless, unless the conditions for lasting peace, stability and security were created.  The Union would continue to work to secure lasting peace on the continent within existing subregional mechanisms and with the assistance of the United Nations.

Among those voicing caution was Eritrea’s representative, who stated that African governments might not commit themselves to the management of their respective States with the requisite “good governance” and the rooting out of corruption, and would not uncritically accept globalization and readily integrate their economics into the international system.  In addition, most African governments had already questioned the viability and applicability of the Peer Review Mechanism. 

Also speaking on the issue were the representatives of Mexico, Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Benin, Senegal, Burundi, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Canada, Zimbabwe, China, Haiti, Rwanda (on behalf of the African Group), Fiji, Sudan, Malaysia, Philippines, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Australia, Mauritius, Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea and Nepal.

The Observers for the Holy See and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also spoke, as did the representative of the International Organization of La Francophonie.

Also today, the Assembly heard from the representatives of Thailand, Uruguay and Ireland on issues related to the Security Council. 

At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly adopted, without a vote and on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), a resolution on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations, contained in document A/58/432.

By that text, the Assembly decided that Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Republic of Moldova, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and Tajikistan should be permitted to vote in the Assembly until 30 June 2004.  Under Article 19, a Member State in arrears cannot vote in the General Assembly “if the amount of the arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two years”.

In addition, the Assembly adopted a text, contained in document A/58/L.1, whereby it decided to convene an open-ended panel on commodities, to be chaired by the Assembly President, on 27 October.

Speaking after the adoption, the representative of the United States recalled that the item on commodities had previously been allocated to the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).  He was confident that that Committee had the expertise to do justice to the topic.  In the interest of streamlining the Assembly’s work, he hoped that efforts would be taken to avoid such duplication in the future.

The Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 17 October, to conclude its consideration of issues related to the reform of the Security Council.

Background

The General Assembly met today to continue its consideration of the progress in implementation of and international support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), as well as the causes of conflict and promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.  For summaries of the reports before the Assembly on those items, see Press Release GA/10173 issued on

15 October.

The Assembly was also expected to conclude its consideration of the annual report of the Security Council, and the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the 15-nation body.  Background information on that discussion can be found in Press Release GA/10171 issued on 13 October.

Statements

LUIS ALFONSO DE ALBA (Mexico) said he was very concerned that unless the situation significantly improved, some African countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, would need nearly 150 years to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, aimed at halving poverty, gaining access to basic education and curbing infant and maternal mortality rates.  That was morally unacceptable.  He acknowledged that long-term development required peace, security and political stability, and that frequently, African countries faced the combined challenges of conflict, the spread of pandemics and unfair economic policies.  The survival of the continent would, therefore, not only depend on the success of Africa-based initiatives, but also on the will of the wider international community to deal with political realities and socio-economic issues that affected developing countries.

He saluted the African Union and other regional groups for coming up with innovative ways of approaching prevention and resolution of conflict and of promoting economic and social development.  The cooperation between African organizations and the United Nations to deal with the situations in Sierra Leone, Burundi and Côte d’Ivoire, among others, was another example of sound strategic alliances leading to positive results.  He stressed that African countries were staggering under their debt, and the international community must work towards the elimination of subsidies, which were unjust and unfair trade practices.  It was also important to eliminate non-tariff barriers and other trade restrictions.  Finally, he said the HIV/AIDS pandemic was the greatest health challenge facing the continent.  For its part, Mexico was stepping up production of medicines and drugs of proven quality for the benefit of people in Africa and other developing countries.

NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said his country’s commitment to the unity of the African continent was an article of faith inscribed in the national constitution and strictly adhered to by successive regimes.  In pursuit of its commitment to NEPAD, his country had established a Ministry for Regional Integration and NEPAD as the national focal point.  To popularize NEPAD at the country level, the focal point had organized a series of workshops for key stakeholders including the media, the parliamentary select committee on foreign affairs and a cross-section of the Ghanaian public.  At the most recently held workshop, the formation of the National Peer Review Governing Council had been announced.  It was intended to initiate a local peer review mechanism to prepare the country adequately for assessment by an external body of eminent persons.

Only in combining their development potentials and overcoming existing boundaries through integrative mechanisms would African countries be able to overcome severe constraints to economic and social development, he added.  For that reason, the problem of the weak link between the Implementation Committee and the regional economic committees, identified as a constraint to the Partnership’s implementation, should quickly be redressed.

The international community’s support for NEPAD, he continued, could not be divorced from the broad context of its support for developing countries’ efforts for poverty eradication.  The Secretary-General’s report had rightly identified the lack of adequate funding as one of the constraints facing the New Partnership.  Although there had been a modicum of progress in key areas such as trade, official development assistance (ODA) and external indebtedness, progress had been weak or non-existent.  It was imperative for the international community to redouble its efforts to implement agreed strategies and partnerships with Africa to redress that situation.

AMOS S. WAKO, Attorney General of Kenya, said it was noteworthy that African countries had moved to quickly establish various institutional arrangements to ensure the smooth implementation and overall success of NEPAD.  Much remained to be done however, and significant progress was critical in priority areas such as the creation of national NEPAD focal points –- which Kenya had already done -– joining the African Peer Review Mechanism, and integrating NEPAD’s objectives in national economic development programmes.

For its part, Kenya had joined the Peer Review, and urged other African countries to do the same to show commitment to good governance.  Kenya was also attempting to incorporate NEPAD in its Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation.  At the regional level, it was a member of the NEPAD Steering Committee and would host a summit on the Plan for East Africa, the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa at the end of the month.  The summit, among other things, would aim to chart the way forward for NEPAD’s implementation.

On their own, African countries would not be able to achieve economic and social development in line with the Millennium Development Goals, he stated.  The spirit of partnership inherent in NEPAD, as well as that reflected in the engagement of the international community, provided hope, however.  For NEPAD to succeed, international support should be scaled up for ODA, debt relief, and trade and foreign direct investment, particularly financing infrastructure.  To that end, it was vital for Africa’s development partners to ensure that assistance and trade policies were complementary.  While aware that more could be done, he was encouraged by commitments and initiatives put forward thus far by the United States, the Group of Eight, the European Union and others.

Turning to the promotion of peace and sustainable development, he said that, regrettably, conflicts continued to rage in Africa, hampering stability and socio-economic progress on the continent.  He placed a priority on efforts to prevent, manage and peacefully resolve conflicts.  Kenya continued to spearhead the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace process in Southern Sudan and Somalia.  While negotiations on a peaceful solution were ongoing, and the warring parties in the Sudan had signed an historic agreement in late September, greater involvement by the international community was necessary to achieve lasting peace.  As for stability throughout the continent, he said Africa’s development partners and the international community were crucial in helping to resolve conflicts.  Their support in strengthening African capacity for conflict resolution, among other things, was needed now more than ever.

EJAZ UL HAQ (Pakistan) said his country attached high importance to its relations with African countries, and supported all initiatives aimed at the continent’s development.  He expressed support for the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report, particularly those requiring bold actions by all stakeholders to address challenges and constraints.  The primary objective of NEPAD was to eventually eradicate poverty in Africa and place African countries on the path to sustainable growth and development.  That, in turn, would reverse the marginalization of Africa and integrate it into the globalization process.  That was a formidable challenge, which required massive investment and technical support from all relevant stakeholders.

In spite of improvements, he stressed that the efforts of African countries had been constrained due to a lack of coordination between the regional economic communities and implementation committees, weak institutional capacity and lack of adequate funding.  Effective strategies needed to be evolved to ensure that the ownership and leadership of the initiative remained with African nations.  Africa did not need a diagnosis of the causes for underdevelopment or prescriptive advice, but a strong helping hand from the international community to ensure the success of NEPAD.  In that regard, increased official development assistance (ODA), with no conditionalities, and redemption of pledges to the Trust Fund for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative were crucial.  Also important would be to provide meaningful support to NEPAD, including through the transfer of technology to African countries and a special and focused endeavour to arrest and eradicate HIV/AIDS.  Pakistan would continue to support the political and economic aspirations of African countries.

TERUNEH ZENNA (Ethiopia) said African countries had prepared detailed projects and programmes for the implementation of NEPAD, since its endorsement by the international community last year.  Furthermore, the work necessary to implement the African Peer Review Mechanism had been completed and the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme had been finalized.  Efforts had also been made to address conflicts on the continent.  In that regard, Africa was working with the Group of Eight countries to prepare a joint plan to enhance the continent’s capability to undertake peace support operations.  There had also been progress in areas related to health, education, science and technology, environment and tourism.

The challenges that prompted the development of NEPAD as the socio-economic development programme of the African Union had not changed, he said.  As such, it was critical to strengthen Africa’s partnership with the developed world for poverty eradication and better living standards.  Those areas requiring increased support from the United Nations and other donors included agricultural and rural development, economic diversification and environmental protection.  International price fluctuations and the continued decline in commodity prices were of concern as they compromised the economic growth of the majority of African countries and their efforts for poverty eradication, as well as the sustainability of their debt burdens.  Moreover, the modest increase in ODA witnessed in 2002 had fallen far short of the amount required to meet key development targets.  Also, Africa’s heavily indebted poor countries continued to spend more on debt servicing than on education and health. 

He said that, although the causes of conflict were multiple, the key ones were poverty and marginalization.  The complexity of Africa’s conflicts warranted the involvement in conflict resolution of a number of players, including regional and subregional organizations.  The need to further enhance the international community’s support for regional peacekeeping operations in Africa should be emphasized.  It would be desirable to see more cooperation between the United Nations, the African Union and various subregional organizations involved in conflict prevention and management.  Adequate resources for post-conflict development and reconstruction must also be provided.

JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said the joint debate on NEPAD and the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace in Africa not only highlighted the need to achieve peace and development on the continent, but also the need to establish a dual approach to addressing those issues.  Underdevelopment was one of Africa’s major challenges, he continued, particularly since it affected almost every socio-economic sector and often was at the heart of conflict.  Good governance was one of the best instruments with which to combat underdevelopment.

He said that Benin was doing its part, along with other African countries, to achieve and maintain good governance, in line with the objectives set out in NEPAD.  He added that ensuring peace and stability throughout Africa would require international support, particularly in the area of trade, ODA and debt relief.  While he welcomed the initiatives and programmes of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, it was clear that much remained to be done.  It would also be important for all donor partners to adhere to the commitments made at the Brussels conference on the least developed countries.  The support of the international community for the efforts of African countries to achieve and maintain good governance would help break the cycle of conflict, underdevelopment and economic marginalization. 

PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal) said that, since its endorsement by the United Nations last year, NEPAD had become, more than ever, the priority of African peoples, civil society organizations and leadership.  Even the most sceptical now viewed the Partnership as an ambitious plan, which was gradually taking shape.  Yet, it was still necessary for Africans to pursue reforms with regard to good public and private governance, the strengthening of institutional and human capacities, and the implementation of sound macroeconomic policies.  The successful implementation of the New Partnership would also hinge on the increased backing of Africa’s partners for projects including the gas pipeline in West Africa and the Casablanca-Dakar, Alger-Bamako and Tripoli-Niamey-Lagos road infrastructures.

He welcomed the five per cent increase in ODA, and hoped that that dynamic trend would be further strengthened until the goal of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) was realized.  Among other plans, the Millennium Challenge Account proposed by the United States would allow for the exploration of new paths for development financing.  New approaches should naturally support measures such as debt reduction, foreign direct investment and the opening of markets in developed countries to African products.  In particular, the question of market access loomed large.  While the breakdown at Cancun was deplorable, his country retained its commitment to see future multilateral negotiations succeed, as the World Trade Organization remained the only body through which its concerns could be framed and resolved.

However, he continued, no discussion of the African situation could leave out the conflicts that jeopardized the continent’s future growth and development.  Thus, new mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts had been created including the Peace and Security Council and the African Peer Review Mechanism.  Within his subregion, as elsewhere on the continent, the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and the issue of mercenaries posed grave dangers.

MARC NTETURUYE (Burundi) said today’s debate gave the Assembly an opportunity to address political stabilization and development on the African continent and assess the way forward.  The determination to achieve success had been reflected in the speed with which African countries had moved to establish or sign on to NEPAD’s mechanisms and promote its aims, particularly the Peer Review Mechanism.  Still, much remained to be done, he said, urging the international community to increase ODA, among other things.  The recent upward trend in assistance, in line with the commitments made at the Monterrey International Conference on Financing for Development, was welcome.

But he stressed that the HIPC Debt Initiative guidelines must be followed to ensure the reduction and eventual cancellation of the continent’s staggering debt.  Addressing trade issues was also crucial, and efforts to open up markets in the North needed to be continued.  He went on to say that progress on ending conflict and promoting durable peace had been slow and irregular.  But mixed results thus far should not discourage.  Rather, it should spark innovation in the search for new and imaginative ways to ensure peace, stability and development.

In order to pull off that critical aim, the African Union needed to elaborate strategies which addressed several serious issues, including genocide, poverty, the prevalence of small arms, HIV/AIDS and poor governance.  Early warning mechanisms also needed to be better conceived and executed.  Once a conflict had broken out, he added, it could only be resolved if political efforts were accompanied by social and economic initiatives.  Further, it had been Burundi’s experience that once a cease-fire was in place, unless a peacekeeping mission or monitoring mechanism were put on the ground immediately, fighting could resume.  He urged the international community not to hesitate in such circumstances, since, most often, African nations did not have the resources to dispatch peace missions to ensure that ceasefire agreements held.

ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW (Guinea) said the Secretary-General’s report on NEPAD’s implementation had detailed both the progress made and obstacles encountered within the past year.  For example, progress had been witnessed in the integration of the Partnership’s priorities into national development policies and programmes, to which end national resources had also been mobilized.  The Partnership gave African countries and their development partners the opportunity to reinvigorate development initiatives on the basis of commonly agreed priorities and mutual responsibility.  It reflected the resolve of Africa’s leaders to take responsibility for their own development, in partnership with the international community.

In seeking to ensure peace, security, sound economic policies and good governance in their countries, African leaders had established the New Partnership on a durable and credible base, he added.  Holding development and peace as inseparable elements, all development efforts must be accompanied by efforts to consolidate the peace.  Africa, it seemed, was on the right track for the speedy attainment of NEPAD’s promises.

That progress should not, however, cloud the knowledge that certain gaps in the development agenda remained, he said.  For instance, the link between the Partnership’s Implementation Committee and regional economic communities was too weak, and there had been insufficient progress in areas such as institutional capacity for the planning and execution of programmes, campaigns raising awareness of NEPAD and the mobilization of financial resources.  The entire ensemble of development partners and actors should better understand the Partnership itself.  To achieve sustainable economic growth, there must be a greater focus on poverty reduction, human-based development, the fight against HIV/AIDS and reducing the dependence on imported foodstuffs.  Development partners must centre their efforts on increasing ODA, creating a more open and fair trading system, debt reduction and the elimination of agricultural subsidies.

JOE PEMAGBI (Sierra Leone) said that NEPAD was a challenge to Africa, set by Africa, owned by Africa and pursued by Africa.  But it was also a challenge to the rest of the world to demonstrate understanding, solidarity and partnership with a continent with very little to show for its huge natural resources.  Additionally, it was a challenge to the rapidly expanding phenomenon of globalization to ensure that no part of the globe remained “tethered to the string of poverty”.

For the people of Sierra Leone, who had suffered 11 years of armed conflict, NEPAD represented freedom; liberation from conflict and hunger; good health; stability; end to abuse and violation of rights; peace and security; sound democratic, transparent and accountable governance; and accelerated development.  It was a “blueprint for salvation”, since the hopes and expectations placed on it were high, “almost bordering on utopia”.  Sierra Leone had a national recovery programme, in consonance with the objectives of NEPAD, which had been designed to address the issues that engendered conflict, as well as to serve as the foundation for national development.

While he applauded NEPAD for its achievements and plans for the provision of social services and infrastructure, one area in the report that deserved greater attention was tertiary education.  It was common knowledge that Africa was suffering a brain drain that was negatively impacting its development efforts.  The problem was even more serious in war-ravaged countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia.  He called for a special programme to motivate Africa’s professionals to return home to build or rebuild their continent.

He said what was needed now were the resources and political will to resolve conflicts and carefully manage peace, thus ensuring that no market existed for small arms and light weapons in the region.  It was also necessary to cultivate in the region, through education and practice, a culture of peace that snubbed the use of violence to settle disputes and differences, and which was founded on the principles of participatory democracy, the rule of law, human rights and responsible governance.

      AMARE TEKLE (Eritrea) said that Africa was now waging what was known as the “second liberation struggle”, which aimed at reversing the frightening process that was threatening national integration, the social fabric of African societies, the health of its peoples and the relations between States.  It was in that context that he recognized the relevance of NEPAD.  The New Partnership differed from previous African initiatives, including the Lagos Plan of Action, because it was a holistic, comprehensive and strategic socio-economic plan, which identified and prioritized critical political, cultural, social and economic matters.  It also provided for the creation of essential organs to ensure timely implementation of programmes to achieve its goals.

However, he cautioned, NEPAD had its own flaws.  Among them were that African governments would not commit themselves to the management of their respective States with the requisite “good governance”, and the rooting out of corruption, needed for the success of NEPAD.  It was feared that they would not uncritically accept globalization and readily integrate their economics into the international system, and that most African governments had already questioned the viability and applicability of the Peer Review Mechanism.  Also, many African members of civil society questioned the appropriateness of the idea of receiving, from potential donors, the $64 billion purportedly needed to activate NEPAD, since it would establish a dependency relationship that would, in fact, lead to further weakening of African economies and the curtailment of their independence and sovereignty.  In addition, many in Africa were sceptical that the developed countries would translate pledges of assistance into concrete action.

DJISMUN KASRI (Indonesia) said that the report made clear that momentum for Africa’s development was increasing.  Although some believed that Africa presented the greatest development challenge of the twenty-first century, its leaders had clearly demonstrated faith in their own ability to overcome the many hurdles to the development of their nations.  They had come up with a credible plan to bring about positive transformation of the still difficult circumstances affecting the continent.  One of the most serious obstacles still facing the New Partnership was the persistent civil strife and conflict in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.  It was only in peaceful conditions that development could take place, as conflict depleted Africa’s valuable human and financial resources, and destroyed infrastructure.  That was why he was pleased with the establishment of the Peace and Security Council by the African Union to ensure that peace prevailed and allowed the continent to develop. 

In addition to peace, he said that funding from donors remained a critical factor in the successful implementation of NEPAD.  It was important that donors responded to the development priorities set by African countries.  The deep involvement of African leaders in the continent’s development process made them fully knowledgeable about which areas required urgent attention for the NEPAD to produce the results they desired.  He was heartened to learn that many countries had benefited from acts of debt forgiveness and outright debt cancellations.  In addition, ODA for Africa had increased, which was consistent with the commitments made at Monterrey.  However, the solution to the problem of funding was to increase ODA substantially.  Donor countries must honour the commitments they made at the various international conferences and summits to promote global development because funding would accelerate implementation of NEPAD and make the Millennium Goals practical goals for African countries.  

GLYN BERRY (Canada) said that NEPAD recognized that peace, security, democracy, good governance, human rights and sound economic management were preconditions for sustainable development in Africa.  The integrated, credible and comprehensive programme of action set forth in NEPAD represented the best opportunity the people of Africa were likely to have to improve their quality of life and to respond to the challenges that confronted their continent.  He stressed that all Member States and almost all parts of the United Nations system had a role to play in ensuring that NEPAD succeeded.

To that end, Canada was delivering on its commitments in support of NEPAD, including those set out in the Group of Eight Africa Action Plan, adopted in Canada in 2002.  In January this year, his country opened its markets, quota- and tariff-free to almost all imports from the least developed countries.  Also, the transparent rules-of-origins provisions, that were introduced by Canada, would allow other African countries, in addition to the 34 least developed countries in Africa, to also benefit from that increased market access.  So too would Canada’s trade-related capacity building initiatives.  The February 2003 federal budget increased Canada’s international assistance by 8 per cent annually through 2004–2005, half or more of which would be earmarked for Africa.  Canada also changed the manner in which it delivered ODA, and it was untying its aid. 

He noted that the persistent failure of some African governments to respect the principles contained in NEPAD and to govern in the interest of their people must not blind the international community to the success that was being achieved elsewhere on the continent.  He cited the example of Kenya, whose Government had moved quickly to implement the concepts contained in NEPAD by expanding access to education and by rooting out corruption. 

BONIFACE G. CHIDYAUSIKU (Zimbabwe) said that with “depressing” economic growth rates, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS currently at a staggering 30 million, some 380 million people living in absolute poverty and conflicts in several countries severely hampering human development, it was clear that there was an urgent need to overhaul the development paradigm in Africa and meet the challenges of NEPAD.  Reversing the current disturbing trends throughout the continent would require a new and energized relationship between Africa and its partners, based on trust and a shared responsibility for development effectiveness.  He, nevertheless, underscored the importance of African ownership of the continent’s development strategies.  Such ownership would lead to the development of home-grown policies and programmes for poverty reduction, improving governance and resolving conflict.

He went on to say that if the challenges of Africa were to be met, the developed countries also needed to do much more on aid, trade and debt relief.  He called on development partners to continue to focus on increasing the quantity and improving the quality of aid, and enhancing policy coherence, aims considered central to promoting mutual responsibility.  He noted that there had been some welcome developments in making ODA more effective.  But he added that, in the area of trade, aid given by developed countries was often undercut by their trade policies.  He called on African trade partners to ensure that policies impacting the continent’s development, including ODA, trade, market access and agriculture were consistent with the Millennium Development Goals.

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that NEPAD was a major initiative by the African countries to empower themselves to achieve development.  In the year under review, good progress had been made in NEPAD’s implementation, including the establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism and national focal points, and in the regional implementation of measures in agriculture, health, education, environmental protection and infrastructure development.

Faced with a myriad of challenges in terms of resources, debt relief, trade and investment, Africa would require the active support and assistance of the international community for its development, he added.  Although there had been some increase in ODA levels in the past two years, the tying of it to conditions was also increasing.  Moreover, there had been limited progress in the areas of trade, market access, agricultural subsidies and trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights and public health.  Investment prospects did not offer grounds for optimism either.  Therefore, it would be important to respect Africa’s ownership and leadership of NEPAD, to translate into reality the commitments made to Africa in the Millennium Declaration, Monterrey Consensus and Johannesburg Plan of Action, and to help prevent and resolve conflicts in Africa.

The consolidation and development of friendly relations with the African people and the provision of support and help for the continent’s social and economic development, he concluded, was a centrepiece of his country’s foreign policy.  The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation had been established to conduct extensive and in-depth exchange and cooperation with African countries.  The Chinese Government had already signed debt cancellation protocols, worth a total of $1.05 billion, with 31 African countries.

JEAN C. ALEXANDRE (Haiti) said that Africa had long endured history’s heavy blows.  Out of 1.3 billion people worldwide living below the poverty level, 350 million lived in Africa.  Moreover, the continent suffered from a high debt burden and other structural problems that posed major challenges to socio-economic development.  The goals espoused in the Millennium Declaration and the objectives set forth at Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg must be maintained.  It was the responsibility of the international community to lessen the gap between rich and poor, to ensure that globalization was truly a benefit to all.

Reaffirming its support for NEPAD, he said it was an ambitious initiative that redefined a partnership of responsibility and engagement.  It reflected Africa’s determination to take charge of its own destiny.  However, that was a great challenge, which would require the development of a new form of commercial relations with developed countries and the respect of their commitments by the continent’s international partners.  Moreover, the failure at Cancun had signaled again the need to rethink the system of international trade.

The New Partnership required the total support of the international community, particularly donor countries.  It also offered an opportunity to break with tradition and invite development partners to coordinate their support around priorities identified by the governments and people of the continent.  One year on from its endorsement, African countries had adopted various initiatives aimed at integrating the Partnership’s priorities in their national development policies and mobilizing national resources to that end.

STANISLAS KAMANZI (Rwanda), in his capacity as Chairman of the African Group, said that Africa urgently needed to find enduring solutions to the myriad hindrances to its development, of which conflict was perhaps the most severe.  To that end, Rwanda had noted the progress and challenges thus far in achieving the objectives of NEPAD and in the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.  But while African countries had taken it upon themselves to work in the spirit of NEPAD to shore up their institutions and infrastructure, promote democracy, and strengthen their efforts at conflict resolution and prevention, the wider international community must continue its support, especially for countries emerging from conflict. 

He said that the successful implementation of NEPAD would also require Africa’s development partners to change their attitudes on the flow of ODA.  While the slight upswing in ODA was welcome, particularly those sorely needed funds earmarked for education and health care, the increased allocations had fallen well short of what was needed for African countries to make any headway towards ensuring long-term development and poverty eradication.  The capacity of African countries to fully implement NEPAD’s goals and objectives would ultimately depend on their ability to generate resources in an open and fair international trading system.  In the wake of the collapse of the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) Cancun round, it was clear there was a need for genuine cooperation with trade partners on the removal of subsidies and tariff barriers on African exports. 

ISIKIA SAVUA (Fiji) said that NEPAD was of particular significance to developing countries, such as his, in the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP).  Their sights were fixed on the development agenda based on concepts that could realize the Millennium Development Goals, which would ultimately improve the lives of their people.  Their goals were based on the common vision that inspired the inception of the Group three decades ago, which was the collective aspirations for socio-economic advancement, primarily in partnership with the European Union.  He stated that geopolitical, economic and development imbalances, due largely to the forces of globalization and trade liberalization, had served to entrench global disparities contrary to their good intentions.

He believed NEPAD offered Africa a new opportunity to respond to those challenges.  The policy framework and aspirations of the New Partnership had to be liberating and self-sustaining.  He called on the United Nations to continue to be the catalyst for NEPAD’s implementation, so that Africa controlled and fed its own development and growth mechanism, assisted by international organizations and institutions, the private sector and other international and regional mechanisms.  Strengthened South-South cooperation would also nurture the linkages that NEPAD successes could trigger in other development and resource poor regions and subregions.  The failure of Cancun, he added, could be turned into a potent force in addressing the current deepening shortcomings in international trade, if Member States could bring to fruition those issues which had been close to settlement at the Cancun meeting.

ANAS ELTAYEB ELGAILANI MUSTAFA (Sudan), like other speakers before him, stressed the importance of achieving NEPAD’s full implementation.  As Chair of the IGAD, Sudan was working to push the initiative forward and integrate its principles within programmes and policies for the benefit of all the people of the continent.  Conflict, underdevelopment and poverty were some of the main challenges hampering Africa’s development.  While it was true that African countries had taken action in many crucial areas, the wider international community must continue its support through targeted initiatives and programmes.  Some objectives that would lead to the intensification of implementation efforts included expanding the process of debt cancellation, providing technical assistance and strengthening efforts to ensure the speedy transfer of technology.

RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) said he applauded the shared determination of Africa’s leaders to take control of their continent’s future; to assume responsibility for their peoples’ development and the fight against hunger, poverty, and disease; and to ensure sustainable economic and social development.  Action had been taken in key areas such as health, education, food security and infrastructure, and national focal points for NEPAD had been established in several countries.  In recognition of those steps, the Non-Aligned Movement had commended the Partnership’s creation and sincerely supported its full implementation.  His country also supported initiatives aimed at establishing appropriate mechanisms at the regional and subregional levels for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa, including the African Peer Review Mechanism.

The challenges facing Africa were numerous and multifaceted, he noted.  Poverty eradication, food security, the vicious cycle of debt, underdevelopment and communicable diseases were all problems that required an enormous effort from Africans, as well as from the international community as a whole.  The international community, particularly the developed countries, should increase ODA flows to Africa in support of the continent’s development efforts.  The average annual economic growth of 7 per cent, required of African countries if the number of people living in poverty was to be reduced by half by 2015, would only be achieved with the assistance of developed countries, both in terms of financial resources and increases in foreign investment.  Increased cooperation among developing countries was also beneficial.  In that regard, Malaysia continued to engage its African partners to enhance cooperation and partnership at both the governmental and private sector levels.

BAYANI S. MERCADO (Philippines) said Africa’s development was crucial to achieving global economic growth and sustainable development.  Stressing the importance of governance as a tool for development, he welcomed the Peer Review Mechanism to assess Africa’s political and economic performance.  The Mechanism also showed Africa’s resolve, commitment and determination to monitoring its own progress.  Citing Africa’s initiatives to consolidate and strengthen regional mechanisms for conflict prevention and management, he welcomed the establishment of the Pan-African Parliament and the national focal points for NEPAD.  However, the biggest challenge facing the continent was the lack of sufficient resources.  The mobilization of resources and the implementation of policies conducive to growth were vital to securing financing for both economic and social development programmes.

He called on the international community, especially the developed nations, to honour commitments made at United Nations summits and conferences, primarily with regard to providing adequate ODA, resolving debt problems and opening markets.  Africa had always been part of his country’s foreign policy priorities.  The Philippines had actively participated in the fight against apartheid, the fight against poverty and the maintenance of peace and security.  In addition, his nation had contributed military and police personnel to United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa and other parts of the world.  It would stand ready to provide technical assistance to the continent, and to share its partnership experiences with the business sector and civil society. 

IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) said African heads of State, in preparing NEPAD, had been mindful that poverty reduction and sustainable development contributed to peace, democracy and the rule of law.  They also realized that durable economic growth depended on better educational and health policies, the development of infrastructure and rural areas and on solid private sectors that promoted foreign investment.  Furthermore, international partnership was indispensable, particularly regarding ODA, debt reduction and market access.  Within the domain of peace and security, the establishment of the Peer Review Mechanism demonstrated Africa’s commitment to the reinforcement of democracy and the rule of law, which had been reaffirmed by the creation, within the African Union, of a Peace and Security Council.

National, subregional and regional programmes had been elaborated in strategic sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure and the environment, he noted.  However, the means mobilized to achieve those targets were still inadequate.  An energetic partnership and greater international solidarity would be required to attain the objectives of the New Partnership, and of the Millennium Declaration in general.  While he appreciated the increases in ODA, there was still a need to lift certain trade barriers impeding the export of African products, as well as the agricultural subsidies hampering the development efforts of African countries.  On the debt burden, he said an international conference on Africa’s debt would provide an unparalleled opportunity to the international community to address the issue directly.  Infrastructure remained the key to Africa’s development, but the resources needed were far beyond the budgetary capacity of most African countries.  Greater commitment on the part of both Africa and its development partners was needed.

PHILIPPE DJANGONE-BI (Côte d’Ivoire) said that having taken charge of its own development through the adoption of NEPAD, Africa, nevertheless, counted on the support of the international community to ensure the broadest implementation of that home-grown initiative.  For its part, Côte d’Ivoire continued to play its role at the regional and subregional levels.  He exhorted the international community to help African countries break the vicious circle of poverty.  That meant living up to ODA commitments and the eventual cancellation of external debt.

It also meant making an earnest attempt to ensure that international trade schemes and mechanisms were fair and equitable, he continued.  That was particularly crucial since access to international markets would most certainly drive development in Africa.  He added that financial flows must be managed within a framework of peace and security, particularly in regions where the persistence of conflict threatened to undo the gains of the past.  There could never be long-lasting development unless conflicts were brought to an end.  Finally, he said that the wider international community must also work to ensure that the outcomes of the international summits and conferences were implemented and that other international obligations were respected.

SUSAN KNOWLES (Australia) said her country continued to strongly support NEPAD’s articulation of an African vision for a new African future.  By acknowledging that the primary responsibility for lifting Africa out of poverty lay with the continent itself, NEPAD was qualitatively different from past initiatives designed to foster development.  The NEPAD’s focus on good political and economic governance, democracy, stability and market-led economic growth would bear the fruit of sustainable development.  It was vital that those principles be realized through a real commitment by African countries to their implementation, and through support from the rest of the international community for the endeavour.

She commended the 16 countries who volunteered to be reviewed under the African Peer Review Mechanism, pointing out that, in addition to being useful national evaluations, the experiences and lessons learnt in the process would assist other African countries facing the same challenges.  The NEPAD’s focus on securing and reaping the benefits of further trade liberalization was clear-sighted, necessary and welcome.  Trade liberalization represented one of the single most important steps that could be taken to help eradicate poverty and encourage sustainable development.

Australia, she said, was a leading advocate of trade-liberalization, particularly in the field of agriculture, which was a sector of special importance to African countries.  It would continue to support capacity-building efforts for trade negotiators in Africa through targeted interventions of the Africa Governance Fund.  Her country also recognized the importance of development assistance programs and would continue to play a constructive role in Africa.  Australia’s other priorities -- promoting good governance and education, including through the African Virtual University in Nairobi and efforts to bridge the digital divide, were also relevant to NEPAD priorities.

KHEMRAJ JINGREE (Mauritius) said that, as a member of the NEPAD Implementation Committee, his country was putting in place national structures, plans and programmes to ensure that the Partnership was integrated and adhered to at all levels.  While recognizing that Africa should take the lead in the implementation of NEPAD’s objectives, he recognized the interest the Group of Eight countries had shown in ensuring long-term development for all the people of Africa.  Unfortunately, recent Group of Eight meetings revealed that the focus of the highly industrialized countries was shifting.  But Africa needed their support now more than ever, he declared.  To that end, he welcomed the recent holding of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development and the important initiatives put forward by Japan as a sign that the wider international community’s interest in Africa remained high.

He called on the developed countries to recommit themselves to ensuring the success of NEPAD.  He added that the United Nations also had an important role to play in NEPAD’s implementation, and welcomed the involvement of the Secretary-General and his recent appointment of a Special Adviser on Africa.  The full implementation of the Partnership, he added, would help to resolve and prevent conflicts in Africa.  With the commitment of leaders and regional groups, there had been progress in resolving conflicts in West Africa and the Great Lakes region, among others.  Still, further success would require more international involvement and more coordinated efforts between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.  A peaceful and prosperous Africa was not only in the interest of the continent itself but also of the wider international community.

BADER MOHAMMAD E. AL-AWADI (Kuwait) said NEPAD had recognized the close relationship between development, stability and peace.  The most important aspect of that Plan was its Peer Review Mechanism.  Efforts to bring the Peace and Security Council into effect were also commendable.  Of particular interest to his country had been the progress detailed in the Secretary-General’s report relating to debt relief, as that had always been an area of concern for Kuwait.  His Government had decided to cancel all interest on the debts of the poorest countries in Africa.  Also, its ODA contributions had reached 8.3 per cent of gross national product (GNP), which put it at the forefront.

Moreover, Kuwait’s Fund for Development had, in 2001-2002, offered concessional assistance and loans totalling over $500 million to African countries.  It had also offered $10 million to support projects in the fields of agriculture, water and sanitation, among others.  Many economic and financial institutions on the African continent had benefited from Kuwaiti assistance.  He added that it was important for African countries to promote the Partnership worldwide.  The job of public relations should be enhanced to help raise all countries’ knowledge of Africa and its New Partnership.  It was high time for the international community to do more to support the continent.  The United Nations should also continue to deal with the problems afflicting Africa.

LINO SIMA EKUA AVOMO (Equatorial Guinea) said that NEPAD encompassed numerous areas, such as development planning, economic policy, human rights, good governance, democracy, peace and security, agriculture, health, education and other key aspects of development.  Yet, it would only be successful if each country implemented its priorities in their national development strategies.  The United Nations and the international community, in particular the developed countries, should provide support for the Partnership.  The developed countries must translate the commitments they had undertaken at Monterrey and Johannesburg into reality, including those related to external debt, market access and the achievement of the Millennium Goals.

The gap between developed and developing countries was increasingly widening, he stated.  Those in underdeveloped countries were concerned with day-to-day survival, while others could exist comfortably for decades.  In that context, it was hard to talk about a globalized world.  War, hunger, poverty, HIV/AIDS and other issues continued to impede tremendously the achievement of sustainable development in African societies.  More than 30 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were infected by HIV/AIDS, while more than 33 per cent of the continent’s inhabitants were malnourished.  In his own country, there had been great changes in economic life as contacts with other countries had been stepped up in areas such as health and sanitation, education and gender.  As a peace-loving country, Equatorial Guinea had been engaged in efforts to resolve conflict in the central African region.  Ultimately, unity was strength, and the countries, governments and peoples of Africa must concert their efforts to confront the problems they faced.

MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said that the African continent, which was the birthplace of humanity and cradle of civilization, was in trouble.  It bore the scars of colonialism and neglect.  However, with NEPAD, the African people had determined to change that situation by taking control of their own destiny through collaboration in the economic and political spheres.  His country, which had long worked in solidarity with African States, was delighted to support Africa’s emancipation from poverty and underdevelopment.  Africa had shown the will to harness its energy and ingenuity to translate will into reality.  The international community should come forward with increased assistance to help Africa stand on its feet.

Africa was a vast repository of natural resources, yet conflict and political uncertainty had devastated much of the continent and thwarted its promise, he added.  Some countries were emerging from strife, while others, still fragile, grappled to find their footing in peace and normalcy.  To make matters worse, most of Africa was desperately poor, impeded by a lack of education and devastated by deadly diseases that sucked its vitality and cut lives short.  Moreover, the rate at which natural resources were being depleted was frightening.  Famines and conflicts had created a huge number of refugees and internally displaced persons.

Nepal supported the creation of a mechanism for conflict resolution under the Partnership, he continued.  International assistance for that effort should be concentrated in the areas of capacity building, arms control and mutual assistance.  Yet, lasting peace would continue to be elusive without a heavy investment aimed at lifting the common people out of the mire of poverty, illiteracy and disease.  The world community had committed to help Africa and other developing countries with the Millennium Declaration and the Monterrey and Johannesburg action plans.  Those commitments should be met as quickly and steadily as possible.

CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer for the Holy See, was confident that the international community would not fail in assisting the efforts of the new alliance of African countries in responding to the challenges facing the Continent.  The need for solidarity among all peoples increased with the passage of each day.  In the present world order, African nations seemed to be among the most disadvantaged.  In the face of the current marginalization of Africa, the world had a duty to maintain the commitments they had collectively made to move forward with a new pattern of solidarity and cooperation between the wealthier nations and the peoples of Africa.  That required a rapid and definitive solution to the external debt overhang of African countries, since partial solutions in the past had been inadequate.  It was time to move forward with a courageous and generous solution, which involved ownership by both African governments broad sectors of civil society.

He said the sum total of Africa’s debt was “small” by global standards.  The external debt burden necessitated a comprehensive and expeditious solution through the enhanced HIPC Initiative and other debt relief measures, agreed upon in the Plan of Action of the Brussels Conference.  That relief process should not drag on long under the yoke of technical and bureaucratic requirements.  In addition, the process should neither be subject to excess conditionalities nor become an obstacle to the achievement of the Millennium Goals.

It was not possible to achieve economic and social development, he added, without providing appropriate technology and know-how.  Also, without peace in Africa, it was impossible to think of just structures of economic and social development.  Therefore, the United Nations and the rest of the international community had an important role to play by sustaining and supporting regional initiatives, and by supplementing local efforts where necessary.

AMADOU KÉBÉ, Observer for the African Union, said that two years ago, when the objectives and precepts of NEPAD had been elaborated in Lusaka, it had been a reaffirmation of a common belief that peace, security, good governance and efficient economic policies were prerequisites for sustainable development on the continent.  African leaders and governments were aware that they had to get the movement started if they wanted others to follow and, to that end, had moved quickly to integrate the principles of the Partnership in national programmes and policies.  Regional initiatives would play a leading role, particularly in the areas of education, health and agriculture.  He added that NEPAD’s innovative Peer Review Mechanism had been established and had been joined by 16 countries.  He hoped the reviews would get under way by the end of the year.

Still, he said that vertical and horizontal coordination should be buttressed to ensure NEPAD was supported at the grass-roots level.  The African Union had been encouraged by the expressed commitment of the wider international community –- the United States, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Portugal, among others -- to work side by side with Africa on issues such as ODA, external debt, opening markets to African exports, encouraging private investment, and channeling funds to NEPAD’s priority initiatives.  While it was true that much remained to be done, it was important that the current momentum be maintained so that each advance in the battle for Africa’s political, economic and social development would not be erased.

All efforts to implement NEPAD would be fruitless unless the conditions were created for lasting peace, stability and security, he said.  Indeed, those principles underpinned economic and social development, and the African Union would continue to work to secure lasting peace on the continent within existing subregional mechanisms, and with the continuing assistance of the United Nations.  He noted that such partnership had yielded progress in Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Ethiopia and Eritrea, among others.  The conflicts had been slowly turned back, and it was clear that dynamic energies of and partnerships among African nations, the global community and the United Nation must continue to be pooled.  Ceasefires were not enough, he added, the situations must be monitored closely.

There was still more work to do, he said.  The peace process in Sudan must be completed, negotiations for a settlement between Ethiopia and Eritrea needed to be finalized, and peace and reconciliation in Somalia must remain on track.  On Burundi, he noted that the African Union had dispatched its first peace mission to the region during the height of the conflict there, an investment in peace and an investment in the future.  That needed to be supported by the United Nations and the international community as a whole.  It also needed to be endorsed by the Security Council.  He urged all States to participate in the pledging conference for the mission, to be held in South Africa on 2 and 3 December.

ENCHO GOSPODINOV, Observer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, supported NEPAD based on the needs of Africans in the areas of food security, clean drinking water, basic health care, and economic development, among other things.  He commended the efforts of the Japanese Government in organizing the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development, and noted his delegation’s participation in its preparatory stages.  As a result of efforts to prevent conflict and establish peace in Africa, the Federation had trained youth leaders to resolve differences through discussion, and encouraged “Mother clubs” to discuss with their children the importance of peace and peaceful settlements.  In some nations, artists were sponsored to promote peace through their work.

The ideas contained in NEPAD were noble, but the road to development had never been easy, he stated.  Capital formation, or the accumulation of wealth, required restructuring the economy, which would involve much sacrifice.  HIV/AIDS, the spread of malaria, natural disasters and the alarming level of poverty throughout the continent called for governments to pursue partnerships with civil society.  He called on African Governments and other partners to renew and consolidate partnerships with their national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. 

RIDHA BOUABID, International Organization for La Francophonie, said Africa had made progress in the prevention and settlement of conflict, the establishment of democracy and the promotion of human rights.  La Francophonie was proud to be a partner of African nations as they advanced in those areas, and he reiterated his delegation’s support to African member countries.  The NEPAD constituted both a breaking point and a beginning, with the breaking point being NEPAD’s innovative approach to development, and a beginning in that the programme introduced the African rebirth.

As the first truly African initiative, NEPAD could not be disregarded by donors or the international community as a whole.  It was necessary for the international community to make efforts in sectors where Africa did not have much leverage, most notably regarding debt, access to markets and the introduction of new technologies and communications.  He welcomed the establishment of the Peer Review Mechanism, which showed Africa’s will to enter into the realm of good governance.

He said that his organization was comprised of 29 African States, which fully supported NEPAD.  The Organization had formulated proposals regarding financing and advocacy.  Partnerships were instrumental in that initiative, he said, adding that improved participation and the introduction of new information and technology communications were also necessary.  Lastly, education and culture were areas in which La Francophonie enjoyed certain expertise.  His delegation would work to establish programmes in Africa, in close cooperation with African Ministers of Education, and in line with priorities set by NEPAD.

Statement by General Assembly President on NEPAD

JULIAN ROBERT HUNTE (Saint Lucia), President of the General Assembly, said the debate on NEPAD’s implementation had underlined the many steps taken by African leaders to accelerate economic growth, promote sustainable development, reduce poverty and improve the living standards of the African people.  There had also been progress in the area of conflict prevention.  The creation of the Peace and Security Council, the Pan-African Parliament and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council would definitely facilitate conflict prevention and ensure the participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of their continent.  The establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism had also been widely praised.

Despite the progress achieved, much remained to be done in moving forward with the implementation of NEPAD, he noted.  Bold action was required on the part of all stakeholders to address the various challenges and constraints that had been identified.  In terms of international support, increased ODA and debt relief would allow African countries to ensure sustainable development and achieve the objectives of the Partnership, as well as those of the Millennium Declaration.  Moreover, the importance of trade in national development could not be overstated.  The international community should make more concerted efforts to expand market access to African products, as the current system did not work for the least developed countries.

Certain countries had observed degradation in their debt indicators due to the decrease in export incomes and the volatility of commodity prices, he continued.  The result had been low investment and economic growth, insufficient job creation and too few resources for health and education.  Many believed that exploring options such as debt restructuring and debt relief would contribute to the sustained economic growth of the highly indebted poor countries in Africa.  That subject could be discussed further during the Open-ended panel on commodities that would be convened on 27 October.

The debate had also been devoted to the promotion of lasting peace in Africa, he noted, which was actually the major goal of NEPAD.  The main focus in that regard continued to be preventing, managing and resolving conflicts, with many delegates proposing the strengthening of African capacities, including through support for regional and subregional organizations.  At the same time, the role of the United Nations could not be overestimated, as past experience showed that the Organization and African countries, acting with coherence and consistency, could achieve a significant impact in peace, development and security.

Statements on Security Council

PRAVIT CHAIMONGKOL (Thailand) recalled that, following the end of the cold war, there were high hopes that the Security Council would regain its unity and be able to effectively and consistently fulfil its mandate.  He conceded that there were many notable achievements through the Council’s peacekeeping operations and assistance missions worldwide.  Despite those achievements, it was fair to say that, in view of recent experiences, there was a growing perception that the Council had been unable to fully meet the expectations placed on it and, for some States, there was even a sense of frustration.  That feeling stemmed, in part, from the perceived erosion of unity in the Council and its inability to act.

He said that the time was ripe for the international community to look at the issue with an open mind, a sense of urgency and clarity of purpose.  He stressed that serious consideration should be given to making the existing multilateral system and the Council more effective.  However, the Working Group remained as deadlocked as ever and unable to offer concrete recommendations on Council reform.  There also appeared to be a trend of declining interest in the work of the Working Group, since it could not compete with other United Nations bodies for the attention of Member States.

His delegation continued to call for discussions on both Cluster 1 and Cluster 2 issues in tandem, which would lead to a single comprehensive package of proposals for reform.  He also supported constructive ideas to improve the working methods of the Working Group, including the use of informal meetings to facilitate consultations.  He also wanted to call for a gradual approach to resolving the veto issue, which would begin with the curtailment of the veto, leading to its eventual abolition.  In addition, he supported the expansion of Council membership in both permanent and non-permanent categories, on the basis of equitable geographical representation and the ability to make financial and political contributions to the United Nations.  On that basis, Japan was a worthy candidate for permanent membership.

FELIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said that ten years after setting up the Working Group on reform, not only had Member States failed to find a satisfactory formula of overcoming their areas of disagreements, but they now had to find a formula on how to proceed.  That was clearly necessary because the international community could not proceed along the line of the same formula that had been established ten years ago.  Without a doubt, the goal of enhancing the Council as a representative, transparent and democratic institution that Member States desired it to be had become even more important now.

He said that, despite widespread calls for reform, some measures could not be adopted until other changes, necessitated by the passage of time and thus changed circumstances, had been made.  That situation now seemed improbable.  He urged delegations to bear in mind that, even as they advocated for changes, reform and expansion could not go beyond certain limits, as that could otherwise become “a serious threat”.  He urged Member States to bridge the existing gap among them in the General Assembly, and hoped that the Secretary-General’s panel of eminent personalities would analyze those issues in greater detail and come up with the necessary solutions.  It was also his hope that the results of the panel’s deliberations would enhance the Council’s work.

RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) thought that the Council could have been more adventurous in terms of the drafting of its report, allowing for a greater analytical component.  Ireland was a member of the Council during part of the period covered by the report, and he stressed that the Council had a very challenging, even traumatic, year since its last report.  That reflected the many threats and challenges to international peace and security and to the Organization itself.  The situation in Iraq dominated the past year, and he expected that it was likely to absorb much of the Council’s energy over the coming phase.  Similarly, the issue of conflicts in Africa was again a particular focus, but there was some real progress in that regard, including the successful conclusion of the United Nations Mission in Angola in February.

On the issue of reform, the time had come for everyone to “get to grips with those hard decisions”.  If the Council’s decisions were to command greater respect, then the issue of the Council’s composition must be addressed with creative energy.  While he did not call into question the dedication of the Open-ended Working Group, he insisted that the issue needed to be looked at more creatively in order to break out of the current impasse.  The Group must work more consciously and deliberately towards a solution which was comprehensive and would create a strengthened Council.  Delegations needed to be guided by what was best for the international community and for the safeguarding and strengthening of the multilateral system.

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For information media. Not an official record.