|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
‘LET’S STEP FORWARD AND CLAIM THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY AS AFRICA’S CENTURY,’
SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL AT SIGNING OF UNITED NATIONS-AFRICAN UNION AGREEMENT
Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks upon the signing of the United Nations - African Union Agreement, and the launch of the Economic Commission for Africa Business Plan in Addis Ababa, 16 November:
I am glad to be here today among so many good friends. I am especially pleased that my final days in office will mark the first days of a promising new chapter in United Nations - African Union relations.
The United Nations has always been an unwavering ally of Africa, and Africa’s regional and subregional institutions have become more and more active partners with us over the years. Today’s Declaration not only reaffirms this commitment, but significantly strengthens it. And, more importantly, it seeks to address Africa’s needs, and we believe that the best way to do it is to pool our efforts -– then we have our greatest impact.
It builds on previous agreements between the United Nations and the AU, and the Organization of African Unity before it. It reflects our joint commitment to maintaining peace and human security, promoting human rights and post-conflict reconstruction, and advancing Africa’s development and regional integration. This holistic approach will serve all of us well.
For too long, Africa’s development has remained hostage to conflict. Today, I am proud that the AU and the United Nations are working together to change that. Let me take this opportunity to recognize the AU’s efforts in Darfur, and to assure you once again that the United Nations will continue supporting your work and help you strengthen African capacity in peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, as well as other areas.
The AU may be a young organization, but it has already done much to make every African proud.
Finally, let me register my delight at the renewed and strengthened ties between the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the AU and the African Development Bank. These three institutions are pivotal to Africa’s future. I commend President Alpha Oumar Konaré and Donald Kaberuka for their commitment to fostering a closer partnership with the ECA. And I appreciate my colleague Abdoulie Janneh’s efforts to facilitate this process. I am confident that, under their guidance, Africa’s development agenda will remain in good hands.
I will not end my remarks without paying special tribute to my friend and brother, President Alpha Konaré. Since he became the Chairperson of the AU, he provided dynamic leadership to a young institution that was confronting difficult conflicts on our continent. Under his wise leadership and unflinching commitment, the AU has grown from strength to strength. I have no doubt that our continent will continue to benefit from his guidance.
Friends, for us Africans, there is indeed cause for optimism. Our continent has always had the resources, it has always had the talent, but we have not used it well. But today, we also have the institutions and the vision. So let’s step forward and claim the twenty-first century as Africa’s century.
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