Assembly President Calls for Creating Environment Conducive for Africa’s Long-term Socio-economic Development, ‘With a Sense of Urgency Backed by Concrete Actions’
Assembly President Calls for Creating Environment Conducive for Africa’s Long-term Socio-economic Development, ‘With a Sense of Urgency Backed by Concrete Actions’
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
22nd & 23rd Meetings (AM & PM)
Assembly President Calls for Creating Environment Conducive for Africa’s Long-term
Socio-economic Development, ‘With a Sense of Urgency Backed by Concrete Actions’
During Annual Debate on Africa, Speakers Cite Vital Importance
Of Implementing Objectives of New Partnership for Africa’s Development
As international partners helped the struggling African economies sustain a growth cycle curbed by the current global economic crisis, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was slowly, but surely, carving out its role as the African continent’s primary blueprint for development, said delegates gathered today for the General Assembly’s annual debate.
Grappling with armed conflicts, trade barriers to its commodities and other exports, and life-threatening diseases such as malaria, Africa needed developed nations to infuse the continent with direct investment and technology transfers to help it recover the economic ground lost during a year of turmoil, speakers said as they weighed a host of issues related to Africa’s development needs.
General Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki of Libya said international attention was crucial for Africa to achieve the development goals hammered out by the international community and place the continent squarely back on the world’s development agenda. “With a sense of urgency backed by concrete actions”, he called on the international community to create an environment conducive for investment and Africa’s long-term economic growth.
He lauded NEPAD for shaping a new vision for Africa’s agenda for peace and development. “The entire international community had welcomed NEPAD as an African-owned and African-driven political, economic and social development blueprint for the continent’s future,” Mr. Treki said. Donors and development partners must now bolster their support for NEPAD’s agenda to combat ongoing poverty, the effects of climate change, and the spread of infectious diseases, as well as to help Africa bounce back from the impact of parallel food security and economic crises.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group, the representative of Tunisia emphasized that no one was more responsible for Africa’s development than African people, States and institutions. He recognized the huge steps African countries had taken to implement NEPAD and the progress in key sectors, from infrastructure to education to the environment. There had also been progress in the Peer Review Mechanism as 30 countries had acceded and 12 countries had been reviewed.
Sounding a note of caution, however, Ghana’s representative said multiple global crises had thrown into doubt the noble aspirations of both the New Partnership and the African Renaissance, launched in 2001. Despite sound progress, enormous challenges remained, as African health systems were under-funded and ill equipped and the continent continued to be beset by the largest number of armed conflicts, with around one fifth of its population living in conflict zones. The availability of infrastructure was critical to developing Africa’s private sector, and a reliable energy supply and safe roads were needed to connect farmers to markets. Calling for urgent action, he said: “Africa cannot afford another lost decade.”
China’s representative said the international community should show more understanding towards the special challenges facing African countries in their development processes, notably by respecting their positions, heeding their calls and supporting their requests. For its part, China maintained its foreign policy aimed at expanding its long-standing partnership with Africa, and since the inception of the financial crisis, had provided grants, interest-free and concessional loans to African countries. Recalling China’s 2006 pledge to exempt 33 heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries in Africa from their interest-free loan debt, he said China had exempted 150 accounts of matured debts owed by 32 countries at the first quarter’s end.
When the debate turned to the ongoing global fight against malaria, speakers stressed the need to step up efforts to eradicate that preventable disease which killed nearly 1 million Africans every year. They also emphasized the importance of reaching the Organization’s malaria-related goals by 2010, the end of the designated decade to roll back malaria in developing countries, particularly Africa.
The representative of the United States noted that malaria placed a tremendous burden on families and national health systems, consuming, for example, about 40 per cent of public health expenditures in Africa. He said the United States was a major supporter of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and President Barack Obama had announced a six-year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative to let the United States Government to continue to lead the fight against these diseases.
Also addressing the Assembly today were the representatives of Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Sudan (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Thailand (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Guyana (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Singapore, Ethiopia, Egypt, Indonesia, Senegal, Cuba, Japan, Canada, Russian Federation, Algeria, Israel, Congo, Gambia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Zambia, Norway, Philippines, Brazil, Australia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Nigeria and Venezuela.
The Minister for External Affairs of India also addressed the Assembly.
The Assembly will reconvene on Wednesday, 21 October at 10 a.m., to continue and conclude its debate on Africa’s development and the fight against malaria.
The General Assembly met today to hold a joint debate on development in Africa, including the progress of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the 2001-2010 Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly Africa.
Before the Assembly was the Secretary-General’s seventh consolidated report on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD): implementation and international support (document A/64/204), which highlights policy measures taken by African countries and organizations to implement the Partnership, including in the areas of: infrastructure, agriculture and food security, health, education and training, environment, information and communications technology, science and technology, gender mainstreaming and the African Peer Review Mechanism.
It also describes the international community’s support to Africa, notably in the areas of official development assistance, debt relief, foreign direct investment, trade, and South-South cooperation. As for the United Nations’ role, the report discusses the strengthening of the Regional Consultation Mechanism of United Nations agencies and organizations working in Africa, as well as the Millennium Villages project, a community-led development initiative that reaches more than half a million people across 15 sub-Saharan African countries.
The report recommends that African countries and their development partners take “urgent and bold” policy measures with short- and long-term objectives to prevent any delay in the Partnership’s implementation caused by the global recession. For their part, African countries should develop an effective and continent-wide communication and outreach strategy to enhance the awareness of the Partnership’s goals. Participation of the private sector and civil society should be strengthened in that regard. African countries should also develop a common position in their climate change negotiations beyond 2012, reflecting their need to implement and finance mitigation and adaptation strategies.
In adopting fiscal stimulus policies to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the financial crisis, African countries had to continue prudent borrowing policies and strengthen their ability to manage external debt, the report recommends. The report says those countries should also implement policies to mobilize domestic financial resources. As the current crisis could jeopardize African countries’ debt sustainability, commercial creditors should honour their debt relief commitments under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative. In addition, African countries had to develop strategies to boost trade and expand infrastructure -- including ports and roads -- to help lower the costs of investing in agriculture.
For their part, development partners must align their efforts more specifically towards the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the country round table processes and the compact so that all pillars were funded and recognized as key entry points for genuine internal and external investment. The report states that donors should sustain investments in health and education. Further, aid disbursement had to increase significantly in 2009 and 2010 to maintain commitments to provide to Africa, by 2010, an additional $25 billion in official development assistance annually, at 2004 prices.
Also before the Assembly was the Secretary-General’s report titled Africa ’s development needs: state of implementation of various commitments, challenges and the way forward (document A/64/208). In it, he assesses how the three crises -- financial and economic, food, and climate change and energy -- now engulfing Africa are impacting the continent’s development. The report was prepared in compliance with Assembly resolution 63/1, which also asked the Secretary-General to shape a mechanism by the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session that would review the full and timely implementation of all the commitments related to Africa’s development. The report also examines major commitments made by African States and institutions, development partners and the United Nations towards the continent’s development and the implementation of these commitments.
The report concludes that the current crises, which occurred as Africa was reaching remarkable economic growth, set the continent back in 2008 in key areas such as economic growth, agricultural development and poverty eradication as well as many other human development indicators. It recommends that to mitigate the food crisis, for example, it was necessary to rethink trade policy so as to boost agricultural production around the world. Development partners should honour their promises to reduce barriers to African products and consider eliminating agricultural subsides that distort global trade.
On the climate change front, development partners should invest in mitigation and adaptation towards the prevention of deforestation and greater funding for renewable energy in Africa. The report states that official development assistance, foreign direct investment and trade were key engines for growth in Africa, and development partners needed to meet their pledges to raise aid flows to $66 billion (2008 prices) in 2010, the report continues. They also had to increase foreign direct investment inflows to Africa.
According to the report, China, India, Brazil, Turkey and the Gulf States had created greater opportunities to help Africa meet its development needs, particularly in infrastructure and trade. The wider international community must help African countries develop democratic institutions, along with working legal systems and freedom of the press. All African countries should participate in the African Peer Review Mechanism, which merited support, the report states.
At the same time, the African people, institutions and countries themselves bore the most responsibility for their development, the report concludes. African States had to reach their agriculture targets -- the allocation of 10 per cent of their national budgets to agricultural development. They should also spend 15 per cent of their budgets on health, as outlined in the African Union Abuja Declaration.
The Assembly was also set to consider the Implementation of recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (document A/64/210) in which the Secretary-General reviews progress made in implementing the recommendations contained in a previous report (document A/52/871-S/1998/318). The second survey was submitted in compliance with General Assembly resolution 63/304.
The second section of this report provides an overview of major peace and security developments in Africa over the past year, including the serious concerns that Africa and the international community are addressing in order to restore, maintain and promote peace and rebuild post-conflict countries. In section III, the report reviews progress made in capacity-building needs and the increased cooperation with the African Union and sub-regional organizations. It also assesses United Nations support of human rights in Africa. The report concludes that, pending the Assembly-mandated comprehensive review of the recommendations contained in a 1998 report and the new challenges emerging to long-term peace and sustainable development, the international community had to double its efforts in Africa and ensure that commitments were effectively implemented.
The report also concludes that, despite Africa’s existing vulnerabilities and the increased political tensions resulting from the economic crisis, the continent appeared to be on a positive -- though at times uneven -- path to growth. Much more was needed to nurture the continent's roots of peace and stability. Further, the report also concludes that nearly every part of the United Nations system had an important role to play in helping Africa and the Organization had to start by investing in mechanisms that prevented conflict at the community, local, national and regional levels. The United Nations also had to support partners in the field to build their capacity to address emerging threats to peace and stability.
The report says that financial, human and technical support was critical to the success of courageous regional strategies. On the issue of elections, the report says that ensuring free, fair and transparent elections would test the effectiveness and maturity of African electoral mechanisms in years to come. The effects of climate change, rapid urban growth, unemployment, and food insecurity could all create tensions and open conflict. Those and other challenges would pressure the continent's political, economic and social institutions at the local, national and regional levels.
The report reviews peacekeeping activities in the Sudan and its western Darfur region, Chad, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Somalia. It also reviews post-conflict peacebuilding in Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The final document before the Assembly was the Secretary-General’s note on the report, “2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa” (document A/64/302), prepared by the World Health Organization, which highlights progress made in attaining malaria-related goals by 2010. In its conclusion, the report says that, although funding and commodities for malaria control had increased in 2007-2008, compared to the previous two years, sizeable funding gaps remained in some countries, where targets could be met through insecticides and other forms of malaria control.
The report urges countries to scale up diagnostic facilities for malaria and to integrate that into sick child management. It also urges Governments to invest in bolstering the ways in which supply chain and health systems are managed. To have an overall effect, malaria intervention had to reach all segments of society, especially in high-transmission countries. The report concludes that aggressive malaria control could be the best way for African countries to cut child mortality by two-thirds, in line with the Millennium Development Goals. It warns that up to one million malaria-related deaths could have been prevented each year, if existing tools had been applied universally.
The report addresses the following issues: policies and strategies for malaria control; implementation status and challenges; elimination of malaria; financing malaria control; and the impact of malaria control.
The report states that there has been a significant drop in mortality levels in parts of Africa where intervention levels have been met. Yet, malaria still killed about one million people each year. Half of the world risked infection, with 42 out of 110 endemic countries falling within the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Africa region. Those that were party to both the World Health Assembly and Roll Back Malaria plan had pledged to cut malaria morbidity and mortality by 50 per cent or more by the end of 2010, in line with the 2008 Roll Back Malaria Plan. Five African countries were said to have either reached or were approaching the target as far back as 2008.
As the effectiveness of anti-malarial drugs had been monitored much less in the last few years, especially in Africa, the report notes that regional and country level monitoring capacities had to be rebuilt and funds had to be earmarked to ensure that this was done on a regular basis. The report stresses that to meet 2010 targets, intervention measures must include all segments of society, especially in countries where transmission rates are high.
Statement by General Assembly President
Opening the meeting, ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKI, of Libya, President of the General Assembly, said the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), created in 2001, had provided a new dynamism and vision to the African agenda for peace and development. The entire international community had welcomed NEPAD as an African–owned and African-driven political, economic and social development blueprint for the continent’s future. The African Peer Review Mechanism had been widely acclaimed as a positive and innovative approach to the promotion of good governance. Thus far, 30 African countries had acceded to that mechanism, for which 12 had been peer-reviewed.
He said that last year, a high level plenary meeting of the Assembly had adopted a declaration which not only recalled its full commitment to reach Africa’s development needs, but also required a mechanism to ensure the Member States continued to address relevant challenges. It was necessary to strengthen that engagement and consider the best ways to move the new Partnership forward in its eight priority areas: infrastructure, political, economic and corporate governance, agriculture, education, health, science and technology, market access and tourism, and environment, he said.
Particular attention to Africa was vital to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including those set out in the Millennium Development Declaration, he continued. That was essential to put the continent firmly on the world’s development agenda and the path to sustainable development. He welcomed international efforts to pursue the aims of the Malaria Alliance, an initiative by African leaders to protect all those at risk from that disease with life-saving interventions by the end of 2010.
It was unacceptable that malaria killed nearly 1 million Africans every year and affected more than 200 million other people, mostly pregnant women and children less than 5 years old, he said. The international community had to provide enhanced support for NEPAD’s agenda to combat poverty, disease, the food crisis, climate change and the financial and economic crisis. Those crises threatened the livelihood, well-being and development opportunities of millions of people, exacerbated political and social tensions, and hampered the capacity of States to deliver basic services to their citizens, he said.
“With a sense of urgency backed by concrete actions”, he said it was fundamental to create an environment conducive to investment and long-term economic growth in Africa. Moreover, the efforts of African nations must be complemented with substantial commitment from the international community, as well as a better understanding of Africa’s special needs, and greater policy and programme coherence. Finally, he said he believed the Assembly’s 2010 summit on the state of implementation of the Millennium Development Goals would also be an important occasion to review and re-energize the pursuit of all agreed development objectives, especially those regarding Africa.
ANDERS LIDÉN (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, described Africa as a major partner of the European Union, saying that globalization had brought their dual challenges and prospects closer together, prompting the European Union to tackle and grasp these together. Despite some pending problems and the global financial crisis, there were many reasons for hope, he continued. Peace, political freedom, and economic growth had progressed during recent years. Still, Africa had been most affected by the economic downturn and had borne the brunt of food security and climate change threats.
He said the European Union was fully committed to supporting Africa in its quest for peace, democracy, human rights and sustainable development. He went on to stress that the African Union was an increasingly indispensable regional actor. Its voice in global trade negotiations could be bolstered through regional cooperation, and integration made it better equipped to deal with peace, economic, social and climate change issues. Indeed, the African-European strategic partnership, whose key components were to promote democracy and human rights, was guided by the basic principles of unity for Africa, interdependence, responsibility and ownership.
Still, he said that Africa was clearly responsible for its own development, as demonstrated by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Overall, the aim had to be to shift from aid to cooperation as soon as possible. Trade was a necessary prerequisite for economic growth and sustainable efforts to fight poverty. Health was a challenge for Africa, with infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria posing the most negative deterrent to its development and hampering efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
He said that AIDS remained the leading cause of death on the continent while malaria inflicted a great toll. Despite strides in some African countries to fight malaria, significant financial gaps remained, he cautioned. As the largest health donor, the European Union would still lead and adhere to its financial commitments for malaria, while working with national and international bodies to combat other diseases. Combating these through strengthened national mechanisms would be one of the most effective ways to alleviate poverty and to promote economic progress. Processes such as the International Health partnership would help ensure this, he said.
Turning to armed conflicts, he said that the European Union was concerned about certain persisting conflicts within the continent and the violent political climate in Guinea and the impact on civilians. He commended the African Union’s efforts to react to unconstitutional changes of Government in Guinea and Madagascar. While cooperation between the United Nations, the Africa Union and Regional Economic Communities had been growing, he expressed the European Union’s commitment to helping Africa tackle challenges such as post-conflict reconstruction. In conclusion, he said that after decades of growth there were now signs that Africa was “turning a corner” and making its mark on the global sphere, partly through the African Union’s efforts to face up to challenges.
MOHAMED SHARIEF (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said African countries had taken concrete steps to implement the New Partnership by developing sectoral policy frameworks, designing projects and establishing spending targets in priority areas. Indeed, through NEPAD, African countries had fundamentally changed the development paradigm -- the narrow approach of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) now included a holistic approach to development through African ownership. Most African nations now had national development strategies.
However, he said those efforts needed an international environment conducive to growth, and despite its efforts, Africa was still far from realizing the support required under the Partnership. The 2005 World Summit outcome pointed out that Africa was the only continent not on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, he said vigorous implementation of development commitments was needed without delay, and resources must be mobilized to support Africa’s efforts to achieve the Goals.
He said that urgent action, by developed countries in particular, was needed to eradicate poverty and hunger in Africa, and in that context, the main challenge to Africa’s development was in implementing a global partnership. A lack of resources limited Africa’s development. For its part, the African Union had made substantial progress in conflict prevention, notably by creating mechanisms to promote peace and development.
However, sustained and integrated efforts by the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations, and regional and international financial institutions were needed, he continued. Development and poverty eradication should be at the heart of conflict-prevention strategies, and bolstered by a comprehensive approach to peacebuilding, emergency assistance and long-term development support. Further, the debt of African countries should be written off by bilateral and multilateral donors, as halving poverty by 2015 would require an average 7 to 8 per cent growth rate each year. As for the environment, he strongly called for boosting assistance to African countries in their fight against land degradation, drought and desertification.
Turning to HIV/AIDS and malaria, he said a substantial collective effort was needed for prevention, care and mitigation efforts -- all of which required a genuine political commitment and provision of funds. As such, the global community should continue supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Finally, he urged remaining aware that the food, energy and climate crises were having their worst impacts in Africa. Poor countries that were highly dependent on agricultural commodity exports were among the worst hit by the failure of global trade talks. Moreover, official development assistance had shrunk to historically low levels and it was imperative that it be both increased and combined with other policy measures to enhance Africa’s development.
GHAZI JOMAA ( Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said no one was more responsible for Africa’s development than African people, States and institutions. African countries had taken huge steps to implement NEPAD and there had been much progress in key sectors such as infrastructure, CAADP, education and training, and the environment. There had also been progress in the Peer Review Mechanism, with 30 countries acceding and 12 countries reviewed. Progress had been made in gender mainstreaming since 2004.
The international community, including the United Nations, had to act to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the economic crisis so that African countries could recover the lost ground. He said that developed nations needed to take concrete steps to increase their foreign direct investment and transfer of technology levels into Africa, as well as to ensure a successful wrap up of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization talks with a development dimension.
Regarding climate change, he said development partners must support efforts to mitigate the phenomena’s negative effects, and that such partners must also invest in mitigation and adaptation towards the prevention of deforestation and increased funding for renewable energy, such as solar, wind and geothermal. Trade liberalization was necessary and African states were still far from achieving the agriculture target to allocate 10 per cent of national budgets to agriculture development and exceed in the 6 per cent agriculture sector growth target, he said.
Peace and stability were a prerequisite for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals and the continent’s integration into the global economy, he continued. Ensuring economic and social development was the best way to prevent conflicts and he agreed with the Secretary-General’s report that new programmes were necessary to generate human, financial and technical and financial resources. Such resources and effective partnerships would ensure that the link between peace and development was addressed during all stages of peace efforts.
Turning to the issue of malaria, he said Africa bore a heavy burden; 9 out of 10 cases of malaria occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and 90 per cent of the continent’s population was at risk. Malaria’s impact on socio-economic development was immense, about $12 billion annually, and had slowed economic growth by up to 1.3 per cent, through lost hours of productivity, public funds and family income.
While much progress had been made in the fight against malaria, the challenges included drug resistance -- including the emergence of counterfeit and substandard drugs -- weak procurement and distribution systems; inadequate access to medical equipment, especially for rapid diagnostic tests; and inadequate availability of skilled medical personnel. Moreover, ongoing crises had squeezed the resources of Member States to allocate sufficient funds. Malaria-related ill health could be substantially eliminated with political commitment and commensurate resources, if the public was educated and appropriate health services were available. The international community needed to redouble its efforts to meet the 2010 goals of Roll Back Malaria, he said.
NORACHIT SINHASENI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), observed that, like developing countries elsewhere in the world, African countries faced multiple challenges arising from numerous global crises in the past few years, as well as from stalled multilateral trade talks, spread of pandemics, and the adverse effects of climate change. Those and other challenges threatened to reverse the hard-won progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, as well as towards sustainable growth and development as envisaged in the New Partnership. Those challenges needed to be addressed with urgency, he added.
Faced with those complex and intertwined challenges, ASEAN delegations believed the international community must respond with stronger and more coordinated cooperation and partnership, he said, stressing that the current financial crisis in developed countries should not lead donors to cut back on their pledged commitments to African and other developing countries.
Further, ASEAN believed developing countries should be assisted with capacity-building and other projects aimed at strengthening social safety nets to cushion vulnerable societies and populations from the impacts of the current global economic meltdown, and strengthen resilience to future shocks. In that regard, he called on all parties to fully implement the Political Declaration on Africa’s Development Needs adopted by the Assembly’s High-level Meeting last year, and urged all Member States to make the most use of the 2010 High-level Meeting to preview progress on the Millennium Goals.
He stated that South-South cooperation and tripartite partnership could positively complement the traditional North-South cooperation in supporting development in Africa. Reaffirming ASEAN’s commitment to strengthening relations with Africa, he also welcomed the progress made in the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership with the holding of a Senior Officials Meeting of Asian and African countries, in Jakarta, Indonesia on 12-13 October 2009.
SHASHI THAROOR, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, highlighted the historic ties between India and Africa, which included trade across the Indian Ocean that linked the two for hundreds of years, and more recently, the struggle against colonialism and racial discrimination. “During our march together, we have traversed similar paths, shared similar values and cherished the same dreams. Our long and historic relationship has now evolved into a sustainable and enduring partnership”, he said, adding that that partnership included a long-standing, close and multi-layered relationship with Africa.
Today, the relations between India and Africa were intensifying through their common quest for sustainable economic growth and development. He said India was committed to work together with Africa in accordance with the priorities of the continent, which included infrastructure development, railways, information and communications technologies, power, capacity-building, agriculture, health and food security and technology cooperation. Thus far, India extended over $3 billion concessional lines of credit to countries in Africa.
Highlighting other initiatives, he noted that the pan-African e-network project sought to bridge the “digital divide” between Africa and the rest of the world. Already, some 42 countries had joined the programme, which was intended to provide e-services with priority on tele-education and tele-medicine services. In terms of private sector engagement, Indian companies made large investments in Africa in industry, agriculture, services, human resource development and infrastructure. India’s trade with Africa was over $36 billion in 2008-2009.
Turning to the Secretary-General’s report on the NEPAD, which called for a successful round of multilateral trade negotiations, he said India had made a unilateral announcement of duty free and quota free market access to goods from 34 least developed countries in Africa. That covered 94 per cent of India’s total tariff lines and provided preferential market access on tariff lines that comprised 92.5 per cent of global exports of all least developed countries.
However, another important factor in development was durable peace; and as such, he highlighted the need for the international community to increase financial, human, and technical resources to Africa. Presently, India had 7,000 peacekeepers in Africa and was a founding member of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commissions. He went on to express deep concern that malaria still killed more than 1 million each year, when the disease was preventable and treatable. He noted that the developed world’s ability to fight public health crises of that nature had been circumscribed by the pretext of intellectual property rights.
“Access to affordable medicines is a fundamental part of the right to health”, he said, and added that this remained more in the realm of theory than practice. India envisioned Africa self-reliant, economically vibrant and at peace with itself and the world, and said that India would offer its full cooperation to harness the great potential of the African people for the cause of Africa’s progress and development.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) said the Secretary-General’s reports on Africa’s development had given a mixed picture of progress and setbacks. Despite the ramifications of the current global crises, there had been progress in implementing NEPAD. Still, the crises had hampered economic and agricultural growth and the fight against poverty. He noted that there had been notable gaps between “promise and delivery” as far as implementing national and subregional segments of NEPAD were concerned, and he urged for the international community’s continued support.
Turning to the continent’s challenges, he mentioned multiple global crises and eclectic socio-economic performance. A lack of resources posed restrictions on Africa’s development prospects. Africa was indeed far from mustering adequate support for NEPAD’s full implementation, despite its dedicated and sincere efforts to get that initiative off the ground. Progress in Africa would serve as a benchmark for attaining the Millennium Development Goals. If the international community translated commitments into results, then considerable gains would be possible. He cited official development interest, foreign direct investment and trade as key propellers for Africa’s growth. In that regard, the upward trend of foreign direct investment to the continent had to be closely monitored.
While acknowledging numerous bilateral and multilateral debt reduction initiatives, he emphasized that Africa’s debt sustainability challenges had to be dealt with coherently, especially as the current economic crisis posed new obstacles. CARICOM was convinced that the international community must ensure that multilateral trade agreements put Africa’s needs at the top of their agenda, by integrating development provisions. Developing agriculture would be critical to the continent’s growth prospects and more had to be done to assist it in dealing with the food crisis and in embarking on an African green revolution, he stressed. Help would have to include: encouraging investment in rural infrastructure, promoting land reform and supporting economic diversification.
In line with the terms of the Assembly’s Declaration on Africa’s Development Needs, CARICOM still endorsed the belief that all commitments to and by Africa on development matters had to be implemented and followed up by the international community and the continent. It thus grasped the opportunity to call on the international community to improve its support for Africa significantly, through the New Partnership. He also stressed that South-South cooperation played a crucial role in a global response.
TONNY LOH ( Singapore) said the New Partnership had strengthened since its adoption in 2001, and he applauded the good work being done through it. At the recent briefing by the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa on the African Peer Review Mechanism -- created under the Partnership -- he was heartened that 30 countries had voluntarily acceded to the Mechanism, and further, that 17 of them had launched the process for themselves. The Mechanism at once allowed African countries to benchmark good governance to international norms and showcased innovative African thinking.
Yet, while progress had been made in areas like governance and socio-economic development, such achievements could be rolled back by crises in food, energy and climate change, he said. The New Partnership’s aim to anchor development in Africa’s resources -- and the resourcefulness of Africans themselves -- should not change, but the continent risked lagging behind without sustained international assistance.
In that context, he said official development assistance, foreign direct investment, and trade were engines for African growth. Development partners had to maintain the upward trend in foreign direct investment inflows to the continent and, given that, Singapore’s foreign direct investment in Africa had grown to an average 146 per cent per year over the last 22 years, to $36 billion in 2007. Also, Singapore had provided technical assistance and cooperation to Africa, as the island State itself had benefited from similar assistance and was glad to share its experience.
In that context, he noted that in 2008, participants from seven African countries learned about environmental management and urban development in a course sponsored by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development. More recently, 35 senior policy makers from Ghana, Kenya and other African countries had visited Singapore for a programme focused on the link between formal education and industrial growth. In closing, he said the Partnership should continue to be driven by African ownership and leadership, with international support to help the continent achieve sustainable development.
LIU ZHENMIN (China) said the international community should show more understanding towards the special challenges facing African countries in their development processes, notably by respecting their positions, heeding their calls and supporting their requests. In the eight years since NEPAD’s launch, African countries had made progress in areas like infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, environmental protection, information and communications technology, gender mainstreaming and the African Peer Review Mechanism. But the impacts of current global crises raised concern about Africa’s prospects of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Given that, he outlined six areas that needed global attention, the first of which was in delivering on assistance commitments. Developed nations should increase their official development assistance to 0.7 per cent of their gross national product. Second, international financial institutions should create a mechanism to provide rapid assistance to African countries, and offer financial support without conditions. Further, the international community should have confidence in the wisdom of African Governments and people, and respect their rights to self-determination and leadership. South-South cooperation also had to be expanded and various forms of such cooperation should be explored.
Continuing, he said the global community should increase its inputs in areas including African infrastructure, agriculture, education, health and environmental protection. It also should increase aid-for-trade to promote Africa’s economic and social development. For their part, international organizations should enhance their role, and he called for taking advantage of the United Nations Regional Coordination Mechanism to boost coordination among United Nations agencies in providing assistance to Africa. The partnership among the United Nations, the African Union, the African Development Bank and regional economic communities should also be enhanced.
He went on to say that as peace and stability were the basis for development, great emphasis should be placed on preventive diplomacy. As the cost of armed conflict in Africa equalled -- or exceeded -- the amount of international assistance the continent received, such funds, if not squandered, could be used for Africa’s development.
For its part, China’s consistent foreign policy was to further develop its long-standing partnership with Africa, he explained. Since the start of the financial crisis, China had provided assistance to African countries through grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans. It also focused on strengthening cooperation in agriculture, human resources straining and public health. Recalling China’s 2006 pledge to exempt 33 heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries in Africa of their interest-free loan debt, he said that, by the end of the first quarter of 2009, China had exempted 150 accounts of matured debts owed by 32 countries. In the future, China would provide further support to Africa in numerous areas, including clean energy.
MESFIN MIDEKSSA ( Ethiopia) noted the unprecedented activity aimed at fast-tracking sustained African socio-economic development, the blueprint for which was embodied by NEPAD. That initiative had been designed to address a myriad of challenges facing the African continent. The key to NEPAD’s full implementation was indeed “partnership” and cooperation between and amongst African peoples and through regional and continental integration, and forging new international cooperation that changed the existing lopsided relationship between Africa and its partners. The New Partnership was a “good basis for revitalization of Africa’s development,” he added.
The financial crisis had taken its toll on the continent, and the impact slowed trade flows, capital inflows, natural resource sectors and agricultural exports, he said. Household incomes had fallen, remittances from family working abroad declined, and budget pressures reduced aid flows. The crisis exposed weakness in the functioning of the global economy and led to calls for reform of the international financial architecture. In addition, the crisis was brought about by failures in regulation, and the future international financial architecture had to be transparent and inclusive.
Continuing, he said health issues, including the combat against malaria, were also important. Some 450 of the 500 million people affected by malaria globally were in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria cost the continent over $10 billion annually. Over the past few years, it had become a higher priority of Governments and international organizations, evidenced by the Roll Back Malaria initiative. Cooperation was seen between low-income countries and the developed donor community. He added that his Government and Roll Back Malaria partners had undertaken a control campaign, which helped the country press ahead with its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In the past few years, there was success in curbing spread of the disease.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) said the international community’s actions should focus on two central tracks. The first was the immediate and full implementation of the commitments to Africa that were wrapped in the outcomes of the United Nations conferences and summits, as well as the international commitments made by the Group of Eight (G-8), the Group of 20 (G-20), and other relevant international financial institutions and forums. The second track must ensure that new resources were provided to strengthen the development financing alternatives available to countries to alleviate the added budget burdens prompted by the ongoing economic crises.
He emphasized that any improvements in the development situation were incomplete without reforming deficiencies in the global economic and financial system. The status quo, which deprived the African continent from actively participating in managing the global economic system, could not continue, especially when that system adversely impacted the economic situation of African nations. Egypt could not agree to the creation of a new system that reinforced marginalization of African countries. Moreover, the G-20 needed to expand its membership to provide better representation of the African continent, which was now limited, he said.
On the issue of conflicts, Egypt supported the United Nations efforts, in coordination with the African Union, to address conflicts in Africa, such as carrying out measures for conflict prevention, especially through early mediation and support for the political processes in hotbeds of tension. He noted the settlement of the crises in Kenya and Zimbabwe, the restoration of constitutional order in Mauritania, and efforts undertaken to deal with the situations in Madagascar, Guinea, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere.
Egypt was committed to supporting United Nations peacekeeping operations and welcomed steps to deepen the cooperation between the Organization and the African Union, especially efforts to expand the African Union’s capacity in the areas of mediation, conflict prevention and human rights. He also stressed the importance of enhancing the predictability of funding for the African Union peacekeeping operations, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1809 (2008).
Continuing, he said he looked forward to enhancing the United Nations’ role in Somalia as it restored stability and prepared the ground for reconstruction and development that would let the Transitional Federal Government and international community address the repercussions of two decades of chaos, including the piracy problem off Somalia’s coast.
Regarding malaria, he said the continued proliferation of the disease in 109 countries reaffirmed the need to maintain funding so as to cut the mortality rate in half by 2010. It was imperative to concentrate on enhancing regional capacity to confront the transboundary aspects of malaria. That was the goal of the African Union when it created an African Centre to promote centres in this field all over the continent. It was also imperative to resolve the trade-related aspects of the intellectual property rights of existing malaria medications and vaccines in circulation and being developed, he said.
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), noted progress on several fronts under NEPAD, but said that the African continent faced emerging and persistent challenges that could slow the momentum needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals. He called for urgent and bold policy measures that recognized the interlinked nature of the crises in the areas of food security, climate change, and finance, and would contribute to regaining and accelerating momentum towards the Goals.
In that context, he said CAADP was an important initiative that should be fully supported, given its important aim of launching a new green revolution in Africa. In terms of climate change, reaching critical momentum required effective adaptation in order to avoid the adverse impacts of that phenomenon. Turning to the causes of conflict and promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa, he called for the United Nations to enhance its capacity-building, preventive diplomacy and peacemaking.
Indonesia renewed its commitment to strengthen cooperation during the 2005 Asia-Africa Summit, which gave rise to the 2005 New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP). That partnership was centred on the pillars of political solidarity, economic cooperation and sociocultural relations. In addition, there would be a second Asia-Africa Summit next year. Through the summit, he hoped that there would be full and effective implementation of joint efforts in areas such as food security, energy security, tourism, small and medium enterprises, counter-terrorism, combating transnational organized crime, gender equality and women’s empowerment. Indonesia was also the host of the Non-Aligned Movement’s Training Centre, and promoted capacity-building in areas such as health, disaster management and risk reduction. Through NEPAD, Africa had taken bold steps in taking control of its destiny. The international community needed to support its home grown efforts.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said the reports before the Assembly did not mention existing constraints including the lack of much-needed international assistance. The New Partnership’s vision in 2001 was to craft new responses to the continent’s problems by identifying African-led strategies before placing them on the development agenda. The initiative carried a new conception on the nature and orientation of Africa’s relations with the rest of the world, which from then onwards, had to be based on the principle of true partnership. If a new deal was to dawn, the dance between donor and recipient must enter a new phase, he said.
Continuing, he said the world had agreed that Africa had made notable progress in numerous regards throughout the eight years after that ambitious development programme had come into being. However, he warned that that could not hide the harsh and bitter reality that Africa had been beset by serious food, economic and financial crises, which had locked it in a cycle of nearly insurmountable difficulties that would seriously compromise its future. In other words, within the context of an increasingly complex global environment, the challenges facing Africa had only continued to grow, placing it at the crossroads of implementing NEPAD’s priorities and reaching its wider development goals.
Africa had been particularly hardest hit because of its vulnerability. He said it was clear that with no agricultural subsidies, the frontiers of poverty would not be pushed back. Speaking of the crushing effects of external debt, he said the weakness of foreign direct investment had cast a dark shadow on economic growth. In addition, it was unfair for certain African countries to pay the price for uncontrollably fluctuating petrol prices. He welcomed joint action by NEPAD and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD), to help bolster foreign investment and promote lasting growth and poverty reduction.
Failure to integrate the New Partnership’s priorities into United Nations bodies was also an issue and it had become extremely urgent to ensure progress along that path. Senegal supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations on prudent borrowing and on reinforcing capacities to manage external debt in order to ease the socio-economic impact of the current crisis. Lasting development could only come with lasting peace and security, he continued, and added that his country had spared no effort in fostering that within its restless region. He hoped that peace would prevail in neighbouring war-torn countries. The international community had to be attentive to all those troubled hot spots so that lasting peace could be achieved.
GERALD SCOTT ( United States) said the country had been committed to the prevention and treatment of malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis around the world for many years as part of its commitment to ensure broad achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The United States’ commitment to fight malaria was an important part of its foreign development assistance strategy, and his country had worked with many international and regional groups, and private sector partners in that regard.
He said that President Barack Obama had announced a six-year $63 billion Global Health Initiative to allow the United States Government to continue to lead the fight against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. It was part of a strategy to simultaneously strengthen health systems and deal with broader health challenges, such as child and maternal health, family planning and neglected tropical disease.
Malaria placed a tremendous burden on families and national health systems, consuming, for example, about 40 per cent of public health expenditures in Africa. He said the United States was a major supporter of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Through the President’s Malaria Initiative, the United States was helping 15 “high burden” countries to scale up malaria prevention and treatment interventions, such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets, combination treatments and indoor residual spraying with insecticides.
In close partnership with host countries and other development partners, there were major reductions in people infected with malaria in Rwanda, Zambia, and Zanzibar. Declines at the district level were also reported from Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. By reducing the burden of malaria in those countries, critical resources and skilled workers were able to deal with other child illnesses, such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.
The President’s Malaria Initiative represented an historic $1.2 billion five-year expansion of resources to fight malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, the region most affected by this disease. The goal was to reduce malaria-related deaths by 50 per cent in the 15 African countries with high burden of the malady, he said.
BENITEZ VERSÓN ( Cuba) began by citing the 500 year-old historical bonds between Cuba and Africa, when over 1.3 million African slaves had arrived in the island nation and had placed their stamp within the genes and social life of the Cuban people. “Therefore, no one should be surprised at our coming here today to proclaim with sound pride that the Cuban people have directly and naturally inherited the gallantry, bravery, and culture of the African resistance, which has been heroically struggling for centuries to overcome challenges that still exist,” he said.
Shortly after the triumph of the Revolution, Cuba started modestly paying its huge debt to those hundreds of thousands of slaves who had made Cuba their homeland. The deepest internationalist convictions of the Cuban Revolution enabled the country to be constantly at Africa’s side, from unqualified support to its anti-colonial fights to cooperation projects, he said. More than 381,000 Cuban soldiers and officials fought to defend the sovereignty of African sister nations during three decades. Today, 2,400 Cubans provided services in 35 African nations to promote their development in areas as diverse as health care, education, agriculture, sports, and construction, among others.
Today, through the Comprehensive Health Care Program, more than 1,120 Cuban medical doctors and health technicians worked in Africa, providing services to 48 million people, he said. In turn, Africa was on Cuba’s side, giving aid after the hurricanes of 2008, and, during the more than 50 years of unjust and cruel economic and financial blockade by the United States, had closed ranks with Cuba 17 times in the General Assembly to demand the right of the Cuban people to decide their own fate.
However, Africa’s development needs would not be met with rhetorical lamentations of powerful people reviewing statistics on calamities. He urged change of the current international system that had plunged 80 per cent of the world into poverty so the richest 20 per cent could squander meagre resources. That system had forced Africans to spend five times more in resources in opprobrious foreign debts than in health and education programmes.
Continuing, he said that unjust system was the same one in which powerful multinationals strived to control African mineral resources and rich countries failed to comply with humble commitments of official development assistance, and unjust regimes of patents and trade prevented African development. “To address African problems, we must get rid of the philosophy of profit at all costs that supports the current international order,” he said, and urged the international community to strongly support Africa, which required an integrated approach from the United Nations for the solutions to all problems related to peace, security and development in the continent.
SHIGEKI SUMI (Japan), congratulating the New Partnership on its integration into the African Union, called African development “one of the most urgent priorities for the world and for the United Nations”. Recalling the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), held in May 2008, he said Japan had pledged to double its official development assistance, flexibly provide up to $4 billion in soft loans, and would work to double Japanese private investment to Africa in the following five years.
In implementing those commitments, he said Japan had created a TICAD follow-up mechanism as a framework to monitor the Yokohama Action Plan. Further, official development assistance to Africa covered a range of sectors, including trade and investment, infrastructure, agriculture, community development, health education and climate change, which corresponded with the New Partnership’s sectoral priorities. Turning to food security, he described the Coalition for African Rice Development initiative, jointly launched with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa to increase African rice production, which had been carried out in 12 countries thus far.
Another pillar of the TICAD IV follow-up was public-private partnership, which was being promoted with a view to improving the African investment climate. He said the Japan Bank for International Cooperation pledged to provide up to $2.5 billion over five years to encourage Japanese private sector investment in Africa, and by September this year, $1.2 billion had been approved for disbursement. In addition, $300 million in soft loans had been extended to the African Development Bank, while the Africa-Asia Business Forum V, co-organized with Uganda and the United Nations in June, attracted over 250 participants.
In its cooperation with Africa, Japan fully respected local leadership, ownership and partnership as core NEPAD principles, he said, as they were essential to Africa’s sustainable development. To ensure that accelerated growth would benefit communities, human security had to be taken into account in implementing policy measures to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
On initiatives to roll back malaria, Japan was pleased at efforts to control the disease in Eritrea, Gambia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe and Zambia -- all of which were approaching, or had reached, the 2010 World Health Organization morbidity and mortality reduction impact targets of 50 per cent or more. However, most countries had not yet achieved universal coverage with insecticide-treated nets and other control interventions. As such, Japan renewed its commitment to international cooperation on malaria control.
JOHN MCNEE (Canada), pointing to the major health, education, agricultural, environmental, and peace and security challenges the African continent continued to face, said much remained to be done to assist African countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to build stable political and economic institutions. Achieving the Millennium Goals was a shared responsibility, based on commitment, partnership, and perseverance.
He said Canada was doing its part to help Africa achieve those Goals, and had met its G-8 commitment to double aid to the continent from 2003-2004 levels, to $2.1 billion. Furthermore, he reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to double international assistance by 2010-2011 from 2001-2002 levels, bringing the country’s total international assistance to about $5 billion.
Also, in response to the African Development Bank’s forecast of a shortfall of resources over the next year, Canada had announced at the Pittsburgh G‑20 Summit that it would temporarily triple its callable capital. That initiative would provide the Bank with about $2.6 billion in additional capacity, he stated, explaining that Canada recognized the efforts by the African Development Bank to ensure that it had sufficient resources with which to respond quickly to the demands of its borrowing members while it continued its poverty reduction efforts.
Noting that private sector expansion was an important component of overall development, he said Canada was a significant economic partner for Africa, with more than 290 Canadian companies operating in at least 36 African countries. In addition, Canada was the largest non-African foreign investor in mining in Africa, with cumulative assets of well over $20 billion, covering approximately 1,000 properties in 35 countries, and often playing a significant role in the development of the mining industry in those countries. He also encouraged and expected Canadian companies to meet high standards of corporate social responsibility.
Stressing that democratic and effective governance were key to the success of African socio-economic development, he said the NEPAD and its African Peer Review Mechanism were vehicles to help achieve that goal through the creation of an enabling environment for stability. Canada strongly supported the NEPAD and considered the Peer Review initiative vital to the overall success of Africa’s development, and welcomed the progress by African countries in the implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said the ongoing multiple global crises had jeopardized Africa’s steady economic development, and it was important to implement commitments made in agreements reached both in the United Nations and other multilateral forums, including the G-8 and G-20. At the recent G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, a decision had been taken to increase assistance to the world’s poorest countries, most of which were in Africa. The Russian Federation would help with that effort. Also, the Russian Government had recently concluded an agreement with the World Bank to allocate $50 million to a trust fund, and was looking to provide more assistance on bilateral basis.
A good foundation had been laid with the political decision reached last year at the Assembly’s High-level Event on Africa’s Development Needs, he said. Going forward, it would be important to focus on providing financial assistance. A focus on national and international efforts to ensure long-term economic growth, infrastructure development, and support for the most vulnerable was also needed. Priority also must be given to programmes to encourage private capital into infrastructure, among other areas.
Describing his country’s efforts, he said tens of thousands of Africans had graduated from Russian institutions, while Russian experts worked in various African countries. He highlighted a visit to Africa last June by the Russian President, during which time he confirmed the Government’s commitment to developing a partnership with Africa, as well as with the African Union and regional organizations.
On other matters, he said ensuring lasting peace was necessary and a proactive stance by Africans was essential, and urged repelling illegal armed units, broadening cooperation for border security, and curbing violations of international humanitarian law, as well as impunity for crimes against humanity. He welcomed the African Union Peace and Security Council’s work to establish an African Standby Force. As a permanent Security Council member, the Russian Federation had made contributions to developing strategies that strengthened peace and security, particularly in the region. The Russian Federation had peacekeepers stationed in Africa and his Government was designing opportunities to increase assistance to help Africa build its anti-crisis capabilities.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) welcomed the relevant reports of the Secretary-General and said those surveys of Africa’s development needs served to remind the Assembly that Africa had made considerable progress since the New Partnership was launched. The initiative’s integration within the African Union would allow the Union to work towards the continent’s development and integration objectives.
As one of the first countries to endorse it, Algeria stressed how crucial NEPAD was to creating an African Renaissance and helping the continent control its own socio-economic development. The Secretary-General recognized that the key obstacle to such a goal was a lack of resources. In response to the global economic and financial crisis, Algeria had urged global development partners to alleviate the social and economic effects of those crises on Africa as a matter of urgency, to help the continent get back on track to implementing the Partnership and the Millennium Development Goals.
He said that following the Assembly’s 2008 High-level event on Africa’s Development Needs, the United Nations had a clear set of objectives to attain. It had to improve the quality and efficiency of its programmes, double up its development assistance to the continent and put in place a follow-up mechanism before its sixty-fifth session to assess how commitments to ensure Africa’s development had been put in place.
Aligning himself with the Secretary-General’s views on the causes of conflicts and on the promotion of lasting peace and structural development, he said a peaceful environment was indispensable. He was pleased to note that progress had been made in the realms of democracy, good governance, and in strengthening cooperation with the United Nations in terms of promoting human rights and eradicating all forms of discrimination, especially against women, on the continent. Hailing the important role played by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council in preventing and resolving conflicts, he also welcomed efforts deployed by the United Nations to enhance cooperation with the African Union, in order to improve its peacekeeping mechanisms.
DANIEL CARMON ( Israel) highlighted the longstanding relationship with Africa following the historic 1958 visit of then-Foreign Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, to the continent’s young independent States. Since then, he said, Israel sought to build its cooperative relationships across the continent. Recently, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman had visited a number of African countries and continued to deepen Israel’s dedication to development. In fact, Israel’s international development agency, MASHAV, was at the heart of development efforts in Africa.
Founded on a modest programme focused on grass-roots level human capacity-building in Africa only a decade after Israel’s inception, the agency blossomed into an extensive program that promoted sustainable development, food production, public health programmes and equality. In addition, he said MASHAV was developing new and innovative partnerships, and to that end, had signed last year, a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Africa, and an agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
He went on to say that combating HIV/AIDS continued to be a high global priority, and Israel was cooperating in that regard with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and civil society partners. Israel was planning a multidisciplinary training on HIV anti-retroviral therapy for doctors, nurses and technicians from African countries in January 2010. In terms of pre-natal and neo-natal care, a pilot model, implemented in Ghana, provided for pre-natal and healthy-baby clinics. Social development was another key aspect of Africa’s long-term development and to further enhance its work in that area, Israel this year would serve as chair of the Commission on Population and Development.
Issues regarding agriculture and desertification were paramount. Israel was sharing technology that succeeded in making the desert bloom, he said, citing a programme in which sustainable agriculture through low-pressure irrigation enabled small farmers to establish individual market gardens. Israel was developing programmes in accordance with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Dryland Development to help manage drought and soil degradation. Lastly, he said that Israel was proud to present a follow-up draft resolution regarding agricultural technology for development, which would benefit Africa.
RAYMOND SERGE BALÉ ( Congo) focused his comments on malaria. Indeed, the 2009 reports on malaria would help shed light on the disease and efforts undertaken to fight it. In 2000, African Heads of State and Government committed to “roll back malaria”, with objectives including 80 per cent coverage in well-defined areas and a 50 per cent reduction of malaria cases. The global action plan against malaria had universalized those goals. With the 2010 deadline approaching, he said that despite progress, there was still concern, notably at the lack of sufficient supply chains.
In Africa, malaria killed more than 1 million people annually and slowed economic development by 1.3 per cent. Congo was among those nations most severely hit, with 5.6 per cent of its population suffering from the disease. There was an urgent need to design innovative strategies that contributed to people’s well-being and that placed women and children at the centre of efforts.
Congo had made the fight against malaria a national priority for action, within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals. Highlighting the national health plan, he said the Government had distributed some 500,000 bed nets in 2007 free of charge. Universal access to medication, particularly for the most vulnerable, was essential. The Government had created a central purchasing unit for supplying generic medications to health units and extending free treatment to all segments of the population.
However, challenges remained, he said, adding that the public awareness campaign for use of bed nets should be more vigorously directed to people. Training of health personnel to diagnose and treat malaria was not sufficient, but it was a priority in capacity-building. Given the scope of finances needed, the Government hoped to develop a partnership with the private sector, particularly in the area of prevention. Indeed, $5 billion would be necessary to achieve the objectives of the Roll Back Malaria initiative and the Millennium Development Goals. Effective control of malaria required lasting and predictable financing and strengthened partnerships at the global, regional and national levels. In closing, he said Congo supported the draft resolution on the creation of a global fund to fight against malaria.
SUSAN WAFFA-OGOO ( Gambia) said the New Partnership provided “new vigour” to efforts to pull the African continent out of stagnation. Prior to the onslaught of recent multiple crises, there had been strong economic growth rates, improved governance and better policy performance. It was, indeed, ironic that a continent with such vast resources was also affected by hunger. “African agriculture is in crisis” she said, adding that Africa’s resource endowment seemed more a curse than a benefit. In that context, she echoed the call for the long-overdue successful outcome of the Doha Round of international trade negotiations.
In addition, she said the World Bank’s commitment to develop the African private sector, expand infrastructure and raise agricultural productivity, among other efforts, was highly encouraging. She also called for Africa’s partners to invest in infrastructure, which was critical to its sustainable development agenda.
On other matters, she said food insecurity and climate change impacts must be reversed, notably through transferring technology. Similarly, the private sector in developed countries, and countries of the South, must promote closer ties for mutual benefit, particularly in the development of small- and medium-sized enterprises, which were critical to generating economic activity. Due attention also should be given to the incubation of such enterprises to foster enterprise development. Also, given the dire impacts of the “brain drain”, especially in the health sector, she urged that solutions be found.
On malaria, she cited WHO data that showed a cost to Africa of $12 billion each year. That state of affairs was not sustainable and the Roll Back Malaria 2005-2015 plan showed that such trends could be reversed. Indeed, 108 countries were malaria-free. Many African countries had reached WHO morbidity and mortality targets, but the problem could not be underestimated. The multiple global crises had strained resources and more progress was needed at the country level. She called on the global community to help African countries meet their targets, saying that more emphasis should be placed on children and pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. All had to redouble efforts to eradicate malaria.
KHALID K.A. FAQEEH ( Saudi Arabia) said that development of Africa was one of his country’s most important international development objectives. While Saudi Arabia would do its part to that end, he called on the wider international community to help end the difficult crises and long-time suffering of the continent and its people. Citing the contributions of Saudi Arabia, he mentioned a $25 million contribution to the African Development Bank, a doubling of its contribution to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for $50 million, and $18 million towards the combat against malaria.
In terms of the Global Fund to Combat HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, Saudi Arabia would contribute some $6 million annually. Despite Saudi Arabia being a developing country, it still supported needy countries, he said, and added that Saudi Arabia was at the forefront of humanitarian relief. In terms of concessional loans and assistance, the total was $200 billion. In addition, debt relief was an important pillar and Saudi Arabia had forgiven some $6 billion owed by poor countries, and had also donated to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) debt relief fund.
He called for other countries to give debt relief to more needy states and called for open markets and for exports with no restrictions. Turning to disaster relief, he said Saudi Arabia was one of the premier international donors in that regard, and that it responded rapidly in support of the disadvantaged, anywhere, anytime. Geographic diversity remained an important ideal, as well as diversity in the types of projects funded, covering water, communications, and agriculture, among others. Saudi Arabia was keen on backing and carrying out plans for Africa’s long-term development, and achieving a durable peace in the region.
LESLIE K. CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) said multiple global crises had thrown into doubt the noble aspirations of both the New Partnership and the African Renaissance, launched in 2001. “ Africa cannot afford another lost decade”, he said, urging the quick fulfilment of outstanding commitments in the areas of sustainable economic growth, human development, governance and security, official development assistance and debt relief, to name a few. Indeed, when African leaders and development partners acted with determination, the results had been outstanding, as seen in decreased number of civil wars and upsurge in democratic governance. No less significant was the steady progress towards greater accountability and better economic management, with 29 countries that had voluntarily acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism.
Further, in the area of health, positive developments included the endorsement by Heads of State and Government of an Africa Health Strategy for the 2007-2015 period, which aimed to strengthen the quality and coverage of the continent’s health systems. Ethiopia, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia had achieved “impressive” reductions in malaria-related moralities. Those positive trends could be built upon with continued cooperation and action with a common purpose. Above all, Africa sought partnership and mutual accountability. Donors must honour their commitments, and trading partners -- their social responsibilities, which included respect for human rights and environmental standards.
Enormous challenges remained, he said, adding that African health systems remained underfunded and ill equipped. The continent also continued to have the largest number of armed conflicts, with around one-fifth of its population living in conflict zones. The availability of infrastructure was critical to developing Africa’s private sector, and a reliable energy supply and safe roads were needed to connect farmers to markets. The potential for investment in Africa’s real economy was huge, and more investment in sectors like infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture and telecommunications would create jobs for Africans and markets for developed countries. Also, while pressing for the conclusion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations, it was critical to rethink trade policy with a view to boosting agricultural production around the world. Promises on aid-for-trade must be delivered.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said Africa had been most impacted by the successive global crises, which had hit at a time when African Governments were committing to bold reforms. Forecasts for Africa predicted a less than 3 per cent growth rate, much less than the annual 7 per cent required for meeting the Millennium Development Goals on time. African countries had strengthened their efforts to improve peoples’ well-being, but those efforts had not been supported. They suffered from a lack of substantial resources. In terms of health, despite progress, HIV/AIDS and malaria continued to pose a significant challenge that could compromise development. He expressed hope that renewed commitments by the G-8 and G-20 would be duly implemented, as it was essential to create an environment conducive to investment.
As development depended on peacebuilding, he welcomed commitments to promote settlement of all conflicts. For its part, the Moroccan Government provided assistance through participation in peacekeeping operations and in the Peacebuilding Commission. He said Morocco believed in the advantage of South-South cooperation and had always worked to strengthen partnerships within the African family, based on human development and the sharing of experiences. Moreover, the country had initiated projects in infrastructure, agriculture, health, transport and telecommunications, to name a few. Such solidarity was seen also towards the least developed countries, with efforts to cancel debts.
Turning to climate change, he said rising tides could compromise up to 30 per cent of the continent’s infrastructure. As such, he urged that talks in Copenhagen during the upcoming climate summit duly consider Africa’s concerns regarding economic growth, human and social development, resource mobilization and technology transfer. Also, the conclusion of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations should be done in a way that took Africa’s needs into account. The global community must make a commitment for development in Africa, which should translate into concrete measures that would help implement the Millennium Development Goals.
ANNE LUZONGO MTAMBOH ( Zambia) said some of the world’s challenges, such as the H1N1 flu virus and HIV/AIDS called for more unity and concerted efforts among nations. Zambia was making steady progress in meeting its national health goals and the Millennium Development Goals. Referring to the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), she said it was worth noting that a number of health indicators had improved in Zambia. The maternal mortality ratio had improved from 729 to 591 per 100 000 live births. Infant mortality had improved from 90 to 70 per 1,000 births. The HIV prevalence rate had dropped from 16 per cent to 14.3 per cent. She warned that the prevailing global financial and economic crisis and undelivered funds from partners threatened to obliterate or to reverse those gains.
As the current chair of the Roll Back Malaria Board, she noted that that infectious disease remained the leading cause of mortality and morbidity throughout the world. She was pleased that there were now country-specific road maps to attain desired goals to combat malaria, and stressed that political will was now crucial, especially as only 15 months remained to attaining the agreed goals. For the countries that had done so, the challenge remained maintaining such gains. She was pleased to report that over the past six years, Zambia had made impressive gains within the health sector. These gains were proof of the Government’s commitment to tackling public health challenges, such as malaria.
In some areas of Zambia, such as the country’s southern Province, malaria was no longer a major public health concern. She said that national health measures to tackle malaria included an indoor residual house spraying programme, which was now being implemented in 36 districts, half of the total number in the country. Zambia had met its goal to cover 80 per cent of the population with preventive measures. The Government had now ensured that 60 per cent of the country had insecticide treated bed nets. Among the remaining challenges, she pointed out limited material and financial resources and irrational drug use partly due to misdiagnosis, citing that fever did not mean that one had malaria. She was certain that informed, healthy partnerships would soon rid Zambia and the rest of the world of malaria.
MORTEN WETLAND ( Norway) said that NEPAD demonstrated a willingness and determination to fight poverty on the continent and integrate Africa into the global economy. However, Africa was hit hard by the recent food and economic crises, climate change loomed, and there were several key issues facing NEPAD’s implementation.
It would be crucial to mobilize resources because the continent still needed substantial assistance despite mobilization of domestic funds. Too little attention was paid to big money flowing out of Africa, and illicit capital flows from poor countries was in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually, or three times as much as the aid going into Africa. The lack of transparency resulted in huge amounts of money that escaped the country’s tax collectors. Africa needed better tax systems and a larger tax base.
Continuing, he said NEPAD gave infrastructure a higher priority in the fight against poverty in Africa. Energy deficits would hamper development if power generation was not increased. He added that the potential for clean energy in Africa was enormous, and 9 per cent of Africa’s hydropower potential was still undeveloped. Hydropower was clean and renewable, but needed enormous investments. Thus, the private sector needed to provide finance, technology and know-how. That required good governance, robust institutions and technical capacity. He noted that two weeks ago Uganda had inaugurated its first significant hydropower plant in 14 years. That joint project had involved Norwegian private and public finance and expertise and had increased Uganda’s electricity production by some 7 per cent.
He next drew attention to the Human Development Report, which had noted the strong correlation between the level of gender equality and growth and prosperity. So the greatest way to gain economically and politically was to empower women. Empowering women and giving education provided competitive advantage. Countries that recognized this prospered more than others. He said Norway was striving to uphold the pledges on achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and had created the necessary conditions for sustainable growth and development. That would be the most significant contribution to peace and stability. Two weeks ago Norway presented its aid budget for 2010, and pledged to give 1.09 percent of estimated gross national income for development assistance.
Moving on to issues of democratic processes and institutions, he said that basic principles of stability and peace were hampered by unconstitutional changes of Government, which he condemned. “We believe this is a very significant step, not only for the African Union itself but for the African countries and their people,” he said.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE JR. ( Philippines) said the upcoming United Nations High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation in Nairobi, and the Assembly’s 2010 High-level Summit on the Millennium Goals must consider NEPAD in their discussions. Those two important development-related events and other United Nations vehicles for discussion and actions should consider the needs of the most vulnerable, including Africa, as they crafted outcomes and recommendations.
Turning to the malaria issue, he said the extent to which malaria was controlled and eliminated would influence progress toward the achievement of Millennium Goal 6 on combating deadly diseases with the broadest impact on development. The Philippines’ Government gave priority to the control and eradication of malaria and had adopted a five-prong strategy that emphasized working with local health units.
That strategy, he said, included raising political awareness and promoting community development; strengthening diagnosis and prompt treatment; streaming the referrals of severe malaria cases; building buffer stockpiles of essential supplies; and improving delivery of services to internally displaced families, indigenous communities and school children. As a result, malaria cases in the country had consistently dropped from more than 76,000, with 150 deaths reported in 1990, to 33,800 cases with 89 deaths in 2006, he said.
While acknowledging that global funding to fight malaria had increased from $0.2 billion in 2000 to $2 billion by the end of 2008, it was disconcerting to note that only a few large external contributors had been responsible for that increase. That meant that anti-malaria efforts could be jeopardized if one of those major funding sources dried up. He urged a diverse portfolio of global funding. As the largest parliament of nations, the Assembly had to focus on the WHO findings that showed that while progress had been made, potential threats existed. Those threats, which demanded increased attention, included resistance to insecticides and anti-malarial medicines; insufficient funding to reach universal coverage; and weaknesses in global and intra-national purchasing and supply that led to shortages of key commodities at the national and health facility levels.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said that among her Government’s foreign policy priorities was the strengthening of cooperation with Africa. With that in mind, Brazil was present in 34 African countries through resident embassies, including in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African Union’s headquarters. Also, Brazil was a main supporter of the Africa-South America Summits, the second of which took place less than a month ago in Venezuela. On the economic front, trade between South America and Africa had increased from $6 billion to $36 billion in the last six years, which showed that South-South cooperation did not have to be restricted to regional integration processes.
She said NEPAD could count on Brazil’s full support, explaining that her country’s approach was based on a partnership “with” Africa, rather than one “for” Africa. Brazil believed that cooperation was a tool of “technical and technological emancipation”, and a conduit for sharing experiences in the areas of health, energy and agriculture. Much of Brazil’s cooperation was consistent with NEPAD’s focus on agriculture as a means to generate wealth and alleviate poverty.
She praised African countries for their efforts to tackle economic hardship, which, in turn, had been aggravated by financial disarray not of their making. “Those efforts have to be supported”, she said. International financial institutions should provide countries most in need with more liquidity and credit, subject to fewer conditions. Brazil was working towards that aim in the G-20.
In addition, she said Brazil was committed to the fight against malaria through bilateral cooperation and participation in multilateral efforts. Brazil’s involvement in the Global Fund to fight Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV/AIDS, and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership reflected that commitment. While the international community had made progress, notably in efforts to achieve universal coverage of malaria prevention and treatment by 2010, it was unacceptable that children continued to die from preventable disease. Besides expanding use of insecticide-treated nets, it was imperative that mechanisms be put in place to ensure access to malaria drugs.
PAUL NEVILLE (Australia) said his country’s engagement with African countries focused on three priority areas, namely, support for African efforts to promote economic growth and prosperity through investment and trade, support to accelerate progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and support to address peace and security challenges in Africa. Those priorities were consistent with the objectives of NEPAD.
Over the past year, Australia had increased its development assistance to the continent by 40 per cent, and his Government believed that it could help African countries with their long term development in areas where Australian expertise and experience could make a unique and positive contribution. To that end, Australia was deepening its development cooperation engagement with Africa through three key sectoral programmes: food security and agriculture; water and sanitation; and maternal and child health. Furthermore, the Australian Government viewed education as a key to assisting Africa to realize its economic and social development potential, and was thus expanding its scholarship programme in Africa.
On the Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, he pointed out that Australia was playing a lead role in addressing that disease in the Asia-Pacific region. Through the Pacific Malaria Initiative, Australia was providing targeted technical and management support to assist Governments in implementing their national malaria action plans. Australia was also pleased to have hosted the inaugural meeting of the Asia-Pacific Malaria Elimination Network in February 2009. That Network, established to bring attention to regional efforts to eliminate malaria, represented another means of strengthening the technologies, skills, systems and leadership that were needed to reduce, and eventually eliminate, malaria in the region.
SHEKOU TOURAY (Sierra Leone) said that the integration of NEPAD into the African Union marked a new dawn in advancing the socio-economic transformation agenda of the continent. It provided a window for strategic partnership to explore areas of cooperation to address such global challenges as the debt issue, climate change, trade and regional integration, and sustainable development.
He was encouraged by the ongoing implementation of NEPAD projects, which ranged from CAADP infrastructure, and the environment, to gender mainstreaming, education and training, and information and communications technologies. At the level of governance, advances in the implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism, involving some 30 acceding countries with 12 of them being reviewed, demonstrated the continent’s resolve for a paradigm shift.
Cognizant of the fact that the responsibility for peace and security in Africa, including the ability to address the root causes of conflict and to resolve such conflicts by peaceful means, lay primarily with African countries themselves, the African Union and the subregional organizations had undertaken to strengthen their capacity in conflict prevention and resolution, he said. They were also taking the lead in peacekeeping operations in the continent. The African Union and subregional organizations were playing a significant role in responding to conflicts and potentially explosive situations in that regard.
However, he also recognized the fact that while all those efforts went on, a new wave of challenges involving unconstitutional changes of Government, transnational crime, piracy and narcotic drug trafficking, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, issues of governance, and corruption had beset the continent. All those were threats to international security which could not be ignored. To that end, he urged a comprehensive review of the implementation of the 1998 Recommendations of the Secretary-General on the Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa.
ISMAEL A. GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said his country was satisfied that the Secretary-General’s reports had urged international development partners to help mitigate the impact of the economic crisis to help African countries boost their economies and to help attain the objectives of NEPAD and the Millennium Development Goals.
Since that Partnership had been designed for Africans by Africans, to tackle economic and development challenges, it was pleasing to note that some of its embryonic projects had since been implemented. Owing to a global partnership, there had been visible signs of progress and more initiatives in that regard would be welcomed. He recognized that peace, development and protecting human rights were interlinked and mutually reinforcing, and he also hailed the level of partnership between the African Union and the United Nations, especially as the African Union strove for political stability and conflict resolution throughout the continent.
He urged a wider African partnership in order to ensure economic growth and sustainable development. Angola expressed its support for the Partnership’s commitment to improving infrastructure, adding that it helped improve other sectors and pulled in investment. Turning to health issues, he said future generations were still at risk of being infected with malaria and other treatable diseases, adding that life expectancy was especially gloomy for children under 5. Angola had thus committed itself to halving malaria, and welcomed the launch of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.
Referring to the outcome of the Assembly’s 2008 High-level event on the Development Needs of Africa, he stressed that the continent had been disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of the financial, economic and food crises, and by climate change, as well as volatile commodity prices. To overcome those challenges, it was necessary to reform and bolster the international financial system within a more globally stable, participatory, transparent and coherent framework. He said it was also necessary to take robust steps to wrap up the Doha Round of trade talks and to commit to time bound and action-oriented development assistance ranging from trade, debt relief and sustainable development.
BIODUN OWOSENI ( Nigeria) commended the leadership of NEPAD and the Office of the Special Adviser for Africa. Since its creation, NEPAD had remained optimistic in the face of daunting challenges, and Nigeria attached the utmost importance to its African Peer Review Mechanism, a wholly African instrument for promoting good governance. In that context, he called on African countries that had not yet done so to accede to that instrument.
Africa’s modest growth had been undermined -- and its capacity to attain the Millennium Development Goals weakened -- by current global crises, he explained. However, recommendations in the Assembly’s 2008 Political Declaration on Africa’s Development Needs could turn the continent’s fortunes around. Nigeria welcomed Africa’s productive engagement with Japan and the European Union, as well as with South-South countries, including China, India and Turkey. He called for enhancing national capacities for domestic resource mobilization, scaling up official development assistance and increasing foreign direct investment, among other things.
On climate change, which stood out in the “bouquet” of socio-economic challenges, he urged a collective approach that upheld the common African position. Sustainable development could only take root in an atmosphere where peace and security prevailed, and he agreed with the conclusions of the Secretary-General’s report on that subject. Nigeria was heartened that experimentation with African Union-United Nations hybrid peacekeeping forces had yielded some outstanding results, and that success should be adopted as a strategy for peacekeeping and early warning. Equally, a preventive approach to managing conflicts was needed and there should be zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of Government, self-succession and self-perpetuation in office.
Turning to the fight against malaria, he said that despite the considerable efforts of affected countries and donor agencies, the goals of the Roll Back Malaria Decade had not been realized. To eliminate the scourge, Nigeria was committed to hosting the proposed “ Abuja-Plus-Ten” summit in 2011 and reiterated its call for the Secretary-General to make that summit possible. Africa’s challenges were not insurmountable, and continued support was needed to integrate NEPAD into the structures and processes of a reformed African Union. Advancement of NEPAD programmes, support for global strategic investment partnerships, and support for the African Union’s peace and security architecture were all critical for success. Promises of aid to Africa had to be urgently redeemed.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) said Venezuelans had roots in Africa and, thus, were committed to Africa’s future. Recalling the recent second summit of Heads of State and Government of Africa and South America, he said leaders there had committed to fostering South-South cooperation in an environment where social justice prevailed. They also committed to promoting economic cooperation, and facilitating the equitable distribution of profits from the sale of goods and services, among other things.
Indeed, Venezuela gave priority to South-South cooperation, and had signed over 100 agreements with African countries that were ratified at that summit. Moreover, Venezuela had diplomatic relations with all 52 African Union members, and 18 embassies on the continent. He described plans, made at the summit, to provide the Bank of the South with initial capital of $20 billion. That Bank would be able to reach agreements with the African Development Bank. He also described an initiative that sought to make fair and equitable use of energy, notably by fostering alliances among oil companies in countries of the global South.
Also at the summit, Venezuela raised the idea of creating a University of the South, which would help close the scientific divide between developed and developing nations, he said. Turning to malaria, he urged supporting African countries in their fight against that disease. Universal, free access to treatment for malaria, and other diseases, was needed. Generic drugs to prevent malaria should be made available to African countries, as they were available in South America. “The health of human beings cannot be a tradable commodity”, he stressed. In closing, he urged the United Nations to commit to Africa’s development, reiterating that Venezuela was prepared to foster South-South cooperation to help Africa attain the development it desired.
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