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UN Secretary-General’s remarks at Press Encounter with Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, following the AU-UN Conference

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UN Secretary-General’s remarks at Press Encounter with Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, following the AU-UN Conference

Africa Renewal
1 December 2021
 António Guterres
UN Photos
Secretary-General António Guterres.
If you can't read now, just listen to the audio version: 

I thank the Chairperson of the African Union — my dear friend Moussa Faki Mahamat.  

We have just concluded the fifth Annual Conference between the United Nations and the African Union.    

The partnership between our organizations is stronger than ever.  

And today, we measured our progress and our next steps.  

This includes our joint work to advance peace and security in Africa; development co-operation; humanitarian operations, elections, peaceful transfers of power; and a new Joint Framework on Human Rights. 

We focused on a number of keys to economic recovery for Africa.  

First, making progress on vaccines — with only six per cent of Africa’s population fully vaccinated and COVID variants threatening lives and recovery prospects.   

We have seen low vaccination rates — combined with deeply unequal access to vaccines — are creating a breeding ground for variants. 

We need true vaccine solidarity — now.  

I called for a global vaccination plan involving all countries that produce — or can produce — vaccines, including several in Africa.  

In the absence of such a plan, I fully support WHO’s strategy to get vaccines into the arms of 70 per cent of the people, in all countries, in the first half of 2022. 

And we need to continue summoning support and financing for sustainable domestic vaccine manufacturing in Africa.  

The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available to them.  

Nor should they be collectively punished for identifying and sharing crucial science and health information with the world. 

With a virus that is truly borderless, travel restrictions that isolate any one country or region are not only deeply unfair and punitive — they are ineffective.  

I appeal to all governments to consider instead repeated testing for travelers, together with other appropriate and truly effective measures.  

This is the only way to reduce the risk of transmission while allowing for travel and economic engagement.  

Second, the world needs to address the deeply immoral and unequal path of the economic recovery. 

Developed countries are investing 28 per cent of their GDP in recovery, middle income countries are investing 6.5 per cent, and the least developed countries are investing just 1.8 per cent of a far smaller amount.  

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the International Monetary Fund projects that cumulative economic growth per capita over the next five years will be 75 per cent less than the rest of the world.  

This is totally unacceptable. Africa was recovering very well before the pandemic. For ten years Africa had the highest rate of growth in the global economy and now Africa is condemned to lose ground because of international lack of effective solidarity. 

The fact that vulnerable countries are drowning in debt.  

And they’re counting on the re-allocation of unused Special Drawing Rights.   

But we need a massive commitment to make that happen, because they are -a s you know -essentially distributed to the richest countries in the world. 

The G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative must be extended into next year.  

All developing countries — including middle-income countries — need effective debt relief. 

And then, climate action.   

The goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees is on life support, as you know. 

And those who contributed the least are suffering the most.  

Wealthier countries need to significantly strengthen their support to developing countries — both for adaptation and in making the shift to green economies.  

And finally, recovery means building lasting peace in a region beset by conflicts and political upheaval.   

This depends on investing in African Union-led peace support operations — and I will continue to push to ensure they have the mandate of the Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter with guaranteed financing.   

Recent months have seen a resurgence of military coups.   

We see terrorism and violent extremism stalk millions across the Sahel and renewed fighting in the DRC.  

And the conflict in Ethiopia continues unabated. 

I renew my appeal for an immediate cessation of hostilities and unhindered humanitarian access.  

There is no justification for the targeting of ethnic groups and arbitrary arrests — nor for detaining UN personnel.  

All this work requires close collaboration between the UN and the AU — and that’s what today’s meeting was all about.  

Once again, I want to thank Chairperson Faki and I look forward to ever-deeper co-operation ahead.  

Thank you.

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