30 January 2003

Kofi Annan Calls for Strengthening of Cooperation Between United Nations and Central Africa in Peacekeeping and Security

NEW YORK, 29 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message from the Secretary-General to the Summit of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), held in Libreville on 21 and 22 January 2003, which was read out by General Lamine Cissé, Representative of the Secretary-General in the Central African Republic:

The new partnership between the United Nations and Africa is based on a vision that reflects both the concerns and the aspirations of the people of Africa. It is intended to help African countries end the conflicts in the region, and tap their economic and human potential -- in short, to help them achieve the goals of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Central Africa abounds in mineral, energy, water and agricultural resources. The high level of economic growth posted by some CEMAC counties in recent years is due largely to the increase in the prices of these countries' export commodities. Yet experience shows that this kind of growth strategy is fragile. Only measures capable of promoting economic diversification and guaranteeing an equitable distribution of wealth among all members of the population will put the CEMAC countries on the road to sustainable growth and development.

Another prerequisite is the creation of a climate of peace, security and stability in the subregion. I am very happy to note that you are attaching increasing priority to this question, and I commend the courageous efforts that you are making within the context of CEMAC to create conditions that will lead to stability and economic integration in the subregion. In this connection, the national dialogue that is being prepared in the Central African Republic, if properly carried out and given your full support, may be the solution to that country's problems, while benefiting the people of the subregion. I urge you to continue your efforts by giving the necessary impetus to the Central African/Chadian Joint Commission and to all other cooperation mechanisms that exist among your countries.

The United Nations supports these efforts, as can be seen from the holding last October of a meeting of the Security Council, under the presidency of Cameroon, on strengthening cooperation between the United Nations system and Central Africa in the maintenance of peace and security.

There are, however, other factors that are equally important for economic and social progress in Africa: good political and economic governance, the development of human resources and infrastructure, and access to markets and international capital. In all these areas, NEPAD constitutes the appropriate framework for an effective partnership between Africa and the international community, including the United Nations. Africans have demonstrated their determination to shoulder their responsibilities and take their destiny into their own hands. I am convinced that, with the help of the international community, we can overcome all the ills currently besetting Africa.

It is in this spirit of partnership that I wish you every success in your work.

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