Press Releases

                                                                                                                            26 May 2004

    Secretary-General, in Remarks to Africa Day Ceremony, Calls for Intensified Efforts to Solve Africa’s Problems

    NEW YORK, 25 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks delivered by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a Headquarters ceremony for Africa Day:

    I am delighted to join you in commemorating this important day for Africa.  Every year, as we observe Africa Day, we take stock of what has been achieved in Africa’s evolution towards a brighter, more hopeful future -- one in which the dreams of modern Africa’s founding fathers would be fulfilled.

    Today, we celebrate not only the success of the long struggle for political independence, spearheaded by the Organization of African Unity.  We take justifiable pride in the establishment of the African Union, and in the progress achieved in the establishment of its institutions.

    We recognize the important achievement of the creation of the Pan African Parliament, and of today’s launch in Addis Ababa of the Peace and Security Council.  Step by step, Africa is constructing an architecture of institutions to promote peace and security on the continent.  And we welcome the clear recognition of the importance of gender balance in the election of the Commissioners of the African Union, and of a woman as the Pan African Parliament’s first President.

    We also celebrate the establishment by the Security Council, at my recommendation, of the long-awaited United Nations peacekeeping operation in Burundi.  Allow me to recognize the indispensable and courageous role played by South Africa, Mozambique and Ethiopia in the African Mission in Burundi, which has done so much to support the Arusha peace process.  And we are witnessing positive signs in the Sudanese peace process -- signs which we fervently hope indicate progress towards a comprehensive peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army).

    Through NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), and its Peer Review Mechanism, Africa is showing a renewed commitment to human rights, good governance, social and economic reform and development, in partnership with the international community. Already, 19 African countries have volunteered to participate in the Peer Review process.

    But in welcoming all these positive trends, we cannot close our eyes to the massive scale of human rights violations and consequent human suffering in Darfur, the continuing tensions in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the current crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, and other areas of tension on the continent.  We must intensify our efforts, individually and collectively, to find a definitive solution to these problems.

    Last but very far from least, we must make greater progress in fighting HIV/AIDS, which is taking away Africa’s present and its future.  We have made some progress, but there is much, much more to be done -- and done urgently -- to educate, to prevent, and to care for those already infected.  At the same time, you rightly look to the international community to do more to support Africa’s efforts.

    On this Africa Day, let us rededicate ourselves to building a stronger, healthier, peaceful, economically vibrant and democratic Africa.

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