17 October 2005

General Assembly Concludes Debate on New Partnership for Africa's Development, Decade to Roll Back Malaria

NEW YORK, 14 October (UN Headquarters) -- As the General Assembly continued its discussion of ways to help African countries achieve the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), Indonesia's representative informed delegates of a new initiative that would allow for the pooling of resources and expertise to attain people-centred development.

He said the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership, launched at the January Asia-Africa Summit, would focus on poverty eradication, promote political solidarity, strengthen relations and enhance economic cooperation between the two continents.  He also called for donors to increase official development assistance (ODA); live up to commitments on free and fair trade, with more reliable access to developed markets; and follow through on promises to provide affordable drugs to treat diseases that severely undermined Africa's development.

While noting that support for Africa had grown in the last year, the Congo's delegate agreed that the situation would improve further if countries followed through on their promises, including the decision by the Group of 8 to forgive the debt of 18 countries, 14 of them African.  He called for rich countries to begin eliminating agricultural subsidies for their own producers, so developing countries could compete in the global market.

Although NEPAD had achieved successes in the four years since its launch, Azerbaijan's representative said the areas of infrastructure development, health and education in Africa needed serious attention.  International assistance and cooperation could be used to develop energy corridors, create efficient transport systems and increase regional trade, as well as improve health and education.  Acknowledging the usefulness of South-South cooperation, he offered his country's assistance in educating young Africans in the energy-related fields.

Summing up the debate over the past two days, which also examined efforts related to the Decade to Roll Back Malaria (2001-2010), Assembly President Jan Eliasson (Sweden) said it seemed clear that progress had been made in fighting malaria but efforts needed to be stepped up.  On NEPAD, he said the initiative had changed the nature of discussions on Africa, and brought African ownership of development to the forefront.  The African Union Peace and Security Council, progress towards an early warning system and a significant reduction in conflicts were some of the results.  The Assembly's debate had been an important step to continue momentum towards achieving the goals of NEPAD.

Also this morning, the Assembly authorized the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) to continue its session during the main part of the Assembly's sixtieth session, as requested in a letter from the Chairman of the Committee on Conferences (document A/60/344/Add.1).

Statements were also made today by the representatives of Zambia, Pakistan, Libya, Belarus, Venezuela, Ethiopia, Syria and Saint Kitts and Nevis, as well as the Observer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 17 October, when it is expected to elect 18 members of the Economic and Social Council.


The General Assembly met this morning to conclude its joint debate on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the 2001-2010 Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries.  (For background, see Press Release GA/10403 issued on 13 October.)


REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said the Secretary-General's reports on the implementation of the New Partnership were cause for optimism, and encouraged the international community to view Africa as a continent of opportunity.  Contrary to the persistently negative images of Africa saturating the world media, the reports revealed a more balanced picture of a continent reinventing itself, using the New Partnership framework to drive development.  But that was not to suggest that the road ahead would be easy.  Without significant international support, African States would find it extremely difficult to implement the NEPAD objectives that would help them achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

So far, he said, African countries had been able to lay a solid foundation, through critical political and social reforms, to facilitate their integration into the global economy.  Indonesia supported the Secretary-General's view that donors must live up to their commitments to promote free and fair trade, with more reliable access to developed markets.  They must also follow up on promises to ensure that affordable anti-retroviral drugs be made easily available, so that countries could contain the HIV/AIDS pandemic which had severely undermined development on the continent.  He also called for donors to increase official development assistance (ODA).

In addition, he highlighted the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP), which had been launched during the Asia-Africa Summit this past January.  That initiative was designed to promote continued political solidarity, to strengthen sociocultural relations and to enhance economic cooperation between the two regions.  With poverty eradication a major focus, the Strategic Partnership would build on existing initiatives and allow Asia and Africa to pool their resources and expertise for people-centred development.

LUC JOSEPH OKIO (Congo) said that four years ago, African leaders adopted the New Partnership with the objective of bringing about large and equitable growth to help their countries overcome poverty.  There was the temptation to say that little progress had been made as NEPAD was now assessed.  However, there should be pride in the efforts being made by African countries to develop peace and security; reduce illegal arms trafficking, illegal exploitation of natural resources, and recruitment of child soldiers; and address HIV/AIDS.

Those efforts would yield better results if given the necessary support by the international community, he continued.  In the last year, mobilization of support for Africa had grown, and the situation would improve further if countries followed through on the aid promised to Africa.  The decision in Gleneagles to forgive the debt of 18 countries, 14 of them African, was an important step to help Africa move forward.

He said supporting NEPAD at the regional level involved strengthening the capacity of regional and national institutions, by providing them with technological skills, proper financial assistance, and by using the evaluation mechanism instituted within NEPAD with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  To promote greater promotion of the private sector and international investment, NEPAD projects should be implemented locally, and the acceleration of South-South cooperation should be implemented internationally.  At the next WTO meeting in Hong Kong, it was important to ensure gradual elimination of subsidies by rich countries for their own agricultural producers, in order to enable African countries to better compete in the international market.

TENS C. KAPOMA (Zambia) said that, while he appreciated the international support given to NEPAD -- essentially a programme by and for Africans, there was a critical need for much more international support.  For its part, Zambia had been concentrating on developing its infrastructure in the sectors of agriculture, tourism, mining, education, health and human resources.

With respect to malaria, he fully supported the conclusions and recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), which urged malaria-endemic countries to develop integrated human resources at all levels.  His Government had launched the National Malaria Control Strategy, whose goal was to track Zambia's progress towards meeting its malaria-control targets.  In that regard, it had taken steps to combat drug resistance.  It was also committed to health reform and continued to subsidize insecticide-treated nets and drugs for needy communities.  Zambia had also established a council to address HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, which posed serious challenges to the achievement of development goals.

YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said while there had been positive developments in implementing NEPAD, the areas of infrastructure development, health and education still required serious attention.  Regional and subregional cooperative arrangements could help develop energy corridors, create efficient transport systems and increase regional trade turnover.  Support to the social sector, particularly health and education, should be an essential component of international assistance.  South-South cooperation, particularly through training health professionals and knowledge exchange programmes, could address problems in health delivery and management.

He said economic and social threats, as well as internal conflicts, continued to jeopardize the consolidation of peace in Africa.  The international community, with the United Nations taking a lead role, should address those threats in a timely and comprehensive manner.  International financial support should be given to African Union peacekeeping and to establishing the African Standby Force.  Disarmament and reintegration of refugees remained one of the key components of post-conflict activities.

He said Azerbaijan, a country affected by conflict and with an economy in transition, had limited financial resources for NEPAD, but was ready to provide assistance in educating and training young African professionals, including petroleum engineers, workers and researchers.

AIZAZ AHMAD CHAUDHRY (Pakistan) said that development, peace and security were interlinked with the progress of NEPAD.  Durable peace would only be achieved through a comprehensive conflict-prevention strategy, which addressed the root causes of conflict, and the strengthening of capacities for peaceful settlement of disputes, peacemaking and peacekeeping.

He said that while the attention of the international community had been forcefully directed at economic and social threats, there was concern that the human resources required to solve multidimensional, interlinked problems was falling well short of what was needed.  Africa was the only continent not on track to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  At the World Summit, countries committed themselves to strengthening cooperation with NEPAD through increased financial resources.  "Pakistan strongly believes that development should be used as the best means for preventing conflict in the first place, not just to prevent the relapse of conflict", he said.

He commended African leadership for their vision in launching NEPAD -- an African-owned and initiated programme for sustainable growth and development for the continent.  The Secretary General's recommendations for NEPAD, including building national and regional institutions and promoting greater involvement of the private sector, were vital to ensuring its success.  The international community must also honour its commitments and deliver the aid it pledged to NEPAD.

RAMADAN IRHIAM (Libya) said African leaders had long understood that peace and stability on the continent were prerequisites for development.  With that understanding, African countries had undertaken several actions, including establishing the African Union Peace and Security Council.  The African Union was also in the process of trying to establish a continental reserve force and other bodies to reduce conflict.  He hoped the international community would provide financial support to enable Africa to put an end to all conflicts on the continent.

Africa was well aware that it had the primary responsibility for achieving its own development, he said.  However, due to its long colonial history, it had to rely on the support of the United Nations system and developed countries to achieve its objectives.  As the Secretary-General said in his report, more international support was required and it was necessary to fulfil commitments.

Libya, he said, was meeting with other oil-producing countries to address the rising price of oil, which had a disastrous impact on developing countries.  He also noted the disastrous impact of diseases on peace and security in Africa, and the world as a whole.  There were communities in Africa in which only the very young and very old remained, as those in between had been decimated by AIDS.  That underscored the need for outside help to achieve progress in Africa.

VALERIY ZHDANOVICH (Belarus) said there had been a significant reduction in the number of conflicts in Africa, and noted the establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism.  However, insufficient progress had been made towards achieving development goals.  The international community must more actively support NEPAD, particularly with financial resources.  He recalled that much had been said about the need for good governance to achieve development.  The recent World Summit should serve to strengthen efforts to achieve development.

IMERIA NÚÑEZ DE ODREMÁN (Venezuela) recalled that, during the eighteenth century, Africans from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Benin and Guinea were brought to colonial Venezuela, where they were subjected to slavery like in many other regions.  They formed a core of the population and, today, Venezuela had a significant African cultural presence.  Her Government had pursued, throughout its history, independence for African nations and the end of apartheid.  The African colonial inheritance, however, persisted today.  Therefore, it was necessary to confront the poverty, division, exploitation and exclusion that still existed as a result of events in the past.

Speaking about her country's relations with Africa, she said Venezuela had assumed a rising path in its relations with the continent.  At the beginning of 2005, its relations with the African continent scarcely existed, with few embassies and few formal relations.  It had begun to establish new relations with countries in sub-Saharan Africa in late 2004, and had since then established new relations with other African countries in 2005.  As of next year, it would enjoy relations with all African States.  She added that Venezuela welcomed the political measures and initiatives geared towards implementing NEPAD.

TERUNEH ZENNA (Ethiopia) said NEPAD was the most effective instrument for pushing Africa's socio-economic agenda forward and bringing the continent into the international development spotlight.  Ethiopia had been engaged in implementing various policies and programmes in line with NEPAD.  The country held its third ever multiparty elections in May, had adopted anti-corruption measures, and had focused Government expenditures on poverty reduction.  Ethiopia's Women's Affairs Office had recently been elevated to ministerial level and was preparing a national plan of action for gender equality.

He said malaria was one of Ethiopia's foremost health problems.  The country's Health Sector Development Programme had given considerable attention to malaria control.  Priority interventions included early diagnosis and prompt treatment, spraying of houses with insecticides and distribution of insecticide-treated nets, among other things.  Those achievements came in spite of a shortage of personnel and inadequate community participation.  Other challenges included unusual weather that had created epidemic conditions, the spread of resistance to drugs and insecticide, and an inadequate supply of long-lasting mosquito nets, among other things.  Malaria would remain one of the priority areas for the health sector in Ethiopia.  He called on the international community to strengthen its support to meet the targets set out in the Abuja Declaration.

MILAD ATIEH (Syria) said that in efforts to achieve development in the South, priority had to be given to African concerns.  His delegation supported NEPAD and looked forward to the achievement of its objectives.  It endorsed the notion that more international support, greater debt relief and an improved trade regime were needed.  It was also necessary to develop the economic strengths of Africa, a task that required the support of the international community.  Supporting NEPAD was the best way to help Africa develop mechanisms for sustainable development.

In addition to the Group of 8's plan to cancel the debt of poor countries, he also emphasized the need to reduce the debt of middle-income countries.  Since there was a close link between peace and development, Syria supported efforts to promote peace in Africa, which should take into account the rights of the African people.  Syria commended the achievements of the African Union in peacekeeping.  To sustain the momentum achieved in Africa, the United Nations should increase its efforts on the continent, including the provision of free mosquito nets to fight malaria.

JOSEPH CHRISTMAS (Saint Kitts and Nevis) said NEPAD was not just a new partnership, but "a new Africa".  New programmes being created on the continent, such as the South African initiative called "Africa Define Yourself", told of the new Africa that was being seen today.  His country wanted to share its experiences with the African continent, particularly in the field of education.  A common currency for eight countries in the Caribbean had been created, and a common passport was being attempted.  Saint Kitts and Nevis was willing to share its experience in those areas with Africa.

ENCHO GOSPODINOV, Observer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that every time he passed an African colleague in the halls of the United Nations building, he could feel a silent question being posed:  "Are you doing the best you can for our continent?"  He confessed that while that was not an easy question to answer, he certainly knew that he, and most other international humanitarian relief workers, felt more could -- and should -- be done for Africa.

Of course that was easy to say, but in the wake of one of the humanitarian community's most trying 10-month periods -- from the devastation wrought by last December's earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean, to last month's deadly hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the United States, and now the horrific scenes emerging following mudslides in Central America and earthquakes in Pakistan and India -- Africa's troubles could drop off the media radar.  But the continent remained a priority for the Federation, receiving some 30 per cent of its Global Appeal for 2005.

The Federation, he added, also intended to boost its HIV/AIDS response and scale up its efforts to address food security and local capacity-building in Africa.  And while it was encouraged to see that the creation of a culture of prevention and the improvement of community health featured prominently in the United Nations strategy for sustainable development in Africa, it believed that Africa must drive its own development.  The commitment of countries in need was essential to the international community's overall search for success on the continent.

JAN ELIASSON (Sweden), President of the General Assembly, said there were several key points that had emerged from the debate.  On malaria, there had been recognition of the progress made, as well as of the need for further action.  There had been recognition that HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases threatened to reverse progress made in public health systems.  The NEPAD had changed the nature of discussions on Africa.  There was now African ownership of development efforts.  The establishment of the African Union Peace and Security Council, progress towards the creation of an early warning system and other steps were all commendable.  The number of conflicts on the continent had significantly decreased.  Regional organizations were well incorporated as a part of the process and that had been well demonstrated.

The priorities set by Africa, including those for agriculture, had been a welcome development, he continued.  There had also been progress in coordinating the donor system.  Improving governance, fighting corruption and building a good investment climate had also been priorities.  Further, there had been progress on debt, particularly with the Group of 8 decision to forgive the debt of poor countries.  But it was also necessary to ensure debt relief for middle-income countries.  There was continuing concern that direct investment in Africa remained limited.  The debate had been an important step to continue momentum towards achieving the goals of NEPAD.

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