21 May 2009

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

"The International Community Must Not Step Back From Its Commitments"

Message on Africa Day, 25 May 2009

VIENNA, 25 May (UN Information Service) - Africa Day, which marks the founding in 1963 of the Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Union, is meant to highlight Africa's achievements and to offer an opportunity to take stock of the massive and urgent challenges that remain.

At the very time when Africa has achieved several years of sustained economic growth and improved stability, the global economic crisis is having a severe impact. We must protect the continent's poorest and most vulnerable people. The international community must not step back from its commitments. For my part, I will continue to urge effective, coordinated action by world leaders, as well as full support for the Millennium Development Goals and the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

Climate change has emerged as a new threat to African development. If we work hard, and agree on deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, we can avoid some of the worst consequences - but not all of them. That is why we must also support adaptation, especially for the poor, who will suffer first - and worst. Most of all, we need leadership and commitment at the highest level to seal a deal at climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

Africa has also seen a troubling re-emergence of unconstitutional changes of government. This reminds us not only of the need to support democratization, but to strengthen Africa's capacity to maintain peace and security. Toward that end, the UN Security Council is building a closer working relationship with the AU Peace and Security Council. We are also moving ahead with the United Nations Ten-Year Capacity-Building Programme in support of the African Union, especially in the provision of technical support for AU peacekeeping.

Indeed, the past year has seen a welcome expansion and consolidation of the strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, including regular dialogue and cooperation between the UN Secretariat and the AU Commission. As we mark Africa Day, I reaffirm the commitment of the entire UN system to supporting Africans in their efforts to build durable peace, security and sustainable development.

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