62nd Session of the General Assembly
General Debate on agenda items 47 and 64 a) and 64 b)
2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing countries, particularly Africa; NEPAD: Progress in Implementation and International Support and Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Lemos Godinho
Mission of Portugal to the United Nations
on behalf of the European Union
New York, October, 18, 2007
Your Excellency Mr. President,
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Croatia*, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
First of all, the European Union wishes to congratulate its African partners on the sixth anniversary of the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD. As in previous years, the EU welcomes today's Africa debate in the United Nations General Assembly and welcomes the opportunity to address three key items: NEPAD, peace and security aspects and the fight against malaria on the African continent.
Africa is one of the main focus of the European Union's development policy. Our partnership with Africa is strong and lasting. The EU continues to support the NEPAD initiative, which provides an apt basis of the partnership between international community and African nations. We can surely state that thanks to NEPAD Democratic and accountable governance is gaining ground on the African continent. This is most clearly evidenced by the growing number of multiparty elections, more representative and effective legislatures, improved space for civil society and the adoption of policy milestones such as the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in January 2007.
The EU will continue to support these processes at institutional and field level as it has done already, for example with its assistance to electoral observation missions in many African countries.
One of the most significant results of NEPAD activities is however the African Peer Review Mechanism, APRM. The EU is pleased to note that as of June 2007, 26 countries have voluntarily acceded this entirely African owned process. The EU follows with great interest the activities of the APRM in 2007 and welcomes that the APRM - as African way to good governance - has encouraged countries to adopt policy measures to strengthen accountability and transparency.
The key challenge remains, however, the implementation of those projects and programs identified in National Programs of Action. The EU is therefore willing to support countries that are tackling the problems identified in the APRM process.
The EU would like to advocate a stronger involvement of civil society in the APRM process. By making good governance an issue not only of concern to governments, but also to civil society, the APRM will gain weight and legitimacy. It is equally important to increase the participation of women in political life.
On Action taken by African countries and Organizations within the framework of NEPAD as indicated in the Progress Report by the Secretary General, we would like to congratulate progress achieved in the areas of Infrastructure, Agriculture, Health, Education, Information and Communication Technology, Science and Technology, Gender Mainstreaming and civil society involvement.
The EU strongly supports the orientation of the Member States of the African Union, confirmed at the highest level on the occasion of the Accra meeting of Heads of State and Government, to proceed steadily towards the objective of economic and institutional integration which, as shown by the EU’s experience, is an invaluable asset to ensure stability and development.
Africa is at the heart of the EU’s development policy. Africa has great potential, as witnessed by its people, culture, economic and political successes during the last decade. But Africa also has its continuing problems. Poverty is not a concept in Africa – it is a reality. Armed conflicts, corruption, failing states, lack of economic development, inadequate social infrastructures, poor standards of education, environmental degradation and the HIV/AIDS pandemic are depressing its standard of living. The lack of financial resources, adequate technology and effective institutions further limits the capacity of some African Countries to adapt and respond to the adverse impacts of climate change which are already and disproportionately affecting the poorest and most vulnerable countries and groups.
As far as Official Development Assistance (ODA) is concerned, the European Council reiterated in Brussels in June 2004 that the EU would intensify its efforts to fulfill the commitments undertaken in Monterrey, including through the exploration of innovative sources of financing. The EU, which is already the world's main purveyor of development with over 50% of the total, has collectively agreed to increase its ODA to 0.7% of its Gross National Income by 2015. In 2006, the EU exceeded its target of 0.39% by increasing ODA to 0.42% of its combined GNI and by disbursing a record €48 billion Euros, representing more than 100 Euros per European citizen. In 2005 Africa received the most substantial part of EU aid. The outlook is also positive to meet the second collective target of 0.56% of GNI by 2010 and to finally attain the 0.7% ODA/ GNI goal by 2015. These historic EU commitments account for almost 80% of promised G8 aid increases for Africa.
The EU stands ready to assist with its commitment to ODA and debt relief. The resolution of Africa’s external debt problem is critical for the sustainable development of the African countries. The EU remains committed to the extended “Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative” (HIPC) and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) to help eligible countries reach and maintain a sustainable level of debt in order for them to reinforce poverty reduction efforts and promote growth. The EU is concerned by the growing number of cases of litigation against HIPC countries. We call on all creditors, including commercial and non Paris-Club official creditors to fully participate in the HIPC initiative. Both creditors as well as debtor countries have a responsibility in ensuring long term debt sustainability. The Debt Sustainability Framework of the World Bank and the IMF provides important guidance in this regard. Although the primary responsibility for maintaining debt sustainability rests with the borrowing country itself, all creditor countries are called upon to take debt sustainability aspects into consideration in their lending policies. Agreeing on common principles for responsible lending and increasing the availability of information on lending and its terms remain important tasks.
By 2008 Economic Partnership Agreements with four ACP regions in Africa will enter into force, promoting regional integration and a comprehensive approach to tackle barriers to trade and attract investors. Together with our financial assistance, we firmly believe that this will contribute to an enabling environment for economic growth. The EU has taken the EU Strategy for Africa as a starting point for the programming of relevant EU aid instruments. We would also like to highlight the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) (€22.7 billion for the period 2008-2013, 90% of which will be allocated to sub-Saharan Africa). Moreover, the European Union and Africa have decided to further strengthen the ties linking both continents by developing the co-owned ‘joint strategy’ which reflects the needs and aspirations of the peoples of Africa and Europe and are heading towards a second EU-Africa Summit that should take place in Lisbon at the end of 2007.
Causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and Sustainable Development in Africa
Africa today is afflicted by far fewer armed conflicts than it was a decade ago, but still one fifth of the population of the continent lives in areas affected by conflict. There has been considerable progress over the past few years. Today, while conflicts in Somalia, DRC and in the Darfur Region of the Sudan are a cause for concern, others such as the civil wars in Angola, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have been resolved and many other conflicts are in the course of being settled.
The EU expresses its deep concern about the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur and condemns the continuing violations of the cease-fire. The EU actively supports the transition from AMIS to UNAMID. The EU further expresses its concern over the security and humanitarian situation in Somalia and in East-DRC.
Numerous actions have been taken by the EU in the area of Peace and Security in Africa. Under the African Peace Facility around €300 million have been provided to support the AU mission in Sudan, while the operation in the Central African Republic (CAR) led by CEMAC was supported with over €23M, and the AMISOM Mission in Somalia with another €15M. A number of Capacity Building programs have been launched, too. The initial funding of the African Peace Facility (APF) €250 million was brought to the total of €385M. €300 million has also been put aside for the period 2008-2010.EU concept for strengthening African capabilities for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts has been established. The Peace Facility is based on the principle of African ownership and solidarity.
The EU welcomes the increased role of the UN in preventive diplomacy and reiterates its support for the Summit Outcome conclusion that each individual State has the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The central responsibility rests within the countries themselves and no external efforts will be of use unless the State and its population agree on their importance and have a will to address the issues in question.
The EU condemns all forms of sexual violence and underscores the importance of integrating a gender perspective and the protection of children into conflict prevention. Urgent preventive measures should be developed especially in relation to gender-based violence in conflicts. Mechanisms for prevention against and protection from gender-based violence need to be well planned in advance and included to the inter-agency contingency plans and strategies. The EU takes note with appreciation of the activities carried out in 2007 by UNIFEM and UNHCR in the African Continent.
The EU also supports the strengthening of fragile states as well as Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) together with Security Sector Reform programs in African states. In this context, we welcome the Second International Conference on DDR, which was held in the DRC in June 2007.
Conflict prevention and reconstruction efforts in Africa go hand in hand with building durable peace and promoting economic growth. The new Instrument for Stability therefore combines short-term measures in situations of political crisis or natural disaster and long-term activities in stable context aimed at mitigating threats that could fuel conflicts. Initiatives that are currently planned or being implemented this year include support to SSR in DRC, accompanying measures to AMISOM in Somalia or the support for the Juba Peace talks in Uganda. Increasingly countries on the continent are holding democratic elections. The EU has played a key role in the peaceful completion of Presidential elections in the DRC and Sierra Leone. Africa is moving in the direction of economic prosperity with a 6% growth rate expected in 2007 and the rule of law has become the centerpiece of all policymaking processes. 29 African countries are now parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The EU is fully engaged in post conflict reconstruction in Africa and supports in particular the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).
The PBC provides an agreed framework to record commitments from the country under consideration, the PBC and other partners, and to ensure greater coherence and coordination efforts. The EU has for many years provided considerable input for peacebuilding activities in Africa and elsewhere in the world and is ready to continue its commitments by actively supporting the work of the PBC in the two African countries, Burundi and Sierra Leone.
The UN Peace building Fund, in operation since January 2007, plays a critical role in providing countries with start-up funding for early recovery. The EU has been contributing to this Fund and is collectively its largest donor.
The EU supported actively the work of the PBC during its first year and will continue to do so on the basis of its longstanding experience, resources and worldwide engagement.
Decade to Roll Back Malaria
Health is inextricably linked to development. It is a fundamental element in reducing poverty and in promoting human security. The Abuja commitment of African leaders aiming at increased health sector financing is a clear recognition of this fact.
After many years of impressive gains in human health worldwide, we are now in a situation where countries are unable to cope with the burden of disease posed on their health systems. This is due to inherent weaknesses in national health systems, unpredictable and uneven funding and the acute lack of skilled human resources.
Malaria disproportionately affects poor people, with almost 60% of malaria cases occurring in the poorest 20% of the world's population. The disease also exacerbates the poverty of poor countries and communities through its significant effects on long-term economic growth and development. As indicated in the WHO report, evidence shows that malaria keeps poor people poor, costing Africa US$ 12 billion per year in lost GDP and consuming up to 34% of household incomes and 40% of government health spending. The global efforts to roll back malaria highlight many of the key weaknesses and possibilities for the health sector.
There are however positive signs. There is evidence that malaria cases have decreased in 7 African countries. South Africa is a success story and so is Swaziland. The EU takes note with great appreciation of these positive developments.
The EU will support endeavours to ensure access to effective anti-malaria drugs. The Global Fund on Malaria, whose budget receives support from EU member states, has financed a massive campaign for the spread of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITN) in Africa, which the EU hopes will result in a substantial reduction in malaria cases and deaths, particularly among children under 5. While attempting to stimulate R&D, to lower prices of new drugs and to enhance procurement and distribution, it is also crucial to closely monitor the impact of new treatments, problems of drug resistance and strengthen community knowledge including encouraging access to long lasting ITN’s, indoor residual spraying, in accordance with the rules of the Stockholm convention, and other preventive and awareness-enhancing measures.
Let me conclude by saying that Africa needs peace and stability and that the EU is fully committed to helping reach that goal. Our relationship, conducted in a spirit of equal partnership, is also based on firm, shared commitment to democracy, the promotion of human rights, good governance and respect for the rule of law, on mutual respect and accountability.
Thank you, Mr. President.
* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.