Your Excellency Ambassador Tete Antonio, Permanent Observer of the AU to the United Nations,
Excellencies, Permanent Representatives to the United Nations,
Distinguished Representatives of African Regional Economic Communities, Distinguished Delegates,
Colleagues from the UN system,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the second briefing of African Regional Economic Communities to you, the Member States of the United Nations.
Just like last year, this event has been co-organized with the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations here in New York.
I thank Ambassador Tete Antonio and his office for their kindness in facilitating and assisting my office in putting this event together and for his committed leadership which has been responsible for the steadily growing relationship and collaboration between OSAA and the African Union.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The mandate given to my office is to enhance international support for Africa's peace and development; assist the Secretary-General in improving coherence and coordination of the UN system support to Africa, and mobilize the support of the international community for Africa.
At the very centre of OSAA’s work is its advocacy role in support of the NEPAD and specifically the work of the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency. This year marks the 10th Anniversary of (NEPAD) and provides us an opportunity to reflect on how far Africa has come economically and politically, what challenges remain, and how best to address them.
My Office will be hosting a series of events this month to mark this anniversary and facilitate a discussion on the challenges and opportunities that Africa has.
I invite you all to attend these events, in particular, a High Level Panel Discussion on NEPAD and the MDGs: Progress, Challenges, and the Way forward will be held on 7 October 2011 from 10.00 to 12.15 at the ECOSOC Chamber.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Africa has always been top on the UN’s agenda of priorities. Many UN peace-keeping, peace building and economic development activities by various actors are focused on the African continent.
In the Secretary General’s Review of the Recommendations contained in the 1998 on Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development, the Secretary-General noted that today’s fast changing environment had prompted the United Nations system to reassess many of the assumptions of the past decades and acknowledge its limitations, revisit the effectiveness of its strategies in Africa, assess its comparative advantages and establish the appropriate partnerships to meet the challenges that remain and take advantage of new opportunities in Africa.
The key partnerships identified in that report are those with the African Union as well as with Africa’s regional economic communities.
The Abuja Declaration on the establishment of the African Economic Community provides the overarching framework for continental economic integration. The African Union provides the backbone for Africa’s progress and integration. Africa’s regional economic communities are not only the key building blocks for economic integration in Africa, but also the key actors, in collaboration with the African Union, in ensuring peace and stability in their regions.
The UN is working to strengthen its relationship with the AU as evidenced by the recently significantly expanded UN Office to the African Union which brings increased manpower and greater coherence to the UN engagement with the AU, and which is intended to help build the capacity of the AU to address African challenges.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Beyond their role in peace and security, RECs have the immense challenge of working with governments, civil society and the AU Commission to ensure economic growth and sustainable development in order to raise the living standards of African people.
RECs are increasingly expanding this capacity through various peace and development initiatives with the support of the UN system and partner countries. Indeed, RECs form the basic component of Africa’s economic future, as they provide the platform for greater growth, through the process of economic integration.
It is precisely for this reason that the African Union has identified regional economic communities as essential for accelerated development in Africa. The UN and other international organizations have understood the critical role that African Union and its regional groupings have to play in achieving the goals of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.
Last year witnessed increased alignment of the programmes of various United Nations entities with those of the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Agency and RECs, and greater cooperation in the processes of institution-building and programme design and implementation.
In the area of regional integration and infrastructure, the NEPAD Agency has been facilitating the implementation of seven regional projects within the framework of the African Union-NEPAD Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative, as endorsed at the sixteenth session of the Assembly of the African Union. The initiative is expected to go a long way in addressing the interconnectivity gap in order to unleash the continent’s potential.
On agriculture, there has been some progress made on the implementation of regional CAADP compacts, and in areas such as the West Africa Fisheries Policy Pilot Project, involving Ghana and Sierra Leone.
On health, the NEPAD Agency, in consultation with the regional economic communities, has finalized the situation analysis of the regulation and harmonization of medicines in the East African Community (EAC), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). NEPAD will disseminate lessons learned from the review process to the RECs and African countries in general.
Seven years after the adoption of the NEPAD Action Plan for the Environment, progress has been recorded in the development of sub regional environment action plans for the regions and countries represented by ECCAS, ECOWAS, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), SADC and the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA).
On empowerment of women, NEPAD Agency is working with COMESA and ECOWAS to help set up business incubators for African women entrepreneurs.
These are but few of the many African- led initiatives aimed at improving the lives of people in the continent.
Indeed, the rationale of these annual briefings sponsored by my office and the Permanent Observer Mission of the AU to the United Nations is to enhance awareness and understanding on the part of Member States here at the UN Headquarters in New York of the role that RECs are playing in Africa’s peace and development, with a view to generate greater support from the UN and the international community at large for the work, goals, aims and priorities of the AU and the RECs.
Such support is critical to strengthen their roles, meet their capacity constraints and foster the effectiveness in promoting durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.
Thank you for your kind attention.