Press Releases

    GA/9988
    4 December 2001

    GENERAL ASSEMBLY TOLD ECONOMIC GROWTH WOULD
    EASE CONFLICT SITUATIONS, AID SUSTAINABLE
    DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

    Draft Resolution Introduced on Ways
    To Promote Peace and Progress

    NEW YORK, 3 December (UN Headquarters) -- Economic growth would lead to peace and sustainable development in Africa, just as it had in other parts of the world, the representative from India told the General Assembly, as it began its debate this afternoon on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in that continent.

    The representative said African resources had sparked economic development worldwide, but colonialism had kept Africa itself economically impoverished for centuries. Shortcomings in international trading and finance had then barred the continent from realizing its own potential.

    The President of the Assembly, Han Seung-Soo (Republic of Korea), noted that many African countries had shown slow but steady economic growth during the 1990s, but conflict-ridden States had suffered. The international community should provide increased private and public capital flows to Africa, market access and debt reduction.

    The representative from the United Republic of Tanzania, speaking on behalf of the African Group, introduced a draft resolution, mainly concerned with procedures for implementing recommendations of a working group and of the Secretary-General for promoting durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.

    The representative of Pakistan said Africa was the poorest continent of the world. One fifth of its population was living in conflict situations. Besides the direct economic and human costs, continued conflicts led to a significant increase in crimes and violence, and disrupted agricultural activities.

    The representative from Ghana said that poverty, underdevelopment and weak institutions were critical conditions leading to conflict. The financial support rich countries gave to Africa for post-conflict rehabilitation and reintegration of demobilized soldiers, as well as to nations shouldering peacekeeping and peace-building responsibilities, had been inadequate.

    Speaking for the European Union and associated States, the representative of Belgium said the international community must be determined in tackling economic factors underlying conflicts in Africa. Exploitation of natural resources fuelled wars, and defied political responses drawn up by the international community.

    Also addressing the Assembly were the representatives of Algeria, South Africa, Togo, Singapore, China, Norway, Egypt, Republic of Korea, United States and Libya.

    The Assembly meets again tomorrow, Tuesday, at 10 a.m. to continue its debate on the causes of conflict and promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.

    Background

    The General Assembly this afternoon began consideration of its agenda item on the causes of conflict and the promotion of a durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.

    The Assembly had before it the report of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on the Causes of conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa (document A/56/45), a report from the Secretary-General (document A/56/371) and a draft resolution (document A/56/L.28).

    The report of the working group, which was mandated to monitor implementation of recommendations contained in an earlier report of the Secretary-General on causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (document A/52/871-S/1998/318), said the group had focused on two themes: conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building; and education.

    The working group report states that although a number of steps have been taken to implement the Secretary General’s recommendations, appropriate mechanisms needed to be developed to ensure action at the national, regional and international levels.

    Regarding education, the working group recommends that the Assembly call on the international community to provide the necessary assistance to African countries to achieve universal primary education, to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and to achieve gender equality in education by 2015. It calls, among other things, for the consolidation of all education initiatives in Africa and support for the use of information and communications technology to improve access to education. The educational needs of refugees, displaced persons and those in camps for the demobilized must be addressed as an integral part of peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building.

    On conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building, the report calls for a comprehensive approach, addressing the root causes of conflict and potential conflict, including political, economic and social factors. The working group proposes that the Assembly call upon the international community to actively support the efforts of those countries in Africa which are leading the efforts to promote regional peace, and to resolve conflicts on the continent. It also proposes the collaboration of civil society with government and regional/subregional organizations.

    The working group also recommends that the Assembly call upon the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to focus more on the economic, social and humanitarian dimensions of conflict prevention and peace-building. It further recommends that ensuring greater cooperation on issues of conflict prevention and peace-building, particularly in Africa, should be a priority and focus in the consultations between the Presidents of the Assembly, the Security Council and the ECOSOC.

    The report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace in Africa, is submitted in compliance with General Assembly related resolution 55/217 of 21 December 2000. The report updates information contained in the progress report on the implementation of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, submitted to the Security Council in September 1999 (document S/199/1008).

    Section II of the Secretary-General’s report before the Assembly today describes specific follow-up action that has been initiated or completed in the areas of peacemaking, peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building. Section III contains a broad overview of recent developments in the areas of governance and sustainable development. Section IV presents some concluding observations, underscoring the need for the international community to support the efforts of African countries to undertake and sustain reform of their economies.

    The initial report of the Secretary-General looked to all members of the international community to support the efforts of the African countries and their development partners. The current report, however, primarily focuses on how the organizations of the United Nations system have responded in the implementation of the recommendations.

    Draft Resolutions

    By the terms of the draft resolution on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa, the Assembly would decide to suspend the activities of the Ad Hoc Working Group during the fifty-sixth current session of the General Assembly, in order to consider further measures for the implementation and monitoring of initiatives in Africa, including the ministerial declaration of the high-level segment of the 2001 substantive session of ECOSOC. This consideration would take place in the light of the forthcoming review of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s and related initiatives, all of which should be guided by the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

    The Assembly would also decide to continue to monitor the implementation of the recommendations continued in the report of the Secretary-General on causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.

    The Secretary-General would be asked to submit to the Assembly’s next session a comprehensive report on the implementation of the recommendations contained in his report, including concrete measures needed to ensure a coordinated and integrated approach to the full and early implementation of the recommendations. The draft would also request that the Secretary-General designate the already established inter-departmental/inter-agency task force as the permanent focal point within the Secretariat, mandated to monitor the implementation of the recommendations contained in his report. It would also request that the task force be strengthened with the necessary human and financial resources to effectively carry out this task; and that the task force should provide Member States, on an annual basis, with updated matrices indicating the current status of implementation of the various recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General.

    Statements

    The President of the Assembly, HAN SEUNG-SOO (Republic of Korea), said chapter seven of the Millennium Declaration had pledged support for the consolidation of democracy in Africa and assistance for Africans in their struggle for lasting peace, poverty eradication, and sustainable development. Currently, some 17 conflicts were ongoing on that continent. While many African countries had shown slow but steady economic growth during the 1990s, conflict ridden States had suffered negative growth. Furthermore, the tragedy of AIDS blighted the lives of more than 23 million Africans.

    The situation must be improved, he said. In a world of accelerating globalization, the common prosperity of all mankind should be the objective. He highly welcomed the New Partnership for African Development, which drew its strength from the determination of Africans to overcome underdevelopment and marginalization. In order to guarantee the successful implementation of New Partnership for African Development, the international community should do its part by providing, inter alia, increased private and public capital flows to Africa, market access expansion and debt reduction.

    He urged the United Nations system to provide maximum support for African States and to help foster a productive and mutually beneficial partnership between Africa and the international community and civil society, including the private sector. The Assembly would continue to play a major role in assessing and monitoring progress in Africa and make necessary recommendations, mainly through the work of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on the Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa, as well as the preparatory process for the final review and appraisal of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s.

    MUHAMMAD YUSSUF (United Republic of Tanzania), speaking for the African Group, introduced the draft resolution (document A/56/L.28). He noted that in paragraph 9 of the resolution, the words "financial resources" should be replaced with "managerial and administrative" resources.

    He said that internal conflicts continued to hamper efforts towards achieving economic and social development in some African countries. Africa needed resources to enable agreed mechanisms to be better prepared for the tasks of conflict prevention and resolution. There was also a direct link between conflicts and the incidence of refugees and internally displaced persons. The international community needed to increase its support for refugees, as well as for nations hosting refugees.

    He said official development assistance flows needed to be increased from the current low levels to the agreed target of 0.7 per cent of GNP. This should be taken in tandem with an increase in investments. Though many African countries had undertaken structural adjustment programmes and economic reforms, the flow of foreign direct investment remained dismal. There was a need for investors to respond positively to the efforts Africa was making at creating an enabling environment and for economic growth.

    A solution to the debt burden had to be found on an urgent basis. Debt repayments drained valuable resources from the rehabilitation and construction of essential development infrastructure and programmes aimed at poverty eradication. There was also a need to relax further the conditionalities attached to funding for heavily indebted poor countries, so as to enable more of those countries to qualify for such funding.

    The international community should also direct its support in the area of technology transfer and education. The widening technological gap and the deepening digital divide between African countries and developed countries had been major impediments to development.

    MOHAMMED BELAOURA (Algeria) recalled that one aim of his country in assuming the chairmanship a few years ago of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), had been to bring attention to the situation of Africa. The working group on preventing conflict in Africa had held meetings during the course of the General Assembly sessions since the issue had been put on the agenda. Last year, at the Millennium Assembly, the importance of promoting Africa’s welfare had been affirmed. It was now three years since the Secretary-General had issued his first report and the recommendations were still applicable because they were at the heart of the political and economic challenges facing the continent.

    He said the two subjects taken up by the group, education and the prevention of conflict, had focused attention on those basic elements of development. Indeed, many areas of Africa were showing improvement in ways that indicated the enormous value of having the support of partners in making and keeping peace. Scourges such as extreme poverty were still rampant, however.

    He said external debt was crippling countries and the digital divide was getting wider. Those elements had been addressed and analyzed but results on the ground had not met African expectations. The new initiative for Africa, now called the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), was a continent-wide initiative to bring about results in an integrated manner. It would benefit all in the international community to help the working group devise measures to help Africa because the world could no longer continue to live with a continent where poverty was rampant and disease flourished.

    The working group had suggested that its work be suspended for a year, he said. That should be done to allow for a review of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa (NADAF). It would also allow for follow-up to the ministerial declaration adopted by the high-level segment of ECOSOC in July. The inter-departmental support for the working group should be strengthened.

    BHAGWANT S. BISHNOI (India) said Africa knew its own problems better than anybody else, as well as the solutions for those problems. They had been articulated most recently in the New African initiative, now re-named the New Partnership for African Development. What Africa required, and what it was incumbent on the international community to provide, was support for the solutions which it had identified. He said he was in favour of United Nations interventions in peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace-building as long as they supported Africa’s own initiatives.

    He said good governance was one of the two pillars of the Secretary-General’s report. External interventions to promote good governance, however, produced good results only in exceptional cases. They also had the paradoxical effect of reducing the capacity of recipient governments for policy making and implementation. Economic growth had led to peace and sustainable development in other parts of the world and would do so in Africa as well. It required capital accumulation. Foreign direct investment followed rather than led economic growth. Debt relief also could not be a solution by itself. The inescapable conclusion was that official development assistance, in the form of long-term development assistance, remained vital for the renewal of the continent, he said.

    Africa was the birthplace of humanity and the cradle of civilization. Its resources had contributed to the economic development of the rest of the world. Colonialism, however, had kept Africa itself economically impoverished for centuries. Subsequently, shortcomings in the international trading and financial environment had not allowed the continent to realize its own potential. There was no doubt about the moral obligations of the international community, which must guide the globalization agenda in such a way that its benefits were spread more equitably and for the cause of economic growth, sustainable development and peace in Africa.

    DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said Africa was making great strides in achieving peace, democracy and development, which were inextricably linked. Through NEPAD, peace-related institutions were being enhanced. Continental capacities were improving in areas such as management of conflict, post-conflict peace-building and combating of illicit arms. African efforts, however, required the political, moral and material support of the international community. The United Nations was well placed to lead efforts in that regard.

    As the ad hoc working group on the issue had pointed out, he said, education was key to ensuring a balanced approach to the triangle of peace, democracy and development. It would impact on a wide range of issues related to the challenges of globalization and poverty eradication. There was a long way to go before reaching the targets set for 2015, especially because current enrolment rates for primary education were not encouraging, particularly among girls. However, the focus and commitment would remain, in light of the important role that information technologies could play. In that area as in so many others -- such as post-conflict situations -- African countries needed massive resources from both domestic and international sources.

    He said the debt overhang had always been a drain on resources. Now it was worsening with the international economic downturn, and the situation was untenable. Even after the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative, 10 of those African countries were still spending more on debt servicing than on primary education and health combined. That indefensible state of affairs would have to be addressed through a new definition of debt sustainability and a reassessment of growth projections, the underpinnings of the HIPC design.

    Finally, he said the working group had provided important benchmarks for how international support could be given to African countries. It should suspend its work during the NADAF review. Its next session should be in the context of the NEPAD framework.

    ROLAND Y. KPOTSRA (Togo) said that at the Millennium Summit the heads of state and government had made the commitment to have education for all by 2015, and to eliminate the disparities between the sexes in education by 2005. In a very timely way, the ad hoc working group had focused on the assets that education could provide to Africa. They also noted with concern that despite efforts being made, human resources remained insufficient in many African countries; the low enrolment rates at all educational levels and a decline in teaching could therefore undermine development.

    His country believed that the contribution of resources alone would not facilitate access to education. Wide-ranging policies and management efforts must be adopted. Widespread conflicts in Africa were holding back development, and the working group had also mentioned the important role of the United Nations in conflict prevention and settlement. The establishment of an inter-agency task force for West Africa was a very important initiative, and his country paid tribute to the Secretary-General for planning to open a new Office for West Africa in Dakar next year.

    The ad hoc working group had urged the international community to support the activities of regional and subregional organizations. Post-conflict peace- building was a crucial element of Africa’s development, and the working group had requested greater financial aid for such programmes. In addition to the concrete proposals of the working group, what stood out was its insistence on a comprehensive and coordinated approach to support growth and to eliminate poverty.

    TAN YEE WOAN (Singapore) said there were increasing signs that African leaders were determined to act together to change the fate of their peoples. Regional leaders had come together to solve security problems within their regions, as had been the case with conflicts in the Great Lakes Region. More significantly, African leaders had embarked on a bold new approach in pan-African cooperation this year when they endorsed an African Union at the OAU Summit in Lusaka.

    Subregional organizations had also continued to play important roles, she said. They had been at the forefront of conflict mediation and peacekeeping in Africa, and it was crucial that the international community continue to support their efforts. Increasing United Nations involvement and interest in peacekeeping in Africa proved that the international community had not turned its back on Africa. Indeed, compared to just two years ago, the situations in Ethiopia/Eritrea, Sierra Leone and the Great Lakes had improved considerably.

    Africa could not recover through the sheer will of its people, she continued. While the continent had the will to act and appreciated the urgent need for action, it clearly lacked the resources and technical knowledge that were also prerequisites for success. According to a 2001 report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), foreign direct investment in Africa had continued to fall in the last few years, and had dropped below one per cent of the world total in 2000.

    WANG YINFAN (China) said that some conflicts in Africa had grown from territorial, religious and ethnic disputes left over from colonial times, while others had their roots in poverty, backwardness and an inability to keep peace. An integrated approach must be adopted to address those causes. No one knew better than Africans themselves how to seek a fundamental solution to the continent's conflicts. It was noticeable that regional organizations as well as the nations concerned were making efforts to solve and ease conflicts.

    It could well be said that the real issue of Africa was developmental, he continued. Developing countries were currently facing daunting tasks in realizing development goals set by the United Nations Millennium Declaration. African nations had even more difficulties, due to rising poverty and diseases. To realize durable peace in Africa, attention must be focused not only on promoting solutions to "hot-spot" issues but to helping African countries develop. The United Nations should, in cooperation with African countries themselves, play a bigger role in promoting sustainable development in Africa.

    The International Conference on Financing for Development and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, both to be held next year, could be important opportunities for promoting the development goals of the Millennium Declaration. He said he hoped the conferences would achieve substantive progress in meeting the special needs of Africa and promoting sustainable development in the region. He strongly appealed to developed countries to take action in meeting the Official Development Assistance (ODA) targets of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP), increase investments in Africa, expand debt-reduction programs and improve market access for African products.

    ARNE B HONNINGSTAD (Norway) said that in spite of a number of positive programmes and projects investing in human resources, human resource capacity in many African countries remained weak and was inadequate for the challenges of the 21st century. The agreed international development goals of primary education for all by 2015 and of eliminating gender disparities in education by 2005 remained elusive for most African countries. In order to improve education in general, and education for human rights and democracy in particular, a concerted commitment to finance and implementation of comprehensive plans of action was needed.

    Conflict prevention and peace-building must remain key priority areas for the United Nations. In this context, effective cooperation with regional organizations was important. Although considerable efforts had been made to prevent and settle conflicts, the challenges of post-conflict peace-building remained daunting. While recognizing that the primary responsibility for achieving peace and sustainable development rested with African leaders and organizations, it was essential that the institutional capability and coordinating mechanisms of the United Nations were made commensurate with the challenges that were being faced.

    The issue of poverty needed to be addressed in peace processes in a comprehensive manner in country-specific situations. Post-conflict peace-building must be a vital element and an integral part of conflict management. Norway welcomed the establishment of NEPAD. Through this initiative, African leaders were taking responsibility for leading the political and development processes. The initiative recognized that peace, democracy, human rights and good governance were preconditions for development.

    AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that Egypt appreciated the role carried out by the United Nations in addressing some crises on the African continent and resolving some conflicts after they had erupted -- as was the case in West Africa and in Sierra Leone, in particular. However, the response of the Organization had not been balanced in some other situations. The situation in Somalia, for example, could not continue as it was, without the international community assuming its responsibilities to restore peace and stability. Somalia had suffered from a situation that was void of any serious international efforts for peacemaking among its factions.

    He added that African leaders had committed themselves to enhancing the existing mechanism to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts at the subregional and continental levels. If Africa was to succeed in playing a more effective role in confronting the increasing challenges imposed by the complex nature of conflict on its territories, then it must also expect that the international community would increase its support to the efforts undertaken by African countries. The international community should, therefore, support the efforts by the OAU or by a coalition of interested African States in that regard.

    Despite the expansion of the role played by the OAU in resolving the ongoing conflicts in the continent by itself, there were many cases that would require the involvement of the international community, and particularly the United Nations, he said. It was important, however, that the peacekeeping operations that the United Nations established in Africa -- like those in the Balkans and East Timor -- had the necessary military, human, financial and logistical support that was commensurate with the complex nature of conflicts in Africa. Peacekeepers must also remain deployed in the mission area until the situation in the country stabilized or until their departure was followed by the development of an international framework for peace-building. In other words, the concept of "No Exit without Strategy" must be applied.

    SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said that underdevelopment, coupled with continued conflict, was making Africa’s prospects for development bleak. Consequently, Africa was the poorest region of the world, accounting for less than 2 per cent of the world’s trade. During 1997, the combined income of 48 African countries was less than the income of one small developed country in Europe. Today, one fifth of the African population was living under conflict situations. In addition to its direct economic and human costs, continued conflict lead to a significant increase in crimes and violence and disrupted agricultural activities. The last factor was accentuated by the fact that 60 per cent of Africa was vulnerable to drought.

    Africa needed assistance in addressing the root causes of conflicts, he continued. That required a focus on the underlying political and security aspects of instability in the continent, as well as tackling economic and social problems through a comprehensive assistance programme with adequate resources. Assistance, however, lost its value if it was motivated by conditionalities, or political return. Neither peace nor development should be held hostage to ransom. There was not likely to be any progress in achieving the goals of durable peace and sustainable development without enhanced ODA, increased investment, a durable solution to the external debt burden, market access for products and services from the African region, and integration of the African countries into the global economy.

    Human resource development remained a major challenge for African countries, he said. Special programmes should be launched for capacity-building, as well as for promoting education and literacy. The international community should strengthen efforts to transfer technology to Africa on concessional and preferential terms. As in the past, Pakistan would continue to lend its moral and material support to the development of African countries. Global action was needed to ensure that the internationally agreed goals for Africa would be achieved over a specified time frame. Promoting peace and sustainable development in Africa was a moral obligation and a political responsibility for the international community.

    NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said that as a framework for a comprehensive and integrated approach to Africa’s development, developed by Africans themselves, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development provided the frame of reference for all activities to be undertaken by the international community in support of Africa’s development efforts. How the United Nations and the international community would address the critical nexus between peace and development and the issues of conflict prevention, poverty eradication and development remained to be determined.

    The two themes selected by the ad hoc working group -– conflict prevention and post-conflict building and education -- were crucial components to achieving durable peace and sustainable development in Africa, he said. In the area of education, a great deal remained to be done. The report noted that human resource capacity in Africa had remained weak and inadequate. It also noted low rates of educational enrolment and a deterioration in the quality of education, as well as persisting gender disparities. The factors causing that situation were many, such as the failure of some African countries to accord priority to education. Yet two of the most critical factors, the impact of macro-reforms and structural adjustment programmes and inadequate external support for capacity building, had emanated from policies pushed by the international community.

    While he recognized that good governance, including respect for and promotion of human rights, accountability of leaders and respect for democratic freedoms were essential prerequisites of peace, he said poverty, underdevelopment and weak institutional capacity were absolutely critical to the conditions that led to conflict. The financial support given by rich countries for post-conflict rehabilitation and reintegration of demobilized soldiers, as well as to regional countries shouldering peacekeeping and peace-building responsibilities in Africa, had been comparatively inadequate. Member States also needed to question their own contribution to the ineffectiveness of the United Nations in addressing aspects of conflict prevention in Africa. The failure of the organs dealing with development and peace to coordinate their activities was an impediment to the Organization’s effectiveness.

    LEE HO-JIN (Republic of Korea) said that Africa as a whole had shown significant economic and political progress in recent years, but many parts of the continent remained threatened or impeded by conflicts. The consequences of those conflicts had seriously undermined Africa’s efforts to ensure long-term stability, prosperity and peace for its peoples. Needless to say, the prevention of conflict began with the promotion of human security and sustained development. Indeed, abject poverty and underdevelopment were among the main causes of the frustrating conflicts occurring in many sub-regions of Africa.

    The United Nations should continue to play the leading role in coordinating divergent activities and in assisting African countries to achieve peace, security and sustained economic development. Peace, democracy, human rights and development were complementary and mutually reinforcing, he said. An integrated approach had to be adopted comprising peacemaking, peace-building and post-conflict rehabilitation. To this end, it was important to mobilize the political will to translate rhetoric into reality.

    The international community should make continued efforts to support NEPAD, which was creating true ownership in its development process and aimed at the eradication of poverty in Africa. The role of education and training was ever more important in the emerging knowledge based economy. In order to achieve the development goals set out in NEPAD, necessary resources, both domestic and foreign, needed to be mobilized. Countries should provide the domestic environment for mobilizing domestic and foreign resources, while donors should expand their support.

    JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking for the European Union and associated States, said the strategic partnership of the European Union with Africa had been reaffirmed and consolidated in April 2000, at the Africa-Europe Summit in Cairo, Egypt. The fact that Africa was a continent with both the greatest number of conflicts and the most significant development challenges showed that the Secretary-General’s philosophy –- the importance of an integrated approach towards Africa –- had remained valid.

    Conflicts in Africa had become more and more complex, he said, involving a multitude of players with widely diverging intentions. The appointment of mediators or the establishment of contact groups, had contributed to the formulation of a coordinated approach. Increasingly, negotiation and mediation efforts were being undertaken by the African countries themselves. However, a close link with the United Nations must be maintained, so that those efforts were realistic and their results in keeping with the capacity of the Organization. The international community must be determined in tackling the economic interests underlying the conflicts in Africa. Exploitation of natural resources fuelled wars and defied the political responses formulated by the international community. The Union fully supported the establishment of more rigorous monitoring of sanctions by setting up new mechanisms, such as the Panel of Experts.

    He stressed the importance of multilateral instruments for disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation, and encouraged the African countries to join existing instruments. The problem of small arms was also topical. The Union had participated actively in the fight against the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of such arms. The Union was strongly committed to strengthening African peacekeeping capabilities and encouraged closer United Nations involvement in the matter.

    He underlined the importance of transparent, accountable and efficient public administration. He said the efforts to fight corruption, as well as efforts towards decentralization, consolidation of democracy and respect for the rule of law, were important aspects of national policies leading to the creation of such an administration. Increasing investment in human resources, health systems and the fight against contagious diseases was an absolute priority for the continent. The European Union recognized the role of official development assistance as a catalyst and would continue to support debt-relief initiatives in the framework of the enhanced programme for highly indebted poor countries. Access for African countries to markets in developed countries was also an important aspect of economic development. The initiative of the European Union to open its market unilaterally to the least developed countries –- the "Everything But Arms" initiative –- and the future economic partnership agreements would all contribute to that.

    ERNEST JOHNSON (United States) said some African countries had begun making remarkable economic and political progress. They must be kept in mind when focusing on situations in countries where development had not moved forward. Too many African countries were affected by the development catastrophe caused by armed conflict, which not only created enormous human suffering, but also destroyed the building blocks of development for countries and regions. It was relatively easy to restore infrastructure after conflict. Rebuilding trust was much more difficult, hampering efforts to institute the democratic governance and transparent institutions that promoted human development. Lack of trust in the wider environment of either a near neighbor or a distant trading partner was an impediment to economic growth.

    He said it was unclear from the Secretary-General’s report whether a great number of multilateral and bilateral efforts had helped to create sustainable economic growth and human development. Progress indicators existed in few areas other than school attendance or child/mother mortality. A clear overview of impact would be helpful. While the working group had done a good job with the daunting task of monitoring the implementation of recommendations, perhaps the format was not the most effective tool and a year-long "time out" would take advantage of the review and appraisal of the new agenda for Africa. Monitoring could continue on a regular and cost-effective basis, with human resources seconded from other African initiatives.

    In the context of NADAF, he called attention to the desirability of reducing overlap, so as to reduce the duplication of effort and the diffusion of resources. He said the Secretary General should recommend which initiatives should be earmarked for non-renewal. Support should go to the African partnership, NEPAD, as an African-led plan for sustainable development that would include the core goals of conflict resolution, good governance, economic growth and sound economic management.

    GUMA AMER (Libya) recalled the recommendations the Secretary-General had set out in his report on the causes of conflict in Africa. He said the case had been well presented and the working group monitoring the implementation had continued to point out obstacles to implementation. Numerous steps were being taken and they were leading to a newly unified Africa, but the role of the international community was as central to Africa’s development as ever.

    Colonial powers had contributed to Africa’s present situation, he said. The colonialists had divided Africa and had bled it into economic backwardness. The least they could do was apologize and compensate the people of Africa who had suffered as a result of those actions for years. The proof of commitment would be in the measure of how much the international community contributed to the resolution of conflicts and how much they supported development.

    There were many and varied reasons for conflict, he said, but economics was a major cause. The poverty in Africa was well known. The international community must take measures to alleviate it by actions such as eliminating tariffs and allowing Africa to join the international trade system and take part in international markets. The decline in ODA must be reversed.

    He said the working group had set out the path to promoting education in Africa, one key to achieving parity in the global world. Public health was another impediment to development that demanded the international community’s assistance to remedy. United Nations efforts towards overcoming HIV/AIDS were important, but the States bore primary responsibility for fighting it. The disease would not wait for development. Drugs must be provided at a reasonable cost now.

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