Press Releases

    AFR/943
    26 May 2004

    Celebrating Africa Day, Speakers Applaud Steps Taken to Promote Peace, Security, Reiterate Support for Continent’s Development

    NEW YORK, 25 May (UN Headquarters) -- Step by step, Africa was constructing an architecture of institutions to promote peace and security on the continent, Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared this morning during a ceremony marking the forty-first anniversary of Africa Day.

    Africa Day commemorates the establishment in 1963, at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which was succeeded two years ago by the African Union (AU).  From its inception, the OAU had spearheaded the continent’s struggle for political independence and promoted unity and solidarity among African States.

    The establishment of the African Union and its institutions, said the Secretary-General, was a source of justifiable pride.  Among those institutions, the Pan-African Parliament and the Peace and Security Council, the latter launched today in Addis Ababa, had been important achievements.  Moreover, the importance of gender balance had been recognized in the election of the AU’s Commissioners, and in the election of a woman as the Parliament’s first President.

    Other recent developments to be celebrated included the establishment of the long-awaited United Nations peacekeeping operation in Burundi, he added, as well as recent positive signs in the Sudanese peace process.  Furthermore, a renewed commitment to human rights, good governance, social and economic reform and development had been demonstrated by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and its Peer Review Mechanism.

    At the same time, he warned that the international community must not close its eyes to the massive scale of human rights violations and consequent human suffering in Darfur, Sudan, continuing tensions in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the current crisis in Côte d’Ivoire or other areas of tension on the continent.  Efforts to find definitive solutions to those problems, as well as to fight HIV/AIDS, must be intensified.  He called for a rededication to building a stronger, healthier, peaceful, economically vibrant and democratic Africa.

    Reading out a statement on behalf of the Chairman of the African Union and President of Mozambique, Joachim Alberto Chissano, was Fillipe Chidumo of Mozambique, who said the OAU had accomplished its noble mission to liberate the continent and give back to African peoples their dignity and honour.  Yet, it had also understood the need for change so as to be prepared for the challenges posed by the contemporary world.  The “genetic mutation” of the OAU into the AU had been designed to equip the body with efficient tools to enable it to speed up the process of achieving political, economic, social and cultural progress.

    The commitment of African leaders to good governance -- embodied in the establishment of NEPAD and its Peer Review Mechanism -- constituted one of the continent’s greatest achievements, he added.  While great progress had already been achieved in the quest for peace, security and stability in Africa, isolated spots of tension and conflict continued to prevail.  Thus, it was hoped that the Peace and Security Council would serve as an efficient tool in materializing the African agenda for conflict prevention, management and resolution.

    Opening the commemoration, Alfred M. Dube (Botswana), Chairperson of the African Group, noted that, in less than two years, the main institutions and organs of the African Union had been put in place.  The Union had set itself bold and ambitious agenda for next decade, and while eradicating poverty, hunger and disease posed daunting challenges, African leaders had shown their commitment to walk path of democracy, good governance and peace by launching NEPAD. 

    However, he added, today’s celebration had been dampened by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, whose impact on the continent’s health and agricultural and social infrastructure had been devastating.  That was a challenge that must be faced with determination.

    The acting President of the General Assembly, Roman Kirn (Slovenia), acknowledged that the past decade had been one of exceptional challenge for many countries of the African continent.  The Assembly, which had been the guiding light behind the decade of summits and conferences aimed at helping the international community to meet development goals, must deliver on its pledge -- made in the Millennium Declaration -- to support the consolidation of democracy, lasting peace and sustainable development in Africa.

    Speaking on behalf of the Security Council President, Masood Khalid (Pakistan), said Council members applauded the significant achievements of African nations in accelerating development and promoting peace and security on the continent.  Among its achievements, the African Union had fostered a sense of partnership among Africa’s diverse countries and peoples, and had provided a coherent role for the continent in the multilateral realm.

    Jagdish Koonjul (Mauritius), Vice-Chairperson of the Economic and Social Council, said the theme of the high-level segment of the Council’s 2004 substantive session, “resource mobilization and an enabling environment for poverty eradication” would be of particular importance to a large number of African countries.  The promotion of African development was one of the foci of coordination efforts of the Council, which had also worked to address the issues of HIV/AIDS and conflict prevention and peace building. 

    Also addressing the meeting were Jamal Nasser Al-Bader (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China; Mohd Radzi Abdul Rahman (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement; and Philomena Murnaghan (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, each of whom reiterated their group’s commitment to supporting African development. 

    The members of the “Group of 77” affirmed that African economic and development interests were their own.  The Non-Aligned Movement was aware of the problems still faced by Africa, but remained confident that the potential existing in the continent could be tapped fully to overcome the challenges of underdevelopment, poverty, and disease.  And the European Union would continue to work to reinforce its partnerships with Africa to fight hunger, overcome the challenges of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and ensure safe and adequate water supplies.

    Also reiterating their commitment to support Africa’s development were Baatar Choisuren (Mongolia), on behalf of Asian States; Aldo Mantovani (Italy), on behalf of Western European and Other States; Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala), on behalf of Latin American and Caribbean States; Klara Novotna (Slovakia), on behalf of Eastern European States; and Stuart W. Holliday (United States), on behalf of the host country.

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