It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to this meeting of the “Friends of OSAA”.
I am grateful for this opportunity to brief you on a number of developments regarding our work, including, in particular:
The Strategic Plan for delivering on OSAA’s mandate;
Progress in the implementation of NEPAD; and
Progress in the implementation of APRM.
Before I start talking about OSAA’s priorities for 2009, I would like to thank you all for the support you have been giving to OSAA, including the strengthening of the Office through the approval of three additional posts. This is an illustration of strong support by United Nations member states to Africa.
Africa is facing severe challenges as a result of the current global economic crisis. This means that those of us whose mandate is to support the poorest and most vulnerable of the global community have an even greater responsibility to do everything possible in mitigating the negative impact of the crisis upon Africa, and in facilitating Africa’s efforts to achieve peace and development on the continent.
The Strategic Plan for delivering on OSAA’s mandate
Let me now turn to the Strategic Plan for the implementation of OSAA’s mandate which we prepared in response to the request of the African Group. In line with its mandate, OSAA aims to:
Mobilize support and galvanize the efforts of the international community for Africa’s peace and development;
Ensure that the development of Africa remains one of the main priorities of the international community;
Promote a supportive international framework for Africa’s development efforts;
Encourage a coordinated and effective response by the United Nations system at the policy and operational levels in support of African development; and
Strengthen and enhance South-South cooperation in support of Africa’s advancement.
In addition to the annual Secretary-General’s reports, OSAA is planning a number of other activities in the course of 2009 to focus attention on current and emerging issues of particular relevance to Africa.
While the current decade began with a strong sense of optimism and high expectations regarding sustained economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa, the continent’s growth perspectives have severely deteriorated as a result of the current global financial and economic crisis. As a side event to the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, OSAA, in collaboration with OHRLLS and UNU, will organize a panel discussion on the “Impact of the Global Financial and Economic Crisis on Africa and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)” on 2 June 2009. The panel discussion will examine the impact of the global financial and economic crisis on Africa’s development and aim to focus the attention of the international community on the policy responses and measures needed to accelerate Africa and LDCs recovery from the crisis. This is underpinned by a belief that recovery can be achieved sooner rather than later, if the appropriate and coordinated responses are implemented in timely fashion.
In July this year, OSAA is organizing a panel discussion in ECOSOC High-Level Segment on “Matching Health Outcomes with Human Development needs in Africa and the Least Developed Countries” as health is critical on the continent.
Expert Group Meetings
I would also like to draw your attention to the successful Expert Group Meeting on “Africa’s Cooperation with New and Emerging Development Partners: Options for Africa’s Development” that the Office organized early this year. In view of Africa’s expanding relationships with new and emerging development partners such as the People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, India and Brazil as strategic partners of Africa, OSAA organized, in collaboration with ECA and the AU Commission, an Expert Group Meeting which took place from 10-11 February 2009, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The objective was to provide a forum for experts in the field to discuss the nature of these new strategic partnerships with Africa, as well as formulate recommendations on how this cooperation could be further improved with a view to helping African countries’ attainment of development objectives.
The Office is convening an Expert Group Meeting on “African Perspectives on International Terrorism” to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 3 to 4 June 2009. The objective of this Expert Group Meeting is to examine the evolving response of different African stakeholders, including the countries themselves, as well as the African Union, African sub-regional organizations, and civil society to the continuing threat of international terrorism and the areas where greater collaboration with the United Nations and other international partners can be undertaken to promote a holistic response to the complex threat.
In July 2009, OSAA is convening an Exert Group Meeting on “the role and capacities of African subregional organizations in conflict management”. The meeting aims to supplement the current debate within the United Nations on the need to strengthen the capacities of the African Union to conduct peace operations.
Lack of diversification and commodity dependence has led to increased vulnerability of African economies. In this context, OSAA is undertaking a study on “Economic Diversification in Africa: a review of the experiences of selected countries”, including an Expert Group Meeting in the last quarter of 2009.
In September/October 2009, OSAA will hold an Expert Group Meeting on “Natural Resources” which will look at the impact of climate change on natural resource scarcity in relation to key resources including land and water.
OSAA is organizing an Expert Group Meeting on “Security Sector Reform and Protection of Women” which were considered critical issues for follow-up by experts who attended the Second International Conference on DDR and Stability in Africa organized in the DRC (2007) by OSAA.
In addition, the Office has commissioned an issue paper on Peace Building and Human Security which will examine the extent to which current practices in peace building processes meet human security needs.
As a follow-up to the High-Level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs held in September 2008, the Office is engaged in intense discussions within the UN system regarding implementation of the Political Declaration on Africa’s development needs. As you may recall, in paragraph 39 of the Political Declaration, member states requested the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-fourth session a comprehensive report, with recommendations, on “Africa’s development needs: state of implementation of various commitments, challenges and the way forward” with a view to the formulation, by the sixty-fifth session of the Assembly, of a mechanism to review the full and timely implementation of all commitments related to Africa’s development, building on existing mechanisms, to ensure that Member States remain seized of the issue of addressing Africa’s special development needs.
The Inter- Departmental Task Force on Africa (chaired by OSAA) is discussing the draft outline of the Secretary-General’s report as well as exchanging ideas on the monitoring mechanism to be formulated by the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly. The coordination of African affairs within the UN system through the Inter-Departmental Task Force will ensure a coherent and integrated approach for United Nations support for Africa.
As you will recall, the Secretary-General has mentioned to the General Assembly and the Security Council that he was considering a comprehensive review process of the recommendations contained in his 1998 report on the Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa. A decade after the report was issued it is time to take stock of the many advances that Africa has made in promoting peace and development in the continent. The Panel of the Wise, APRM, the Early Warning System, and the African Stand-by Force are just examples of the many initiatives that African leaders have put in place. From the Human Rights Council to the Peacebuilding Commission, the institutional framework and policy approach of the organization especially vis-à-vis Africa has attempted to keep pace with the developments and adjust to the new needs and realities. The recently adopted Political Declaration on Africa’s Development Needs outlines, once more, the need for a more integrated and comprehensive effort.
It is now time to undertake a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the challenges that both Africa and the UN will encounter in the near future as well as the institutional and operational requirements to best address them. I urge you to support and facilitate the adoption of the relevant UN General Assembly resolution on this matter.
Progress in the implementation of NEPAD
Let me now say a few words about latest developments in NEPAD. African leaders appointed former Prime Minister of Niger, Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki as the new Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Secretariat. The new CEO has already taken over the leadership of the NEPAD Secretariat; he has met with the AU Commission in Addis Ababa and participated in the G20 Meeting in London.
In order to facilitate information exchange and keep the African Group of member states up-to-date on progress in the implementation of NEPAD, OSAA is planning to organize biannual briefings by the NEPAD CEO to the UN member states at the UN headquarters in New York. We are hoping to organize the first briefing by Mr. Mayaki in September 2009.
The process of integration of NEPAD into the AU structures is continuing. Strategic discussions are now taking place about which parts of the NEPAD Secretariat will stay in Johannesburg and which ones will be fully integrated into the AU structures. The intention is for NEPAD to become a Planning and Coordinating Authority responsible for the interface between the RECs, national governments and the donor community. A group of consultants commissioned by the AU/NEPAD Coordinating Unit have prepared the draft study on the integration of NEPAD into the African Union structures and processes, and this was discussed at the just-concluded NEPAD Steering Committee Meeting in Johannesburg.
Work continues on implementing the NEPAD sectorial priorities. At the 37th meeting of the NEPAD Steering Committee, the new NEPAD CEO reported progress in CAADP implementation on national level. Furthermore, the CAADP Multi-Donor Trust Fund launched in 2008 with US$50 million has now become operational. In the area of infrastructure, the Annual Meeting of the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) held in Rome in March 2009 provided an opportunity to highlight Africa’s infrastructure priorities and further engage partners. As far as ITC is concerned, NEPAD e-Schools Demo Project has been completed in 10 out of 16 countries. In the area of capacity development, NEPAD Capacity Development Strategic Framework has been finalized. NEPAD Secretariat is also focusing on strengthening the networks with various partners, including through preparations for the 12th APF in Rome scheduled for next month.
Many of you, as friends of Africa have expressed keen interest in, and support for the African Peer Review Mechanism. Twenty-nine African countries have subscribed to the process; seven have completed it and adopted programmes of action. The key question now is how quickly and effectively each programme of action will be implemented. This is where international support, especially that of Africa’s strategic partners will be crucial. And I would like to use this opportunity to urge all of you to find appropriate ways of providing this support.
OSAA looks forward to a good working relationship with all of you in support of Africa’s development.
The floor is now open for an exchange of views.