Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome and thank you very much for attending this meeting of the Friends of OSAA. It is always a pleasure to convene a meeting with “Friends”, with delegations that are not only especially interested but genuinely committed to advancing the peace and development agendas in Africa.
I know that today there are some delegates that are attending this meeting for the first time. Allow me then, before we tackle the issues at hand, to briefly recall the mandate of OSAA. The Office was established in 2003 with the following mandate:
(a) to support the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in their deliberations on Africa;
(b) to coordinate and guide the preparation of Africa-related reports and inputs; in particular, support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) by the United Nations system and the international community, including the private sector and civil society;
(c) coordinate the inter-departmental task force on African affairs to ensure a coherent and integrated approach for United Nations support for Africa, including following up on the implementation of all global summit and conference outcomes related to Africa;
(d) initiate reports on critical issues affecting Africa, and in particular on the related issues of peace and development;
(e) coordinate global advocacy in support of NEPAD; and
(f) act as the focal point for NEPAD within the United Nations Secretariat at Headquarters.
The Office of the Special Adviser on Africa aims to advance the African agenda through several mandated expert group meetings (EGM), panel discussions and reports on issues of relevance to Africa’s development. Every year, OSAA prepares the Secretary-General’s report to the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC), highlighting the work of the different UN system organizations, agencies, funds and programmes in support of NEPAD.
OSAA also produces the Secretary-General’s progress report on International Support for the Implementation of NEPAD, which inter alia, provides an overview of international actions in support of Africa’s efforts to implement NEPAD.
Moreover, OSAA produces the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on the Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa as a follow-up to the Secretary-General’s 1998 report. The office is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the original 1998 report and will propose new recommendations, identify new and emerging challenges, and propose the way forward.
While the last year has witnessed mixed developments in Africa, the short and mid-term socio-economic outlook of the continent, especially its prospects for attaining the MDGs by 2015, is still somewhat problematic. Despite sound economic policies and structural reforms which have led to encouraging growth rates in the past decade, economic growth this year is expected to be moderate at 4.6 percent, in the aftermath of the global financial and economic crisis. Against this background, the UN Secretary-General has called for joint efforts to make 2010 a year of sustainable development, including taking the necessary steps for lasting and robust economic recovery. Within this context, emphasis is being placed on laying the necessary groundwork for the General Assembly High-Level Summit on MDGs scheduled for September 2010. In particular, the Secretary-General has highlighted the need to give special attention to the least developed and landlocked developing countries of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as empowering women and preventing and resolving violent conflicts around the world.
In accordance with the Secretary-General’s priorities, OSAA is working to support the efforts of the African countries to place themselves firmly on the path to sustainable development. In particular, as mandated by the Political Declaration on Africa’s development needs (GA resolution 63/1), OSAA is now working on a proposal for an improved monitoring mechanism to track commitments made by both the international community and African countries in support of Africa’s development. In this regard, OSAA will review existing mechanisms to review and monitor the full and timely implementation of all major commitments related to Africa’s development. By analyzing the strengths, the gaps and challenges within existing mechanisms, OSAA will make action-oriented recommendations on how to fine-tune, better coordinate and strengthen the monitoring of mutual commitments. On the basis of this review, a Secretary-General’s Report will be submitted to the 65th session of the General Assembly.
OSAA will prepare the report in close consultation with African institutions and organizations, e.g. African Development Bank, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency and in particular the African Union Commission, UN member states, UN system through the Inter-Agency Task Force on Africa, individual UN organizations which have specific monitoring mechanisms, ECA, UNDP/Regional Bureau for Africa, the World Bank and IMF, OECD, academic institutions and civil society.
In order to initiate the project, a questionnaire has been sent out to member states, civil society, the private sector, academia and others. The questionnaire solicits their views on the perceived need for monitoring commitments, on the relative strengths and weaknesses of existing mechanisms and the desired outputs of an improved or reformulated mechanism. OSAA seeks inputs and suggestions from all member states in the preparation of the Report. We would much appreciate your support in facilitating the active input of your capitals to the questionnaire.
Another major activity of the office is the comprehensive review of the recommendations contained in the 1998 Report of the Secretary-General on the Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa.
After a decade, much has changed in Africa, but in spite of notable advances and the efforts of both African countries and the international community, challenges to human security and development in Africa remain deep and structural in nature. In 2009, the General Assembly, in its resolution 63/304 requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the outcome of the review of the recommendations of his 1998 report, focusing on new and emerging challenges and persistent obstacles, as well as innovative solutions, gains and accomplishments, in the attainment of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa, with due regard to the complexities of the transition from fragile peace to long-term sustainable development that many African countries are undergoing”.
The purpose of the Strategic Review is to mobilize attention to the full scope of new and old challenges and propose new and creative ways to generate political, human, financial and technical support and to establish innovative and effective partnerships to address the causes of conflict and promote durable peace and sustainable development in the 21st century.
The uniqueness of this exercise is that we are bringing together colleagues from the peace and security sector, the economic and social development fields, as well as those working on human rights issues. In recent years, the United Nations has come to recognize the inter-relatedness of peace, security, development and human rights and all major stakeholders have repeatedly highlighted the need to address the link between peace and development.
The review is intended to be cross-cutting, inclusive, comprehensive and participatory and add value to the work being currently undertaken by the United Nations system. The outcome of the review will be a report to be submitted to the General Assembly during its sixty-fifth session which will be structured in accordance with the mandate of the General Assembly resolution and will consider the inputs of Member States, African regional and sub-regional organizations, research institutions, non governmental and civil society organizations and members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Africa.
The Office of the Special Adviser on Africa is the only office in the United Nations system specifically devoted to and focused upon Africa. My Office is mandated to fully support Africa’s on-going efforts to ensure not only that Africa receives the fullest attention of the United Nations system, but also that Africa receives the support and encouragement that it deserves.
Africa has now a clear agenda and it is determined to do what it is necessary to foster its economic, social and political development. Yet from the attainment of the MDGs to the promotion of the participation of the private sector in the economic development, from the enhancement of the capacity of the African Union in peace and security to addressing climate change, the international donor community has a great role and responsibility in assisting African countries and institutions in their dual pursuits of peace and development.
At present, we are witnessing a new kind of engagement with the continent. New partnerships are being forged, new actors and new players are increasingly taking a stand, and a new set of tools is being developed. The role of the UN is to enhance those processes and to ensure that the voice of African countries is not just taken into consideration, but lead the strategies and approaches vis-à-vis the continent.
Today we have an opportunity to exchange views on how better to assist in these processes: how to deliver on commitments made, and how to put in place the necessary mechanisms to deal with future threats and challenges in Africa.
The Office of the Special Adviser on Africa looks forward to your engagement in both exercises as they provide us with an opportunity to reframe and rethink the ways in which the UN and the international community relate to Africa.
I would now be happy to answer any questions that you may have .