Distinguished Chairman of the African Group,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for this opportunity to update you on the work of OSAA. But before doing so, allow me to very briefly recall the mandate of OSAA, which,
(a) supports the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in their deliberations on Africa;
(b) coordinates and guides 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) coordinates 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) initiates reports on critical issues affecting Africa, and in particular on the related issues of peace and development;
(e) coordinates global advocacy in support of NEPAD; and
(f) acts as the focal point for NEPAD within the United Nations Secretariat at Headquarters.
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 and 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 deadly conflicts around the world.
In line with the Secretary-General’s priorities, OSAA is working to support the efforts of the African countries to place them 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, the office 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, the office will make action-oriented recommendations on how to fine-tune, further 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 centers 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 views on the perceived needs for monitoring commitments, on strengths and weaknesses of existing mechanisms and the desired outputs of an improved or reformulated mechanism.
OSAA seeks inputs and suggestions of the African 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.
Ultimately however, we need to ask ourselves what kind of relationship can the UN and the international community build with Africa in the coming years and how the system can better assist the continent in further promoting its political, cultural, economic and social agendas.
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 aims to advance the agenda of Africa through the several mandated expert group meetings (EGM), panel discussions and reports on issues of relevance to Africa’s development, such as the following:
ECOSOC 2010 Thematic Discussion on improving the lives of Women in Countries in Special Situations: Africa LDCs, LLDCs, SIDSs, post-conflict and post-crisis countries
OSAA is assisting in the preparation of the ECOSOC thematic discussion on improving the lives of women. Crises, ranging from climate change and natural disasters to conflict and economic downturns, severely threaten the path of development and have an unequal impact on the most vulnerable segments of their population, among them many women. Special considerations need to be factored into development planning and programmes that take into account the different needs of women and men.The policy dialogue will provide an opportunity for member states to discuss gender equality perspectives in countries in special situations and to share experiences on ways of overcoming obstacles and challenges preventing women’s inclusion and participation in decision-making and planning in the aftermath of crises.
ECOSOC High-Level Segment 2010 - Ministerial breakfast roundtable: “Access to Credit for the Empowerment of Women in Africa and LDCs” Gender inequality intersects with other economic, social, cultural and political variations often to produce the most intensified forms of poverty for women and girls. The roundtable will focus on the issues of gender disparity and women’s empowerment which are very critical to achieving the MDGs in Africa and LDCs. There is an urgent need to contribute significantly to the process of advancement of women’s economic activity through guaranteeing their rights to land, enhancing their role in decision-making and community affairs.
Other studies and EGMs that OSAA plans to undertake will cover the following subjects:
Microfinance in Africa – scope impact lessons learned and policy implications; Panel discussion on Africa and international migration – impact on Africa’s peace and development; Expert group meeting on civil society perspectives regarding the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace in Africa; Briefing by African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to member states and UN agencies; Workshop of communications focal points of the Regional Coordination Mechanism of the United Nations Cluster System.
These are some of the various activities which OSAA plans to undertake as part of its efforts to support you in advancing Africa’s agenda within the United Nations system.
Excellencies and dear colleagues,
As I have said on several occasions beforehand, OSAA is your office. It is the only office in the United Nations system specifically devoted to and focused upon Africa. I wish once again to reiterate that our doors are always open to you and we will always seek to promote the interests of Africa within the United Nations system and to fully support your 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.
I know that the question of the status of the Special Adviser on Africa and the issue of the proposed merger of OHRLLS and OSAA have pre-occupied you over a considerable period of time. Please allow me to take this opportunity to reassure you that the Secretary-General is fully aware of your concerns and that as always he will take your views fully into account in making future decisions. He values the strong support that you render to my humble person.
I would now be happy to answer any questions that you may have for me.