UN: EU statement on Malaria Decade, NEPAD, Durable Peace and Development in Africa

UN: EU statement on Malaria Decade, NEPAD, Durable Peace and Development in Africa

UN 61st Session; GA Plenary, Agenda Item: 48: 2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries; 62 a NEPAD: Progress in Implementation and International Support; 62 b Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa

Statement by H.E. Mr. Taisto Huimasalo, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union

12 October 2006, New York

Your Excellency Madam President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

First of all, the European Union wishes to congratulate its African partners on the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD. As in previous years, the EU welcomes today's Africa debate in the United Nations General Assembly. Likewise, the EU welcomes the opportunity to address the three key items; NEPAD, peace and security aspects and the fight against malaria on the African continent.

Madam President,

Africa is at the heart of the European Union's development policy. Our partnership with Africa is strong and lasting. The EU continues to support the NEPAD initiative, which forms an important part of the partnership between international community and African nations. One of the most significant results of NEPAD activities is the African Peer Review Mechanism, APRM. The EU is pleased to note that twenty-five countries have so far acceded to APRM. South Africa completed its self-assessment and the African Peer Review panel undertook a review mission there in July 2006. So far three countries, Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya, have completed the peer review process. Their country review reports have been considered by the African Peer Review Forum. The APRM has encouraged countries to adopt policy measures to strengthen accountability and transparency.  It will be essential to monitor how the recommendations of the reviews are translated into policy measures on the ground.

The convening of the sixth African Governance Forum on the theme "Implementing the APRM; opportunities and challenges", held in Kigali in May 2006, has given needed publicity to the APRM. It also delivered important messages about the need for flexibility within the APRM process to facilitate and speed up implementation; and the need for countries to mainstream APRM commitments into their national plans.

The completion of the peer review by some pioneer countries gives a good example for others to follow and shows a strong commitment by the African Governments to move forward with this element within NEPAD.

The Progress Report by the Secretary General indicates that African governments and regional organisations have achieved significant results within the framework of NEPAD. The EU concurs with this positive assessment. At the same time, analysis has shown that the contribution of the civil society, and particularly that of the private sector to the implementation of the priority projects of NEPAD, has not been fully satisfactory. The EU believes that promoting African ownership and engagement within the productive sectors of society should be regarded as a key challenge for the implementation of NEPAD. To this end, a wider and deeper awareness should be raised among the business community, both inside the continent and beyond, on existing opportunities and economic dividends of NEPAD.

Madame President,

The EU will continue strengthening its relations with Africa within the framework of the comprehensive EU Strategy on Africa, which was adopted by the European Council in 2005. In the course of next year this unilateral agreement will be transformed into a joint Africa Strategy in close co-operation with African Partners.

The primary aim of the strategy is the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals with a key focus on sustainable development, security and good governance in Africa.  Efforts will be made to enhance coordination and cooperation with the African Union, sub-regional African organizations and other international partners respecting the principles of African ownership.

The EU is committed to support Africa's efforts to consolidate peace, democracy and human rights on the African continent. Successful development in Africa also requires adherence to human rights, democratic principles and the rule of effective, well-governed states, and strong and efficient institutions. The EU Strategy identifies good and effective governance as a prerequisite for development. Good governance does not only encompass fight against corruption but also includes political, economic, social and environmental governance. As a positive example of economic governance; the World Bank report called "Doing Business 2007" mentions Tanzania and Ghana as recent reformers, who have succeeded in creating business friendly environments. 

Good governance should be agreed and not imposed. Africa has demonstrated signs of positive change in the area of governance in the framework of the above mentioned African Peer Review Mechanism. The EU supports both politically and financially this process in the context of the Governance Initiative. In addition to good governance, sound development requires adherence to human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, as well as a commitment to strong and effective institutions.

The EU has recently launched the Infrastructure Initiative. It has led to the establishment of an Infrastructure Trust Fund. Its key objective is to respond to the regional and continental infrastructure deficit.  Through the Trust Fund the EU will support Africa’s efforts to identify and address missing links in existing networks, harmonise transport policies, develop integrated water management, develop cross-border and regional energy infrastructure and promote efforts to bridge the digital divide.

Madame President,

Without peace there can be no lasting development. Without African leadership to end Africa's conflicts there can be no lasting peace. The EU works with the African Union, sub-regional organisations and African countries to predict, prevent and mediate conflicts, including by addressing the root causes. Key in this regard is assistance in developing the AU's African Peace and Security Architecture, including the African Standby Force.

In sub-Saharan Africa, many peace agreements have been secured after close co-operation between the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the European Union remains fully involved by continuing its active support of the electoral process.  The EU looks forward to the orderly and peaceful conclusion of the process, which will be paving way for legitimate and democratically elected institutions in expression of the full sovereignty of the Congolese people. On the basis of a successful conclusion of the elections, the EU remains committed to cooperating with the newly-elected government in promoting both short-term reconstruction and rehabilitation needs and long-term effort for sustainable development while taking into account the principles of good governance.

The EU expresses its deep concern about the constant deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur and condemns the continuing violations of the cease-fire, in particular the violence directed at the civilian population and providers of humanitarian assistance. The EU supports the efforts of the United Nations and other partners in the planning for transition from AMIS to a UN peace-keeping mission in Darfur and strongly urges the Sudanese Government to give its consent to the deployment of the UN operation. The EU underlines its deep concern at the potential negative impact of a continuing conflict in Darfur on the rest of Sudan and in the wider region.

The EU welcomes the increased role of the UN in preventive diplomacy and reiterates its support for the Summit Outcome conclusion that each individual State has the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The central responsibility rests within the countries themselves and no external efforts as regards prevention will be of use unless the State and its population agree on their importance and have a will to address the issues in question.

The EU is fully engaged in post conflict reconstruction in Africa and supports in particular the newly established UN Peacebuilding Commission. The Commission along with the Peace Building Support Office and the Peace Building Fund, are a key achievement of the UN reform process launched by the UN Summit. The PBC provides a much needed forum, in which all actors in peacebuilding can coordinate their efforts to ensure coherence between security, development, human and political aspects of peacebuilding. The EU has for many years provided considerable input for peacebuilding activities in Africa and elsewhere in the world and is ready to continue its commitments by actively supporting the work of the PBC in the two African countries, Burundi and Sierra Leone.

EU underscores the importance of integrating a gender perspective into conflict prevention. Urgent preventive measures should be developed especially in relation to gender-based violence in conflicts. Mechanisms for prevention against and protection from gender-based violence need to be well planned in advance and included to the inter-agency contingency plans and strategies.

The EU also supports the strengthening of fragile states as well as Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration together with Security Sector Reform programmes in African states.

Recognizing the fact that natural resources can be instrumental to the continuation of conflicts, the EU welcomes the outcome of the UN Expert Group Meeting in June this year on Natural Resources in Conflict in Africa.

Migration issues are an integral part of development. Over the last years, the European Union has been moving towards a holistic approach to migration taking into full consideration the relationship of migration with development. The Europeans and Africans adopted a political declaration and an action plan at the Euro-African regional ministerial conference on migration and development in July 2006 in Rabat. Preparations are under way for another conference in Tripoli in November.

Madame President,

Health is at the core of development. It is a key element in reducing poverty and in promoting human security. The Abuja commitment of African leaders aiming at increased health sector financing is a clear recognition of this fact.

After many years of impressive gains in human health worldwide, we are now in a situation where countries are unable to cope with the burden of disease posed on their health systems. This is due to inherent weaknesses in national health systems, unpredictable and uneven funding and the dire lack of skilled human resources. And without skilled and motivated health personnel any health sector intervention is bound to fail. The EU is presently preparing an Action Plan to address the Crisis in Human Resources for Health.

The global efforts to roll back malaria highlight many of the key weaknesses and possibilities for the health sector. Even though malaria is a global problem, it particularly concerns Africa with a disproportional effect on poor people taking a specific toll on women and children.

The EU welcomes the report on the Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly in Africa. The facts given in the report are a cause of concern. We would especially like to draw attention to the need to support WHO in its role to ensure adherence to evidence-based malaria policies and strategies and the necessity to harmonize activities at country level. Malaria-specific interventions need to be accompanied by simultaneous strengthening of health systems as well as by supporting to actors outside the public health care system. We must therefore reaffirm our commitment to work with African countries to scale up malaria control interventions and reduce the burden of this disease.

The EU will also support endeavours to ensure access to anti-malaria drugs. While attempting to simulate R&D, to lower prices of new drugs and to enhance procurement and distribution, it is also crucial to closely monitor the impact of new treatments, problems of drug resistance and strengthen community knowledge including encouraging proper use of insecticide-treated bed nets and other preventive and awareness-enhancing measures.

HIV/AIDS also continues to pose immense challenges to health systems everywhere and especially in Africa. The EU will support the "treat, train and retain" initiative attempting to bring together HIV/AIDS and health systems's challenges- something which is urgently needed.

Madame President,

Let me conclude by saying that above all Africa needs peace and stability. The European Union's commitment to Africa results from our belief that the promotion of peace and sustainable development in Africa constitutes one of the key challenges to the international community today. Our relationship, conducted in a spirit of equal partnership, is also based on firm, shared commitment to democracy, the promotion of human rights, good governance and respect for the rule of law; on mutual respect and accountability. The EU continues to honour this commitment in all its endeavours.

Thank you, Madam President.

*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.