Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Africa: UN committed to help African nations pursue peace, security, development

Spotlighting some of the major challenges facing African nations today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reaffirmed the commitment of the United Nations to supporting the people of the continent in building durable peace, security and sustainable development.

Mr. Ban made the pledge in a message for Africa Day, which marks the founding in 1963 of the Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Union (AU). The annual event serves as an opportunity to highlight Africa''s achievements as well as take stock of remaining challenges.

Drawing attention to the devastating effect of the ongoing economic downturn on the continent, the Secretary-General urged the international community not to step back from its commitments.

“At the very time when Africa has achieved several years of sustained economic growth and improved stability, the global economic crisis is having a severe impact. We must protect the continent''s poorest and most vulnerable people,” he stated.

Another threat to Africa''s development is climate change, he said, emphasizing the importance of countries to “seal a deal” and reach agreement in Copenhagen this December on a new global pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“If we work hard, and agree on deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, we can avoid some of the worst consequences – but not all of them,” said Mr. Ban. “That is why we must also support adaptation, especially for the poor, who will suffer first – and worst.”

The UN chief also pointed to what he described as “a troubling re-emergence of unconstitutional changes of government” on the continent.

“This reminds us not only of the need to support democratization, but to strengthen Africa''s capacity to maintain peace and security,” he stressed.

Toward that goal, he said, the UN Security Council is building a closer working relationship with the AU Peace and Security Council. The world body is also moving ahead with the UN Ten-Year Capacity-Building Programme in support of the AU, especially in providing technical support for AU peacekeeping.

Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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