A New Africa is Emerging – Miroslav Lajčák UN Assembly President at Africa Week 2017
Africa Week 2017: High-Level Inaugural Event.
Theme: Supporting an Integrated, Prosperous, People-Centred and Peaceful Africa: Towards the Implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák,
President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at the High-level Inaugural Event of Africa Week 2017
Excellencies, Mr. Secretary-General, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I will start my statement today by strongly condemning the terror attacks, which took place in Mogadishu over the weekend. I want to express my deepest condolences to the people and Government of Somalia. We stand in solidarity with you. I am outraged by the loss of so many innocent lives. These horrific incidents further highlight the need for urgent action to prevent and counter all forms of terrorism, including by tackling the root causes.
I want to thank the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa for its role in organizing what has now become an important annual event. I also want to thank the various speakers and participants who have travelled to be with us this week.
I am very glad to address you as we open the seventh Africa Week. This initiative offers us all an opportunity to discuss issues relevant to the peace and development in Africa. More importantly, however, it gives us an opportunity to listen.
I want to start, first, by stating a fact: Africa is rising.
We have seen a lot of progress coming from the continent. The World Bank has confirmed that, following a downturn, African economic growth is now on the upswing. Growth on the continent is expected to reach 2.6% this year. And many African economies continue to show clear signs of resilience.
Africa has an ambitious agenda for its own development. It has launched high-level initiatives to advance its top priorities. Among them are plans to accelerate industrialization, infrastructure investment, economic integration and agricultural innovation.
Africa’s natural resources represent a significant opportunity for shared economic growth. Another resource I want to focus on, in particular, is people. Youth makes up two thirds of Africa’s population. This leads to 11 million young people entering African labor markets every year. Furthermore, continued focus on the empowerment of women and girls will also enhance the continent’s human capital.
This is not to say that we have only seen progress. Challenges persist. They are many – and they are significant. But these challenges cannot take away from the fact that a new Africa is emerging. An Africa that is leading its own development. And an Africa that is a vital to the success of global multilateralism.
A second point I want to stress is that we need closer cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union.
This is particularly crucial in the area of Sustainable Development. Through the Agenda 2063, Africa decided on the future it wants. Similarly, the 2030 Agenda outlines the future we all want, for the planet and the people living on it. Both agendas are interlinked. They must be implemented in complementarity.
This means better and more regular engagement between the United Nations and the African Union. And this applies at all stages, including planning, implementation, financing and review.
Additionally, both agendas must be nationally-owned and nationally-driven. This means that we also need to explore how we can strengthen international and regional support to African states, as they align their national strategies to both of these important frameworks.
A third point, however, is that our need for cooperation and partnerships does not only apply to Sustainable Development. Rather, this need is present across all the work that both the African Union and the United Nations do on a daily basis. The Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security is of vital importance – particularly given that most of the UN’s blue helmets are deployed in Africa. The Framework for a Renewed UN-AU partnership on Africa’s Integration and Development Agenda, for the period 2017-2027, offers another opportunity for cooperation.
When we are exploring ways to better collaborate and partner, we cannot ignore migration. For years, African countries have been sources of migrants. Importantly – and this, perhaps, doesn’t get as much attention in the media – 80% of Africans who migrate do so inside the continent.
This means that African nations have extensive experience in responding to migration. They have learned many valuable lessons. They have identified best practices.
I call on African delegations to actively engage in the process leading to the adoption of the Global Compact on Migration. Your perspectives and experiences are invaluable.
I spoke earlier about listening. This is a point I want to stress again, before I conclude.
In the past, Africa was expected to listen. It was expected to accept the ideas and conditions of others.
That era is over.
Africa is leveraging international support to power and drive its own ideas and solutions. And it is rightfully accepted as a formidable partner we cannot do without if we want to properly respond to the most pressing global challenges. When it comes to its own development, Africa now has the most powerful voice of all. We need to listen to it, and learn from it.
So, I look forward to a week of participation and engagement, but also, importantly, a week of listening and learning.
I thank you.