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African Forum for Dialogue

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

16 octobre 2013
African Forum for Dialogue (en anglais)

Message by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

African Forum for Dialogue
Opening Session

Palais des Nations, Room XVIII
Wednesday, 16 October 2013 from 09:30 to 10:00 a.m.

Delivered on his behalf by Mr. Vladimir Gratchev, Officer-in-Charge, United Nations Office at Geneva; Director of the Division of Conference Management.

It gives me great pleasure to congratulate all Member States of the African Union on the 50th anniversary and extend my greetings to this most timely meeting.

I am grateful to Ambassador Abbas as Dean of the African Group, Ambassador Getahun as the Chair of the Preparatory Committee, Ambassador Ehouzou as the Permanent Observer of the African Union for the kind invitation extended to the United Nations Office at Geneva to be part of this celebration.

We value highly the close collaboration with the African Union delegation and all African Union Member States in Geneva. It is an honour to have with us today the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Ms. Dlamini-Zuma, and so many distinguished representatives of the continent.
The vision and foresight of the leaders that established the Organization of African Unity have been rewarded with remarkable progress over the past 50 years. Africa has experienced rapid economic growth, strides in the fight against poverty, greater investment and democratization.

The African Union has been driving force behind many of these achievements, providing a framework for cooperation across Africa and defining a clear, global African voice.

The United Nations and the African Union have developed a fruitful and ever-expanding partnership – in peacekeeping, mediation and conflict resolution, electoral assistance and governance, economic and social development, and sustainability.

At the United Nations in Geneva, we appreciate the commitment of the African Union to our activities here. From disarmament and development, to humanitarian action and human rights, we benefit from the active involvement of the African Union and its Member States, bringing African views and perspectives to the discussions across the United Nations’ agenda.

As all anniversaries, this milestone is an opportunity not only to take stock but also to look ahead. I would like to share with you four areas which I believe need our collective attention and action to make full use of the opportunities that have been nurtured over the past 50 years:

First, we need a strong post-2015 development framework that can deliver continued progress for the people of Africa. The Millennium Development Goals have provided a context for significant advances. The lessons of this experience need to be fully reflected in the objectives for the period after 2015.

As a continent vulnerable to the impact of climate change, Africa needs to be fully included in global efforts to confront this threat. Food security, education and health need to continue to be key priorities to unlock the potential of each individual.

African leadership and ownership is indispensable in this process. It is therefore welcome that many African leaders spoke eloquently about the post-MDG agenda as a shared priority at the recently-concluded General Debate of the General Assembly in New York.

Second, as part of the broader development efforts, we need to enhance intra-African links, diversify economies and reform the agricultural sector. Currently, some 10% of total trade is intra-African, and the African Union has taken valuable steps to boost this significantly. Commodity-driven growth does not, in and of itself, create sufficient jobs for a young and growing continent. Manufacturing needs to be increased for more sustainable and equitable long-term growth that benefits all segments of society. It is estimated that 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land is in Africa. Modernization of agricultural technology and improvements in infrastructure are critical to fulfil the potential.

Third, we need to consolidate gains in peacebuilding, good governance and the rule of law. We have witnessed all too often how progress has been undermined by political instability and lack of accountability. We need to resolve the underlying causes of conflict, heal communities torn apart by conflict, and ensure accountability, transparency and equality in governance and economy.

Four, we need to continue to empower the people of Africa to shape their own futures, not least women and youth. The African continent accounts for one sixth of the world’s youth. This is an asset and a promise, not only for Africa but for the world at large. Female African leaders continue to play a crucial role in the promotion of women as actors in development more broadly.

The vision of the African Union is that of an integrated prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena. The United Nations stands with Africa in making this vision a reality, and you may rely on the full support of the United Nations family in Geneva in this endeavour.

I congratulate you again and express my most sincere wishes for continued success in the work of the African Union.

This speech is part of a curated selection from various official events and is posted as prepared.