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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

African leaders addressing UN Summit urge greater representation on Security Council

14 September 2005 African leaders addressing the United Nations Summit meeting in New York today said their continent should have permanent representation on the Security Council, whose agenda is dominated by conflicts there.

Rwanda's President, Paul Kagame, said his country had experienced both the success and failure of UN activities. Reform should "enable States that are not members of the Security Council to participate more actively in its deliberative and decision-making processes," he said, adding that the Council should be more representative, transparent, credible, and legitimate. Voicing support for the establishment of the proposed Peacebuilding Commission, he said it would only succeed if it enjoyed "the full ownership and participation of those it is meant to serve."

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal pointed out that 70 per cent of the issues on the agenda of the Security Council pertain to Africa, yet the continent had no permanent seat. He said it was inconceivable that decisions were being taken on Africa without its input, and stressed the need for the continent to have a permanent seat on the Security Council with the right of veto.

Botswana's President, Festus Gontebanye Mogae, noted that a number of African countries are under Security Council consideration and account for a significant portion of the UN peacekeeping budget. "The resolution of these conflicts can go a long way to ensuring the economic and social development of the wider African region, as well as the affected countries themselves," he said, calling for greater cooperation between the UN and the African Union to strengthen conflict prevention and peace-keeping mechanisms.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria's President, said the UN was created for another era and is not now equipped to meet the challenges of today's world. The UN should be strengthened, especially its General Assembly, which has a central role to play. "This desire to revamp the Organization should not cast doubt on our unswerving dedication to the Charter and its principles, nor on our faith in the rule of law and international action."

Ghana's President, John Agyekum Kufuor, called attention to the "menace" of illicit small arms and light weapons. In Africa, he said, they "constitute the weapons of mass destruction," claiming more than 20 million victims on the continent, including many women and children, over the past decade.

Driss Jettou, the Prime Minister of Morocco, said his country participated actively in UN peacekeeping operations based on the conviction that only peace would foster development, particularly in poor countries, and allow them to defuse the threats facing humanity as a whole. Morocco also remained committed to the fight against terrorism, and urged the international community to cooperate closely in order to achieve development, human rights and security, particularly in Africa.

Benjamin William Mkapa, the President of Tanzania, stressed that aid is not charity but rather an investment in peace, security and human solidarity. "By not addressing the causes of poverty, we are institutionalizing the business of charity," he said. "It does not make political sense; it does not make economic sense; it does not make ethical sense."

Paul Biya, the President of Cameroon, said solidarity between the countries of the north and those of the south was essential to progress in today's world. Debt relief would be essential to enable the poorest countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He called on the international financial institutions to undertake a general cancellation of multilateral and bilateral debt, and urged stepped-up trade talks to help countries of the South to "finally play a significant role in international trade."

Madagascar's President, Marc Ravalomanana, stressed that fighting poverty requires a global strategy for development. The MDGs are not isolated objectives, they are interdependent, and coordination is crucial to reaching them. He also called for stepped up efforts to help the poorest of the poor, and urged a "Marshal Plan" for Africa. With a new, international, decisive approach focused on that continent, the MDGs can be achieved.

President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria called for the elimination of "trade-distorting domestic subsidies, particularly in agriculture." He said Africa needs market access and investments to generate resources to meet the MDGs. "I stand on this podium today, therefore, to remind us of the commitments we have all made," he said, calling on those present to make good on their pledges.

President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya said that funds alone will not spur development. "Even with all the resources in our hands, we are not likely to achieve the goals in our developing economies if we do not address the issues of capacity," he said, calling for a fresh examination of the factors behind the limited success of training projects.

Sao Tome and Principe's President, Fradique Bandeira Melo De Menezes, said that as a representative of a small, developing island State, he supported the establishment of an early-warning tsunami coordination centre under the auspices of the UN. He also called on the international community to translate its pledges to help small island States into concrete actions.

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's President, said his country was committed to fighting extreme poverty and hunger "by redistributing land to the majority of our citizens who had been condemned to conditions of squalor by years of colonialism and its vestiges." He called on those present to "have the courage to go beyond the mere posturing that is characterised by name-calling, finger-pointing and false accusations."


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