Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
62nd session of the UN General Assembly
Before the Plenary, on item 64 (a):
New Partnership for Africa’s Development:
progress in implementation and international support
New York, 19 October 2007
Resolutions 61/229 and 61/230 and
the reports of the Secretary-General (A/62/203 and A/62/204) highlight
many positive signs of the commitment of the peoples and governments
of Africa to act as protagonists in the promotion of peace and of their
economic and social development. They also express the international
responsibilities towards Africa.
Figures showing accelerated economic growth in Africa as a whole during the past
years are particularly encouraging. This was best exemplified by last year’s
growth rate which was the highest in the last thirty years.
It is therefore with pleasure that I salute the New Partnership for Africa’s
Development (NEPAD) in its seventh year of existence. This Africa-owned and
Africa-led vision and strategic framework for Africa’s renewal has contributed
in no small measure to this growth. Moreover, although designed to address the
challenges facing the Continent through closer cooperation among the African
countries, NEPAD also opens and prepares Africa to greater international
cooperation. Indeed, one of its primary objectives is to halt the
marginalisation of Africa in the globalisation process and enhance its full and
beneficial integration into the global economy. Africa has started to reap the
fruit of this wise decision, like the aforementioned highest growth rate, which
was in part due to favourable international economic conditions.
Nevertheless, these positive signs stand in stark contrast with situations of
conflict and the reality of extreme forms of poverty difficult to uproot. Africa
still lags behind most of the regions of the world. Thus the international
community’s support remains decisive, to assist Africa respond to daunting
challenges and to consolidate recent gains.
In the area of peace and security, the Holy See wishes to renew its support for
a global approach to the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in
Africa. Efforts in these areas should be guided by the Peace and Security
Council of the African Union, assisted by the Panel of the Wise and the African
Standby Force. Initiatives such as the Continental Early Warning System and the
regional conflict warning systems deserve the international community’s generous
support, so that the Continent’s increasing assumption of its share of
responsibility in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict
peacebuilding may be consolidated further.
In the socio-economic field, there would be no need to look far and wide for
ways and means to support Africa: resolution 61/229 operative paragraphs 19 to
25 enumerate a number of them. To address the challenges of poverty eradication
and sustainable development, Africa would need a comprehensive solution to the
unsustainable debt burdens of some countries, fairer access to world market
through equitable integration into the international trading system, the timely
disbursement by the developed countries of the agreed 0.7% of GNP as ODA, better
harmonization between international support and the NEPAD priorities, greater
and long-term investments in Africa’s public and private sector, transfer of
technology, better educational and health systems, just to cite some.
Africa’s integration into the international trading system should help it build
its capacity to compete without reducing its ability to safeguard their citizens
from the undesirable consequences of structural adjustments and trade
liberalization. The international community is called to assist African
countries develop policies that promote a culture of solidarity, so that their
economic development may go hand in hand with integral human development. On the
other hand, good governance and institution-building efforts, correct use of aid
and anti-corruption measures are primary responsibilities of the recipient
countries and are essential if international aid is to bear fruit.
At the end of the day, any new trade development – particularly the new
north-south regional agreements - must improve on what is already in place and
must avoid putting conditions to the detriment of Africans. One sector that is
vital to Africa’s capacity both to ensure its food security and to compete in
the global economy would be the sensitive issue of agricultural subsidies in
developed countries. An equitable solution to the imbalances in international
agricultural trade is urgently needed, as well as an approach to the subsidies
on exports from developed countries which is consistent with and satisfactory
for African agriculture.
Education must be at the heart of NEPAD’s objectives and priorities, not only as
a goal in itself but also as a means in achieving the other objectives.
Strategic partnerships in education and skills formation between institutions in
Africa and in the developed world will no doubt accelerate progress in all
These partnerships should extend to the movement of skilled labour. Africa, in
fact, is suffering from brain drain, as many of its educated, talented and
skilled human capital - especially in the health sector - leave the Continent
for better economic opportunities in rich countries. There is real risk that the
hard-earned investments in African higher education would yield less and less
returns to Africa, even if it would benefit countries where African skilled
labour is being employed.
Persistent wars in Africa and their deleterious effects in terms of the
displaced and refugees, and of the heinous crimes of child soldiers and violence
against women, should remind us that peace and collective security are
inseparable from human development.
Thank you, Mr President.