HIS EXCELLENCY MR. COLLEN VIXEN KELAPILE AMBASSADOR AND PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS
CHAIR OF THE AFRICA GROUP FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE, 2020
INFORMAL MEETING OF THE 74TH UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE 75TH UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY HIS EXCELLENCY MR VOLKAN BOZKIR
22 JUNE, 2020
UNITED NATIONS NEW YORK
Mr. President of the 74th UN General Assembly, Excellency Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande;
Mr. President-elect of the 75th UN General Assembly, Excellency Mr. Volkan Bozkir;
Secretary-General of the UN, Mr. Antonio Gutteres;
Excellencies and Dear Colleagues; Distinguished Delegates;
1. It is with great honour that I deliver this statement on behalf of the Africa Group of Member States, at this very important informal interaction with the President-elect of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly.
2. At the outset, and on behalf of the Africa Group, I would like to congratulate His Excellency Mr. Volkan Bozkir, on his election to lead the UN General Assembly at its 75th Session.
3. The 75th Session of the Assembly coincides with very trying times, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic -- which will certainly worsen the already existing challenges we face globally.
4. We are hopeful that your wealth of experience, of over 45 years, , would be beneficial in aiding our collective efforts to safely traverse the journey during and beyond this pandemic.
5. We are particularly encouraged to note that you personally recognize the enormous weight of this pandemic and -- to use your own words -- you are indeed committed to ensuring that: “we will outlive this menace and come out stronger”. The Africa Group will continue to support your Office in that regard.
6. In the same breadth, the Africa Group takes this opportunity to pay tribute to you, Your Excellency Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, as outgoing President of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly for your decisive leadership, particularly during these peculiar times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
7. Against all odds, during the 74th Session you skilfully chatted new grounds for exemplary leadership in crises, and thus set an unprecedented tone that will define the future functioning of our delicate intergovernmental processes in many ways in the years to come on which your successor would build upon.
8. Notable among many other achievements, is your recent flawless delivery of three major parallel voting for Principal Organs of the UN including the Security Council through means never envisioned for such crucial elections. As you wind down your duties in the remaining few months, the Africa Group commends you in advance for your successful leadership.
9. As Africa Group, we have listened very attentively to the President-elect previously during the townhall held prior to his election and we heard from him once again this afternoon. Our Group has also carefully studied the Presidentelect’s Vision Statement.
10. The Africa Group took note of the pledges, principles and the priorities identified therein as they are aligned with the theme for this year: “The future we want, the UN we need: Reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism.”
11. By way of emphasis, the Africa Group wishes to highlight the following non-exhaustive list of issues which deserve continued attention during the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly:
i) First and foremost, it has to be stressed that independence, impartiality and integrity are key to enable the President of the General Assembly to successfully conduct his functions and responsibilities.
ii) The Development of Africa is a standing integral part of the identified eight (8) main priorities of the UN for many years, as recently resubmitted by the Secretary-General in document A/75/6. The Africa Group therefore counts on the good leadership of the President-elect to maintain this dedicated attention on Africa across all the pillars of the programme of work of the organization, including on allocation of requisite resources for the critical programmes.
iii) We agree with the emphasis on the developing countries, especially Countries in Special Situations, in particular African countries, Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island States as well as specific challenges faced by many Middle- Income Countries, conflict and post-conflict countries and peoples living under foreign occupation. Again, we recall that for a very good reason the Special Needs of Africa were highlighted in the Millennium Declaration adopted two decades ago in 2000.
iii) It is our hope that the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly will also continue to follow up on commitments to the Sustaining Peace Agenda in furtherance to the UN Charter obligations for the maintenance of international peace and security, and in line with national ownership and leadership of the countries concerned. Thanks to the partnership between the UN and our continental bodies, Africa is making progress; but there remain some challenges. As part of the “Africa We Want” Vision embodied in the AU’s Agenda 2063, Silencing the Guns in Africa as well as Women and Peace and Security are among imperatives for sustainable peace and development which must be achieved.
iv) In order to realize social progress and uplift the living standards of our peoples and promote universal human rights for all, the Africa Group takes seriously the full implementation of Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs constitute a solid blue-print, and their complete delivery by 2030 hinges upon adherence to the clarion call by the Secretary-General for the SDG Decade of Action. Advancing progress in this area is also contingent upon establishing viable partnerships to close the SDGs financing gap.
v) As already acknowledged, Climate Change is a real existential threat to our survival and livelihoods. The accompanying natural disasters, environmental impacts, land degradation and desertification severely undermine agricultural production and compound Food Insecurity in our regions. We therefore hope that this issue continues to be a priority and we also look forward with hope to the Food Systems Summit in 2021, and expect that under your able leadership together with the Secretary-General the preparatory process will be inclusive to yield optimal results.
vi) There has never been a time more crucial for the Promotion and Preservation of Multilateralism than today. The Africa Group believes that under the President-elect’s able leadership, we have a timely opportunity at the 75th Anniversary of the UN to recommit to multilateralism and make it a collective reality. We therefore welcome the pledge by the President-elect in this regard. Ensuring inclusivity, transparency, harmony and cohesion among Member States and granting equal voice to all as well as gender parity are among other important tenets for multilateralism and a truly rules-based global governance system.
vii) Beyond that, as we witness a global outcry for Racial Equality, the Africa Group counts on the good leadership of the President-elect to join hands with the Secretary-General and our world leaders to ensure that the UN General Assembly stands united behind an intolerance-free UN environment, across all its Principal Organs and entire UN system. There is absolutely no place for any form of intolerance or discriminatory practices in a multinational forum such as the UN.
viii) Last but not least, Mr. President, the socio-economic implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic will certainly linger on for several years to come. The Africa Group appreciates the mitigation efforts to date, including through the able leadership of the Secretary-General together with other partners, and we welcome also the pledge by the President-elect to lead further efforts to fight and mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. In order to build back faster, and also better prepare to be resilient in handling similar future shocks, our countries especially in the Global South will look to the UN for ongoing support to develop much more ambitious recovery plans and forward-looking National Development Plans.
12. In conclusion, Mr. President, on behalf of the Africa Group, I would like to once again congratulate the President-elect, His Excellency Mr. Volkan Bozkir, and express the readiness of the Africa Group to work closely with him in the fulfilment of our shared goals and objectives during the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly.
I Thank You, for your kind attention.