Picture: Getty Images – The ruffled African Union flag blows in the wind. African Union (AU) chairperson, Senegalese President Macky Sall, says the AU once again has called on foreign sanctions to be lifted against Zimbabwe. Sall says these harsh measures continue to fuel a sense of injustice against an entire people, and that it aggravates their suffering in times of deep crisis.
By Macky Sall
Mr President, on behalf of the African Union, I would like to express my thanks to your predecessor and wish you every success in the discharge of your duties.
I reiterate our support to the Secretary General in carrying out his delicate mission in the service of member states.
Since our last session, the world has become more dangerous and uncertain, under the combined grip of global warming, security and health perils, and the war in Ukraine.
The theme of this session reflects the urgent need to act together to ease tensions, heal our planet, reduce persistent North-South inequalities, and reinstate the importance of multilateralism.
The Security Council is called upon to address all threats to international peace and security, including in Africa, in the same way.
Conflict and security threats
Terrorism, which is gaining ground on the Continent, is not just an African matter. It is a global threat that falls under the primary responsibility of the Council, as guarantor of the collective security mechanism, under the Charter of our Organisation. We therefore urge the Council to engage more with us in the fight against terrorism in Africa, with more appropriate mandates and more substantial resources.
Furthermore, the African Union (AU) once again calls for the lifting of foreign sanctions against Zimbabwe. These harsh measures continue to fuel a sense of injustice against an entire people, and to aggravate their suffering in these times of deep crisis.
In the Middle East, we reiterate the right of the Palestinian people to a viable state, living side-by-side in peace with the State of Israel, each within secure and internationally recognised borders.
We call for de-escalation and a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine, as well as for a negotiated solution, to avoid the catastrophic risk of a potentially global conflict.
Security council reform
Nearly eighty years after the birth of the United Nations (UN) system and the Bretton Woods Institutions, it is time for a fairer, more inclusive global governance, that is more adapted to the realities of our time.
It is time to overcome the reluctance and deconstruct the narratives that persist in confining Africa to the margins of decision-making circles. It is time to do justice to Africa’s just and legitimate demand for Security Council reform, as reflected in the Ezulwini Consensus.
In the same vein, I reaffirm our request for the AU to be granted a seat in the G20, so that Africa can finally be represented where decisions that affect one billion four hundred million Africans are being taken.
I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the partners who have already expressed their support and invite others to give favourable consideration to our candidacy.
Economic governance in Africa
With respect to economic and financial governance, I draw the attention of the General Assembly to the Financing for Sustainable Development Report 2022, produced by some sixty multilateral institutions, including the IMF, the World Bank, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the International Association of Insurance Regulators and the Financial Stability Board.
The report highlights shortcomings in the assessment processes of credit rating agencies, and underlines the importance of “transparent methodologies so as not to undermine confidence in ratings”. We are concerned that the perception of risk in Africa continues to be higher than the actual risk, which increases the cost of insurance premiums and undermines the competitiveness of our economies.
This is why Africa is renewing its proposal to the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance to engage, in conjunction with the G20, the IMF and the World Bank, in a constructive dialogue with the rating agencies on improving their working and assessment methods.
In the same spirit, in view of the unprecedented scale of the global economic crisis, the AU reiterates its call for the partial reallocation of Special Drawing Rights and the implementation of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative.
This unprecedented shock further destabilises the weakest economies and makes their need for liquidity even more pressing, to mitigate the effects of widespread inflation and to support the most vulnerable households and social strata, especially young people and women.
In addition, there is the need to address new and old health emergencies, including cancer, a silent killer that continues to claim millions of lives across the world. I call for a general mobilisation in favour of the IAEA’s Rays of Hope campaign to strengthen the capacities of member countries, particularly in Africa, in the fight against cancer, using nuclear technologies such as medical imaging, nuclear medicine and radiotherapy.
The Continents action on Climate Change
With the COP-27 in Sharm El Sheikh only a few weeks away, Africa reiterates its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.
At the same time, we wish to reach a consensus for a fair and equitable energy transition, as was called for at the Africa-Europe Summit last February, at the enlarged session of the G7 Summit in June, and recently at the Africa Adaptation Finance Forum in Rotterdam.
It is legitimate, fair and equitable that Africa, the continent that pollutes the least and lags furthest behind in the industrialisation process, should exploit its available resources to provide basic energy, improve the competitiveness of its economy and achieve universal access to electricity. I will recall that today more than 600 million Africans still live without electricity.
Let us also work towards the goal of mobilising US$100 billion a year to support developing countries’ adaptation efforts and to finance the African Adaptation Acceleration Programme under the auspices of the AfDB and the Global Centre for Adaptation.
Moreover, we see adaptation funding not as aid, but as a contribution by industrialised countries to a global partnership of solidarity, in return for efforts by developing countries to avoid the polluting patterns that have plunged the planet into the current climate emergency.
Africa is determined to work
Over and above current emergencies, I have come to convey the message of a continent determined to work with all its partners in a relational ethic of trusting dialogue and mutual respect.
I have come to say that Africa has suffered enough of the burden of history; that it does not want to be the breeding ground of a new Cold War, but rather a pole of stability and opportunity open to all its partners, on a mutually beneficial basis.
I have come to say that we do not ignore that Africa, faced with challenges, needs to be pacified and stabilised.
But I have also come to say that we also have Africa as a provider of solutions, with an area 30 million km2, its human resources, more than 60 percent of the world’s arable land, its mineral, forest, water and energy resources.
Yes, we have the Africa of solutions, with governments on the job; vibrant and creative youth who innovate, undertake and succeed; millions of men and women who work hard to feed, educate and care for their families; who invest, create wealth and generate jobs. This Africa of solutions wants to engage with all its partners in a reinvented relationship that transcends the prejudice that whoever is not with me is against me.
We want a multilateralism that is open and respectful of our differences; because the United Nations system, born out of the ashes of war, can only win the support of all on the basis of shared ideals, not local values erected as universal norms.
It is by working together, respecting our differences, that we will restore the strength and vitality of the United Nations’ raison d’être: to save present and future generations from the scourge of war, to advance the peaceful coexistence of peoples, and to foster progress by creating better living conditions for all.
Sall is the President of the Republic of Senegal and current Chairperson of the African Union. This speech was delivered at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.