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New UN report on African development urges positive agenda for continent

New UN report on African development urges positive agenda for continent

Nitin Desai
Efforts to promote development in Africa must move beyond the current focus on difficulties towards a positive agenda for the continent, according to a just-released report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan which is slated for consideration by ministers attending a high-level United Nations meeting in Geneva later this month.

The report, prepared for the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council, deals with the UN's role in supporting the efforts of African countries to achieve sustainable development. Introducing the document at a press conference in Geneva, Nitin Desai, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said there was currently too much focus on problems in Africa when what the continent needed was a positive agenda for development.

The Under-Secretary-General pointed to growing global attention to African development, evidenced by the UN Millennium Summit, the UN Conference on Least Developed Countries, and the recent General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS. African-led initiatives were also gaining prominence, including the Millennium Action Plan for African Recovery which had been launched by the Presidents of South Africa, Algeria and Nigeria. The report tried to focus attention on how to create a sense of partnership between these regional initiatives and the global forces, Mr. Desai noted.

He said the high-level segment should serve to cast light on the issue and foster cooperation among all concerned. "What we are trying to do here is to gain, through the session, some political visibility, a stronger attention on partnerships and a genuine dialogue between African leaders and their development partners from outside," he observed.

The high-level segment, set to run from 16 to 18 July, will bring together ministers and representatives from the Council's 54 member countries as well as observer States. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to address the opening of the forum. The heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other UN officials will also take part in the discussions.