Annan says fight against terrorism should not diminish attention to Africa

19 February 2002

Addressing an awards ceremony for eminent individuals who have contributed to African development, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has stressed that the international fight against terrorism must not diminish efforts to overcome long-standing problems plaguing the continent.

“We should realize that even though we need to fight and take effective action against terrorism, none of the issues and the problems that existed on 10 September – in other words the old problems – have gone away,” Mr. Annan said in a speech delivered on Monday to the African Century Challenge Awards Dinner in New York. “I believe that it is even more important that we pool our resources and tackle these issues as urgently as we can.”

The Secretary-General also paid tribute to the evening’s honourees – actor Danny Glover, musician Hugh Masekela, and Essence magazine Editor Susan Taylor – saying they reminded him of farmers who “realize that in their everyday lives that whenever you take something from the earth you have to put something back to be able to return tomorrow.” He added that the three were all successful, and were “returning to give something back to help those who are less fortunate in our society.”

Mr. Annan also praised Shared Interest, the organization which planned the Awards Dinner. Operating in South Africa since 1994, Shared Interest “has helped thousands of small businesses get started, creating many more thousands of jobs, and has also played a key role in creating thousands of low-cost homes, helping to bring some of the most marginalized South Africans in from the fringes of society,” he said.

“This is yet another example of the crucial role that civil society groups can play,” said Mr. Annan, adding that the organization “has a message for all of us: we must share that ‘shared interest’ wider and wider.”


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