Developing nations, donors, UN must work together for African development – Annan
Despite some “spectacular progress,” Africa as a whole is falling behind in the race to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to eradicate a host of social ills, and developing countries, international donors and the United Nations must pitch in together to reverse the trend, Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned today.
“It is not too late to turn this situation around. But it will take focus, application and commitment,” he told the African Development Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, stressing that progress in opening markets in developed countries to agricultural products from developing nations is “a sine qua non of success.”
The Doha Round of trade talks has been in limbo for months, partly over subsidies from wealthy nations to their agricultural industries, tariffs and quotas, which all shut poorer agricultural countries out of the market.
The MDGs aim to halve the rate of extreme poverty and hunger, ensure universal primary education, promote gender equality, slash child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters, halt and reverse the incidence of HIV/AIDS and malaria, cut in half the rate of people lacking safe drinking water, and forge a global partnership for development – all by 2015.
Spelling out the roles of the triple partnership, Mr. Annan stressed that “what is required most of all if the MDGs are to be achieved” is that developing countries themselves live up to their commitments by adopting comprehensive national strategies and implementing them in a transparent way that benefits all their citizens.
“And the fact is, far too few countries – in Africa or anywhere – have yet done this properly. It absolutely must be done, and done now. Development will simply not happen if we Africans, and citizens of the developing world in general, don’t get our own house in order,” he declared.
“I’m afraid that countries actually walking the walk, and not just talking the talk, are still the exception rather than the rule,” he added, underscoring the need to advance in a clear, transparent way through pioneering initiatives like the African Peer Review Mechanism.
“But whenever and wherever developing countries have adopted such sound strategies for reaching the MDGs, it is equally vital that the developed countries, and the middle-income countries, live up to their commitment to provide resources to enable those strategies to succeed,” he said.
“The world has a moral and strategic obligation to address shared concerns of poverty and disease and despair on this continent,” he added. “In essence, this vision of development is a compact: if developing countries deliver on comprehensive, fleshed-out national strategies, then donors are committed to meeting the needs that cannot be met through domestic resources alone.”
Finally, developing countries are entitled to expect help from the UN. “The UN must be there to support their vision and their plans, and to help them build the capacity – the skills, the institutions, the systems – to deliver the jobs, houses, schools and healthcare that their people need,” Mr. Annan said.
He noted that despite “enormous progress in recent years,” the UN system is still not properly structured and equipped to fully meet these needs. “We must simplify Africa’s access to, and dealings with, the donor community.
“Instead, we often seem to be adding new layers of complexity. In short, we are less than the sum of our parts,” he said, stressing the importance of the proposals submitted by the High-Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence, which would institute one UN Resident Coordinator in each country with consolidated funding channels.