Africa Week 2015 kicked off at Headquarters today with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commending African Member States of the United Nations for taking an “important step” this year toward the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area envisioned in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
“The year 2015 is indeed a critical time for global action,” the UN chief told the High-level Event on the Role of African Regional and Sub-regional Organizations in Achieving Regional Integration.
“The United Nations system is committed to supporting the 10-Year Implementation Plan of the Agenda 2063, including the efforts of the Regional Economic Communities as they strive to further integration,” Mr. Ban said.
In his remarks to start off Africa Week 2015 at UN Headquarters, Mr. Ban also said “operationalizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – and Agenda 2063 of the African Union – will be a key to our success in ensuring a life of dignity for all.” This event is the first is a series of high-level discussions and events this week held on the margins of the 193-member General Assembly’s annual consideration of the landmark New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and other vital issues concerning for the continent.
“You can also count on my Special Adviser on African issues, Mr. Maged Abdelaziz, for his continuing commitment working together with all Member States and myself also,” he added.
The UN chief also outlined ways in which he has been addressing peace and security challenges in Africa.
“I have recently convened, in close cooperation with the African Union and key sub-regional organizations, High-level Meetings on the situations in the Central African Republic, Congo, Libya, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan,” he said. “Let us also continue to work together to resolve the pressing refugee and migration crisis.”
In his remarks , the President of the General Assembly said the events of 2015 offer an “unprecedented opportunity” for Africa to reduce poverty, foster sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and to integrate into the global economy.
“These initiatives should not, however, be simply about trade liberalization between African countries,” Mogens Lykketoft cautioned. “Rather they should constitute an important pillar of the continent’s strategy for structural economic transformation. They should focus on harmonizing policies, enhancing infrastructure development and promoting public-private partnerships.”
Mr. Lykketoft said he encourages African leaders to sustain the political will and commitment needed for truly beneficial regional integration, adding that the UN must also assist the African Union and its Regional Economic Communities as they work to put in place policies that support regional integration.
He announced that he will hold a high level thematic debate next April to highlight early successes and to advance a coherent response to the agendas and agreements to which countries have committed.
The Week also aims to identify the kind of support the United Nations could further extend to African regional and sub-regional organizations in the implementation of Agenda 2063, in ways that ensure synergy with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.