Kagame pushes for end to trade barriers

A global environment free from trade barriers, conducive for investments, and characterised  by mutual respect among nations is needed to make the world a better place, President Paul Kagame has said.
President Kagame addresses the 68th UN General Assembly in New York yesterday. The New Times/Village Urugwiro
President Kagame addresses the 68th UN General Assembly in New York yesterday. The New Times/Village Urugwiro

A global environment free from trade barriers, conducive for investments, and characterised  by mutual respect among nations is needed to make the world a better place, President Paul Kagame has said.

The President made the remarks yesterday while addressing the 68th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA.

This year’s General Assembly is being held two years to 2015 deadline for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

For President Kagame, the developing world will need to make its voice louder and shape the world debate to ensure that policies and actions that directly respond to the needs of the people are undertaken.

“One of the failings of aid has been the lack of attention to country specific context in the agreements. So now is the time for the developing world to make their voice heard, to shape the debate and to ensure policies and programmes are demand-driven,” Kagame said.

He advised governments to empower their citizens with enough confidence to take part in their countries’ development processes.

The President lauded the UN’s MDGs for having inspired world leaders’ initiatives that have lifted a billion people out of poverty, sent more children to school, and made healthcare more accessible to the sick over the last 13 years.

But the transformation is not yet complete, the President observed, calling upon global leaders to do more to build a better world.

“As we think about the post-2015 agenda, we must have the courage to go beyond business as usual,” he said. “Together we must now take an honest look at the MDGs, to say this worked and that didn’t and commit to forge a new global partnership, founded on mutual responsibility and trust.”

President Kagame noted that there must be a greater focus on the role of the private sector and recognition of its power to create prosperity and called upon global leaders to end all kinds of trade barriers between countries.

“We need a global environment without trade barriers and that facilitates investment in infrastructure. In particular, greater investment is needed in roads, railways and airports, to connect domestic markets to regional and global ones,” he noted.  

The President, who had also earlier talked investment opportunities on the African continent at an Invest Africa panel in New York, said that developing countries need critical investments in energy.

“Electricity – something so taken for granted in the developed world – is still a luxury for far too many people and businesses,” he said.

ICC “openly biased against Africans”

President Kagame also spoke about the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which he accused of flouting the principles of international justice by showing “open bias against Africans”.

“Instead of promoting justice and peace, it has undermined efforts at reconciliation and served only to humiliate Africans and their leaders, as well served the political interests of the powerful,” the President told the General Assembly.

He particularly pointed at the ongoing trial of top Kenyan leaders, which he said undermines the country’s efforts to reconcile and move forward.

“Nowhere have the shortcomings of the ICC been more evident than in the ongoing trial of the leaders of Kenya. 

“People of this country have shown eagerness to heal wounds of the past, reconcile and move on. That is why they elected their present leaders,” Kagame said. 

He added, “These efforts to reconcile their communities and move forward should be supported – not undermined. National judicial capacity to fight impunity must be developed and supported”.

The President said the UN General Assembly and the Security Council “need to look at this as well as the wider issues of universal jurisdiction that have already been tabled before them”.

Both Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto face charges related to the 2007-08 post-election violence in the East African country and the latter has since made two trips to the Hague-based court for trial.

The African Union has on several occasions also accused the ICC of bias, with several members pushing for the withdrawal of the African block from the July 1, 2002 Rome Convention that established the ICC.

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President Kagame's speech at the 68th United Nations General Assembly, New York, September 25 [YouTube]

 

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