President Paul Kagame has told world leaders meeting in New York City that Africa has registered positive developments and that the management of its global position must change.
The president, who is also the Chairperson of the African Union, was addressing the general debate during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
As world leaders gather to make the United Nations more relevant to all people, Kagame said, the positive developments in Africa merit the UN’s attention.
“In no other region is the sense of trans-national solidarity and unity so deeply felt as in Africa. The idea that our respective national identities stand in contradiction to Pan-Africanism is unheard-of in our context,” he said.
He, however, said that Africa has too often stood out for divisions and dysfunction in practice, making the continent unable to articulate and advance its common interests.
“But times are changing rapidly and so the management of Africa’s global position must also change. The trend on our continent is toward closer and more productive cooperation both through the African Union and our regional economic communities,” he noted.
The Head of State highlighted that the evident decline of old certainties and authorities is not bringing turbulence to Africa as would have been the case in the previous era.
“On the contrary, the effect has been to focus Africa’s attention on the urgent need to get our house in order and fundamentally change how we do business,” he said.
Kagame indicated that this was the reason the African Union initiated financial and institutional reforms more than three years ago, something he noted was already bearing practical results.
“New financial discipline has produced an African Union budget that is twelve per cent lower than last year. The share of funding supplied by member states has also increased substantially. Contributions to the fund, which helps pay for African Union peace support operations, are at the highest level since its establishment in 1993,” he said.
Kagame also pointed out that the historic Continental Free Trade Area which was signed earlier this year is set to redefine Africa’s place in global economic and global architecture, once it is in force.
“Economies of scale and higher level of intra-African trade will help our continent attain the sustainable development goals by 2030. We will also see new possibilities for public-private partnership with Africa’s growing private sector,” he said.
Push for partnership
The Head of State called for more collaboration between Africa and the United Nations, saying it was critical to achieve the collective agenda for peace and security, gender equality and women’s empowerment, environmental protection and shared prosperity.
He also said there was a need for Africa and the world to come together and do whatever needs to be done to harmonise overlapping initiatives and ensure that agreements are respected.
“In this wider context of even stronger partnership between our institutions, it is important for the African Union’s diplomatic representation here at the United Nations to be accorded the status and weight enjoyed by other regional bodies,” he said.
The theme for this year’s general debate is; “Making the United Nations relevant to all people”.
But Kagame said it required commitment to achieving real multilateralism where it has too often been lacking.
“The current two-track system of global governance is unsustainable. A few get to be the ones to define the norms by which others shall be judged. But standards that do not apply to everyone equally are not universal,” he said.
Addressing this imbalance, he added, is what will give shape to a revival of multilateral cooperation and renew the legitimacy of the international institutions.
The president later delivered a keynote speech at the Concordia Summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly before speaking at the high-level meeting on the Secretary General’s Initiative on Action for Peacekeeping. President Kagame also co-hosted a UNGA meeting alongside Prime Minister Theresa May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Nana Akufo-Addo where the leaders discussed the importance of Investing in Jobs for Young People in Africa. The event was also attended by President Kenyatta and Bill Gates.
The President’s sideline meetings yesterday included French President Emmanuel Macron as well as President and Chancellor of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen and Sebastian Kurz.