President Kagame’s address to the 68th UN General Assembly

Thirteen years ago, the Millennium Development Goals established humanitarian principles for the 21st century. Together, member states and international organisations stood for an ideal – that the world’s poorest nations and poorest people should not have to live without dignity and hope.

New York, September 25, 2013

President of the General Assembly;
Excellencies Heads of State and Government;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

 

Thirteen years ago, the Millennium Development Goals established humanitarian principles for the 21st century.

 

Together, member states and international organisations stood for an ideal – that the world’s poorest nations and poorest people should not have to live without dignity and hope.

 

The world is a different place now.

We have witnessed the struggles of a global economy reeling from a financial crisis and deep recession.

But we have seen a billion people lifted out of poverty, more children in schools, greater care for the sick.  

And we have observed a generation born in a new age of information, ready to embrace ever expanding frontiers of technology.

But the transformation is not yet complete. The shortcomings are as long as the successes. And as we think about the post-2015 agenda, we must have the courage to go beyond business as usual.

The High Level Panel report has laid out an ambitious vision for the future – and my congratulations go to the eminent persons who worked to produce it.

But 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.

This will require developing nations to take greater ownership in the post-2015 agenda.

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.

It will also require governments to empower those whose lives we are trying to transform; to give them a stake in the process and a say in the progress of the country.

In Rwanda, we have found that empowering local leaders, while demanding accountability, is an effective catalyst for development.

But for decentralisation to work, the centre must remain stable.

This is why we continue to place such emphasis on good governance. It has inspired trust in our institutions and been a foundation for our development. We know that this is the best way to achieve inclusive and sustainable development.

There must also be a far greater focus on the role of the private sector and a recognition of its power to create prosperity.

To enable this, we need a global environment without trade barriers and that facilitates investment in infrastructure.

In particular, greater investments are needed in roads, railways and airports, to connect domestic markets to regional and global ones. 

Investments are also needed in energy. Electricity – something so taken for granted in the developed world – is still a luxury for far too many people and businesses.

Access to knowledge, information and technology will also play an important role. It is levelling the economic playing field for developing countries and beginning to break the cycle of poverty.

Post-2015 presents an opportunity to turn this new sense of possibility into a reality; to give people in developing nations increased opportunity. 

In Rwanda, we are on course to meet all the MDG targets. But for us the MDGs are a floor, not a ceiling.

We remain tireless in the pursuit of progress, because we know all too well the cost of failure.

Next April, Rwanda will commemorate 20 years since the Genocide.

Over three long months, flickers of life went out all over the country, but Rwandans today are standing strong, having overcome adversity.

In building a new nation, we have a purpose that is informed by a tragic past but focused firmly on the future.

And as part of a larger African and world community, moving towards the next chapter of global development, we must create strong and meaningful partnerships that impact positively on the lives of all.

Together, we can make sure the post-2015 era is defined by opportunity and optimism, prosperity and progress, dignity and hope.

Mr President;

Let me now address another matter that concerns the dignity of Africans, on an issue of critical importance.

Africans supported the global consensus against impunity and the creation of an international justice system to fight it. We did so on the understanding that such a system would promote peace and security within and between nations, and uphold the principle of equal sovereignty of nations.

In practice, however, the International Criminal Court has flouted these principles. It has shown 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.

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.

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 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.

That is the least we can do to uphold the principle of equality of nations, support the reconciliation processes and respect the dignity of Africans.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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General Assembly's Special Event on achieving the MDGs [YouTube]

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