Africa Day offers an opportunity to state once again my strong personal commitment to support the continent, and to reaffirm the determination of the United Nations to partner with the region to realize its full potential by achieving durable peace and sustainable development.
Africa is at the very top of the United Nations agenda; it remains central to all UN activities in peace and security, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance. Although there are formidable challenges in all of these areas, we have at our disposal the best possible resource to meet them: the dynamism and creativity of African people.
There is much to applaud in the recent sustained economic growth experienced by many African countries. And Africa’s determined efforts to resolve its own problems through the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, the Panel of the Wise and other innovative initiatives are also impressive. At the same time, its economic recovery, framed by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, is supported by the international community.
The United Nations will continue to work closely with the African Union to address security concerns, including the conflicts in Darfur and Somalia. In the process, we are consolidating cooperation between the UN and the AU.
This year, Africa Day has special significance as we focus on realizing the Millennium Development Goals, our vision for a better world in the twenty-first century. Having passed the midpoint in our race to reach these targets, I am more determined than ever that we will succeed, especially in Africa.
That is why I am chairing the MDG Africa Steering Group as part of my priority push to mobilize more effective multilateral support for the continent’s own development efforts. We have to surmount the existing constraints of extreme poverty, disease and illiteracy, while tackling emerging challenges like climate change and the soaring rise in food prices.
In all of these endeavours, we depend on our partners. Allow me to express my sincere appreciation for the outstanding contributions of the former Chairman of the African Union Commission, President Alpha Oumar Konare, as well as his team. At the same time, I warmly welcome Mr. Jean Ping and his colleagues who have recently assumed their duties at the African Union Commission.
As we celebrate Africa Day, let us renew our commitment to work together in support of the dynamic people of Africa as they strive to overcome the challenges ahead and realize their immense potential.