The annual observance of Africa Day offers an opportunity to reflect on Africa’s prospects and its plight.
The African Union continues to strengthen its institutions for conflict prevention, resolution and management. The process of democratic consolidation continues to gain impetus, with many countries achieving successful transfers of power through open electoral processes. Implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development is gathering pace, with progress in several programmes, including the African Peer Review Mechanism to which 25 countries have voluntarily subscribed.
Yet much of Africa, especially South of the Sahara, continues to suffer the tragic effects of violent conflict, extreme poverty and disease. In Darfur, attacks and displacements have continued, and at least 2.6 million people are in urgent need of assistance. In too many countries, poverty and the huge burden of disease, in particular the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, are inflicting widespread suffering and reversing hard-won development gains, leaving Africa behind the rest of the developing world in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
2005 could well be a crucial year for Africa. In September, world leaders will gather for a Summit at the United Nations to review implementation of the Millennium Declaration. That Summit should be a time of decision, including bold action in response to the special needs of Africa. “In Larger Freedom”, the report that I have put before the UN membership, contains wide-ranging recommendations for helping Africans in their quest for security, development and human rights. Two other major UN-commissioned reports — from the Millennium Project and from the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change — as well as the report of the United Kingdom’s Commission for Africa, have also put forward practical proposals. The General Assembly’s dialogue on financing for development in June, the G-8 Summit meeting in July, and the September Summit all offer important opportunities to generate more international support for Africa’s development.
On this Africa Day, I would like to reaffirm the support of the United Nations for the work of the African Union and for the efforts of individual African men, women and children to build better lives in larger freedom.