UN General Assembly assesses NEPAD’s priorities and approaches to Africa’s development

The United Nations General Assembly issued a clean bill of health to the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) after its assessment of the organization’s progress in implementing international support during its annual joint debate on development in Africa at its 67th Assembly 25th & 26th Plenary Meetings on Wednesday in New York.

UN General Assembly

Armed with the reports of the Secretary-General (A/67/204 and A/67/205); 2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly in Africa, the 193 member world body collectively acknowledged NEPAD’s progress in what they call “significant achievements” and expressed optimism that the Partnership would incorporate its priorities in formulating sustainable development goals.

General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic in his opening statement said that “Africa has shown determination to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, including centuries of exploitation unique in the annals of human history.”  It was also disclosed that though many African countries were the hardest –hit victims of the global economic crisis, the continent’s macroeconomic indicators have improved, trade and investment have also been expanded and continent-wide markets have been built.

President Jeremic also noted that Africa could largely meet the targets of the Millennium Development if the international community redoubled its effort and put into effect monetary pledges as was established in Assembly resolution 66/293 which requires a mechanism to assess commitments made to Africa’s development.

According to UN officials in the Media Document Centre of the Department of Public Affairs, fifty-six speakers representing Australia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Ireland, the United States, European Union, Russian Federation, Thailand, Sri Lanka and a host of African member states including Sierra Leone offered statements addressing the two Agenda items 63(a) and 63(b) and 13: (a) New Partnership for Africa’s Development: progress in implementation and international support ; (b) Causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa; 2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa.

Speaking on behalf of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Ebun Jusu, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, said that her country attached great importance to NEPAD.  With accelerated growth over the last decade, improvements in governance, the “spectre of conflict” receding and leadership expanding, “it is clear that Africa is at a critical turning point”.  Steady progress was also recorded in malaria control and prevention mechanisms, with many households sleeping under treated mosquito nets.  As a further commitment, some African Heads of State, including the President of Sierra Leone, had launched the African Leaders Malaria Alliance with the goal of ending preventable malaria deaths by 2015.

In the area of peace, security and conflict resolution, while the African Union and sub-regional organizational efforts to strengthen their capacity in conflict prevention and resolution were highlighted, the report also points out new wave of challenges including transnational organized crime, corruption, famine, drought, human rights abuses, terrorism, piracy and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons continues to pose serious threats to the continent.

Despite glowing assessment of NEPAD’s progress by the General Assembly, critics of the organization are many.  Some say its structural adjustment programs have greatly undermined the economic capacity of African states while others  contend that the plan is being non-consultative, the private sector which cannot be avoided if meaningful growth is to be achieved has been completely bye-passed and excluded from the development process of Africa.  And, that the plan does nothing to challenge the economic dominance of the West, but roll over and bending backwards as it “accepts the prescriptions of the World Bank and IMF without questions”.

NEPAD, a key policy vehicle for the African Union was endorsed and adopted in mid – 2001 by the Organization of African Unity.  NEPAD officials say it aims are to attract greater investment and development aid to Africa, reduce the continent’s debt levels, and broaden global market access for African exports.  They also say emphasis on increased democratization,  political accountability and transparency in governance in African states are the primary means of achieving its goals.

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