MIL-OSI United Nations: Deputy Secretary-General, at West African States Economic Community Anniversary Event, Urges Focus Development, Peace to Deliver on Agenda 2063 Vision for Continent

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Source: United Nations 4

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks to the ECOWAS @49:  High-Level Event on “Regionalism, Democracy and Development in West Africa:  Building Blocks to Strengthening Multilateralism”, today:

It is a real honour to be with you today as part of the celebrations marking the forty-ninth anniversary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

ECOWAS was birthed from the shared vision of our leaders in having to promote economic integration to raise the living standards of their people, at a time when many West African countries had just gained independence from colonial rule.  It went beyond focusing on States to focus on people of the region.

Over the last 49 years, through collective efforts, ECOWAS has made great strides in regional economic integration and the promotion of democratic governance and sustainable development, as well as an emphasis on peace and stability in West Africa and the Sahel.

Progress has also been made on women’s representation, including with the recent election of the Honourable Memounatou Ibrahima of Togo, on 23 May, as the first female Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament.  ECOWAS remains a pioneer for regional integration in Africa.  Its progress is a testament to the power of unity and the impact of a shared vision.

However, the celebration of ECOWAS at 49 is occurring amidst increasingly complex and fast-evolving global political, economic, social, environmental and security challenges.  These challenges have had grave consequences for West Africa’s development, peace and security.

In addition, West Africa — like many regions around the world — is very far off-track to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.  Over the last decade, the region has seen an exponential rise in terrorism that has reversed its development gains.  This has been further exacerbated by the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of Government posing a significant threat to regional stability.

The growing threat of terrorism spreading from the central Sahel to coastal countries is creating new dynamics bringing new risks of conflict beyond the region.  We are witnessing a rise in humanitarian needs, creating competing demands with the social investments that are required to build resilience and promote equal opportunities.

ECOWAS at 49 serves as a reminder that the road ahead is challenging, but it is also filled with potential.  This requires both a multilateral and a regional response to the complexities each and every country faces.  To address the crisis, we must use existing tools at our disposal and design new solutions collectively to meet the expectations the people deserve.

Allow me to share three reflections.

First, as we work towards delivering a vision for Africa enshrined in Agenda 2063, peace and security must remain at the centre of these efforts.  The 10-year plan of the African Union provides a roadmap with emphasis on strong institutions, on democracy, and on means of implementation with a particular emphasis on science, technology, and innovation.

The values of democracy and good governance still hold true for our region.  But recent developments tell us that populations are putting in question our models of democracy and the need to be made fit for purpose in line with our local realities.  We must silence the guns, addressing root causes and utilizing the brain trust of our academia and civil society on the continent to shape a better, sustainable response to changing and complex circumstances in the region.

Second, we need to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals.  This is our global blueprint of shared prosperity.  I urge you to build on the momentum of last September’s SDG Summit Political Declaration — by taking bold and transformative actions — accelerating the delivery of the SDGs by 2030.

It will require efforts at scale and a sense of urgency.  Investments that should be around key transformations — from just energy transitions to food security, digital connectivity, education and the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow, climate action, social protection floors and the means of implementation, in particular access to long-term concessional financing.

Third, September’s Summit of the Future, presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address gaps in global governance, including for peace and security as part of the Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace.

Africa’s voice will be key in finding pathways to end existing conflicts and to prevent new ones.  Shaping a new agenda for peace, women’s voices will be key to ensuring lasting solutions.  As negotiations for a new Pact for the Future intensify, I would encourage all of you to engage in all aspects and in particular the new agenda for peace in the Pact.

The United Nations’ presence in West Africa and the Secretary-General’s good offices continue to be at your disposal to convene on issues of peace, of human rights and of sustainable development.

As we celebrate ECOWAS, let us pause for a moment in recognition of the ferocious conflicts afflicting our world today — in Sudan, and in Gaza — which continue to cause unimaginable sufferings, particularly for women and children.  A multilateral response is the only inclusive and durable way forward.

We continue to call for immediate humanitarian ceasefires, and the unconditional release of hostages in Gaza and a pathway to a two-State solution.  We are united in our call for peace, for silencing the guns across Africa and for working to end all conflicts around the world.

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