Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame, who is also the chair of the African Union, addressed the 73rd United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday.
The UNGA is the deliberative and policy-making body and the only one with equal representation, meaning each country has one vote. During the general debate, world leaders take the stage to highlight issues affecting their governments.
Under the theme “Making the United Nations relevant to all people: global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies,” the event was attended by African leaders, many of whom were there for the first time.
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Here are three things President Kagame told the Assembly about Africa.
Management of Africa needs to change
In his speech, he highlighted that the global position of the continent must change to keep up with the changing times. He called upon the change in management of Africa to go towards trans-national solidarity and unity.
“But times are changing rapidly and so the management of Africa’s global position must also change. The trend on our continent is toward closer and more productive cooperation both through the African Union and our regional economic communities,” he noted.
Africa is making important changes to its structures
President Kagame also noted that Africa is no longer suffering the impact of the decline of old certainties and authorities as it would have been the case in the past.
“On the contrary, the effect has been to focus Africa’s attention on the urgent need to get our house in order and fundamentally change how we do business,” he said. adding that it was the reason the African Union made changes in its financial and institutional structures.
“New financial discipline has produced an African Union budget that is twelve per cent lower than last year. The share of funding supplied by member states has also increased substantially. Contributions to the fund, which helps pay for African Union peace support operations, are at the highest level since its establishment in 1993,” he added.
Kagame also spoke about the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which he said is set to redefine Africa’s place in global economic and architecture.
“Economies of scale and a higher level of intra-African trade will help our continent attain the sustainable development goals by 2030. We will also see new possibilities for public-private partnership with Africa’s growing private sector,” he said.
According to Kagame, Africa has seen peaceful transitions of power. He added that there has been reduced need for external mediation and resolution.
“The momentous development in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and even Somalia, is the most remarkable. The region’s leaders deserve our support as they set aside years of mistrust and work towards comprehensive settlement,” he said, calling for international support for Zimbabwe as well as it goes through a new era.
Collaboration between Africa and the United Nations is important
Most importantly, he called for the collaboration between Africa and the United Nations, saying that it was critical to achieving peace, gender equality and women’s empowerment and environmental safety.
“In this wider context of even stronger partnership between our institutions, it is important for the African Union’s diplomatic representation here at the United Nations to be accorded the status and weight enjoyed by other regional bodies,” he said.
Additionally, Kagame also criticised of the imbalance in representation at the U.N. Security Council.
“The current two-track system of global governance is unsustainable. A few get to be the ones to define the norms by which others shall be judged. But standards that do not apply to everyone equally are not universal,” he said.