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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

1. Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today on behalf of the European Union on this important issue. I wish to congratulate the Presidency of the Security Council for organising this public debate.

HR. Javier Solana's speech on Africa at the Security Council2. Before I begin my intervention, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the victims and families of the disasters in Goma and in Lagos.

3. Europe cares about Africa. For reasons of geography, history, values and interests Europe has a real and direct concern in Africa’s future. Consequently, Europe has an active policy towards Africa that is built around three essential pillars. Let me say a little about each of these three pillars.

Engagement and dialogue

4. The European Union enjoys a rich and deep engagement with the countries of Africa, both directly and in partnership with the United Nations. Take the example of the Cotonou Agreement. For the implementation of this agreement, we have earmarked 12 billion € for the first 5 years, along with 1.7 billion € worth of loans from the European Investment Bank. The Agreement will allow us to focus on poverty alleviation, to strengthen the political dimension of our partnership and to increase the role of civil society.

5. I very much welcome the establishment of the “African Union” and note with satisfaction that the European Union has served as inspiration and a model. We stand ready to provide concrete support and to share our experience in regional integration. We will continue to support the OAU mechanism for conflict prevention, management and resolution. We are now considering an EU contribution to the OAU Peace Fund, which would complement the substantial contributions already made by some EU Member States.

6. Let me profit from the presence today of Mr Amra Essy, Secretary General of the OAU, to commend him for the important role that his organisation plays, most notably at the present time in Ethiopia/Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We should build on the OAU’s achievements by securing a firm and steady commitment of the parties in conflict to implement their international obligations. Such implementation is now well overdue. More generally, we could all benefit from closer co-operation between the UN and the OAU. This must work both ways: more UN support to the OAU, and the OAU reaching out more to the UN Security Council.

7. We also attach great importance to our dialogue and cooperation with sub-regional organisations, notably SADC, ECOWAS and IGAD. They are further evidence that Africans today are assuming their part of the responsibility for securing peace and stability on their continent. Yet “African ownership” can only function effectively, when other countries and the United Nations help to enhance African institutional capacities and closely cooperate with them.

8. In crisis management and post-conflict peace building, it is important that all parts of the UN system work together. Among other things, this means that the UN Security Council must cooperate fruitfully with the economic and social parts of the UN system. The European Union is fully committed to working closely and at all levels with the UN. This collaboration has been especially intense with regard to the crisis situations in the Great Lakes region, the Horn of Africa and the West Africa region. Elsewhere, we seek strong international action on the illicit trade in arms, the ruthless exploitation of Africa’s resources, the use of child soldiers and the curse of anti-personnel mines.

9. Starting with the Africa-Europe Summit held in Cairo, in April 2000, we have established a strategic partnership between the European Union and the entire community of African States. This “Cairo process”, as we call it, has become a useful forum for discussing matters of mutual interest and further meetings are under preparation.

Attacking poverty, disease and conflict

10. The second pillar of our policy towards Africa is to address the evils of poverty, disease and conflict. 340 million Africans live on less than 2 EURO a day. Three quarters of the world’s least developed countries are in Africa. Each day, 36.000 children die in developing countries from disease and hunger. Of the 22 million AIDS deaths to date, 17 million have been in Africa. It is projected that by 2005 there will be 100 million AIDS cases worldwide – the biggest pandemic since the plague cut Europe’s population by one quarter in the fourteenth century. Sources of conflict are numerous, and diverse. But we must recognise that poverty and deprivation are breeding grounds for discontent and anger, where ethnic and religious issues are easily exploited and magnified.

11. The European Union is not just talking about these challenges: we are working actively to address them. We are the world’s leading source of development and humanitarian assistance in Africa, providing more than two thirds of total official development flows to sub-Saharan Africa. Out of a total contribution of 1.8 billion Euro to the Global Fund on AIDS, more than 1 billion has been contributed by the EU Member States and the Commission. The EU attaches great importance to this year’s Monterrey Conference and to the Johannesburg Summit, and we are actively participating in their preparation.

12. Integrating Africa into the world economy is an essential part of the fight against poverty. It requires continued action at all levels. The EU’s “Everything But Arms” initiative of duty and quota free access for imports from the Least-Developed Countries is an important step. I hope that other countries will follow with similar concrete measures.

13. The European Union has identified poverty as the main root cause of conflict in Africa. That is why we place such emphasis on poverty alleviation. But we are aware that our strategy cannot be based on one tool alone, and that policy options vary widely from one country to another. We are aware also of the need to have the right policy mix and Cooperation with such mechanisms both at OAU and at sub-regional level could become an invaluable asset in conflict prevention.

14. However hard we work on attacking the roots of conflict, we must be realistic. Sometimes prevention will fail, so we must also be prepared to manage crises. We must be ready to do so in an integrated and coherent manner: capable of deploying development aid, and the full range of political, economic, financial and, where necessary, military means. The EU is making important efforts to equip itself with all the capabilities required to effectively manage crises. In doing so we are working closely with the UN in order to ensure that our efforts are put to best effect.

Democracy, human rights, the rule of law, good governance

15. The third pillar of our policy is our attachment to certain fundamental values: democracy, the rule of law, human rights and good governance. This attachment is not an optional extra, to be applied when circumstances allow.

16. These are not values imposed from outside, but values that Africa herself has embraced. Two years ago, the Organisation of African Unity adopted the principle that governments that came to power through military coups could no longer expect to be welcome in its fora. This was a welcome change in attitude from an earlier era, but it can only be a first step. The international community also needs to be tough on those who openly violate democratic principles and the rule of law. It is because of our common attachment to – and interest in -the defence and promotion of these values that the European Union yesterday sent a strong signal concerning Zimbabwe.

Helping Africa to help herself

17. Europeans worked long and hard to rebuild their continent out of the ashes of two World Wars. It took much political will. I commend the efforts of those many Africans applying political vision and courage to their continent’s problems. A striking example of such vision and courage is the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Guided by the principles of responsibility and ownership, it strikes the right balance between good governance, conflict prevention, trade and investment and debt relief. This important Initiative clearly demonstrates that Africa and Europe share the same goals. A new partnership on this basis will enable Africa to reap the benefits of globalisation. And it will allow the international community and Africa to get more results out of what we are already doing together.

18. President, ladies and gentlemen, we all have a stake in Africa’s success. It would create a more just and safer world, it would reduce dependency on aid, and it would contribute to global prosperity. Africa’s success will be the world’s success and the European Union is determined to play its part in that success.

Thank you.

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