Statement by H.E. Michel Xavier Biang,
Permanent Representative of Gabon to the United Nations
Chair of the African Group for the month of September 2021
Briefing by the Secretary-General at the UN General Assembly on his recommendations to advance the common agenda and to respond to current and future challenges
September 10th, 2021
We thank you for convening this meeting.
We thank the UN Secretary-General for his comprehensive presentation today.
We agree with him that the world is at an inflection point and that going forward it cannot be business as usual.
As the African Group we will study the various seminal recommendations proposed in the report.
The United Nations was created seven decades ago to better humankind and to improve the lives of people in the whole world.
The UN Charter is a signature document for a better world.It contains a timeless commitment to multilateralism. But multilateralism hascome under strain in various epochs since the UN was created. We therefore welcome the UNSG’s proposals for the revitalization of the multilateral system.
Even as we study the report some things cannot be disputed. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a fundamental disjuncture to the way we have been doing things. It is possible that, in many ways, the world will never be the same again.
We need to embrace change.
Immediate steps need to be taken for a global vaccination plan against the COVID-19. Despite the Secretary-General and the WHO’s call for global solidarity, most developed countries are starting to administer the third dose of the vaccine while most African countries had not yet managed to vaccinate 10% of their populations. We need to move from words to action, from pledges to a clear plan that addresses this new divide.
There is no question that vaccine nationalism is a threat to humanity. Because the pandemic will not end until it is eradicated in every country.
The founders of the United Nations would be astounded at vaccine nationalism.
COVID-19 requires a new perspective for building back better and rebuilding our socio-economic frameworks. We saw how those countries with social security were able to shield the populations. But we also saw the situation in countries that do not have or cannot afford it. A global reflection on this element is critical and urgent.
Inequality leads to mistrust between countries, and it triggers people’s mistrust in their governance institutions. Mistrust leads to unrest and unrest might lead to conflict. There is a real risk that increased inequalities resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to increased instability across the world.
And against this background, the least developed countries, particularly African countries, are being left behind. We have reached a stage where Africa’s development must become a global and common goal. Because if Africa is left behind the world will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
There are preconditions that need to be met in order to address this challenge:
First, a better and stronger multilateral system that acts as guarantor of fundamental values and principles, such as transparency, integrity and accountability, which are fundamentals to re-embrace global solidarity.
We need a strong United Nations system, a strengthened United Nations Sustainable Development group and effective collaboration between the United Nations and the international financial institutions. A better integration of the global financial system with other decision-making processes of the multilateral system. In this regard, we support the efforts and measures taken by the Secretary-General.
We also need to talk honestly about the revival of our economies. The pandemic set us back many years from the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Without economic growth the chances of increasing employment and improving livelihoods are slim. We need to focus on this as the international community. In this respect, the African Group fully supports the Secretary-General’s call to renew the social contract at the global and national levels. In order to achieve this, all Member States need to strongly pledge to strengthen global governance for the sake of present and coming generations through a deepening of solidarity with the world’s young people and future generations.
Therefore, the UNSG’s proposals require our urgent attention. Engagements between the UN, through ECOSOC, the G20, and the International Financial Institutions and the UNSG will be critical. This is essential, amongst other things, to bring the UN, the most representative Organization, into the center of global economic decision making.
The next 10 years, which have been designated as the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development, will be the most critical of our generation. It is even more important now, as we build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Institutionally the reform of the United Nations has been a rallying cry for the African Group for many years. We do so because we believe in this Organization and its enduring ability to do good. But let’s face it, without reform the UN will gradually lose track, and a sense of mission. We are therefore still strongly concerned that, after so many years, there is no significant movement on the reform of the UN Security Council. The UN75 Declaration asked us to instill new life into the reform of the UN Security Council. This is the moment, we cannot fail, the UNSC should be reformed. The Ezulwini Consensus, Africa’s blueprint for the reform of the UNSC, enjoys the overwhelming support on UN member states.
We fully support and we are engaged in the ongoing discussions on the revitalization of the UN General Assembly and ECOSOC.
Events around the world show us the damage that has been done to nature. From the loss of Biodiversity to Climate Change all our countries face daily and increasing challenges.
The African Group calls for UNFCCC COP26 to be a defining moment. There can be no more climate change denialism in any part of the world. At the sametime those who bear the most responsibility for climate change must take the larger responsibility. For Africa the Common But Differentiated Responsibility continues to be a guiding principle. We call for a just transition based on an objective analysis of our conditions, historically and now. We also understand that, where we it is possible,we canraise our ambitions on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
We appreciate the UNSG’s focus on future strategic risks. In a future crisis the world cannot be found unprepared again. This is one of the fundamental responsibilities we have as representatives of our countries to the United Nations. The African Group will engage with the UNSG’s proposals in detail.
We are a continent with a youth bulge. Therefore, recommendations on young people are key concerns for our Group. We would have loved the UNSG to go further in this regard. We look forward to the discussion of the UNSG’s proposals on this aspect.
The United Nations, for 75 years, has been a lodestar for the protection of human rights. People all over the world look to the UN when they feel their rights are being violated. For the African Group all human rights are important and must be emphasized, including the Right to Development.
The world today faces serious perils of a lack of trust, between people and their governments, between countries and the international community.
The Secretary-General has presented a clear way forward underpinned by a stronger, more integrated and efficient United Nations, that leverages digitization to leapfrog toward sustainable development and that understands that development, sustainability and inclusivity, of women, youth and vulnerable populations, are the key to promote peace and stability.
On behalf of the African Group, I would like to reassure you of our support to the Common Agenda and the Secretary-General’s roadmap.
Let us work together for a stronger, more solidary and better multilateral system. Failure is not an option.
I thank you.