Press conference on implementing New Partnership for Africa's Development

from UN Department of Public Information
Published on 12 Oct 2006
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) had been successful because it was a regional initiative nurtured by African leaders, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Africa, said today at a Headquarters press conference.

While recognizing NEPAD's remaining problems, including those relating to regional security and conflict, he said it was important that the international community notice that progress had been achieved on the continent. A tenuous, but remarkable, peace agreement had been reached in Burundi and multi-party elections had been held in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two countries in which conflict had ended with the help of the United Nations. Meanwhile, regional organizations and the international community were working hard to resolve the more recalcitrant conflict in Cote d'Ivoire and the stand-off between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

He said a peer review mechanism approved by NEPAD and endorsed by the African Union was an example of regional initiatives that looked to improve institutions and organizations. Twenty-five countries had agreed to undergo the review, which would evaluate governance in each nation's economic and political institutions. "We hope that the 53 members of the African Union will volunteer to have the review done, because it is not just to say they are democratic but to prove that they are practising good governance."

Despite all the good news, however, NEPAD continued to have problems with the financial commitments made yearly by the international community, he said. "There has not been good delivery on those promises," he added, noting, however, that the region was pleased to have made some progress on debt relief.

Responding to a question as to whether financial assistance stopped poor countries from graduating out of least developed countries (LDC) status, he agreed that no African countries were graduating since his native Botswana's graduation in 1992. However, many African countries were stable and had vibrant investment environments where international businesses could invest, earn significant profits and even repatriate them.

Asked whether China and the Russian Federation were supporting the Governments of the Sudan and Zimbabwe, because they had significant investment in those countries, thereby affecting Security Council decisions, he said each country defined its own national interest, and if its interests clashed with those of other Council members it was not for others to second-guess them. However, countries which supported NEPAD and invested in Africa must bear in mind that the continent also had its own interests. Peace in Darfur was one of its most important issues today.

To a suggestion that the African Union and NEPAD were more interested in receiving international aid than in curbing regional corruption, he said the peer review system introduced by NEPAD would attempt to curb corruption. However, it should not be assumed that Africa was more corrupt than other regions. "Let's not say that one single continent is known for corruption and the rest are paragons of virtue - that's not true," he said.

For information media - not an official record