The Africa Group at the United Nations is made up of 54 African Union Member States. The bloc coordinates efforts on various topics, ranging from health and migration to issues of peace and security.
The Group holds regular meetings to receive briefings from guests and UN officials and discuss on UN Resolutions and topics in order to reach a common African position.
Speaking as The Gambia begins chairing the Africa Group, The Gambia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, His Excellency Lang Yabou, stressed the importance of prioritising African issues at the UN.
Ambassador Yabou said as the continent is undergoing meteoric transformation, it would need the continuous support of all its partners and friends, especially the United Nations. The Gambian Ambassador pointed out that as representative of the African continent at the United Nations, they must continue to rise to the occasion by constantly making sure Africa’s priorities are not only on the table for discussion but the outcomes of those discussions are implemented positively in Africa’s best interest.
The Gambian Ambassador said, “as we approach the 76th Session of the General Assembly, Africa should raise its voice more, to call for adequate financing for SDGs, vaccine availability, financing its recovery from COVID-19 pandemic, institutional strengthening, climate finance, and addressing the challenge of peacekeeping finance and peace and security in general.”
Ambassador Yabou observed that as the impact of COVID-19 would put a lot of people in abject poverty, he called for multilateral solutions, equity relating to vaccine access and distribution and substantial resources for other development priorities should continue to form part of the campaign during the 76th Session.
He challenged members of the Africa Group to prepare adequately and raise their voice during the forthcoming preparatory meetings for the Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and the Fifth United Nations Conference on the LDCs (LDC V) slated for January 2022 in Doha, Qatar.
The Gambia’s Permanent Representative said Africa has enough potential to thrive on its own, noting that the continent needs the cultural and social-economic space.
He went on: “It is my considered view that Africa is not asking for much from the global body. Africa’s legitimate demands have been the correction of past historical injustices, and for our continent's fair share of the global social political-economic, and cultural space that it needs. Indeed, it is Africa’s legitimate right to ask for its fair share of global development and fair representation in global institutions.”
In this connection, the Ambassador said Africa’s Group task should be to continue asking for the advancement of these demands, preserving African dignity, solidarity, culture, shared values, and continuous advocacy for the alignment of global development policies and programmes with Africa’s Agenda 2063.
Advocating these issues, The Gambia’s Ambassador added “always remind ourselves that, we can only achieve our aims and aspirations for the continent as its people at the multilateral arena by demonstrating unity through the preservation of African solidarity.”
Ambassador Yabou used the opportunity to call for greater African unity both in speech and action, urging his colleagues within the African Group to have each other’s back.
He added: “When we are united in our representation functions and actions, we do so to defend the continent and its interests. We become each other’s keeper and collectively we would achieve the best for our people. As Ambassadors, we must always remain the voice of conscience and must keep the momentum high.”
Commenting on the challenges of the Africa Group, Ambassador Yabou noted “as we progress in this crucial Decade of Action, it would remain critical for us to continue engaging our thoughts concerning the questions: what can we do to silence the guns in Africa? What can we do to sustain our peace? What can we do to ensure sustainable and predictable financing for African-led initiatives especially in peacekeeping, women and youth empowerment, climate change, poverty alleviation, research, inclusive COVID-19 recovery, and development financing? and finally, what can we do to make the UN and its organs fit for today’s world and meet the expectations of our continent and its people?”
“When it comes to calling for accountability, justice and equal treatment, equal and fair geographical representation, elections, and IGN processes, it is crucial for Africa to always speak with one voice and ensure that our focus on reforms take an all-inclusive approach that would encompass reforms of all the organs, functions, and most importantly, the development pillar of the UN system. And also, this is when African solidarity and brotherhood (sisterhood) as well as, our pioneered expanded cooperation with CARICOM should matter most.” The Gambian Ambassador posited.
Ambassador Yabou said the problems Africa faces are rooted in harsh realities of the past that are unpleasant to look at and much more difficult to comprehend. However, he added that shying away from those problems, would only worsen the situation, and craved the indulgence of his colleagues to advocate for correction.
He went on: “Africa and Africans have what it takes to build the Africa we want and posterity would not judge us well if, we fail to take charge of our own narrative to preserve and promote the best interest of the continent and its people.”
The Gambian Ambassador ends his speech with a solemn call for the Africa Group to always act together in incurring the preservation of African unity, solidarity, voice, culture, and heritage. He wished all members a happy month of July whilst wishing all successful 76th Session in advance.
Issued by the Communication Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad