West Africa @UNGA
The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) convened leaders from across the globe for two weeks of debate in New York. “Making the UN relevant to all people: Global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies,” was the official theme of the summit. The general debate opened on 25 September, following the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit that marked the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. World leaders discussed a large number of urgent issues such as financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, climate action and international peacekeeping. Adama Barrow, president of Gambia, delivered a statement during the official opening session, commending the importance of multilateral co-operation. Gambia fully supports the implementation of the new UN Support Plan for the Sahel. “We are particularly excited that the new strategy views the Sahel as a land of opportunities, and not one of hopelessness,” Barrow said. President Akufo-Addo of Ghana declared, “We should accept that this organisation must change to suit contemporary needs...Do we want an organisation that ensures shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies? Or should it remain the place to pass resolutions that are ignored with impunity?” Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio addressed the issue of African representation on the UN Security Council. “About 70% of the decisions made at the UN Security Council ultimately affect those 1.2 billion Africans. […] 1.2 billion of the world’s population therefore asks why it should be excluded from representation on the UN Security Council. Those 1.2 billion people simply want their voices to be fully represented on the UN Security Council,” he stated. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari recalled some of the external threats to peace in West Africa. “The terrorist insurgencies we face, particularly in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, are partly fuelled by local factors and dynamics, but now increasingly by the international jihadi movement, runaway fighters from Iraq and Syria and arms from the disintegration of Libya,” Buhari stated. As usual, a large number of events took place on the side-lines of the summit. Nigeria and Norway hosted a side-event to explore how the rise of illegal financial flows affects the development agenda. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development aims to redouble efforts to substantially reduce illicit financial flows by 2030. During another side-event, co-hosted by Ghana and Sierra Leone, development partners announced a major push to invest in “data to end hunger.” They launched the “50 X 2030” initiative to conduct regular surveys of farming households in 50 low- and lower-middle-income countries, including 30 African countries. The initiative aims to inform decision-making and thereby increase agricultural productivity in a sustainable way.