General News of Friday, 22 September 2017
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Thursday underscored the need for urgent reforms of the United Nations (UN) to reflect the tenets of democracy.
He said the UN could not continue to preach democracy and fairness around the world and insist on peace and justice when the world body was perceived by the majority of its members as having a structure that was not just and fair.
Delivering his maiden address at the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York, President Nana Akufo-Addo said reforms of the UN had been talked about and scheduled for a long time but, somehow, the world body and leaders had never found the courage and will to reform the institution.
“Ghana supports the process of UN reform, especially of the UN Security Council, as set out in Africa’s Common Position on UN Reform, based on the Ezulwini Consensus. The time is long overdue to correct the long-standing injustice that the current structure and composition of the UN Security Council represent for the nations of Africa,” he said.
“We cannot continue to preach democracy and fairness around the world; we cannot insist on peace and justice around the world when our global organisation is not seen by the majority of its members as having a structure that is just and fair,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said the UN provided the best vehicle for the world to manage its many varied problems and “we will undermine its credibility and fail in our duty if we do not reform the United Nations. We dare not let ourselves and future generations down. The time for reform has come”.
Declaring that he was addressing the UN General Assembly for the first time as President on the birth date of Ghana’s historic first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and on a day set aside to commemorate him, the President reaffirmed Ghana’s commitment to maintain friendly and cordial relations with all the countries and peoples of the world.
He said the full engagement of Ghana, through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in the process of West African integration and through the African Union (AU), of African integration, remained a goal of the government.
He said regional and continental integration was in Ghana’s interest, as it represented one of the surest ways towards establishing the conditions for prosperity on the continent and helping to ensure security and combating the scourges of terrorism, extremism and intolerance.
Do not undermine
Without mincing words, President Akufo-Addo said “the conflicts that continue to plague our continent in Libya, South Sudan, Congo DR and Mali will be more effectively resolved if the international community is to support, not undermine, the efforts of our regional and continental organisations to deal with them”.
He said Ghana would also continue to be active in multilateral organisations such as La Francophonie, the Commonwealth of Nations and the UN to which it belonged because “we believe multilateral action and international co-operation are in the interest of all of us”.
“We believe it is time Africa came of age and held its rightful place on the world stage. This Africa will be neither a victim nor a pawn. This Africa will be honest to itself and to the world, and this Africa will shed its cloak of poverty and become prosperous.
“We are not under any illusions about the hard work that it will take to achieve our stated goals, but we are not afraid of hard work. We know that a critical ingredient in making sustainable economic progress is to ensure a stable democratic system of governance,” he said.
Turning to efforts to develop Ghana, President Akufo-Addo said: “We have just started the free senior high school (SHS) programme which aims to guarantee secondary education for all of Ghana’s children. The programme will ensure that all our children will be educated to at least secondary level, and money, or the lack of it, will no longer mean a denial of education.
“This has already led to an increase of over 90,000 children who have entered secondary school this academic year and who would, otherwise, have dropped out at this stage. Sustainable Development Goal Four, which aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting life-long learning opportunities for all, will be within our reach by the target date.
“We do not want to be a scar on anybody’s conscience. We want to build an economy that is not dependent on charity and hand-outs. Long and bitter experience has taught us that no matter how generous the charity, we will remain poor.
“We want to build a Ghana which looks to the use of its own resources and their proper management as the way to engineer social and economic growth in our country. We want to build an economy that looks past commodities to position our country in the global marketplace,” he explained.
The President, however, was quick to add that “we are not disclaiming aid, but we do want to discard a mindset of dependency and living on handouts; we want to build a Ghana beyond aid. It is an easier platform on which to build sustainable relationships”.
Being modest on the country’s achievements, he said: “We are nowhere near where we want to be, but we are determined to realise our potential and make Ghana a prosperous nation.”
On Ghana’s international relations and protocols, President Akufo-Addo said it remained committed to remaining a nuclear-weapon-free country.
He said three weeks ago, highly enriched uranium was flown out of Ghana back to China, signaling the end of the removal of all such materials from the country.
“Our nuclear reactor has, subsequently, been converted to use low-enriched fuel for power generation. A world free of nuclear weapons must be in our collective interest,” he added.