President Akufo-Addo’s Speech at the 73rd UN General Assembly

Accra, Sept. 26, GNA – President Nana Addo
Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Wednesday addressed the 73rd Session of the United Nations
General Assembly in New York, where he called for international collaboration
to reform the world body to reflect and address contemporary challenges.

The Ghana News Agency hereby submits the
speech delivered by the President at the meeting. 

Madam President, Secretary-General, Your
Excellencies

Ghana salutes the historical significance of
your election to preside over this 73rd session of the General Assembly as the
first female Latin American, and congratulates you most heartily, Madam
President. Your election reinforces our common preoccupation that gender
equality must be a central feature of the global agenda.

Madam President, thirteen days ago, we laid to
rest in his home soil of Ghana, Kofi Annan, the 7th Secretary-General of the
United Nations, the first from sub-Saharan Africa to occupy this exalted
position. On behalf of the people and government of Ghana, I wish to extend our
heartfelt gratitude to the United Nations Secretariat, led by the
Secretary-General, His Excellency António Guterres, and the whole world
community for the outpouring of grief and condolences that we received on the
passing of Kofi Annan. We were deeply touched that so many world leaders and
people took the trouble to come to Accra to bid him farewell. 

Kofi Annan’s passionate and profound belief in
the United Nations, and his certainty that a better organised and stronger UN
would make the world a better place, is an ideal that should not be allowed to
die.

Today, we continue to be faced with the stark
reality that resolutions, norms and any number of votes in the Security Council
and General Assembly mean nothing without the political will to enforce them.
We are still to come to terms with what the role of our organization should be.
Should it just be a club of nation states that exists to look after their own
interests? What of its constitution by “we the peoples”, as declared in its
founding document? Does the theme we have chosen for this assembly have any
relevance in real life, and do we want to make the United Nations relevant to
all people? Do we want an organization that ensures shared responsibilities for
peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies? Or should it remain the place to
pass resolutions that are ignored with impunity?

Madam President, when some of the nations of
the world gathered in San Francisco 73 years ago, and signed the landmark
document that created this organization, it was a very different world from
what we have today.

And I do not refer only to the difference in
the numbers in the room on that occasion, nor the difference in the mode of
travel that brought the leaders to that meeting and the jet planes that have
brought us all to New York this week. Nor do I refer to the tweets by which we
communicate now, and the elegant handwriting that they employed back in 1945. I
refer to the theme we have drawn up for this General Assembly, and wonder if it
would have been comprehensible to that group in San Francisco.

It is a different world we currently live in,
and we should accept that this organization must change to suit contemporary
needs.

Madam President, ten years ago as the General
Assembly was starting its proceedings, the world was plunged into a financial
crisis. The first scenes of that crisis were played out on a street not far
from where we are gathered, but the consequences were felt and are still being
felt around the world, and in small countries like Ghana. Some say that
upheaval lies at the heart of the change in politics and outlook around the
world. Today, as we speak, a trade war is being stoked between the two largest
economies of the world. The consequences will affect those who have had no say,
including small countries like Ghana.

These events provide proof, if some were
needed, that ours is an interdependent world. We in Ghana (and other parts of
the African continent) are determined to pull our country out of poverty and
into prosperity.

We do not think that a nation needs to remain
poor or become poor for others to become prosperous. We believe that there is
room, and there are enough resources on this planet for us all to be
prosperous. But it does mean that the rules and regulations that we fashion to
guide our dealings with each other have to be respected by all of us. From the
environment to trading rules, we have to accept that there cannot be different
set of rules for different countries. Thus far, the United Nations provides the
best vehicle for all nations to address their aspirations and challenges. Ghana
has always displayed her belief in the United Nations and sought to contribute
her share in making the organization a successful one.

We have embraced the SDGs and integrated the
seventeen ambitious goals into our national vision and budget. We intend that
Ghana will in July 2019, take her turn to present our Voluntary National Review
during the ECOSOC High-Level Political Forum, and we will share our successes
and challenges as well as opportunities for new and continuing partnerships.

Madam President, it is important to reiterate
that advocating for a world order in which all countries sign up to obey the
rules does not mean that we want uniformity. We take pride in what
distinguishes us as Africans and as Ghanaians.

Fifty-five percent of the work of the Security
Council last year had to do with Africa. Unfortunately, this invariably meant
peacekeeping and poverty related issues. We no longer want to be the place that
requires peacekeepers and poverty fighting NGOs, no matter how noble their
motives. Our regional bodies, like ECOWAS, and our continental body, the AU,
are making systematic efforts, despite significant handicaps, to bring peace
and stability to the entire continent, and, sooner rather than later, they will
succeed.

We know we must get our population educated
and trained, and we are setting about it. We must address our infrastructural
deficit. The traditional methods of tackling this problem will not provide the
answer. We are looking for new ways to resolve it. Ghana, like many countries
in Africa, is forging relations with China to make arrangements to help address
part of our infrastructure deficit.

This is not a uniquely Ghanaian or African
phenomenon. It has not been lost on us that the developed, rich and
well-established countries have been paying regular visits to China, and
seeking to open new economic ties and improve upon existing ones. It is also
not lost on us that a lot of anxiety is being expressed about the possibility
of a recolonization of the African continent by a new power. We should, indeed,
learn from history. It was at the turn of the 20th century that China’s first
railways were built by Western companies, financed by Western loans to a nearly
bankrupt Qing Dynasty, and it was under those circumstances that a certain
strategic port called Hong Kong was leased for 99 years, and the rest, as the
saying goes, is history.

Today, the former victim of Western Railways
imperialism is lending billions to countries throughout Asia, Africa and Europe
to construct not only railroads, but also highways, ports, power plants and
other infrastructure, and many businesses.

The historical echoes are certainly worrisome,
but, yes, surely, we must and can learn from history.

We, in Ghana, must build roads, bridges,
railways, ports, schools, hospitals, and we must create jobs to keep our young
people engaged. It is obvious to us that the development trajectory we had been
on for many decades is not working. We are trying a different one, and we would
appreciate the support and goodwill of the world, especially in helping to stem
the huge flow of illicit funds from the continent.

It is in everybody’s interest that we, who are
counted amongst the poor of the world, make a rapid transformation from poverty
to prosperity. We are determined in Ghana, and, increasingly, in more and more
parts of Africa, to chart our own paths to prosperity, and pay our own way in
the world. We are no longer interested in being a burden on others. We will
shoulder our own responsibilities and build societies and nations that will be
attractive to our youth. We have the necessary sense of enterprise, creativity,
innovation and hard work to engineer this transition. Hence, our vision of a
Ghana Beyond Aid, indeed, of an Africa Beyond Aid.

Madam President, it is equally important that
the United Nations is reformed to be able to preside over this changed and
changing world to which we all aspire. The powerful nations must be willing to
adapt to the changes to make our world a better place. After all, we all
inhabit the same planet, and we all owe the same duty of care to ensure its
survival.

The African Common Position on UN Reform, as
expressed in the Ezulwini Consensus, remains the most comprehensive proposal
for reform of the United Nations, particularly of the Security Council. It is
time the global community endorsed it to create a modern United Nations fit for
purpose in our time.

May God bless the United Nations and us all.

I thank you for your attention.

GNA

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