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78th UNGA: World leaders condemn resurgence of coups in Africa, call for urgent action 

The renaissance of coups in Africa is a regressive step and the root causes of the alarming trend must be carefully analysed and addressed

President of the 78th United Nations General Assembly, and diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago who has served as his country’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Dennis Francis has bemoaned the resurgence of coups in Africa and has called on world leaders to figure out the root causes of it and address it forthwith.

He made the call in his opening remarks at the commencement of general debating at this year’s general assembly which started at the UN headquarters in New York today Tuesday 19th September 2023.

“Peace must also be given a chance in other parts of the globe – from Africa to the Middle East. With the adoption of Agenda 2063, Africa spelt a clear path for “The Africa We Want” – and the continent still has a great chance to cut a corner in consolidating democracy and good governance.

A wide view of the General Assembly Hall as Volodymyr Zelenskyy (at right at podium), President of Ukraine, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-eighth session

“But the resurgence of coups in Africa is a regressive step – and the root causes of such an alarming trend must be carefully analyzed and addressed” President of the 78th United Nations General Assembly, Dennis Francis said.

Global humanitarian situation

Secretary General, Antonio Guterres in his address observed that around the globe, old tensions are festering while new risks are rapidly emerging. Nuclear disarmament, he noted, is at a standstill while countries develop new weapons and make new threats.

He further indicated that across the Sahel, a series of coups is further destabilizing the region as terrorism is gaining ground. Sudan, the UN chief said, is descending into full-scale civil war; millions have fled and the country risks splitting apart.

“In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, millions are displaced and gender-based violence is a horrific daily reality. In Haiti, a country that suffered centuries of colonial exploitation is today overwhelmed by gang violence – and still awaits international support.

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres speaking at the opening of the 78th UNGA

“In Afghanistan, a staggering 70 per cent of the population needs humanitarian assistance with the rights of women and girls systematically denied. In Myanmar, brutal violence, worsening poverty, and repression are crushing hopes for a return to democracy” Guterres said.

“In the Middle East, escalating violence and bloodshed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is taking a terrible toll on civilians. Unilateral actions are intensifying and undermining the possibility of a two-State solution — the only pathway to lasting peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis.

“Syria remains in ruins while peace remains remote. Meanwhile, natural disasters are worsening the man-made disaster of conflict. In the face of these mounting crises, the global humanitarian system is on the verge of collapse. Needs are rising. And funding is drying up.

“Our humanitarian operations are being forced to make massive cuts. But if we don’t feed the hungry, we are feeding conflict. I urge all countries to step up and fund the Global Humanitarian Appeal” he added.

SDGs and the international financial system

In his remarks, the UN boss said peace is inextricably linked to sustainable development and that the UN sees a familiar pattern around the world which is that, the closer a country is to conflict, the farther it is from the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The UN Charter calls on us to be determined in promoting social progress. In 21st century terms, that means achieving the SDGs. Yet inequality defines our time. From cities where skyscrapers tower over slums; To countries that are forced to choose between serving their people, or servicing their debts.

US President, Joe Biden, addressing the 78th UNGA

“Today, Africa spends more on debt interest than on healthcare. The international financial architecture is dysfunctional, outdated and unjust. The deep reforms that are needed won’t happen overnight. But we can take determined steps now to help countries weather crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic” Antonio Guterres said.

“By urgently advancing the SDG Stimulus of 500 billion dollars per year and relieving the financial burden on developing and emerging economies. By scaling up development and climate finance — increasing the capital base and changing the business model of Multilateral Development Banks. By ensuring effective debt relief mechanisms and channelling emergency financial support towards those in greatest need” Mr Guterres added.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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