Zuma calls for level playing field post 2015

Pretoria - Any development agenda beyond 2015 should allow individual regions and states the space to address the developmental needs unique to their circumstances and priorities, says President Jacob Zuma.

Addressing the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday -- held under the theme ‘Setting the stage for the post 2015 agenda’ -- Zuma urged role players to level the playing field for Africa so as to set a new global development agenda for the years following the end of the current cycle in 2015.

The President warned that new international demands were impeding Africa’s development.

Zuma said he was raising the point because it appeared that the global economic meltdown had brought about new developments that were detrimental to the developing world, especially Africa.

“Some of the new developments include the tendency to renegotiate the rules of the game. New issues are being introduced as prerequisites for development and partnerships, which in fact become huge non-tariff barriers. These include the green economy and clean technology.”

While these issues were important for Africa and developing countries and need to be attended to, the President said the manner in which they were crafted restrained economic development.

With the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals looming, Zuma said the full implementation of the goals -- which look at poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability and HIV/Aids reduction, among others -- remained critical.

For Africa in particular, the future development agenda should address poverty eradication, income inequality and job creation, Zuma told the national assembly.  

He believed that the new development agenda would only be effective if it focused on all three dimensions of sustainable development, which are the eradication of poverty through economic development, social development and environmental sustainability.

While recognising the fiscal challenges facing developed nations, Zuma also urged richer countries not to lose sight of the ripple effects that cut development aid to poorer nations.

“The tendency to attempt to delegate some of these historical responsibilities to new emerging economies in the South is unacceptable and unworkable, as such emerging nations have their own historical challenges and backlogs to deal with. Furthermore, any commitment we make to the future beyond 2015 must build on existing agreements.”

More calls for Security Council reform

As Zuma and many other leaders of developing countries have done in the past, the President also used his address to call for the reform of the Security Council by 2015, so that the 15-member body can democratically represent the world’s nations at large.

“The UN Security Council still remains undemocratic, unrepresentative and unfair to developing nations and small States, and disenfranchises the majority of the Member States of the United Nations, who form the majority in this General Assembly,” he said.

“We cannot remain beholden indefinitely to the will of an unrepresentative minority on the most important issues of international peace and security.

“There has been too much talk about the need for reform, with too little action. We would like to challenge the Assembly today: let us set ourselves the target to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations in 2015 with a reformed, more inclusive, democratic and representative UN Security Council.”

He also reiterated South Africa’s position with regards to Syria, where he believes the political transition in that country must come about as a result of the will of the Syrian people, and not as a result of a force of arms.   

Zuma also touched on the struggle of the people of Palestine and Western Sahara as well as that of the Cuban people. – SAnews.gov.za