NEW YORK, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Security Council briefing on peace and security in Africa, in New York today:

Je vous remercie très profondément, Président Araud, d’avoir organisé cette séance. Nous sommes réunis ici pour honorer notre engagement à l’égard des populations du Sahel à un moment où les besoins sont immenses.

Cette séance du Conseil de sécurité fait suite à la visite que j’ai effectuée au Mali, au Niger, au Burkina Faso et au Tchad le mois dernier avec la Présidente de la Commission de l’Union africaine, les Présidents de la Banque mondiale et de la Banque africaine de développement, et le Commissaire européen au développement.

Nous nous sommes rendus dans ces pays pour témoigner notre solidarité, souligner le lien existant entre la paix et le développement et prendre l’engagement de poursuivre notre appui.

Pendant la visite, la Banque mondiale et l’Union européenne se sont engagées à fournir plus de 8,2 milliards de dollars à la région. Nous aurons plus de précisions aujourd’hui concernant les modalités d’octroi de ces fonds.

Par ailleurs, nous entendrons un exposé de mon Envoyé spécial, M. Romano Prodi, sur les progrès que nous avons réalisés dans la mise en œuvre de la Stratégie intégrée des Nations Unies pour le Sahel.

Et M. Téte António, le Représentant de l’Union africaine, nous présentera le point de vue du continent sur tous ces éléments.

À chaque escale pendant la visite, j’ai eu des entretiens approfondis avec les dirigeants nationaux qui s’emploient à relever les défis et à trouver des solutions.

We took an important first step in Mali at the regional meeting. African ministers, as well as regional and international organizations and financial institutions, came together to improve coordination and address the Sahel’s fragility. They welcomed the African Development Bank’s establishment of an Action Fund, which will help jump-start underfunded projects and contribute to longer-term development. Going forward, the ministers will meet twice each year to calibrate responses to the Sahel’s challenges.

I also had a very moving visit to Timbuktu. People there are struggling to recover from human rights abuses and upheaval. I was given an opportunity to view the cultural treasures that had been damaged in attacks. This was a terrible loss for Mali — and for our common global heritage — but with UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) help, we are moving to safeguard it. I condemn all attacks against places of worship and call for reconciliation and accountability.

We must continue to strengthen MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali). Mali has made progress toward re-establishing constitutional order. The first round of legislative elections was conducted in an orderly manner. But the political process between the Government and armed groups has been delayed. I remain concerned about the security situation in the north.

Across the region, terrorist acts, the trafficking of arms, drugs and people, as well as other transnational forms of organized crime, are threatening security. We must do more to address the food crises that plague the Sahel. We also have to improve conditions in migrants’ communities of origin while also generating more legal opportunities for migrants to work abroad.

The Sahel’s vast size and long, porous borders mean that such challenges can be addressed successfully only if the countries of the region work together. The United Nations will continue its efforts to promote security, good governance and resilience.

I came back from the visit with a clear sense that we need to do much more to fight poverty, empower women, provide employment opportunities for young people and ensure that all the people of the Sahel have what they need to build a better future.

I look forward to the views of Council members on how we can achieve this. And I count on all partners to live up to our promises so that this important region can break the cycle of poverty and insecurity and usher in an era of prosperity and stability for all.

Thank you Mr. President.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Wang Yi to Visit Palestine, Israel, Algeria, Morocco and Saudi Arabia

BEIJING, China, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei announces at the regular press conference:

At the invitation of Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Salah Eddine Mezouar and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit Palestine, Israel, Algeria, Morocco and Saudi Arabia from December 17 to 26.

Source: APO

Africa: Looking Ahead: Opportunities & Challenges for Women’s Political Participation in 2014

WASHINGTON, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Remarks

Catherine M. Russell

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues

National Democratic Institute (NDI) Offices

Washington, DC

December 12, 2013

Thank you Ken for opening up NDI to us today, and thank you Lorne for your kind introduction.

I’d like to thank IRI and NDI for the work that you do every day — promoting democracy, supporting democratic institutions and practices, safeguarding elections, and promoting citizen participation. Your work is critical. It also showcases our bipartisan, mutual commitment to democracy, to peaceful democratic transitions and to the engagement of women and men in shaping the futures of their countries.

I’d like to congratulate IRI and NDI for doing this hard and important work every day for 30 years. I know that you each had events earlier this week to mark those anniversaries and I’d like to add my personal congratulations on this important anniversary.

Finally, I’d like to thank you for your commitment to women’s political participation, and the amount of time, resources and staff that you devote to achieving women’s full participation in politics.

You both have well-respected and effective programs that help women acquire the tools they need to participate successfully in all aspects of the political process.

Let me commend specifically the important work that you are doing in the hard places. To IRI, thank you for the work you have done with your Women’s Democracy Network — to build the capacity of Syrian women in negotiation, leadership, advocacy, and other skills at this critical time for their country.

To NDI, thank you for the work you are doing in Afghanistan to help Afghan women be competitive in the upcoming elections — through women’s campaign schools, one-on-one consultations with women candidates and developing policy working groups.

My job as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s issues is to promote the status of women and girls as a critical element of our diplomatic efforts. We believe that peace, security, prosperity, and economic growth cannot be achieved without the full participation of women, and that men and boys are important partners in this effort.

Whether we are striving to advance women’s political or economic participation; end the scourges of gender-based violence, sexual violence in conflict, or human trafficking, or reduce the rates of maternal and child mortality — we must work together, at all levels, and across all sectors, to protect the rights of women and girls and achieve lasting gender equality.

We know that that investing in women and girls — helping them unleash their potentia l— is the right thing to do morally – and the wise thing to do strategically.

I’ve seen firsthand how women’s involvement in public and political life makes a difference.

Last month, I traveled to Afghanistan, where I met with women in government at both the provincial and national levels. I spent time with women leaders in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, and discussed a number of issues, including their critical role in the upcoming elections–as voters, and as candidates, searchers and observers. They were all committed to an increased role for women.

I’ve also just returned from a trip to Japan, where the current government is working to increase the percentage of women in leadership roles across society from single digits to 30 percent. There seems to be a growing recognition that the only way to ensure Japan’s emergence from its decades long recession is to ensure that women are finally given the tools to participate in the political, economic and social spheres.

This is a daunting challenge, given long established cultural norms that result in the majority of women to leaving the workplace after starting families. Just 2.6 percent of managers in Japan’s civil service; about 8 percent of the members of the country’s lower house of the diet, and 18 percent of the members of the upper house are women. But I met with some dynamic Japanese women members of parliament and government ministers who are committed to the effort to increase those figures. I met with the female mayor of Yokahama (just 1 percent of mayors in Japan are women) who in the space of a few short years managed to reduce the child care waiting list in her city from several thousand to zero.

Despite comprising over 50 percent of the world’s population, women continue to be underrepresented in every aspect of political and public life. Today, as you all well know, only 21 percent of the world’s parliamentarians are women. There are 21 women either serving as head of state or head of government. Only 17 percent of government ministers are women, with the majority serving in the fields of education and health. Since 1992, women have represented fewer than 3 percent of mediators and 8 percent of negotiators to major peace processes. These numbers are too small. These are the places where decisions get made, and simply put, there aren’t enough women in them.

There is still much work to be done, and what IRI and NDI do is critical to progress in this arena, and to ensuring that this progress moves quickly.

All of my work is based on our belief that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunity. All around the world, people and countries are beginning to accept this very basic truth. There is increased focus by policy makers and governments on the need for women’s participation and contribution to build stronger societies.

My office is one example of the U.S. government’s commitment to women’s central role in foreign policy. So is USAID’s Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. Through initiatives like the Equal Futures Partnership we are encouraging other countries to expand the political and economic participation of women and girls. And women across the globe are rightfully demanding their place in public life.

Increasing women’s meaningful participation in political and public life is about changing cultural norms about women and changing the culture of politics. It’s about building and sustaining representative societies. It is essential to ensuring that laws, regulations and policies reflect the reality of women’s everyday lives. Women often raise issues that others have overlooked, reach out to constituencies that others ignore and have unique knowledge that stems from their societal roles and responsibilities. For my office, the goal of parity in political participation is an integral underpinning to our other goals in the arenas of women/peace/security, economic empowerment and key development outcomes, especially in the areas of education health, climate change and food security. We see women’s political participations as one of the key foundations for women’s overall empowerment and inclusion across sectors. We know that women’s expertise, experiences and knowledge must be brought into to every decision making table, and to every forum. Women’s participation affects the types of policy issues that are debated and decided in parliaments, local councils and government ministries. It also affects the solutions debated and decided. Women’s experiences and expertise – and men’s experiences and expertise — must both inform policy.

An OECD study of 19 countries found that when countries had an increase in the number of women legislators, there was an increase in funds spent on education in those countries. In India, research showed that West Bengal villages with greater representation of women in local councils called panchayats (pan-chai-ats) saw an investment in drinking water facilities double that of villages with fewer women on local councils.

Finally, we know that women’s unique perspective is critical to peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction. Women often suffer disproportionately during armed conflict. They often advocate most strongly for stabilization, reconstruction and the prevention of further conflict. Peace agreements, post-conflict reconstruction and governance have a better chance of long-term success when women are involved.

According to research conducted by the International Crisis Group in Sudan, Congo and Uganda, women who participate in peace talks often raise issues like human rights, security, justice, employment, education and health care that are fundamental to reconciliation and rebuilding and therefore to lasting and sustainable peace.

So we know the path forward. We only need to keep committing ourselves and recruiting others to join us. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice … I believe this is true for women worldwide. Our work, and the work we do together, is integral in these efforts. Thank you.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

U.S. Supports Peacekeeping Efforts in Central African Republic

WASHINGTON, December 12, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Two U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and a small command and support team are on the ground in Uganda, preparing to conduct airlift operations in support of ongoing peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic, Army Col. Steve Warren, a Defense Department spokesman, said today.

The aircraft are expected to fly to Burundi tomorrow morning to transport a Burundian light infantry battalion to Bangui, Central African Republic, a Pentagon official said.

A second small team of Air Force logisticians is on the ground in Burundi to prepare equipment for loading, and a third team is in the Central African Republic to assist in security operations at the airfield, the official said.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian requested limited assistance from the United States military to support this international effort, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a Dec. 9 statement. “In the near term,” he said, “France has requested airlift support to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.”

The United States is deeply concerned about “the shocking and horrific atrocities that have been committed by government-affiliated armed groups and independent militias against innocent civilians in the Central African Republic” in recent weeks, the defense official said.

In an audio message released Dec. 9, President Barack Obama called on the transitional government to arrest those who are committing crimes.

“Individuals who are engaging in violence must be held accountable — in accordance with the law. Meanwhile, as forces from other African countries and France work to restore security, the United States will support their efforts to protect civilians,” Obama said.

Yesterday, the president authorized the State Department to use up to $60 million in defense services and articles for countries that contribute forces to the African Union-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic. The assistance could include logistical support — including strategic airlift and aerial refueling — and training for French and African forces deploying to the Central African Republic.

“The United States is joining the international community in this effort because of our belief that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in the Central African Republic, and because of our interest in peace and security in the region,” Woog said in his statement. “We continue to work to identify additional resources that might be available to help address further requests for assistance to support the international community’s efforts in CAR.”

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Japan / Statement by the Press Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, on the Situation in the Central African Republic

TOKYO, Japan, December 12, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — 1. Japan is deeply concerned about the further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic due to the clash that occurred on December 5 and at the same time strongly urges restraint by all the relevant parties.

2. Japan welcomes and expects continuous efforts for peace and stability in the Central African Republic made by countries and organizations in the region, in particular the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS). Moreover, Japan welcomes the support by French troops that assist the efforts made by the nations and organizations in the region to avoid escalation of violence in the Central African Republic through the mandate authorized in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2127.

3. Japan expects such actions will lead to restoration of security in the Central African Republic. In addition, Japan expects that such restoration of security will lead to realization of free, fair and transparent democratic elections.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

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