How to Support the New Partnership for Africa's Development
Statement by H.E. Dr. Celso Lafer
Minister of Foreign Relations of the Federative Republic of Brazil
New York, 16 September 2002
It is a great honor for me to represent Brazil at this High Level Session of the General Assembly dedicated to fostering African development.
The ties joining Brazil and Africa run deep. The contours of Brazilian culture and civilization owe much to its historical nexus with the African peoples. Brazil’s support for NEPAD highlights this awareness of our inextricable connections to Africa.
We have taken a keen interest in the African continent and have been engaged in many recent developments there. We are convinced that a new era is being ushered in, one that offers renewed expectations for peace, democracy and prosperity.
NEPAD is one of these reasons for optimism. For it embodies the recognition that Africa itself holds the key to its own development. It is an African-born initiative based on a profound understanding of the daily realities of the continent. Moreover, it contains mutually reinforcing aspects that allow for the creation of a virtuous circle of socio-political inclusion, development and peace.
NEPAD also offers new opportunities with regard to development assistance. Resources to support NEPAD could be usefully channeled through multilateral institutions to foster triangular as well as South-South cooperation.
Brazil has adopted, since 1996, a debt alleviation policy with regard to African countries that contributes to the success of initiatives such as NEPAD. In recent years, we have written off more than US$ 1 billion in debts in the hope of fostering, within our possibilities, development in Africa.
NEPAD is not an isolated proposal: it forms part of a wider effort for regional renewal enshrined in the establishment of the African Union.
The first signs of these new times are already visible in the strengthening of democracy and the peaceful settlement of regional conflicts. Such is the case, for example, of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Angola.
These developments underscore the affinity between the new African initiatives and the core principles of the United Nations. NEPAD and the African Union are significant steps on the road to making the “African Renaissance” a reality.
Brazil shares many of the concerns of African countries. The Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic and the Commonwealth of Portuguese-Speaking Countries bring us together. These fora offer further opportunities for coordination and cooperation on issues such as environmental protection, cultural exchange, trade liberalization and fighting the illicit traffic in small arms.
The Commonwealth of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, created in the 90s, provides a powerful tool for political action and cooperation in realizing the common aspirations of our peoples.
Beyond the cultural and linguistic links, we are united in the struggle to overcome shared problems and in the struggle for a more equitable international order. The Commonwealth of Portuguese-Speaking Countries is fundamentally committed to the primacy of peace, as enshrined in the Brasilia Declaration, adopted last August.
Brazil has sponsored other initiatives aimed at fostering cooperation and understanding between the two shores of the South Atlantic Ocean. In May and June of 2003, in Brasilia, we will host a wide-ranging Brazil-Africa seminar that aims to put into perspective the array of ties that unite us on our common path to development.
Brazilian cooperation with Africa encompasses many areas, from agriculture to infrastructure, from trade to public administration. The main thrust of these projects is to develop human resources and strengthen capacity-building. Let me highlight two essential areas – education and health.
Brazil is sharing with African countries its experiences in the field of education, such as the “Bolsa-Escola” program, a scholarship for poor families aimed at increasing their income and keeping children at school. This initiative has proved to be a useful tool in promoting basic education, decreasing dropout rates and promoting income redistribution and poverty reduction. Brazil has already started a cooperation project with Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe aimed at establishing the “Bolsa-Escola” program in those countries.
Another area where Brazil and African countries have joined efforts is that of the fight against HIV/AIDS. We do not need to dwell on the devastating impact of the epidemic. Based on an integrated approach of prevention, treatment and human rights policies, Brazil has halted the spread of the epidemic and allowed the people with HIV or AIDS to live a normal and dignified life.
Brazil has already initiated cooperation projects with African countries, in particular the Portuguese speaking ones. These projects are focused on capacity-building, human resources development and technology transfer. We also believe that the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis is an essential tool in providing assistance to African nations. Brazil has actively participated in the Fund and has already stated its readiness to contribute to it through technical assistance.
In working to overcome common challenges, our partnership takes its cue from the vitality of our peoples, the creativity and determination of our leaders and the growing role of civil society.
This partnership gives form to a mutually supportive relationship between a country and a continent that share the ideals of democracy, peace and development and that have found in NEPAD a new source of inspiration.
NEPAD means African leadership and African ownership. This is an idea Brazil wishes to commend and support.