Statement by H .E. Ms M. Nkoana-Mashabane Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa to the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the 65th session of the UN General Assembly on the MDG’s, New York, 21 September 2010
Your Excellency, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government
Ladies and Gentleman
Ten years have passed since our Heads of State and Government took a bold and historic step by committing their nations, amongst other things, to cut extreme poverty by half and empower women, children and other vulnerable groups.
The eight goals entailed in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are central to the mission of the United Nations in its advancement of development, peace and human rights in the world.
Indeed, today, the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly is convened, at mid-point between the adoption of the MGDs and the target date of 2015, to accelerate progress towards the achievement of all the MDGs.
For South Africa, the conception of the MDGs dovetailed with the development approach that had already been adopted by our government since the end of apartheid, which is embedded in our constitutional provisions, including our Bill of Rights.
Successive government programmes since our independence in 1994 have focused on the improvement of the living conditions of our people by channelling substantial resources in the areas of education, basic health care, housing, and basic services such as water, electricity, sanitation and social security benefits. Of note here is the construction and transfer of 1.8 million houses to the poor, in addition to restoring full ownership to long-term occupants of houses in historically black residential areas.
In our domestication effort, the eight MDGs were embraced into a national set of ten priorities anchored around the creation of jobs, improvement of health, quality access and education to all, eradication of crime, and the upliftment of our rural communities.
During the 2010 FIFA World Cup President Jacob Zuma launched the One Goal Education Campaign to strategically draw attention to the MDGs. We will continue to provide whatever support we can to the UN Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Campaign.
Our own national assessment of the state of progress in the achievement of MDGs - which is captured in country reports we have produced since 2005 (the third of which has just been released) – gives a clear picture of our satisfactory achievements especially with regard to MDG-Goals One, Two, Three and Eight. We are; however, aware of challenges with MDG-Goals Four, Five and Six relating to health, and we have indeed established strong government programmes whose initial results are encouraging.
Therefore, going forward towards 2015, we intend to intensify the partnerships (including civil society) that we have built to support the implementation of the MDGs. Such efforts will entail making more resources available to our relevant state institutions, and improving their delivery capacity, especially with regard to interventions on HIV and AIDS.
We believe that MDGs should be an integral part of a comprehensive, long-term oriented development strategy. Our focus on quantifiable targets in education and health, for instance, must be accompanied by a dedicated attention to improving the quality of public goods we deliver. The MDGs must also help close the gap between the rich and the poor within countries and across the world.
We wish to reaffirm the special needs of Africa as reflected in a number of UN documents. Africa has made significant progress over the last decade. Sadly, despite our noble intentions, the enabling conditions for a true global partnership for development have not yet materialised.
Through MDG-Goal Eight on Global Partnership for Development, the international community had recognised that measures at country-level to achieve the MDGs would be significantly enhanced by our collective effort, working together, to lift our people out of the scourge of poverty, disease and underdevelopment.
With only five years left to achieve the MDGs, all nations need a far greater sense of urgency if the targets are to be met. South Africa is concerned by the fact that, internationally, progress in achieving the MDGs in Africa (especially Sub-Saharan Africa) still remains slowest.
If Africa fails to achieve the MDGs, the world would have failed!
We are indeed aware that the international community is currently faced with the multiple and interrelated crises which put an enormous burden on countries, particularly the developing South. These crises must however not dampen our determination to deliver on our commitments. Instead, they must be a clarion call to all of us to do more, working together, for a better life and a better world. We must respond to the challenge by the UN Secretary-General to mobilise the needed 100 billion dollars by 2015 to achieve the MDGs.
Our people across the world are watching to see whether we will be able to galvanize international action to achieve the MDGs by the target date. Our actions, out of this gathering, must demonstrate our political will and determination to fulfill the promise we made ten years ago, and come out of this meeting united and re-energized, to re-double of our efforts towards the 2015 goal.
I thank you