New York (USA), September 21, 2023
Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me, first and foremost, on the occasion of the 78th session of the General Assembly of our common institution, on behalf of my country Togo and His Excellency President Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBÉ, to extend my warm congratulations to Mr. Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago for his election and his skill in conducting the proceedings of this session.
My warm congratulations also go not only to his predecessor, Mr. Csaba Kőrösi, who presided over our work last year but also and above all to Mr. Secretary-General António Guterres, who is doing his best to reshape the United Nations into a modern institution despite the hesitations and complexity of the path towards reform. I would also like to express condolences and the support of the President of the Republic, Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, and the Togolese people to the fraternal peoples and governments of the Kingdom of Morocco and Libya after the earthquake and floods in each of their countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we gather in this hall, it is clear that our world is in a far from favorable state.
It is deeply ill, and its state of pathology calls for a level of responsibility as high as that of the United Nations. Are our commitments commensurate with the magnitude of the challenges? That is the question we must not lose sight of if our ambition at the United Nations is truly to improve the state of the world for the purpose of providing our peoples and our respective countries with more opportunities, safety, security, and assurance.
The choice and relevance of the theme guiding the general debate of this 78th session of the General Assembly, namely, “Restoring Trust and Reviving Global Solidarity: Accelerating Action for the Achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals in favor of peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all,” clearly and indisputably reflects the unsustainable, disrupted, and unstable state of the world, as well as our determination to do better. The emergence of new sources of tension in the world should give us pause.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I come from a country, Togo, and a continent that is currently facing significant challenges. Africa, oh Africa, our Africa, Africa of freedom, Africa of our fathers, oh Africa of our mothers, you are wounded and bruised. Our continent, Africa, is vulnerable on multiple fronts: vulnerability due to its low level of development, vulnerability to large-scale health crises, vulnerability due to the effects of climate change, vulnerability due to disruptions in global food supply chains, vulnerability due to the intrusion of cybercriminals and disinformation in the African cyberspace, vulnerability due to the recurrence of armed conflicts and the prevalence of war, vulnerability due to the spread of international terrorism on the continent, threatening international peace and stability.
Terrorism has developed alarmingly on our continent in recent years, in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and southern Africa, and Africa is at risk of becoming a sanctuary for international terrorism and remaining the weakest link in the global security system. Our Gulf of Guinea states, long spared, have begun to pay a heavy toll to terrorism.
To effectively respond to the terrorist threat, Togo has implemented innovative and multisectoral measures outlined in its strategy document for combating violent extremism adopted on July 5, 2022. This strategy reconciles security and development approaches by combining operational and legal measures with more flexible and endogenous measures. It takes into account the emergency program for the savannah region, with a total budget of $324,527,400 USD for the realization of various projects by 2025 in the sectors of water, energy, health, infrastructure, education, and agriculture.
This is the place to express the government’s gratitude to all of Togo’s partners in the fight against terrorism and to wish for the constant strengthening of various partnerships to eliminate the terrorist nebula.
In the face of the numerous situations of vulnerability and crises that affect Africa and fundamentally spare no country on the continent, the Togolese government is working, at the national level, to advance the development agenda through an ambitious 2020-2025 Roadmap.
Togo has completed a set of priority projects that have economically, socially, and structurally benefited our populations. Health through the establishment of Universal Health Coverage, food sovereignty, socio-economic inclusion, and decent work for the well-being of all and shared prosperity remain the government’s top priorities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The efforts of the Government to make Togo a country open to the world continue. We are committed to strengthening the economic, social, and democratic stability that contributes to attracting investors and ensures Togo’s position as a preferred destination.
The multifaceted actions we are undertaking align with the United Nations and African commitments of the 2030 and 2063 agendas, aiming for sustainable development shared by all United Nations members.
In this program, significant emphasis is placed on environmental protection and preservation. This reflects Togo’s determination to join the international effort to combat the harmful effects of climate change.
To manage and sustainably protect marine and coastal ecosystems, the Togolese government has prioritized, on one hand, the sustainable management and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems, regulation of fishing, reducing the vulnerability of people and property to extreme climatic events, and on the other hand, the fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and the promotion of the blue economy.
Regarding sustainable protection of the marine and coastal environment, Togo has implemented a regional program for integrated coastal management and erosion control. Togo aims to protect 90% of its coastlines by 2025.
Furthermore, in the context of ecosystem preservation and restoration and the fight against desertification, Togo has launched a major national reforestation program targeting one billion trees by 2030. The importation, marketing, and use of glyphosate and all products containing it have been banned, and the use of biopesticides and biofertilizers is being promoted in the country.
In the field of renewable energy, strategic and diversified partnerships have been established to provide reliable, modern, and affordable services in rural areas. The “Tinga Fund,” aimed at ensuring universal access to reliable, sustainable, modern, and affordable energy services by 2030, has been created. Through the Cizo project, solar energy kits are provided to vulnerable rural populations across the entire national territory, while the government continues to install photovoltaic power plants and mini solar power plants, thus contributing to increasing the share of renewable energy in Togo’s energy management policy.
Therefore, we would like to commend the commitments made and announcements during COP 27, particularly the creation of a specific fund for financing losses and damages for vulnerable countries severely affected by climate disasters. This is a significant advancement in climate justice, long demanded by developing countries. However, much more effort needs to be made regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels, among other issues.
In this regard, we hope that COP 28, scheduled for November this year in Dubai, will allow us to observe significant progress in implementing the commitments we have made. The Climate Ambition Summit held on September 20, 2023, came at the right time to demonstrate a genuine desire to accelerate the implementation of a just transition towards a fairer and more resilient world in the face of climate change.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In a continental environment with numerous challenges, characterized by the expansion of international terrorism and the emergence of new areas of tension, Africa is seeking its own path, and Togo supports peace efforts in Africa. Terrorism and instability in Africa are international security issues and must be treated as such by the United Nations. Our West African region, where several states are undergoing transitions in a volatile security context, needs active solidarity and support.
We must invest more in peace than in war. If the protagonists of various conflicts in the world are listening, I would like to tell them that war is a denial of human dignity. Emmanuel Kant, the great philosopher of the Enlightenment, said, ‘If the decision-makers of war could send their own children to the front lines, there would never be war.’ Togo is a country of peace, and Togo opposes war for any reason. Since our independence on April 27, 1960:
- Togo has never waged war against its neighbors.
- Togo has never aggressed its neighbors or any other country.
- Togo has never served as a rear base for aggression against a brotherly country.
Togo is a country of peace. Peace is in the DNA of the Togolese people. Togo has always been a mediation country that promotes dialogue, negotiation, and understanding among peoples and governments. On January 6th of this year, 49 Ivorian soldiers were released through the mediation of President Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, putting an end to tension between the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Mali. Togo has hosted various peace talks on Chad (1982), Sierra Leone (1991), Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire (2000), etc. We call for de-escalation and the cessation of hostilities in various areas of tension around the world, especially in West Africa. Africa has suffered too much from war, and a minimum sense of responsibility should convince us to invest in conflict prevention and peaceful resolution. ‘The bad thing about war,’ said Emmanuel Kant, ‘is that it creates more villains than it can carry away.’
External interference exacerbates conflicts and crisis in Africa. They generally complicate the search for solutions to our crises and weaken African initiatives for African crisis solutions. They are no longer welcome in Africa, which is aware of its own responsibilities in resolving its peace, security, and development issues. Africa no longer wants external interference; Africa wants to remain itself and master its destiny.”
Ladies and gentlemen,
On the African continent, in recent months, our brotherly country Sudan has been affected by an armed conflict that raises many concerns. Recognizing the importance of peace and security for sustainable and inclusive development, Togo, which has made them key pillars of its development policy, hosted a consultative dialogue and consultation between political and military leaders in Darfur in July 2023, under the auspices of President Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, aimed at contributing to the resolution of the Sudanese conflict.
These consultations led to a compromise to end violence and establish a humanitarian corridor. In order to fully implement the commitments made in Lomé and alleviate the suffering of civilian populations, we urge the Sudanese parties to the conflict to prioritize dialogue and consultation for a swift resolution of disputes in the greater interest of Sudan.
We hope that the Togolese approach, which supports other initiatives, will contribute to ending this conflict, which curiously does not receive the attention it deserves from the international community.
Recently, West Africa and the Sahel have been marked by unconstitutional changes of power and the establishment of transitional regimes. Beyond the questions they raise, these developments compel us to reconsider our governance systems.
These issues and many others will be examined at the “Lomé Peace and Security Forum,” the first edition of which is scheduled for October 21 and 22, 2023, under the theme of strengthening transitions toward democratic governance in Africa. The objective is to explore how to develop strategies for addressing political transitions in a coordinated, relevant, and effective manner.
Faced with the political and security crises transforming Africa, it is more than necessary to adopt an adaptive stance. It is in this context that Togo and some other countries decided in Lomé in May 2023 to establish the African Political Alliance (APA), which aims to be a framework for consultation, political dialogue, and joint action based on historical fraternal ties and the principles of sovereign equality of states, independence, interdependence, and unity of action.
As for the reform of the United Nations Security Council, I will not dwell on it any longer. Africa can no longer remain on the sidelines of the body responsible for international peace and security. The Security Council can no longer be the sole domain of the victors and their allies from the Second World War. Nothing can justify the status quo any longer. The ideological and institutional structure of the post-war world is now outdated.
The status quo can no longer persist.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are in a new era of Africa’s relations with the world, and Africa no longer intends to remain in the shadow of any great power in this new dynamic. The time when other entities claimed to speak on behalf of an Africa they do not even listen to here at the United Nations and on the international stage is over. Africa’s partners, whether new or old, who still hesitate to accept Africa’s new trajectory in the historical evolution process, must change their attitude and approach to an Africa that has undergone profound change.
In recent decades, our world has undergone significant silent revolutions, the profound significance of which lies in the qualitative renewal they induce in the relations between nations and their place in history. The reality of the world is that it no longer has monopolistic centers of gravity. The center of the world is now here and nowhere else.
In any case, what is clear, and what I would like to emphasize here, is that Africa now views its relations with great powers in terms of its own interests.”
Last year at this platform, I told you that:
“Africa no longer wants to align itself with the great powers, whatever they may be” The role assigned to Africa in this 21st century is evocative of the image that certain powers of our continent still have: their zone of influence. We must be concerned about the place that Africa occupies on the world stage. Today, Africa does not occupy the place it should hold on the international scene.
The great powers want to reduce Africa to a purely instrumental entity in the service of their causes and obviously do not want the continent to be able to play an important role.
The fractures of the colonial era between a so-called French-speaking, Spanish speaking, Portuguese-speaking, Arabic-speaking and English-speaking Africa have diminished, as have the post-Cold War ideologies that dominated the entire second part of the 20th century. Today Africa wants to be itself, it is “Africanophone” if you allow it.
Africa expects more equality, respect, equity and justice in its relations and partnerships with the rest of the world, with the major powers, whatever they may be. Today Africans want to be true partners.
In the concert of nations, Africa must be listened to for dialogue to have meaning. The lack of listening perverts the meaning of the dialogue, which turns into a juxtaposition of monologues and biased reasons.
Africa certainly does not have the same megaphones as the great powers of the world, but the voice of Africa counts and must count if we want to have Africa as a partner on major international issues.
Moreover, Africa expects a true partnership and our allies must make an effort to accept the spirit of such a partnership. Our allies cannot always expect unconditional support from the continent. Africa wants to cooperate with its allies on the basis of its well-understood interests.
“The question of reforming the global multilateral architecture is of great concern to Africa, to the extent that it will be at the heart of the 9th Pan-African Congress in 2024, scheduled to take place in Lomé. For those who may not be aware, this is a time of African awakening and the renewal of Pan-Africanism. In the spirit of Pan-Africanism and in accordance with the noble goals of the fathers of African independence, Africa and Africans demand and intend to raise their voices in a sovereign, free, and independent manner on the international stage.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Africa knows what it wants. The peoples of Africa and the Global South are frustrated because they feel insulted, dehumanized, and they wonder:
- Who are you to trample upon our humanity like this?
- Who are you to hold us in such contempt?
- Who are you to humiliate us like this?
Our continental organization, the African Union, is working to represent the hope and voice of a sovereign, free, and independent Africa on the international stage, and we are also working towards this within the framework of the African Political Alliance launched in Lomé on May 3, 2023, at the initiative of President Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE. The vision is to achieve a more united, strong, sovereign, peaceful, and audible Africa on the international stage, ensuring the well-being of its people.
The rivalries among major powers should not automatically become African rivalries. The challenge for us African nations is to avoid getting involved in rivalries that are not ours. We must focus on our own struggles, which include the fight against neocolonialism, poverty reduction, industrialization of the continent, economic prosperity, the fight for peace, resistance against the de-Africanization of Africa, the African renaissance, and dignity. We must also strive to free ourselves definitively from any foreign subordination and work for better representation of our continent in the world stage. Our struggles are not those of the West or the East, nor are they those of any particular region or part of the world. We must concentrate on our current and future struggles.
International politics cannot be reduced to a field where we are obliged to take sides for one camp against another. We want a reformed international system based on values and principles that are respected by everyone and respectful of the right of peoples to position themselves freely on the international stage. The right of peoples to self-determination implies the right of each state to behave as it wishes on the international stage within the limits of its international commitments.
On the major transnational challenges of our century, such as climate change and the fight against international terrorism, our views may coincide with those of others, but they must remain our deeply considered and determined views in accordance with our own agendas. Africa, as we envision it, is no longer ready to accept the inclination of some countries to make their geostrategic concerns those of Africans.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Furthermore, the challenges of our world are immense, and Africa’s new orientations in foreign relations obey the dynamics of renewal and paradigm shift. It is a time of African and Pan-African awakening when our continent has regained its self-awareness and its internal responsibilities and responsibilities towards the rest of the world. Africa needs a partnership that respects the strict dignity of everyone. We want to be your partners, not your subjects. We want to serve our people, not foreign interests.
This new dynamic is not directed against anyone. It is the expression of a new Africa, an African, African-speaking Africa, one that wants to be free, sovereign, independent, and in control of its destiny.
In conclusion, for the African youth,
- We are tired of your paternalism.
- We are tired of your disregard for our public opinions, your disregard for our populations and leaders.
- We are tired of your condescension.
- We are tired of your arrogance.
- We are tired, we are tired, we are tired.
Let’s work together in mutual respect for a bright future for Africa and the world.
Thank you for your attention.