Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad - Togo
Chief Negotiator of ACP Group for Post-Cotonou 2020 agreement - Professor of Political Philosophy

Prof. Robert Dussey

Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad - Togo
Chief Negotiator of ACP Group for Post-Cotonou 2020 agreement - Professor of Political Philosophy

Statement to the 77th UN General Assembly

GENERAL DEBATE
NEW YORK (USA), SEPTEMBER 23, 2022

Video of the full statement

GENERAL DEBATE
NEW YORK (USA), SEPTEMBER 23, 2022

Mr. President of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of State, Government and Delegations, Mr. Secretary General of the United Nations,

Ladies and gentlemen,

After unprecedented formats of our General Assembly, following the constraints linked to the coronavirus pandemic, here we are again gathered under the same roof to calmly discuss the problems that are upsetting the life of our world. The objective is to put our common organization back in the saddle on its fundamental values ​​and principles, which have been sorely tested by geopolitical rivalries, the temptations of domination, national withdrawals and conflicts.

I would therefore like to welcome the theme chosen to guide the general debate of this session: “A watershed moment: transformative solutions for interlocking challenges”.

But, before continuing my remarks, allow me to send you, Mr. President, my warm congratulations on your election to the presidency of our 77th General Assembly as well as our wishes for success. I can assure you of my delegation’s support.

I also want to salute the action of your predecessor for the work accomplished in a rather difficult context.

I would also like to pay, on behalf of the President of the Togolese Republic, His Excellency Mr. Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, a vibrant tribute to the Secretary General, Antonio GUTERRES for his various initiatives to make our organization more efficient.

Mister President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

We are relieved today by encouraging signs that are emerging after several months of Covid-19 which has turned our lives upside down and subjected our States to unprecedented devastating socio-economic effects.

I would like at this moment to have a moved thought for the victims of the pandemic around the world. The deaths caused by Covid-19 should not make us forget the thousands of other victims of human barbarism, terrorist acts, poverty, the effects of climate change, the drama of migratory phenomena or quite simply anonymous citizens. who paid with their lives for their ideas and opinions. What can we say about our blue helmets who, in the exercise of their peacekeeping mission, have sacrificed their lives. I would like to pay tribute here to their bravery and self-sacrifice.

Mister President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

During its 77 years of existence, the United Nations has worked tirelessly to prevent conflicts and maintain international peace and security. Today, the threat to peace has changed. The interstate conflicts of yesteryear have been succeeded by new forms of violence involving actors that are difficult to grasp.

Africa, meanwhile spared, has become a sanctuary for terrorist groups. The terrorist threat, long confined to the countries of the Sahel, is spreading to the coastal countries of West Africa.

This is why the President of the Togolese Republic, His Excellency Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE continues to invest personally in peace and stability in West Africa and particularly in the Sahel. This determination today enabled the President of the Republic, as mediator in the crisis between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, to obtain the release of 3 Ivorian soldiers out of the 46 remaining. I would like to invite all the parties to show restraint and patience in order to allow the mediation to succeed.

The recent terrorist attacks that caused casualties and caused significant material damage in northern Togo, testify to the increasingly sophisticated means used by the jihadists. This situation is of great concern to my delegation. This is why it welcomes the consensual adoption, on July 29, 2022, of the annual progress report of the Working Group on digital use in the context of international security. Togo remains firmly determined to fight and drive these criminals outside its borders. On this level, we will never waver.

In order to contribute to this imperative objective, Togo hosted on March 23 and 24, 2022, the first Pan-African Cybersecurity Summit held in Lomé. The Lomé Declaration resulting from this Summit is a commitment in favor of the fight against cyber threats.

In this regard, my country welcomes the ongoing work of the Ad Hoc Committee to draw up a comprehensive international convention on combating the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes and encourages all stakeholders to invest in the elaboration of such a legal instrument.

Beyond the military response, we are fully aware that the fight against terrorism also depends on the degree of trust between the army and the populations and also between the latter and the Government. This is why we strive daily to combat the causes of the expansion of violent extremism which feeds terrorism. Togo has also taken innovative and multisectoral measures contained in its strategy document to combat violent extremism, adopted on July 1, 2022.

To this end, an emergency program for the savannah region with an envelope of nine million one hundred four thousand seven hundred and four dollars ($9,104,704) has been drawn up for the realization of various projects by 2025, in the water and energy, health, infrastructure, education and agriculture sectors.

We are in a new stage of this asymmetrical war against this terrorist nebula. The deterioration of the security situation should concern us all, first and foremost the United Nations. To this end, it is important to complete the revitalization of our organization and do everything possible to reform its Security Council.

I take advantage of this forum to salute the program for the protection of targets vulnerable to terrorism from which my country, Togo, benefits as a pilot country. This United Nations program aimed at strengthening the capacities of Member States and providing them with logistical support for the protection of vulnerable targets against terrorist attacks, has proven to be of great importance for our countries.

Mister President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The other major challenge facing humanity is climate change. All the expert reports on this issue are disturbing. This phenomenon is all the more worrying as it affects all countries of the world without distinction, and unfortunately the less polluting countries.

Togo has adopted a robust policy for the restoration of vegetation cover with an ambitious program for the green transition.

Indeed, the Togolese government is resolutely committed to ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources and resilience to the effects of climate change. Thus, for sustainable management and protection, the Togolese government has focused its priorities, among others, on improving marine and coastal ecosystems, regulating fishing and promoting the blue economy.

Finally, as part of the preservation and restoration of ecosystems and the fight against desertification, Togo has launched a major national program for the reforestation of one billion trees by 2030, prohibits the import, marketing and use of glyphosate and all products containing it as well as the promotion of the use of biopesticides and biofertilizers in the country.

We sincerely hope that the next COP 27, which will be held from 7 to 18 November 2022 in Sharm-El Sheikh, Egypt, will contribute to truly putting the preservation of the environment back at the center of international priorities by encouraging stakeholders to honor the promises funding needed to deal with global warming.

In the field of renewable energies, Togo has forged strategic partnerships for the supply of reliable modern services at lower cost in rural areas. Thus, the fund for access to electricity for all called “Tinga fund”, the Cizo project for the supply of solar energy kits to rural and vulnerable populations, photovoltaic power stations, mini solar power stations and solar street lights have been installed throughout the national territory, contributing to the popularization of renewable energy in Togo.

Mister President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Economically and socially, Togo has adopted a government roadmap for 2025, the vision of which is to make Togo a modern nation with inclusive and sustainable growth.

This roadmap has 3 main axes, namely, strengthening inclusion and social harmony and guaranteeing peace, boosting job creation by relying on the strengths of the economy and modernizing the country by strengthening its structures. .

Business climate reforms have enabled Togo to substantially increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country. Similarly, the strengthening of development cooperation has contributed to the increased mobilization of external resources given the new momentum generated by the adoption of the government roadmap and its ownership by development actors, the creation of new partnerships and revitalization of existing partnerships.

The big challenge for Togo is to put in place and strengthen its national social protection floor. Improving people’s access to basic social services and strengthening inclusion mechanisms also remain fundamental to poverty reduction. To achieve this, the government has incorporated the principle of leaving no one behind in public policies.

This is how other innovative initiatives have made it possible to accelerate the process of inclusion of all social categories, such as the adoption of the law instituting universal health insurance and the WEZOU digital platform set up since 2021 to care for pregnant women and newborns in order to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.

The strengthening of the protection of women against gender-based discrimination and violence and the alleviation of socio-cultural obstacles have considerably improved the contributory capacities of the female population to the development of the country.

Togo has a financial inclusion mechanism for the most vulnerable sections of the population through cash transfers. A project for the development of social safety nets and basic services has been set up, as well as the support project for vulnerable populations (PAPV). In addition, an incentive mechanism for agricultural financing based on risk sharing (MIFA) and a structuring project to improve rural agricultural training and integration (SAFARI) have been set up.

Mister President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

To end my remarks, I would like to invite everyone to question the foundations of multilateralism and the goals pursued by the founding fathers in imagining this system of global governance. On the occasion of the 75th session of our General Assembly, we extensively debated the UN we want and reaffirmed our commitment to multilateralism.

The important Declaration adopted during the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations sufficiently reflects the new multilateral ambition to which we have subscribed and which aims to be more just and equitable, stable, engine of development and sustained global growth. .

Today, we are invited to take concrete actions to respond to the many challenges that are weakening our world, including the coronavirus pandemic, terrorism and other security challenges, as well as issues related to climate change.

All too often we trample on our multilateral commitments. We have sometimes taken away all their essence, their strength and their root. Otherwise how can we understand that the Security Council is still so exclusive? Why not work in good faith to reform this important organ of the international security system by making it more representative of the current realities of the world?

Ladies and gentlemen,

“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. Africa has almost no impact on the current world order while it suffers very drastically from the consequences of disruptions in international society. It is only of interest to certain powers when they find themselves in difficulty. 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.

For many powers, the African continent has no role to play as a “major” player in the Kantian sense of the term on the international scene. They think they live in the same world when the world has changed profoundly. When the United Nations was created in 1945, apart from Liberia and Ethiopia, the countries of Africa were not yet independent. After 77 years, it is the same international system that continues because of the will of the five permanent members of the Security Council, namely China, the United States, Russia, France and the United Kingdom.

Although the African integration project is still under construction, a consensus had since emerged between African States at the level of the African Union, recalled during this 77th session by President Maky Sall, President of Senegal and President of the African Union on the need for the continent to obtain two places of permanent representatives within the Security Council, in addition to the two places of non-permanent members reserved for African States. Despite this general consensus of almost 54 Member States, the reluctance of some members of the “P5” to see Africa occupy this place is beyond doubt. The voice of Africa unfortunately does not seem to be heard, as some simply do not want Africa to be a strong continent.

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, even one of the main roles in the world. They most often strive to get Africans to adhere to their “narrative” and, ultimately, Africans serve usefully to support one camp against another. When it comes to voting on a resolution at the Security Council, we are actively solicited from one side and the other. Africa is then very courted, even put under pressure by some of its partner countries.

These states of mind and actions that belong to another era are expressed in a historical context where Africa has become aware of its own responsibility and speaks more and more with one and the same voice. The fractures of the colonial era between a so-called French-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.

Today’s Africa is no longer that of the 1945s, let alone the 1960s. Today in Africa we have a multitude of new partners who are an integral part of the new international geopolitics, far removed from the two antagonistic blocs that structured the post-war world of the twentieth century. The world has decentered to become multipolar. To paraphrase Blaise Pascal, the world has become a whole whose center is both everywhere and nowhere. And Africa can no longer and no longer wants to be the wagons of one and the same locomotive.

Many African countries today no longer feel too bound – in the sense of regimentation – by colonial history and are very enthusiastic about working with new partners. All of these changes linked to History itself, the essence of which is to be “perpetual becoming”, but also to the manifest desire for a change of paradigm on the scene of cooperation in Africa should lead certain powers to a change of software if they want to continue working with Africans. There is a challenge of changing mentality and behavior among our partners who each come, without exception, to Africa, with agendas above all dictated by their own interests.

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 with the rest of the world.

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, sometimes under the cover of a pseudo-multilateralism whose danger lies in the distortion of the relationship. However, in the world that is ours, it is only by putting our minds together that we can agree on the objectives to be achieved together.

Although the essential issues of our time remain the same, the apprehension of the same issues diverges depending on whether we are talking about the North or the South. On major international issues, listening to African voices cannot be a simple adjustment variable. 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. To do this, our partners must get rid of the imaginaries that are largely forged in the 19th and 20th centuries and which are in manifest dissonance with the 21st century, a century where national or regional challenges have global implications and global challenges and regional, national and even local ramifications. The current international economic repercussions and disruptions, a direct result of the return of war to Europe, are a good illustration.

We are all exposed to the same threats and challenges that jeopardize our survival, even our existence.

But, I have the firm conviction that we can build a prosperous, more stable and safer world for our populations through strong and efficient multilateralism. To this end, only one choice is offered to us, that of restoring, under the aegis of the United Nations, strength and determination in our collective capacity for dialogue, resilience and solidarity, likely to enable us to return to our habitable planet for all and to build together and sustainably the world we have in common.

We should read our founding texts more often, learn to respect and consider the smallest, the weakest and the most fragile. YES, another world is possible! We are all doomed to it because in truth, and here I allow myself to paraphrase the famous scientist Albert Einstein on the subject of war: “I don’t know how the Third World War will be, but I know that there will be no more lots of people to see the fourth.

Thank you.

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