Statement by The Hon. Olivier Nduhungihere at the 38th Session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly
Kigali, 21/11/2019/ACP: The 38th Session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly took place from 17 to 21 November in Kigali, Rwanda. The Honourable Olivier Nduhungihere, Secretary of State, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Rwanda, delivered a statement at the Plenary Session on behalf of the President-in-Office of the ACP Council of Ministers.
In his address, H.E.Nduhungihere extended belated congratulations to the Members of the European Parliament on their (re)election to the Parliament and highighted issues of interest such as Fisheries and Ocean Management, the upcoming 9th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government,Sustainable Development andthe ongoing ACP-EU Negotiations, on which he remarked, “It is my sincere hope that at the end of the negotiations, the ACP Group will have an agreement that will stand the test of time and serve our citizens in the future; an agreement that will help us to confront the challenges that we face today: an agreement that is forward-looking to help us manage the emerging and guture challenges that our countries face at national, regional and globals levels.”
Continue reading for the full text of the Statement:
HON. OLIVIER NDUHUNGIHERE
SECRETARY OF STATE, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION (REPUBLIC OF RWANDA)
ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT-IN-OFFICE OF THE ACP COUNCIL OF MINISTERS (REPUBLIC OF GUINEA) TO THE 38TH SESSION OF THE ACP-EU JOINT PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
- Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly – Hon. Michel Kamano and Hon. Carlos Zorrinho
- Hon. President-in-Office of the EU Council Mr Pekka Haavisto
- Hon. Members of the JPA
- Assistant Secretary General of the ACP Group – Amb. Leonard Emile Ognimba
- Distinguished guests
I thank you for the opportunity to address you on this occasion of the plenary session of the 38th Session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. It is an honour for me and my country, Republic of Rwanda, to be accorded the privilege of presenting the views and concerns of the ACP Group on various aspects of ACP-EU Cooperation. I take this opportunity to join my Colleagues in the ACP Council in thanking you for the outstanding work that this Assembly undertakes in keeping alive the values and principles of ACP-EU Cooperation.
This being the first session of the Assembly after the European Parliament elections held in May 2019, I wish to extend, though belatedly, congratulations to all the Members for being elected or re-elected to the Parliament. May you continue this engagement with the same sagacity of your predecessors.
The JPA is a unique institution which has no equivalents anywhere. Indeed, in what other fora would we find elected Representatives from the countries in the South, and counterparts from the most developed economies of the North coming together to debate and find common positions on issues that affect the welfare and future of almost half the population of the world?
Such collaboration reiterates our belief and commitment to make South-South and Triangular Cooperation continues to move forward. The North-South cooperation, of our long-standing partnership with the European Union, has contributed immensely to the development of our States.Indeed, we look forward to strengthening and deepening our partnership with Europe when we conclude the on-going negotiations of the new Partnership to replace the Cotonou Agreement.
I would like to devote my statement to highlighting just a few of the issues that need your attention, and indeed the attention of policy makers at national level as well.
The first starting point is the ongoing negotiations that launched almost a year ago.
One year on, it is fitting that we keep you abreast with progress made in the negotiations and the way forward to conclude an Agreement that will govern our future partnership.
The principle objective that the ACP Group of States has set out for itself in these negotiations; is to reach an agreement that will contribute to the attainment of sustainable development in all ACP countries.
The provisions of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals are our compass. We seek a strengthened and deepened political and economic partnership with the European Union, and together we can become more effective global players.
We have also agreed to give added attention to the three ACP regions of Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific. That is why the ACP has also underlined that Agenda 2063 for Africa, and trade and economic integration agenda in the Caribbean and Pacific are necessary to take account of, going beyond the Agenda 2030.
Nonetheless, we stand by and reiterate the key principle guiding ACP’s negotiations. We are pursuing a SINGLE Agreement which shall be legally binding, fair and balanced. The regional protocols that ACP Council of Ministers agreed to, in December 2018, will be part and parcel of that ONE Agreement. We are committed to continue to negotiate through a SINGLE negotiating framework and a SINGLE undertaking, based on equality, mutual respect and inclusiveness.
Looking at what has been achieved so far, I can say that the negotiations are well on course to deliver what we expect, as ACP. The agreement reached so far has laid out clear strategic priorities. The commitment to focus our development on a people-centred, rights based, peaceful and stable societies, is right. We need to address human rights, democracy and governance issues as well as gender equality and the need to develop inclusive and pluralistic societies.
Peace and security issues are also of paramount importance. Indeed, it is widely recognized that there is no peace without development and no development without peace. It is also true that there can be no peace and sustainable development without respect forhuman rights, and particularly, the right to development.
In the area of human and social development, there is convergence that education, health, food security and improved nutrition; and water sanitation and housing, are key areas of focus.
We are also determined to deal with inequality and secure social cohesion, including through creating opportunities for decent work for all without discrimination.
I am happy that the parties have also agreed to continue to work together on environmental sustainability and climate change issues. For ACP countries, environmental degradation and impact of climate change such as coastal erosion, cyclones, droughts, flood, and extreme weather conditions pose serious threat and inflict severe damage to the lives and livelihoods of millions of its people and have affected negatively their economies. The impact of climate change has also become a global environmental challenge threatening the achievement of the UN Agenda on Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 13 on “take the urgent action to combat climate change and its impact’. I am also very pleased to see that you are addressing this issue under your urgent motion of resolutions.
Currently our negotiators are engaged in discussing inclusive sustainable economic growth and development for our countries. This is a critical area requiring focused attention so that a good agreement is reached. As you are aware, the ACP Group has among its members, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Land-locked Developing States (LLDCs). These countries continue to face unique developmental challenges. Some of our countries are considered High Middle Income or even High-Income countries, but are indeed also vulnerable to external exogenous shocks. A good case in point is the Bahamas, which recently suffered great loss of life, property and infrastructure from Hurricane Dorian.
It is my sincere hope that at the end of the negotiations, the ACP group will have an agreement that will stand the test of time and serve our citizens in the future; an agreement that will help us to confront the challenges that we face today: an agreement that is forward looking to help us manage the emerging and future challenges that our countries face at national regional and global levels.
Honourable Members, Co-Presidents
The ACP Group continues to place great importance on oceans and their natural assets that play an important role in the economies of many ACP states, particularly the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and countries with long coastlines. The ocean resources are a significant driver for growth of many ACP coastal countries providing livelihoods, income and revenues from fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism and shipping, amongst other sectors.
However, human pressures such as overfishing, climate change, Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, ocean acidification, pollution and declining biodiversity continue to imperil the oceans and its living resources and risks the many livelihoods that depend on it.
In view of the very nature of the oceans, as an interconnected system, collective and coordinated actions of many stakeholders are required for its sustainable development and governance. Undoubtedly, substantial urgent work is needed to reverse the current state of the oceans and improve the sustainable management of its resources. In this regard, sustained and urgent action at the international levels is necessary to forge appropriate responses and catalyse actions to address common and interconnected ocean challenges.
On the ACP part, in addition to the national and regional efforts, the Group organized a meeting of ACP Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Apia, Samoa on 12 and 13 September, 2019. The objective of this meeting was to address the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture. Ministers considered a range of policy options for the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in ACP Countries. They took concrete decisions and made commitments to give momentum to the implementation of the identified priorities in the sustainable development of this sector.
The ACP also participated in the 6th Our Ocean conference, held in Oslo, Norway on 23 October 2019. The conference highlighted the importance of knowledge as the basis of actions and policies to ensure sustainable future economic growth. The ACP group shared their experiences, identified solutions and committed to action for clean, healthy and productive oceans.
At the 7th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government held in Malabo in 2012, our leaders underscored the importance of culture and sustainable development and adopted the key words No future without Culture”, and at the 8th ACP Summit held in Ports Moresby, our leaders renewed this commitment and reaffirmed that culture will remain a vector of peace, social cohesion and sustainable human development.
The ACP group has continued to implement these statements by our heads of state and recently held its 5th Meeting of ACP Ministers of Culture from 17-20 October 2019 in Niamey, Niger under the theme “Strengthening and Diversifying Partnerships for ACP Cultures”. The meeting sought to explore viable financing mechanisms for culture and reach a strong ACP Group position on culture’s contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals .
Two months ago our leaders gathered in New York for the UN SDG Summit that was held in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly. The aim of the summit was to comprehensively review progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The ACP Group participated in this Summit and held critical side events on Climate change, and a Press conference where a long with the EU adopted a joint declaration on implementing the SDGs. The ACP and the EU renewed their commitment to implement SDGs guided by common principles and core values, including democratic principles, rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights, equal access to justice for all, gender equality, women empowerment and solidarity as well as our strong commitment to the rules-based global order with multilateralism and the United Nations at its core.
I wish to remind your Assembly that one of the biggest challenges and politically sensitive issues that confront politicians whether in developed or developing countries is increasing inequality. The danger is that however much our economies grow; we will not be able to achieve sustainable development if inequality continues to increase at the present rate.
Extreme inequality is not only disturbing on moral grounds, but it is also a threat to democracy and peace. Inequality distorts the political process that redistributes power and opportunities. It allows the privileged to hoard opportunities, while limiting chances for those at the bottom.
The issue of inequality is therefore one that cannot be postponed. It is our responsibility as Representatives, in the European Parliament as much as in our national parliaments, and indeed in bodies such the JPA, to call for urgent action to redress these extreme economic imbalances.
The fundamental challenge is to craft policies that will enable the rich and those less privileged to act in the best interest of society. The core issues come down to whether we can envision and promote economic systems that generate jobs, food security and rising living standards in a more sustainable and ethical way.
Allow me to speak on the issue of security threats posed to our citizens in ACP states; let me submit that all our endeavors in terms of development interventions in ACP countries, will continue to be at risk as long as security threats such as terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism continue to be on the rise. The Sahel, the northern part of Nigeria and the horn of Africa continue to experience firsthand impacts of these security threats. It is critical that we as leaders now embrace a security-based response that is accompanied by a focus on more preventative efforts, from the perspective of identifying the drivers and addressing them. Those drivers include push factors such as lack of socio-economic opportunities; marginalization and discrimination; poor governance, violations of human rights and the Rule of Law. Equally true are pull factors such as individual motivations and processes, which play a key role in transforming ideas and grievances into violent extremist action.
I implore you as leaders to address the push and pull factors that cause terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism are on the rise. Effective action against terrorism requires a concerted multilateral and multifaceted response that is global, regional and national, with a focus on impact at the most local level.
Let me conclude by informing you of a historic ACP summit that will on 9 to 10 December 2019, in Nairobi Kenya. Allow me on behalf of council to express deep appreciation to Kenya for accepting to host this important meeting.
This summit will consider the work of the group since its last summit, it will receive a presentation on the revised Georgetown Agreement which is the constitutive act of the Group and will be called upon to provide political leadership and guidance on ACPs roadmap on achieving sustainable development through Agenda 2030.
I am reliably informed that the preparations are underway for a successful and fruitful Summit. It is my hope that you will impress it upon your leadership to make it a priority to attend this Summit.
I thank you for your kind attention and wish you successful deliberations