Crisis in Africa Dominates Work of Economic and Social Council at Second 1985 Session

UN Chronicle, July-August 1985 | Go to article overview
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Crisis in Africa Dominates Work of Economic and Social Council at Second 1985 Session


Crisis in Africa dominates work of Economic and Social Council at second 1985 session

Measures to continue to alleviate the critical economic situation in Africa through both international and regional co-operation were recommended at the July session of the Economic and Social Council.

"We cannot fail in our duty to assist African governments in their efforts to save their population from famine, starvation and even death", Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar told the Council in a message read on his behalf by Jean Ripert, Director-General for Development and International Economic Co-operation.

"We should not lose sight, however, of the ultimate objective, which is the long-term well-being of all Africans. The task of improving Africa's economic performance and of building a better future for Africans will be a long-term process."

In a wide-ranging text approved unanimously (resolution 1985/80), the Council strongly urged the international community to "intensify its efforts" to increase substantially the flow of resources--particularly of a concessional character--to Africa, and to address in a comprehensive manner the critical problem arising from "negative ro insufficient flows of resources" due to the heavy debt burden and depressed commodity export earnings of African countries.

Donor countries in particular were asked to support African regional and subregional institutions engaged in implementing economic recovery programmes and economic self-reliance for their member countries.

The Council recognized "the urgent need to support the rehabilitation and development" of the industrial, manufacturing, transport and communications sectors, improved scientific and technological capabilities, health services and human resource development--all "crucial for a sustained and integrated process of development of African countries".

The international community, while continuing to address the African emergency, should also support medium- and longer-term development actions "without which no lasting solutions to the emergency situation can be found", the Council stated.

The Secretary-General was asked (decision 1985/199) to submit proposals in 1986 on the international year for the mobilization of financial and technological resources to increase food and agriculture in Africa. The General Assembly has suggested such a year might be observed in 1991.

The Council also acted on the role of African women in development, aid to least developed countries, and problems of the continent related to industrialization, migrant workers, and transport and communications.

Resolutions on questions related to southern Africa and the Middle East, in particular aid to Palestinians in occupied territories, were also adopted at the Council's second regular session for the year, held in Geneva from 3 to 27 July.

A total of 77 texts were approved on a wide range of economic and social topics, including water, minerals, food and narcotic drugs. International economic and social policy and cooperation and co-ordination within the United Nations system were also among issues considered.

Statements: Council President Tomohiko Kobayashi (Japan), in an opening statement on 3 July, warned that the Council must do everything possible to avoid the obstacle of the "politicization" of its debates. The Council was meeting in a political climate slightly better than that of last year, one that justified a little more hope, but which required redoubled efforts for increased and better co-ordinated economic and technical co-operation to deal effectively with problems of the world economy, particularly economies of many developing countries. "Politicization" of the discussion of essentially economic problems in a forum designed to consider those problems entailed the risk that members would look elsewhere for opportunities to discuss them seriously.

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