PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda, said a debt crisis that constrains developing countries — including higher costs for borrowing — is causing economic disparities to widen, slowing down collective progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The primary cause of this crisis is high interest rates in developed economies. At the same time, developing countries face exaggerated risk premiums, for both currency and political risk, which are simply unjustified. “We need serious cooperation to address this,” he asserted, simultaneously highlighting the developing countries’ responsibility to be accountable for the quality of their financial governance and the management of their natural resources. “Increasing access to finance also requires reform of our global financial institutions,” he said, welcoming in this regard the proposals of the Bridgetown Initiative, as well as the Paris Summit for a New Global Financing Pact. He also supported the second replenishment of the Green Climate Fund to create the fiscal space for vulnerable nations to tackle climate change.
“Africa and small island developing States, many of which are represented in the Commonwealth, want to work with partners and be part of the solution,” he stressed, pointing to an important outcome of the recent Africa Climate Summit, held in Nairobi. “However, we must not only cool down on climate; we must also cool down on conflict,” he pointed out, stressing that innocent lives are left alone to carry the burden of this instability. A case in point of this “profound injustice” is the migration crisis: every year, migrants and refugees undertake dangerous journeys in search of a better future. Accordingly, he reiterated Rwanda’s commitment to working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to contribute to a durable solution. Citing governance shortfalls as “the root cause of instability”, he commended the Secretary-General’s report “A New Agenda for Peace”.
He went on to underscore that bilateral interventions can provide a rapid response to a crisis situation; however, to have lasting effect, they need to pave the way for multilateral engagement and internal political progress. No matter the number of troops deployed, the mindset should be to get results, which serve the interests of the people on the ground. “Paying lip service to peace, and getting lost in process and formalities, only serves to confirm the selective attention of some in the international community,” he said.
He further emphasized that Africa urgently needs to be fully represented in bodies where decisions concerning its future are made. Just as urgently, Africa must be fully prepared to speak with one voice. Ultimately, a more effective development cooperation framework must give equal weight to everyone’s needs and priorities, he said, underlining the need to build fair and equal partnerships, and a more just and peaceful world. In that spirit, he commended the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the Timbuktoo initiative to strengthen the African startup innovation ecosystem. Also, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recently unveiled a major new initiative on inclusive digital public infrastructure. “Rwanda is very happy to be associated with these efforts, which show the United Nations at its best,” he said, drawing attention to the Third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries, which his country will host in June 2024.
In his address to the UN General Assembly in New York, Rwandan President Paul Kagame discussed the lack of progress toward achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), reducing conflict around the globe, and finding ways to boost international cooperation.
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