H.E. President John Dramani Mahama led Ghana’s delegation to the Sixty- Seventh Session of the United Nations General Assembly which convened in New York from 25th September, 2012. The High profile delegation included the following: Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon. Hanna Tetteh, Minister for Information, Hon. Fritz Baffour and the Deputy Minister for Finance and Mr Seth Emmanuel Terkper. Other members of the delegation included the Secretary to the President, James Bebaako Mensah, Policy Advisor on Foreign Affairs to the President, Amb. James Victor Gbeho, Ghana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Amb. Ken Kanda, Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States, Amb. Daniel Ohene Agyekum and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
The General Debate of the Session took off on 25th September 2012 with opening statements by the United Nations Secretary-General, H. E. Mr Ban Kin-Moon and the President of the General Assembly, H. E. Mr Vuk Jeremic of Serbia.
The Secretary General, in his address to the Assembly, recalled the global turmoil which had engulfed the world and called on world leaders to be more proactive in addressing the pressing security crisis. Citing widespread insecurity, the squandering of vital funds on deadly weapons instead of economic development and the adverse effects of climate change, Mr Ban expressed concern that the world was in a race against time and needed urgent solutions to save itself.
Mr Ban however, welcomed notable progress on some fronts, stating that extreme poverty had been halved since the year 2000: democratic transitions were under way in the Arab world, in Myanmar and many other countries; Africa’s economic growth had become the fastest in the world and Asia and Latin America were making important advances.
The UN Chief deplore the worsening situation in Syria, which was developing into a regional calamity with global ramifications and called on the international community, especially members of the Security Council as well as countries in the region to concretely support the efforts of the Joint UN-Arab League Special Envoy, H. E. Mr Lkhdar Brahimi.
On the Middle East conflict, the Secretary-General expressed support for an independent Palestinian state living side by side with a secure Israel. In this connection, he rejected both the language of delegitimisation and threats of potential military action by one State against the other and called for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the spirit of full respect for the UN Charter and international law.
In his address, the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr Vuk Jeremic stated that the UN Charter enjoined parties to any dispute, to first of all seek solutions by inter alia, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and judicial settlement. It was in that regard, he noted, that he proposed the following theme for this year’s General Debate: “Bringing About Adjustment or Settlement of International Disputes or Situations by Peaceful Means”.
H. E. Mr Jeremic stated that finding solutions to international disputes could be legitimately achieved only upon renunciation of unilateralism.
His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama addressed the General Assembly as the sixth speaker on Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, focusing on number of important global issues, prominent among which, were Ghana’s commitment to promoting the values of peace, democracy, socio-economic development in Africa, stability in the West Africa Sub-region and the world at large, as well as efforts to stem the tide of unemployment.
President Mahama recalled that in the wake of the demise of the former Ghanaian leader, H. E. Prof. John Atta Mills, the people of Ghana had proven their resilience and commitment of promoting the values of peace, as well as the respect for the institutions which safeguarded and maintained Ghana’s stable democracy. He hailed Africa’s fast growing economies and the strides many of these countries were making to consolidate or launch democratic governance, noting that the number of countries engaged in active conflicts in Africa was decreasing. In that regard, he pointed out that Ethiopia, Malawi, as well as Ghana, had all lost their leaders and yet succeeded in carrying out peaceful constitutional transitions to new Governments.
H. E. President Mahama stated that growth had replaced stagnation; tranquility had replaced turmoil and democratic governance and the rule of law were replacing dictatorship. Ghana, he declared, had made tremendous strides in a number of areas, including target areas set by the Millennium Declaration, such as poverty reduction, attainment of gender equality in schools, enrolment in schools, provision of safe drinking water and the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Turning to political matters, President Mahama indicated that Ghana was just a few weeks away from conducting its Presidential and Parliamentary elections and assured the international community that the polls would be free, fair and peaceful, On the wider Sub-region, Ghana’s President stated that Ghana had long adhered to policy of peace even as West Africa had been ravaged by civil wars for years on end. He gave assurances that Ghana was committed to co-existing harmoniously with its neighbours and was conscious of the need to maintain peace and stability, when neighbours and was conscious of the need to maintain peace and stability, when legislating national policies. To that end, His Excellency the President pointed out that mounting tensions in Cote d’Ivoire and Mali were of particular concern to the Government and people of Ghana, adding that Ghana would not allow its territory to be used to destabilise other nations or be used as a store housed for resources or weapons for undermining peace and development in the region. He acknowledged Ghana’s commitment to international humanitarian law in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.
On the international scene, President Mahama said that Ghana supported the creation of an independent Palestinian state, co-existing peacefully with a stable and secure Israel. He reiterated Ghana’s opposition to the long-standing economic blockade against Cuba and recommended its lifting. Finally, His Excellency the President hailed the birth of a “new Africa”, one which was not burdened by debt, corruption and poverty. Such a new Africa would stand on the world stage as a mutual partner and against the backdrop of current realities, be allowed to play its role in vital decision-making bodies. In this regard, he called for the reform of the United Nations to make it more representative, democratic and inclusive to enable its decisions to have a meaningful impact on the challenges of the times.
President Mahama used the occasion to hold a number of meetings on the margins of the General Assembly Session to discuss both multilateral and bilateral issues. He paid a courtesy call on Un Secretary General; Mr Ban Kin Moon in the latter’s office at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Discussions between H.E President Mahama and H. E Ban Ki-Moon centered on preparations for the upcoming elections in Ghana, the situations in Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Guinea Bissau, its regional implications and the need for continued support to ensure that the country continued on its path towards lasting peace and stability. The Secretary-General used the opportunity to thank Ghana for its consistent support for United Nations peace-keeping operations. The word leaders underlined their concerns over the impasse in Mali and the need for international and regional support for a resolution of the crisis. They finally stressed the importance of sustainable development for Africa, including the need to continue to engage actively on issues such as climate change, food security, energy efficiency, child health and infant mortality as well as sanitation.
The President also held meetings with the Prime Minister of Australia, Rt Hon. Ms Julia Gilia Gillard, and President of the World Bank, H.E. Mr Jim Y. Kim, UNDP Administrator, Ms Helen Clark and officials of the Clinton Global Initiative. He participated in the High-level meeting on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels, an Investment Forum organise by the Renaissance Group, the African American Institute (AAI) Business Investors Conference and met with the Ghanaian Community in New York, during which he updated them on current political, economic and social developments in Ghana. He assured them of the Government’s determination to conduct free, fair and transparent election to ensure that the country sustained and deepened its democratic credentials.
While in New York, the Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni also held meetings with his counterparts from a number of countries to exchange views on bilateral, as well as multilateral issues. He met with the Foreign Ministers of Latvia, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, as well as Baroness Valerie Amoa, UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. The Hon. Foreign Minister also participated in other meetings including the High-level meeting on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels, a High-level Side Event on “African Union Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity-Leveraging the AIDS Response for Africa’s Sustainable Development”, organized under the joint auspices of the UNAIDS and the AU, He also participated in an ECOWAS Working Luncheon, among others.
The delegation left New York on 28th September, 2012 for Accra