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Deputy Secretary-General Calls for Strengthening Social Contract, Bringing Women, Youth into Political Process, in Message to Democracy, Human Rights Dialogue

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message on the occasion of the ninth annual High‑level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, on the theme “Silencing the Guns through Building Resilient Democracies”, today:

I am pleased to join you for this dialogue.  The United Nations strongly supports the African Union’s Silencing the Guns Initiative and its Lusaka Master Roadmap.  In recent years, the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund has contributed nearly $400 million to support its implementation.  Technical assistance to the recently operationalized African Union Mediation Support Unit and the Network of African Women Mediators known as FemWise are important examples of our collaboration.

Africa’s democracies are facing severe tests.  As COVID‑19 exacerbates inequalities and deepens pre‑existing fractures, Africa’s people, especially the continent’s youth, are demanding change, respect for human rights and stronger democratic governance.

I would like to highlight three imperatives:  first, as African Governments seek to recover from the pandemic in a way that accelerates implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, greater investment is needed to expand the reach and to improve the quality of public services, including social protections, health care, education, water and sanitation.  This requires bold national leadership coupled with effective and adequate financial support from the international community and international financial institutions.

Second, Governments must work to strengthen the social contract.  People must be free to choose their leaders, and their choices must be respected.  Leaders must uphold the normative standards for democratic transitions, defend human rights and ensure good governance.  Building effective institutions and independent justice sectors must be seen as a priority.  The African Union Charter of Governance, Elections and Democracy is a solid touchstone to guard against democratic reversals.

Third, women and youth must be included in leadership roles.  With the joint African Union‑United Nations African Women Leaders Network – which now has 25 national chapters across Africa – we hope to strengthen women’s economic and political empowerment.  And with the United Nations‑African Union Youth for Peace Africa Programme, we will continue to strengthen capacity‑building on peace education.  We must find concrete ways to bring women and young people into the political and economic process – whether in building peace, ensuring accountability or driving the shift to greener economies.

You can count on the United Nations to continue to support the efforts of Africa’s people in pushing for stronger democracy, human rights and governance.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.