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Ellen pushes UN for new approach to global challenges

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is urging the United Nations to find responses to the increasing new and emerging challenges facing the world.

“Despite commendable efforts, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe still have vortexes of conflict. Migrants and people seeking refuge from conflicts and economic hardships are swirling across Europe,” the Liberian leader catalogued, adding further, “We are haunted by the growing threats of destabilizing forces of Boko Haram and ISIS as well as attempts to reverse democratic initiatives such as in Burkina Faso which invoked an immediate and decisive ECOWAS response.”

The Liberian President highlighted changes in climate conditions, noting that the world too must change; while stressing that in many countries, women are still being treated as second-class citizens. She also said that her country bears witness to the weak public health systems in individual countries which threatens global health and wellbeing.

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“It is not beyond this body to find answers and to respond as we know that we must,” she said. According to a dispatch, President Sirleaf made the statement when she addressed the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, September 29, 2015.

She indicated, however, that the creation of the UN was a realization that only a global organization, through the support of member states, would be suitable to grapple with the many challenges faced by humanity.

At 70 years, President Sirleaf pointed out a number of achievements of the world body including a reduction in interstate conflict, cooperation in the protection and promotion of human rights, and in alleviating global poverty, disease and hunger.

The Liberian leader applauded what she called the “introspection” of the UN regarding the question of structural reform. “At seventy, we feel compelled to ask: Is our world organization hindered today by inflexible structures and overburdened by bureaucracies? Is the current structure of the UN fit for purpose – to play its role in the global transformation processes over the next 15 years?”

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She commended the foresight of the UN Secretary-General in directing a comprehensive review of peace operations, peace building architecture and a global study on the implementation of Resolution 1325 on women participation in peace processes.

President Sirleaf, the only elected female African President, then called for more women participation in peace processes across the world, stressing that much more still needs to be done. “We must therefore all ‘step-up’ and take further measures beyond moralizing gender equality to tangible actions,” President Sirleaf proposed.

The Liberian President reminded the world body that since the founding 70 years ago, only three women have served as President of the General Assembly, with one of them being Liberia’s Angie Brooks Randolph; only a few women continue to serve as special representative of the Secretary General and not a single woman has served as UN Secretary-General.

Speaking about the Ebola virus disease that ravaged the Mano River Union, President Sirleaf thanked the international community for assisting her country’s recovery. “As we ponder, in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, three countries worst-hit by the deadly Ebola virus disease, we bear witness to the foundational creed of the United Nations – that we can always find it within our humanity to respond even to unknown enemies to our collective progress,” she acknowledged, adding, “We remain grateful to all of you for the outpouring of support and assistance as we faced down the deadly disease, the greatest modern threat to global public health.”

Touching on the post-Ebola Recovery Programmes formulated by the three worse affected countries, President Sirleaf said, “We are now proceeding with implementation of our Post Ebola Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan with expectation of support from our bilateral and multilateral partners;” committing to a regionally approved Post-Ebola Recovery Strategy which the three affected Mano River Union countries have formulated.

She said the three countries are determined to address the development losses incurred as a result of Ebola including rebuilding a more resilient health and education system. President Sirleaf citied the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, adopted in April, which offers pathways to various forms of financing, capacity building and technological exchanges to support the pursuit of these development objectives.

“We must now forge genuine partnerships in order to move ahead together on the road to strengthening peace and security, human rights, socio-economic development and environmental sustainability,” she assured, adding, “We stand firm in the political will to meet any challenge in our commitment to leave no one behind.”

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