World Leaders at the UN General Assembly & What they Said in the General Debate in 2007

General Assembly BookAfter a series of preparatory meetings and summits, the Charter of
the United Nations was signed at San Francisco, USA, on June 26,
1945.  On October 24, 1945, the Charter was ratified and the United
Nations was born.

The General Assembly which is one of the six principal organs is the
deliberative arm of the United Nations open to all member states, now
192. One of its strengths is that each member has one vote irrespective
of size and level of economic development.

Every September, world leaders convene in New York City the
headquarters of the United Nations to address the General Assembly in a
General Debate. The debate covers a wide range of issues in peace and
security, human rights and development. Most of the decisions of the
General Assembly are recommendations to member states. However, because
of the moral authority of the United Nations, some of the
recommendations have been vital in the establishment of new
international guidelines. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human
Rights which started as a General Assembly resolution became the
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
which is characterized as a crime under international law.

Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century & Related Regional Issues

Europeans visited the areas that later became Uganda, they were amazed by the
variety of cultivated and wild foodstuffs and a wide range of manufacturing
activities. Surplus food and manufactured products were exchanged in local and
regional markets. Thus, pre-colonial comparative advantage served Uganda’s
needs very well.

visitors were also struck by the vitality, eagerness and intelligence of
Ugandans. Winston Churchill remarked that Ugandans were “different from
anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa”. He called Uganda
“the Pearl of Africa”.

developments since the start of the 20th century have undermined
Uganda’s development potential. Ugandans were compressed into producers of raw
materials according to colonial comparative advantage and the manufacturing sector
collapsed. Because foreign earnings from primary exports have not been enough,
Uganda has become dependent on foreign aid and remittances.

The Failure of Governance in Africa

On January 18, 1908, Winston Churchill confessed to the National Liberal Club, London that he had never seen countries so fertile and beautiful outside of Europe as those of East Africa. “There are parts of the East African Protectorate which in their beauty, in the coolness of the air, in the richness of the soil, in their verdure, in the abundance of running water, in their fertility-parts which absolutely surpass any of the countries which I have mentioned, and challenge comparison with the fairest regions of England, France, or Italy. I have seen in Uganda a country which from end to end is a garden-inexhaustible, irrepressible, and exhuberant fertility upon every side, and I cannot doubt that the great system of lakes and waterways, which you cannot fail to observe if you look at a large map of Africa, must one day become the great centre of tropical production, and play a most important part in the economic development of the whole world.”

The system of comparative advantage has condemned the continent to the production of low value commodity exports. In the process, Sub-Saharan Africa has been excluded from industrialization which is essential in combating poverty and its negative offshoots. Development programmes since the 1950s have largely bypassed the poorest and the most needy Africans.

Africa’s Lost Century: Who is Responsible?

century.gifAfrica, the second largest continent in the world, with a vast and laregly untapped human and natural resource base, has entered the twenty-first century as the poorest region, with unsustainable levels of external debt. The continent is also the most technologically backward, the most ravaged by conflicts, malnutrition, disease, iliiteracy, unemployment, increasing corruption, abuse of human rights and undemocratic governance.

Eric Kashambuzi, in his incisive and well-researched third book on African development challenges and opportunities, has analyzed, with reference to nutrition, health care and education-the fundamentals of development-the various explanantions for Africa’s lost twentieth century. The author has de-emphasized population growth and natural calamities as the primary cause of undernutrition, has emphasized preventive approaches to health care and stressed balanced diet and good health, along with adequate facilities, qualified and motivated teachers and sufficient instructional materials, as critical elements in the education of African children.

Overall, Africa lost the twentieth century because of imperfections in the economic and political system under the colonial and post-colonial leadership that has undermined the efforts of the hardworking people to improve the quality of their lives. The author makes strong recommendations for tackling food insecurity, improving healthcare and the educational standards of the African children-especially girls.

The Paradox of Hunger and Abundance: What Have We Learned?

paradox.gifSince the 1960s, thanks to the green revolution , food production has grown faster than population. Yet, over 800 million people, including 200 million children, do not eat enough for a healthy and active life. Moreover, Sub-Saharan Africa is nutritionally worse off today than it was over 30 years ago, in spite of its abundant resources.

The author has used the term, “food insecurity” to characterize various types of hunger problems in developing nations around the world, but especially in Africa. He shows clearly that hunger is not a production problem, but a political and/or policy problem. Mr. Kashambuzi presents the details to back up this conclusion.

We are struck by the glaring truth that in some countries overwhelmed by starvation of their inhabitants, at the same time their main exports turn out to be foodstuffs!

Mr. Kashambuzi has examined export-oriented policies and conflicts of developing countries. Alone or in concert, policies and politics have aggravated poverty, which is the main cause of food insecurity, and caused localized food shortages or have caused the production of nutritionally inferior staple crops and damaged the environment.

Critical Issues in African Development

criticalissues.gifWhat factors are responsible for the poor economic performance in Sub-Saharan Africa? Is it geography that isolated Africa from the civilizing influence of the rest of the world or the climate, soils and diseases that have sapped the energies of the African people? Is it the culture that has undermined Africa’s technological advancement? Is it the “exploding” population that consumes more than it produces, damages the environment and causes poverty in the process? Is it the integration of Africa as a weak partner in the international economy and the exploitation of her resources and people since the days of the slave trade, or is it a combination of all these?

Eric Kashambuzi has analyzed in a historical and integrated manner the challenges of development, drawing on his vast experience in the political economy of Sub-Saharan Africa and his varied academic background. With a view to finding a common theme that explains Africa’s poor performance in all areas of human endeavor, the author has examined critically the issues of food insecurity, population growth, external debt, geography, climate, soils, diseases, education and land use to determine the extent to which each may have undermined African development.