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Statement by the Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Hon. Joyce Laboso at the opening of the 26th session of the ACP-EU JPA, 25 November 2013

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The Right. Hon. Hailemariyam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Mr. Patrice Tirolien, Acting Co-President of the JPA
Hon. Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the House of People’s Representative of Ethiopia
Co-Secretaries-General of the JPA
Members of the JPA
Distinguished invited guests
 
Allow me in the first instance, to express on behalf of the JPA, and in my own  name to express our gratitude of the Government, House of People’s Representatives and to the people of Ethiopia for hosting us in such a warm and friendly manner in this beautiful city of Addis-Ababa.  
 
The last time that Ethiopia hosted this Assembly was in February 2004, when the 7th Session of the JPA met in this very room. Nine years ago is not a very long time. And yet those of you who where here then could not have failed to see the remarkable transformation that has taken place in this city in this short span of time.  This is hardly surprising, given that Ethiopia’s economy has been growing at a very fast rate of about 8% a year in recent years. 
 
It is gratifying to note how some of these developments are spurring growth in other sectors of the economy, in a healthy mix of private and public investments from local and international investors. What is remarkable still, about this growth is that it not being driven by mineral resources.
 
What is happening in this country is indicative of developments in other parts of the ACP Group.  These positive developments have been motivated by institutional, political and social reforms, and are beacons of hope and sources of inspiration. There are still quite a number of substantial challenges still to be overcome, and in certain parts of the continent we are still grappling with conflicts and political instability.  In this regard, it is pleasing to see the return of peace in the East of the DRC with the defeat of the M23 rebels, and it is hoped that we shall see the back of Joseph Kony and murderous troops, so that the whole of the Great Lakes Region can be stabilized.
 
Hon. Prime Minister,
Hon. Members,
 
Our role as Parliamentarians at national level and in fora such as this one is to ensure that we acknowledge and support these positive processes while at the same time assisting to address, with renewed vigor and sometimes in new innovative ways, those lingering or emerging challenges.
 
We have long acknowledged that we need international support and partnerships to surmount our challenges.  However, it is important to also acknowledge that we need to rethink how our partnerships have operated in the past and improvements we can make for the future. 
Development cooperation should no longer be considered only in terms of the flow of financial assistance from developed countries of the North to the less developed countries of the South. Rather, we now know that there is enormous social, political and indeed economic capital to be shared among less developing countries themselves.
 
The Resolution on South-South and Triangular cooperation explores some of the new thinking about development assistance and cooperation. The Accra Action Agenda acknowledges the importance and particularities of South-South cooperation, and encourages the development of triangular cooperation, that is, support from OECD donors for the transfer of knowledge and experience between developing countries. 
 
Regional bodies can play an important role in this process.  In the case of Africa, I am particularly interested in how cooperation between the African Union and the European Union as the third point in triangular cooperation can help to re-invigorate South-South Cooperation. When we gather for the 28th Session of the JPA in the Pacific region in November next year, we should also consider how this process could or is panning out in that region as well.
 
Closely linked to issue of South-South and Triangular Cooperation is the exploration of new ways of financing development. 
 
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in new instruments and institutional ways of financing for development. The approach was pioneered by Mohamed Yunus in Bangladesh when he initiated the Grameen Bank. 
 
The idea is that development finance need not only flow from Government to Government; other pathways from people to people, private corporations directly to beneficiaries or Governments could be equally effective, if not more so.  There are a number of global partnerships for education, health related issues such as HIV and malaria, as well as conservation themed development issues. This is the way to go and we can certainly do more.
 
At multilateral level, the World Bank’s new program-for-results instrument, which is an innovative financing instrument for the World Bank's client countries, links the disbursement of funds directly to the delivery of defined results.  Under this approach for instance, a $100 million zero-interest credit will be disbursed to Ethiopia over the next four years on the completion of specific health targets, particularly those that improve the health of the country’s women and children.  
 
Another of the Bank’s instruments will support a 6-year programme on Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) in Uganda to expand urban infrastructure, and  enhance the capacity of the 14 municipal local governments to generate own source revenues, improve urban planning, and strengthen financial management, procurement, environmental and social systems. 
 
The issue about financing for development is also important as we debate the attainment of the MDGs and post-2015 development agenda. Obviously finances will remain the most important determining factor, but by no means the only one. We should explore means of tapping into the financial markets and the private sector to support development projects and social capital investments. 
 
Nevertheless, the pertinent question is still about the conditions under which effective innovations in development finance emerge and flourish. As legislators, we need to actively interrogate our Governments and policy makers to take up these issues at national level. 
 
Prime Minister,
Hon. Members,
 
One of the conditions that is surely in the domain of our roles as legislators in terms of establishing the right conditions for development is ensuring the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, in order to guarantee property rights, human rights as well as civil and political liberties. Again, there are indicators of best practice in the ACP Group. For instance, the election petition against the victory of President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana was televised live. 
 
This opened the legal process to ordinary citizens, and thus gave them an opportunity to form their own opinions about the conduct of their judiciary. When the Supreme Court finally delivered the verdict against the losing opposition candidate, he accepted the ruling of the Court, although he did not agree with it. During my previous address to this Assembly, I informed you of the ruling of the Kenyan Supreme Court, which rejected the petition of the ruling Presidential candidate, who also accepted the verdict of the Court. 
 
Let me at this juncture inform you that Kenya has since moved on, and our energies are now concentrated on consolidating the gains of our democracy in the face of external threats such terrorism.
 
Allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for your messages of sympathy and solidarity with the people of Kenya over the Westgate terrorist attack.  However, our peace, institutional and political stability are also in jeopardy because of the ICC indictment of President Kenyatta and Vice-President Ruto. There is no need to belabour this point again, suffice to say that Kenyans from all walks of life and different political persuasions are united in their resolve not create any conditions that might take the country back to the difficult issues over which they have already reconciled. Again, I wish to thank all our friends in this Assembly and beyond, who have stood by Kenya as she seeks to safeguard the interests of her citizens.
 
Prime Minister,
Hon. Members
 
As I end, I cannot as a woman fail to draw attention to the need to put an end to gender based violence. During the women’s forum we heard of the experiences of countries to fight gender based violence. The challenge many campaigners against gender based violence come up against in the ingrained institutional and social indifference in many of country. One form of gender based violence is female genital mutilation, which is also a serious violation of human rights. 
 
This practice affects almost 120 million girls in the world. There is absolutely no medical support for it, and the defense of cultural rights or preservation of traditional values can no longer be sustained to maintain it. We have jettisoned other harmful cultural practices in the light of better knowledge. 
 
 
The time has come to do the same with female genital mutilation. We cannot simply wait for this practice to evolve away naturally with time. We need immediate action in the form of legal, political and social measures to end the practice now.
 
I thank you for your kind attention
 
***
 


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