President Jacob Zuma says the United Nations must play a central role in tackling illicit financial outflows and the disparity of the global economy.
The president was speaking during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York. He said the current structure of the global economy continues to deepen the divide between the north and south.
“While a few enjoy the benefits of globalisation, the majority of the people of the world still live in abject poverty and hunger, with no hope of ever improving their living conditions.”
These unequal and unjust economic power relations manifest themselves sharply in Africa. President Zuma said while Africa is endowed with mineral resources, it still has the highest number of the least developed countries.
“Many of the developed countries in the world continue to fuel their development from the resources of the African continent.”
What is needed, the President, said is political will and commitment from global leaders to address the challenges and obstacles posed by this untransformed structure of the global economy.
President Zuma said Africa continues to lose a significant chunk of its resources through illicit financial outflows – billions of dollars which would otherwise be used to develop the continent and provide education, healthcare, housing and other critical basic needs.
The continent loses money through money laundering, tax evasion and tax avoidance, corruption, and transfer pricing by multinational companies.
“[This undermines] the integrity of the global financial system, efficient tax collection and equitable allocation of resources. We appeal for the cooperation and commitment of every member state of the United Nations, and the International community at large to address this phenomenon,” said President Zuma.
He said developed countries, in particular, have a historic and moral obligation to contribute to achieving a fair global economic environment and to eradicate the scourge of illicit financial flows from the continent.
Nuclear for peaceful means
President Zuma used his address to call on UN member states to dismantle their nuclear weapons and instead use them for peaceful means.
“It can no longer be acceptable that a few countries keep arsenals and stockpiles of nuclear weapons as part of their strategic defence and security doctrine, while expecting others to remain at their mercy. We are concerned that any possible accidental detonation would lead to a disaster of epic proportions.”
President Zuma reiterated that South Africa stands with the people of Cuba and Palestine, and called for the end of the war in Syria and Libya.
The war in Libya contributes a great deal to the destabilisation of the Sahel region and all the way to Central Africa, creating a corridor for illicit trafficking in arms as well as terrorist activities.
“In both instances of Libya and Syria, we strongly cautioned against seeking to resolve internal challenges of sovereign states by imposing foreign solutions through military means.”
Pretoria echoed its stance on the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.
“The United Nations must remain seized with this issue for the benefit of the people of Western Sahara and the African aspirations of integration and peaceful co-existence,” President Zuma said.
President Zuma also expressed South Africa’s disappointment at the June 2017 decision of the US administration to reverse the progress that was registered in the past two years towards ending the Cuban blockade.
President Zuma ended his address by reinforcing South Africa’s readiness to work with the UN to promote peace, human rights and sustainable development.