|Regional Heads of State last month held a summit meeting in Tanzania aimed at getting lasting solutions to the strife torn Great Lakes Region. Organized under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union in Dar-Es-salaam on 19-20 November 2004, 11 African Governments signed the Dar Es Salaam Declaration on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development in the Great Lakes Region. The countries included Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.|
Addressing the meeting, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the meeting offered a glimmer of hope to the region which he said had been blighted by poverty, stunted political and economic development, which repressed peoples’ talents. The Secretary-General said decades of misrule had denied the peoples of the Great Lakes region their freedoms, spread mistrust among them, and sowed doubt about the very concept of good government.
“The Great Lakes region has the potential to be an African powerhouse. Its people are dynamic. Its natural resources run the gamut, from materials needed by older smokestack industries, to those at the centre of the information economy and at the forefront of medical research. The States of the region, if given a chance to control and develop their own resources, could compete successfully in global markets. And, if we achieve stability and peace, and build basic infrastructure, the region’s cultural diversity and ecological riches could attract large numbers of tourists,” Mr Annan said.
At the meeting, the following were observers and witnesses to the momentous event: South Africa, Gabon, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, United Nations and African Union.UN-HABITAT being a member of the Inter-Agency Steering Group for the preparation of the conference, was represented by the Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka.
The Heads of State and Government expressed their deep concern about humanitarian and social consequences of crises and armed conflicts especially violations of the human rights of women, children, the elderly, the disabled and youth as well the destruction of basic services, the degradation of ecosystems and human settlements.
Consequently, the Heads of State and Government committed themselves to promote regional policies and strategies for the diversification and enhancement of sources of income and to promote sustained management of vital regional environmental resources such as aqua systems as well as sustainable human settlements.
They also promised to adopt, promote and support the formulation of balanced rural and urban development strategies and policies at national and regional levels.
The second Summit Heads of State and Government Summit preceded by Pre-Summit meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs will be organized in November 2005 in Nairobi.