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25 May - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the international community to step up efforts to help Africa attain its potential for peace and sustainable development, saying the continent continued to influence the global agenda by reminding the world of its responsibility to the most vulnerable.

In his message to mark Africa Day, which commemorates the founding in 1963 of the Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Union (AU), Mr. Ban said the United Nations was a key partner of Africa, supporting the continent's efforts in various fields, including peace and security, social and economic development and regional integration.

“The independence movement that swept Africa five decades ago brought many new members to the United Nations, resulting in a new focus on the continent's development needs and heightened emphasis on greater democracy in the management of international relations,” the Secretary-General said.

“By consistently reminding the international community of its responsibility to the most vulnerable, and affirming that we are all members of a global family of nations, Africa has helped to reshape the global agenda,” he added.

This year's anniversary has particular significance because it also marks 50 years of independence for several Francophone African States, as well as Nigeria, the continent's most populous nation.

The UN has played a key role promulgating the fundamental values of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights among the diverse nations of African, Mr. Ban said.

“Our extensive presence on the ground in Africa encompasses peacekeeping, peace-building, mediation and conflict prevention, and there is growing cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union Commission, exemplified by regular dialogue between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council,” he said.

The September Summit on the Millennium Development Goals offered yet another venue for upholding UN's commitments to Africa and supporting the continent's efforts to implement its New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD, the Secretary-General said. As an economic programme of the African Union, NEPAD aims to provide a policy framework for accelerating economic cooperation and integration among African States.

“Africa is poised to capitalize on its potential. On this Africa Day, let us rededicate ourselves to fruitful partnerships in pursuit of peace and sustainable progress for all the continent's people,” he added.

Accra / Ghana / African /