President Edgar Lungu says the Commonwealth played an in important role during and after the 2016 elections.

And President Lungu says African countries are becoming frustrated with the lack of progress on the UN Security Council negotiations.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday, President Lungu noted that the Commonwealth was key in the promotion of good governance, democracy and the upholding of human rights.

“We must also lean on the vision and experience of the various regional and international bodies that are complimentary to this organization’s agenda. As a member state, we note the role of the Commonwealth in various subjects such as gender and youth matters, climate change, the promotion of democracy, rule of law, human rights, good governance, socio-economic development, and so on. In my country, the Commonwealth secretariat has played an important role during, and after the previously held elections, through the provision of technical support in the various facets of the electoral process,” President Lungu said.

The Head of State also pledged Zambia’s support to countries which were afflicted by conflict.

“Peace, security and the rule of law continue to be the basis for meaningful development of any society. In keeping with this understanding, my government pledges its solidarity to those nations that are undertaking the necessary actions in deepening their democracies. Since our last meeting here in New York, a number of countries have held their national elections. The people in these countries have spoken and in Africa, congratulations are due to them for exercising their democratic right of choice in their national elections. This is the Africa we want for the 21st century and, indeed, the future we want. Zambia has also continued to render its support for those still afflicted by conflict through its membership in the African Union Peace and Security Council. Following its recent election, my government looks forward to a successful tenure in the SADC Troika of the organ on politics defence and security, from 2017 to 2020.1 assure you that, we will use this membership in these two bodies to foster peace, more particularly in Africa,” he said.

“Zambia has also continued to serve in UN peace-keeping operations with a sense of duty to those persons who have found their security under threat for various reasons. In this regard, the United Nations should not relent on its duty to these vulnerable persons, but rather redouble its efforts to bring about a more peaceful world. The commitment should not be limited to preventing conflict, but should go further to seek the protection of the victims of conflict, including the displaced persons. We all need to cooperate in providing for a conducive environment for them in respect of their human rights and their social development and wellbeing. In this regard, i am pleased to inform this assembly that in June this year, I assented to Zambia’s Refugees Act no. 1, of 2017 which further speaks to this noble duty and, replaces the 1970 law.”

President Lungu also outlined the strides he had made as the African Union champion against ending child marriage.

“My government attaches great importance to the needs and welfare of all with a particular focus on women, children and youth. To this end, Zambia continues to make tremendous strides in the campaign to end child marriage, with the prevalence rate currently standing at 31.2%, depicting a 10.8 percentage drop from the 42% at inception of the campaign. We have also continued to engage traditional leaders to reform traditions and customs that allow child marriage. Currently, we are in the process of harmonizing statutory and customary law on marriage to prohibit child marriage. We are also repealing a number of discriminatory and outdated statutes related to children in order to come up with a childrens’ code to domesticate the provisions of the convention on the rights of the child. As the designated African Union champion on ending child marriage for 2017, I am pleased to inform you that the campaign has been launched in 20 countries out of the 30 countries targeted with the highest prevalence rates of child marriage in Africa. The launch programmes are essential to the enhancement of advocacy against child marriage, at national level,” he said.

“The campaign is growing from strength to strength; however, much more needs to be done. We call on all partners to join efforts and together, let us raise our voices to protect our children and the youth. The campaign will continue to gain momentum and reach out to member states in order to secure an end to this harmful practice.”

And President Lungu said African countries were becoming frustrated by lack of progress on Security Council negotiations.

“There is no doubt that the United Nations continues to remain the only multilateral institution capable of addressing the challenges of our “one world”. The world looks up to this body to encourage dialogue among civilizations on all global challenges in an inclusive manner offering the only practical way to ensure meaningful and effective international cooperation. To be effective and efficient there is need to reform the United Nations. Zambia believes that the UN reforms will not be complete without meaningful reform on the Security Council.
Reform of the Security Council to make it more representative, democratic and accountable to all member states, irrespective of status, is essential for its decisions to be accepted by the whole international community. Given that Africa constitutes the second largest bloc of the UN membership, proposals to reform the Security Council should heed Africa’s legitimate call. Africa is becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in the Security Council negotiation process. And it is time to move away from the deliberate attempts to create a maze of an otherwise clear question,” said President Lungu.

“The increasing acts of terrorism around the world must be condemned by all peace loving nations. More effort must be undertaken to restore the sense of security which is under constant threat. Zambia therefore stands in solidarity with the victims of recent terror acts in different countries and further stands ready for enhanced international collaboration to fight terrorism.”