SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. It is a great honor to join you here in Addis Ababa and to address the African Union. I want to thank Chairperson Ping, members of the African Union Commission, ambassadors to the AU, representatives of United Nations agencies, and, most of all, representatives of the nations and people of Africa. Thank you for the opportunity to be here with you. It is good to be back in Africa, and it is a singular honor to address this body.
During the past few days, I have traveled to Zambia, Tanzania, and now Ethiopia, meeting with leaders and citizens who are rising to meet challenges of all kinds with creativity, courage, and skill. And I am pleased to come to the African Union today as the first United States Secretary of State to address you, because I believe that in the 21st century, solving our greatest challenges cannot be the work only of individuals or individual nations. These challenges require communities of nations and peoples working together in alliances, partnerships, and institutions like the African Union.
Consider what it takes to solve global challenges, like climate change or terrorism, or regional ones, like the African Union’s work in Sudan and Somalia. Your efforts to end the brutal campaign of the Lord’s Resistance Army, your push to create a green revolution for Africa that drives down hunger and poverty, the challenge of helping refugees displaced by conflict, the fight against transnational crimes like piracy and trafficking: These are diplomatic and development challenges of enormous complexity. But institutions like this make it easier for us to address them, by helping nations turn common interests into common actions, by encouraging coalition building and effective compromising, by integrating emerging nations into a global community with clear obligations and expectations.
That is why, as Secretary of State, I have emphasized the work of regional institutions throughout the world, in Latin America, in Asia, in Europe, and in Africa. Now, regional institutions, of course, may differ, but increasingly they are called upon to be problem solvers and to deliver concrete results that produce positive change in people’s lives.
To solve the problems confronting Africa and the world, we need the African Union. We also need Africa’s sub-regional institutions, all of whom must help lead the way. Because the results you will achieve will shape the future, first and foremost, of course, for the people of Africa, but also for the people of my country, and indeed for people everywhere because what happens in Africa has global impact. Economic growth here spurs economic growth elsewhere. Breakthroughs in health research here can save and improve lives in other lands. And peace established here makes the world more secure.
So the United States seeks new and dynamic partnerships with African peoples, nations, and institutions. We want to help you accelerate the advances that are underway in many places and collaborate with you to reverse the dangerous trends and encourage political, economic, and social progress.
Today, I’d like briefly to discuss three areas, which are areas of emphasis for you and for us and where I think we can make particular progress through regional institutions like the AU. They are democracy, economic growth, and peace and security. These are, of course, the core areas of focus for the African Union, and that’s for a reason. All three are critical for a thriving region. All three must be the work both of individual nations and communities of nations. And all three present challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities we must address together.
First, democracy. Let me begin by saying this is an exciting time for African democracy. More than half the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have embraced democratic, constitutional, multi-party rule. Now, some, like Botswana, Ghana, and Tanzania, have spent decades building strong institutions and a tradition of peaceful, democratic transitions. (Interruption to audio.) When things like this happen, you just keep going. (Laughter.) (Applause.) Now, those countries that I mentioned are models, not only for their neighbors, but increasingly for countries everywhere.
Other African nations have been also making important advances. In Nigeria, President Jonathan was inaugurated 15 days ago after what many have called the fairest election in Nigeria’s recent history. Benin and Malawi both held successful elections this spring, building on previous successful multiparty contests. Kenya’s democracy got a boost from last year’s referendum on its new constitution. The vote took place without violence, and the constitution, which includes a bill of rights and limits on executive power, passed by a large margin. Niger and Guinea, both of which endured recent military coups, held successful elections in the past year. And in Cote d'Ivoire, the crisis that followed the 2010 elections was finally resolved two months ago with the help of the AU, and the elected winner is now serving as president.
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