The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Kagame to Co-Chair MDG Advocacy Group

Urugwiro Village — President Paul Kagame has accepted a request from the United Nations Secretary General to co-chair the Millennium Development Goals' (MDG) Advocacy Group, along with the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

This was announced, yesterday, by Amb. Thomas Stelzer, the UN Assistant Secretary for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, after his meeting with President Kagame at Urugwiro Village.

The MDG Advocacy Group was formed by the UN Secretary General to lobby and bring together stakeholders to work towards action-oriented outcomes of the planned MDG Summit slated for September, this year, in New York.

According to Stelzer, the MDG Summit is the most important conference that the UN is hosting this year.

"President Kagame has graciously accepted the invitation and he is ready to co-chair this group and, therefore, very much supports the process of the preparation for the Summit," Stelzer said after extending the invitation to the President.

"Ten years into the implementation process of the eight MDGs, we are taking stock and assess what we can do in the next five years so we are drawing conclusions and extracting best practices from the previous ten years and try to re-organise support for the last five years of MDGs," he said.

Stelzer pointed out that in every political process, the most important thing is making participants aware that it is in their own interest to make the summit a success.

The Group consists of close to 20 eminent persons, including two Heads of State and Government, one former Head of State and a number of Nobel Prize winners.

Stelzer added that Rwanda's progress is proof that MDG's are attainable.

"Rwanda is an example that it can be done . That is a very positive example for all other countries President Kagame stands for a country that has proved to the world that progress is possible, even in very difficult circumstances. He and Rwanda show that it can be done and this is the message we want the world to hear," Stelzer said.

On how the UN Secretary General chose President Kagame to co-chair the advocacy group, Stelzer said that: "Whenever you consider who would be the appropriate people to chair a specific initiative, you think very carefully and consciously about certain personalities; who can bring in a lot of inputs and considerations and the result was, two of the most prominent supporters of MDGs who have a lot to say and who are authentic in this process."

The Millennium Development Goals include, poverty eradication, Universal Primary Education, promoting gender equality and women empowerment, reduction of child mortality as well as improvement in maternal health.

Others are to combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases, to ensure environmental sustainability and to develop a global partnership for development.

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