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A Dialogue of the Deaf

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As part of the ongoing and necessary effort to create a UN that is truly representative of all its members, this title attempts to present the African perspective far more clearly and persuasively than has previously been the case..
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Overview

The argument in the title can be summed up in this excerpt: “Africa and the West have engaged in a “dialogue of the deaf ” at the UN and other international forums since the continent’s “lost decade” of the 1980s. The dialogue runs as follows: Africans call for an annulment of what they see as an unpayable external debt of $290 billion and note that they have paid back $550 billion out of an initial debt of $540 billion between 1970 and 2002; the West continues to roll over the debt and offers periodic “debt relief” for an ailing African patient. Africans call for the West to meet aid targets of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Product (GNP) set as far back as 1970; the West responds by continuing to maintain average annual aid levels of about 0.3 per cent and to make persistent unmet promises to reach the target of 0.7 per cent. Finally, Africans call on the rich world to live up to its free trade principles by eliminating agricultural subsidies that prevent the continent from growing out of poverty; the West continues to maintain subsidies of over $311 billion that by 2001 had surpassed the entire economic strength of sub-Saharan Africa.” This title is a contribution to African efforts to engage the UN to achieve these noble goals.

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