Liberia's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, His Excellency Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. on Friday, January 3, 2020, officially concluded his Chairmanship of the African Group of Ambassadors to the United Nations after successfully chairing the Group for the month of December 2019.
During a turn-over ceremony held at the African Union Observer Mission in New York, Ambassador Kemayah asserted that he took over the chairmanship of the African Group at a crucial stage with notable developments, significant to Africa and the world, and reported that during his Chairmanship, he defended and propagated the interest of the African Group. Ambassador Kemayah highlighted that he conducted meetings to consult on issues at stake for Africa; and responded to requests made by High Level African, Foreign and United Nations Officials to brief/interact with the Group.
Said Ambassador Kemayah: "During this period, I led the Troika of the African Group in interactions with the President of the United Nations General Assembly, particularly regarding the enlargement of the United Nations Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). To ensure that the Group remains adequately informed, principally on matters emanating from the Main Committees of the United Nations General Assembly, and consistent with the established practice, as Chairman, I engaged with the Coordinators of African Experts covering Five (5) of the Main Committees. Thankfully, briefings from them have been quite useful."
Among achievements during his leadership, Ambassador Kemayah highlighted the endorsement of Africa’s candidatures for election to various organs/bodies of the United Nations this year-- 2020; an electoral process that is usually conducted on a consensus basis.
Among the candidatures endorsed, Liberia will represent Africa on the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for a period of three (3) years each beginning 2021; Uganda will represent Africa as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and the Permanent Representative of Burundi to the United Nations His Excellency Ambassador Albert Shingiro will represent Africa on the Committee for the Selection of Recipients of the Nelson Mandela Prize.
Ambassador Kemayah said Liberia was grateful for the African Group's endorsement to serve the additional two major positions at the United Nations, noting that it has been nearly Thirty (30) years since Liberia served on the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Ambassador Kemayah: " During our chairmanship, we were able to ensure and complete the endorsement of Africa’s candidatures to various organs/bodies of the United Nations, for elections to be held in 2020; which you know will be on white ballots; and a matter of procedures and formalities; given our successful negotiations within the African Group. For us as a country, Liberia, we are particularly grateful for your support and endorsement in December 2019; of Liberia’s candidature for Two (2) major seats; one (1) on the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), where Liberia will serve for a Three (3) Year Term, as a member beginning January 2021; and secondly; Liberia to serve on the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); also for a Three (3) Year Term; beginning January 1, 2021. It has been almost Thirty (30) years since Liberia last served as a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); the last day of service for Liberia on the United Nations Economic and Social Council ECOSOC was on December 31, 1990. Moreover, we are very much pleased that Liberia was endorsed by the African Group to serve as a Member of the Executive Board of UNICEF; especially considering the fact that UNICEF’s mandate has to do with women and children globally; a category of the human race that His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia and Liberia’s Feminist-In-Chief is so much passionate about; and remains unwavering in championing their wellbeing."
Ambassador Kemayah also spoke of the African Group's engagement in negotiations at the United Nations Administrative and Budget Committee--Fifth Committee, which led to the adoption on Friday, December 27, 2019, of the United Nations Annual Budget for 2020--Three Billion Seventy-three Million Eight Hundred and Thirty Thousand Five Hundred United States Dollars (US$3,073,830,500.00).
Ambassador Kemayah stressed that the approved budget allocates fifty-two million six hundred two thousand eight hundred United States Dollars (US$52,602,800.00) and eighty-one million eight hundred eighty-eight thousand one hundred United States Dollars (US$81,888,100.00) for peacekeeping operations, and economic and social development in Africa, respectively; target areas that are very critical for Africa.
The Liberian Envoy also noted that the newly approved United Nations budget also appropriates eighteen million forty-eight thousand eight hundred United States Dollars (US$18,048,800.00) for support to the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON). Ambassador Kemayah thanked His Excellency Ambassador Collen Visen Kelapile, Permanent Representative of Botswana and His Expert on the Fifth (5th) Committee who, coordinated the activities of the 5th Committee and participated in the United Nations 2020 Budget discussions and negotiations, closely working with Ambassador Kemayah in his capacity as Chairman of the African Group for December 2019, noting that the work of the 5th Committee was around the clock, often running through the late evening hours. "We can safely say, to a large extent, 2019 was a successful year for us, and to God, the Almighty be the Glory; that the African Group at the United Nations ended the Year-2019 very successfully under our watch as Chairman for December 2019. We want to thank my Brother and Friend His Excellency Ambassador Collen Visen Kelapile, Permanent Representative of Botswana and His Expert on the Fifth (5th) Committee – the United Nations Administrative and Budget Committee; who, coordinated the activities of the 5th Committee and participated in the United Nations 2020 Budget discussions and negotiations; closely working with me during my Chairmanship of the African Group in December 2019." Ambassador Kemayah emphasized.
Ambassador Kemayah also thanked the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union, and its Team, Permanent Representatives and Ambassadors and their staff for the immense support accorded him and cooperation during his tenure as Chairman of the African Group. "On this occasion, allow me to sincerely thank you, especially everyone who assisted our delegation to accomplish such worthy responsibility, on behalf of the President of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, and the Government and People of Liberia. I thank cordially, Ambassador Madam Fatima Kyari Mohammed and her Team here at the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations, especially Mrs. Louise Bailey, Senior Political Affairs Officer, for the valuable support I received in the discharge of my Chairmanship, as well as for the cooperation received from Representatives of Member States of the African Group." Ambassador Kemayah emphasized.
Ambassador Kemayah also thanked the staff of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations, for the support accorded him during his tenure as Chairman of the African Group for the month of December 2019.
Ambassador Kemayah then briefed the incoming Chair for the month of January 2020, His Excellency Ambassador Franck Kokou Kpayedo, Permanent Representative of Togo to the United Nations, of pending issues that could not be completed during his tenure as the required timeline of the pending issues dictate that they be handled in January 2020 and beyond; including the expansion of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ)-- an expert body selected by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which will be voted on by the UNGA later this January; request for meeting from the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa for a meeting with the African Group between January 7-17, 2019 regarding the Functional Review of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA); and the upcoming Intergovernmental Negotiation (IGN) processes relating to the commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth (75th) Anniversary of the United Nations during the Seventy-fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly (75th UNGA), which convenes from September to December 2020.
Ambassador Kemayah expressed confidence that Ambassador Kpayedo will justify the confidence reposed in him by the African Group and wished him immense success during his chairmanship.
Receiving the mantle of authority, Ambassador Kpayedo thanked Ambassador Kemayah for accepting to lead the African Group in December 2019 and hailed his leadership and competence during the process.
Ambassador Kpayedo then renewed his commitment to lead the African Group in a manner that will ensure that the Group meets the challenges ahead. He called on all African Member States to be more united and mobilized to play a greater role in the United Nations; especially as the United Nations gears up to commemorate its 75th anniversary.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Observer of the African Union Observer Mission to the United Nations, Ambassador Fatima Kyari Mohammed termed Ambassador Kemayah's leadership as excellent, and thanked him for his service as Chairman for the African Group in December 2019; while the Acting Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations His Excellency Ambassador Samson Itegboje congratulated and termed Ambassador Kemayah's leadership as quintessential and sterling.
The Ambassadors of the African Group at the United Nations; including, but not limited to the Permanent Representatives of Gabon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, Malawi, Algeria, Burundi, Djibouti, and Egypt praised Ambassador Kemayah's leadership, professionalism, and wisdom exhibited during his tenure as Chairman of the African Group for the month of December 2019; terming Ambassador Kemayah's leadership as excellent.