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Press Release on the activities of the delegation of The Republic of The Gambia to the Sixty-Sixth (66th) Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad wishes to hereby inform the general public that the Sixty-sixth (66th) Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations is convening in New York, United States of America. The General Debate of the Sixty-sixth (66th) Session of the General Assembly started on 22nd September 2011 and came to a close on 28th September 2011. The theme of the General Debate of the Sixty-sixth (66th) Session of the General Assembly was: ‘The role of mediation in the settlement of disputes by peaceful means’.

The Republic of The Gambia was represented at the Sixty-sixth (66th) Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations by a high-ranking delegation headed by Her Excellency Aja Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy, Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia. Her Excellency the Vice President was accompanied to New York by the Honourable Dr. Mamadou Tangara, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad; Honourable Mr. Jato Sillah, Minister for Forestry and the Environment; Honourable Mr. Edward Gomez, Attorney General and Minister of Justice; Honourable Ms. Fatim Badjie, Minister of Health and Social Welfare; Mr. Lamin Waa Juwara, Governor of the Lower River Region, and other Senior Government Officials. Her Excellency the Vice President addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on Monday 26th September 2011.

As is the case every year, the delegation of The Gambia to the Sixty-sixth (66th) Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations attended a number of High Level Meetings and side events convened in the margins of the General Debate of the Sixty-sixth (66th) Session.

A High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases was convened on 19th and 20th September 2011. The Gambia was represented at this High Level Meeting by the Honourable Ms. Fatim Badjie, Minister of Health and Social Welfare accompanied by other officials. The Honourable Minister delivered a statement at the meeting on behalf of His Excellency the President of the Republic in which she showcased the demarche undertaken by the Government of The Gambia in providing basic social and health services to the citizenry, and efforts made to prevent and combat non-communicable diseases.

Also, a High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the subject of Addressing Desertification, Land Degradation, and Drought in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication was held on 20th September 2011. The Honourable Jato Sillah, Minister for Forestry and the Environment, accompanied by other experts, attended the High Level Meeting on behalf of the delegation and delivered a statement on behalf of His Excellency the President of the Republic in which he reiterated the commitment of the Government of The Gambia to conserve and manage the country’s natural resources particularly its forests and biodiversity. Minister Sillah also received an award on the auspicious occasion of the Republic of The Gambia’s selection to receive the Silver Future Forest Policy Award. Minister Sillah thanked the organizers of the Award ceremony on behalf of His Excellency the President of the Republic and indicated Government’s devotion to making sure that the forest resources of The Gambia are well preserved for future generations.

Furthermore, in commemoration of the Tenth Anniversary of the Adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the General Assembly of the United Nations convened a High Level Meeting on 22nd September 2011. The theme for the High Level Meeting was: ‘Victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance: recognition, justice and development’. The delegation of The Gambia was represented at the High Level Meeting by the Honourable Mr. Edward Gomez, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who also had the opportunity to deliver a statement on behalf of His Excellency the President of the Republic.

Her Excellency the Vice President and delegation also attended the MDG Countdown 2011, a side event organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID). The event was meant to showcase notable successes made by Member States of the United Nations such as Zambia, The Gambia, Nepal, Brazil, Peru, Vietnam, and Ethiopia towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), particularly MDG 3 on the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Gambia was one of the countries showcased and Her Excellency the Vice President made a presentation highlighting the laudable efforts and the roadmap to success undertaken by The Gambia which led to the country being on track to fully attain MDG 3 by 2015.

Her Excellency the Vice President of the Republic also met with the Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth Madam Mmasekgoa Masire Mwamba who thanked the Vice President regarding the recent hosting of the Media, Democracy, and Development Workshop in Banjul. The two dignitaries discussed the forthcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections in The Gambia and Her Excellency the Vice President sought for the support of the Commonwealth to the Government of The Gambia in a bid to ensure smooth and successful elections.

His Excellency Mr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission and His Excellency Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland paid courtesy calls on Her Excellency the Vice President to discuss issues of common concern.

In the course of her sojourn in New York, Her Excellency Aja Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy, Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia met with representatives of the United Gambia Association (UGA), an organization of the Gambian Nationals residing in New York. The representatives of the association briefed Her Excellency the Vice President on the activities of the association which they indicated, was born out of the need to bring all Gambians living in New York together irrespective of tribe or political affiliation. The group indicated their common objective of working closely towards the development of The Gambia and expressed their unwavering support to His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J.Jammeh, President of the Republic of The Gambia and his Government. Her Excellency the Vice President urged them to venture into activities that will benefit them and the country, and to also come together and encourage other Gambians in the other states to join the Association. She also asked them to put aside tribal and partisan sentiments and work as brothers and sisters for the advancement of the nation.

In a bid to further discuss issues revolving around The Gambia’s bilateral and multilateral engagements, and in a bid to enhance and forge new partnerships with Member States of the United Nations, the Honourable Dr. Mamadou Tangara, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad held bilateral talks with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the following countries. Minister Tangara sought for the support of the development partners, particularly bearing in mind the need to outsource for external financial assistance for the successful implementation of the country’s development agenda such as the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE). The countries are the following:

  • Estonia
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Ecuador
  • Spain
  • Finland
  • Slovenia
  • Turkey
  • Azerbaijan
  • Ukraine
  • Morocco
  • Senegal
  • Hungary

The Honourable Dr. Mamadou Tangara and his colleagues from Kyrgyzstan and Estonia also instructed their Permanent Representatives to the United Nations to prepare and exchange Diplomatic Notes aimed at the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries. Negotiations are also at the final stage for the signing of Memorandum of Understanding establishing diplomatic relations between The Gambia and Jamaica, and Mongolia.

The Honourable Dr. Mamadou Tangara and other officials also attended the following meetings which were scheduled in the margins of the General Debate of the Sixty-sixth (66th) session of the General assembly of the United Nations:

  • Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
  • Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Commonwealth of Nations in preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled for the third week of October 2011 in Perth, Australia.
  • Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) sequel to the Summit of Heads of State and Governments convened in Istanbul in May 2011.
  • Ministerial Conference on the African Diaspora organized by the African Union.
  • The Thirty-fifth (35th) Annual Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77.

Her Excellency the Vice President of the Republic and delegation departed New York for Banjul on Wednesday 28th September 2011.

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