April 16, 2011 at 1:00 PM (EST)

Ambassador: His Excellency Jean-Francis R. Zinsou

Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations

About this Roundtable

On April 16, GFDD/FUNGLODE will present its fourth Global Roundtable at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in close association with the UN Association of the DR (UN-ADR), who will be hosting the Dominican Model United Nations Conference (NYUNMDR) between 16-21 April, 2011.

This special session will present the Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations, His Excellency Jean-Francis R. Zinsou, who also serves as Co-Chair of the UN Conference on Youth.

As well as highlighting the country of Benin, this special session will also focus on important youth initiatives at the UN, which encourage young people to dedicate themselves to fostering progress, including the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

History of Youth at the United Nations: In 1965, United Nations Members States first acknowledged that the contribution of young people – defined by the United Nations as those between the ages of 15 and 24 years – is essential for the development of society when they endorsed the Declaration on the Promotion among Youth of the Ideals of Peace, Mutual Respect and Understanding between People.

Twenty years later, the General Assembly observed 1985 as the first International Youth Year: Participation, Development and Peace. In 1995, Member States strengthened their commitment to young people by adopting the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) – which provides a policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people by increasing their access to opportunities for constructive participation in society. In 2007, the General Assembly expanded upon the WPAY by adopting additional issue areas, bringing the total to fifteen areas of priority focus which are: education; employment; hunger and poverty; health; environment; drug abuse; juvenile delinquency; leisure-time activities; girls and young women; participation; globalization; information and communications technologies; HIV/AIDS; youth and conflict; and intergenerational relations.

About the Country of Benin
Considered one of Africa’s most stable democracies, the Republic of Benin, is located in Western Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is located in the country’s largest city of Cotonou. Benin covers an area of approximately 110,000 square kilometers (42,000 sq mi), with a population of approximately 9.05 million.

Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a West African kingdom that rose to prominence in the 15th century. Its shores include what used to be known as the Slave Coast, from where captives were shipped across the Atlantic. Elements of the culture and religion brought by slaves from the area are still present in the Americas, including voodoo.

The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholic, followed closely by Muslims, Vodun, and Protestants. The official language of Benin is French, however, indigenous languages such as Fon and Yoruba are commonly spoken.

The territory became a French Colony in 1872 and achieved independence in 1960, as the Republic of Benin. A succession of military governments ended in 1972 with the rise to power of Mathieu Kerekou and the establishment of a government based on Marxist-Leninist principles. A move to representative government began in 1989. Two years later, free elections ushered in former Prime Minister Nicephore Soglo as president, marking the first successful transfer of power in Africa from a dictatorship to a democracy.

Kerekou stepped down at the end of his second term in 2006 and was succeeded by Thomas Yayi Boni, a political outsider and independent.

Yayi has attempted to stem corruption and strongly promoted accelerating Benin’s economic growth, however it remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output had averaged about 4% before the global recession, but fell to 2.5% in 2009 and 3% in 2010. Inflation has subsided over the past several years.

In order to raise growth, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology.

Benin is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, La Francophonie, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the African Petroleum Producers Association and the Niger Basin Authority.

Topic: As well as highlighting his country, Benin , Ambassador Zinsou, in his role as co-chair on UN Conference on Youth, will focus discussions on important youth initiatives at the UN, which encourage young people to dedicate themselves to fostering progress, including the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Location: United Nations General Assembly, United Nations, NY 10017
Time: 1:00pm (EST)
Date: Saturday, April 16, 2011

Your Participation is welcome: Session closed.




Additional resources





Transcript of GFDD’s second Global Roundtable with His Excellency Jean-Francis R. Zinsou, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations.