18 March 2009

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s statement to the Security Council on the report of the African Union-United Nations Panel on Financing of African Peacekeeping Missions, in New York on 18 March:

I am pleased to be able to participate in this meeting of the Security Council, and welcome the opportunity to focus on both strengthening the United Nations-African Union relationship, and on efforts by the international community to further enhance the African Union’s capacity for peacekeeping.

Before I begin, I would like to welcome you, Mr. President, as the new Permanent Representative of your great country, Libya, and also congratulate you in your role as President of the Security Council.  I assure you of my full cooperation in discharging your duties, not only as the President of the Security Council, but also as Ambassador of your country.

Let me take this opportunity to welcome H.E. Mr. Romano Prodi to the United Nations and express my appreciation for his leadership of the Panel whose report on “the modalities for support to African Union peacekeeping operations” (document A/63/666–S/2008/813 dated 31 December 2008) is before the Council today.

Last year’s high-level debate on peace and security in Africa, chaired by former President [Thabo] Mbeki on 16 April 2008, provided the United Nations Security Council, and the African Union Peace and Security Council, with an opportunity to look more closely at the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union in ensuring peace and security in Africa.  The Panel’s report before you today presents a number of ideas to strengthen this partnership, with a view to improving our collective response to addressing conflicts in Africa.

The role played by regional organizations in peace and security is indispensable to the work of this Council.  I am encouraged by the progress we have made in our cooperative endeavours with the African Union Commission towards achieving peace and security in challenging areas like Darfur and Somalia.  Lessons learned from these endeavours will strengthen our cooperative work in the future.

The African Union continues to develop its capacity for peacekeeping.  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations is supporting these efforts with a dedicated capacity and through specific programmes.  The panel’s report, while outlining significant remaining challenges, offers various recommendations that draw on the lessons of the past and aim at an enhanced relationship in the future.

Central to this analysis is the strategic relationship between the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, which is supported by that between the United Nations Secretariat and the African Union Commission.  In both cases, that relationship has been much expanded, but it has yet to develop the responsiveness that will enable us to work together to prevent conflicts rather than only respond to crises.  The Department of Political Affairs has instituted a series of desk-to-desk meetings with African Union counterparts, and I hope that we can build on this initiative to quickly develop a more comprehensive approach for the future.

Many of the challenges facing the African Union result from the difficulties it faces in securing the necessary resources to support both its deployments and its own long term development.  A peacekeeping mission that is underresourced can imperil the initial benefits gained through its deployment, and can raise expectations without providing the means of fulfilling them.

It was in this context that the Panel made its recommendations to address issues of funding and resources.  These recommendations have far-reaching implications and will require detailed analysis, particularly in the case of assessed contributions which need to be considered by the requisite United Nations legislative bodies and processes.  Notwithstanding the complexities, the report offers a first step in a process through which these issues can be examined comprehensively while allowing us to develop a more effective partnership.  I look forward to a constructive interaction with key Member States, including the members of this Council, the African Union members, the troop-contributing countries and other stakeholders.  The forthcoming retreat with Security Council members this weekend will offer a valuable opportunity to look at this issue in greater detail.

The development of the African peace and security architecture is crucial to an effective long-term approach to conflict prevention and resolution.  This requires the sustained support of the international community, including the European Union and many bilateral partnerships.   The strategic relationship between the United Nations and the African Union is at the heart of this evolving framework and has the potential to affect millions of people on the African continent.

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For information media • not an official record