Security Council Urges Enhanced United Nations-African Union Peacekeeping Partnership, as Special Representative Presents Recent Developments

SC/12985
12 September 2017
8044th Meeting (AM)

Security Council Urges Enhanced United Nations-African Union Peacekeeping Partnership, as Special Representative Presents Recent Developments

Russian Federation Rejects External Peace ‘Formulas’, as United States Rules Out Use of Assessed Contributions without Benchmarks

Extolling the virtues of a strong partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, members of the Security Council today suggested ways in which to further enhance peace and security operations and foster progress in advancing common goals.

They spoke after Haile Menkerios, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, presented the Secretary-General’s report on strengthening that partnership (document S/2017/744) and provided an update on recent developments.

He said the eleventh annual joint consultation between the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in early September, had recognized the complex nature of contemporary threats and their profound impacts, which neither organization could resolve without the other.

Highlighting several points arising from those deliberations, he said both Councils had reiterated the Charter principle that the Security Council bore primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  They had also recognized the critical role played by the African Union and its regional economic communities and mechanisms, and that the partnership could be deepened by more frequent interactions, such as joint field missions.

Since early preventive action remained a challenge, he continued, the United Nations and the African Union must strengthen their collaboration in engaging non‑State actors, with a view to paying greater attention to root causes of conflict and preventing relapse into violence.  Financial burden-sharing should be in line with Security Council resolution 2320 (2016), he said, recalling that African countries had argued that they already carried the heavy burden of deploying to areas that the United Nations was unable reach.  Financing must be framed within the context of a common political strategy, he emphasized, adding that the African Union had appealed for predictable and flexible funding to enable the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to address the current untenable situation in that country.

However, the representative of the United States emphasized that her delegation would not consider the use of United Nations assessed contributions for African Union peacekeeping operations without the necessary financial, human rights and accountability benchmarks.  To do otherwise would put the legitimacy of United Nations peacekeeping at risk, she warned.

The Russian Federation’s representative stressed that financing and other such specialized issues should not be considered in the Council, pointing out that the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was a more appropriate forum in which to discuss funding concerns.  He also emphasized that external formulas for settling conflicts should not be imposed on any African country, citing the consequences of the actions taken in Libya in 2011.

Egypt’s representative emphasized the importance of studying all alternatives cited in the report, particularly those relating to support for Council-mandated African Union peace operations and access to the United Nations peacekeeping budget.  As a member of both the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, Egypt was determined to help strengthen their partnership as the best way to tackle Africa’s complex and multidimensional challenges, he added.

Ethiopia’s representative emphasized the importance of building African peacekeeping capacity, saying the partnership with the African Union would be an important pillar for discussion at the Security Council’s high-level debate on reforming peacekeeping operations, to be held on 20 September.

Senegal’s representative said that lessons learned from transferring operations from the African Union to the United Nations demonstrated the complex nature of certain situations, adding that effective tools must be made available in the future.

China’s delegate urged the two organizations to establish early warning systems and mechanisms for joint planning of operations, among other actions.

Also speaking today were representative of Japan, Bolivia, Sweden, Italy, Uruguay, France, Kazakhstan, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

The meeting began at 10:17 a.m. and ended at 11:52 a.m.

Briefing

HAILE MENKERIOS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union on issues of peace and security in Africa, including on the work of the United Nations Office to the African Union (document S/2017/744).  Providing an update on recent developments, he said discussions held in Addis Ababa in early September had recognized the complex nature of contemporary threats and their profound impacts, which neither organization could resolve without the other.

Highlighting several points arising from those deliberations, he said both Councils had reiterated the Charter principle that the Security Council bore primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as the critical role played by the African Union and its regional communities and mechanisms.  Moreover, there had been consensus that the partnership could be deepened by more frequent interactions, such as joint field missions, among others.  The Security Council’s deliberations could be enriched by briefings from African Union special representatives and envoys, he said.

Since early action remained a challenge in prevention efforts, the United Nations and the African Union must strengthen their collaboration in engaging non-State actors, he continued, noting that the two Councils had emphasized the need to pay greater attention to addressing root causes and preventing relapses into conflict.  Financial burden-sharing should be in line with Security Council resolution 2320 (2016), he said, recalling that African countries had argued that they already carried the heavy burden of deploying to areas that the United Nations was unable reach.  Financing must be framed within the context of a common political strategy, he emphasized, adding that the African Union had appealed for predictable and flexible funding to enable the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to address the current untenable situation in that country.

Statements

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) said positive developments in the partnership could be further improved so that both organizations could rise to face current challenges in Africa.  Within that cooperation framework, African operations clearly reflected a local response, and as such, effective tools must be available, he said, emphasizing the need to strengthen operations and bolster related activities.  Lessons learned from transferring operations from the African Union to the United Nations demonstrated the complex nature of certain situations.  Regional offices must be the focus of capacity-building and strengthening, he said, expressing hope that the Council would work with the African Union in a spirit of collective will to advance common objectives.

AMR ABELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said it was important that the Council study all alternatives cited in the report, particularly those relating to support for Council-mandated African Union peace operations and access to the United Nations peacekeeping budget.  Greater importance must be given to preventing conflict, early warning and post-conflict reconstruction, as well as cooperation between the United Nations and African Union in those spheres.  Expressing hope that the capacity of the United Nations Office to the African Union would be strengthened, he said that, as a member of both the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, Egypt was determined to help strengthen their partnership as the best way to tackle Africa’s complex and multidimensional challenges.

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said today was a rare instance when the Council met to discuss a bright side of its work.  Describing the African Union as a critical partner of the United Nations, she said the question was not whether they would work together, but how they could deepen and strengthen a relationship that had come a long way over the past decade, she noted, adding that one bright spot was the African Union’s efforts to establish frameworks for preventing abuses and promoting respect for human rights.  However, the United States would not consider the use of United Nations assessed contributions for African Union peacekeeping operations without financial, human rights and accountability benchmarks, she said, stressing that to do otherwise would put the legitimacy of United Nations peacekeeping at risk.  The United States was nevertheless confident that the important relationship between the United Nations and the African Union was headed in the right direction.

YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said regular direct interaction between the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council was essential to enhancing cooperation.  Joint missions could potentially provide both Councils with valuable insights on situations on the ground.  Enhanced partnership was not only necessary for peace support operations, but also for preventing conflict, for mediation and for addressing root causes of conflict, he said, citing the trilateral cooperation among the Council, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the Gambia as an excellent example.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) said progress on AMISOM had made it possible for the African Union and the United Nations to establish a partnership and a security pact involving mutual commitment between the Government and international partners.  Describing peacekeeping operations as a key tool for combating terrorism and addressing humanitarian crises on the continent, he said coherent decision-making was critical.  Various ways to provide support, in line with resolution 2320 (2016), must be investigated to ensure predictable financing, he said, emphasizing the need to bolster regional partnerships.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), underlining the importance of involving regional organizations, said outside formulas for settling conflicts should not be imposed on any African country, citing the actions taken in Libya in 2011 and their consequences.  Specialized issues, including financing, should not be considered in the Council, he said, pointing out that the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was a more appropriate forum in which to discuss funding concerns.

WU HAITAO (China) said the African Union and other regional organizations played an important role in promoting peace and stability.  There was a need for further cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations, and both sides should bring their respective comparative advantages into full play, expanding their cooperation further to help Africa tackle fundamental issues.  The United Nations should integrate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the African Union’s Agenda 2063, he suggested.  The Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council should enhance their partnership by establishing mechanisms for early warning and for planning operations, among other actions.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) described his delegation as a staunch supporter of enhanced strategic partnership between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in Africa.  It was clear that the African Union and its subregional components were undertaking vital operations not only in the interests of the African continent, but also, in a world of increasingly interconnected challenges, in the interests of all, he said, adding that it was vital to mobilize the political will to enable the African Union–United Nations partnership to reach its full potential.  He went on to underline that the women, peace and security agenda remained a vital area of partnership, noting in that regard that the recent launch of the African Women Leaders’ Network represented a positive step forward.

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), encouraging the United Nations Secretariat and African Union Commission to strengthen their cooperation on the root causes of conflict, said regional capacities in Africa must be enhanced, including through triangular mechanisms, as cited in the Secretary-General’s report.  Flexible frameworks would respond to the legitimate demand for African solutions to African problems.  Italy supported the creation of a mechanism for the joint planning and mandating of African Union peace operations, he said, adding that his delegation also favoured exploring the use of United Nations assessed contributions for such operations as long as standards for troop quality, accountability, human rights compliance and conduct were met.

LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay) said demand for peacekeeping operations outweighed what the United Nations could do on its own, adding that achieving full potential required close cooperation to define and establish mandates.  The financing models presented in the report were viable options worthy of consideration by Member States.  He emphasized that any non-United Nations force deployed with Council authorization must be in compliance with United Nations standards for performance, conduct, discipline and accountability.  In that regard, he commended the African Union’s efforts to hone its human rights, conduct and discipline frameworks.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France) said the time had come for a qualitative leap in the partnership between the United Nations, the African Union and regional economic communities that would facilitate a rational sharing of tasks.  Welcoming the work of the Secretary-General and the Chair of the African Union Commission on funding African peace operations, she said consideration of their proposals must continue.  Strengthened partnership between the United Nations and the African Union must be based on a collaborative approach aimed at preventing crisis, she said, emphasizing that it was indispensable for that the African Union and regional economic communities create the conditions for political solutions to crises.  In addition, the partnership must be extended to sustainable development, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, she said.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), noting the Secretary-General’s call for a new approach, with a shift from resolving to preventing conflict, said the preventive diplomacy tools and mechanisms of the African Union and United Nations could be strengthened by working closely at every level.  There was also a need to combine strengths in all phases, from early warning and conflict prevention to development.  New comprehensive approaches must be better reinforced by financial outlays on peacebuilding measures, with investments also targeting human development, infrastructure, climate mitigation and disaster risk reduction, he said, noting that peace would be more durable if the process involved women and young people.  A jointly developed budget should be explored for optimal results beyond the use of voluntary contributions, he emphasized.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) said that, because both organizations had shared goals, priorities and views of African leadership, three steps should be taken to improve cooperation.  More joint briefings by African Union and United Nations officials would be beneficial, as would joint analyses and assessments, as well as reporting on gender-based violence, which could result in shared strategic planning for action.  Both sides must play to their comparative strengths, as could be seen in Somalia, where progress on the political process had resulted in the most democratic elections in decades, which could be a model for future missions, he said.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said there was no denying that the African Union had demonstrated its ability to take a lead role in preventing and resolving conflict.  The United Nations should continue building and enhancing its strategic partnerships on the African continent, working in concert with the African Union and using the comparative advantages of each actor in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and conflict management.  The United Nations was yet to succeed in taking timely and effective prevention measures in response to situations that could possibly transform into full-scale conflict, or in which civilians were endangered and urgently required protection, he noted.  It was crucial to ensure sustainable and predictable financing of African Union operations authorized by the Council, and protecting civilians was a decisive factor for the success of such operations in that regard.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, describing strengthened partnership between the United Nations and the African Union as a priority for his country.  It was fitting that today’s meeting followed the successful conclusion of the eleventh annual joint consultation between the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, and after the Secretary-General and the Chair of the African Union Commission had reported on the financing of African Union peace operations authorized by the Council on a case-by-case basis.  Partnership with the African Union would be an important pillar for discussion on the high-level debate on peacekeeping operations reform to be held on 20 September, he said, emphasizing the importance of building African peacekeeping capacity.

For information media. Not an official record.