On 19 April 2017, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat convened the first United Nations-African Union Annual Conference, at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Secretary-General and Chairperson acknowledged the significant progress made in strengthening mechanisms for collaboration between the United Nations Secretariat and the African Union Commission over the recent years and pledged to strengthen and deepen the partnership between the United Nations and African Union. The meeting underscored the importance of the strategic partnership between the two Organizations in efforts to promote good governance, sustainable development, peace and security, as well as human rights on the continent.
The Secretary-General and the Chairperson discussed the need to promote the significant synergies and complementarity between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063, emphasizing that both agendas take a holistic and integrated approach to the important nexus between development, peace and security and good governance.
The meeting underlined the need for a comprehensive approach to sustaining peace, particularly through collaboration on prevention, addressing the root causes of conflict, strengthening the rule of law and promoting sustainable development. While underscoring the significant value of sustainable development and good governance in and of themselves, discussions particularly highlighted their vital importance for conflict prevention and sustaining peace.
The two organizations agreed to work together towards the implementation of the African Union initiative on Silencing the Guns by 2020 and to ensure coherence with Sustainable Development Goal 16.
The Secretary-General and the Chairperson also reviewed a number of peace and security challenges on the continent, including the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, the Lake Chad Basin, Libya, Mali/Sahel, Somalia, South Sudan and Western Sahara, with a view to identifying, as appropriate, joint initiatives and approaches to address the challenges. They paid particular attention to the humanitarian implications of some of the crises, such as drought and famine, including in Somalia, South Sudan and the Lake Chad Basin, called on States to invest in disaster risk reduction and increase people’s resilience and national capacities to respond, and stressed the importance and need for the international community to urgently meet humanitarian needs in the affected countries.
Recognizing the complexity of peace and security challenges on the continent and the threat they pose to stability, the meeting acknowledged that preventing and resolving the challenges exceeds the capacity of any single organization. The United Nations and the African Union agreed to promote systematic, predictable and strategic approaches based on the principles of consultation, burden-sharing, complementarity and comparative advantage. In that regard, the Secretary-General and Chairperson endorsed and co-signed a Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. The Framework outlines priority areas for cooperation between the two Organizations from early warning, prevention, mediation, conflict management, and working together to sustain peace and address climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement. The Framework also underscores the inextricable link between peace and security, human rights and development. It emphasizes the inclusion of women and youth in national processes to ensure lasting peace.
The Secretary-General and the Chairperson expressed concern at the growing threats posed by terrorism, the spread of illicit arms, in particular small arms and light weapons, and the linkages between terrorist organizations and transnational organized criminal groups. They agreed on the need to strengthen the partnership between the African Union Commission and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF).
The Secretary-General and the Chairperson also discussed ongoing efforts to secure sustainable, predictable and flexible funding for African Union-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council. The Chairperson briefed the Secretary-General on progress made in the implementation of the decision of the African Union Assembly in July 2016 on financing of the African Union, including the operationalization of the African Union Peace Fund. The meeting welcomed the close cooperation between the Secretariat and the Commission in developing modalities to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between the two Organizations in peace operations. The Secretariat and the Commission will report and update the Security Council in May, in line with Security Council resolution 2320 (2016) on planning, mandating and financing of African Union peace support operations. The Secretary-General and the Chairperson agreed to enhance political consultation in the lead up to the consideration of the issue by the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council.
The Secretary-General and Chairperson reiterated their strong commitment to working hand in hand towards achieving the continent’s development goals, including the focus on empowering youth to harness the demographic dividend, and acknowledged the critical role of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa. They also highlighted the need to strengthen shared efforts, including through joint use of global and regional mechanisms for implementation and reporting, enhanced support for the African Peer Review Mechanism and strengthened support for resource mobilization. They acknowledged that the ongoing transformational reform of both institutions to make them more fit to meet the challenges of the next decade will reinforce implementation at the country level. In this context, it was decided that the two organizations would work together to prepare a joint framework on sustainable development focusing on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, to be signed at the next high-level meeting between the organizations.
The Secretary-General and the Chairperson agreed to convene the next United Nations-African Union Annual Conference in April 2018. They also agreed to meet on the margins of the General Assembly and African Union summits to take stock of progress in the United Nations-African Union partnership.