19 July 2017

Secretary-General, Addressing Security Council Open Debate, Stresses Shared African Union, United Nations Interest in Keeping Conflict from Escalating

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council meeting on enhancing African capacities in the areas of peace and security, in New York today:

Let me begin by thanking the Government of China for convening this meeting to focus on enhancing African capacities in the areas of peace and security.

In my first days as Secretary-General, I attended the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.  I wanted to launch a new era of cooperation with the African Union founded on a core conviction.  I firmly believe the international community needs to change the narrative about Africa and to establish a higher platform of cooperation that recognizes Africa’s enormous potential and promise.

In the area of peace and security, the African Union and United Nations have a shared interest in strengthening mechanisms to defuse conflicts before they escalate and to manage them effectively when they occur.  Enhancing African capacities is essential, both in the context of our collective response to international peace and security challenges, as well as for the self-reliance of the African continent.

This is why, on 19 April, I joined with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, to sign a Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security.  Our shared objective is to work closely on the basis of the principles of mutual respect and comparative advantage in all stages of the conflict cycle and in a systematic, predictable and strategic manner.  We are committed to institutionalizing this partnership through formal annual consultations between the heads of the Secretariats of both organizations.

The Framework includes four key action areas:  first, preventing and mediating conflict and sustaining peace; second, responding to conflict; third, addressing root causes; and fourth, the continuous review and enhancement of our partnership.  Let me address each item in turn.

First, our joint work to prevent and mediate conflict and sustain peace.  Effective implementation of the Framework requires coordinated and complementary actions by the United Nations and the African Union.  We need to identify underlying causes of conflict, work closely to develop together joint analysis, share information and strive to reach common understandings leading to early action.  This includes key areas of ongoing collaboration, such as good offices and mediation, electoral matters, human rights and humanitarian assistance.

It is also critical that we build on our work with subregional mechanisms to help tackle political disputes.  In the Gambia, for example, the strong leadership of West African nations — with the support of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States], the African Union and United Nations — contributed significantly to finding a peaceful settlement to the political crisis.  And in South Sudan, IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development], the African Union and the United Nations are actively coordinating efforts to find a durable peace, including through a joint call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and a comprehensive and inclusive political dialogue.

Second, responding to conflict.  The African Union and the subregional organizations have deployed tremendous efforts to develop and operationalize the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capability.  Under our new Framework, we look forward to further supporting the strengthening of this Force and to exploring synergies with the United Nations Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System.

We must also promote coordinated efforts to confront new asymmetric threats to peace and security, such as terrorism and violent extremism.  In Somalia, the United Nations continues to provide logistics, technical and training support to AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] and to the Somali National Army.  Despite many challenges, this cooperation has helped facilitate concrete results which have yielded crucial progress such as the recent elections.

It is my deep belief that, with enhanced support to AMISOM, the African Union Force, and predictable funding — alongside a coordinated effort to build the Somali National Army and police forces — Al-Shabaab can be defeated.  This will pave the way for a more peaceful future for the people of Somalia and beyond.  We face an opportunity we should not miss.

In Mali, we need to intensify our collective engagement to further support the peace process, with a focus on the restoration and extension of State authority.  I welcome the initiative by the G5 Sahel to create a Joint Force.  I hope the Security Council recognizes the importance of a strong mandate and credible funding for this Force.  In the Lake Chad Basin, we must continue supporting African Union and Multinational Joint Task Force efforts against Boko Haram and other regional initiatives against counter-terrorism and violent extremism, ideally with more effective support.

The third pillar of the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework focuses on addressing the root causes of conflict.  The Framework emphasizes our commitment to increase cooperation related to peacebuilding and the rule of law.  Sustaining peace and continued development requires strengthening of national institutions to address the root causes of conflict.

Fourth, we underscore the need to establish continuous partnership review and enhancement through regular consultations and coordination.  These include staff exchanges; joint fact-finding missions; strengthening cooperation in promoting national peace infrastructures; mobilizing funding for African Union peace operations authorized by the Security Council; and preventing violent extremism and illicit flows of weapons and ammunition.  The Framework also emphasizes the critical need to further advance the women, peace and security agenda.

Enhancing African capacities in peace and security requires adequate, timely and predictable financing for African Union peace support operations.  In May, I submitted a report pursuant to Security Council resolution 2320 (2016).  This resolution welcomed the decision by the African Union to fund 25 per cent of African Union peace support operations.  This commitment is in line with the African Union’s objective towards self-reliance and Africa’s ownership in the areas of peace and security.

My report included options regarding the financing of these operations.  It also highlighted the importance of compliance and oversight of African Union peace support operations through robust and effective human rights mechanisms and a conduct and discipline framework.  The African Union is working to develop those capacities and the United Nations stands ready to provide the necessary support.

The Joint United Nations-African Union Framework, the adoption of the African Union Peace Fund and resolution 2320 (2016) together represent significant steps to reinvigorate cooperation with the African Union.  I pledge to continue working with all of you to further elevate our platform of cooperation for sustainable peace, stability and development throughout the African continent.

I wish you fruitful deliberations on this important topic.

For information media. Not an official record.