The complex peace and security issues facing Africa are such that neither the United Nations, nor the African Union can address the challenges on their own, the Security Council was told today as it received its annual briefing on strengthening cooperation between the two organizations.
Stressing that the African Union is the United Nations most important strategic partner, Sahle-Work Zewde, Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, said that the two organizations have prioritized the development of a systematic, predictable and strategic partnership based on mutual respect, shared values and comparative advantage.
Over the last year, the partnership between the two has been characterized by closer collaboration, a more regular exchange of information and consultations and coordinated actions. The increasing use of joint missions, briefings, reports, statements and press releases demonstrates that both share a common understanding of peace and security issues.
Underlining the critical importance of predictable and sustainable financing for African Union peace support operations authorized by the Security Council, she said that the issue of funding should be framed within the context of a common political strategy, agreed to by the two Councils and informed by joint analysis and assessments of conflict situations.
Recalling that the Union’s partnership with the United Nations received new impetus in April 2017 with the signing of a joint framework, Smaїl Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union said: “This renewed commitment has indeed moved the partnership from an ad hoc approach into a more structured and predictable one.”
Citing evidence of such partnership in decision-making in conflict and post‑conflict situations across the continent, he said challenges nevertheless remain, adding: “Despite their limited resources, African Union member States are committed to assume their share of responsibility.”
He drew attention to several priority areas across the continent, including the need to build on the recent gains in South Sudan to compel the parties to uphold and implement signed peace agreements. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, efforts must focus on addressing challenges ahead of the general elections scheduled for 23 December, while resource mobilization is needed to enable the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to deliver on its mandate. The deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic is also a continuing source of concern, as is the instability in northern Mali which has spilled over into the country’s central region, as well as neighbouring States.
The representative of Equatorial Guinea, also speaking on behalf of Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia, said more measures could be undertaken to bring cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union to an even higher level. Such efforts could include more joint field visits, as well as through the development of shared approaches to analysis, planning and evaluation, and the greater exchange of information.
He commended the commitments made by African member States towards peace and security operations on the continent, highlighting that the $45.7 million African States had mobilized is the continent’s largest contribution to the Peace Fund.
The United States’ representative welcomed efforts by African States to increase their self-reliance and said that it hopes to pursue further non-trade financing mechanisms. However, the United States will not consider any further support to African Union-led peace operations until important benchmarks are met in areas including human rights, conduct and discipline compliance and transparency. To do otherwise will risk the credibility of United Nations peacekeeping, he warned.
The representative of the Russian Federation emphasized the leading role of Africans in resolving African problems. Enhancing the predictability of financing for African Union peace support operations is of importance, he said, and his delegation is not opposed to the possibility of increasing the role of the United Nations in such operations, bearing in mind the need to respect the Organization’s processes for examining and approving budgetary requests.
Also speaking were the representatives of Sweden, Netherlands, Bolivia, Kuwait, Peru, China, Poland, United Kingdom, France and Kazakhstan.
The meeting began at 3:40 p.m. and ended at 5:28 p.m.
SAHLE-WORK ZEWDE, Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, introduced the Secretary-General’s report titled “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/2018/678). Stressing that the Union is the United Nations most important strategic partner, she highlighted that the two organizations have prioritized the development of a systematic, predictable and strategic partnership based on mutual respect, shared values and comparative advantage. Over the last year, that partnership has been characterized by closer collaboration, a more regular exchange of information and consultations and coordinated actions, including joint field visits and joint statements.
The complex peace and security issues facing Africa are such that neither the United Nations nor the Union can address the challenges on their own, she said, continuing: “Partnership is therefore not a choice, but a necessity.” Strong partnerships with subregional organizations are also of great importance for ensuring consistency of messaging and alignment of positions and action. Much progress has been made in strengthening partnership and cooperation between the Union and the United Nations, she said, drawing attention to the growing trend towards joint visits to the field, including last weeks’ visit of high‑level officials to Niger, Chad and South Sudan. Such missions are aimed at underscoring issues related to women, peace and security.
She detailed another joint mission that took place to the Central African Republic and Sudan last April, with the view towards promoting a shared vision of peacekeeping in Africa. The increasing use of joint missions, briefings, reports, statements and press releases demonstrates that the two organizations share a common understanding of peace and security issues and serves to promote greater trust and confidence between the Union and the United Nations. There is a need to strengthen the early indicators system and work more closely with those that could exert influence on potential conflict situations, including community leaders.
The Peacebuilding Commission has engaged in commendable work over the last 15 years, she said, adding that the African Union initiative “Silencing the Guns by 2020” provides concrete and tangible steps that could be undertaken together. It is also essential that the issue of predictable and sustainable financing, on a case-by-case basis, for African Union peace support operations authorized by the Security Council is framed within the context of a common political strategy, agreed to by the two Councils and informed by joint analysis and assessments of conflict situations. In that context, through resolution 2378 (2017), the Security Council has expressed its intention to consider practical steps that can be taken for African Union-led peace support operations, authorized by the Security Council and partly financed through United Nations-assessed contributions.
SMAЇL CHERGUI, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union, recalled that his organization’s critical partnership with the United Nations received new impetus in April 2017 with the signing of the Joint Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. “This renewed commitment has indeed moved the partnership from an ad hoc approach into a more structured and predictable one,” he said, adding that the organizations’ second joint conference on 9 July reaffirmed the importance of the partnership and of multilateral responses to global security challenges. The United Nations and the African Union have committed to enhancing collaboration, cooperation and coordination based on the principles of complementarity, comparative advantage, burden‑sharing and collective responsibility, while also agreeing to enhance consultations prior to decision-making.
Citing evidence of such partnership in decision-making in conflict and post‑conflict situations across the continent, he said challenges nevertheless remain. Those include building on the recent gains in South Sudan to compel the parties to uphold and implement signed peace agreements. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, efforts must focus on addressing challenges ahead of the general elections scheduled for 23 December. In Somalia, resource mobilization is needed to enable the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to deliver on its mandate, including the gradual handover to the Somali security forces.
Meanwhile, he said, the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic is a continuing source of concern. Welcoming the Council’s recognition of the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation as the main framework for a political solution in that country, he said the situation across the Sahel also requires urgent attention. The instability in northern Mali has spilled over into the country’s central region, as well as neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, and morphed into intercommunal clashes spurred by conflicts between herders and farmers. Calling for critical support from the United Nations to the operationalization of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel) joint force, he said the African Union is planning to revise its strategy for the region in line with a decision adopted on the margins of its recent summit.
Recalling that the Union has consistently argued for predictable and sustainable financing through United Nations assessed contributions for African Union-led peace operations, he said in 2015 African Heads of State and Government decided to finance 25 per cent of the cost of those missions. To deliver on that objective, in 2016, the Union decided to endow the African Union Peace and Security Fund with $400 million, and a full endowment following annual targets will proceed through 2021. “Despite their limited resources, African Union member States are committed to assume their share of responsibility.” He expressed hope that that fact — as well as today’s meeting — will serve as an impetus and pave the way for the United Nations consideration of using its assessed contribution to fund African Union-led peace operations, in line with the objectives enshrined under Chapter VIII of the Organization’s Charter.
ANNIKA SÖDER, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, emphasized that regional actors have a thorough understanding of the issues at stake on the ground and are invested in resolving crises in their neighbourhood. “The African Union and its regional partners can undertake operations and work in environments where the United Nations cannot,” he said, adding that the former is often able to deploy quickly. Welcoming renewed momentum and concrete steps to advance the United Nations-African Union partnership — further underlined last week at the second annual joint conference in Addis Ababa — as well as moves towards more structured cooperation in the last 18 months, he underscored the need for flexible, predictable funding of African Union peace operations. Conversations will continue on such alternatives and modalities as access to assessed United Nations contributions, he said, welcoming the agreement on fiduciary reporting and expressing confidence that the 19 July joint meeting of the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council will contribute to deepening the joint work of the organizations.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), also speaking on behalf of Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia, said more measures could be undertaken to bring cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union to an even higher level. Such efforts could include more joint field visits and through the development of combined methods of understanding and analysis, exchange of information, planning and evaluation systems. He welcomed the continued strengthening of cooperation between the secretariats of the two organizations and the recent visit of the Secretary-General to Addis Ababa for high-level meetings with senior African Union officials. The organization’s commitment to the joint force is encouraging, he said, emphasizing the importance of improving the operational partnership between them in the areas of prevention, conflict mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
He said that promising steps are being taken by the African Union to establish a framework that will promote greater respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Similar steps are being taken to establish a framework addressing rules of conduct and discipline for peace support operations led by the African Union. He commended the commitments made by African member States towards peace and security operations on the continent, highlighting that the $45.7 million African States had mobilized is the continent’s largest contribution to the Peace Fund since its creation in 1993.
LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) encouraged more joint African Union-United Nations analysis, early warning, planning and decision-making, expressing support for the organizing of joint field missions to facilitate the formulation of common positions and recommendations. Everything should be done to ensure the United Nations and the African Union approaches to peacekeeping and conflict resolution are mutually reinforcing. The Union’s ability to act as a first responder and move in more quickly than the United Nations is widely recognized and should be facilitated. Stressing the importance of increased financial support for African Union peacekeeping, she said that sustainable, predictable and flexible financing will enhance the effectiveness of such peacekeeping.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), welcoming evolving peace efforts between Ethiopia and Eritrea as a “model for the whole world”, said the international community bears the responsibility for addressing conflicts. Joint strategies in conflict prevention are critical, and the United Nations and its regional partners should also work together to advance progress towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, addressing terrorism and other critical areas. In the Lake Chad Basin, for example, the world is supporting the Sahel G-5 joint force to combat terrorism and take on other major challenges. Initiatives crafted by such subregional organizations as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), especially those aimed at addressing the root causes of conflict, are equally critical. Expressing support for the African Union’s request for a predictable and flexible budget — in line with Council resolution 2320 (2016) — he expressed regret that the Council recently ignored the Intergovernmental Authority for Development’s (IGAD) request not to impose sanctions on individuals in South Sudan as it continued its peace negotiation efforts.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) described joint efforts between the United Nations and reginal and subegional organizations as indispensable against the backdrop of today’s escalating global conflicts. Describing Kuwait’s deep‑rooted official relationship with the African continent — and spotlighting the Union’s central role in ensuring global peace and security — he said Kuwait’s financial contributions to Africa are made in line with its belief that there can be no peace without development and no development without peace. Early warning mechanisms and conflict prevention should be advanced. Voicing support for efforts to ensure predicable, flexible and sustainable funding for African Union‑led peace operations, he said that, given the conflicts in its own region, Kuwait is also eager to see greater consolidation in the joint work of the United Nations and the League of Arab States.
JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States) welcomed greater collaboration, more exchanges of information and stronger cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union. Also hailing accelerated economic growth in Africa — whose population is expected to nearly double by 2050 — he said the success or failure of African Governments in meeting their populations’ aspirations will have major implications for global peace and security. Agreeing that the focus of joint efforts should be on facilitating sustainable political solutions — which means addressing the root causes of conflict — he welcomed efforts by African States to increase their self‑reliance and said the United States hopes to pursue further non-trade financing mechanisms. However, it will not consider any further support to African Union-led peace operations until important benchmarks are met in areas including human rights, conduct and discipline compliance, and transparency. To do otherwise will mean risking the credibility of United Nations peacekeeping, he warned, asking the briefers how the African Union can do more to build on the recent recommendations of the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that the challenges facing Africa and the international community highlighted the need to unify efforts and use the comparative advantages of each organization. He welcomed the efforts of African partners in resolving conflicts on the continent and emphasized the leading role of Africans themselves in resolving African problems. Cooperation between the United Nations and African Union should be built upon the principles outlined in Chapter VIII of the Charter. It is important that, for each case, tailor-made solutions are developed, taking into account the unique local challenges. It is important to enhance the predictability of financing for African Union peace support operations, he said, adding that his delegation is not opposed to the possibility of increasing the role of the Organization in such operations, bearing in mind the need to respect United Nations processes for examining and approving budgetary requests.
GUSTAVO MEZA CUADRA (Peru) noted with concern that many African countries continue to face serious challenges posed by the activities of terrorist or extremist groups, as well as transnational criminal organizations. In that connection, he stressed the need to enhance cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations. Regional organizations have a key role to play in combatting terrorism, he said, adding that there is a need to enhance strategic coordination regarding mediation, dialogue, early warning and confidence-building. The two organizations must work together on reconstruction and development efforts in post-conflict situations, while also seeking to understand the root causes of the initial conflict. He expressed support for the internal reforms taking place within the United Nations and the African Union, aimed at fostering more efficient partnerships.
YAO SHAOJUN (China) said that the United Nations and African Union partnership has made important progress over the past year thanks to the efforts undertaken by both organizations. The strengthening of that partnership is important for the peace and development of Africa, and the world as a whole. The United Nations and the African Union should optimize their partnership, fully respecting the leadership of Africans in resolving their own security issues. There is also a need to actively explore how to provide African-led peace operations with predictable funding. Supporting Africa in their efforts to deal with the root causes of conflict is also a priority.
MARIUSZ LEWICKI (Poland), voicing support for the African Union’s expanding responsibility and ownership in promoting the continent’s peace and security, cited its various comparative advantages and called for efforts to further strengthen the partnership with the United Nations in joint analysis and planning. Recognizing the need for flexible, predictable and sustainable funding of African Union peace operations authorized or mandated by the Council, he said Poland stands ready to further discuss various support models and options including access to United Nations assessed contributions. At the same time, he underlined the need to ensure full compliance of African-led operations with United Nations rules and standards in terms of troop quality, training and equipment, as well as accountability, conduct and discipline. It is of utmost importance to enable both organizations to face new threats and address complex sources of instability in Africa, he said, adding that a joint visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the coming weeks could prove instrumental to reaching a political solution to that country’s conflict.
STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom), welcoming positive recent developments between Ethiopia and Eritrea, said the United Nations and African Union should cooperate more in preventing and addressing conflicts on the continent. Spotlighting the importance of Africa’s subregional economic communities — which should be kept under the oversight of the Union — he said resolutions 2320 (2016) and 2378 (2017) outlined the principles of United Nations-assessed funding for African Union-led peace operations. As set out in the former, he looked forward to a stronger partnership that respected the United Nations primacy, and welcomed efforts to improve compliance frameworks, as well as to raise standards in the areas of sexual exploitation and abuse and discipline. Improvements on those and other critical issues will allow the United Nations to move forward to considering the use of its assessed contributions, he said. As those funds are not yet an option in the short term, he urged the international community to step up its efforts and provide support to AMISOM. Encouraging more joint field visits by the African Union and the United Nations, he said the Council should engage more with the former, adding “we must ensure that our efforts are complementary”.
ANTOINE IGNACE MICHON (France) said the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union is fully in line with the evolution of peacekeeping, and falls squarely under Chapter VIII of the Organization’s Charter. Given the changing nature of threats in Africa, France supports strengthening regional peace and security efforts and said Union-led operations should be supported. That will free up United Nations peacekeeping missions to focus on those operations that lie at the heart of the Organization’s mandate. Hailing proposals made by the Secretary-General and the President of the African Union Commission to facilitate new, joint processes in evaluating threats and carrying out planning, he said predictable and sustainable funding — as mandated in various Council resolutions — is also critical. African Union-led peace enforcement operations should be able to count on such funding, he stressed, including through United Nations assessed contributions. However, some key areas remain to be discussed, such as accelerating and finalizing the compliance frameworks on human rights, international humanitarian law and chain of command, among others.
YERLIK ALI (Kazakhstan) commended the strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and African Union, although further technical work is needed to develop the modalities for joint analysis, planning and assessment. African Union-led peace support operations are recognized as absolute essentials, particularly given the limitations of United Nations peacekeeping operations, especially when it came to countering terrorism. Conflict prevention and mediation should be prioritized by improving the efficiency of United Nations‑African Union preventive diplomacy. He underscored that only collective action, with the engagement of all relevant actors, will be the most effective in achieving peace and security in Africa.
Ms. SÖDER (Sweden), taking the floor for a second time, said she was heartened by the support expressed for a deepened strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union. It was also encouraging to learn about the activities already undertaken aimed at collaborative efforts to operationalize the greater cooperation.