United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres departed New York for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Thursday evening, 6 February. He arrived on Friday evening.
On Saturday, 8 February, he attended a high-level breakfast on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa, where he noted that, in Africa, girls’ access to education and health care continues to increase and that Africa is the only region in the world where more women than men choose to become entrepreneurs. However, he added, progress still falls short of commitments made during the Beijing Conference in 1995. (See Press Release SG/SM/19962.)
During that day, at the African Union Commission, he met with Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; former South African President Thabo Mbeki; and Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire.
He also met with Mohammed El-Taher Hammuda Siala, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Libya.
In a press conference on Saturday, the Secretary-General discussed Libya, the Sahel, the coronavirus and South Sudan. He made a passionate call to the leaders of South Sudan, telling them: “You [do not have] the right to continue a confrontation when your people are suffering so much.” It’s time for South Sudanese leaders to agree to cooperate and to deserve the wonderful people they have, he said.
In the afternoon, he participated in a closed tripartite meeting on Libya, with Moussa Faki Mahamat, African Union Chairperson, and Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo and Chairperson of the High-Level Committee on Libya.
That was followed by a meeting of Heads and State and Government of the African Union Peace and Security Council, during which the situations in the Sahel and Libya were discussed. Supporting peace and stability in Libya and the Sahel is a priority for the United Nations and the African Union, he told the members of the Council. He also outlined a framework to ensure a greater cooperation between the African Union and United Nations efforts in Libya. (See Press Release SG/SM/19963.)
In the early evening, he attended the launch of She Stands for Peace: 20 Years, 20 Journeys, a book celebrating the twentieth anniversary of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. In his remarks, he noted the worrying trend that since 2018, we have seen a sharp drop in the share of peace agreements that included references to women. What is needed, he said, is actual investment in women as equal stakeholders who care about the future of their communities and nations. (See Press Release SG/SM/19964.)
The last item of the day was an event focusing on how to develop a sustainable Blue Economy of Africa. One of the objectives of the event is the official presentation of the Continental Blue Economy Strategy and the coordination mechanism for its implementation, to raise awareness of the Strategy and the urgent need for action by all stakeholders at national and regional levels in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14 and the Agenda 2063 vision for the African Blue Economy. In remarks at the event, which was attended by the Prime Ministers of Norway and Canada, the Secretary-General said that we need to protect the oceans from further abuse and enable humankind to live in harmony with the oceans that sustain us. He added that is why the United Nations will convene the Oceans Conference in June 2020 in Lisbon following the Nairobi Conference, also co-hosted by the Republic of Kenya. (See Press Release SG/SM/19965.)
Sunday started with bilateral meetings with Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of Egypt; Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger; Faustin Archange Touadera, President of the Central African Republic; Kaïs Saïed, President of the Republic of Tunisia; Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso; Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of Sudan; and João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of Angola.
At noon, the Secretary-General attended the opening ceremony of the thirty-third Ordinary Session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, the theme of which was “Silencing of the Guns, Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”. He told the gathered African leaders that the United Nations’ strategic partnership with the African Union is of paramount importance. He said that stronger ties now exist between the United Nations and the African Union, based on shared values, mutual respect and common interests, and he expressed his deep conviction that Africa’s challenges can only be solved by African leadership. (See Press Release SG/SM/19967.)
Bilateral meetings continued in the afternoon, with Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of South Sudan; and Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He later attended a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Ahmed of Ethiopia, before departing for New York, where he arrived on Monday afternoon, 10 February.