Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

09 July 2018

Secretary-General’s press encounter with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat [with Q&A]

Secretary-General:  Thank you very much for your presence. As I just said to the [African Union] Peace and Security Council: if the UN fails in Africa, the UN fails. On the other hand, African leadership is essential to solve African problems. If those two things are true, the only way for the UN to deliver is for a very solid and close partnership with African Union and I am extremely grateful to Chairperson Faki for the excellent development our relations have had in the recent past.
 
We are totally aligned in relations to our economic agendas: the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 that are now the same agenda. I strongly appeal to the international community to make sure that these agendas are fully financed, and also I strongly congratulate the African Union for its very important initiative on corruption. I appeal to the international community to do everything to make sure that illegal financial flows, money laundering and tax evasion do not allow $50 billion dollars to leave the African continent every year. This is a responsibility to support Africa to make sure that African resources remain in Africa to support African development.
 
At the same time, we work very closely in peace and security. I would like to say that we feel a wind blowing in the direction of peace. The visit of the [Prime Minister] of Ethiopia to Eritrea was an amazing success. The recent IGAD decisions on South Sudan and the summit in Khartoum, some decisions of Heads of States in different countries that were in crisis paving the way for future political solutions – all this gives us hope that the African continent will be moving more and more in the right direction on peace and security.
 
But of course, we have very dramatic crisis situations, too. We have four peacekeeping operations, in Mali, the DRC, in South Sudan, in the Central African Republic, where we no longer have traditional peacekeeping; where you have all sorts of armed groups, terrorist operators, we have peacekeepers being killed. So now we are committed to deep reform of our peacekeeping operations in close coordination with the African Union, but also we recognize that peacekeeping is not enough, that we need peace enforcing and counter-terrorism and that the African Union, and its organizations, is particularly suited for those operations. But as it was the case with AMISOM and now the case with G5 Sahel, the way these operations have been conducted in the past they did not have enough support from the international community. We need peace enforcing in Africa, counter-terrorism in Africa, with African forces, but with clear mandates from the Security Council, in my opinion, ideally under Chapter Seven and with predictable funding, namely the funding that comes with assessed contributions.
 
We need to understand that when African troops are fighting terrorists in the Sahel, they are not only protecting the citizens of the Sahel, they are protecting the whole world. The world must be in solidarity with Africa, as African forces are protecting us all. We will be side by side with the African Union to make sure that peace and security in Africa remains a priority for the whole international community.
 
[Questions on UNAIDS in Ethiopia and on Ethiopia-Eritrea relations]
 
SG: In relation to the first question, I have to say this is the first time that I hear about it.  The Secretary-General doesn’t control the different autonomous organizations that exist in the United Nations universe, but I will look into it as soon as I arrive and use my good offices in order to make sure that the organization that you mention is able to solve the problem. 
 
I would like to say that I believe that the recent evolution in relation to, between Eritrea and Ethiopia is a very important signal of hope, not only for the two countries, not only for Africa, but for the whole world. When we see so many conflicts and when we look at so many years in which these two countries have not been able to come together, it’s really very good news that the political will of the two countries to solve their problems is now evident. The UN is ready to do whatever the two parties will ask us to do. It is obvious that it is now for the two parties to decide how they want to conduct the solution of their problems, but the UN will be entirely at their disposal to do whatever is necessary to facilitate the success of what needs to be done and mainly in relation to questions related to the borders.
 
There are always undercurrents in relation to peace anywhere in the world, but there are also positive currents. I think the positive currents now are much stronger than the undercurrents.  And if one looks at the map what the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia have to gain from the point of view of the development of the two countries by the establishment of friendship between them, of economic cooperation, is I think of such remarkable positive contribution to the two countries that I believe that this will help facilitate any hiccups that might always occur and that indeed that obvious, obvious benefit that both Ethiopia and Eritrea will take out of the solution of their problems will overcome any difficulty. It is my hope and it is also my sincere wish.
 
Sanctions are of course a Security Council decision, I cannot take decisions on that. Sanctions were motivated by a number of events that took place. It is my believe that those events will no longer exist if the reasons that led to the sanctions will no longer exist, but that of course depends on the specific nature of those sanctions. They will naturally become obsolete, but at the present moment what I think is important is that the two countries come together and that of course will pave the way for the solution of many other problems.
 
[Question on South Sudan]
 
SG: I fully agree. I have lived as High Commissioner for Refugees, the drama of the South Sudanese people. I remember when the peace agreement was signed, we are now 18 years or 19 years after that, no, 13 years after that, I was starting my functions as High Commissioner for Refugees and three days after beginning I was in northern Uganda in a South Sudanese refugee camp and you can’t image the joy of the people with the peace agreement. Then I myself accompanied the refugees that went back to South Sudan when South Sudan became independent. Now you can imagine that what it is after a few years, 500,000 people went back home and more than 1,000,000 have to leave, millions displaced inside the country and the number of people killed, the number of children killed the number of people victims of malnutrition, it is really horrific. This conflict is a horrific conflict. This conflict needs to stop.  And so I must tell you, when I saw that there was a chance of peace, I immediately believe that all of us need to do everything possible to make that chance become a reality. Now the details of the transition arrangement may not be perfect. I think that is totally secondary if peace is indeed achieved. Now if peace fails then I believe, and I fully agree with Chairperson Faki, it is impossible to make those that are responsible for peace not to be possible to become accountable vis-à-vis the international community. But now the objective must be to make peace prevail and that is much more important than the details of any specific power-sharing arrangements.