Addis Ababa

28 January 2018

Opening remarks at press conference at the African Union Summit

António Guterres

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, thank you very much for your presence.
 
The fact that I am surrounded by the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and my new Special Advisor on Africa, who in New York is essentially in charge of the economic and development cooperation of the UN with the African continent, shows that our partnership with the African Union has now gained an enormous development in this area.
 
We have signed last week our platform of cooperation to align the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, approved by all countries in the world in the General Assembly of the United Nations, with the agenda of the African Union for 2063. We will be working together, the African Union and the UN, on these two Agendas. There will be only one reporting line in relation to them, in order to make sure that we fully converge in our support to the African populations in development matters and the Economic Commission for Africa of the United Nations will be fully at the service of the African Union in order to support the development of policies and strategies at continent level and at sub-regional level to the benefit of the populations of the continent.
 
This is a very important step in what is today an exemplary cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations. Exemplary cooperation that is clearly identified by the fact that we can see that in the UN, the AU is our most relevant global strategic partner. Development is obviously at the center of that partnership but before we signed last year a platform of cooperation on peace and security that is now having a very important impact in the way we are looking together into the peace operations on the continent.  
 
There are many crises in which UN peacekeeping forces exist today but where there is little peace to keep. And we see peacekeepers being attacked by all kinds of groups. We see no political solutions emerging and to a certain extent peacekeeping becoming kind of a babysitting of a crisis. And obviously this situation of containment in which, obviously, it would be much worse if the peacekeeping force would disappear, countries might collapse, but this is not sustainable with the level of casualties that has been increasing.
 
And so our strategy will be based on two directions: First, to seriously discuss with the Security Council, with troop-contributing countries and with financial contributing countries a redesign of peacekeeping forces in the larger operations that we have in Africa. I am talking about South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Mali, in order to refocus their mandates to be more specific to support the emergence of political solutions and to protect civilians without the kind of Christmas tree of traditional mandates in which all kinds of things were asked from peacekeepers, that they had no capacity to deliver.
 
Second, to make sure that we have forces that are better equipped, better prepared, better led, with more mobility, more agility, more able to be proactively developing their action of protecting the populations and the protection of peacekeepers themselves, and at the same time with more support by the international community, from troop-contributing countries to the Security Council, in order to have the adequate mandates but also the political support and the financial support that is needed for peacekeeping to be effective in the countries where peacekeeping is recommended.
 
But we have also decided that in many situations peacekeeping is not the instrument to use. We need peace enforcing, we need counterterrorism and that is not for Blue Helmets. For that we want African forces, but we want those African forces to be properly supported. To have strong mandates from the UN Security Council, better with chapter seven, and to also have predictable funding, including through assessed contributions, mandatory contributions in line with what happens with peacekeeping operations.   
 
We believe that AMISOM is doing a very important job in Somalia but we believe AMISOM needs more and more predictable funding. We strongly support the G5 Sahel but we would like to see the G5 Sahel with a stronger mandate and with a more predictable funding for their activities. And we see other African forces, namely in the Lake Chad area, that operate based on bilateral forms of support but totally insufficient in relations to their needs.
 
Review the strategy of peacekeeping, refocus it, make it stronger and safer with better support of the international community and create the conditions for adequate support to African forces in peace enforcing and in counterterrorism operations is an area where the African Union and the UN will be working together, and together with sub-regional organizations, to make sure that we give a stronger contribution to the peace and security of the continent, that is a basic condition for the success of the sustainable development of the continent. Sustainable development and sustaining peace are two agendas that are more and more coinciding and in which the excellent partnership that exists with the African Union allows us to be very optimistic in relation to our capacity to deliver to the benefit of populations in Africa.
 
We will be ready to answer a few questions, unfortunately we are awaited in another venue for another session, so we will take four questions.