UN Headquarters

09 December 2020

Opening remarks at press encounter with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, following the Fourth UN-AU Annual Conference

António Guterres

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, 

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, my dear friend Moussa Faki Mahamat and myself have just concluded the fourth Annual Conference between the United Nations and the African Union.

We are committed to further developing our cooperation to serve the people of Africa. 

Today, of the many topics that were discussed, I allow myself to concentrate on two.

First, the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Africa has so far registered more than 2,200,000 cases and over 53,000 deaths.

There is real hope that vaccines – in combination with other public health measures – will help to overcome the pandemic.

But I reiterate my call for a COVID-19 vaccine to be a global public good available to everyone, everywhere and particularly, available in Africa.

Most African countries lack the financing to adequately respond to the crisis, due in part to declining demand and prices of their commodity exports.

Once again, I appeal for a bold and coordinated international approach on debt relief efforts for African countries, including, where appropriate, debt cancelation, and the meaningful increase in the financial support to African countries to provide the necessary liquidity and to finance the recovery.

Second, we also discussed peace and security challenges.

The United Nations strongly supports the flagship initiative of the African Union on Silencing the Guns in Africa. My appeal for a global ceasefire is perfectly in line with the Silencing the Guns initiative.

We are working closely together, notably in the Central African Republic, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, and we have seen progress recently in Libya.

We are also coordinating preventive diplomatic efforts with ECOWAS and the other Regional Economic Communities in countries holding elections, and exploring further advances in our calls for a global ceasefire.

We also explored ways to further advance our calls for a global ceasefire.

At the same time I want to reaffirm my total commitment to do everything possible in order to obtain from the Security Council an agreement that peace enforcing operations and counter terrorism operations led by the African Union must have mandates under Chapter 7 and must have simultaneously financing through assessed contributions. 

When we see the situation today in the Sahel, it is clear that the G5 Sahel would be in a much better situation if it would have a Chapter 7 mandate and assessed contributions allowing it to fight much more effectively the terrorist organizations that have started in Mali and then spread to Niger and Burkina Faso and now are starting to threaten even the countries of the African coast. 

I understand that, at the present moment, you ladies and gentlemen of the press, are particularly concerned with Ethiopia.

Indeed, in our discussions today, we highlighted the importance of a peaceful Ethiopia for the prosperity of its people and the Horn of Africa region. 

I reiterated the full support of the United Nations to the African Union initiative and the work of the three Envoys mandated by President Ramaphosa as Chair of the African Union.

Our immediate priority is the well-being of the people of Tigray and ensuring those in need urgently receive humanitarian assistance, and we are mobilizing the full capacities of the United Nations. 

Once again, I wish to insist on:

- unfettered access of humanitarian assistance, and
- the swift resumption of the rule of law, in a secure environment and in full respect for human rights, paving the way for a true and lasting reconciliation.

Together with our African Union partner, and others in the region, we stand ready to provide full support to Ethiopian-led initiatives to encourage inclusive dialogue and foster reconciliation.

In conclusion, I want to reaffirm our strong commitment of the African Union and the United Nations to keep working closely together to support peace and security, sustainable development and human rights across the continent.

Thank you.