It is a great honour to be here with you and to participate in the inaugural Africa Dialogue Series.
It is fitting that we started by paying tribute today to Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, two sons of Africa who continue to inspire us every day.
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dr. Denis Mukwege on his well-deserved Nobel prize for peace, and also for standing up for the victims of sexual violence in conflict.
Africa today is driving its own agenda.
Across the continent, we see countries growing more prosperous and regions are becoming more integrated.
We see communities coming together to resolve problems and offer mutual support.
A new narrative is taking hold – of a continent on the move and on the rise.
The historic agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea is creating opportunities to consolidate peace across the Horn.
The departure of United Nations peacekeepers from Liberia is a sign of growing stability in West Africa.
The African Continental Free Trade Area holds great promise.
The United Nations believes in African leadership to solve African problems, and we are fully committed to working closely with the African Union in solidarity and respect to seize the vast potential of today’s opportunities.
The two agreements signed in the past 18 months – the Framework on Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063, and the UN-AU Framework on Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security – are the foundations for our renewed cooperation.
We now work in close and regular consultation with the distinguished Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The Deputy Secretary-General and senior officials from the African Union have undertaken several joint visits to the continent. The same has happened for our Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and the Commissioner for Peace and Security at the African Union.
I am proud to say today that the policies and approaches of the African Union and the United Nations are more closely aligned than ever before.
African economies are showing resilience and gaining momentum. Many are growing faster than in other regions, reflecting greater stability and efforts to improve governance.
At the same time, Africa faces fragility and a number of development challenges.
The volatility of financial markets, the looming trade conflicts, and high levels of debt in some countries are causing concern over economies that may be vulnerable to shocks.
The widening impacts of climate change will create additional strains in the years ahead.
Inclusive, sustainable development in Africa is a goal unto itself. It is also a leading tool to prevent conflict and crises, and is central to the AU-UN partnership.
The 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 have indeed many synergies. They address the same problems and they promote the same solutions.
Both call for a prosperous, peaceful and secure continent based on human rights, good governance and the rule of law, and aiming at leaving no one behind.
Both emphasize the meaningful inclusion of Africa’s young people.
And both are based on ensuring women’s leadership and gender equality in all areas. As Ms. Espinosa [President of the General Assembly] referred, a very important moment with the creation of the new government of Ethiopia, with full gender parity.
Violence against women and girls is a serious obstacle to gender equality around the world. The African Union will be a crucial partner as we roll out the Spotlight Initiative, launched by the United Nations and the European Union, which aims to end all forms of such violence by 2030.
Achieving the aims set out in the two agendas will require unity and solidarity, both within the continent and with Africa’s global development partners.
Financing will be critical. All countries must meet the commitments they made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. And together with public and private actors, we must accelerate and scale up the mobilization of resources.
We will also need a huge leap in investment to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change in Africa. Developed countries must deliver on their commitments, on finance and technology alike.
Next month’s Climate Change Conference in Poland, COP 24, must be a success in this regard.
Next year, I will convene a Climate Summit in September to build momentum for climate action, and I fully count on Africa’s support.
Africa is the continent that less contributes to climate change, and it is very probably the continent that more suffers with climate change.
African countries are also playing a leading role in the debate on migration. Africa has much to teach the world about a generous, constructive and effective approach to this positive global phenomenon.
I cannot forget, when I was High Commissioner for Refugees, in a world where so many borders were closed, I have always seen African borders open to people searching protection after fleeing conflict or persecution.
I urge you to play a full part in the Conference to adopt a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech in December.
Sustained peace and security on the African continent is another of our common goals.
African nations provide nearly half of the UN peacekeepers deployed around the world. Unfortunately, in many cases, our Blue Helmets are stationed where political solutions are elusive and there is little peace to keep.
I thank the African Union and 42 African Member States for endorsing the Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations. As we pursue our Action for Peacekeeping initiative, we will work with you every step of the way.
Our partnership is already making a difference in the Central African Republic, where we are providing mediation and technical support to the African Initiative-led peace process, and in South Sudan, where we are working closely with the African Union and with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Action for Peacekeeping also requires us to recognize that United Nations peacekeepers are not the answer when a situation calls for peace enforcement or counter-terrorisM operations.
I will continue to advocate strongly for predictable, sustained and flexible financing for African Union-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council. These operations are contributing to global security and deserve multilateral support.
As the United Nations and the African Union engage in reforms, it is more important than ever to ensure that we align our priorities, agree on our respective areas of responsibility, and deepen our partnership.
Let us work together – traditional and emerging partners, the private sector, civil society, academia, foundations and philanthropic organizations – to seize opportunities and build bridges, working together with states and international organizations like ours.
The Africa Dialogue Series provides an excellent platform to advance this effort.
With Africa in the lead, we will continue our work together for the good of the people of the continent and for the good of the people of the world.