Cooperation between United Nations and Regional and Subregional Organizations (African Union) - Security Council Open VTC

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04-Dec-2020 02:43:50
Security Council presidential statement urges stronger response to conflict, coordination between African Union, United Nations.

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Ahead of a high-level debate on cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union in peace and security, the Security Council today encouraged the two organizations to further strengthen their coordination in a mutually supportive manner across the range of possible responses to conflict.

In a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2020/11) issued by President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, which holds the presidency of the Security Council for December, the 15-member organ also commended increasing efforts of the African Union to enhance its peacekeeping role and that of subregional organizations on the continent, consistent with Council decisions.

It recognized the importance of initiatives of those organizations and the international support given to them in the fight against the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism, including the deployment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin and the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force.

Reiterating that regional organizations have the responsibility to secure resources for their organizations, the Council welcomed the valuable financial support provided by partners in that regard and acknowledged the need for more support to enhance African Union peace operations, encouraging further dialogue towards that end.

Through the statement, the Council also reaffirmed the important role of women and youth in conflict prevention and resolution and in peacebuilding and post-conflict situations, as well as the need for joint action between the United Nations and African Union to fight sexual violence in such situations.

Opening the meeting, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that the partnership between the United Nations, the African Union and African regional economic mechanisms has never been stronger. It is anchored in the principles of complementarity, respect for African leadership and the certainty that no one organization or State can face problems alone, he said, spotlighting how the continent has shown exemplary leadership on meeting the COVID-19 challenge. As well, the United Nations is supporting the initiative, “Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020”, in many concrete ways, including capacity‑building for mediation and disarmament, partnership in creating the network of African women leaders and investment in young people. This is in addition to broadening operational support for the African Union, he added.

Reporting on the partnership with the African Union in Libya and the Central African Republic, he said that, in the latter context, the United Nations has also reinforced its engagement with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). In South Sudan, along with the African Union, the United Nations is working closely with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Other areas of strong cooperation with the Union are present in Sudan, Somalia, and, along with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Mali. Together with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the two organizations are also assisting institutional reform in Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

However, he cautioned, challenges loom large, including emerging conflicts, the worsening climate emergency and the impact of COVID-19, particularly on women and the most vulnerable. Given increasing activities of violent extremists, particularly in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, he welcomed the support of United Nations entities and Member States for initiatives to fight terrorism in Africa. Enhanced cooperation with African Union mechanisms and regional bodies in the continent is crucial in that regard, he said, adding that African-led peace and counter-terrorism operations should receive Security Council mandates, under Chapter VII of the Charter, and predictable funding guaranteed by assessed contributions. Expressing deep concern over the emerging situation in Ethiopia, he also repeated his and the Union’s appeal for a global ceasefire and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid.

He went on to note that a recent assessment process has revealed a broad consensus on strengthening the United Nations-African Union partnership, along with acknowledging the need for improvement in a number of areas. These include further institutionalization of cooperation at every level, with stronger collaboration among the United Nations Security Council and African Union Peace and Security Council. There was also a need for predictable financing through assessed contributions for African Union peace support operations. As well, much more work is needed to involve and engage women and youth in the peace and security agenda. On the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, there was a deep reflection on how best to advance a common agenda by the two organizations, he said, adding: “I count on the African Union to help lead the way.”

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that, because almost 70 per cent of the agenda of the Security Council is devoted to issues of peace and security in Africa, the continent should have a permanent presence on the Council. Cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union is a prerequisite in the implementation of their mandates to promote and uphold international peace and security. The 2017 United Nations-African Union Joint Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security further boosted cooperation on the promotion of Africa’s ownership and leadership of peace processes on the continent. The 2018 Framework Agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 was also in keeping with the enhanced partnership between the two organizations and will accelerate the development agenda for Africa.

The annual consultative meetings between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council have been key to strengthening Council‑to-Council engagement, he continued. The two organizations have increased operational cooperation and coordination by working in support of peace processes in Sudan, Mali, Central African Republic, Darfur and Somalia. Further, the African Union is deepening cooperation with the regional economic communities and regional mechanisms, particularly in respect to activities to maintain regional peace and security.

The Union is also continuing to ensure that implementing the “Silencing the Guns in Africa” initiative goes hand in hand with a vibrant pan-African economic integration agenda. The African Union has entered into similar strategic partnerships with the European Union and is aiming to reinforce cooperation with other organizations that have a large African membership. He urged the international community and the Security Council to acknowledge the principle of burden-sharing for the maintenance of global peace and security. This should include predictable, sustainable and flexible financing for African Union-led or authorized peace support operations, based on the principle of the use of United Nations-assessed contributions. The contradictions of the Security Council that hamper and sometimes impede the resolution of conflict in Africa must also be addressed.

Following those briefings, Council members, along with several regional countries, took the floor to support strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union in matters of peace and security, with many speakers commending the Union for its work in a range of situations. Most also urged closer collaboration between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council for that purpose, including some calls for continuing the annual joint meeting, as well as joint visits to conflict situations.

Many speakers also affirmed the need for more international support to African peacekeeping initiatives, with several members supporting the use of United Nations assessments for that purpose, particularly in the case of missions mandated by the Security Council. Others cited their country’s support for specific initiatives and urged adequate voluntary contributions. The need to empower women in joint efforts was frequently stressed, as was the imperative to end sexual violence in conflict situations, including sexual abuse by peacekeepers. Support for African efforts to stem the COVID-19 pandemic was also prioritized by speakers, as was a greater focus on the terrorist threat on the continent.

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