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Note: Following is a partial summary of today’s Security Council meeting on peace and security in Africa. A complete summary of today’s Council meeting will be available later fgllowing the conclusion of the meeting as Press Release SC/12915.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared: “I firmly believe the international community needs to change the narrative about the African continent,” and establish a higher platform of cooperation that recognized its enormous potential and promise. In the area of peace and security, the African Union and the United Nations had a shared interest in strengthening mechanisms to defuse conflicts before they escalated, and to manage them when they occurred. Enhancing African capacities was essential both for the collective response to such challenges and for the continent’s self-reliance.
With that in mind, he said that through the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, which he had signed on 19 April with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the two organizations sought to work on the basis of mutual respect and comparative advantage in all stages of the conflict cycle in a systematic, predictable and strategic manner.
The Framework centred on four action areas, he said, the first of which focused on joint work to prevent and mediate conflict, and sustain peace. Such work would involve coordinated and complementary actions to identify the causes of conflict, develop joint analysis, share information and reach a common understanding leading to early action, he said, underscoring the importance of working with subregional mechanisms to help tackle political disputes.
The second action area was around responding to conflict, he said, noting that the Union and subregional organizations had deployed tremendous efforts to make the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capability operational. Under the Framework, the organizations would strengthen the Standby Force and explore synergies with the United Nations Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System. It was important to coordinate efforts in confronting terrorism and violent extremism, he said, underscoring his belief that, with enhanced support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and predictable funding, along with efforts to build the Somali National Army and Police Force, Al-Shabaab could be defeated. In Mali, he advocated collective engagement to support the peace process.
He went on to say that the Framework’s third pillar would address the root causes of conflict, emphasizing the commitment to increase cooperation on peacebuilding and the rule of law. The fourth pillar would involve continuous review and enhancement of the partnership through regular staff exchanges, joint fact-finding missions, enhanced cooperation in promoting national peace infrastructures, mobilizing funding for African Union peace operations authorized by the Council, and preventing violent extremism and illicit flows of weapons and ammunition. It also underscored the need to advance the women, peace and security agenda.
Overall, he said, enhancing African capacities in peace and security required adequate, timely and predictable financing for African Union peace support operations. In that context, he recalled the decision by African leaders, outlined in resolution 2320 (2016), to fund 25 per cent of those operations. His report, submitted pursuant to that text, included financing options and highlighted the importance of compliance and oversight of African Union peace support operations through human rights mechanisms and a conduct and discipline framework.
SMAЇL CHERGUI, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union, describing his organization as “an indispensable partner in promoting peace and security in Africa”, said that over the last decade, it had mandated or authorized the deployment of more than 100,000 uniformed and civilian personnel, sometimes in high-risk environment. That had come at a huge cost in human lives, he said, emphasizing that in the last decade, the number of casualties among African troops in peace support operations exceeded the combined casualties in United Nations peacekeeping missions in the last 70 years. At the same time, African troops had to deal with inadequate force enablers and multipliers, as well as financial resource gaps, he said, noting that AMISOM remained the least resourced compared with other missions with similar mandates.
Presenting a few proposals on how best to support African capacities to prevent and respond to peace and security challenges, he recommended that the African Union Commission and United Nations Secretariat establish an institutional approach that would allow real-time consultations, joint assessments and joint analysis with a view to recommending coherent options, thus permitting timely prevention of conflicts including through preventative diplomacy. The African Union-United Nations Framework on was a good foundation for such an approach, he said. Enhancement of the operational readiness of the African Standby Force must be fully supported, he added, encouraging Council members and partners to support implementation of the Maputo Action Plan 2014-2019 for strengthening the Force.
With the spread of violent extremism remaining a source of concern, he said the African Union and United Nations must work together to resolve seemingly intractable conflict by building resilience through sustainable post-conflict reconstruction and development initiatives. That would entail supporting African Union efforts to counter violent extremism through greater investment in political, human rights, humanitarian and developmental approaches. Channels for such support included the African Union counter-terrorism fund, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism, and the Nouakchott and Djibouti processes, he said.
Financing peace support operations was a perennial issue that hopefully could be resolved soon, he said. Noting that implementation of the Kigali summit decision on financing was under way, he said his organization was convinced that its efforts since 2001 on alternative sources of funding would be achieved. To enhance accountability, the African Union Commission had asked the United Nations and European Union to nominate representatives to its Peace Fund. However, he said, Africa would not be able to fund peace initiatives on its own. Predictable and sustainable funding for addressing peace and security challenges, including through United Nations assessed contributions, remained a common African position, he said, looking forward to a possible Council decision in September on dedicated support by the Organization to all Council-mandated African peace support operations.
MANKEUR NDIAYE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad of Senegal, said the topic of African capabilities must be part of discussions on how to intensify cooperation among the African Union, the United Nations and regional economic communities. Whether through the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), or the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the African Union and subregional organizations provided front-line responses to conflict. The deployment by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) of a ceasefire monitoring brigade in Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia underscored the crucial role of subregional organizations in fostering peace. New challenges involved the rise of violent extremism, the proliferation of terrorist groups that fed on criminal activities and cybercrime, with more than 200,000 registered cyberattacks per year testing Governments’ ability to counter such activities.
He went on to describe a number of achievements, recalling that Senegal and Spain had organized an Arria formula meeting on cybercrime that included industrialists, legal experts and security agencies. On maritime security, leaders had adopted the African Union Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development. More broadly, African States had mobilized to address attacks against peace and security through the Multinational Joint Task Force to counter Boko Haram. Going forward, he advocated an approach that addressed the root causes of conflict, expressing disappointment over the lack of predictable financing, which had limited African Union efforts. He called for predictable, sustainable and flexible financing for operations authorized by the Council, citing resolution 2320 (2016) in that context. He also pressed the Council to adopt a successor resolution establishing a principle according to which peace operations must be financed through assessed contributions to the United Nations budget.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said that amid long overdue reform efforts to restore the United Nations ability to take prompt preventive measures, regional organizations remained among the most efficient mechanisms to swiftly respond to a full-scale conflict or situations endangering civilian populations. The African Union had made progress in developing its peace support capabilities and was a first responder to crises on the continent. Given the complex nature of threats, supporting the full operationalization of the African peace and security architecture should be among the Union’s priority.
Citing partnership examples, he said the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) had paved the way to transitioning from peacekeeping to peacebuilding while efforts in Somalia had reduced terrorist activities. A similar approach and level of coordination was now needed in Burundi, he said, calling on the Government to accept the deployment of African Union human rights observers and military experts. Turning to the Central African Republic, he expressed concern about the presence and activities of armed groups and recognized the African Union’s important role in peace and reconciliation efforts. Pointing to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) as another example of positive peacekeeping and stabilization efforts, he cited the recent celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day as a reminder that human rights and democracy were two prerequisites that could bring lasting peace to Africa.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), expressing support for enhanced strategic cooperation with the African Union, said different financial support options set out in the Secretary-General’s report could be chosen on a case-by-case basis. Italy was also open to the use of assessed contributions to finance African Union peace operations so long as high accountability standards, among other factors, were met. Emphasizing that the United Nations could not and should not tackle evolving threats alone, but rather with regional organizations and others, he said that in the long term, the only solution was to tackle root causes of instability. In that regard, Italy would do its part to put Africa on the path of sustainable growth.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) quoted Nelson Mandela, saying that man’s goodness was a flame that could be hidden, but never extinguished. In Africa, the Council had a vital role to play in fostering that flame. The United Nations, the Council and African countries and organizations must work together to address root causes of conflict, he said, emphasizing that the Organization must use development cooperation proactively to support peace. The corrosive spectre of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers needed to be eradicated, he said, emphasizing the value of deploying more women in the field. He underscored the need to strengthen the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union and looked forward to the Council’s visit to Addis Ababa in September.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said cooperation between the United Nations and African Union was both crucial and urgent. The challenge lied in implementing Council resolution 2320 (2016) and the Secretary-General’s report, among other documents. Noting that nine peacekeeping missions were deployed in Africa, he underscored the need for closer cooperation throughout the entire life cycle of a mission. On financing, the Secretary-General’s proposals included viable options, he said, emphasizing also that all Council-mandate peacekeeping missions must comply with the same standards of performance, conduct, discipline and accountability.
PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said activities of the African Union and subregional organizations had intensified with the formation of the continent’s peace and security architecture. To overcome crises, he advocated an approach that brought the leading role of Africans together with international support. Any settlement should involve political methods based on national dialogue and settlement of root causes. The Russian Federation understood concerns over the resourcing of peace operations and called for greater predictability. It would not object to considering the broadening of United Nations participation in such missions and was ready for dialogue on that topic. It was important to maintain the Organization’s system of reviewing and approving budgetary requests and measuring accountability, while also involving United Nations personnel in all planning stages. He blamed instability in Africa in part on attempts at “political engineering” in the Middle East and North Africa, and expressed regret that the African Union’s experience in Libya had been ignored, which in turn, had provoked clumsy interventions and new crucibles of instability. Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had grown in Libya amid new terrorist threats in the Sahara and Sahel. The group was cooperating with Boko Haram and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. Along the borders of the G-5 Sahel countries, another group was working to bring together Islamic structures in Mali, Mauritania and elsewhere. The Russian Federation was ready to share its experience in counter-terrorism and carry out related projects, he added, describing training programmes in Russian universities for African law enforcement agencies, and in the Interior Ministry for peacekeepers.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) urged the Council to prioritize conflict prevention and mediation by improving United Nations-African Union diplomacy, notably through a shift towards preventing conflict, rather than resolving them. Indeed, crisis response was fragmented, while the causes of violence were deeply interlinked. A comprehensive approach was needed to connect security, humanitarian and development efforts, with greater emphasis on financial outlays for peacebuilding. Noting that $7 billion was spent annually on peacekeeping, he said that less than $1 billion went to laying the foundations for peace by addressing the root causes of tensions. “We, therefore, must invest more in building State institutions,” he said, as well as health, education, job creation and employment. A focus on climate mitigation and disaster risk reduction would promote intra-African economic growth. The United Nations should leverage the comparative advantages of regional and subregional organizations, and neighbouring countries that had a better understanding of local dynamics. He also advocated establishing predictable financing mechanisms for African Union peace operations.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) said the continent’s bright future hinged on the development of peaceful societies supported by African ownership and international partnership. The United Nations was capable of expanding its partnership with the African Union, with its capacities for regional action, beyond peace support operations to include efforts that would address the root causes of conflict. In that vein, self-sustaining economic growth fostered peace and stability, he said, noting that cooperation between the Organization and the Union on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 would play a vital role. Japan’s efforts, through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, centred on principles of African ownership and international partnership, as could be seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), providing a snapshot of the African Union Summit recently held in Addis Ababa, said discussions had supported the implementation of a road map of steps to silence guns on the continent by 2020, yet remaining challenges were undermining such efforts. African States and regional mechanisms must reverse the rise of conflicts by, among other things, addressing their root causes and implementing security sector reform in affected countries. Decisions emerging from the Summit included endorsing the governance structures and eligibility criteria of the Peace Fund and the scope of operations to be submitted for authorization by the Council alongside subsequent financing through the United Nations-assessed contributions. That decision had demonstrated Africa’s commitment to ensuring greater ownership and responsibility in dealing with challenges facing the continent and represented a great asset for the Council. Continuing, he said that amid new and emerging challenges to peace and security the United Nations could not effectively respond to conflicts and crises alone. Enhancing partnerships was a sensible approach and the United Nations-African Union Framework would contribute to addressing challenges across the conflict cycle. The Council had adopted resolutions to strengthen partnerships and a concrete proposal had been developed jointly by the United Nations and the African Union. Now, concrete action must follow by taking practical steps towards financing Council-authorized Union-led operations.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said that security threats facing Africa were threats that faced the wider international community as regional challenges had a tendency to manifest into global phenomena. “When African countries respond, they respond on all of our behalf,” he added. Outlining how the African Union was working with regional and subregional actors to enable regional unity, he noted that the response to the recent crisis in the Gambia illustrated how action at the subregional level, through ECOWAS, could be reinforced at the regional level. Regarding South Sudan, he said that close cooperation between Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union and the United Nations remained essential in achieving a ceasefire and resuming an inclusive political process. The international community must support enhanced regional capacities so that regional bodies could act where the United Nations cannot. The recently signed United Nations-African Union Framework underlined shared commitment, he continued, recognizing the need for flexible, predictable and sustainable funding of African Union peace operations. To that end, he underscored the need for continued financing for AMISOM.
RENÉ ERNESTO FERNÁNDEZ REVOLLO (Bolivia) said work to strengthen African capabilities must be enshrined in the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The United Nations relationship with the African Union should be based on respect, rather than on formulas imposed by others. UNAMID and AMISOM reflected the Union’s work to stabilize countries, while the Sahel G-5 countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) was working to strengthen MINUSMA, fight organized crime and protect civilians. The United Nations-African Union Framework aimed to promote a more strategic partnership through a common understanding of the factors that created conflict, share early-warning information and coordinate support through all stages of conflict response. Multilateralism, preventive diplomacy, mediation, good offices and inclusive dialogue were vital for promoting peace and development in Africa, he said, noting that partner countries and organizations must repay the historic debt owed to the continent.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said African States were among the most important contributors to peace operations, some of them having decided to further that participation, a willingness which his country welcomed. Citing the African Union’s commitment to a number of missions, he said the Sahel G-5 countries were also becoming fully involved in fighting terrorist groups. France had trained more than 15,000 African military officers and soldiers in 11 countries in 57 areas, including peacekeeping, demining and maritime security. Training had been carried out through 14 regionally oriented national schools, and by hosting people in schools in France. Further, Operation Barkhane forces in the Sahel fought side by side with those from MINUSMA, while in the Gulf of Guinea, France supported country efforts for maritime security, work which should be led “in synergy” with the European Union. He cited the bloc’s Training Mission and Capacity-Building operations, and financing of AMISOM, the Multinational Joint Task Force and the G-5 Sahel Joint Force, noting that France, Germany and the European Union also had launched the Alliance for the Sahel on 13 July, promoting an integrated approach for the region through stabilization and development. He called for reinforced international support for Africa.
IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt) drew attention to the road map for strengthening the “silencing the guns” in Africa by 2020 initiative. In April, the United Nations-African Union Framework was signed, while the Secretary-General’s report outlined alternatives for financing African peace operations in line with resolution 2320 (2016). Recent years had also seen successes through UNAMID and AMISOM. However, cooperation must be restructured in light of such evolving challenges as transnational organized crime, terrorism, piracy and trafficking small arms and light weapons. He called for greater cooperation between the continent and its partners, stressing that tackling those challenges was linked to institutional and human capacity-building in the African Union and regional groups, as a means of carrying out the principle of implementing “African solutions to African problems”. Indeed, he said, including that concept in joint activities required that attention be paid to conflict prevention, early warning and peaceful dispute settlement, all of which were vital to the African Union peace and security architecture through the Group of Elders and the Early Warning Mechanism. He expressed hope that the concept of sustaining peace would be implemented through the partnership. Addressing root causes was least costly way to settle conflicts, as economic development was closely linked to strengthening human rights and good governance, as well as conflict resolution and prevention. He advocated support for national reconciliation efforts, citing the Union’s “African Solidarity” initiative, which was being fine-tuned to support the building of a centre for conflict resolution and peacekeeping in Cairo. Recent African Union summits had adopted ambitious resolutions to strengthen self-sufficiency, he said, underscoring the importance of resolution 2320 (2016) in adopting a principle for the use of assessed contributions in the sustainable and flexible financing of peace operations in Africa.
NIKKI HALEY (United States) said the African Union was an indispensable partner for her country and the United Nations in promoting peace and security in Africa. True progress, however, required that the efforts of the Organization and others be accompanied by accountability on the part of Governments involved in conflict. “Famine in Africa is an issue of peace and security,” she said, emphasizing that armed conflict was the primary cause of food insecurity in Somalia, South Sudan and north-east Nigeria where a total of 14 million people were at risk of famine. African Union member countries must ramp up their response, working with subregional and individual States to confront food insecurity challenges with one voice. While welcoming the establishment of an African Union hybrid court for South Sudan, she said a commitment to human rights must take precedence to politics. In that regard, the African Group’s nomination of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Human Rights Council not only undermined that body’s credibility, but also contributed to the conflict in that country.
LIU JIEYI (China), Council President for July, speaking in his national capacity, said Africa faced multiple peace and security challenges, with terrorist groups infiltrating the heart of the continent and some countries dealing with unemployment, poverty, refugees and sluggish economic growth. The international community must vigorously help the continent solve its problems, he said, including effective support for African Union peace operations through adequate, stable and sustainable funding. He emphasized the need to support African efforts to address root causes of conflict and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063. He added that his country’s “belt and road” initiative would help Africa’s development while also addressing root causes of conflict.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said violent extremist groups, terrorism and transnational organized crime threatened security in Africa. Noting his country’s participation in initiatives addressing those threats, he said the renewal of peacekeeping mandates were opportunities to analyse partnerships and ensure their proper resourcing. It was also important for the international community to build the capacity of Governments in Africa, he said, noting constitutional, institutional and policy reforms undertaken by different countries in the region.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) cited his country’s efforts to promote peace in Africa, dating from its involvement in the United Nations Emergency Force in Suez from 1956 to 1967. Attaching great importance to close coordination with the African Union and ECOWAS, he said that bilaterally, Brazil’s army cooperated with Cape Verde, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe and South Africa. It was also involved in the triangular partnership project to train African military engineers. African States must take a lead role in addressing instability, and regional ownership must be respected, he said, noting that peacekeeping mandates must be accompanied by the necessary resources, while regional actors should spare no efforts to bring their troops to United Nations performance standards. The United Nations and Africa’s best interests would not be served if support was disproportionately focused on peacekeeping. Supporting the primacy of African politics to prevent and peacefully solve African problems should be part of a comprehensive United Nations strategy to enhance the continent’s capabilities.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said it was encouraging that a permanent Council member had convened an open debate on a region that was underrepresented in the body. On regional peace and security, it only made sense for the Council to listen closely to the opinions of Member States of that region. The African Union was a critical link to challenges on the continent. The partnership should be based on respective comparative advantages, burden-sharing and consultative decision-making, as outlined in resolution 2320 (2016), and she advocated investing more financial and capacity-building resources in African Union missions mandated by the Council itself. Such support must be flexible, sustainable and predictable. As a top troop contributor to United Nations peacekeeping, Pakistan had protected civilians and worked in dangerous circumstances. Yet, its voice had been unsolicited or unheard in major decisions taken on new deployments, crafting mandates, devising strategies on regional and trilateral cooperation, and other issues directly affecting its troops. “This silo culture must change if we want to make peacekeeping work at its optimum capacity,” she said, noting that consultative dialogues with regional organizations would be of pivotal importance if unburdened by issues that went beyond the purview of regional problems.
JOÃO VALE DE ALMEIDA, Head of the European Union delegation, said never before had the bloc’s interests been so intertwined with Africa. The direct connection between Libya and the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Gulf, called for a more strategic approach that transcended established formats. The European Union partnership with Africa encompassed actions at continental, regional, subregional and local levels. Noting that the Secretary-General’s report outlined options for supporting African Union peace operations, he said his bloc was cooperating with the United Nations in all common security and defence policy missions. The two were also working on joint programming and coordination in support, for example, of security sector reform in the Central African Republic. Such initiatives could be widened to include the African Union. One proposal discussed with the African Union and regional economic communities during the recent senior officials meeting was a collaborative platform for sharing information and enhancing operational cooperation among his bloc, the African Union and the United Nations. Diversification of funding was critical, he said, citing the ambition and ownership shown at the July 2016 African Union summit in Kigali with the decision to finance the African Union Peace Fund.