United Nations, African Union Cooperation ‘Is Stronger than Ever’, But Challenges Remain, Need Security Council’s, World’s Full Commitment, Secretary-General Says

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations:  the African Union, in New York today:

Thank you for organizing this important meeting on the cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union.  I also welcome my dear friend, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.  I am pleased that we can take this opportunity to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the African Union.

In 2002, African leaders pledged to work together to prevent conflict and promote peace, development, human rights and the rule of law.  They sought to ensure Africa could play its rightful role in the international scene and foster a more just and effective global governance system.

Since then, the African Union has demonstrated its commitment to integration, peace and prosperity.  This includes Agenda 2063 and its flagship initiatives, the African Continental Free Trade Area, Silencing the Guns in Africa, as well as the establishment of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the past 20 years, the United Nations and the African Union have developed a unique partnership, rooted in the principles of complementarity, respect and African ownership — a partnership that has become a cornerstone of multilateralism.

My annual report presents the latest developments in this cooperation, including:

  • The joint launch, with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the G5 Sahel, of the independent assessment led by Mahamadou Issoufou, to improve international engagement on security, governance and development in the Sahel.
  • Joint initiatives with ECOWAS in support of a timely return to constitutional order in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.
  • A sustained commitment to a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Ethiopia, within the framework of an African Union process.
  • Close cooperation in Sudan, together with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to restore civilian-led democratic governance.
  • Joint efforts in Somalia, with IGAD and other partners, which contributed to the successful conduct of presidential elections, and in support of the Somali security forces, as well as the newly established African Union Transition Mission in Somalia.
  • Continued support for the transition process in Chad, in cooperation with the African Union.
  • Joint weapons-collection campaigns in Madagascar, Niger and Uganda.

Our cooperation is stronger than ever.  However, major challenges remain.  These challenges can only be met through approaches that are adapted to local contexts, and with the full commitment of the international community — including this Council.

First, the use of force is too often considered the only method to resolve disputes.  Unconstitutional changes of Government are on the rise.  In the Sahel, Da’esh and Al-Qaida affiliates pursue their deadly attacks and seek to extend their reach.

In the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan and Libya, protracted conflicts and a dire humanitarian situation are plunging people into despair.

Violence against women, especially women human rights defenders, is on the rise.  We are also seeing an increase in disinformation and hate speech — often used as weapons of war.

In accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the Silencing the Guns initiative, the solution is clear:  States must develop the capacity to detect the early signs of conflicts and stop them before they escalate into violence.  It is just as essential to address gaps in governance, including restrictions on human rights and freedoms, which undermine stability and sustainable development.

Regarding peace and security missions, our organizations have been working together on a compliance framework of African Union operations to ensure full respect for international human rights and humanitarian standards.  This Council must ensure predictable funding for African Union operations that it has authorized.

As requested by this Council, we are also preparing a joint progress report on the financing of African Union peace operations, which is due in April 2023.

Second:  we are heading straight off a climate cliff.  For many Africans, this is not a distant threat, but a daily reality.  Africa barely contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions.  Yet, it is paying an outsized price.  This is a textbook case of moral and economic injustice.

In the Horn of Africa, for example, people are facing the threat of famine after four consecutive failed rainy seasons — a first in over 40 years.  In the Sahel, drought and land degradation are exacerbating tensions between farmers and herders.  At the same time, communities in southern Africa face hurricanes and flash floods.

I commend the many African States, regions and municipalities that are taking bold steps to combat climate change, despite serious challenges.  As we prepare for the twenty-seventh conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Egypt next month, I urge leaders — especially from the Group of 20 countries, which are responsible for 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions — to finally take the urgent action needed.

Developed countries must also make good on their commitments, starting with their pledge to provide $100 billion a year for developing countries, and double funding for adaptation.  COP27 must also deliver concrete action on loss and damage.  This is not just a matter of trust between developed and developing countries.  For many countries, and particularly in Africa, it is a question of survival.

Third:  social and economic conditions around the world are a major concern.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, among other challenges, have fuelled an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis.

Despite some relief provided by the Black Sea Grain initiative, millions of people are facing soaring food and energy prices, crushing debt burdens, skyrocketing inflation, and a lack of access to finance.  And this is particularly serious on the African continent.

And without a solution to the crisis of fertilizer availability, next year’s harvest may not be enough to feed the world.  We have been working tirelessly to ensure that Russian fertilizers have unhindered access to the international market.

Once again, the most vulnerable are suffering most.  This is unacceptable.  And this is why, three weeks ago, I called for a Sustainable Development Goal stimulus, led by the Group of 20, to massively boost development assistance.

International financial institutions and multilateral banks must remove the barriers that prevent developing countries from accessing the finance they need.  We also need an effective global debt relief mechanism.  Many African countries have urgent need for this mechanism to work.  Sustainable development, guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, is our best chance to address the root causes of conflict and leave no one behind.

Nelson Mandela once said:  “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”  Twenty years ago, African leaders decided to learn from the past and inspired the world by establishing the African Union:  a Union based on cooperation and solidarity between African peoples — and with the ambition to become an even more important actor in the international arena.

I pay tribute to the dedication of the African Union and the perseverance of all who work every day for an integrated, peaceful and prosperous continent.  I call on all leaders — in this Council, on the African continent and beyond — to spare no effort in supporting the African Union in achieving these goals.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.