Why good relations between the African Union and the United Nations Security Council are important

CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

OVER the last decade, the UN and the AU have deepened their relationship with partnership agreements on peace and security, development and capacity building. 

The most advanced cooperation between the two organisations is on peace and security as provided for in Chapter 8 of the UN Charter, and reaffirmed in many outcomes of the Security Council on cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements.

We are witnessing in Africa a continent that is taking responsibility for the complex challenges to its peace, security and development. 

It is working with the United Nations and other international partners in supporting African-led solutions to problems on the continent. 

While the United Nations, through the Security Council, has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, we have to acknowledge the important role played by regional organisations such as the African Union to address threats to peace and security. 

The African Union has recognised the nexus between peace and development. 

In this regard, the AU has aligned the African Peace and Security Architecture with Agenda 2063, the blueprint for Africa’s Development. 

This approach aims to prevent and end conflict through dialogue, mediation, peace support operations and a sustained focus on post-conflict reconstruction and development.

The invaluable role of the United Nations in support of these African-led initiatives cannot be overstated. 

We underline once again the need for the United Nations and the African Union to expedite deliberations to ensure that AU-led peace support operations authorised by the Security Council are financed through the UN assessed contributions.

The African Union is determined to silence the guns on the African continent.

We have made significant gains towards the achievement of this necessary goal, as evidenced by ground-breaking peace agreements in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan and, most recently in Libya. 

Cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union must be flexible and strategic in order to confront the growing threat of terrorism, transnational organised crime, the illegal exploitation of Africa’s natural resources and illicit financial flows. 

We would like to recognise the important role played by African Union and regional-led peace operations on the continent, which have paved the way for United Nations peacekeeping in the most difficult of circumstances. 

These include the operations in the Central African Republic and Mali, which have set a precedent for regionally-led peace operations transiting into UN peacekeeping missions. 

The novel AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) epitomises the effective cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations in protecting civilians and facilitating the path to peace. 

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) remains important in contributing towards stabilising and advancing peace in Somalia. 

We call on the United Nations and international partners to continue supporting the efforts of this mission. 

We commend the bravery of African women and men involved in UN peacekeeping efforts to protect civilians and support peace processes in Africa. 

We also commend the contribution made by peacekeepers from outside the continent, whose dedication to the African cause is a demonstration of remarkable and selfless solidarity. 

Through our cooperation, we also need to address the root causes and drivers of conflict in Africa, including development and governance issues.

We must look at all factors that may impede the realisation of a peaceful and prosperous Africa. 

Despite the significant gains we have made, we remain concerned at the immense humanitarian challenges faced as a result of on-going conflicts on the continent and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

South Africa supported the Secretary-General’s call earlier this year for a global ceasefire to respond to the humanitarian challenges posed by the pandemic.

We are heartened to note that this call has resulted in progress on some protracted conflicts on the continent. 

This pandemic has shown that solidarity and cooperation through multilateral action is the most effective means to confront a common threat. 

This year is significant for women and girls across the world. 

This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and we mark 20 years since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

These are cardinal policy frameworks that compel the international community to spare no effort in ensuring that women assume their rightful place in promoting and preserving international peace and security.

We welcome the role played by women and youth in the prevention and resolution of conflict and peacebuilding. 

We are deeply concerned at the targeting of women and children, often through sexual violence used as a tool of war, terror and intimidation. 

Addressing this scourge is the litmus test for how effective we are in protecting our populations from the ravages of conflict. 

Furthermore, we remain concerned at sexual exploitation and abuse by those who are charged with the protection of civilians. 

This is utterly unacceptable, and we must have no tolerance for such acts. 

We need to further strengthen the strategic cooperation between the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council. 

International peace, security and development can only be achieved if it is built from the collective efforts of all role-players, drawing on the respective strengths of each of the building blocks of the multilateral system.

I must applaud Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a country that is part of the African diaspora, together with the African countries in the Security Council, namely Niger, Tunisia and South Africa, for working jointly to promote cooperation between the UN and the AU for the peaceful resolution of African conflicts.

We will be taking this work forward when the African Union holds its Extraordinary Summit on Silencing the Guns. 

I am certain that our deliberations today in the UN Security Council will make a valuable contribution to the success of that Summit. 

  • This is an edited statement by African Union Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa during a United Nations high-level debate on the co-operation between the UN and regional as well as sub-regional organisations.
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