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UN, Africa needs stronger links to advance peace, development, Security Council told

UN, Africa needs stronger links to advance peace, development, Security Council told

Louise Fréchette
As the Security Council today held a high-level meeting to re-examine the situation in Africa, United Nations and other officials called for building a stronger relationship between the world body and regional institutions on the continent.

At the outset of the day-long debate, which was chaired by Anil Kumarsingh Gayan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Mauritius, UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said the United Nations should step up its cooperation with the political mechanisms that some of the subregional organizations have created to ensure the development of integrated approaches to conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building.

"Such approaches must involve cooperation not only in the areas of politics and security but also across a wide range of issues, such as human rights, humanitarian relief, the struggle against HIV/AIDS and economic and social development," Ms. Fréchette said.

Hopefully, the establishment of the UN Office in West Africa, and the proposed International Conference on the Great Lakes, would help improve institutional links and build confidence among the countries of those subregions, the Deputy Secretary-General said.

"But let us not delude ourselves," Ms. Fréchette noted. "None of this will get very far unless there is real political will - both on the part of African leaders, to pursue the quest for peace, and on the part of members of this Council, to act decisively in their support for Africa."

In his statement, Amara Essy, Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), also advocated greater cooperation between his institution and the UN, noting that there were cultural, geographic and other factors that affected conflicts and that Africa's partnership with the United Nations had helped to assess in advance which situations might become crises.

The OAU-UN partnership must also ensure the development of better coordinated peace initiatives in Africa, Mr. Essy said, stressing the paramount responsibility of the Security Council in that partnership, but also noting that Africa must shoulder its obligations.

Following Mr. Essy's statement, representatives from more than 40 countries took the floor, including the Foreign Ministers of Ireland, Norway, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Zambia.