Preventing and resolving conflicts peacefully must remain high on the shared agenda of the United Nations and the African Union, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a high-level Security Council meeting today at UN Headquarters, calling for deeper cooperation between the two institutions.
In a speech to a meeting on peace and security in Africa, attended by many heads of State and other high-level figures, Mr. Ban said he would “spare no effort” in making the partnership between the UN and the AU complementary, effective and inclusive.
The Secretary-General said the two bodies have already started taking concrete steps to work more closely together on peace and security issues, from deploying good offices and mediation on border issues to developing early warning strategies and building operational capacity on conflict prevention.
“We have established a dedicated team to help operationalize the concept of an African Stand-by Force, which would build on the valiant and pioneering efforts of the African Union’s missions in Burundi, in Somalia, in Sudan,” he said.
“Today, the DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] team develops training, operational capacity and technical advice, in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the sub-regional organizations and donors.”
Mr. Ban said that given the importance he attached to preventing and resolving conflicts, he welcomed the recent announcement of a new Government in Kenya, which has been torn by deadly ethnic violence since disputed elections were held at the end of last year.
“Now that the immediate power-sharing issues have been addressed, I urge all sides to stay committed to resolving the longer-term causes of the recent unrest.”
But he voiced deep concern at the uncertainty in Zimbabwe, where the results of the presidential election on 29 March have still not been released.
“Absent a transparent solution to the impasse, the situation could deteriorate further with serious implications for the people of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean authorities and the countries of the region have insisted that these matters are for the region to resolve, but the international community continues to watch and wait for decisive action.
“The credibility of the democratic process in Africa could be at stake here. If there is a second round of elections, they must be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, with international observers. I urge the leaders of the Southern African Development Community to continue their efforts.”
The Secretary-General also called for accelerated efforts to achieve “desperately needed progress” to the crises in Sudan’s Darfur region and to Somalia, both beset by deadly violence, massive displacement and humanitarian suffering.
Under-Secretary-General B. Lynn Pascoe also addressed the open Council meeting, presenting two reports from Mr. Ban regarding UN cooperation with regional organizations and on conflict prevention, especially in Africa. He was followed by more than 40 other speakers.
Later, Council members unanimously adopted a resolution that called for measures to strengthen the relationship between the UN and regional organizations, including the AU, on peace and security issues.
Regional and subregional organizations should be encouraged to play a role in settling disputes and to promoting regional dialogue as a way of preventing disputes from emerging, the resolution stated.
The Council also called for the AU and other groups to strengthen their peacekeeping capacity on the African continent and to develop an early-warning system on conflicts and an enhanced mediation capacity.