Enhanced collaboration with the African Union (AU) will help to promote peace and security in Africa, members of the Security Council delegation, which recently wrapped up a week-long visit to the continent, said today.
The Council mission held talks – a follow-up to two previous gatherings in 2007 and 2008 – with their AU counterpart in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 16 May, agreeing “to pursue their consultations on ways and means to strengthen their cooperation and partnership,” according to a communiqué issued after the talks.
Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda told the 15-member body today that “meetings between the two bodies are useful in strengthening cooperation, particularly in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, including the promotion of human rights, democracy, and rule of law and constitutional order in Africa.”
Also highlighting the virtues of UN-AU collaboration was Ambassador John Sawers of the United Kingdom, who was the joint leader of the mission to the Great Lakes region in connection with Rwanda.
He said the Council’s meeting at the with the AU’s Peace and Security Council “demonstrated the depth of the relationship and the ways in which it’s becoming more substantive,” noting such areas of cooperation such as Somalia and Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, where the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID, is in place.
Regarding the mission’s Rwanda leg, Mr. Sawers said that it was “invaluable” for the Council to see first-hand the situations in the region that it is dealing with, such as the rapprochement between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, who joined forces to root out the mainly Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) from the DRC’s east.
For his part, Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert of France, who led the mission in the Great Lakes in connection with the DRC, highlighted the serious issue of sexual violence, “which is far too wide-spread.”
He said that the Council delegation was “able to see this with horror” when the visited a hospital in the capital, Kinshasa. The Government has taken measures, including creating a fund to promote the protection of children, he added.
The DRC has “already started combating impunity and this must remain a priority, which we re-affirmed to the government,” Mr. Ripert noted. “Armed groups, the FARDC [Congolese armed forces], must stop all their abuses against the population, in particular, rapes.”
United States Ambassador Susan Rice, who led the last leg of the Council’s Africa trip, told the Council that the purpose of the delegation’s visit to Liberia was to “help re-affirm the Security Council’s support for the Government and people of Liberia and for UNMIL’s [the UN Mission in Liberia] efforts to promote peace and security.”
She paid tribute to the “inspiring” all-women Indian formed police unit (FPU) – comprising police officers who have received specialized training in high-risk operations and managing crowds – serving with UNMIL. They have “helped to motivate more Liberian women to apply for more law enforcement jobs,” she said.
Last June, a similar Security Council mission visited Djibouti, Sudan, Chad, DRC and Côte d’Ivoire.