Guterres: UN-African Union partnership a ‘cornerstone of multilateralism’
Cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union (AU) is stronger than ever, however major challenges remain, Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Tuesday.
He called on all leaders – in the Council, on the continent and beyond – to spare no effort in supporting the AU so that it can achieve its goals.
‘A unique partnership’
The 55-member body was founded in July 2002, and ambassadors met to discuss how UN collaboration with the organization has grown, and where progress still needs to be made.
“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,” said Mr. Guterres.
He listed some of the latest highlights in their cooperation, including initiatives to support the timely return to constitutional order in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali, conducted jointly with the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS.
Terrorist and governance threats
Addressing ongoing challenges in Africa, the UN chief said use of force “is too often considered the only method to resolve disputes.”
The continent has also seen an increase in unconstitutional changes of government, while affiliates of the extremist groups Da’esh and al-Qaida are carrying out deadly attacks in the Sahel and attempting to extend their reach.
Furthermore, protracted conflicts and dire humanitarian situations continue to impact the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Sudan and Libya.
Detect conflicts early
“Violence against women, especially women human rights defenders, is on the rise,” he continued. “We are also seeing an increase in disinformation and hate speech – often used as weapons of war.”
The Secretary-General said the solution is clear. African States must develop the capacity to detect the early signs of conflicts and prevent them from escalating 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,” he added.
Action on climate
The UN chief also underscored the need to combat the climate emergency, which is causing disasters such as drought, hurricanes and flash floods.
For many Africans, climate change “is not a distant threat, but a daily reality”, he said, even though the continent barely contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is a textbook case of moral and economic injustice,” he said.
Mr. Guterres commended the many African states, regions and municipalities that are taking bold climate action, despite serious challenges.
Appeal to rich countries
With the COP27 UN climate change conference in Egypt just weeks away, he urged wealthy governments to make good on their commitments to provide $100 billion annually to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.
“COP27 must also deliver concrete action on loss and damage,” he said. “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.”
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have helped to fuel an unprecedented global cost-of-living crisis, with dire social and economic impacts.
The world’s most vulnerable people have been hardest hit.
Describing the situation as “unacceptable”, the UN chief recalled his recent appeal for a massive boost in 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,” he said.
Access for Africa
In his briefing to the Council, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, said Africa is “the most discussed issue at the United Nations”.
Some 70 per cent of UN peacekeeping missions are located there, and he wondered how many millions of dollars have been spent and what has been the result.
Mr. Faki, who participated via videoconference, said Africa has made sacrifices in pursuing peace and security.
“Africa is still facing many challenges and we need other things beyond declarations. We need to set a timeframe for discussing the future of Africa,” he said, speaking in French.
The continent must also have access to “the limitless universe of science and new technology,” he further stated.
Strengthen the bonds
“Let one part of the planet no longer continue to bend under the weight of its opulence while the other half moans under the pangs of hunger and destitution,” he said.
Mr. Faki called for the UN-AU partnership to be further strengthened, particularly between their specialized agencies, special envoys, and respective bodies for maintaining peace and security.
“The business of peace in Africa is too complex not to open the corridors of finding its solutions to all of us in respect, equality, solidarity, inclusion and sharing,” he said.