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UN/African Union/peace and security cooperation

Published on January 17, 2012
Visit to the United States/United Nations Security Council/cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union on peace and security – Speech by Edouard Courtial, Minister of State responsible for French Nationals Abroad¹

New York, January 12, 2012

Madam President,

Thank you for organizing today’s debate on cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union on peace and security. I applaud your presence here today. It testifies to the important role South Africa intends to play within the Security Council.

I also want to thank the Secretary-General for his presentation and his report, as well as Commissioner Lamamra.

For my part, I would like to underscore the following points.

Madam President,

As you reminded us, nearly two-thirds of the Security Council’s deliberations relate to Africa, and 80% of the peacekeepers deployed worldwide are on the African continent. In this context, UN cooperation with the African Union on peace and security is constantly growing stronger.

The AU provides the UN with local access on the ground. Its work in this regard also indicates that the continent is striving to progressively take charge of its own security in keeping with the San Francisco [UN] Charter. Conversely, the UN provides the AU with legitimacy under the Charter along with skills, resources and experience that bolster its crisis prevention and management missions on the continent. Today all our efforts are directed towards ensuring the endurance and intensification of this original partnership, which is fully in keeping with the spirit of Chapter 8 of the UN Charter.

Madam President,

The Secretary-General’s report reminds us that crisis prevention, peacekeeping itself, and consolidating peace are central to cooperation between the UN and AU.

To prevent conflicts, the UN has established regional offices in Dakar and Libreville and entered into partnerships with African bodies. The UN Office for West Africa is thus fully engaged in mediation and goodwill missions, particular in Guinea, Niger and Benin, systematically consulting with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States. The new regional UN Office for Central Africa in Libreville is designed to play an equivalent role. In addition, the African Union joins in UN missions on the ground to assess new cross-cutting threats, including a recent mission in the Sahel region.

In addition to this on-the-ground presence, the UN has strengthened the AU’s mediation capacities by supporting the establishment of a mediation unit within the AU Commission. This cooperation has enhanced the capacities of the AU, which is now conducting complex mediation missions – particularly in Somalia and Sudan, where the AU High Level Panel headed by President Mbeki is leading efforts to resolve outstanding disputes between Khartoum and Juba.

In the future, the challenge will be how to best structure the respective mediation efforts of the UN and the AU. The guidelines currently being developed to deal with this issue will no doubt be helpful in this regard.

Madam President,

The UN and the AU are also cooperating on the conduct of peacekeeping operations. The UN/AU hybrid mission in Darfur is playing a decisive role in stabilizing the security and humanitarian situation. One of the challenges of this mission is that it obeys a dual UN-AU chain of command. Experience shows that strengthening coordination between the UN Secretariat and the AU Commission on a daily basis is what improves the effectiveness of military personnel on the ground.

In Somalia, the UN provides substantial logistical support to the AU operation AMISOM, whose mission is to support the transitional federal institutions and Somali security forces in securing the country and implementing the political transition process. This technical cooperation is crucial to enabling AMISOM to fulfil its mission in a particularly difficult context and to confront the challenges posed by al-Shabaab fighters. While the AU is asking for stronger UN support, we must however ensure that the options being promoted are not exclusively security-related. Progress made by troops deployed on the ground must indeed be consolidated by the implementation of the Transitional Federal Government’s political strategy, supported by the international community, as the Security Council has reiterated in several resolutions.

The conduct of peacekeeping operations naturally raises the question of their financing, especially in today’s highly strained budgetary context. In this regard, we must make sure that operations are as efficient as possible, particularly by strengthening their chain of command and improving cooperation with troop contributors. We are also interested to note the efforts undertaken by the AU to reform its management methods and further diversify its sources for the financing of peacekeeping operations. The EU-funded African Peace Facility represents an appropriate initial response to the African request for regular, sustainable support. It is essential for new players to supplement this financing in order to ensure its sustainability.

Madam President,

Peacebuilding must also be at the heart of cooperation between the UN and the African Union. In the Sahel, West Africa and the Great Lakes region we’re seeing an increase in and a growing overlap of factors contributing to instability, terrorism, trafficking and rebellions, which threaten the security and integrity of states. These challenges should prompt us to continue supporting security sector reform, initiatives relating to disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration of combatants, and the promotion of the rule of law. In this respect, I would like to underline the importance that France attaches to the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections. In the Central African Republic, the DRC and South Sudan, the converging efforts of the United Nations, through its peacekeeping operations in the region and its office in Libreville, and the African Union, in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), are further evidence of the cooperation between the two institutions. Regional involvement remains essential in order to find a lasting solution to this threat. The recent adoption by the African Union of a strategy to combat the LRA is welcome in this respect.

Madam President,

It’s therefore clear that the peace and security challenges on the African continent are far from uniform, meaning that greater cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union is essential.

The exchanges and meetings promoted by the Secretary-General between the UN Secretariat and the African Union Commission, as well as between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, aim to achieve this and will make it possible, in keeping with the spirit of the UN Charter, to ensure the best possible coordination between the African Union and the UN. That’s also the mission of the new United Nations Office to the African Union.

My country welcomes the progress made with respect to the cooperation between the UN and the AU and will remain fully committed to supporting the peacekeeping operations of the UN, as well as those of the African Union and the sub-regional organizations, both in terms of funding and training.

As President Sarkozy stated at the Africa-France summit in Nice last year, Africa should be closely involved in the process to address the major issues affecting world peace, security and stability. France has, moreover, drawn the necessary conclusions and would like Africa to assume its full and rightful place, within the framework of the necessary reform of the Security Council, including among the permanent members.

Thank you./.

¹ Source of English text: French UN mission website.

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