Statement by Minister Mapisa-Nqakula, South African Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Affairs, during the Security Council Briefing on Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional and Sub-Regional Organisations (African Union)
Members of the Council,
I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the three African members of the Security Council, Côte d’ Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa (the A3).
I thank the Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, for his report on Strengthening the Partnership between the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) on issues of peace and security in Africa. I also thank the African Union Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Fatima Mohammed and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union, Ms Hanna Tetteh for their briefing today.
While the Charter gives the Security Council the primary responsibility for international peace and security, Chapter VIII of the Charter also recognizes the complementarity between the roles of the UN and regional organisations. In this regard, the African Union and regional economic communities throughout the Continent are engaged with the resolution of conflicts in their respective regions.
Regional organisations are often most affected by the conflicts in their respective regions. They are also in most circumstances best placed to address these conflicts because it is linked to their own stability, development and prosperity.
The African Union has developed an expansive architectural peace and security framework to ensure sustainable peace on the Continent. These mechanisms form part of the concerted efforts of the Union to achieving peace and realising the aspirations to silence the guns by 2020.
It is precisely in pursuit of this aspiration that the government of Equatorial Guinea will host a Ministerial level conference in Malabo on 2 and 3 December 2019 on the topic of Silencing the Guns by 2020, which will be the theme that will be adopted by the African Union Summit for 2020.
The active engagement of the Continent, together with its external partners, including the UN, has undoubtedly led to the resolution of long-standing conflicts.
Political and strategic alignment between the Security Council and regional organisations has been effective, as we have seen in Somalia, Central African Republic and Sudan. What is clear though is that for this collaboration to be efficient it should be formalised and structured.
Over the past twelve years, much has been achieved to improve this collaboration. The adoption of resolutions 1809 in 2007 and 2033 in 2012 gave impetus to the implementation of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter regarding the partnership between the UN and regional organisations, in particular, the AU.
We recognise the positive impact that the Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security has had in elevating the cooperation, coordination and collaboration between the two organizations into a strategic partnership, particularly at the level of the UN and AU Secretariats.
This increased collaboration and strategic partnership has contributed positively to both the UN and AU developing common objectives and seeking sustainable solutions to the complex conflicts on the African Continent. It is apt to say that the complex peace and security issues facing the Continent, including the necessity for conflict prevention, resolution and management, require an effective and meaningful partnership and collaboration between the UN, AU, regional economic communities and regional mechanisms.
The A3, therefore, welcomes these efforts that seek to strengthen the strategic partnership and to ensure that there is genuine acceptance by all concerned to leverage the complementary roles and comparative advantages of both the UN and the AU. These include areas such as mediation, preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping, peace-enforcement and peacebuilding.
The key principles that should direct and shape the partnership and cooperation between the two organisations going forward are: meaningful and inclusive collaboration, shared and common approaches, and effective consultative mechanisms.
One of the most critical areas where this strategic partnership between the UN and AU on peace and security in Africa continues to grow and must be enhanced is between the UN Security Council and the AUPSC.
From 21 to 22 October, members of both Councils met within the framework of the 13th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During this joint consultative meeting, members of the UNSC and the AUPSC discussed a number of conflict situations in Africa, namely, the Central African Republic, Libya, South Sudan, and the Sahel region.
On the matter of South Sudan there was convergence between the Security Council and the AUPSC on what ought to happen in the lead-up to the 12 November deadline for the formation of the revitalised Government of National Unity. This demonstrates that both Councils can have common understandings and positions on peace and security matters in Africa.
However, there are areas where both Councils are at opposite ends. The situation in Libya demonstrates where interests other than advancing the peace process has the potential to undermine the strategic partnership between the Security Council the AUPSC. It is imperative that the Security Council takes into account the role and contribution of the AU Commission and the AUPSC in efforts to resolve the Libyan issue, including consideration for the request to appoint a joint special envoy.
The two Councils also exchanged views on thematic issues, namely on the African Union’s flagship initiative of Silencing the Guns by 2020 as well as on the modalities for joint field visits by both the Security Council and AUPSC.
Following these consultations, the A3 wishes to emphasise the following:
- The need to translate and elevate some of the commitments made by both Councils into tangible outcomes. There is, therefore, a need to assess and evaluate the extent to which the principles of cooperation and commitment to the partnership between the UN and AU have translated into the development of practical and commonly shared purposes within both Councils. In this regard, the Security Council should endeavour to give effect to the commitments it has already made in its previous resolutions, in particular, resolution 2033.
- The Debate on Strengthening the UN-AU Partnership must move away from generalities about partnership and cooperation and move towards decisive and practical steps that the Security Council in particular, and the UN and AU in general, will take to realise the full implementation of this strategic partnership.
The A3 welcomes the undertaking of the Secretary-General to conduct an assessment of the UN-AU cooperation, including the structure and capacity of the UN Office at the AU as requested by this Council in resolution 2320 (2016).
It is also imperative for this Security Council to outline its own perspectives of the efficacy of the partnership between the two Councils, based inter alia, on the experiences and outcome of the recently held 13th Joint Consultative meeting.
To conclude, the A3 commends the continued engagement between the Secretary-General and the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat to improve the synergy between the UN Secretariat and the AU Commission as well as the continued consultative meetings between both Councils.
As we have heard from the briefers, both Secretariats have executed their tasks diligently. We urge all concerned to work towards the effective strengthening of the partnership so that it contributes to real peace and security in Africa.
I thank you.