United Nations-African Union Partnership can improve further, Secretary-General tells Security Council meeting on regional organizations
NEW YORK, January 13, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks to the Security Council on the United Nations-African Union Partnership in Peace and Security, in New York on 12 January:
Let me begin by commending you, Mr. President, for organizing this very important meeting at the beginning of the new year, 2012. And Mr. President, before I begin, I would like to welcome most warmly the delegations of Azerbaijan, Togo, Pakistan, Morocco and Guatemala, who have joined the Security Council as the newest non-permanent members of the Council. I look forward to your active participation and committed involvement in the various agenda items before the Council. Your contributions will be greatly valued by the Council, as well as the Secretariat. I wish them a very productive engagement in this chamber.
I also would like to express my deepest appreciation to the delegations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria for their committed involvement and hard work during the past two years. They have done much to bring credit to the Council and their contributions will be long remembered.
The African Union is a vital strategic partner to the United Nations, and South Africa is utilizing its presidency to deepen that relationship. I welcome your continued engagement.
I also recognize Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, and welcome the recent and first-ever African Union report on United Nations-African Union cooperation. I thank African Union Chairperson Jean Ping for his initiative and leadership.
As Secretary-General, my remit is global. But I attach importance to the role of regional and subregional organizations, as recognized in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. Here at the United Nations, activities to enhance stability in Africa take up a significant part of the agenda of the Security Council, and they are among my leading priorities.
Over the last decade, the African Union and subregional organizations have significantly bolstered their own role in building an architecture for peace and security on the African continent. Together, our collective efforts in conflict prevention and mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding are making a real difference throughout the continent.
Of course, there is more room for improvement. We often face complex and fast-moving crises, and we are establishing mechanisms to build common understanding and approaches. The annual meetings between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council are one important example.
There will be differences; that is natural. Organizations with different mandates, membership, and perspectives will occasionally have differences in approach. The question is how we manage those differences; how we work together. My report — and this discussion – is about building on successes, improving coherence, and harmonizing decision-making from a firm foundation of shared values and principles.
Over the last few years, we have strengthened the partnership with the African Union at the Secretariat level in several concrete ways. First, the African Union-United Nations Joint Task Force has proven to be an effective mechanism for consultations on an array of issues, including Côte d'Ivoire, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.
Second, we have revamped our Office in Addis Ababa to further strengthen our cooperation, including by improving early-warning information that will help foster timely action and joint threat analysis. Through military and police planners based in Addis Ababa, we have supported the African Union's planning for its expansion of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) operations. We also continue to work closely on other key areas, such as elections, conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction.
Third, our regional offices, peacekeeping operations and special political missions are cooperating closely with the African Union and subregional organizations. Examples abound: the joint/hybrid peacekeeping operation and mediation efforts in Darfur; United Nations logistics and planning support to AMISOM; joint efforts to combat the threat posed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA); cooperation between Special Envoy [Haile] Menkerios and the African Union High-level Panel led by President [Thabo] Mbeki; and much more.
The United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), working closely with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has also been active in defusing tensions throughout the subregion. The newly established United Nations Office in Central Africa, in cooperation with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), can play a similar role.
Fourth and finally, joint assessment missions have also been essential in ensuring a common understanding of emerging issues. For example, we recently deployed such a mission to the Sahel to assess how developments in Libya are affecting the region. We also have just dispatched a joint mission to the four countries affected by the LRA.
And under the leadership of the African Union, we have worked together to develop a strategic concept for future AMISOM operations, which is now under consideration by the Security Council.
I am greatly encouraged by the concrete progress we have made in recent years. Let us pledge to do even more to enhance our partnership. We can do so by learning new lessons and developing new tools — and by intensifying our engagement with civil society and women's groups active in mediation and conflict prevention, particularly at the local level.
As we look ahead, we will need to ensure flexibility so that each new situation is addressed on its own merits. We must also promote innovative arrangements in complex situations that may require joint actions, operations or enhanced partnerships. As we do so, let us strive to maximize our collective efforts and limited resources, and ensure that each partnership arrangement has a clearly defined division of labour, and roles and responsibilities for each organization.
Regional organizations have comparative advantages; so does the United Nations, not least the weight of international law and the primary responsibility of this Council in the maintenance of international peace and security.
Finally, Mr. President, let me say that I am eager to attend the African Union Summit later this month. It will be my sixth African Union Summit in a row. I look forward to my meetings with the African leaders and continuing to explore how we can make our strong partnership even stronger in the years ahead.