Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative
Thank you, Mr. President.
And first of all, I’d like to thank you, Your Excellency, and for Gabon’s leadership on convening this timely debate at a really important moment. I’d also like to thank Secretary-General António Guterres and Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat for their commitment to a strong relationship between the African Union and the United Nations.
As we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the African Union, it is really timely that we take stock of the important relationship the organization has with the United Nations, and of the impact it has had on peace and security in Africa. There is no doubt in all of our minds that we should be working harder together to identify ways to strengthen that partnership – notably by building on the 2017 AU-UN Joint Framework, and on the 2018 Joint Framework for the Implementation of Agenda 2063 as well as the 2030 Agenda. In a context of emerging multipolarity, the African Union, and indeed the agency of African stakeholders, have to be embraced and leveraged. They are effective examples of multilateralism in action, that continue to showcase that new forms of cooperation are indeed possible, and they are more effective, impactful on the ground, and dynamic.
When the Council met earlier this year to discuss capacity building in Africa, the UAE drew attention to the fact that, in today’s interconnected and rapidly evolving world, African challenges have both origins and effects which extend well beyond the continent’s borders. We also emphasized that – equally – African solutions, not just challenges, have global dimensions. These key messages bear repeating today. Put simply, Mr. President, we are in this together. With this in mind, I’d like to share three elements for strengthening the partnership between the AU and the UN further:
First, there is a clear need to reflect upon what a successful collaboration between the AU and the UN could look like, in true demonstration of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter in action. Looking at recent examples, the initiatives on which the two organizations have closely collaborated have directly impacted change on the ground: The “Trilateral Mechanism” in Sudan brought the comparative advantage of regional and sub-regional organizations, along with those of the UN, in facilitating talks amongst Sudanese stakeholders. In Central African Republic, the UN used its Mediation Support Unit to work with the AU and sub-regional actors to help facilitate a comprehensive peace agreement for the sustainable disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of armed groups. In Somalia, the sustained engagement of the UN and the AU, alongside the Government of Somalia and others, facilitated the transition from AMISOM to ATMIS. These are just a few examples of the Council’s work that they could draw upon when considering further cooperation.
Regional organizations also have a lot to learn from each other, particularly when there are clear areas of overlap and shared priorities. That is why, as a member of the League of Arab States, the UAE continues to advocate for strengthening trilateral cooperation and coordination between the UN, the AU, and the Arab League.
Second, as with any good partnership, cooperation between the AU and the UN should be based upon trust, mutual respect, and open communication. Our institutions are fundamentally meant to support and reinforce one another. For the Council, this means signaling our faith, indeed, not only in words–in the wisdom and capabilities of African regional and sub-regional organizations, by endorsing their leadership, and particularly their efforts to resolve African conflicts. And as the UAE has emphasized in this Council before, constructive partnership also means providing space, time, and support to the measures African organizations deploy from their diplomatic toolkit.
Further, as this Council acknowledges, there is a need to secure predictable, sustainable, and flexible resources for Security Council-authorized AU-led operations – a position strongly voiced by our African colleagues, and which the UAE fully supports. The Council must strive to achieve consensus soon around this important matter. In addition, the AU and UN can provide a clear signal of unity through increased use of joint missions, briefings, reports, and declarations, to demonstrate the progress towards a common understanding of critical issues and a common approach to address those issues.
Third, the UN and AU should seek to demonstrate unity of purpose in combatting the most pressing challenges for Africa and the world, particularly the growing threat of terrorism, and climate change, as highlighted by the Secretary-General. As this Council has heard, including at the Arria-Formula meeting on transnational activities of terrorist groups co-organized by Kenya and the UAE in August, several prominent voices from Africa and the Middle East continue to caution the Council about this threat. The picture that was painted is one of a vicious cycle, where terrorists exploit existing vulnerabilities in our counterterrorism architecture, which in turn further exacerbate the humanitarian situation on the ground, for the most vulnerable people on the ground.
On addressing challenges related to climate change, external support must be aligned with continental priorities and with a scale that matches the level of urgency required by those who live in climate-vulnerable situations across the continent. We look forward to hearing more on African perspectives at the meeting on Climate and Security in Africa tomorrow.
As others have acknowledged, there is space to grow our partnership, and this Council would indeed benefit from stronger African representation on the Council. The renewed commitment around this topic is a welcome development, and we hope it leads to concrete outcomes.
To conclude, Mr. President, regional efforts require international support, which implies being deliberate in listening, engaging, and supporting the AU and other sub-regional organizations. The role of this Council is to encourage those synergies for our common objectives of peace, security, and stability.