Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Cooperation between the UN and Regional and Sub-Regional Organizations

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
September 12, 2017


Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this session, and thank you also, Special Representative Menkerios, for your briefing.

It is not often enough that we gather as a Security Council to talk about the bright side of what we do: finding new ways for nations to work together to foster peace and security. Today, I’m glad to say, is one of those occasions.

The African Union is a critical partner to the United Nations. From Somalia to Mali to South Sudan, the AU has joined the UN in promoting our shared values of peace and security across the African continent. This partnership was further demonstrated by last week’s joint consultations. As we said the last time we considered this relationship, the question isn’t will the AU and UN continue to work together closely, the question is how we will deepen and strengthen our partnership. This partnership has come a long way over the past decade. This is thanks in large part to the work

of both the UN Office to the AU and the AU Peace and Security Council. When these two organizations work together, mission planning is better. Mandates are clearer. Political support is greater. And all of that means that outcomes are better. But most importantly, the people on the ground whose safety and lives depend on this work are better served, and that is what we are working for.

One bright spot in this relationship is the AU plan to finalize its human rights and conduct and discipline frameworks. These are areas where progress is critical if we are to deepen cooperation. It’s absolutely essential that the AU continue to work to prevent abuses and promote respect for human rights. Nothing does more to destroy trust – not to mention damage the reputation of both the AU and the UN – than abuses and misconduct by troops and police. That means there must be rigorous procedures in place for screening and selection of personnel on the front end. There must be training, monitoring, and reporting while peacekeepers are in the field, and there must be independent investigations and accountability when violations do occur. We welcome the AU’s determination to promote respect for human rights, and we look forward to progress on the implementation of these frameworks.

We’re also encouraged by the closer working relationship that’s been established between the UN Secretariat and the AU Commission staff. There’s also been progress in improving internal management and oversight of AU-led peace support operations. These are all steps in the right direction. We recognize that fully implementing these benchmarks for transparency, performance, and accountability will take time. And we stand ready to continue to work together to see that these frameworks are implemented and show demonstrable progress.

But before we can consider additional financial support through the UN, we must see concrete evidence of this progress. The United States will not consider the use of UN-assessed contributions for any future AU operations until the benchmarks for financial transparency, conduct and disciplinez and human rights are demonstrably implemented across AU field operations. To do otherwise would be to risk jeopardizing the legitimacy of UN peacekeeping. We will continue to support AU efforts to increase financial self-reliance, including reinvigorating the African Union Peace Fund. We especially look forward to working with AU Member States to identify non-trade mechanisms for greater self-financing that are transparent and compliant with Member States’ international obligations and commitments.

Finally, we look forward to continuing leadership from the African Union to mobilize Member States to end violence and prevent mass atrocities. In places like South Sudan, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the AU has sought to strengthen regional responses to conflict and atrocities, but there is a good deal of work left to be done. At the end of the day, we are confident that this important relationship is headed in the right direction. We are building a partnership capable of shouldering shared responsibilities. And we are building a partnership based on shared values.

As long as we remain steadfast in our commitment and dedicated to showing progress, we will continue to strengthen this important partnership. And that makes this a good day in the Security Council.

Thank you, Mr. President.