Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
July 18, 2018


Thank you, Madam President. It is excellent to have you with us today for this discussion. And thank you, Commissioner Chergui and Special Representative Zewde, for your briefings. SRSG, we wish to add our congratulations on your new appointment and look forward to working with you in that capacity.

As you have recognized, the African Union is a critical partner to the United Nations. We are pleased to see greater collaboration, more regular exchange of information and consultations, and coordinated action to effectively prevent, resolve, and manage Africa’s complex peace and security tasks.

Africa is a continent of promise, as well as of enduring challenges. Progress towards open markets and free trade has spurred economic growth on the continent, and today Africa is home to five of the world’s ten fastest growing economies. By 2030, Africa will represent almost a quarter of the world’s workforce and consumers. By 2050, Africa’s population is projected to double to two billion people, a majority of whom will be under 18, making Africa the world’s youngest continent. Currently, almost 70 percent of Africans are under 25 years old.

The success or failure of African governments in meeting the aspirations of their people – particularly their youth – will affect peace and security issues across the continent. Meeting these aspirations will depend on continuing to develop institutions that are accountable and responsive to citizens, promoting the rule of law, and ensuring political stability.

The African Union plays a leading role, and its partnership with the United Nations is a critical component in advancing our shared objectives of stability and prosperity in Africa.

Madam President, the United States appreciates the Secretary-General’s recognition that the focus of joint efforts between the UN and the AU must be on facilitating sustainable political solutions, which requires addressing the root causes of conflict. We applaud your efforts to develop linkages with financial institutions such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank. They are essential to bring to bear the resources necessary to help address the root causes of conflict in Africa.

We also welcome African Union efforts to increase financial self-reliance, including through the African Union Peace Fund and to meet the commitment made by the Assembly of the African Union in January 2015 to fund 25 percent of the cost of its peace and security operations. 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.

What the United States will not do is consider additional financial support through the UN for any future AU-led operations authorized by the Security Council under its authority consistent with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, until benchmarks for financial transparency, conduct and discipline, and human rights are demonstrably implemented across AU peace organizations and operations. To do otherwise, or to act prematurely, would be to risk jeopardizing the legitimacy and credibility of UN peacekeeping.

However, we do recognize the progress the AU has made toward developing frameworks for international humanitarian law and human rights and conduct and discipline compliance, particularly the policies on Conduct and Discipline and on Prevention and Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and the Integrated Protection of Civilians Training Standards. We urge the United Nations and the AU to continue to prioritize the development and implementation of standards to achieve greater transparency and accountability in AU peace support operations.

Madam President, as you know, earlier this year the General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping called on the UN Secretariat to develop a comprehensive performance policy that details performance standards and mechanisms for accountability. We would be interested to hear from our briefers their thoughts on how the AU can better support and draw from this policy, as the AU develops its own performance and accountability mechanisms.

Lastly, we are confident that this important relationship is headed in the right direction. We share the vision of a stable, prosperous, and secure Africa, and we applaud the many efforts to pursue continued and increased collaboration between the United Nations and the African Union to achieve our shared goals.

Thank you.