Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Peace and Security in the Horn of Africa

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 4, 2019


Thank you, Madame President, and thank you, Deputy Secretary General, for your briefing. I want to extend my congratulations to South Africa for a successful presidency of the Council and welcome the United Kingdom for the month of November. The success of this Council’s work in the Horn of Africa hinges on a clear understanding of the key issues, so the United States is grateful for your close attention to detail, especially to the role played by women and youth in peace processes. Fatima, thank you so much for your briefing, and yes it is time to break the cycle. And I would like to highlight that we do have an opportunity to do so with the current peace process in South Sudan.

In remarks last week, I noted that the United States has released a Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security. Central to this landmark document is a commitment to the full, effective, and meaningful participation of women in UN peacekeeping operations. While greater female participation is welcome in its own right, our commitment to this principle is born of our understanding that women improve the effectiveness of missions in specific ways men cannot. As just one example, given that local communities in conflict areas are largely comprised of women and children, female peacekeepers have a unique ability to outreach and trust among hurting and traumatized populations. We must strive to increase the number of women in military contingents, police units, and civilian support forces.

The United States will continue to work with Troop and Police-Contributing Countries to strengthen the capabilities of all peacekeepers, as we have over 11,000 women in our Global Peace Operations Initiative. We continue to urge all Troop and Police-Contributing Countries to promote policies that increase women’s participation.

The United States also remains dedicated to advancing security more broadly in the Horn of Africa. We support efforts to stabilize Somalia through the advancement of the federalism process, including peaceful, inclusive, and democratic elections next year. We commend Eritrea’s efforts to develop and implement a peace agreement with Ethiopia, and we hope the momentum of peacebuilding in the region leads to greater harmony between Djibouti and Eritrea. And we congratulate Prime Minister Abiy on winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to promote regional peace and stability.

Improving inter-state relations in the Horn of Africa is an important step on the road to greater trade and development, so we encourage the UN’s Special Envoy to the region to facilitate more dialogue on improved cooperation and integration. We also look to countries in the Horn of Africa to improve cooperation for the sake of regional peace and stability. In particular, we urge IGAD and its Member States to engage with South Sudan’s leaders and encourage them to re-affirm their commitment to the cessation of hostilities and implement their peace agreement.

In our recent visit, this Council was united in its message that South Sudan’s leaders must embrace compromise to form an inclusive transitional government. We know the urgency of this task because we saw for ourselves that political failure in this moment will mean catastrophe for the people of South Sudan – women and children especially. The eyes of the international community remain firmly fixed on November 12th, when we expect the parties to form a government of national unity. This is just one example of why the full participation of women in our institutions of power must be a priority for each of us.

This Council has an incredible opportunity to help secure the meaningful inclusion of women in preventing, resolving, and recovering from conflict in Africa. But frankly, this is not just an opportunity. It’s an obligation. When women are involved, the result is more durable peace and greater security. So, if this Council is serious about fulfilling its core mandate, let’s make use of the solution that has been ignored for so long despite standing in plain sight. Let’s give more women a seat at the table. And let’s listen to what they have to say.

Thank you.