Thank you, Mr. President. I want to first begin by giving our thoughts and prayers to the people of China, as well as to the school tragedy that we’ve heard this morning. I know that facts are still coming in, but just from what we’re hearing so far, it’s heartbreaking. Just know that the United States stands with you in prayer for not only the students, but the families as well.
I want to thank our briefers, as well as Senegal, Ethiopia, and Egypt for convening this meeting. We truly value your leadership to promote cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations.
The African Union is an indispensable partner to both America and the United Nations in promoting peace and security to Africa.
The African Union has a unique capacity to anticipate crises, mediate conflicts, and deploy troops and police on short notice. They do this, moreover, in some of the most challenging environments in the world.
We applaud the increasing leadership the AU has exercised in contributing to peace operations and battling terrorist and insurgent groups.
In Somalia, the AU quickly deployed to provide security for a fledgling government in 2007. A decade later, thanks to the bravery and courage of the AMISOM troop- and police-contributing countries, Somalia is on a gradual path toward stability and peace.
In Darfur, the AU partnered with the UN to stabilize a complex conflict.
Across the continent, the AU is partnering with sub-regional organizations and countries to respond to emerging and complex threats, from tense electoral transitions in West Africa to Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. We value our cooperation with our African partners. It is in the interest of all of us to work for peace and prosperity in Africa.
So the question is not will the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council continue to improve our cooperation; the question is how we can best work together to promote peace and security.
Progress has been achieved thanks to the work of both organizations, but there is much more work to be done.
In order to ensure that the Security Council’s response to the AU initiative is effective, we need better cooperation in planning operations. The Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council must share assessments of the political, security, humanitarian, and human rights dimensions of missions from the very outset.
Working together early helps us ensure that the strategic concept – including operations, force generation, and mission cost – has the buy-in of all parties.
We support the AU’s efforts to increase financial self-reliance and build the African Union Peace Fund. We look forward to working with AU Member States to identify non-trade mechanisms for greater self-financing. But any resolution with this goal in mind must hold Member States accountable to their international obligations and commitments.
We welcome the AU’s efforts to put in place effective mechanisms to respect human rights in all of its missions. Ensuring respect for human rights and accountability for those who violate these rights is essential, not just for AU-UN cooperation, but to preserve the trust between troops and the communities they are supposed to protect.
This will require the creation of rigorous procedures for screening and selection of troops and police, followed by training and monitoring of personnel. Violations and abuses must be reported and independently investigated. Perpetrators must be held accountable. On this, there will be no compromise.
We are encouraged by the prospect of more effective, self-sufficient, and African-led peace operations. We understand, however, that additional progress will take time. Therefore, before considering moving forward on any framework resolution with regard to financial support through the UN, we will look for implementation and concrete results from the AU’s own benchmarks and timelines. Given this, it may be premature for this Council to take action on any substantive resolution on this issue in 2017.
The men and women who plan and conduct peace operations are given a great responsibility. People in the most vulnerable of situations rely on them for their safety – often for their lives. It is essential that we get this right. It is worth taking the time to make sure we get it right.
Again, we thank the Secretary-General and the AU Commission Chairperson – as well as their respective organizations – for their commitment to advancing the AU-UN partnership, and through that, the peace and security of Africa and the world. Thank you, Mr. President.