Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Cooperation between the UN and Regional and Sub-Regional Organizations (AU)

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 30, 2019


Thank you, Madame President, and thank you to both of our briefers for your updates.

The African Union is an essential partner to the U.S. and the UN in Africa. This is true in part because some 80 percent of the United Nation’s peacekeeping troops and budgets are committed to Africa. But this is also true because of the good work this body does in some of the world’s most challenging security environments. I had the pleasure of seeing this work during my time with UNMISS peacekeepers in South Sudan just last week.

The African Union has made vital contributions to peace on the continent, including brokering a peace agreement in the Central African Republic and helping create a roadmap for peace in Sudan. But it can do even more to increase these contributions going forward. In Burundi’s upcoming presidential elections, African Union election support will be critical for a peaceful, transparent, and inclusive process. The African Union should also encourage the government of Burundi and the East African Community to advance inter-Burundi dialogue.

In Cameroon, violence in the Anglophone Regions merits the African Union’s urgent attention: the African Union and United Nations should schedule a joint visit to assess the situation and urge the parties to peacefully resolve their differences. We also recognize that instability in Libya directly impacts African Union Member States, so we appreciate the African Union’s commitment to support UN Special Representative Salamé’s efforts to reach a political solution. It is vital that the United Nations succeed in this task, and we welcome the African Union’s participation in the Berlin format – one step closer to a political solution.

We remain deeply concerned by the violations of the Council’s Libya arms embargo. Member States who supply illicit weapons undermine Libya’s stability, and we hope the African Union will join the Council in stopping the flow of these weapons, and supporting the African Union’s Silencing the Guns by 2020 initiative. Of course, achieving peace sometimes requires asking our friends to make hard choices.

As the Secretary-General’s report on United Nations-African Union cooperation notes, many efforts between the UN, the African Union, and regional economic communities focus on the primacy of politics. So, we are encouraged by last week’s consultations in which the UN and the African Union Peace and Security Council largely agreed on several ways to address challenges in South Sudan, the Sahel, and the Central African Republic. But verbal commitments are not enough. Both parties could follow through by calling on South Sudan’s leaders to reaffirm commitments to the cessation of hostilities, and to compromise on outstanding issues to form a transitional government by November 12.

Finally, the U.S. supports the UN and African Union’s efforts to secure predictable, sustainable, and reliable financing for future operations, work remains to achieve the conditions this Council set out in Resolutions 2320 and 2378. As I stated last month, a mechanism using UN-assessed contributions requires a deliberate approach with appropriate safeguards, and any resolution on this topic must address longstanding U.S. policy positions, including with respect to financial transparency and trade measures. We have additional concerns regarding adequate burden-sharing and adherence to UN standards for conduct in peacekeeping operations. From the effectiveness of operations to their fiscal health, stricter African Union adherence to these principles will directly translate to greater peace and security on the continent.

When the African Union does good work, lives change for the better. This is why the United States has spent more than $1.5 billion on training support for 23 partners in Africa since 2005, including for military and police personnel deployed to African peacekeeping missions in six different countries. I urge all member states to join us in developing the capacity of African troop- and police – contributing countries.

As we have noted in several previous meetings, the African continent is brimming with potential: a dynamic population, with hundreds of millions of people with unique callings. A strong partnership between the United Nations and African Union is one of the keys to realizing those callings, so I look forward to working with the members of this Council to strengthen the United Nations and African Union’s relationship.

Thank you.