Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Cooperation Between the United Nations and African Union

Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 28, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to our briefers today. The United States appreciates the opportunity to discuss this important topic. We certainly share the views that we’ve heard from many in this debate today, that our collective action in conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding efforts remains a strategic priority. We are very encouraged to see the increasingly joint approaches that the UN and AU bring to conflict analysis and prevention throughout Africa. There are more joint field visits, assessments, working groups, and exchanges between the UN and the AU than ever before – all of which contribute, I think, to our shared understanding of the current conflict dynamics on the continent. We appreciate the emphasis of both organizations – the AU and the UN – on placing women and youth at the center of all these joint efforts, and the efforts of the African Women Leaders Network to promote women’s leadership in peacebuilding as well.

I think we all know, as we’ve all heard, the challenges before us are immense. There’s protracted conflict, proliferation of armed groups, terrorist threats, chronic state fragility, challenging political transitions, and the lingering implications of the pandemic. And all of these are complicated, magnified by climate change and its effects on migration, food security, and local conflict dynamics. We must strengthen – we must renew, our commitment to working together to address these challenges. The UN and regional organizations like the AU, of course, bring different strengths, different perspectives, and unique approaches to conflict prevention and resolution.

As always, the need for coordination among the UN, AU, and regional organizations in peacekeeping and peace support operations remains significant. With UN, AU, and regional peace operations active in some of the most fragile parts of Africa, we have a shared interest in aligning our doctrines, policies, and directives to make all our efforts as effective as possible. We see opportunities for increased coordination and unity of effort around peacekeeping operations and transitions in places like Sudan and Somalia. While the UN and AU worked together to facilitate the transition from the UNAMID peacekeeping force in Darfur to the UNITAMS mission in Sudan, the challenge facing us in Somalia is immense and demands there are even more complicated, and they require a concerted, joint effort.

For the U.S., consideration of sustainable and predictable financing options for AU peace support operations, requires consideration of criteria such as the development and implementation of compliance regimes for peace support operations in areas like conduct and discipline, sexual exploitation and abuse, international humanitarian law and human rights, as well as improving training, monitoring, reporting, and accountability capacities in the AU. Those are the criteria we would look at. We note and welcome progress in strengthening the African Standby Force as an important regional crisis response capability, the adoption of the AU Doctrine on Peace Support Operations, and also the deployment of the Southern African Development Community’s Standby Force to Mozambique. We appreciate continued collaborative efforts to develop Africa’s logistics network in support of peace operations, and we commend efforts to strengthen policing in AU peace support operations.

In conclusion, Mr. President, the United States will continue to support close cooperation among UN, regional organizations such as the AU, and sub-regional organizations to advance peace and security in Africa and around the world. Thank you for chairing this meeting today.