U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 4, 2020
Thank you, Mr. President. President Ramaphosa, thank you for organizing today’s discussion. I also thank the Secretary-General and Chairperson of the AU for your comprehensive overviews this morning.
The African Union has proven itself, time and again, an indispensable partner to the United Nations on the African continent. In recent years, we have deepened cooperation between the UN and the AU, recognizing each organizations’ distinct advantages, shared values, and common interests. Together, we are firmly committed to the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
We recognize the good work of both the UN Office to the AU, and the AU Peace and Security Council, whose close collaboration in decision-making is critical for preventing, and responding effectively to conflicts across the continent.
We also praise the UN for its wide-ranging support to the AU’s “Silencing the Guns in Africa” initiative, and its political, technical, and logistical support for the African Union’s mediation and peace agreement implementation efforts in the Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, South Sudan, and Sudan.
We appreciate the coordinated efforts of the UN and AU to address instability in Somalia. Despite a perilous operating environment, the joint efforts will bring long-term stability and security to the Somali people.
We similarly recognize UN-AU efforts in Darfur over the past decade – particularly through the work of UNAMID – to protect civilians, support the extension of state authority, and monitor human rights violations and abuses. The United States remains committed to ensuring UNAMID draws down responsibly. We also expect to see UNITAMS well-positioned to take over key responsibilities from UNAMID, including support for implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement.
And at this very moment, the strong UN-AU partnership has been crucial to addressing the conflict in Tigray and the unfolding humanitarian emergency that threatens stability across the region. The violence has already caused tens of thousands to flee their homes and imperils the lives of many more, both through direct attacks on civilians and because of ethnic discrimination. Working together and with the support of the international community, the UN and AU are best positioned to secure the protection of civilians; to secure free, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access; and to push for a peaceful, durable solution.
The UN and AU have also jointly undertaken efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 throughout the region. The African Union Commission is working tirelessly to complement efforts by Member States, and to support and implement a continental response to the pandemic. The UN has contributed by developing security plans and assisting with the formulation of guidelines for peace support operations to ensure protection from COVID-19 transmission during the pandemic.
We also applaud the UN and AU on their cooperation to promote the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, including the October 2019 high-level solidarity mission to the Horn of Africa. Women and girls continue to be disproportionately affected by conflict, and it is essential to increase the representation of women at all levels of decision-making related to peace and security. The needs and perspectives of women and girls must be included in all aspects of conflict prevention, management, and resolution to better protect and respond to the needs of the entire population. Doing this will lead to more durable peace in the future.
Building on this momentum, we look forward to continued work with the AU and UN on improving the quality of our peacekeeping efforts, including preventing sexual exploitation and abuse and addressing allegations of SEA that are levelled at personnel from both organizations on the ground in Africa. We continue to be deeply troubled by continued allegations against peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. It is essential that both the AU and UN create effective mechanisms to prevent exploitation, abuses, and misconduct, and to promote accountability when allegations arise. We urge all troop- and police-contributing countries to strictly enforce the UN and AU zero-tolerance policies.
Mr. President, allow me to take this opportunity to thank South Africa for its leadership in the African Union over the past year, including establishing an inclusive strategy to address COVID-19 on the African continent. This has been tremendously helpful in addressing this health crisis and containing the economic fallout of the pandemic. Your work, the dedication of your country and your people to the people of the continent, has literally saved innumerable lives. We also appreciate the positive role you played in securing the AU a mediation role in the negotiations around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
The African Union is an essential partner in working toward peace and security and we look forward to our continued collaboration in the future.
Thank you, Mr. President.