Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at Debate on Cooperation Between the UN and the AU

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 11, 2022


Thank you, Minister, for chairing this high-level event. I also want to thank Secretary-General Guterres for joining us today and welcome the participation of Chairperson Faki to this event. Colleagues, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the African Union, this is a perfect moment to highlight the strong partnership between the AU and the UN. And it is an opportunity to look for ways to build on our progress.

The United States shares the Secretary-General’s belief that our collective action in conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding is absolutely vital. And as part of today’s discussion, we must acknowledge the range of factors that contribute to rising insecurity including the most significant global food security crisis in decades, the adverse effects of climate change, and one of the worst droughts in its history in the Horn of Africa.

These challenges must not deter us. Rather, they must bolster our commitment to working together and taking these challenges head-on. In this vein, we strongly support the Joint UN-AU Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. This mobilizes AU and UN collaboration from the earliest indicators of potential conflict; and it’s critical to conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction.

Peace in Africa cannot wait. And we applaud African leadership for working toward the resolution of crises and conflicts in Ethiopia, the Great Lakes region, Sudan, Sahel, Mozambique, and Somalia. And we appreciate the UN providing its full support to these efforts. We are also encouraged by the growing partnership between the AU and the UN to address the crisis of children and armed conflict in Africa. We must do everything, and I repeat, everything in our power to advance this work. And this also means strengthening protection for conflict-affected children, something the AU has been leading the charge on.

And today, let us recognize the collaborative efforts of the UN, the AU, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the EU, and the Federal Government of Somalia. These joint efforts led to the establishment of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia this past April. Together, we set ambitious goals for the reconfiguration and transition of the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, and we must redouble our efforts to achieve these goals.

The bottom line is this: with the 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. That’s exactly, exactly how we can make these efforts as effective as possible. And that also means protecting and upholding human rights in every AU initiative and mission across the continent.

We applaud the progress that the AU has made in developing its own human rights and international humanitarian law frameworks, as noted in the Secretary-General’s report. And we encourage the AU to continue implementing compliance frameworks for peace support operations in key areas, like international humanitarian law and human rights, and conduct and discipline – including sexual exploitation and abuse. Efforts to strengthen training, monitoring, reporting, and accountability are central to this work.

The implementation of these frameworks, as well as other oversight mechanisms outlined in Security Council resolutions 2320 and 2378, remain key considerations for any discussions about the use of UN-assessed contributions. That includes any actions undertaken by regional organizations under Chapter VIII of our Charter. The United States also appreciates the UN, the AU, and ECOWAS’ efforts to support the region. And we look forward to the Joint Strategic Assessment underway to review the security, governance, and development challenges in the Sahel.

But let’s not sugarcoat this: the challenges we face in this region are grave. In particular, we are deeply concerned by the spread of violent extremism across the Sahel and into parts of Coastal West Africa. Terrorist groups have taken thousands of lives and they have displaced millions of people. And if we’re going to tackle these challenges together, and we have to, then I believe we need predictable and sustainable funding options for AU peace support operations.

This will give the AU the flexibility it needs to address these evolving threats. And we are committed to seeing this through. At the same time, we believe our institutions must evolve to reflect today’s world. As President Biden stated during the General Assembly Debate last month, the United States supports increasing both permanent and non-permanent membership of the Security Council. And that includes, for the first time ever, permanent seats for countries in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. To that end, we look forward to forging consensus around reform proposals with the aim of having a Security Council that is more effective, more representative, and more credible.

Colleagues, during my most recent trip to Africa, I made clear that peace in Africa must come from African leaders. It must come from the African people. Our job here at the United Nations is to serve as partners, and as allies. And we must continue that close cooperation to advance peace and security for the next 20 years and beyond. Thank you, Mr. President.