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UN Secretary General address to African Union 2018

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The Secretary General’s press conference at the African Union Summit
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 29, 2018/ — The Secretary General’s press conference at the African Union Summit:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, thank you very much for your presence.

The fact that I am surrounded by the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and my new Special Advisor on Africa, who in New York is essentially in charge of the economic and development cooperation of the UN with the African continent, shows that our partnership with the African Union has now gained an enormous development in this area.

We have signed last week our platform of cooperation to align the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, approved by all countries in the world in the General Assembly of the United Nations, with the agenda of the African Union for 2063. We will be working together, the African Union and the UN, on these two Agendas. There will be only one reporting line in relation to them, in order to make sure that we fully converge in our support to the African populations in development matters and the Economic Commission for Africa of the United Nations will be fully at the service of the African Union in order to support the development of policies and strategies at continent level and at sub-regional level to the benefit of the populations of the continent.

This is a very important step in what is today an exemplary cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations. Exemplary cooperation that is clearly identified by the fact that we can see that in the UN, the AU is our most relevant global strategic partner. Development is obviously at the center of that partnership but before we signed last year a platform of cooperation on peace and security that is now having a very important impact in the way we are looking together into the peace operations on the continent.

There are many crises in which UN peacekeeping forces exist today but where there is little peace to keep. And we see peacekeepers being attacked by all kinds of groups. We see no political solutions emerging and to a certain extent peacekeeping becoming kind of a babysitting of a crisis. And obviously this situation of containment in which, obviously, it would be much worse if the peacekeeping force would disappear, countries might collapse, but this is not sustainable with the level of casualties that has been increasing.

And so our strategy will be based on two directions: First, to seriously discuss with the Security Council, with troop-contributing countries and with financial contributing countries a redesign of peacekeeping forces in the larger operations that we have in Africa. I am talking about South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Mali, in order to refocus their mandates to be more specific to support the emergence of political solutions and to protect civilians without the kind of Christmas tree of traditional mandates in which all kinds of things were asked from peacekeepers, that they had no capacity to deliver.

Second, to make sure that we have forces that are better equipped, better prepared, better led, with more mobility, more agility, more able to be proactively developing their action of protecting the populations and the protection of peacekeepers themselves, and at the same time with more support by the international community, from troop-contributing countries to the Security Council, in order to have the adequate mandates but also the political support and the financial support that is needed for peacekeeping to be effective in the countries where peacekeeping is recommended.

But we have also decided that in many situations peacekeeping is not the instrument to use. We need peace enforcing, we need counterterrorism and that is not for Blue Helmets. For that we want African forces, but we want those African forces to be properly supported. To have strong mandates from the UN Security Council, better with chapter seven, and to also have predictable funding, including through assessed contributions, mandatory contributions in line with what happens with peacekeeping operations.

We believe that AMISOM is doing a very important job in Somalia but we believe AMISOM needs more and more predictable funding. We strongly support the G5 Sahel but we would like to see the G5 Sahel with a stronger mandate and with a more predictable funding for their activities. And we see other African forces, namely in the Lake Chad area, that operate based on bilateral forms of support but totally insufficient in relations to their needs.

Review the strategy of peacekeeping, refocus it, make it stronger and safer with better support of the international community and create the conditions for adequate support to African forces in peace enforcing and in counterterrorism operations is an area where the African Union and the UN will be working together, and together with sub-regional organizations, to make sure that we give a stronger contribution to the peace and security of the continent, that is a basic condition for the success of the sustainable development of the continent. Sustainable development and sustaining peace are two agendas that are more and more coinciding and in which the excellent partnership that exists with the African Union allows us to be very optimistic in relation to our capacity to deliver to the benefit of populations in Africa.

We will be ready to answer a few questions, unfortunately we are awaited in another venue for another session, so we will take four questions.

Question: […] War and conflict, especially in Africa has turned into an enterprise. When you look at the way our leaders view war and conflict and the sending of peace missions, are you optimistic that with the review and the new redesigning of how to counter these particular conflicts by the United Nations will you actually succeed in realizing peace in Africa?

Secretary-General: I do believe that if we are able to re-strategize peacekeeping and to create the conditions for effective international support to African peace enforcing and counterterrorism operations we will be much more successful, and we believe this is a basic condition not only for the African security but for the security of the whole world. We see now how there is a link between conflict and terrorism and how terrorism is spreading everywhere. So it is not a question of helping Africa, it is a question of how everybody can, using enlightened self-interest, create the conditions for effective peace operations on the African continent to the benefit of the whole world.

Question: Mr. Secretary-General, earlier in your speech to the African Union leaders you said Africa is one of the greatest forces for good in the world. But this comes in contrast with recent remarks by the US President Donald Trump, who used some vulgar remarks to refer to African countries. Since you are here in Africa, I just want to ask you about the appropriateness of this term and how you feel about it. And from the personal conversation that you probably had with African leaders, what do they say to you. Thank you.

Secretary-General: Well, first of all I think those affirmations where denied by the author himself, so I need to believe that they were denied. Obviously, what I think about Africa was very clearly expressed in my speech. I think I am a true believer of African-driven and African-led solutions. I think Africa is a force for the good in our world and I think that much of our hope in relation to the future of humankind lies in Africa.

Question: Thank you, Secretary-General, just a follow-up question to what you just said about redesigning peacekeeping. What are the challenges to achieving that? And also do the funding cuts exacerbate challenges to implement this?

Secretary-General: Obviously, we recognize that there is a need to be not only effective but cost-effective. We recognize that money should not be wasted, but it is obvious that we cannot have the cake and eat it. It is obvious that to have effective peacekeeping or effective peace enforcing, there are financial resources that are required and we will do everything possible to make sure that African peace operations will have adequate funding from the international community.

Question: Plus tôt dans votre discours, vous avez dit que vous avez aligné vos positions sur le Soudan du Sud avec celle de l’Union africaine. J’aurais aimé que vous clarifiez ça, c’est à dire, est-ce que vous êtes en faveur de sanctions désormais contre les responsables du conflit ? Quelles sanctions avez-vous en tête et de la part de qui ?

Secretary-General: Ce que j’ai dit aussi, c’est que je crois qu’il faut un leadership africain dans la solution des crises africaines. Et on a vu déjà dans le passé que c’est très difficile au Conseil de sécurité d’avoir des décisions quand la région est divisée. Alors la position des Nations Unies est très simple : nous voulons coopérer avec l’Union africaine et avec l’IGAD. Nous sommes prêts à appuyer toutes les propositions qui puissent venir de l’IGAD et de l’Union africaine. Et dans le débat que nous avons eu hier, c’était clair qu’il faut absolument garantir le succès, non seulement du Forum de revitalisation des accords de paix, mais garantir que la cessation des hostilités est respectée. Et que si elle n’est pas respectée, nous étions tous d’accord qu’il faudra des mesures plus fortes pour garantir ce respect. Ce sera naturellement à l’IGAD lui-même de prendre l’initiative et nous sommes prêts à soutenir n’importe quelle initiative africaine pour une plus robuste réponse aux violations dans le cadre du Soudan du Sud.

It is in relation to South Sudan, the question was whether we would be launching any sanctions or anything of the sort, if I understood well. What I said is that we believe in African-led solutions for African problems. The UN is aligned with IGAD and with the African Union in relation to South Sudan. My experience is that it would be very difficult for the Security Council to adopt any kind of measures if there is not union at the regional level. But I could witness that in the meeting we had yesterday there is very strong commitment of the IGAD, of the African Union, to both the need to guarantee the success of the Revitalization forum in relation to the peace agreement but also to make sure that the cessation of hostilities is respected, and it was clear that if it is not respected, tougher measures need to be taken. Our position is that we will, as UN, support the initiatives that the IGAD and the African Union will find adequate for that purpose.

Thank you very much. Merci infiniment.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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