Addressing African Union Assembly, Secretary-General Outlines Areas for Greater Partnership, Stressing ‘We Can and Will Do More’ with Continent in Lead

Following is UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ address to the Opening Ceremony of the thirtieth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, in Addis Ababa today:

It is an honour to be here in Addis again. I commend President Alpha Conde for his leadership over the past 12 months. And I congratulate incoming chairperson President Paul Kagame.

Last year, I came to Addis with respect and gratitude, to seek opportunities to deepen our strategic partnership. I said I know Africa as a continent of resilience and hope. I committed to build a higher platform of cooperation with you. And I was inspired by your vision for Africa’s future.

In just one year, we have entered a new era of partnership with the African Union. We held the first United Nations African Union Annual Conference at summit level. Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and I signed the UN-AU [United Nations-African Union] Framework on Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. Yesterday, we signed a second framework, on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Our solid partnership is also grounded on sound principles of human rights and good governance. We are working together successfully across the continent. With Africa firmly in the lead, we can and will do more. I stand here on behalf of the United Nations system and reaffirm our strong commitment to the Member States and the people of Africa. I strongly believe Africa is one of the greatest forces for good in our world.

As we move forward together, I see five areas for strengthened partnership. First, peace and security. Let me begin by thanking African Governments for leading the way in contributing troops and police to help save lives and keep the peace around the world. We will never forget the service and sacrifice of all those who have given their lives for peace. Our first shared obligation is to confront the root causes of conflict by strengthening prevention through diplomacy and mediation. We also have an obligation to do much more to end conflicts and forge peace.

In the Central African Republic, the United Nations fully support the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation, and I urge all partners to move this forward under national leadership. In South Sudan, we have aligned our position with the African Union and IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development], and we are enjoying extraordinarily close cooperation. The United Nations-African Union partnership on peace and security is fundamental to building a safer world for all. It is rooted in solutions that are Africa-owned, Africa-driven and Africa-led.

As I just told the Security Council, the United Nations needs a more strategic approach to peace operations. In too many cases, peacekeepers are deployed indefinitely where there is little peace to keep and with no political solution in sight. Targeted by multiple armed groups, with no political solutions in sight, sometimes United Nations peacekeepers are confined to a containment role.

The number of peacekeeping casualties doubled from 2016 to 2017. This is unsustainable. We are already working to address this challenge in three ways. United Nations peacekeeping must be more focused, and based on realistic expectations. Peacekeeping is a tool to support political solutions led by national actors. We cannot afford mandates that look like Christmas trees.

Peacekeeping operations must be stronger and safer, better led, trained and equipped, more mobile, flexible and agile, with better intelligence and better connections to the local population. Finally, I want to mobilize greater support for peacekeeping operations and troop-contributing countries.

But, United Nations peacekeeping is not the solution to all crisis situations. We need different missions for different contexts, including peace enforcement and counter-terrorist operations. Partnership with the African Union and subregional organizations offers us the means to achieve this.

AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] is demonstrating how an African-led force can conduct offensive operations against terrorists, while helping to provide security for a political process.

The G5 [Group of Five] Sahel joint force will tackle terrorism, instability, human trafficking and drug-smuggling in this troubled region. The Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram is also tackling terrorism, in the Lake Chad Basin.

But, these operations need the support of the entire international community. That is why, in recent discussions on the G5 Sahel [Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger], I have consistently advocated at the Security Council for Chapter VII mandates and adequate, predictable and sustainable funding, including assessed contributions. I am committed to continuing this advocacy.

Peace in the Sahel, as in Somalia and the Lake Chad Basin, is a global good. The world should invest in it.

Women and young people must lead the development agenda. Women’s full participation makes economies stronger and peace processes more successful. Africa has the largest concentration of young people in the world. Harnessing the demographic dividend, through investment in quality education, skills and job creation, will unleash unprecedented resources of energy, talent and creativity.

The fourth area for our strengthened cooperation is migration. Let me state clearly: migration is a positive global phenomenon. It powers economic growth, reduces inequalities, connects diverse societies and helps us ride the demographic waves of population growth and decline. I condemn the widespread abuse and exploitation of migrants that are a stain on our common humanity.

Slavery has laid too much pain in Africa in the past for us to able to accept new forms of slavery today. We must maximize the benefits of orderly migration, while stamping out abuses and prejudice. This requires better coordination [among] countries of origin, transit and destination, and more legal pathways for migration. This will remove incentives to break the rules, and support efforts to crack down on abuses.

Development cooperation policies must also take human mobility into account and provide opportunities for people to live in dignity in their own countries. Migration should always be a choice. An act of hope not despair.

In the developed world must base their policies on facts, not myths. For example, South-South migration exceeds South-North. There are more African migrants in other African countries than in Europe. Africa has much to teach the world about a positive, constructive and effective approach to migration. I count on your contribution to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration an important collective priority for 2018.

This year, 2018, is African Anti-Corruption Year. This is the fifth area for our strengthened partnership. I commend your decision to highlight this scourge, and offer you our strong support. Corruption contributes to the trafficking of people and drugs, and the plundering of natural resources and wildlife. It can undermine trust in Governments, compromising peace and security. It is estimated that for every dollar given in official development assistance, a dollar is lost to corruption. The consequences are far-reaching and devastating.

The United Nations is working with national anti-corruption commissions to end impunity and bring perpetrators to justice. Combatting corruption, tax evasion and illicit financial flows requires an unimpeachable commitment to transparency and accountability. Together, African Union and United Nations, we can end this menace and make sure that public funding and investments go where they are needed most.

This year also marks another significant moment for Africa and the world the centennial of the birth of a great father of Africa: Nelson Mandela. Through his life and example, Madiba reminded us that to make progress, we must always look forward, no matter how difficult that might be. Nelson Mandela had every reason to feel bitter about the past. But, he transcended his personal history to bring his country, and our world, hope of a brighter future.

Today, around the world, we see scepticism about multilateralism. But, I strongly believe that moving forward together, the United Nations and the African Union can show that multilateralism is our best and only hope. Together, we can lead the way to a brighter day. I look forward to continuing our joint work, for Africa and the world.

Source: United Nations