6702nd Meeting (AM & PM)
Secretary-General, South Africa’s President, African Union Commissioner For Peace and Security, Nine Ministers Address Council at High-level Meeting
Following a high-level meeting of the Security Council that underscored the imperative to assist countries and shattered communities to turn the page of violence and conflict — including in Africa where much of the attention was focused — and consolidate peace where it had been achieved, the 15-member body today committed to taking “effective steps” to enhance the relationship between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, particularly the African Union.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2033 (2012), the Council reiterated the importance of establishing a more effective relationship between it and the African Union Peace and Security Council, including in the area of conflict prevention, resolution and management, electoral assistance and regional conflict prevention offices.
It decided, in consultation with the African Union Peace and Security Council, to elaborate further ways of strengthening relations between the two Councils, including through achieving more effective annual consultative meetings, the holding of timely consultations, and collaborative field missions of the two, as appropriate, to formulate cohesive positions and strategies on a case-by-case basis in dealing with conflict situations in Africa. It stressed the need to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing regional organizations when they undertook peacekeeping under a United Nations mandate.
In the debate that preceded adoption of the text, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that, as Secretary-General, his remit was global, but he attached great importance to the role of regional and subregional organizations, as recognized in the United Nations Charter’s Chapter VIII. Regional organizations had comparative advantages, but so did the United Nations — not least the weight of international law and the primary responsibility of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security.
Over the last decade, he said, the African Union and subregional organizations had significantly bolstered their own role in building architecture for peace and security on the continent, though there was room for improvement. The United Nations partnership with the African Union at the Secretariat level had been strengthened in several concrete ways. But, as both often faced complex and fast-moving crises, they were establishing mechanisms to build common understanding and approaches.
However, he acknowledged, organizations with different mandates, membership, and perspectives would occasionally have differences in approach; that was natural. The question was how to manage those and work together. Flexibility must be ensured and innovative arrangements promoted. Collective efforts and limited resources must be maximized, and each partnership arrangement should have a clearly defined division of labour and responsibilities for each organization.
Having convened today’s meeting, South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, whose delegation holds the Council’s rotating presidency for January, speaking in his national capacity, said the African Union had contributed immensely to improving peace and security, as well as to promoting democracy and respect for human rights in Africa. It had sought to give practical meaning to the vision of the United Nations Charter on cooperation with regional organizations. That cooperation was advantageous, as those organizations were closer to the situation and familiar with the issues at hand.
He noted that the African Union had developed a political road map that would have helped resolve Libya’s political conflict, but he said that had been ignored in favour of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) bombing, with consequences that had spilled over into other countries. “The lessons we should draw from the Libyan experience is that greater political coherence and a common vision between the African Union and the United Nations are critical in the resolution of African conflicts”. He added: “Africa must never be a playground for furthering the interest of other regions ever again”.
Like many speakers that followed, President Zuma offered several proposals for strengthening the strategic cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union. He called for greater strategic political coherence between the two in resolving, preventing and managing African conflicts, particularly as it concerned the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council. He also called for developing and defining methods for cooperation and decision-making. A clear division of labour was also crucial. Both bodies must discuss capacity-building and sustainable resource allocations.
The African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramtane Lamamra, said the turbulences experienced by that partnership last year only added to the urgency of more clearly defining that relationship. Innovative modalities, such as the hybrid operation in Darfur, had been devised to meet the fast-evolving realities on the ground. The Union’s Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council had sought to deepen their partnership. Yet, “we are just at the beginning of our journey towards a more strategic relationship between the African Union and the United Nations in the area of peace and security.”
Operationally, said Moses Wetang’ula, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kenya, speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, Africa was demonstrating renewed determination to deploy peace support operations in fragile and even insecure environments. That called for a shift in the United Nations doctrine on peace operations. The practice that the United Nations could only engage where there was a “peace to keep” translated into the Organization’s abandonment of some of the most challenging crises, leaving those situations in the hands of those least able and with the least resources. Such a situation resulted in “less, not more, security in the world”.
The prevailing view expressed by Council members was that the United Nations needed a strong African Union and the African Union needed a strong United Nations. But, it also emerged that the Union sometimes felt the United Nations had not provided enough leadership and the United Nations sometimes felt that the Union had been slow to act. Some delegates said there “can be no blank check politically or financially”, while others urged adequate and predictable funding. Most speakers stressed the value of moving forward together, to better meet the urgent challenges that confronted all. The opportunities to work together, they agreed, were considerable, in an arrangement based on comparative advantages, complementary mandates and optimal use of resources and capacities.