Secretary-General’s remarks at joint press encounter with Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission
SG: Ladies and gentlemen of the media. Thank you very much for your presence.
I have no doubt that this first conference between the African Union Commission and the United Nations Secretariat represents a landmark in our cooperation.
We are indeed creating the conditions for an enhanced coordination of our activities at all levels. We share the vision that peace and security, inclusive and sustainable development, and human rights and good governance are dimensions that need to be seen together and that require a common vision and an enhanced cooperation between our two organizations.
I am very happy that we were able to sign a new framework that enhances our cooperation in peace and security. We are witnessing, in Africa, as around the world, changes in the security situation that force us to have a strategic review of the way peace operations take place. We no longer have only the traditional peacekeeping operations, where peacekeepers separate two countries or two groups within the same country that have signed an agreement, and a makeshift peace essentially prevails and only needs a certain level of stability.
We are witnessing situations where there is no peace to keep, where multiple elements are disturbing the situation with asymmetric forms of warfare. We see links with terrorist organizations, with criminal organizations also operating in the same areas, and this forces us to a strategic review of the way we do peace operations and to fully explore the complementarity and the interdependence of the African Union and the UN.
Operations like the operations of AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia), where the African Union is committed in Somalia, not only to preserve peace but to make sure that peace prevails, are operations that need to have much stronger support from the international community and need to have predictable funding -- namely, in my opinion, also through the possibility of assessed contributions.
There are a lot of new forms of cooperation that this present framework will allow and I am very happy that we were able to conclude it today.
On the other hand, we will align the Agenda 2063 of the African Union for sustainable development with our own Agenda 2030 and create conditions not only to work together but also to have common lines of reporting and to be able to avoid all forms of duplication and guarantee that we converge in the same objective: to make the Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 a success story in Africa – Africa, that, more than a continent in crisis, is a continent with enormous potential. There are lots of positive success stories that need to be fully in our own narrative as a UN about Africa and in our cooperation with the African Union.
I would also like to underline that in relation to human rights, to good governance, there was a total identity of points of view that will allow us to work together very strongly, not only in conflict resolution, not only in sustainable development, but also in prevention, in sustaining peace and in creating all the conditions for the African continent to be able to fully meet the aspirations of the African people, especially of the young African people that corresponds to the enormous potential that needs to be fulfilled.
Q: I hope you don’t mind if I ask my question in English. It relates to South Sudan and there is an increasing view out there that the African Union is dragging its feet in setting up the AU Hybrid Court, which was one of the foundational principles of the peace agreement signed in 2015. Is the AU dragging its feet? When is the Hybrid Court going to be established? And in addition to that, in 2015 the AU was very much against the imposition of an arms embargo in South Sudan. Why have you receded from that position now? It places you in direct contrast to what the Secretary-General has been calling for in terms of implementation of an arms embargo by the Security Council.
SG: If I may say just one thing on this. We are perfectly aware that we are facing in South Sudan an extremely difficult situation. But at least there is one thing that is working well. It is the cooperation between the African Union, the UN and IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development), trying to bring together the parties, and that is not an easy task, for an effective solution to be possible.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on the famine appeal that you made for four countries – three of them in Africa - is the world doing enough to respond? …And Mr. Secretary-General, something not related to Africa that we are all interested in. We were told today that you are going to Washington, to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank meetings. Is there a possibility that you are going to meet President [Donald] Trump, and if not this weekend, then when?
SG: First of all, in relation to the first question, there has been an increasing support to the appeals that were made, but we are far from reaching the levels that are necessary in order for the international community to be able to respond to the tragic threat that exists. A combination of conflict, of drought and other factors are making famine a reality or a dramatic risk in many populations, not only in Africa, but also in other parts of the world, like Yemen.
As to the last question, I am going this time for meetings with the World Bank and the IMF. I have no context for seeing the U.S. administration. I believe that that will happen in the near future.
Q : Depuis votre prise de service, vous avez affiché une détermination pour être plus réceptif aux problèmes africains, le protocole de partenariat entre l’organisation régionale et l’ONU ne date pas d’aujourd’hui : qu’est-ce qui va concrètement changer dans les relations? Monsieur le Président de la commission : la coupe du soutien des États-Unis à l’ONU pour les opérations du maintien de la paix va forcément impacter le rendement sur le terrain. Est-ce que l’Afrique d’aujourd’hui a un plan B pour fermer ce gap que pourrait créer la réduction du financement américain. SG : Si je puis me permettre ce n’est pas une question d’être réceptif aux problèmes africains, c’est une question d’être complètement engagés avec nos partenaires de l’Union africaine dans la perspective que l’Afrique a un rôle essentiel à jouer, et pour le succès de l’Agenda 2030, et pour garantir aux Africains la paix et la sécurité auxquelles ils ont droit. Je suis complètement engagé à ce que la coopération entre et les Nations Unies et l’Union africaine et les organisations sous régionales du continent soit une coopération extrêmement efficace et que l’Afrique soit considérée par nous comme une priorité essentielle, et dans le contexte du développement, et dans le contexte de la paix et de la sécurité.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, if I could just indulge you to move away from Africa for a moment. There is a lot of concern about North Korea and the sense that the United States has moved away from diplomacy. What do you think could happen to address that crisis?
SG: I believe that it is absolutely essential that all the countries involved – and there is a group of six countries, as you know, that is in the front lines of the contacts with North Korea – that everybody is involved in order to make sure that everything is done for the threat represented by the development in relation to missiles and in relation to the potential for nuclear capability not to become a threat to the international community. So we fully support the efforts of all states in order to make sure that North Korea doesn’t acquire the capacities that would become a threat, not only for the region, but in the wider world.
Q: Back to Africa, in light of anticipated cuts in the peacekeeping budget, particularly as discussed in the Trump administration, what specific steps were you contemplating in terms of cooperation with the African Union to have it beef up their capacity to take over some of the responsibilities previously undertaken by the peacekeeping operations - for example, training, training the trainers, maybe supporting some sort of standing army. Could you be a little bit more specific?
SG: I think it is not a question of cuts. It is a question of enhanced cooperation with the African Union, with or without cuts. It is clear for us that the increased capacity of the African Union, and other African initiatives - the G5, for instance, the group of countries of the Sahel surrounding and including Mali, and others, in the case of Lake Chad, all these African initiatives are an essential complementarity of the things that the United Nations is supposed to do. So what we need is not to say that ‘let’s have the African Union do more things because there will be less money for peacekeeping operations.’ No, that is not the case. On the contrary, we want to make sure that the international community finds predictable ways to fund the African Union operations that are essentially exactly due to the fact that a complementarity is necessary. The UN does not do counter-terrorism; the UN does not do peace enforcing in the traditional sense of the term, and so the increased capacity of the African Union in training, in equipment, in predictable funding for its operations, is absolutely crucial for the international community as a whole. Thank you.