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Strengthening the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union on issues of peace and security in Africa, including on the work of the United Nations Office to the African Union - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/763) [EN/AR]

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I. Introduction

1. The present report, submitted pursuant to the statement of the President of the Security Council dated 16 December 2014 (S/PRST/2014/27), provides an update on the implementation of the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, including in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the current status of the partnership and efforts to enhance it. It also provides a description of the main activities carried out by the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) and the United Nations system since the issuance of my previous report (S/2020/860) on 31 August 2020, including those pertaining to resolutions 2320 (2016), 2378 (2017) and 2457 (2019).

II. The United Nations and African Union strategic partnership

United Nations Security Council and African Union Peace and Security Council

2. The United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council continued to prioritize the strengthening of their strategic partnership to enhance peace and security in Africa. The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace, security and stability further heightened the urgency of mitigating its impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Using virtual platforms, the Security Council and the Peace and Security Council held regular formal and informal interactions, providing opportunities for greater clarity on the peace and security challenges on the continent.

3. On 30 September 2020, members of both Councils held their fourteenth annual joint consultative meeting virtually. During the meeting, they noted the negative global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including throughout Africa. They discussed the situations in Mali, the broader Sahel subregion and Somalia. They also reflected on progress made under the African Union Master Road Map of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020 and Security Council resolution 2457 (2019), including the activities undertaken by the African Union as part of the 2020 theme of the year “Silencing the guns: creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development”. They further reiterated the commitment to continue to implement the women and peace and security agenda, pursuant to resolution 1325 (2000). The joint consultative meeting was preceded by the fifth joint informal seminar, on 29 September 2020. The members of the two Councils exchanged views on strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union and called for all stakeholders to intensify their efforts towards the realization of the objectives outlined in the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

4. On 23 October 2020, the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission conducted a virtual informal consultative meeting to identify ways of further enhancing cooperation in support of peacebuilding in Africa. They recognized the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, and the crucial roles of women and youth in addressing them. They acknowledged the African common position on the 2020 review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture endorsed by the Peace and Security Council and called for complementarities between the African Union and the United Nations financial mechanisms, and stronger support for African Union-led post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts.

5. My Special Representatives and Envoys continued to brief the African Union Peace and Security Council, on country and regional situations, as well as on thematic issues, sometimes jointly with their African Union counterparts. UNOAU, with the Peace and Security Council secretariat, facilitated monthly coordination meetings between the Chair of the Peace and Security Council and the President of the Security Council to discuss their respective programmes of work with a view to strengthening coordination and synergies. At the joint Peace and Security Council virtual retreat with the three African non-permanent members of the Security Council and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, known as the African Members of the Security Council plus one (“A3+1”), held in March 2021, measures were adopted to promote greater consultation and consensus on African positions on peace and security matters. With the facilitation of the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations, the Secretariat continued to regularly brief the group on issues pertaining to peace and security in Africa.

6. The African Union Peace and Security Council undertook field visits to South Sudan and the Sudan in March 2021, as a reaffirmation of support for the ongoing political processes, and to the Central African Republic in June and July 2021 to give impetus to the implementation of the February 2019 peace agreement. On the anniversary of its 1000th session, on 25 May 2021, the Peace and Security Council underscored the need to act early and engage strategically in order to prevent conflict. My Special Representative to the African Union and Head of UNOAU encouraged the African Union and its members to adopt and apply the African Union Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework.