U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan E. Rice today said the UN needs a strong African Union, and the African Union needs a strong United Nations.
In her remarks at a Security Council Open Debate on UN-AU Cooperation, Ms. Rice said the relationship between the United Nations and the African Union is important to both bodies.
“As the AU approaches its 10th anniversary, the time is ripe for considering what we have learned, where we are going, and what needs to be improved.” -Ms. Rice
She stressed that collective African efforts at advancing peace and security on the continent have indeed come a long way since the OAU was founded in 1963. She cited that since 2002, in particular, when the African Union succeeded the OAU, African governments have shown that, acting together, bothy can prevent conflict.
“The AU marked a new beginning with its doctrine of “non-indifference.” The AU Charter recognizes that it might be necessary to intervene in the affairs of a member state, “in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.” Those are brave and worthy words.” -Ms. Rice
She reported that the African Union’s first major mission was in Burundi, with initial deployment in April 2003. The African Union then acted responsibly in Darfur when other international actors were still hesitant, and the AU Mission in Sudan, AMIS, was operational in August 2004, before any other force.
“The AU was also active early on in pressing for peace between Sudan and South Sudan. President Mbeki’s efforts continue to be valuable, and South Africa deserves praise for its leadership and dedication to peace in both Sudan and Burundi.” -Ms. Rice
She noted that above all, the African Union has taken on a very tough mission in Somalia, where it has deployed troops to advance peace since 2007. She added that AMISOM and the UN Political Office for Somalia have come a long way in developing their relationship and improving coordination.
“All of these missions were undertaken with the collaboration of the international community, notably this Council, and sometimes with subregional organizations such as IGAD.” -Ms. Rice
She stressed that recognizing the importance of the international community’s engagement with the AU, the United States Mission to the African Union was established in 2006 and has been significantly strengthened since 2009. She pointed out that the United Nations has likewise strengthened its ties to regional organizations, notably after the General Assembly established the United Nations Office to the African Union in 2010.
“Precisely because the relationship between the United Nations and the AU – and between the Security Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council – is so important, we must confront the challenges facing this relationship forthrightly and honestly, if we are to make progress.” -Ms. Rice
She stressed that improved cooperation between the Security Council and the African Union is critical.
“I urge colleagues not only to laud progress but to acknowledge frankly the challenges to this cooperation and to devise concrete ways to match reality to our shared aspirations.” -Ms. Rice