The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol was held in the sunny city of Durban, South Africa.


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Statement by Mr Mahlatse Mminele, Charge D’ Affaires, of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations at the UN Security Council Open Debate on “United Nations-African Union Peace and Security Cooperation: Chapter VIII Application and the Future of the African Peace and Security Architecture,” in Connection with the Agenda Item “Cooperation Between the United Nations and Regional and Subregional Organizations in Maintaining International Peace and Security”

24 May 2016

I would like to thank you, Mr President, and the Egyptian delegation for the convening of this timely open debate on United Nations-African Union Peace and Security Cooperation.  South Africa aligns itself with the statement delivered by the representative of the African Union as well as the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr President,

International peace and security in an increasingly globalised world is contingent on ensuring the stability and prosperity of the broader international community. In this regard we wish to reaffirm the primacy of the United Nations Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security. While doing so, we should be cognisant of the fact that security matters on the African continent constitutes the largest share of the work of the UN Security Council, and therefore, we should aim to deepen cooperation with regional organisations pursuant to Chapter VIII of the Charter.

The relationship between the United Nations and the African Union is central to the implementation and the realisation of a fuller understanding of the potential of Chapter VIII.  It should be recognised that the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) continues to play a vital role in the resolution of conflict on the continent since its inception, and is the central framework through which Chapter VIII engagement with the AU on peace and security matters should take place.     

Mr President,

To give effect to Chapter VIII of the Charter, there has to be greater strategic political coherence between the two organizations in the resolution, prevention and management of conflicts in Africa. In that respect, the relationship between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council is of particular significance.

Security Council Resolution 2033 (2012), adopted during South Africa’s Presidency of the Security Council in January 2012, recognises that regional organisations are well placed to understand the nuances and complexities of conflicts and their proximity and advantages in directly influencing the prevention and resolution of these conflicts. The complementary role of the UN and the AU in resolution of conflicts and the maintenance of peace and security on the African continent has thus been affirmed by this Council.

The ability of the AU to respond quickly, effectively and with a flexible mandate in situations such as the Central African Republic and Mali are indicative of this. Furthermore, the flexibility of the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) with the funding of the UN, as well as the United Nations - African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) are examples of effective burden sharing between the two organisations. As noted in Resolution 2033 (2012), we must draw lessons from such practical cooperation between the two organisations.

Mr President,

In spite of the adoption of this Resolution, as well as the practical manifestation of the cooperation, we believe much still needs to be done to further enhance this relationship as a matter of utmost necessity for the sustainable resolution of conflicts on the continent. Disappointingly, the array of strategies available for ensuring greater strategic coherence through regular, timely and effective consultations have not been exploited by this Council.

In order to achieve this, we must develop a more effective relationship between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council, which extends beyond just its Joint Annual Consultative Meetings, building on flexible and innovative application of the principle of subsidiarity such as greater consultative decision making on issues that affect the continent. This would also entail more regular consultation and coordination between the two Councils.

In order to strengthen and sustain the vital relationship between the two organisations in addressing African conflicts, the interactions need to be consistent and we should avoid a practice where the UN is selective in its approach and where the relationship is merely utilised in times of political convenience. We have seen situations where the significant role of the AU was ignored in the cases of African conflict situations such as Libya and Western Sahara, disregarding notions of comparative advantage and thus leading to a prolongation of both these conflicts on the African continent and their negative impact on global security.

In Libya the failure of the UN Security Council to support the African Union in pursuing its political solution to the crisis, has resulted in a power vacuum in the country. The military solution that was opted for has resulted in instability and the rise of terrorist groupings as well as large number of migrants fleeing the conflict resulting in a serious humanitarian challenge for the region and beyond. The lesson we should draw from the Libyan experience is that greater political coherence and a common vision between the AUPSC and the UNSC are critical to the resolution of African conflicts.

In the recent case of Western Sahara, the reluctance of the Security Council to formally engage with the AU, by ignoring the request of the AU Chairperson to have her Special Envoy, former President Chissano address the Council, demonstrates that this Council’s commitment to forming a strategic partnership with the AUPSC is long on rhetoric and short on substance. The African Union is a Guarantor of the OAU Peace Plan of June 1983. This Plan serves as a basis of the Settlement Proposals, which set in motion the peace process in Western Sahara and has a vital role to play in ensuring that the people of Western Sahara exercise their legitimate right to self-determination.

Mr President,

The issue of capacity-building and sustainable resource allocation remains a fundamental challenge. The African continent has in the past decade demonstrated sufficient political will and commitment to rid the continent of all conflicts and wars.

There have been gains in the full operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture, which is illustrated with the developments in bringing the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capability to realisation.  We however, believe that it is the responsibility of the UN to provide predictable, sustainable and flexible financing to AU peace support operations especially in operations that are undertaken on behalf of the UN Security Council, and with the UN mandate. This has been recognised by Security Council Resolution 1809 (2008) and the AU-UN panel set up by the Secretary-General to review modalities for supporting AU peacekeeping. It was chaired by former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and more recently by the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations led by former President Ramos of Timor Leste. Additionally, it would be necessary to support and adequately fund the Joint United Nations – African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. 

We must acknowledge that notwithstanding the responsibility being that of the UN Security Council, AU Member States are making greater efforts to assume greater responsibility on these matters. In this regard it should be noted that African troop contributing countries have committed and sacrificed their troops in lethal first-response situations, which is vital for the restoration of peace and stability.

Mr President,

The mutually reinforcing relationship between the UN and the AU should extend beyond the period of conflict, but should extend to critical areas such as peacebuilding and post conflict reconstruction and development. The nexus between peace, security and development underscores the imperative of peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction and development in post-conflict settings, in support of strengthening the resilience of countries through a process of institutional capacity building to mitigate the risk of a relapse into conflict. Ongoing support from the international community to strengthen the capacity of the AU Peace and Security Architecture to deliver peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction development programmes to affected countries is a necessary requirement for the fulfilment by the AU of its peace, security and regional integration and development mandate.

South Africa welcomes the recent contribution from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) to the African Union that will allow thirty-two AU human rights observers to continue their work in Burundi for an additional six-month period as part of the AU human rights observer mission in Burundi. Notably, it represents the first time since its inception that the PBF has provided direct support to the AU. Consequently, it signals a significant step forward in consolidating efforts towards strengthening cooperation between the UN and the AU in the area of peace-building.

Development is important to ensure peace and security and an Africa at peace with itself is crucial for achieving the goals set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In conclusion, Mr President, the United Nations and regional organisations such as the African Union have their respective comparative advantage. As highlighted by the Secretary-General, our strategic partnerships need to be enhanced through closer collaboration and cooperation resulting in joint actions to address global peace and security.

I thank you.