29 November 2017

Africa: UN Chief Spotlights Importance of AU-EU Strategic Partnership

Photo: HCR/Jean-Marc Ferré
Antonio Guterres, Haut commissaire des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés

The importance of regional organizations grows with every decade that passes as they are essential to face the difficult challenges that threaten the world, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Wednesday at the African Union-European Union Summit in Côte d'Ivoire.

"A strong and effective EU and a strong and effective AU are essential pillars of global cooperation for peace and security, development and human rights," Mr. Guterres told the two organizations' fifth summit held in the capital, Abidjan. "We must continue to make progress on all simultaneously."

Welcoming the AU-EU strategic partnership, the Secretary-General expressed the UN's commitment to support the efforts of these organizations and described how such cooperation takes place in Africa.

Three obvious examples of the importance of trilateral cooperation between the AU, the EU and the UN, are seen in Somalia, the Central African Republic and the Sahel.

"It is exactly ten years since the joint Africa-European Union strategy was adopted and the time has come to strengthen the links between the two continents," Mr. Guterres said, noting that the two regions can enhance their cooperation in tackling some challenges facing migrants.

"When migration is done in an orderly and regulated way, migrants contribute positively to host countries and countries of origin. We will not put an end to the tragedies in the Mediterranean if we do not create significant opportunities for legal migration," he said.

These two conditions are essential to effectively combat traffickers and smugglers of migrants.

First is to change the relationship with Africa and establish a new platform of cooperation that recognizes the enormous potential of this continent, and second is to increase joint efforts in conflict prevention and mediation.

Mr. Guterres argued that it is time to provide the appropriate means to regional organizations, including clear and strong mandates, accompanied by an evaluation mechanism and an adequate and predictable funding system.

For instance, the AU and the UN, with EU support, can help the G5-Sahel countries - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger - deal with transnational threats and terrorism.

"We need a force with a mandate that lives up to these threats and sustainable funding," he said, urging the Security Council to be ambitious in its choice on this issue.

Turning to sustainable and inclusive development in Africa, the UN chief stressed the importance of investing in youth and women's empowerment.

EU-AU-UN task force to protect migrants along Mediterranean routes

Earlier in the day, Mr. Guterres attended a trilateral meeting with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative and Vice President of the European Council.

They agreed to put in place a joint EU-AU-UN Task Force to save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the Mediterranean routes and in particular inside Libya, accelerating the assisted voluntary returns to countries of origin, and the resettlement of those in need of international protection.

The Secretary-General also met with Alassane Dramane Ouattara, President of Côte d'Ivoire to exchange views on the situation in the country and the sub-region. The Secretary-General reaffirmed the UN's commitment to continued support for the country in consolidating peace and inclusive and sustainable development, following the withdrawal of UN peacekeeping force.

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