Photo: Secretary-General António Guterres (3rd right, front row) with African Union leaders at the opening of AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 30. Credit: UN Photo/Antonio Fiorente - Photo: 2017

UN Chief Pleads for High-level Interaction with Africa

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) – The United Nations and the African Union (AU) have agreed to establish regular, high-level interaction between the two organizations in the interest of “enhanced energies and avenues of cooperation”, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“We have agreed that Agenda 2063 (the development agenda of the African Union) and the 2030 Agenda (for sustainable development) will be aligned,” Guterres said at a press encounter at the UN Headquarters, in New York on February 1 after his return from Africa and his participation at the African Union Summit on January 30-31.

“There will be only one line of reporting, which means that there will be a total cooperation between the UN and the African Union in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of the Paris Agreement (on climate change) in the years to come,” he added.

Guterres further informed the media on the establishment of a mechanism of cooperation between Intergovernmental Authority for Development – a sub-regional organization in Africa that includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda as members – the African Union and the UN to “do everything possible” to avoid deterioration of the situation in South Sudan and to bring it back on a better track for peace.

“We will be clearly working together with the same voice, in order to make sure that the national dialogue that will be launched in South Sudan is truly inclusive, including all the key elements of the opposition,” noted Guterres.

He also said that a full agreement was reached with Kenya in order for it to participate in the Regional Protection Force in South Sudan.

The UN chief also spoke of his meeting with the Heads of State of Mali, Chad, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger on moving the political process forward and addressing complex security and terrorism challenges.

He also expressed hope for progress regarding the situation in Burundi.

Underscoring the importance of sub-regional and regional unity, as evidenced in the resolution of the political crisis in the Gambia, the Secretary-General said: “When the neighbours of a country are together, when (ECOWAS) is united and the African Union is united, then it is possible for the Security Council to decide; it is possible for action to be taken, and it is possible for democracy, human rights, and the freedom of peoples to be defended.”

Recalling the potential that African continent presents, he said that the momentum of recent successes to make sure that the continent is able to achieve sustainable and inclusive developments, knowing that that is also the best way to prevent the conflicts that, unfortunately, have created so much suffering there.

In his first address to the African Union since taking office, Guterres underscored on January 30 the importance of a strategic AU-UN partnership for building sustainable development and advancing peace and security on the continent.

Speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in English, French and Portuguese, UN News reported, the Secretary-General told African leaders that “I am here to listen to you, learn from you and work with you for the people of Africa and the wider world.”

He expressed gratitude to African countries for providing the majority of UN peacekeepers around the work, for being “among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees (with its) borders remaining open for those in need of protection, when so many borders are being closed,” and among some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

“I am convinced we have much to gain from African wisdom, African ideas, African solutions,” Guterres told the 28th African Union Summit.

He said he was open to the AU’s ideas on how best to strengthen cooperation and partnership between the two organizations, as well as Africa’s eight Regional Economic Communities.

One of the main goals for both the AU and the UN is to promote peace and security and human rights. Guterres noted that the AU is working to find ways to break the cycle of conflicts caused by a race for power and competition for resources, as well as inequality and sectarian divisions.

The UN, in turn, would “spare no effort” to more systematically provide the AU with the assistance needed to strengthen counter-terrorism capacity and aid populations threatened by conflict.

The most effective means of prevention and the surest way to achieve lasting peace, however, is inclusive and sustainable development, Guterres emphasized.

He noted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and called for global commitments to be respected “at all costs” because Africa needs and deserves international solidarity. [IDN-InDepthNews – 01 February 2017]

Photo: Secretary-General António Guterres (3rd right, front row) with African Union leaders at the opening of AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 30. Credit: UN Photo/Antonio Fiorente

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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