Secretary General António Guterres concluded the second annual UN-African Union conference in Addis Ababa, as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the relationship between the two organizations. Held on 9 -10 July, the meeting covered the issues elaborated in the joint AU-UN development framework, including peace and security.
“We feel a wind blowing in the direction of peace,” he said, referring to recent developments such as the historic visit by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister to rival and neighbour Eritrea, as well as peace talks on South Sudan, where conflict has raged since 2013.
“All this gives us hope that the African continent will be moving more and more in the right direction in peace and security,” he added, telling delegates that the UN could not afford to fail in its dealings with the continent.
But the UN chief also focused on what he described as the “dramatic crises” in Africa, where the UN has deployed peacekeeping missions in four countries: the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali and South Sudan.
He said the rise of armed groups and international terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram, means that these operations are not involved in “traditional” peacekeeping, and he cited the need for more funding, particularly in enforcing peace and countering terrorism.
“We need to understand that when African troops are fighting terrorists in the Sahel, they are not only protecting the citizens of the Sahel. They are protecting the whole world. And the world must be in solidarity with Africa, as African forces are protecting us all,” he stated.
The Secretary-General also called for greater support for the UN’s Agenda 2030 and African Union’s Agenda 2063, both of which address long-term economic development.
He appealed to the international community to take action against the flow of illegal funds, money-laundering and tax evasion, which cost Africa $50 billion every year. He said: “This is a responsibility for the international community to support Africa to make sure that African resources remain in Africa to support African development.”
Present at the meeting were the Chairperson of the African Union, Moussa Faki as well as heads of DPKO, OSAA, UNoAU, UN Women, ECA and the UNDP Africa Bureau among others.
Contributing to the discussions, Vera Songwe, ECA Executive Secretary informed the meeting that the ECA, through the High Level Panel on Migration in Africa, is addressing the migration agenda in collaboration with IOM, UNCTAD and UNFPA. The Panel is chaired by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia.
“Migration of Africans has dropped between 2000-2017 from 3% to 2.7% of total world migration. With the Free Movement of Persons Agreement which 26 countries have already signed, Africa is working to design and implement a framework for migration that supports the SDGs,” she said.
Commenting on support to trade and the African Continental Free Trade Area, she noted that migration and the AfCFTA are key levers for Africa’s economic prosperity. As such, said Songwe, “faster economic growth requires both institutions work together.”