UN chief vows to strengthen partnerships with AU for peace, security

10:54, October 23, 2010      

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Partnerships between the African Union (AU) and the United Nations that will help promote peace and security on the African continent "have yet to reach their full potential," but the UN is making efforts to improve them, UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said on Friday.

The secretary-general made the statement as he was speaking at an open debate of the UN Security Council on the support to the AU peacekeeping operations authorized by the United Nations.

In his speech, Ban thanked AU leaders "for contributing so much to developing close cooperations between our organizations," but also acknowledged that "as we all know, these relationships have yet to reach their full potential."

"Our partnership has achieved much to date and has great potential for the future," Ban said of collaborations between the AU and the UN on peace and security in Africa. "Let us all work together towards effective mechanisms for a long-term approach to conflict prevention and resolution, and a reliable system for peacekeeping under the charter."

Chapter VIII of the UN Charter authorizes the UN to support regional entities, such as the AU, provided these groups act in a manner consistent with UN principles.

Since its start in 2002, the AU has deployed peacekeepers on several missions, including joint efforts with the UN such as the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

Ban said that the UN is building support and strengthening its ties with AU missions by opening an Office to the African Union in Addis Ababa, headed by UN Assistant Secretary-general Zachary Muburi Muita.

"We hope this office will facilitate a consistent, coherent, and strategic approach to the UN's work with the African Union," he said.

As another means of increasing UN and AU cooperation, the UN-AU joint task force on peace and security opened in September.

"The task force is meant to engage our organizations at the highest levels in exploring ways to enhance our responsiveness so we can prevent conflicts rather than simply respond to crises," Ban said.

Ban explained that the UN could still do more to assist the AU with resources because their peacekeepers "should receive the same support as all UN peacekeepers, including reimbursement." He pointed to Somalia and Darfur as examples of places where AU peacekeeping is under-resourced.

"By the same token, AU peacekeepers should uphold the same professional standards as UN personnel," he said. "That is why, for example, the UN Secretariat has been working with the AU to define guidelines and strengthen capacity on protecting civilians and minimizing civilian casualties."

The secretary-general said that the UN will help "find a solution that will provide predictable, sustainable and flexible resources to the African Union."

The secretary-general added that he plans to further the cause of effective cooperation between the AU and the UN by submitting a report within the next few months that will outline "a strategic vision for UN-AU cooperation on peace and security."

Source: Xinhua


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