High-Level Debate on Cooperation Between the UN and African Union

H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
President of Ghana of the Republic of Ghana
Chairman of the  Authority of Heads of State
and Government of Economic Community
of West African States (ECOWAS)
October 28, 2021, New York City




Theme: Renewing Solidarity to Successfully Deliver Peace and Security in a Changing Conflict Environment


I thank the President of the Council, for the month of October 2021, my good friend, the President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, for the invitation to participate in this high-level debate of the Council, in my capacity as current Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
I congratulate Kenya for her successful presidency of the Council, and, as Ghana prepares to assume her seat on the Council in January 2022, we look forward to working closely with Kenya and Gabon, within the co-ordination mechanism of the A3, to advance the common interests of Africa.
Mr. President, ECOWAS welcomes Kenya’s choice of the theme for this high-level debate, and believes that true solidarity is required to deliver sustained peace and security in Africa. The continent continues to be confronted by multiple threats to the territorial integrity of some of its nations, and many of its civilian populations have been put under serious threat. In several instances, the situation of instability is complicated by an opportunistic convergence of interests amongst different actors not only within the conflict areas, but also from outside the continent.
This unfortunate development is reflected in the happenings in the Sahel and the Lake Chad region, parts of East, North and Central Africa, where ongoing conflicts, the destabilising activities of terrorists and extremists, the profiteering activities of purveyors of conflict, and the devastating effects of climate change and COVID-19 have resulted in a deadly cocktail with dire consequences for our socio-economic, political and security situation. In recent months, further instability has been introduced into some parts of the continent by the overthrow of constitutional governments, with Mali, Chad, Guinea, and Sudan as notable culprits.
Even as Africa is confronted with these challenges, the dynamic nature of conflict situations on the continent are not necessarily beyond the response mechanisms of our continental and regional organisations. The Africa Peace and Security architecture, supported by initiatives such as the African Union Master Road Map of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020,  which has now been extended to 2030, the activation of the African Union Steering Committee on Security Sector Reform in 2019, as well as the adoption in 2021 of the AU Doctrine on Peace Support Operations to provide strategic guidance for the planning, conduct, management and liquidation of its operations, establish a solid foundation for an effective African response to its security challenges. Ghana applauds the continued engagement of the African Union and its regional bodies, such as ECOWAS, in addressing the security challenges on the continent. We encourage the strengthening of such arrangements.
What has been lacking, however, is global solidarity and burden-sharing. As the Secretary-General acknowledged in his report on “Our Common Agenda”, there is the need to re-emphasise global solidarity, and find new ways of working together for the common good. It is my hope that, within this Council, we would be able to renew solidarity in addressing the gaps in cooperation between the United Nations and the continental and regional arrangements of Africa.
Mr. President, I want to highlight a few points for the consideration of the Council.

Firstly, regular consultations between the United Nations and the African Union and its organs, such as the Peace and Security Council, as well as with Regional Economic Communities such as ECOWAS, provide an important framework for bridging differences in the conceptual understanding of the security challenges on the continent, and improving the harmonised understanding of the responses required in addressing such challenges.  The collaboration has led to the development of a few initiatives including the United Nations-African Union Joint Task Force on Peace and Security, and the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. We need to deepen collaboration between the United Nations and Africa to sustain the peace on the continent, rooted in shared values and a strong commitment to multilateralism.
Secondly, the United Nations’ wealth of experience in preventive diplomacy should be enhanced in its engagement with Africa. Whilst I acknowledge the laudable collaboration between ECOWAS and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, for instance, I know that more is required and more could be done if greater solidarity is shown in putting resources towards the agenda of conflict prevention. In this regard, I welcome the Secretary-General’s intention to elevate prevention and mediation, under the New Agenda for Peace, contained in “Our Common Agenda”. Whilst prevention is less celebrated, a dollar spent in preventing a conflict is worth a little over ten (10) times its value in resolving a conflict once it has broken out.
Thirdly, the cooperation between the United Nations and Africa must work steadily towards the resolution of the root causes of these conflicts, within the context of sustaining peace, which encompasses programmes aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation, and recurrence of conflict.  At the heart of addressing the root causes of the crises on the continent is the inclusion of women and youth in decision making, as well as in the whole cycle of conflict management. We, therefore, endorse the call for the meaningful involvement of women and youth in decision making processes. We need to encourage further the building of the capacity of young men and women in accordance with the parameters enshrined in the African Youth Charter, and to engage them meaningfully to contribute to the agenda of Silencing the Guns through the joint implementation of initiatives such as the “Africa Young Women Fellowship on Silencing the Guns” project.
Fourthly, the linkage between peace and development cannot be ignored. We welcome a strengthened United Nations development system, which works with African institutions to drive strongly the continent’s development agenda based on Africa’s agreed priorities in Agenda 2063, including the further deepening of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, whose Secretariat is located in Accra. With a youthful bulge, which portends opportunity, Africa also risks destabilising the world if her vibrant, but largely unemployed youth are not made a strong part of the industrialisation and transformational agenda of Africa. The risky migratory journeys of our youths to Europe in search of greener pastures, and the radicalisation of some of them by extremist groups, could compound our situation, if not addressed. We cannot take chances through inadequate responses to the threats we foresee.
Mr. President, in conclusion, I have highlighted these points not because they are the most important or most assured for the resolution of the situations on our continent, but also because, like many other effective solutions, they represent the simple ones we ignore.

With a rapid increase in non-state conflicts since 2010, as the Secretary-General has recently reminded us, and with over 70% of the conflict issues on the agenda of the Security Council relating to Africa, it is evident that, in addition to strengthening co-operation between the United Nations and the African Union and its regional organisations, we must also consider the often ignored simple solutions that are rooted in solidarity, and the urgent need for a renewed, collective political will.

I thank you for your attention.