Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Support for African Union Peacekeeping, in the Security Council Chamber
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thank you, Mr. President.
I want to thank Under Secretary General LeRoy for his briefing today and Under Secretary General Malcorra for her presence and Mr. Antonio for providing the perspective of the African Union. We also thank Mr. Prodi for his participation today.
Let me take a moment to salute the many African nations that support peacekeeping operations with resources, police and troops. These contributions have saved lives across the continent and around the world. We are here today to promote this vital work by deepening the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations. We appreciate the work of Mr. Prodi, the AU-UN Panel, and the Secretary-General in lying out and carefully analyzing possible next steps to advance this important partnership.
Mr. President, the United States fully supports enhanced strategic ties between the United Nations Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council, along with more structured coordination between the UN Secretariat and the AU Commission.
We also welcome the intention of the African Union to develop a long-term, comprehensive capacity-building road map in cooperation with the UN and international partners. We will continue to support the effort to enhance the AU Secretariat's capacity to plan, manage and sustain peacekeeping operations.
And we are dedicated to helping build the capacity of all African nations to secure peace through mediation, crisis management, post-conflict reconstruction and the development of conflict-prevention capabilities within civilian institutions and civil society.
The United States applauds the contributions of African nations to peace and security. Currently more than 70 percent of UN military personnel are currently deployed to missions in Africa. We note that African nations provide approximately 43 percent of the forces in the UN missions on the continent, and we recognize the major deployment of over 5,100 AU personnel in Somalia, and the critical work being done together by the African Union and United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur.
As President Obama emphasized during his meeting with major troop and police contributing countries last month, the United States is ready to do its part to improve peacekeeping operations across the continent, and around the globe:
- We are consulting more closely and frequently than ever with leading troop and police contributing countries, as well as other peacekeeping partners.
- We are seeking mandates which are matched by the capacity and resources of their peacekeeping missions.
- We are intensifying efforts to mediate conflicts and revive flagging peace processes.
- We are helping the UN mobilize critical assets such as medical, engineering, and transportation units.
- And we are devoting more attention to peace-building activities so that governments can enable peacekeepers to responsibly exit when their work is done.
Throughout all of this, we recognize the need for secure and stable funding for African Union peacekeeping. The US has been and will remain a major bilateral contributor to African peace operations and to training and equipping initiatives. We support the use of a multi-donor trust fund. We have also supported on an exceptional basis the use of assessed contributions to support AMISOM. However, we must stress that this decision was possible only in the unique circumstances of Somalia and the US is unable to make any broad commitment to support such arrangements in future operations.
To demonstrate clearly our serious of purpose, let me mention just a few of our investments in African peacekeeping since we last discussed this topic in March:
- Through the Contingency Operations and Training Assistance program, the U.S. has trained over 28 battalions from 15 African countries to prepare over 23,000 peacekeepers for deployment.
- We have provided substantial equipment packages to African troop contributing countries, including nearly $20 million in equipment packages for Burundian and Ugandan battalions in AMISOM, and another $20 million for 72 urgently-needed armored vehicles.
- The U.S. Government has also trained and equipped several battalions to serve in Darfur.
- And we continue to support the presence of peace and security advisors at both the AU's Strategic Planning and Management Unit and at the ECOWAS headquarters.
These examples demonstrate our commitment to the development of the AU's peacekeeping capabilities. But we recognize that there is much more work to be done. The scale of our challenge is great. And so we encourage other donors to provide financial support for African peacekeeping bilaterally, through trust funds, or through other mechanisms. We have taken careful note of the Secretary-General's call for donors to coordinate more closely and to harmonize administrative reporting and accounting requirements.
Mr. President, it is in the interests of all nations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of African peacekeeping. And we believe that through coordinated efforts between African nations and the international community, including the United Nations, we can achieve real progress. The United States remains steadfast in its commitment to strengthen peacekeepers across Africa, and around the world and we are pleased to support the Presidential statement which will be issued today.