Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, during a Debate on the AU-UN Panel, in the Security Council Chamber

Susan E. Rice
United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
March 18, 2009




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thank you, Mr. President. I want to be begin by welcoming you as the new permanent representative of Libya and congratulate you on the assumption of the chair here as the president of the Council this month.
I also want to thank Prime Minister Prodi for his leadership, and thank the other members of the AU-UN Panel for their valuable discussion of ways to strengthen the African Union’s capacity to organize more effective peacekeeping operations.

I’m pleased to welcome here as well today, Foreign Minister Dr. Zuma of South Africa and AU commissioner Lamamra. Both have made enormous contributions in this field.

We are glad to have this chance to discuss ways to further deepen the important partnership on peacekeeping between the United Nations and the African Union—a partnership that we steadfastly support, one that lets both the UN and the AU do far more than either could do on its own. We look forward to further efforts to ensure that the two organizations coordinate smoothly and draw upon their own unique strengths.

In the past, UN partnerships with the AU and other sub-regional organizations such as ECOWAS have helped end conflicts and protect vulnerable civilians. The question today is how best to build upon those successes, carry out peacekeeping operations more effectively, and promote peace and stability across the continent.

Africa’s needs are great, but so are the contributions that Africans have made for many years to keeping the peace. We salute the many African countries that have contributed troops and otherwise supported peace operations across the continent and indeed beyond the continent. And in particular, we recognize the ongoing courage of the African Union’s decision to become the first body to deploy troops to Darfur, when the situation there was and is at its most uncertain, unstable, and risky. Tragically, this week’s further loss of life has reminded us again how brave the troops of UNAMID are—and how crucial their lifesaving mission is.

We also want to thank and acknowledge the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices of the governments of Uganda and Burundi as they play a crucial role in AMIS, AMISOM in Somalia where indeed, the circumstances are dangerous and lives have been lost.

Mr. President, reading today’s report suggests several important steps forward. Let me discuss a few of them briefly.

First, we should work together to further enhance the AU Secretariat’s capacity to plan, manage, and sustain peacekeeping operations in the field over the long term. My government also encourages the Secretariats of both the UN and the AU to share the burden of planning for joint operations and to further develop mechanisms to make coordination on joint missions easier and smoother.

Second, as the Panel has noted, peacekeeping is not the only tool—or even always the best one—to handle every conflict. The Panel recommends that the African Union also increase its capacities in the areas of conflict prevention, crisis management, and post-conflict peace building and stabilization. We welcome that call.

Third, we’re pleased to note that the Panel has recommended that a trust-fund mechanism be created to coordinate donor assistance to the ongoing project of stronger African Union peacekeeping. The United States encourages donor nations to join in assisting the AU, either through a trust fund or through bilateral programs.

Fourth, we must recognize how seriously peacekeeping ventures in Africa can be undermined by insufficient resources. This is indeed a major challenge and we hope we can work together to look at ways to do better in the future.

The United States has already taken a leading role in the effort to build up Africa’s peacekeeping capacities and to support operations already in the field. Starting with the African Crisis Response Initiative in the 1990s, and U.S. training and equipment support for African contingents that deployed then to UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone, the U.S. has lead efforts to help build African peacekeeping capacity.

Just since 2005, we have trained and equipped more than 68,000 African peacekeeping troops from 22 countries, through the Global Peace Operations Initiative’s Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program. These troops have joined in peacekeeping missions across the continent, under the auspices of the UN, the AU, and sub-regional organizations such as ECOWAS.

Since 2005, through Global Peace Operations Initiative programs amounting to more than $7 million, the United States has provided funding, equipment, advisers, and technical assistance to help the AU and ECOWAS Secretariats build up their peacekeeping capabilities. We have also provided extensive material, logistical, and technical support to AU peacekeeping forces in Darfur and Somalia.

Mr. President, we urge our colleagues on the Council to increase significantly their bilateral contributions to AMISOM; we urge other donors to follow suit; and we hope that additional countries will consider contributing to AMISOM to join us all in this important effort.

There is much more for all of us to do, Mr. President, but we look forward to working together to create a more peaceful, prosperous and secure Africa.

Thank You.

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PRN: 2009/050