FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The United States is committed to strengthening the UN’s strategic partnership with the African Union (AU) to better address collective threats to peace and stability on the continent, and today’s passage of Security Council Resolution 2320 marks a significant milestone in that critically important effort.
From Somalia to Mali to the Central African Republic, African troops and police have deployed under some of the most challenging and urgent circumstances – but without reliable international support. In July of last year, President Obama pledged to African and global leaders to pursue a new partnership that would “transform how we work together to promote security and peace in Africa.” With an ever-greater threat of violent extremists and civil war and other forms of unrest, we must recommit to developing a new partnership that will ensure that those on the frontlines have the support they need to be effective.
AU Heads of State took a significant step in advancing this strategic effort by deciding at the July 2016 AU Summit in Kigali to endorse plans to operationalize a fund to help finance AU peace operations, to fulfill the AU’s commitment to self-finance 25 percent of the cost of AU-led peace operations by 2020, and to establish frameworks on human rights, conduct and discipline, and decision-making procedures. Today’s resolution welcomes these historic steps, and sets out a compelling vision for a new partnership, which include three main elements.
First, we must ensure upfront mission planning. In cases where the Security Council is considering authorizing support for an AU-led operation under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) and UNSC must work closely together from the outset, particularly through joint consultations, joint assessment teams, and frequent and open communication. We must work together to ensure that UN experts with critical experience and knowledge, including financial and procurement expertise, are fully integrated into these planning stages.
Second, we must work together to ensure the AU’s human rights and conduct and discipline compliance policies are finalized and fully implemented. This will require putting in place rigorous procedures for troop and police screening and selection, training, monitoring, reporting, independent investigations, and holding perpetrators of violations and misconduct accountable. These measures are critical for harmonizing the AU’s policies and practices with international legal obligations and standards so that the AU and the UN both have clear systems to prevent abuses and misconduct and to promote accountability if and when allegations arise.
Third, we must build evaluation and reporting into each mission’s DNA. This will require joint evaluation and benchmarking exercises throughout a mission’s life-cycle. It also must include regular reporting by the AU to the AU PSC and the UNSC on progress in achieving the mandate and allegations of human rights abuses, international humanitarian law transgressions, and conduct and discipline issues, and actions taken by countries contributing AU troops and police in response to allegations. Such transparency will help to foster accountability for abuses that undermine the legitimacy of peacekeeping and that harm vulnerable populations that peacekeepers are sworn to protect.
The United States looks forward to the incorporation of these elements in the implementation plans requested in Resolution 2320, along with specific benchmarks and steps to ensure the AU Peace Fund is consistent with member state World Trade Organization obligations. Our vision is a robust partnership – with these three elements and the UN providing 75 percent of mission costs as the backbone – through which the UNSC would authorize AU missions on a case-by-case basis.
To create this effective and sustainable partnership, which addresses security threats on the African continent, we will need to shake ourselves of old biases and routines. We cannot afford to continue the status quo: the stakes for the AU’s courageous peacekeepers – and for the vulnerable civilians they protect – are simply too high.