By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – Strong partnership between the United Nations and African Union is a key to the success of peacekeeping operations of the Joint Task Force on Peace and Security, particularly in view of an increasingly complex nature of conflict and the lack of progress of political processes, a consultative meeting at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has stressed.
The Task Force welcomed the determination of the African Union to continue developing its compliance framework in line with the African Union Peace and Security Council communiqué of May 30, 2017.
The meeting on January 30, 2018 agreed to continue supporting the strengthening of the operational readiness of the African Standby Force as the overarching framework for African peace support operations. The African Union offered to the United Nations the use of its newly established Continental Logistics Base in Douala, Cameroon, in support of African Union peace operations.
Taking note of the Independent Report on Improving Security of United Nations Peacekeepers, the meeting paid tribute to the work of peacekeepers in Africa who, as it agreed, show courage in volatile environments. The Joint Task Force agreed to mobilize collectively greater support for peacekeeping operations and troop-contributing countries.
The backdrop to the Report is that the highest number of peacekeeper fatalities through violent acts marked 2017 in over two decades, with 56 peacekeepers killed. In an effort to reverse this trend and improve the safety and security of UN peacekeepers, the Secretary-General in November 2017 appointed Lieutenant General (Retired) Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil) to carry out an in-depth review of peacekeeping fatalities and injuries due to hostile acts.
The Joint Task Force meeting also discussed cooperation on elections, and focused on the situations in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, South Sudan and the Horn of Africa.
The meeting welcomed the signing on January 27 of the African Union-United Nations Joint Framework for the Implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
According to the Department of Political Affairs, the meeting underlined the importance of coordinating the implementation of that framework, focused on development, with the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security signed in 2017, and noted that it will help enhance coherence as part of a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development and peace. The senior officials stressed the need to maintain the positive momentum in the partnership towards further joint action.
On elections, the Joint Task Force noted that, in 2018, around 18 elections are expected to take place in Africa. The meeting welcomed the general trend towards constitutional transfer of State power and commended the greater level of accountability by political leaders in Africa.
While most elections have been peaceful, the Joint Task Force noted that some of the upcoming elections might take place in politically fragile environments. Both organizations therefore agreed to further collaborate and assist Member States, at their request, to hold inclusive, credible and peaceful elections.
On the situation in the Central African Republic, the Joint Task Force felt encouraged by the successful conclusion of the first round of meetings by the Panel of the African Initiative, which took place with the support of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
The meeting underlined the importance of the African Initiative as the main framework for supporting a political solution in the Central African Republic and stressed the need for enhanced coordination and a unified approach among all stakeholders for the Initiative to effectively promote peace in the country. The leadership and unity of the region is essential together with that of the African Union and United Nations, the partners agreed.
The meeting stressed that a comprehensive peace and dialogue process, which aims to address the root causes of the crisis, coupled with efforts to re-establish State authority and address the increasing criminality, is the only path to sustainable peace in the Central African Republic.
The meeting agreed to continue calling on the Government and all national, regional and international stakeholders to maintain that positive momentum to create the required conditions for the peace process to advance. The Joint Task Force expressed concern about the alarming humanitarian crisis due to the destabilizing activities of armed groups. It condemned the continued attacks on MINUSCA and reiterated its strong support to the Mission.
On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Joint Task Force expressed concern at the current political, security and humanitarian situation in the country. The meeting strongly condemned the violence following protests calling for the full implementation of the December 31, 2016 Agreement. The Joint Task Force reiterated that the swift and timely implementation of the Agreement is critical to a credible electoral process and for the peace and stability of the country.
The Joint Task Force called on all Congolese stakeholders to remain genuinely committed to the political process, to show restraint, redouble their efforts and take additional confidence-building measures, in order to create conditions conducive to the successful conclusion of the electoral process.
The meeting agreed to continue to engage all Congolese stakeholders to promote dialogue and to avail support towards the holding of peaceful and transparent elections in the interest of stability in the country.
The Joint Task Force declared its full support for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and called upon the Government and other stakeholders to extend all the necessary cooperation to the Mission.
Reviewing the situation in Guinea-Bissau, the UN and African Union deeply regretted that Bissau-Guinean political leaders had failed to make any further progress in resolving the political impasse in the country following the most recent decisions taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Both organizations agreed to intensify their engagement with national stakeholders to press for the immediate and full implementation of the Conakry Agreement. While encouraging ECOWAS to further intensify its mediation efforts, the UN and African Union proposed that the five partners (United Nations, African Union, European Union, ECOWAS, Community of Portuguese Language Countries) deploy a high-level mission to the country, as was done in 2012, 2013 and 2014, to evaluate the situation and to make recommendations on the way forward.
The Joint Task Force underscored the importance of jointly advocating for the timely organization of legislative elections within the constitutional timeframe in 2018.
The Joint Task Force expressed serious concern over the security and humanitarian situations in South Sudan, including the continued violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
The meeting condemned in the strongest terms all attacks directed against civilians, particularly women and girls, as well as humanitarian workers, and expressed deep concern over the total lack of accountability for these attacks.
The Joint Task Force called on all parties to halt all military operations and on the Government to take adequate measures for the immediate suspension and prosecution of sexual offenders within its ranks.
It expressed support for fast-tracking the establishment of the Hybrid Court and imposing punitive measures on the violators of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
The Joint Task Force welcomed the convening of the High-Level Revitalization Forum second phase and called on all parties to engage constructively in the negotiations, so as to achieve new agreements on governance and the security arrangements for a new period of transition.
The meeting welcomed the continuing close cooperation between the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, African Union and United Nations and agreed to work towards further alignment between the Member States of the three organizations.
The Joint Task Force also reiterated its full support for United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeepers and their humanitarian partners and called upon all parties in South Sudan to respect the Mission’s mandate and cease all restrictions to their freedom of movement.
Discussing the situation on the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea, the UN and African Union noted that external dynamics have compounded already complicated relations in the region in a context of a fragile regional peace and security architecture.
Both organizations underlined the need to engage actors of the broader Horn of Africa region in order to find a holistic approach to the management of conflicts and an amicable resolution of long standing grievances. The Joint Task Force also noted its concern on the worsening humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa. It deplored the preponderance of human rights violations in the countries of the region and stressed that greater attention be devoted to the protection and promotion of human rights in those conflict situations.
At the meeting in Addis Ababa, the African Union Commission and the United Nations Secretariat were represented respectively by Commissioners Smaïl Chergui (Peace and Security), Minata Samaté-Cessouma (Political Affairs); and the Under-Secretaries-General Jeffrey Feltman (Political Affairs), Jean-Pierre Lacroix (Peacekeeping Operations) and Haile Menkerios (Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union).
They were accompanied by other senior officials from the two organizations, including Fatima Kyari Mohammed, African Union Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, and Nicholas Haysom, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan. [IDN-InDepthNews – 02 February 2018]
Photo: UN Secretary-General António Guterres (at podium, right) and Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, address the press following the signing of a Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhancing Partnerships on Peace and Security in April 2017 at UN headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Manuel Elias.
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