Speech by Comfort Ero, Program Director for Africa, to the 975th session of the African Union Peace and Security Council.
In 2021, the African Union will continue working to contain COVID-19 and address its economic impact. Our annual survey identifies eight other situations where the organisation’s timely intercession could help resolve, mitigate or ward off conflict.
New financial structures will soon allow the EU to fund African military operations – including the supply of lethal weaponry – directly, instead of through the African Union. To avoid aggravating conflicts, Brussels should undertake robust risk assessments, constantly monitor its assistance, insist that recipient countries subordinate military efforts to political strategies and preserve African Union oversight.
The African Union has been taking a larger role of late in addressing questions of peace and security on the continent. Our annual survey identifies eight situations where the organisation’s timely intercession could help resolve, mitigate or ward off conflict.
The African Union is best positioned to send peacekeepers to the continent’s various war zones. But it often lacks the funds available to the UN’s blue helmets. A compromise over co-financing peacekeeping missions would serve the conflict prevention goals of both institutions.
Since 2002, when the African Union was founded, its Peace and Security Council has worked closely with the UN Security Council to resolve the continent’s multiple conflicts. But sharp disagreements have hampered cooperation of late. Practical remedies can help the bodies pursue their common mission.
Talks about ending Burundi’s crisis – sparked by the president’s decision to seek a third term – have fizzled out. With elections nearing in 2020, tensions could flare. Strong regional pressure is needed to begin opening up the country’s political space before the balloting.
The [African Union] is trying to be more self-sufficient, less reliant on donors.
This is a case where the UN should aim to be ‘best supporting actor’ rather than the star, bringing economic expertise to back up the AU’s work on Sudan’s transition.
China and the West are increasingly at loggerheads in Turtle Bay. So are European capitals and Washington. The handling of African crises is contentious as well. Amid these frictions, it is the job of UN diplomats to keep channels for quiet communication up and running.
African heads of state should press Burundi to open the political space, in particular letting opposition politicians campaign freely and safely and allowing in international observers, in order to prevent a reprise of past violence or worse.
Originally published in The East African