Statement to the United Nations Security Council by Minister Dlamini Zuma, President of the Security Council, on the Relationship between the United Nations and Regional organisations, in particular the African Union 28 March 2007

Excellencies,

It is not the first time that the relationship between the United Nations and regional organisations, in particular the African Union, in the maintenance of international peace and security has been discussed in the Security Council and the General Assembly. The reason is because we are seeing an increased reliance on regional organisations in resolving some of the conflicts currently facing us.

South Africa believes that the time has come to look into ways of strengthening the relationship with regional organisations as foreseen in Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. Our hope is that during our tenure in the Security Council, we can contribute to a better articulation and clarification of this important matter.

At its most recent Summit of the African Union, the African Heads of State and Government called upon the United Nations "to examine, within the context of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, the possibility of funding, through assessed contributions, peacekeeping operations undertaken by the African Union or under its authority and with the consent of the United Nations."

The decision of the African Union followed on the outcome of the 2005 World Summit which called for a further strengthening of the partnership with regional organisations, in particular the African Union.

This engagement is informed by the benefits of the synergies as we have witnessed in those instances where the UN has worked with regional organisations in diverse places such as Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kosovo, and Sudan amongst others. In all these instances the cooperation ranged from ad hoc arrangements to structured co-deployment in peacekeeping missions.

Excellencies,

This cooperation, however, does not absolve the Security Council of its Charter mandated responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security. The Security Council remains the main organ that has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. In this regard we believe strongly that we should coordinate our collective security efforts under the United Nations.

At the same time we have witnessed regional organisations make contributions to the maintenance of international peace and security. The African Union has intervened in some situations where the UN was unable to intervene as well as in situations where rapid interventions by the UN were necessary but not possible. In some cases the UN processes themselves sometimes take a long time to finalise at a time when security situations on the ground are deteriorating. Therefore regional organisations can help to address these practical shortfalls.

Regional organisations bring advantages to the maintenance of international peace and security, including their proximity and an informed understanding about specific conflict situations. They have greater flexibility to intervene, especially during the initial stages and can also be involved in mediation efforts when conflicts arise.

Our experience in Burundi was that the African Union chose to intervene at a time when the UN could not, in the absence of a permanent ceasefire between the parties, deploy a peacekeeping mission. There have been other instances where the Council has given retrospective endorsement of the involvement of regional organisations. This has made the Council to be perceived as not acting in a consistent manner hence the need for us to further clarify the relationship with regional organisations.

Furthermore, the African Union created the Peace and Security Council (PSC) whose agenda compliments that of this Council. This has raised the question of how the decisions of the AU PSC can relate to those of this Council. There have been occasions when this Council has responded to decisions of the AU PSC. However, there have also been occasions when this has not been the case thereby drawing attention to the need to strengthen the relationship between these two bodies.

In the case of Burundi we saw how the work of the African Union complimented the decisions of this Council. We are hoping for a similar process in Somalia. It is up to the Security Council to transform the AMISOM into a UN force in six months as the African Union has requested.

In the case of the situation in Darfur, both the Security Council and the African Union face complex challenges. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the mission of the African Union in Sudan (AMIS) has played a useful role in Darfur. Despite limited resources, AMIS has contributed to the protection of the civilian population as well as assisting humanitarian workers in their difficult task. Through the presence of AMIS in Darfur, we have a better understanding of the challenges facing the international community.

One thing clear however, is that the African Union cannot bear the burden of Darfur alone. It was for this reason that the African Union appealed to the UN to become involved in Darfur after 30 June 2007 when our troops are expected to leave Sudan. We therefore hope that there will be a speedy implementation of the AU-UN hybrid mission in Sudan.

Excellencies,

There are also other challenges that remain to make the relationship between the United Nations and regional organisations more concrete and operational. There is a need for predictability that was agreed during the 2005 World Summit. The existing ad hoc arrangements are not sustainable and will always remain fragile.

We need to articulate a clear form of burden sharing between the United Nations and regional organisations. This has to be based on the understanding that the goals of the African Union and the UN in the maintenance of international peace and security are the same. However, we must understand that circumstances have changed and therefore we need new solutions to address today's realities. The rigid doctrines of the past on how we supported peacekeeping missions can no longer hold. Regional organisations, in particular the African Union, are partners in carrying out the mandate of the United Nations, especially the Security Council. This requires us to think anew in determining the forms of concrete assistance that can be provided to regional organisations to address the challenges we all face.

We are therefore pleased that the Council will adopt a PRST that contains language enhancing the relationship with regional organisations, including the intention to explore ways on how to share the burden of maintaining international peace and security.

My Government remains ready to work with all members of the Security Council in the coming months as we continue to seek ways of addressing this common challenge and thereby responding to the call of the Summit of the African Union.


Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs
Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nation
New York

28 March 2007


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