Statement by President Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the United Nations Security Council High-Level Debate on Peace and Security, United Nations, New York, 16 April 2008

Your Excellency, the Secretary-General of the UN,
Mr. Ban Ki-Moon,
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government and other High Representatives, Ministers, and Permanent Representatives,
Ladies and gentlemen:

When we assumed the Presidency of the UN Security Council last year, we initiated discussions on the need to examine the best possible ways of strengthening the relationship between the UN and regional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security. We focused especially on the African Union, given that most of the UN’s peacekeeping operations are in Africa.

We have therefore convened this Debate of the Security Council once more to discuss this matter and give an opportunity especially to African countries to share their experiences with regard to UN peace-keeping operations. 

Your high level attendance at this meeting confirms our shared view of the timeliness of this engagement.

We do hope, Your Excellencies, that at the end of this Debate we will be able to adopt concrete measures to strengthen the relationship between the UN and regional organisations, in particular the AU.

The African Union has shown commitment to resolve African conflicts. The operationalisation of the AU Peace and Security Council and the continental early warning systems, post-conflict reconstruction and development, the Panel of the Wise and the African standby force are clear indications of this commitment and the basic architecture for addressing peace and security issues on the continent.

However, the availability of the necessary and predictable resources remains the most important constraint that limits Africa’s capacity to give effect to these commitments and help resolve its own conflicts.

The issue of the funding of regional peacekeeping operations is central to defining and streamlining the relationship between the UN and AU. We therefore welcome the proposal of the Secretary General to establish an AU/UN panel of distinguished persons to consider in depth the modalities on how to finance and in other ways support peacekeeping operations undertaken by regional organisations. After all, when the AU addresses peace and security matters, it does so on behalf of the wider international community. Therefore, today’s debate should give a clear indication as to the kind of mechanisms and processes that should be put in place to achieve this objective.

Similar attention has to be paid to establishing an effective partnership between the UN, especially the UNSC, and the AU Peace and Security Council. In fact, the presence in this chamber of the ambassadors of the AU Peace and Security Council who will have a joint meeting with their UN counterparts is a significant step towards strengthening the relationship between the AU and the UN.

At the same time, we need to make a comprehensive review of the experience of both the UN and the host countries on UN peacekeeping missions. Clearly, this is necessary if we are to improve the effectiveness of these Missions.

The surge in peacekeeping operations over the years and the increasing role of regional organisations in both conflict resolution and managing post-conflict situations has necessitated such a dialogue.

The challenges of Africa are multi-dimensional and cannot be addressed in isolation, one from the other. Matters of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping are inextricably linked to the achievement of sustainable social and economic development.

From the last decade to-date, there has been discernable progress on peace, security, democracy and development in Africa. To consolidate these achievements, it is critical that we make an additional effort effectively and urgently to address the conflict or post-conflict situations already on the shared agenda of the UN and the AU.

Our peace making efforts on the African continent have shown us that the resolution of conflicts requires an approach that places the views and efforts of the affected country and its people at the centre of the search for a peaceful solution; thus obliging the international community to intervene as a partner in support of the national effort.

I sincerely hope our deliberations will assist us to achieve the objectives of this debate.

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