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AU-UN cooperation lauded, encouraged in Security Council

01-13-2012 09:23 BJT

by William M. Reilly

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Thursday targeted cooperation between the world organization and the African Union, applauding and calling for a greater collective effort.

The topic came up under this month's president of the panel, South Africa, and the session was attended by, and chaired for a portion, by its president, Jacob Zuma, who recalled such cooperation was endorsed in the UN Charter.

But, he recalled, most of Africa was colonized when the Charter was drawn up and it took decades before regional organizations in South Africa developed to the point where they could cooperate in missions of peace and security on the one continent with more conflicts than any other.

The AU-UN cooperation debate also afforded Zuma a chance to lament the lack of representation among the five veto-wielding permanent council members.

"The absence of African countries at the time of the formation of the UN, is reflected in the fact that not a single African country is a permanent member of the UN Security Council," Zuma said. "This is despite the fact that on average, about 70 of the agenda items of the UN Security Council concern Africa. It is a huge continent that has 54 member states, representing more than 1 billion people."

He saw such a failure of representation of such a big part of the globe as pointing to "the necessity and urgency for the fundamental reform" of the council.

South Africa would like to see such reform as sooner than later because it aspires to a permanent seat.

"This body, which believes, and preaches the culture of democracy and the will of the majority, which is the key element in a democratic system, cannot at the same time, in some of its key and decisive structures, practice something that contradicts the purposes and the principles of its founding Charter," Zuma said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the AU "a vital strategic partner," signaling out Kenyan Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, AU commissioner for peace and security, and AU Chairman Jean Ping.

"Here at the United Nations, activities to enhance stability in Africa take up a significant part of the agenda of the Security Council and they are among my leading priorities," he said.

"Over the last decade, the AU and sub-regional organizations have significantly bolstered their own role in building an architecture for peace and security on the African continent," Ban said. "Together, our collective efforts in conflict prevention and mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding are making a real difference throughout the continent."

While he acknowledged, "there is more room for improvement," the UN chief said, "We often face complex and fast moving crises -- and we are establishing mechanisms to build common understanding and approaches."

For his part, Lamamra said a more strategic relationship between the UN and the AU is made more compelling by the fact that in addition to traditional threats, the continent is now facing a new set of threats, including terrorism, maritime piracy, border disputes and climate change.

"The challenges require concerted responses by the African Union and the United Nations and a much closer partnership," said Lamamra, suggesting the two organizations agree on a set of principles aimed at clarifying their relationship and "anchoring it on a more solid platform."

Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetang'ula, chair of the AU Peace and Security Council, said the continent was "faced with tasks of resolving protracted conflicts such as those in Darfur and Somalia; facilitating reconstruction and development in countries that have emerged from conflicts such as Burundi, Sierra Leone, Cote d' Ivoire; and more recently, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, societies that have undergone radical transformation."

"The need to prevent conflicts and de-escalate fragile situations calls for proactive engagement. Additionally, growing threats of transnational crimes including terrorism, piracy especially off the coast of Somalia and Western Africa; as well as trafficking of human and contraband are increasingly posing serious challenges to the consolidation of peace and security."

Ambassador Liu Guijin, special representative of the Chinese government for African affairs, said the continent faces not only "intertwined traditional and non-traditional security threats" but is constrained by its own restrictions in capacity and resources.

"The AU finds itself unable to cope with all the challenges," he said. "It is even more disturbing that some peace efforts made by the AU in recent years were not backed up by timely and effective support of the international community, and failed to achieve the expected results. This is detrimental to the long-term development of the UN-AU partnership."

Liu said, "The international situation is now undergoing complicated and profound changes. The prospects and destiny of countries have never been so inextricably linked. Under such circumstances, peace and security in Africa has a direct bearing on the interests and well-being of each and every member of the international community."

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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