The UN must take the AU seriously

2012-01-28 15:34

Members of the African Union (AU) endorsed South Africa’s non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) with a clear mandate to advance the African agenda.

They gave us a clear mandate to promote the coordination of efforts, strategies and policies between the AU and UN, in particular their security councils, in the maintenance of international peace and security.

It was for this reason that after the adoption of Resolution 1973 by the UNSC supported by all the three African members of the council – Nigeria, Gabon and South Africa – meant to protect unarmed civilians in Libya, we repeatedly called for the AU to be given space to resolve the situation.

We had made sure that Resolution 1973 included a reference to a political process and in particular the AU roadmap for the resolution of the Libyan conflict.

The implementers of Resolution 1973 chose to ignore one of its important paragraphs which referred to the need to give priority to the political track as spearheaded by the AU High Level Committee on Libya.

The implementers of Resolution 1973, led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), deliberately chose to ignore the AU roadmap and instead opted to continue bombing Libya beyond the mandate.

And as the AU High Level Panel on Libya continued to shuttle between Addis Ababa and Tripoli, it became crystal clear that there was poor coordination, or none at all, between the UN and AU.

We believe that not only should the views of the African Union be listened to but that the AU must take the lead on all matters pertaining to the African continent.

The establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the AU was informed by
the need for us to provide African solutions to African problems. The AU’s advantage
is their proximity to the conflict, understanding of the dynamics and identification with the broader impact of the conflict.

Our theme for the presidency of the UNSC is the promotion of greater coordination and strategic coherence between the AU and the UN.

If we are to succeed in our efforts to address the conflicts that continue to bedevil our continent, greater coordination is needed. The situation in Libya was a glaring example of the consequences of poor coordination, or the lack of it, between the two organisations.

UNSC Resolution 2033, presented by South Africa, focuses on the strategic relationship between the AU and the UN. It calls for coordination of strategies, policies and approaches between two bodies.

Through Resolution 2033 we have sought to send a clear message to the world that gone are the days when the powers that be will do whatever they please in Africa without the involvement of Africans and their institutions.

In the words of President Jacob Zuma: “Africa must not be a playground for furthering the interests of other regions ever again. It is important to underline this point so that conflicts in Africa become manageable. They will be manageable if they are not promoted or aided from outside the continent.”

» Nkoana-Mashabane is the minister of international relations and co-operation

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