Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at United Nations Security Council Debate “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organisations: The African Union”

04.12.2020 - Speech

(Live video link)

We will remember 2020 as the year when the virus engulfed our planet. The pandemic caused great harm and added to geopolitical tensions. But it also made evident the value of international cooperation: The virus, climate change, violent conflicts – we can only defeat those challenges if we join hands across countries and continents. And when multilateral organisations such as the United Nations and the African Union are at the heart of our Response. That is why today’s debate is timely – and I thank President Ramaphosa for organising it.

Germany strongly supports closer cooperation between the UN and AU. We advocate a bigger role for Africa in the United Nations – particularly Security Council reform with a permanent seat for Africa. And we remain one of the largest bilateral supporters of the African Union.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I see three areas for even closer cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union: First, the fight against the virus. The AU’s Centre for Disease Control, the WHO and UN agencies have done a remarkable job in bolstering the African response to the pandemic. They will now be crucial to making vaccines true “public goods” on the African continent. For this, the AU can team up with the ACT-Accelerator and its vaccine pillar, COVAX.

Germany has been supporting the WHO and Africa throughout the pandemic. We have just donated more than 120 million medical masks to the WHO – of which a large part will go to African countries.

Second, we welcome even closer UN-AU cooperation in ending violent conflicts – including at the level of the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council. There is hope for progress – and there is work to be done:

  • In the Sudan, where we are committed to supporting the peace process and the transition to Democracy.
  • In Libya, where we have made considerable progress towards a political solution.
  • And in Ethiopia, where the UN – in a first step – has been allowed to access government-controlled areas in the Tigray region.

President Ramaphosa , we highly appreciate your commitment as AU Chair to making this possible!

Let me reiterate our support for the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire. I urge all countries to act on Resolution 2532. The fighting around the world must stop. Germany also strongly supports the AU’s “Silencing the guns” initiative: We have partnered with the AU to cut the flow of weapons into conflict areas and to train arms control experts. And as a member of this Council, we have made it clear that real peace and reconciliation are impossible without accountability, respect for human rights and the equal participation of women. That is why we must all stand by the commitments we made in Resolution 2467: to protect and empower survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.

Third, the AU and the UN are natural partners in the fight against climate change. The consequences of climate change for peace and security are real – particularly in Africa. From the Sahel to Somalia, droughts, hunger and displacement are accelerators for conflict. Therefore, Germany has firmly placed climate change on the agenda of this Council – with the support of virtually all its members. We have established an Informal Expert Group of Members of the Security Council on climate and security. Niger and Germany co-chaired the group’s first meeting last month. It looked into the effects of climate change on the security situation in Somalia.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The pandemic, violent conflicts, climate change – these challenges will stay with us next year. But by working together, we can make 2021 the turning point towards building back better in Europe, Africa and around the world.

The United Nations and the African Union will be key in this endeavour – and Germany stands ready to provide support.

Thank you.


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