Delivered by Phillip Taula, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 24 May 2016

Thank you Mr President.  

We welcome this open debate and in particular the presence of our colleagues from the AU Peace and Security Council.  The past ten years have seen enormous growth in our relationship and there is now a genuine consensus that the Council cannot carry out its mandate effectively without cooperating closely with the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities.  

Integration with the AU’s peace and security architecture (APSA) is key to this, as noted in each of the UN’s high level reviews in 2015.

Today, New Zealand would like to focus on two areas:

First, we need to strengthen practical cooperation in preventing conflict as other speakers have highlighted.

In our view, the foundations are very good for cooperation on conflict prevention.  One of the major strengths of the African Union and its sub-regional organisations is that they have dedicated significant resources and energy to identifying emerging crises and agreeing collective responses to prevent conflict.  Good examples are the AU’s early efforts on Burundi and ECOWAS’s leadership on Burkina Faso.  Moreover, in our experience, the UN Secretariat and AU Commission cooperate well at the institutional level to identify early warning indicators and to develop recommendations for early action.  There is however a lot more we can do.  

As identified during a seminar on conflict prevention that we hosted for Security Council and PSC members in Addis Ababa last month we need to be more joined up – and at an earlier stage.  Effective conflict prevention requires early engagement and political will by all actors, as well as unified messaging and coordinated action.  What emerged at this seminar was that at present there is a lack of trust on many issues between key actors - the UN, the AU, sub-regional organisations and member states. This is a major obstacle to have more effective cooperation. This is often rooted in differing conflict analysis and concerns about respect for sovereignty.

If we are to overcome these challenges we need to begin from a basis of shared information and analysis about emerging crises and their causes, which can in turn lead to shared objectives and strategies for preventing conflict.

We hope to see such cooperation in coming months on emerging issues of mutual concern. Early engagement on the growing tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be a useful place to start.

To do this, we need to translate our rhetoric of partnership into practical and meaningful engagement between the two Councils on a more consistent basis.   We had a useful meeting yesterday canvassing some of these points and New Zealand very much hopes we can institutionalise regular informal engagement between the Councils that focuses on substantive action.   Key focus areas could include the following:

  • Early joint analysis of emerging situations, setting out key facts and discussing interpretations and possible strategies so that all actors can consider the issues and discuss how to act in concert early according their respective comparative advantage.
  • Mandating and actively supporting information sharing between the two Secretariats, increased resourcing for political analysis and conflict prevention, and actively discussing relevant information with Member States.
  • We would like to see regular informal discussions implemented between the two Councils (be it through the Presidents, Troikas or the full Councils) to build common understandings on crisis situations and agree on common objectives and credible responses.
  • We also support deploying joint AU-UN field missions, where possible. In this regard, New Zealand supports a joint mission to South Sudan in the near future, in support of effective implementation of the peace agreement.

Mr President, the other important issue which New Zealand wishes to highlight this morning is the issue of financing of AU peace operations. We share the view that there is a strong need for more sustainable model.

We hope the international community, including the UN, can be strategic and creative in working out how to properly support Council-mandated missions that the African Union is prepared to lead.

The urgent need to make progress in this regard was underlined again during the Council’s visit to Somalia last week.

New Zealand welcomes efforts by the AU to mobilize funding from within Africa. We are realistic about capacity limitations in this regard. Our own expectation is that UN assessed contributions will need to be a part of any long term solution, and we are ready to explore proposals for joint financing of AU operations by the UN and AU memberships.

We have no illusions regarding the sensitive and complex issues this raises. But we believe that ongoing reliance on ad hoc models for financing AU peace operations continues to hamper their effectiveness, and that this is not sustainable in the long term.

In closing Mr President, cooperation between the UN and AU on peace and security matters has improved significantly but it remains a work in progress.

It is all our interests that we take further steps to unlock the potential that more effective cooperation holds for both organisations.

Thank you.