Statement by Minister Coveney at the UNSC Open Debate on AU-UN Cooperation
Statement28 October 2021
Thank you very much Mr President, and good to see you.
Many thanks for organising and chairing this important meeting today, during Kenya’s successful Presidency of the UN Security Council.
Multilateralism has long been at the core of Ireland’s foreign policy.
We appreciate the importance and the power of cooperation between nations in meeting common challenges.
Today I’d like to make three points on the topic of cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union – on COVID-19; on cooperation in times of crises; and on the need for peace to be fully inclusive.
Firstly, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the fact that coordinated action is far more powerful, and far more effective, than unilateral action.
At the regional level, the African Union has been playing its part in coordinating Africa’s response to COVID-19.
At the international level, the multilateral system must deliver in response to COVID-19 by building back better and greener.
This means debt relief.
This means equitable access to vaccines and to sustainable financing.
And this means a green recovery to meet the challenges of climate change while putting people back to work.
Peace and security in Africa, and elsewhere, depend on it.
COVAX is a crucial aspect of the multilateral response to a global threat.
It has the potential to embody multilateral solidarity at its best.
However, further resources and greater access to vaccine supplies are clearly needed to enable COVAX to fulfil its mandate.
We must also work to strengthen health systems so that they have the capacity to roll out COVID-19 vaccine programmes at scale as vaccine deliveries increase.
Enhanced partnerships with the AU have a vital role to play in all of these efforts.
Ireland participated in the AU-EU Ministerial meeting in Rwanda earlier this week.
Peace, security, governance, and supporting the recovery from the pandemic were the focus of our discussions there.
The AU-EU partnership is an excellent example of how regional organisations can work together to support the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions and the broader objectives of the UN Charter.
Secondly, strengthened cooperation between the UN and the African Union is an essential tool in how we respond to crises more generally.
We see this in the increasingly strategic engagement between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council.
The AU and regional organisations in Africa have an instrumental role in responding to crises and building lasting peace, not least through encouraging good governance and democratic transitions.
Together, when faced with crises, the UN and the AU can make a powerful and concerted push for peace together.
Just this week, the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council both met urgently in response to the coup in Sudan, which threatens to derail the fragile Sudanese democratic transition.
I note the significant steps that the AU has taken in response to this.
So together, we must work hard to get the transition, which promised so much to the people of Sudan, back on track.
In Ethiopia, we are faced with a conflict which shows no signs of abating, almost a year after it began.
The result is a dire humanitarian crisis which Ireland and others have consistently raised at the Security Council.
We urgently need full, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access - as required by International Humanitarian Law - and an immediate and lasting ceasefire. These are among the key asks put forward by Secretary-General Guterres.
AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa President Obasanjo will play a critical role in helping to achieve them.
He has our full support, and must have the full support of the entire UN system in his efforts.
He recognises, as do we, that countries in the region have a crucial role in delivering the peace that we are all looking for.
The path to peace is rarely easy in any conflict situation.
It must be supported and Ireland recognises the need for predictable and sustainable financing for AU-led peace support operations.
Peacekeeping must also be linked to peacebuilding in order to end violence, prevent conflict, and most importantly sustain peace.
The AU and the UN must deepen and strengthen their cooperation to ensure that mission transitions take place in a responsible, coordinated, and graduated manner, responsive to needs on the ground and respecting human rights, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2594.
For more than six decades, Irish women and men have served in UN Peace Operations alongside African peacekeepers.
And we will continue to play our part in the future
Finally, it is important to note that peacebuilding efforts are stronger when they are inclusive.
We know from our lived experience on the island of Ireland that women have a pivotal role to play in both securing and sustaining peace; they simply must be at the negotiating table.
We know that the greater their participation in such efforts, the more likely we are to see long-term, durable peace.
Indeed there are countless examples globally of the extraordinary work of women and young people in challenging circumstances.
I thank them for their commitment and perseverance.
Last week, this Council heard from AU Special Envoy, Bineta Diop, who highlighted the impressive work happening in Africa to drive forward the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
Investing in this agenda is the responsibility of the entire international community.
And cooperation between the UN and the AU is essential for putting Women, Peace and Security at the heart of peace operations and crisis management.
The voices of young people, civil society, political actors, and NGOs are all vital, and we must ensure the protection of spaces for their voices to be heard clearly.
They have spoken loudly and clearly on the impact, for example, of climate change, which is worsening conflict and insecurity across the continent of Africa.
We welcome the African Union’s vital initiatives to address this.
Ireland is proud to serve, with Niger, as co-chair of the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security.
African states on the front line of climate change are calling rightly for greater action to be taken.
This Council must listen and must recognise its responsibility in this regard.
Ireland, for our part, will continue to work with all Council members to advance this agenda.
The challenges we face are more complex and interconnected than they have ever been, and so only by working together can we address them.
Ireland looks forward to continuing to support an ever-deepening relationship between the African Union and the United Nations.