UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that with Africa in the lead, AU and UN “can and will do more” to bolster successful cooperation throughout the African continent.
Guterres, while addressing African leaders gathered in Addis Ababa for the 30th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly, hailed the partnership between Africa and the UN as “solid and grounded on sound principles of human rights and good governance”.
“I stand here on behalf of the United Nations system and reaffirm our strong commitment to the member states and the people of Africa,” Guterres told the summit, adding: “I strongly believe Africa is one of the greatest forces for good in our world.”
The UN chief said that in just his first year in office, the UN had entered a “new era” of partnership with the AU, recalling the holding of the first UN-AU Annual Conference at the summit level.
He also noted the signing of two landmark framework agreements, respectively on enhanced partnership in peace and security, and, just Saturday, on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the AU’s Agenda 2063.
Spotlighting these and other initiatives as key examples of the successful work, the two organisations are carrying out across the continent, Guterres said this partnership could be further strengthened in five key areas.
These are: addressing corruption; cooperation in peace and security; inclusive and sustainable development; climate change; and international migration.
He said combating the “far-reaching and devastating” impact of corruption, tax evasion and illicit financial flows, a main theme of this year’s AU Summit, “requires an unimpeachable commitment to transparency and accountability”.
He commended the decision to highlight this scourge, and offering the strong support of the UN, saying he also welcomed the designation of 2018 as ‘African Anti-Corruption Year’.
Specifically on international migration, Guterres expressed that the global phenomenon not only powers economic growth, reduces inequalities and connects diverse societies but also helps ride the demographic waves of population growth and decline
On the peace and security sector, he expressed his appreciation to African governments for contributing troops and police to UN peacekeeping operations to help save lives and keep the peace around the world.
On inclusive and sustainable development, Guterres expressed that the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and AU’s Agenda 2063 were mutually reinforcing, underscoring the need to ensure sufficient means of implementation to ensure sustainable development.
He, however, acknowledged that while poverty elimination was a shared priority across the tow agendas, significant gaps persisted in industrialisation, water, energy, infrastructure and the environment stressing, “we must place quality education within the reach of all”.
Guterres also said the international community has a role to play in combating tax evasion, money laundering and the elimination of illicit financial flows that deprive Africa of its essential resources.
According to him, he strongly believes that moving forward together, “the United Nations and the African Union can show that multilateralism is our best and only hope”.