Dispatches from the Field: Informal Meeting with the AU and Meetings with the Ethiopian Prime Minister and AU Commission
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (7 September 2017): Security Council members have had a series of meetings since landing in Addis Ababa yesterday afternoon.
Council members began their visiting mission yesterday (6 September) with briefings by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the AU Haile Menkerios, Special Representative for South Sudan David Shearer, Special Representative for Somalia Michael Keating and Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Nicholas Haysom. This meeting provided an opportunity for members to be updated on the latest developments in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan. In the meeting with Menkerios, members also discussed the AU-UN relationship and gained a better understanding of possible issues that the AU might raise in the upcoming meetings. It seems the session provided members with the opportunity to have a frank exchange with the Special Representatives and the Special Envoy on a range of issues including the humanitarian and political situation in South Sudan, the financing of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the security situation in Somalia, and the need for greater coordination and cooperation between the AU and the UN.
This morning, the Council delegation held an informal meeting with the AU Peace and Security Council at the AU headquarters. The meeting began with statements by Ambassador Mamosadinyana Molefe (Botswana), the Chairperson of the AU Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) this month, and Ambassador Tekeda Alemu of Ethiopia, the President of the Security Council for September.
The first agenda item, the partnership between the Security Council and the AU PSC, was introduced by Egypt and China on behalf of the Security Council with Nigeria responding for the AU PSC. In the ensuing exchange of views, it seems there was general agreement that a good momentum had developed in the relationship between the two Councils. The discussion focused on working methods that could help both Councils to move forward on ideas for greater cooperation. In discussing more concrete actions, it seems the possibility of joint field missions was raised by AU PSC members with a joint mission to South Sudan or the Sahel suggested for 2018; the idea of joint field missions is an idea that has been discussed in previous meetings between the two Councils.
The second topic of the informal meeting was financing for AU peace and security activities. This proved to be the most controversial aspect of the informal meeting. Although the AU is generally united on this issue, differing views of Security Council members on this issue were evident during the meeting. The topic was introduced by Kenya and Rwanda for the AU PSC. China and Ethiopia responded on behalf of the Security Council before members from both Councils expressed their views. The Security Council’s divisions on the issue of ensuring predictable, flexible and sustainable support and financing for AU peace operations have come up during previous meetings. Today’s discussion provided an opportunity for AU PSC members to ascertain where the different Security Council members stood on this issue. It seems that although there was general support from some Security Council members, the US made clear its opposition to financing AU operations, with AMISOM being cited as an exception. This matter is expected to be raised again during the discussion on Somalia and AMISOM in the joint consultative meeting tomorrow.
The third topic covered was peacebuilding where Sweden and Russia introduced the topic for the Security Council and Sierra Leone and Togo responded from the AU PSC.. This is the first time peacebuilding has been discussed during these consultative meetings and this session provided Security Council members with, among other issues, feedback from AU PSC members on how UN Peacebuilding Fund activities and reconstruction projects could be better coordinated. The inclusion of peacebuilding on the agenda is in line with the UN’s “sustaining peace” agenda, described in the two resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the General Assembly on the peacebuilding review on 27 April 2016 as activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflicts. Sustaining peace places an emphasis on conflict prevention and addressing the root causes of conflict, and in this context, there was some reference to conflict prevention in the meeting.
In the afternoon, the Security Council delegation met for an hour and a half with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. During the meeting, Desalegn covered regional and sub-regional peace and security issues including the situations in Somalia and South Sudan as well as Eritrea. It seems that the visiting mission’s members participated actively, interacting with Prime Minister Desalegn on a range of issues, and found his views useful in providing a better understanding of some aspects of these situations.
The day ended with Council members meeting with AU Commission for Peace and Security Smail Chergui and AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Cessouma Minata Samate. The meeting focused on ways to enhance the partnership between the UN and the AU on peace and security matters. It seems that the AU Commissioners highlighted the commitment of the AU and Africans to peace and stability on the continent, with AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui covering in some detail AU missions in different countries in Africa, including Somalia. They also spoke about the AU Assembly decision to fund 25 percent of AU peace support operations, to be phased in over a five year period, which was welcomed by the Security Council in resolution 2320 adopted in November 2016. The meeting provided the delegation with a better understanding of the financial needs of the AU regarding these missions.
Tomorrow, on the final day of their visit, Security Council members will hold the 11th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting with the AU PSC. Somalia, South Sudan, and the Lake Chad Basin feature as the main agenda items.