Friday, 3 February 2017

Critical issues at the 28th Ordinary Session of the African Union by Kofi Amponsah-Bediako

The issues that emerged during the 28th Session of the African Union included the need for reforms in the United Nations, conflict management and prevention, peace and security as well as the rift between some AU member states and the International Criminal Court. With regard to the reforms in the UN, Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo noted that the proposals have been on the drawing board for over a decade. He pointed out that the time had come for the new UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, to play a lead role in the implementation of the reform proposals. The reforms include permanent representation of Africa on the UN Security Council which will also mean not less than two permanent seats on the council. The two permanent seats will go with prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto. Other prerogatives and privileges will be five non-permanent seats for Africa; while the AU will be responsible for the selection of Africa’s representatives on the Security Council.

These reforms, when carried out, will go a long way to manifest the democratisation of the world body from the perspective of Africa.

Another concern was the maintenance of peace and security. Maintenance of peace and security is so crucial that in recent times, the world has seen a number of collaborative efforts between the UN and the AU regarding conflict prevention, mediation and peace keeping. The various forms of collaboration over the years have helped to contain conflicts and prevented them from reaching escalating levels. One such effort is the UN assistance for a Ten-year Capacity-Building Programme for the AU. This is a framework agreement reached between the two organisations in 2006.

Again, the endorsement of a 50-year Agenda 2063 for the African Continent in January, 2015, is being supported by the UN. Agenda 2063 is aimed at achieving an integrative, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena. The key areas of work between the AU and the UN are the strategic engagement on multifaceted peace and security challenges in Africa including early warning signs, conflict prevention and mediation. Examples of on-going support and collaboration between the two organs include annual joint consultative meetings, Joint Force on peace and security, Capacity-Building for Mediation as well as provision of electoral assistance to AU member states.

Another issue is the rift between some AU member states and the International Criminal Court. Even though Ghana’s position is in support of the ICC, there is the need to employ fruitful engagement, characterized by meaningful international diplomacy to win the support of all countries for a good cause.

The AU and the UN must continue to work towards constructive engagement for peace in Africa. Both the AU and the UN have no choice but to sustain their collaboration to achieve peace and security not only in Africa but the world as a whole. It must be noted that without peace and security, socio-economic development will not take place in the world. African governments owe it to posterity to maximize the attainment of peace and security so that the rich natural resources of the continent can be harnessed for improved standard of living for the people.


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