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Address by External Affairs Minister at the UNSC High Level Open Debate on Cooperation between the UN and regional & subregional organizations

October 28, 2021

Thank you, Mr. President,

At the outset, let me begin by congratulating you, President Kenyatta for your outstanding leadership as President of the UN Security Council this month. Your delegation has focused on some of the most pressing thematic issues, as well as led an excellent visit of all Council members to Mali and Niger recently, which was immensely useful in understanding the situation on the ground.

2. I also commend you on leading the discussions today, especially on an important subject of cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations, with a specific focus on the African Union. Given the context of recent developments in the African continent, the topic of "Renewing Solidarity to Successfully Deliver Peace and Security in a Changing Conflict Environment” is well timed and indeed most apt.

3. I would also like to thank the briefer, Mr.Donald Kaberuka, African Union High Representative for the Peace Fund for his valuable insights.

4. Mr. President, The international community needs to pay close attention to the African voice and wisdom. No one can know Africa better than Africans themselves. We have seen from history, that offering "external” solutions to African problems without African involvement, has not served the interests of the African people. This skewed approach needs to change.

5. The change should begin here, in the Security Council itself. Given the fact that nearly seventy percent of Chapter VII mandate resolutions are on Africa, a strong and effective partnership between the United Nations with the African Union (AU), has to be the foundational edifice. While we have existing mechanisms of cooperation broadly based on the principles enshrined in the Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, what is glaring is the fact that while African states constitute more than one-fourth of the UN membership, their continued denial of representation in the permanent category of membership, is a blot on the collective credibility of this Council. While India has always supported the Ezulwini consensus and called for permanent African representation in an expanded Council, those who are responsible for denial by delay and perpetuating an historical injustice must be called out.

Mr. President,

6. In today’s African continent, democratic values are driving efforts to effectively address the challenges of peace and security. This is clearly evident through AU’s increased role within the framework of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and in the success of AMISOM in Somalia, as well as through its mediation efforts in Libya.

7. The African Union has been ably supported by the preventive diplomacy and mediation efforts of the ECOWAS, the ECCAS, Southern African Development Community (SDAC) and the Intergovernment Authority on Development (IGAD), each of whom have been critical in advancing peace efforts in their respective regions. We need to be cognizant of this reality and this spirit of burden sharing must continue to drive the agenda of peace and security.

Mr. President

8. India appreciates because of its own experience that the root cause for conflicts in Africa lie in its colonial history. In terms of the immediate issue at hand, let me suggest five points for consideration:

i. One, on matters related to peace and security, the Security Council should respect the regional approach adopted by countries involved, and work in collaboration with regional organizations to address these shared challenges.

ii. Two, the spread of terrorism in Africa, as evident from the challenges we face in the Sahel, Somalia, and central and east Africa, is a matter of serious concern. The initiatives undertaken by AMISOM, G-5 Sahel Joint Force, and Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) need more robust support from the Security Council and the international community. We endorse the call of the Secretary General to support African counter-terrorism operations with sustained financing, including through assessed contributions.

iii. Three, UN Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions, need to be sufficiently mandated and resourced to implement respective mandates. Our experience in peacekeeping in Africa shows that missions often struggle to implement ambitious mandates. Peacekeeping missions should have a clear and well thought out exit strategy.

iv. Four, while UN-AU strategic partnership has grown over the years, collective peacebuilding efforts still lag behind in other areas. A more meaningful peacebuilding partnership between the UN and the AU, based on inter-institutional cooperation that focusses on harnessing comparative strengths to complement each other in pursuing the ultimate goal of peace and security in the region is indeed needed.

v.​ And Five, in order to resolve the issues that divide the UNSC and the AU Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC), it is important to re-energize and strengthen liaison mechanisms. A3 members can play an important role in the same. While deciding on the appointments of Special Envoys of the Secretary General or the draw-down of ongoing peacekeeping and political missions, it is important to consider the views of the regional member states.

Mr. President,

9.​ India and Africa share a unique and historical relationship. Our approach to this partnership was enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018 through Ten Guiding Principles. We have worked with Africa as per Africa’s priorities, Africa’s comfort and Africa’s aspirations. We believe that Africa’s rise is essential for true multi-polarity in the global order and are committed to supporting that happening. India’s support has always been without any conditionalities or any hidden agenda. This is visible in our 184 projects in 41 African countries implemented under concessional finance. It is expressed in the medicines, vaccines, health equipment, ambulances, vehicles and food grains we have provided to many African nations. It is evident in the vocational training and IT centers set up across Africa, in the 50,000 education and training slots extended over the last five years, and the digital education and health programs with 19 African partners. Our trade and technology exchanges are steadily growing, in line with closer political and people-to-people ties.

10.​With these words, Mr. President, I would like to conclude by reiterating India’s abiding and steadfast commitment towards an effective partnership between the United Nations and the African Union. We believe that this partnership is crucial for responding collectively, coherently and decisively to prevent, manage and resolve violent conflicts and promote peace and development in Africa.

I thank you, Mr. President.

New Delhi
October 28, 2021

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