|Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Peace and Security in Africa: Capacity-building for Sustaining Peace
I thank Commissioner Adeoye, Special Adviser Duarte, and Ambassador Muhith for their briefings. Your insights are all very enlightening. I also warmly welcome representatives of all countries, especially African ones, to today's meeting.
Africa is the birthplace of human civilization. On this great continent, the industrious and brave African people have created splendid African civilizations. But it has also been a land long steeped in hardships caused by slave trade, racial discrimination, colonial rule, and foreign interference. Guided by Pan-Africanism, African countries and people have united to win national independence and dignity. They have also worked hard to explore development paths suited to their national conditions, and made remarkable achievements. They are playing an increasingly important on the world stage.
At the same time, in the face of unfair and unjust international political and economic order and all kinds of global crises and risks, African countries have always been on the receiving end of the collateral damage, and have even become main victims of conflicts outside their region. In some countries, peace processes have been repeatedly interrupted, and hard-own development gains reversed. The Security Council needs to do some deep thinking in helping Africa achieve lasting peace. Has the international community rightly addressed the root causes and met the real needs of African countries?
China and Africa have always supported each other and shared weal and woe. Africa's experiences and needs resonate with us as a developing country. Considering China's own development experience, experience from China-Africa cooperation, and the historical lessons from all over the world, we believe that to help Africa achieve long-term stability, it is imperative to make sustained and increased investments, have long-term thinking, and build a strong foundation for Africa to strengthen its own development capacity and improve its resilience to external shocks. In this regard, capacity building is the most crucial part.
First, we should support African countries in strengthening governance capacity. In terms of maintaining peace and security, African governments, as representatives of their own people, are the most important actors. They are the core to respond to conflict and crisis, promote development and reconstruction, and rally social solidarity. The success stories of many African countries fully demonstrate this point. Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Rwanda, Cameroon, and Gabon, among others, have rapidly recovered from the pandemic. Burundi, Sierra Leone, and Cote d'Ivoire are progressing smoothly in development and reconstruction. Nigeria and Mozambique have had some major wins in combating terrorism. These achievements have a lot to do with the strong leadership and efficient administration of the governments.
To enhance government capacity, we need to maintain the right direction and respect the independently chosen development pathway and social system by their peoples. So when the international community helps African countries, it should respect and trust African governments, tilt cooperation priorities and aid resources to government departments, strengthen government authority, and support governments in playing a leading role. There should be no political conditions attached to aid, nor should there be interference in internal affairs of African countries, or to replace the role of local governments. For post-conflict countries, political transition, preparing for and holding elections are only the first step. More important is to deliver on the many tasks to come after elections. We should support the newly established governments in exercising state authority, and help them establish themselves as soon as possible and improve gradually, instead of endless criticism and fault-finding, let alone attempt of “democratic transformation” and arbitrary use of sanctions for exerting pressure.
Second, it is important to support African countries in improving security sectors’ capacity to perform their duties. Some African countries face security threats from inter alia terrorism, violent extremism, and inter-communal conflicts. Only with their own professional, efficient, strong security sectors, can they effectively respond to these threats. External security forces cannot and will not be a substitute for their own efforts.
In recent years, some peacekeeping operations deployed by UN in Africa have been expanding both size and budget, tasked with more and more mandates, while the security situations in host countries have not improved much. Complaints from their governments and people are on the rise. We believe that we should heed carefully the voices of African countries, conduct comprehensive reviews of these peacekeeping operations, reform practices that do not fit the situation on the ground, develop sound mandates, and enhance peacekeeping performance. Arms embargoes imposed by the Council on countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and the DRC have a negative impact on capacity building of security sectors in these countries. They need to be adjusted and lifted in time. The funding of AU-led peace operations has been a persistent difficulty. It calls for a solution. Secretary-General Guterres suggested that funding to this end be provided from UN's regular budget or peacekeeping assessments. This is an important proposal, and should be well considered by the Council.
Third, we need to support African countries in improving their sustainable development capacities. Development is the cornerstone of peace and security. For post-conflict countries, political transition, reconstruction and development, and livelihood improvements all require significant financial support and resources. External humanitarian assistance is indispensable, but the key to development is to make the pie bigger, so that these countries can have more resources and means to maintain security. China has proposed an outlook on peace and development in the Horn of Africa, supported connectivity infrastructure projects, including the Mombasa-Nairobi railway and the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, and worked to promote development of local industries in Africa. These are all based on the very idea that development promotes peace.
At present, the African continent is beset with economic, financial, food, energy and other challenges. These are related to a turbulent international situation, but the underlying cause is the unjust and unfair international economic order. African countries are trapped in the low end of the global industrial chain, and do not have enough resources and capacities to withstand risks. When major economies, out of their own needs, change their monetary policies, the spillover effect will trigger a financial tornado in Africa. While Africa is in food and energy shortages, major grain traders and oil companies in developed countries are having their windfalls. African countries have expressed strong wishes for such unfair treatment to end, and the international community has the obligation to support them by helping Africa industrialize, accelerate infrastructure modernization, achieve financial autonomy, and increase economic independence. Developed countries should honor their commitments on climate financing as soon as possible, and make up for what they owed to Africa in history.
Fourth, we need to support African countries in building a bigger talent pool. Human resources are the basis of capacity building. It represents the future. Over half of the population in Africa are young people, which means it has a talent pool of the greatest potential in the world. The international community should help African countries train more talents based on the urgent needs in reconstruction and social and economic development. There is a particular need to encourage countries affected by conflict to enhance policy support and resource input for youth and children, and expand special assistance in development and education. There is also a need to enhance education and vocational training for the young people, and provide them with more job opportunities and entrepreneurship support, so that they can live a life free of poverty. Africa also needs our support in deradicalization efforts to protect young minds from terrorist and extremist ideology.
Secretary-General Guterres said that Africa is a source of hope for the world. We cannot agree more. The peace and development of the world cannot be realized without Africa. Greater progress in Africa will also bring more hope and light to the world. Helping Africa on capacity building is the common responsibility of the international community. No matter how the international situation evolves, we should keep our focus on and commitment to Africa. We should not ignored issues in Africa. We should not allow African issues to be marginalized. China always upholds the principles of pursuing greater good and shared interests, and the principles of sincerity, real results, amity, and good faith in its relations with Africa. We are ready to work with African countries to stay committed a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security, and defend the international system with the UN at its core, safeguard international fairness and justice, and take the opportunity of implementing the Global Security Initiative to promote sustainable peace and security in Africa. President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative a year ago, which focuses on urgent challenges in the development of African countries. We are ready to actively promote the Global Development Initiative and the outcomes of FOCAC by working together with African countries to implement the nine programs of China-Africa cooperation. We will deepen practical cooperation with Africa to deliver more benefits to the continent. China would also like to cooperate with international partners to contribute further to the lasting peace and development in Africa.