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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on Financing of African Union Peace Support Operations

2023-05-25 13:00

Madam President,

China welcomes you chairing today's meeting. I also thank Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo and Commissioner  Adeoye Bankole for their briefings. I also listened attentively to the statements of our other briefer.

Today is Africa Day. I wish to begin by extending to all our African colleagues and brothers and sisters in Africa our warm congratulations. On this day of celebration of African independence and unity, it is of special significance for the Security Council to discuss the topic of AU-led Peace Support Operations.

For many years, the AU and subregional organizations in Africa have organized and implemented peace support operations, made huge efforts for maintaining stability and silencing the guns in Africa, and made huge sacrifices. On this occasion of the 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping, I pay the highest tribute to the peacekeepers that have made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of peace. At the same time, we must see that some parts of Africa are still witnessing conflict, turmoil, terrorism, and rampant transnational crimes, which have caused deep suffering to the African people. AUPSOs are now more urgent with more daunting tasks, and more pronounced funding problems and other challenges. In February this year, the AU summit adopted a consensus paper, stressing the need to provide AUPSOs with adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding and calling for support from the UN. Aspirations of African countries in this regard are legitimate and reasonable, and merit the great attention and active support from the international community.

Since 2007, the Security Council has deliberated on the funding of AUPSOs on multiple occasions. While some initial consensus has been reached, numerous differences still exist. Last August, during its presidency of the Security Council, China facilitated the adoption of a presidential statement on capacity building for Africa, requesting the Secretary-General to submit a report for all parties to refocus on this key issue. Here. I wish to stress the following points.

First, when addressing the funding of AUPSOs, the fundamental principle of solving African problems in an African way should be embodied. Since they are AU-led, AUPSOs should be fully African-led and African-owned throughout the whole process of planning, mandating, deployment, and management. AUPSOs, after taking UN’s funding support, will remain operations of the AU. It is about resolving funding issues, not about turning AU forces into another UN peacekeeping force.

Second, protection of human rights is part of the focus of PSOs, but it should be put in the right place. African countries have already made considerable efforts to strengthen capacity building of their forces and raise awareness of human rights protection. These efforts are undeniable. Meanwhile, nobody is perfect in terms of human rights. The forces of some countries stationed overseas and some UN peacekeeping forces have had problems in conduct and discipline. It is not acceptable to presume the existence of human rights protection issues at the mention of AUPSOs. This is a form of bias. We cannot dismiss the whole of AUPSOs and their important contributions simply because of previous isolated cases of human rights violations or out of worries about possible future isolated cases. Most importantly, human rights accountability provisions must not be used as a pretext to indefinitely delayed the discussion of funding options and defer decisions thereon.

Third, support from UN-assessed contributions should be a complement to the existing funding modes of the AU. Developed countries, who are the traditional financial contributors, must not reduce their funding support for Africa due to this, and must refrain from simply submitting the contributions already intended for Africa to the UN with a changed name to shirk their historical responsibility towards Africa. If the total external funding ultimately available to the AUPSOs do not increase but only decline, such an outcome, I am afraid, will be completely contrary to the purpose of the reform.

Fourth, Africa faces a wide variety of security challenges and the future AUPSOs are not all identical in their modes. Hence, there should not be a one-size-fits-all funding solution. The latest report by the Secretary-General put forward four options. Any of the four should not be too readily negated. The key is which one can enjoy an early consensus and maximize benefits for Africa. Once political decisions are made, procedural formalities should be minimized, so that the AU, not the UN, will be responsible for managing the details of budgeting and implementation.

Fifth, at present, multiple UNPKOs in Africa are faced with complex challenges, making it important to make timely strategic assessments and mandate adjustments, including the formulation of exit strategies. The funding of AUPSOs should be considered together with the reform of UNPKOs in a holistic manner. We support decisive and necessary streamlining and optimization of some UNPKOs, the resources saved from which could be used to better support AUPSOs.

China firmly supports Africa in improving its own peace support capacity, and supports the provision of adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding support to AUPSOs. We expect the Security Council to take this meeting as an opportunity, stay pragmatic and results-oriented, and work for early and substantive progress on the relevant issues.

Thank you, Madam President.

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