The United Nations and the African Union have entered into a new agreement on human rights.
During the meeting, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat signed a framework agreement on human rights. This agreement builds upon previous accords on peace and security, as well as development.
Afterwards, when speaking to the press, they emphasized the importance of restructuring the global financial system to better align with present circumstances.
Mr. Guterres stated that the most crucial aspect for Africa is fairness in its global interactions, as Africa has been consistently subjected to systemic injustices within the international community.
Haven for terrorism
Mr. Faki addressed their talks by emphasizing the importance of peace and security. He acknowledged that Africa is currently facing a challenging time, with the rise of terrorism and extremism in many regions and the conclusion of some AU peacekeeping missions.
Africa is currently encountering economic difficulties due to what he referred to as the “triple crisis” of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and repercussions from the conflict in Ukraine, resulting in disruptions in food availability.
He emphasized the importance of funding for both development and peace, as well as the need to reform global financial institutions.
Asking for fairness in addressing climate issues.
Mr. Faki said the two leaders will attend the COP28 climate conference that opens this week in Dubai which must also be the opportunity to advocate for Africa “which is severely impacted by the effects of climate change even though it pollutes very little.”
He expressed the importance of ensuring a just transition to green energy, especially considering that approximately 600 million individuals in the continent still lack access to electricity.
“We must also confirm that we are making progress in our development. This may assist in addressing the pressing issue of migration, which has become a sensitive topic for our European neighbors,” he stated.
A top priority
The UN Secretary-General emphasized the ongoing importance of Africa as a top priority for the organization. He stressed the significance of collaborating with the African Union, based on the principle of empowering African-led solutions to address African issues.
He stated that the continent has experienced “double injustice,” stemming from past colonialism and slavery, as well as current financial and economic power dynamics.
Seeds of frustration
Before the pandemic, Africa experienced significant economic growth rates, however, the pandemic has brought to light existing inequalities, particularly in terms of vaccine distribution and the resulting increase in debt, limiting fiscal opportunities.
Due to this, nations are unable to address the fundamental needs of their citizens, who are primarily young people. This leads to immense frustration and creates the conditions for instability, coups, and other events that disrupt peace and safety.
Mr. Guterres stated that it is crucial to provide a dual response to issues surrounding peace and security. The first step is to acknowledge that peacekeeping missions are ineffective in areas where there is no existing peace.
Support AU operations
He urged for the implementation of peace measures and anti-terrorism efforts in Africa, to be directed by the AU and authorized by the UN Security Council, with the required financial contributions for these missions.
He stated that they are the sole method for achieving success in combating the growing presence of violence and terrorism in various African nations.
The leader of the United Nations also stressed the importance of rallying the global community to tackle the underlying economic and social factors that contribute to conflicts. He expressed the urgency for modernizing international financial institutions to align with the current economy, rather than the economy of post-World War II.
Gaza and Sudan
In a session for questions and answers, the leader of the United Nations was inquired about the present cessation of conflict in Gaza, which has been ongoing for five days.
While the ceasefire is seen as a positive development and a sign of optimism, Mr. Guterres acknowledged that it does not fully address the underlying issues at hand. He restated his plea for a humanitarian pause in fighting, which would result in the release of hostages without conditions and the distribution of aid to all individuals in Gaza.
The two leaders were also inquired about the request for the removal of UN peacekeeping forces from Sudan and the allegations of severe violence in West Darfur, questioning whether this was a letdown on the part of the global society.
Mr. Guterres described the situation in Sudan – where rival generals have been fighting since mid-April – as “the fault of those that sacrifice the interests of their people for a pure struggle for power, and of the ones that support them based on considerations that I would not like to comment (on) today.”