Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a session of the UN Security Council on the topic, ‘Peace and security in Africa: partnership to strengthen regional peace and security,’ New York, September 26, 2019
Members of the Security Council,
Mr Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Madam Chief of Staff of the UN Secretary-General,
Today's meeting organised by the Russian Federation in conjunction with the UN Security Council members from Africa confirms that African issues have a special place on the Council's agenda. Ensuring peace and security on the continent is a major task for the entire international community.
The African continent is facing numerous challenges. The world’s fastest growing - in terms of population – region, remains in the grips of instability. A number of African countries are going through acute political and socioeconomic crises. Terrorists often take advantage of unresolved interethnic and ethnic conflicts. ISIS and Al-Qaeda, as well as their offshoots such as Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and other local groups are active throughout the continent from Mali to Somalia.
The dramatic history of the continent should be kept in mind as well. The struggle for freedom and independence in the 1960s allowed the African peoples to independently determine their own future. A declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly at my country’s initiative played a key role in the decolonisation process. Nevertheless, the African states’ sovereignty is still subject to severe trials.
The armed intervention launched by NATO eight years ago in Libya plunged the country into chaos, undermined the security system in North Africa, and led to the spread of weapons and criminal elements throughout the continent. Libya has become a haven and a foothold for a variety of terrorist groups joined by militants from Iraq, Syria and other countries. The states of the Sahara-Sahel region are suffering from this, and the security of the countries of West and Central Africa as well as southern Europe is under threat.
At a recent meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council dedicated to foreign military presence on the continent, Africans themselves strongly condemned the interference in the sovereign affairs of the countries of the continent and called for Africa’s foreign partners to respect regional initiatives.
Despite all the above, the recent achievements in resolving a number of crises, indicate the effectiveness of the efforts initiated and undertaken by the Africans themselves. Comprehensive peace agreements have been signed and are being implemented in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. The situation in the Horn of Africa has improved thanks to the bold and responsible steps taken by the leaders of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti. Peaceful and democratic elections were held in large states such as the DRC and Nigeria. I consider most important the fact that the political will of the heads of the African states themselves and the support of the African Union and subregional organisations are at the centre of each of these achievements.
Given such results, the ambitious aimwhich was formulated six years ago to end armed conflicts in Africa no longer seems unattainable. Creating an African Standby Force as part of forming a continental architecture of peace and security is helping to achieve this goal. The African Union Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Centre has become operational. The African Union is stepping up its efforts to prevent conflicts, including relying on regional associations and “good offices” of the African leaders.
However, Africans certainly need the international community’s energetic assistance, including that of the UN Security Council.
We see serious potential in building up interaction of the UN Security Council with the African Union Peace and Security Council. Annual consultative meetings of these two organisations, the next of which will take place next month in Addis Ababa, provide a good opportunity.
Cooperation is underway between the UN Secretariat and the African Commission. Joint missions are sent to conflict zones, and the AU experts are involved in drafting reports and strategic reviews, which serve as a useful guide for the Security Council when it makes corresponding decisions.
We believe that the Council’s focus on ensuring sustainable financing for peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the African Union is quite justified. Progress is being made in filling up the African Union Peace Fund, which confirms the African leaders’ desire to assume a portion of the costs involved in African peacekeeping missions. Of course, it is necessary to increase predictability, reliability and flexibility of financing such operations. Russia is willing to do substantive work on the corresponding draft resolution, which was put together by the African “troika” for consideration by the UN Security Council.
Russia supports other African “troika’s” initiatives in the Council regarding peace and security on the continent. We regard it as a link between the UN Security Council and the African Union.
Russia’s assistance in ensuring peace and security in Africa is based on international law, including the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of states enshrined in the UN Charter, and is provided exclusively with the approval of the host countries and is designed to build their own anti-crisis capabilities.
We pay great attention to peacekeeper training programmes for Africa and other developing countries. Another suchcourse started at the Russian Interior Ministry’s Academy this month, which is specifically targeted at female police officers from Africa.
We continue to implement bilateral training programmes for military personnel and law enforcement officers and to provide military-technical support. Russian instructors in the Central African Republic have trained over 3,000 troops for the army of this sovereign country over the past 18 months. Two consignments of Russian weapons have already been delivered for the needs of the CAR army free of charge and with the knowledge of the UN Security Council 2127 Committee, the most recent one this month.
Creating effective armed forces is just one factor of ensuring national security. In order to eliminate the root causes of conflicts, it is necessary to resolve acute socioeconomic problems of the countries of the region and to strengthen their public institutions. Training national African multi-discipline specialists is of particularimportance. Russia is providing more state scholarships for free education of Africans in medicine, education, high technology, transport and other civilian professions.
Undoubtedly, the first ever Russia-Africa Summit to be held on the initiative of President Putin in Sochi a month from now will become a new chapter in our country’s relations with Africa. We look forward to seeing heads of state and government of almost all countries of the continent, as well as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, distinguished Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the leaders of subregional organisations, take part at this summit. A wide range of subjects are on the agenda from maintaining peace and security to promoting socioeconomic development. We hope that the Sochi summit will greatly contribute to the overall normalisation of the situation in Africa.