Remarks by HE Dr Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Shanghai Institute of International Studies
SHANGHAI, China, November 1, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Remarks by HE Dr Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Shanghai Institute of International Studies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, allow me to start by expressing my deepest gratitude to the Chinese Authorities for organizing this important meeting at this prestigious institution and bringing together such a high level cadre of participants.
It is indeed both a pleasure and honor for me to address you today. My current visit to your country is indicative of the importance the African Union Commission attaches to the strengthening of the relations between Africa and China. In a world which has been marked by tremendous changes, particularly globalization and the advent of a new era of empowerment, Africa is naturally proud to be having such close relations with China, which has emerged as a major global player on the international scene.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you may know, the African Union Commission is the principal organ for executing the objectives, the mission and the vision of the African Union. That vision aims at concretizing the dream of an independent Africa that is united and strong; an Africa in a position of comparative advantage vis a vis the rest of mankind and whose concerns should be taken on board. As a matter of fact, we believe in the dignity of the African people who, for a long time, have suffered from colonial domination, injustice and iniquity in the past. All we want is a continent free from want and free from fear.
To achieve that objective, as I had said elsewhere, Africa has the duty and responsibility to take up its challenges in the area of poverty, underdevelopment, good governance, health, food security, infrastructure development and conflict management. I can assure you that the African Union and the African States are committed and are working very hard in that direction. The principles enshrined in our texts as well as our daily actions prove this.
This commitment translates into the mandate of the Commission. The Commission is required to pursue a comprehensive strategic plan, which forms the basis for the formulation and implementation of the various programmes, projects and activities of the Union. This Strategic Plan is articulated around four major pillars, namely: Peace and Security; Integration, Development and Cooperation; Shared Values and Institutional and Human Capacity Building. Significant progress has been made in all these areas.
Let us take the example of the Peace and Security pillar: the African Union now has a continental architecture for peace and security, whose cornerstone is the Peace and Security Council. In addition, we have the Continental Early Warning System, the Panel of the Wise and the African Standby Force. This African Standby Force (AFS), composed of five regional brigades, when operational, will be ready for rapid deployment at short notice. This confirms the resolve of African leaders to act on their own and to take their destiny into their own hands, especially in the area of conflict resolution. It is important to point out that the African Union has been deploying peace keeping forces regularly to conflict areas. These include the African Union mission in Burundi before it was taken over by the UN and AMIS in Darfur, Sudan, which the AU single-handedly deployed for some years before it joined forces with the United Nations through the African Union/UN hybrid operation (UNAMID). Currently, the AU has deployed AMISOM in Somalia, where remains, so far, alone.
In this context, permit me to briefly highlight China’s invaluable contribution in the maintenance of peace and security in Africa by citing its concrete contributions to AU’s efforts toward resolving the conflict in the Darfur region of the Sudan.
Without a doubt, China has become a major international actor in peace operations in Africa, participating in many of the UN missions, including Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan. Indeed, in addition to its current contributions to the UN Mission in Darfur, China has made financial contributions to the original AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), and participated in the election monitoring in the first Sudanese multiparty elections held in April 2010.
China has also appointed a Special envoy for Sudan, one of the few countries to do so. In this regard, I wish to take this opportunity to thank China’s Special Envoy for Sudan, Amb. Guijin Liu, for his continuous effort to work with the AU Commission as well as with the AU High-Level Implementation Panel, Chaired by former President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, in finding a lasting solution to the conflict in the Sudan. We greatly value China’s principled stance that the conflict in Darfur can only be resolved politically through dialogue and consultation.
Finally, in the overall context of conflict resolution in Africa, it is our hope that China would continue to play an even greater role in the strengthening of the capacity of our continental organization to undertake peacekeeping and peace support operations in Africa so as to enable us bring about a lasting and sustainable peace and development to the continent.
At this stage, I wish to draw the attention of this audience to the situation in Somalia, where, as indicated earlier, the African Union has deployed a mission in order to protect the institutions of this country, which has been described as a failed State, without functioning institutions and which has been abandoned by the international Community for 20 years now.
You may wish to know that the 15th Ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, meeting in Kampala, Uganda, last July, endorse the request of the Inter-governmental Agency for Development (IGAD) ro an immediate deployment of the remaining authorized 2000 troops to Somalia and the expansion of AMISOM troops level to 20.000. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) knows that needs to be done to bring the situation to normalcy. There are a number of tasks such as the pursuit of national reconciliation, confidence building and restoration of peace in the country.
The AU’s 245th Peace and Security Council meeting at Ministerial level on 15th October 2010 authorised the increase of the force level and enhanced support package for AMISOM. The package includes increasing the troop allowances to UN rates, support for naval and air blockade of Somalia to prevent the inflow of illegitimate arms and ammunition to extremist opposition groups and modalities of fighting piracy on the Somali coastline. These were presented to the UN Security Council on 21st October 2010 for consideration. We plead with our partners like China, to support our proposals during the November discussion in the Security Council as well as the December debate by the General Assembly on the same issue. We also need our partners to support the AU’s High Representative for Somalia, the former President of Ghana Jerry John Rawlings, in his onerous task.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On “Shared Values”, we continue to promote best practices in critical areas such as good governance and respect for the rule of law and the fight against corruption, including transparency and accountability. For example, the African Union has been intervening in cases of crisis or coup d’état, such as in Mauritania, Guinea, Madagascar and Niger most recently. In fact, the African Union has established advanced principles and tenets, based on Article 4 of its Constitutive Act on the matter. Once a coup d’état occurs, the Chairperson of the Commission is obliged to immediately condemn it. Then, the Peace and Security Council meets in order to suspend the country, while mandating the Chairperson of the Commission to take necessary actions to restore constitutional order in the country. It is within the context of this framework that mediation teams, and possibly, International Contact Groups are set up. This is to show the African Union’s commitment to restore constitutional order in the event of an unconstitutional change of government.
So far, the human rights situation in Africa is encouraging, as many Members are respecting Articles 3 and 4 of the African Union Constitutive Act, which emphasize good governance, the rule of law and human rights. The subscription by many African countries to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is also indicative of their commitment to good economic and political governance and the African Charter for Democracy, Elections.
Other challenges confronting Africa include gender inequality which is persisting. The African Union continues to play a key role in dealing with this problem.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The African Union recognizes that peace, good governance and development are interconnected. Consequently we also have the pillar of integration, development and cooperation. Here efforts are being made, both at the regional and continental levels, to develop key areas such as institutional capacity, infrastructure and energy, agriculture as well as health and educational facilities.
In area of cooperation the AU cherishes its partnership with China, which has proven itself as a reliable partner. It has done so through, among others, the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The first FOCAC was held in Beijing in 2000. It was subsequently followed by FOCAC II in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in December 2003, FOCAC III in Beijing in 2006 and FOCAC IV in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, in 2009. FOCAC V will be organized next year in China. With China’s offering opportunities for co-operation in a whole range of areas such as trade, investment, education, agriculture, finance, infrastructure, etc. predicated on the principles of non-interference in domestic affairs and mutually beneficial co-operation. Africa has a real opportunity to achieve its development agenda.
In addition to FOCAC, there is a strategic dialogue between China and the African Union, which began in 2008. Indeed, the 3rd dialogue took place here in Shanghai yesterday and was very successful. We utilized the opportunity to reiterate the African Union’s full support for the one China policy, while on its part, China reaffirmed its full commitment to work with and support Africa in its endeavours.
It cannot be overemphasized that to achieve all the foregoing, we need to focus on capacity building and strong institutions. Hence, the fourth pillar, which is an essential tool, particularly for the implementation of the irreversible process of continental integration. This includes strengthening linkages and synergies across relevant Departments in the Commission to ensure effective delivery of our mandate; provision of adequate and appropriately skilled human resources; transparent financial and administrative management systems as well as operationalisation of other organs.
In this context, let me express, on behalf of the African Union, my deep gratitude to the Government of China for its generous gift of a modern Conference Center and office Complex to the African Union. At this stage, the construction work of the project which has started in January 2009 and is making good progress and is expected to be completed in December 2011.