Africa: | Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Peace and Security in Africa

United Nations — Thank you, Mr. President. And since this is my first time in the Council since you took over your presidency, if you would allow me, I would like to first thank Brazil for a successful month as President and welcome you in your chair of the presidency and wish you a successful month as well.

Mr. President, I’d also like to thank China for convening today’s open debate on capacity building for sustaining peace in Africa. AU Commissioner Mr. Adeoye and Special Advisor Ms. Duarte, thank you for your presentations on some of the keys to ensuring sustainable peace. And Ambassador Muhith, our warm welcome and thanks to you as you take on your new position as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission. I would also like to welcome other members of the Council who are participating in this debate today.

Today, I’d like to discuss three core areas of focus that can move us toward a more sustainable and peaceful Africa. First, the importance of development and human rights in our work. Second, continued cooperation on conflict prevention and resolution. And third, our collective efforts to address the dire spike in global food insecurity.

And all of this is top of our mind for me because I just came back last night from a trip that took me to Uganda, Ghana, and Cabo Verde. During my visit, I laid out a vision for peace and food security in Africa. In my remarks, I quoted one of my personal heroes and a founding father of the United Nations, Ralph Bunche. Bunche said, and I quote, “If peace is to be secure, long-suffering and long-starved, forgotten people of the world, the underprivileged and the undernourished, must begin to realize without delay the promise of a new day and a new life.”

This is a message I wanted to bring here today, as well. Peace cannot wait in Africa. It must come from African leaders, African institutions for Africa’s people.
Colleagues, we have an opportunity to step up our support. And I join many in this room in highlighting our commitment to development, and at the same time, peace and security and human rights as equal, interlinked pillars of the UN Charter. One example of an interlinked approach to these pillars is our implementation of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability over the next 10 years.

I also join many here in calling for advancing development in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, which, as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights notes, are firmly anchored in human rights principles and standards.
It’s this kind of human rights-centered development and security agenda that we look forward to prioritizing at our upcoming Africa Leaders Summit, which will take place in Washington this December. Together, we can work to strengthen trade relations, economic development, and prosperity in Africa.

In line with what Secretary Blinken said today in Pretoria while launching the U.S. Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa: We believe Africa will shape the future – not just the future for African people – but for the world. African countries have the resources, and they have the will to do just that. African institutions are already leading the way by facilitating the resolution of crises and conflicts in the Great Lakes region, Mozambique, and Somalia – and by serving as major contributors to UN peacekeeping efforts around the world.

And the United States is using diplomacy to support these efforts. As just one example, during my visit to Uganda just last week, I underscored our support for African mediation efforts to the conflict playing out in the DRC. Secretary Blinken will do the same in his visits to DRC and Rwanda in the next few days. And we are urging an end to support for non-state armed groups and de-escalation of violence.

Let’s also acknowledge the fact that the African Union is key to Africa’s peace, as we heard from the Commissioner earlier. The African Union can continue to mediate conflict and support its Regional Economic Communities during political transitions and civil conflicts. And we applaud the progress that the AU has made in developing its own human rights and international humanitarian law frameworks. We are committed to continuing to work with the AU to further the financing of AU peace support operations envisioned in Resolutions 2320 and 2378.

Additionally, when we talk about peace in Africa, we must recognize the important role UN arms embargos play in sustaining peace in Africa. And on that point, exemptions to arms embargos ensure that governments have the ability to procure what they need, while the arms embargos provide transparency for weapons flows into conflict areas. Arms embargos limit the ability of belligerents to engage in hostilities and ultimately does save lives. These kinds of arms embargos are integral to the AU’s Silencing the Guns Initiative, which was extended to 2030.

But for all the hope that I have – and that I believe we should all have – we cannot discuss sustainable peace in Africa without acknowledging the tumultuous times in which we find ourselves. Spikes in energy prices, COVID, the climate crisis, and conflict – all mentioned by each of you today – have all led to a dramatic rise in food insecurity. This was a constant drumbeat when I was on the continent last week. Two-hundred-million people are now food insecure, unsure of where they will find their next meal. And you add Russia’s war of choice in Ukraine on top of all of this, and you have the worst food security crisis we have seen in our lifetimes. The responsibility for this added disruption of global supply chains, soaring, surging fuel prices, and suffering lies squarely and solely with the Russian government. And we know the effects are hitting Africa particularly hard.
In the case of food, as in many other areas, we are partnering with African governments and leaders to address immediate crises, while also connecting these short-term efforts with the a longer-term imperative of bolstering Africa’s ability to solve global problems.

Colleagues: let us work together under the leadership of African countries to forge a more peaceful, more prosperous, more secure future. And let us do so, as Ralph Bunche urged us, without delay.
Thank you.