UN head for greater Africa’s role in global peace, security

By Guardian Correspondent , The Guardian
Published at 08:00 AM May 25 2024
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Photo: Courtesy of United Nations
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

UNITED Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday that peace was the key to unlocking Africa’s future and strengthening the continent’s voice and influence in building peace globally.

“Now is the time to unleash Africa's peace power. We need to strengthen Africa's leadership on the continent itself, and on the global stage,” he said at a debate on its critical role in addressing global security and development challenges.

Guterres described Africa as “an important voice for the global good” and said it had shown “many examples of unity and solidarity in a fractured world.”

“We see this unity in Africa's focus on ending poverty and hunger, supporting refugees fleeing across borders, and achieving sustainable development. And we see it in the continent's efforts to work together to build a modern, diverse, innovative, and powerful continental economy to benefit all Africans,” he said.

But Guterres added that there was first a need to find peace in Africa itself saying “too many Africans are caught up in the hell of conflicts or living with the relentless danger of terrorism and violent extremism in their communities.”

He said the UN and the African Union (AU) were working together to defuse conflicts before they escalate, manage them effectively when they occur, and build sustainable peace when they are resolved.

“Our partnership with Africa is based on the clear perception that we must work with the African Union based on the principle of African-led solutions for African problems,” he said.

He added that there was a need to rectify "structural inequalities" at the UN and give African countries a seat at the negotiating table.

“Africa deserves a voice in the global peace and security architecture. But Africa's voice can only be heard if African countries can participate in global governance structures as equals,” he said.

“This must include correcting the lack of permanent African representation at this Council. It must also include reforming the global financial architecture, especially its handling of debt, so that African countries have the support they need to climb the development ladder.”

He said the UN’s “Summit of the Future”, due to take place in New York in September, will be an opportunity to push forward on these issues.