In a significant development, the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) signed a novel human rights agreement aimed at fortifying their partnership. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat finalised this accord during the seventh high-level dialogue in New York.
The latest pact, focusing on human rights, follows earlier agreements addressing peace and security along with development. Speaking after the signing, both leaders emphasised the urgent need to revamp the global financial architecture to align with present-day realities.
Faki underscored Africa’s struggles, citing the region’s vulnerability to terrorism and violent extremism, which affect various regions and cause some AU peacekeeping operations to diminish. He highlighted economic challenges aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and repercussions from the conflict in Ukraine, disrupting food supplies.
Stressing the importance of financing for development and peace, Faki emphasised the criticality of global financial institution reforms. He also anticipated advocating for Africa’s climate concerns at the upcoming COP28 conference in Dubai, emphasising the continent’s disproportionate impact from climate change despite minimal pollution.
Guterres echoed the significance of UN-AU collaboration, emphasising African-led solutions for the continent’s issues. He lamented historical injustices tied to colonialism and slavery, compounded by current financial and economic disparities.
Recognising Africa’s pre-pandemic economic growth, Guterres highlighted pandemic-exposed injustices in vaccine distribution and increased debt burdens hindering essential responses to citizens’ needs, primarily youth. He stressed the necessity of addressing the root economic and social causes of conflicts, proposing peace enforcement and counterterrorism operations led by the AU and backed by the UN Security Council.
In addressing the situation in Gaza, Guterres acknowledged the temporary truce’s symbolic value but emphasised its limitations in resolving underlying issues, advocating for a humanitarian ceasefire, hostage release, and comprehensive aid delivery.
Regarding UN peacekeepers in Sudan and reports of atrocities in West Darfur, Guterres attributed the situation to power struggles sacrificing people’s interests and urged a shift away from power-centric conflicts.