UN and African Union to hold joint meeting

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will chair a debate today for the UN Security Council to evaluate the UN and

SA UN

Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will chair a debate today for the UN Security Council to evaluate the UN and African Union’s (AU) effectiveness in resolving conflicts in Africa.

South Africa holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency for December, the final month of its two-year duration on the council. It has made preventing and peacefully resolving conflicts and disputes in Africa among its most pertinent goals during its tenure, most notably in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

However, the rapidly developing conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region threatens to create a new crisis just as South Africa’s time on the council expires. Last week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed rebuffed the efforts of AU envoys sent to negotiate a peaceful settlement between Addis Ababa and Tigray rebels.

As the current AU Chairperson, expect President Ramaphosa to use the debate to argue for increased UN cooperation with the AU in regional conflicts. The AU lacks the strength of the UN and cannot effectively impose its will without external support, as evidenced by its recent failure in Ethiopia. Given that the UN already has an office and Special Representative dedicated to working with the AU and that three AU members currently sit on the Security Council, closer strategic cooperation seems a plausible next step.

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