Mr. Guterres was speaking the day after three Ethiopian peacekeepers serving in the United Mission in Abyei (UNISFA) were killed, when a military helicopter carrying troops crashed in the Mission compound whilst on a routine operation. Ten passengers were injured, and three are reportedly in critical condition.
United Nations peacekeeping operations, the UN chief added, are “increasingly being called into areas where there is no peace to keep,” explaining that this is why he has repeatedly expressed support for peace enforcement and counter-terrorism operations, and launched the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative in 2018, which aims to provide UN missions with the means to be more effective, better equipped, safer and more robust.
Mr. Guterres went on to impress upon his audience the “critical” role that women’s “equality, meaningful participation and leadership” have to play in ensuring lasting peace, citing the invaluable contributions made by FewWise – the African Women’s Network on Mediation – and the African Women Leaders Network, describing both groups as important initiatives for joint UN-AU collaboration.
The Secretary-General said that he had been determined from his first day in office to been determined to forge ever closer ties between the United Nations and Africa, noting a significant improvement in strategic cooperation between the UN and the African Union. The two sides have recently signed frameworks on peace, security and sustainable development, a Joint Declaration on cooperation for peace support operations and the first Human Rights Dialogue, which he called an “encouraging step on a critical issue.”