UN Deputy Secretary-General leads UN delegation at 35th African Union Summit; undertakes internal visits to various regions in Ethiopia

3 Feb 2022

UN Deputy Secretary-General leads UN delegation at 35th African Union Summit; undertakes internal visits to various regions in Ethiopia

The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General (DSG), Amina J. Mohammed, led the UN delegation to the 35th African Union (AU) Summit, representing the United Nations Secretary General. In this context, she engaged with African leaders on a range of pressing issues and had bilateral meetings with the Heads of delegation from Mozambique, Chad, Angola, Egypt, Gambia and Ethiopia as well as the High Representative of the African Union to the Horn of Africa - Former President Obasanjo, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission – Moussa Faki Mahamat. The issues they discussed included matters relating to development and conflict, complex political transitions, and the many humanitarian crises besetting the continent.

The DSG stressed the importance of aligning the 2030 Agenda and the AU’s 2063 Agenda. After the conclusion of the AU Summit the DSG paid a bilateral visit to Ethiopia and met with Senior Government officials including the President, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, the Leaders of the Regional States of Tigray, Amhara, Somali and Afar, as well as members of the Diplomatic corps accredited to Ethiopia and focused attention on the current situation in the country. She travelled to all of the regions previously referenced and visited conflict-affected areas in Tigray, Amhara and Afar, and areas impacted by the climate crises in the Somali region. During her visit, the DSG highlighted: the negative impact of climate change; the immediate need to end sexual and gender-based violence; the need for comprehensive physical and mental health support; and urged the authorities to involve women meaningfully in all recovery and reconstruction efforts. She further stressed the Secretary-General’s call for a cessation of hostilities and for a pathway to peace.

The 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of the Heads of State and Government (AU Summit) took place in person in Addis Ababa from 5 to 6 February. It was preceded by the 40th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council at Ministerial level from 2 to 3 February, which met to consider the draft agenda, draft decisions and declarations with appropriate recommendations for consideration by the Heads of State and Government during the Summit. The Summit convened under the 2022 theme: "Building Resilience in Nutrition on the African Continent: Accelerate the Human Capital, Social and Economic Development". Outlining African priorities for 2022 and beyond, the Summit was marked with calls for continued African solidarity in addressing the impact of COVID-19 on the continent and the urgent need to address the spate of unconstitutional changes of governments and the expanding threat of terrorism in Africa.

The Senegalese President Macky Sall, who took over the one-year term rotating AU chairmanship from President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, emphasized the need to exert concerted efforts in responding to continental threats such as instability, climate change and the devastating impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  He also noted that continental economic integration would not be possible without peace and security, and further called for continental solidarity and unity of purpose to realize the aspirations of the 2063 development Agenda.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat, gave a broad overview of the state of the Union, touching on issues related to health, governance, peace and security amongst others and the actions taken by the Commission and its Member States to address issues of regional importance.  Noting that Africa is among the continents hardest hit by COVID–19, the Chairperson underscored the concern about unavailability of vaccines for most Africans. He asked the Assembly to support the African Centers for Disease Control, as well as initiatives aimed at responding to these challenges. The Chairperson also shared his concerns about the peace and security situation across the continent, calling on Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to closely collaborate and coordinate actions with the AU and its member nations for effective responses to the threats to peace and security.

The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, addressed the Summit via a video message, underscoring the strength of the collaboration between the UN and AU, emphasizing the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the AU's Agenda 2063 as the cornerstone of the relationship between the two organizations, and offering the UN’s support to ignite “four engines of recovery”: vaccination; reform of the financial system; green recovery; and peace underscored by inclusive and participatory structures.