On May 19, 2021, at the initiative of China, which holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC) this month, the Security Council held an Open Debate on “Peace and Security in Africa: Addressing Root Causes of Conflict in Post-Pandemic Recovery in Africa” via video link.
The meeting was chaired by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and attended by foreign ministers of France, India, Tunisia, Ireland, Estonia and Vietnam as well as senior representatives from Kenya, Norway, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Niger, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Achim Steiner briefed at the meeting.
Wang Yi said, the world is experiencing the worst infectious disease pandemic in a century. In the face of the pandemic, no country in the world can enjoy absolute safety, and no country in the world should become a weak link in the fight against the pandemic.
The aim of China convening this UNSC open debate is to promote the international community to attach importance to the severe challenge posed by the pandemic to Africa’s peace and development, build consensus and synergy, and work with African countries to overcome the pandemic, carry out post-pandemic recovery, remove the root causes of conflicts, and inject new impetus to Africa’s lasting peace and sustainable development. On behalf of China, Wang Yi put forward four proposals:
First, we need to help Africa bridge the “pandemic divide”. The international community should provide more assistance for Africa in terms of pandemic prevention materials, medicines, technology and funding to ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in Africa. China calls on all countries with the capacity to urgently provide vaccines for Africa. We need to help Africa enhance its public health capacity building, strengthen its prevention and control systems, and build a global community of health for all. The United Nations (UN) should play a leading and coordinating role.
Second, we need to help Africa solve the “peace deficit”. The UN and the African Union (AU) should coordinate closely with each other to ensure the progress of two major initiatives: Global Ceasefire and Silencing the Guns in Africa. There must be continued support for African countries in seeking African solutions for African problems, and pushing forward the process of political settlement and peaceful reconciliation. We need to actively provide peacekeeping funds for Africa, support the AU’s peace operations, and help Africa enhance its capacity for peacekeeping, stability maintenance and counter-terrorism. We should attach importance to the important role of economic growth and social development in promoting peace and work to remove the root causes of unrest. We should resolutely oppose the unreasonable interference of foreign forces in African countries to avoid causing more contradictions and conflicts.
Third, we need to help Africa narrow the “development gap”. We should support Africa in exploring development paths suited to its national conditions. Developed countries should take concrete measures in such areas as debt relief, development assistance and technology transfer to fulfill their due international responsibilities. Development partners should think in an innovative way, base themselves on reality, support Africa in accelerating industrialization and modernization, and enhance Africa’s capacity for independent development and innovation. We should actively support the linking of industrial chains and supply chains with Africa and the building of African Free Trade Zone. The UN and the AU may step up coordination to synergize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2063 Agenda, so as to achieve greater results.
Fourth, we need to help Africa correct its “unfair governance”. Paying no attention to Africa’s peace and giving no assistance to the development in Africa, the UN will be politically and morally untenable. Without the support and participation of African countries, the UN cannot do its job well. The realization of equal rights, equal opportunities and equal rules for all countries cannot be achieved without increasing the representation and voice of African countries in international affairs. This is an inherent feature of true multilateralism.
Wang Yi said that China has always been a firm supporter of Africa’s fight against the pandemic, an active participant in its development and revitalization, and a strong upholder of its peace and stability. In the face of the once-in-a-century pandemic, China and Africa are willing to jointly launch a “partnership initiative to support Africa’s development”. We call on the international community to beef up support for Africa in such areas as fighting the pandemic, post-pandemic recovery, trade and investment, debt relief, food security, poverty reduction and alleviation, climate change, as well as industrialization.
We should channel resources to the most urgently needed areas of Africa and help it overcome difficulties and move forward. China welcomes more countries and international organizations, especially Africa’s traditional cooperation partners, to join this initiative, adhering to the principle of “Africa-led, equal-footing, and openness”, strengthening coordination and cooperation, committing to real multilateralism, so as to gather the strong force to support Africa’s development.
Wang Yi concluded that China is willing to stand together with its African brothers through thick and thin and cooperate with international partners to play a positive role in promoting peace and security in Africa and make unremitting efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
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All parties highly appreciated China’s initiative to hold an open debate on peace and security in Africa. They believe that the current outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has profound effects on the social development of African countries, and the meeting hosted by China has an important practical significance in helping Africa solve practical post-pandemic difficulties and maintain social stability, which will help build consensus and form synergy.
The biggest challenge facing Africa is the issue of vaccines. The international community should leverage its respective strengths, increase support to Africa, actively respond to Africa’s concerns, stop vaccine protectionism and nationalism, continue to provide Africa with anti-pandemic materials, and help Africa gain equal access to vaccines and realize economic recovery at an early date, so as to contribute more to the early victory over the pandemic, the elimination of the root causes of conflicts and the realization of sustainable development in Africa.
The meeting issued a presidential statement of the UN Security Council drafted by China.