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Statement by President Jacob Zuma on Cooperation on Peace and Security with a special focus on youth during the 5th African Union-European Union Summit

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Your Excellency Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire
Your Excellency, Professor Alpha Condé, Chairperson of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government, and President of the Republic of Guinea,
Your Excellency, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Your Excellency, Mr Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, 
Your Excellency, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission,
Your Excellency, the President of Pan-African Parliament,
Your Excellency, Mr Antonio Tajani, President of European Parliament,
Your Excellency, Mr António Guterres, UN Secretary General,
Honourable Heads of State and Government,
Honourable Ministers,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentleman,
 
South Africa is honoured to introduce the thematic session on African Union (AU)-European Union (EU) Cooperation on peace and security with a focus on youth, on behalf of the African Union.
 
Since the adoption of the Africa-EU Joint Strategy in 2007, the cooperation between the AU and the EU in the area of peace and security has intensified. 
 
The African continent has made significant strides in resolving African peace and security challenges since our last meeting in 2014. This includes initiatives to address conflicts and crises, as well as the scourge of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation.
 
Despite this progress, Africa continues to face a manifestation of diverse threats to peace and security. The illicit proliferation and circulation of small arms and light weapons; drug trafficking and production; human smuggling and trafficking; mercenaries; illegal exploitation of natural resources; maritime insecurity as well as the impact of climate change are some of the security challenges that Africa continues to contend with.
 
To address these challenges and mitigate the impacts of conflicts, we must prioritise mediation and preventive diplomacy in all of our peace and security activities. Whilst significant work has been done in the area of early warning, there remains much more that can be done to better our prompt and effective response to peace and security threats.  
 
In this regard, it is necessary that all components of the African Peace and Security Architecture to be fully operational.
 
Excellencies,
 
I would like to re-iterate Africa’s continued commitment to replenish the AU Peace Fund in support of the three windows of peace and security activities to be financed by the Fund, including peace support operations.
 
It shall be recalled that the AU is implementing a Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020 as adopted by Assembly in January 2017. This will enable us to create a conducive environment for sustainable development.
 
It is evident that the peace and security challenges that Africa is facing today cannot be left to the AU to resolve alone due to their universality and far reaching implications, including their impact on youth. This therefore requires our Unions to work together in a concerted way to address the root causes of instability and insecurity in order to create a sustainable future for the youth as envisioned by AU Agenda 2063 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
 
Excellencies,
 
As we gather here we are also haunted by images of many of our Continent’s citizens plunged in the watery grave of the Mediterranean and the scenes of a slave trade continuing on this very continent.  
 
These African migrants are often ransomed to their families and until ransoms can be paid, they are tortured, forced to work, and eventually executed or left to starve. Women are used as sex slaves and child migrants also suffer abuse and rape.
 
We cannot stand idle without condemning such actions in the strongest possible terms.
 
We can also not let the calls for justice for these victims go unheard. We need to act decisively and support the Libyan Government of National Accord to address this human tragedy and eradicate the scourge of modern day slavery, exploitation and forced labour, currently unfolding in front of our eyes.
 
In addressing this human tragedy, we need to examine its root causes such as environmental degradation, insecurity and instability, climate change and the lack of economic opportunities that compel our youth to sacrifice the blessing of family life and familiar surroundings to migrate.
 
Our continent cannot succeed with its developmental mission if the young, able and effective members of our population are allowed to perish in search of economic opportunities.
 
Whilst the legal and controlled migration of our people could economically benefit our continents immensely through the exchange of talented and skilled workforce, the irregular migration of our people can also foments insecurity especially if such migration is infiltrated by criminal and terrorist elements.
 
These challenges, therefore, compel us to increase our cooperation in addressing the risks associated with uncontrolled and irregular migration.
 
Having said this, I would like to dispel the myth that a large share of African migrants relocate to Europe or the developed states in the North. Research illustrates that this is not the case. In fact there is more intra-African migration.
 
This shows us that migration challenges are not the exclusive domain of the EU, but also that of African countries.
 
Thus there is urgency to work together in investing in and supporting internationally recognised programmes that would not only address the root causes of irregular migration, but treat these migrants with the necessary dignity and respect they deserve.
 
In this regard, we hope for balanced outcomes on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration as well as a Global Compact on Refugees to be adopted in 2018.
 
Excellencies,
 
Let me conclude by urging all of us to consider practical ways and means to enhance our cooperation in the area of peace and security.
 
It will be important that we reflect on a structured framework to solidify this partnership, taking into account the complexity of our peace and security threats as well as their root causes.
 
I thank you.