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Ambassador Michael A. Battle’s Keynote Address at the African Center for Strategic Studies Security Workshop, September 25, 2012.

Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to address this very distinguished group gathered here in Addis Ababa, the diplomatic capital of the African continent. I express my appreciation to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies International Alumni Chapter for coordinating this event, and providing the opportunity for thorough discussions on many of the pertinent security issues presently facing the African continent. 

As U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, I am very familiar with the vast amount of work and attention the issues of peace and security, good governance and development and investment require. The AU is fortunate to have such a group of experts assembled to assist with creating solutions to these challenges.

I extend thanks to our presenters and panelists of academics, diplomats, and policy makers whose expertise and enlightening presentations allow for frank and informative discussions on topics of great importance to the AU and its partners, as we make note of the AU’s progress and address the challenges that still lie ahead.

Moreover, I would like to thank Col. Bradley Anderson for personally extending me the invitation to deliver the keynote address at today’s event.  He has been a valued colleague to both the U.S. Mission to the African Union and the U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa.

On June 14, 2012, President Obama released his Presidential Policy Directive (PPD), entitled U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. In this directive President Obama stated, that “as we look toward the future, it is clear that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and our work requires addressing the opportunities and challenges in Africa with a comprehensive U.S. policy that is proactive, forward-looking, and that balances our long-term interests with near-term imperatives.”

Of the four strategic objectives or “pillars” outlined in President Obama’s Policy Directive on Sub-Saharan Africa, advancing peace and security stands at the forefront. The U.S. believes that an environment of peace, security and stability are necessary conditions for democratic governance, sustained economic growth, trade and investment, and human development.  The United States has committed itself to assisting the AU and African countries.

In its official response to the PPD, The African Union Commission affirmed that on the peace and security front, the U.S. and other partners have been a supportive force in complementing AU efforts toward attaining peace and stability through support for the implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture.  Workshops and conferences, such as this ACSS-sponsored one today, allow experts, academics, and strategists the opportunity to assist the AU in furthering its important work.

The United States, through USAU, has dedicated significant resources to supporting the AU’s peace and security programs. 

We have advanced peace and security by playing an integral role in the birth of South Sudan, supporting the African Union Mission in Somalia, and working with regional partners to counter the predatory Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Working with our African partners we will strengthen the capacity of the AU to promote resiliency as well as try to mitigate and prevent future crises where we can.

Over the last three and a half years, the United States has worked with the African Union to see post conflict transitions in Niger, Guinea (Conakry), Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. We are still engaging the African Union and the regional organizations with the struggles in Madagascar, Mali and Guinea Bissau.

We have witnessed Ethiopia and Kenya deal more successfully with drought and averting famine. It is important to note that issues surrounding drought and famine have peace and security implications. Whenever there is a scarcity of resources or the lack of effective management of resources there is an increase in the type tension that produces disruptions in peace and security. It is also the case that where there is a disruption in peace and security there is an increase in the probability of scarcity. Ethiopia and Kenya are to be applauded for the pre-planning and resource management that allowed these two nations to endure drought and avoid famine.

In terms of governance, we have witnessed the peaceful peace time transitions of government in Malawi, Senegal, Ghana, and Ethiopia. It is significant to note that for the first time in over 80 years Ethiopia has experienced a peaceful, constitutionally directed transition of power resulting in new leadership. We have celebrated with the African Union, the ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance. This Charter illustrates Africa’s dedication to universal democratic values and principles and calls for AU Member States to commit themselves to the transparent and accountable management of public resources, respect for human rights, and the creation of an independent and impartial political culture that supports free and fair elections. Working with the African Union in multilateral diplomacy to get the Charter ratified was more effective and efficient than trying to broker 54 separate agreements on democracy, elections and governance.

Working with the African Union and the international community we are seeking to create a context for the mitigation of conflict and the promotion of lasting peace between Sudan and South Sudan. Sudan and South Sudan have made encouraging progress on agreements on oil production that should improve the futures of both nations. We are hopeful that agreements on borders, humanitarian access and all of the elements in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement will be fully implemented.

It should be noted that the work done by the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council on Sudan and South Sudan has signaled a renewed positive relationship of cooperation and collaboration that recognizes the global role of the UN and the complementarity of the role of regional organizations like the AU in assuring global and regional peace and security.

Our long term support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is beginning to produce positive results. Somalia is closer to realizing its hope for stability and development than it has been for over twenty years. This is due in part to the AU-led mission, AMISOM, and the close collaboration of international partners. It is imperative to note that the AU led the way to try and create a context that provided space for the new emerging political reality of an elected parliament and an elected President of Somalia. The AU went where others dared not go. The AU led where others did not lead. And the AU deserves the credit and the recognition for its sustained efforts, shared with its international partners.

While much work remains to be done to end the reign of terror by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the AU has been collaborating with regional and international partners in trying to bring an end to the threat of the LRA. There are many other areas of the continent where the AU has provided and continues to provide leadership, demonstrating a willingness to work with regional and international partners.

The United States looks to the African Union, founded in 2002 with the expressed purpose of promoting peace, security, stability and development on the continent, as a respected voice that seeks to build consensus on African issues. In this context, the United States and the African Union engage in substantive and honest dialogue about encouraging open, transparent, accountable democratic societies that foster and protect human and civil rights across the continent.

Other areas of interest to both the United States and the African Union include climate change, food security, the development of opportunities for youth and women, the reduction and elimination of trafficking in persons and drug trafficking.

Recognizing that African youth engagement is essential to peace, security, development and governance on the continent, President Obama in 2010 held his first African Youth Forum in Washington. The U.S. Mission to the African Union has supported the African Union in its efforts to engage, empower and develop young Africans. The U.S. Mission to the African Union and the African Union have exchanged youth interns through the AU Youth Volunteer Corps and the U.S. Peace Corps. The United States is the first non-African nation to employ a member of the African Youth Corps in a diplomatic mission.

At the January 2012 Summit, AU Heads of State endorsed the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade and called for a Continental Free Trade Area by 2017. This Free Trade Area would increase intra-regional trade across the continent, allowing Member States to diversify their economies. In addition, the African Union is moving forward with its Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa and its Action Plan for Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa, which will open up the medium- and high-technology segments of global manufacturing that will drive dynamism and rapid growth in African economies. The combined impact of these initiatives will help unleash the human capital of Africa and move the continent forward toward a more prosperous and secure future.

The U.S. strategic objectives outlined in the PPD are very consistent with AU efforts to spur economic growth by promoting an enabling environment for trade and investment. Contrary to the unfounded yet far too widely held belief that investments on the African Continent do not yield profits, the reality is that the return on investments on the African Continent is very competitive. In the past decade, six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world—Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Chad, Mozambique and Rwanda—are African nations.

In May 2012, I met with President Kikwete of Tanzania and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah at the Grow Africa Conference on the margin of the World Economic Forum in a preparatory meeting for the U.S. hosting of the G8. The focus was on how G8 partnership with African nations and the African private sector can create the kind of transformation of African-led agriculture and related agricultural infrastructural development that will be able to lift 50 million people from poverty. What will make this effort work is that seven African Nations—Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Tanzania—are taking the lead working with the African Union, the World Food Program, the G8, the World Economic Forum and other international partners in the public and private sectors in Africa and abroad.

In an effort to broadly disseminate President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive, the United States Mission to the African Union provided separate comprehensive briefings to the African Union Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Commissioner for Peace and Security. USAU also provided briefing summaries on the PPD to all of the AU Commissioners, the AU Chief of Staff, and AU Legal Counsel.

 In an unprecedented move the African Union, in July 2012, wrote a comprehensive four page response to President Obama acknowledging appreciation for the U.S. Strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa. The African Union’s response states:

 “We are grateful and acknowledge the recently launched US Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa by your Administration in June 2012…. The US has continued to engage Africa on many fronts from peace and security; trade and investment; health; food security to infrastructure development. Your strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa signals to us an interest in addressing our high expectations and renews confidence in a relationship that is increasingly building on partnership and mutual interest…..We are delighted that the US Strategy goes hand in glove with our African priorities.”

 The fact that the United States strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa and the African Union priorities clearly align, is evidence of our articulated mutual interests and the significance of the African Union to the United States’ strategic objectives.