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Ambassador Michael A. Battle Presentation on U.S –AU Relations and the Role of USAU for Seton Hall University Students

Addis Ababa

The African Union (AU) is a large, multilateral organization comprised of 54 member states representing the entire African continent.  The United States Mission to the African Union (USAU) manages the U.S. relationship with the African Union Commission (AUC) – which consists of the AUC Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, and eight Commissioners. 

USAU also interacts with the 54 members of the African Union Permanent Representative Council (PRC) and each of the Commissions of the African Union which includes Peace and Security, Political Affairs, Social Affairs, Human Resources, Science and Technology, Economic Affairs, Trade and Industry, Infrastructure and Energy, and Rural Economy and Agriculture.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is often referred to as the “Diplomatic Capitol of Africa” and is home to the African Union, UNECA, UNOAU and about 24 UN Organizations working with the African Continent. Addis is also the home of the joint Secretariat of the AU, UNECA and the African Development Bank.  The U.S. Mission to the African Union (USAU) is accredited to the African Union and has responsibilities to the multilateral organizations, the African Union and the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in particular and to all UN Organizations in Addis in general.

In full recognition of Africa’s importance to the U.S. and the African Union’s role as a major player in continent-wide issues, the U.S. government established a separate mission to the AU to observe and engage the African Union.  Since the establishment of the U.S. Mission to the African Union (USAU) in 2006, as the first non-African mission dedicated exclusively to the AU, the United States and the African Union have enjoyed a strong partnership that continues to develop as we engage on areas of mutual interest and work together to foster a more stable, democratic, and prosperous environment for citizens of Africa and the global community.  As U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, my role is to represent President Barack Obama and the interest of the U.S. in my mission’s relations with the African Union.

The United States Mission to the African Union focuses on multilateral diplomacy as a means of addressing issues, enhancing partnerships, brokering agreements, settling disputes, and launching new initiatives that are transnational in scope.  Multilateral diplomacy is an efficient and effective way for nations to engage continental and regional political, economic, military, civil society, and health organizations that seek to find solutions to the complex problems that transcend boundaries and bilateral relations.  Having a permanent representative at the African Union affords the United States the opportunity to engage the African Union and the partner nations that support the AU in a consistent, continuing manner and our focus recognizes the statement by President Obama that “Africa’s future is up to Africans.”

In June 2012 President Obama released his Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) for Africa.  In that document he articulated the “four pillars” which underscore the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa.  In the document the President states the following:

The United States will partner with sub-Saharan African countries to pursue the following interdependent and mutually reinforcing objectives: 

(1) strengthen democratic institutions;

(2) spur economic growth, trade, and investment;

(3) advance peace and security; and

(4) promote opportunity and development.

Additionally, and across all objectives, we will:  deepen our engagement with Africa’s young leaders; seek to empower marginalized populations and women; address the unique needs of fragile and post-conflict states; and work closely with the U.N. and other multilateral actors to achieve our objectives on the continent.

These four pillars guide USAU’s dialogue with the African Union and each of its Member States, and were formalized in the signing of the U.S.-AU Partnership Memorandum of Understanding following the most recent AU Summit this past January.  

Moreover, we use the PPD to engage more broadly with the AU, which includes the hiring of an AU Youth Volunteer Intern.  Our youth intern exchange with the AU allows for concerted and sustained engagement on issues on the African continent, from the youth perspective.  I am happy to announce that our second youth intern, Mr. Octavio Diogo (OC-TAH-VIO DEE-O-GO) arrived last month is already broadly engaging with both various personnel within the U.S. State Department and USAID.

U.S. diplomatic engagement with the AU has brought not only a strong rapport with AU counterparts, but allows us to engage with the AU on issues that require the efficiency and effectiveness of multilateral diplomacy – and there is a foundational and fundamental difference between multiple bilateral engagements and multilateral engagement. The former presupposes that there can be a convergence of multiple individual arrangements that will somehow accomplish a common good. The latter takes into consideration that the common good emerges when there is a common intent to seek the common good.

As President Obama has stated, the world cannot and must not determine Africa’s future; however, the international community can and must partner with Africa and its democratically and constitutionally elected leaders to work together toward an Africa, as envisioned by the African Union, that is integrated, prosperous, and peaceful; an Africa driven by its own citizens.  Recognizing the richness of Africa’s promise, the United States stands ready to continue to partner with Africa in the development of its future.

At this time, I would like to open the floor to your questions and comments and engage in open discussion.