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Dear Colleagues, dear friends.
I am pleased to see you all here today for the launch of the Group of Friends of the United Nations (UN) - African Union (AU) Partnership.
I am happy to chair this first meeting together with Egypt, and my friend Idrees.
The importance of strengthening the UN-AU partnership has been recognized many times.
The Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security is an important step forward.
So is the “African Union-United Nations Framework for the Implementation of Agenda 2063, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Now a third framework on human rights is in the pipeline.
Norway believes that cooperation with regional organizations is essential for the work of the UN, and the African Union is a key partner.
Relations between the UN and the AU are maturing and growing stronger. But we asked ourselves, what can be done by Member States to support these efforts?
As many of you know, a Group of Friends of the UN-AU partnership was established in Addis Ababa May last year, chaired by Rwanda and Norway.
The purpose of establishment of this Group of Friends was to: help promote and further strengthen the partnership, address issues of common interest between the AU and the UN, and to provide Member States and partners, support on both an operational and political level.
The Group in Addis is up and running and we can already see that it plays a role in bringing the two multilateral capitals- New York and Addis- closer together.
The Group of Friends is a place for discussion- where Member States of the AU, and the UN, are able give input and comments.
But, it is also a place for briefing and information sharing on current processes and developments within and between the two organizations.
We have now taken the initiative to establish this Group of Friends of the UN- AU also here in New York. As a Group that can mirror the one in Addis, and add value in discussing issues that are on the top of the agenda here.
We will of course have close collaboration with the AU Observer Mission and the UN Secretariat.
The countries in the Steering Committee are the same as in Addis, 14 in number and half African- and half non-African states.
Norway is pleased to chair the Group this first period together with Egypt, as present president of the AU (for a few more days).
We are committed to ensure that this Group of friends has an added value. That it will be a forum for discussing development, peace and security issues, but always with a link to the African continent.
But to do that we need you! Members States who see the merit in a strong relationship between the UN and AU to join the Group so that we can increase information sharing, and make it a place for frank and constructive discussions on issues of interest for the Partnership.
Thank you all again for your interest.