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Addis Ababa (HAN) July 20.2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed a decision by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) that sets out steps towards self-reliance, particularly in relation to the regional body’s peace and security budget.

A statement issued by the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said “He notes with interest the innovative funding arrangements aimed at providing the AU, via the Peace Fund, with increased financial means to address the peace and security challenges facing the continent.”

At the 27th AU Summit that concluded on Monday in Kigali, Rwanda, the Assembly of the AU decided to operationalize  the Peace Fund, in order to finance AU’s peace and security operations.

The Peace Fund is expected to gain $65 million per year from each of the continent’s five regions through an import levy of 0.2 per cent on eligible imports.

The provision will increase to $80 million per region by 2020.

The decision is in fulfillment of the commitment by the Heads of State and Government, made in 2015, to finance 25 per cent of the cost of AU peace support operations.

The funding will be used to support the AU’s five peace and security programs: African Stand by Force (ASF), Panel of the Wise (PoW), Continental Early Warning Systems (CEWS), Capacity Building and Conflict Prevention.

The UN chief commended the African Heads of State and Government, the leadership of the AU, especially Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and the AU High Representative for the Peace Fund, Donald Kaberuka, for their active engagement in fulfilling the commitment to finance 25 per cent of the AU peace and security agenda well ahead of the initial objective of 2020.

“Mindful that a strong partnership requires strong partners, the Secretary-General looks forward to the implementation of this additional step towards the further consolidation of the United Nations-AU partnership,” the statement said.

The Secretary-General also urged Member States to give urgent consideration to the initiative, according to the UN News Center.

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