August 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 July 2009
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Expected Council Action
The Council is to hold an open debate on peacekeeping, most likely on 5 August. This responds to the French-British initiative launched in January this year and seems likely to result in a presidential statement and an ongoing programme of work for the next six months.

The Council will be briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy and Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Susana Malcorra. They are expected to elaborate on the Secretariat’s recently completed “New Horizon” review of peacekeeping and the Department of Field Support’s (DFS) upcoming Field Support Strategy, which is expected out later this year.

Key Recent Developments
At the time of writing the Council was discussing a draft presidential statement prepared by the UK. The statement seems likely to outline the improved practices the Council has tried to develop at the practical level in the last six months including more regular dialogue with the Secretariat, efforts to deepen consultations with troop and police contributing countries, organisation of political-military meetings, updating of planning documents and the use of benchmarks to chart progress against a comprehensive and integrated strategy in mission mandates. It is also likely to identify future areas for work such as how to:

  • ensure credible and achievable mandates;
  • share information better, particularly on military challenges and enhancing its military expertise;
  • engage earlier and more effectively with troop and police contributing countries; and
  • promote greater recognition of resource implications and strategic challenges related to peacekeeping missions.

On 24 July the UK circulated a concept paper for the debate. The paper touched on how the Council has worked to improve the quality of mandating, oversight and evaluation of peacekeeping operations in the first half of the year. It suggested that the debate should chart the way forward and focus on practical recommendations. Among the future areas that could be covered are:

  • ensuring that peacekeeping operations support the political settlement of disputes;
  • developing a consensus on issues in complex missions, including transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding;
  • what protection of civilians means in practice; and
  • when should the UN take a more robust approach to peacekeeping.

On 17 July the Secretariat published a non-paper entitled “A New Partnership Agenda: Charting a New Horizon for UN Peacekeeping”. The non-paper points out that the scale of UN peacekeeping today is unprecedented, with 116,000 deployed personnel across 15 missions and an annual budget of nearly $7.8 billion. It acknowledges that many of the challenges facing peacekeeping today are not new and that the principles set down by the 2000 Brahimi Report are still valid. However, the non-paper notes there is a mismatch between the scale and complexity of modern peacekeeping and its tools, which is creating serious strains. In order to meet this challenge, it suggests that peacekeeping needs to move away from a piecemeal approach to a global one, which requires a renewed global partnership among the Council, the contributing member states and the Secretariat.

Elements of the “New Horizon” Non-Paper Relevant to the Debate

Some key elements of the “New Horizon” non-paper addressed to the Council include:

  • crafting mission mandates with clearly achievable objectives and specify the activities for which the mission is responsible;
  • adopting a phased approach when establishing peacekeeping missions;
  • establishing informal, mission-specific coalitions of engaged stakeholders to help secure political and operational support in complex missions;
  • reviewing, together with the Secretariat, recurrent mandate tasks to enhance clarity and understanding of their objectives; and
  • mandating a peacekeeping mission at least six months in advance of an expected transfer of authority from a partner like the AU to the UN, and authorising the deployment of advance-planning capabilities when a UN operation follows an existing operation run by a partner.

It seems there is a good deal of synergy between the “New Horizon” recommendations and many of the areas of future work for the Council envisaged in the draft presidential statement.

The “New Horizon” non-paper also suggests that the DPKO and DFS for their part should develop a practice of:

  • presenting proposals on the full range of supporting actions needed for mission deployment when considering a new mission in complex situations;
  • supporting strengthened consultations with the Council and with troop-contributing countries (TCCs) and police-contributing countries (PCCs) and include information on consultations with them in regular Secretary-General reports;
  • engaging Council members and contributing countries on strengthening mechanisms for consultation and interaction on mission-planning processes; and
  • reviewing current reporting practices and engaging the Council and TCCs/PCCs in a dialogue on information requirements.

The Secretariat also plans to produce by December a proposal for updated and streamlined reporting procedures, as well as a draft strategic guidance note on the robust approach to peacekeeping. The latter dovetails well with the Council’s concern to ensure that mandates are “credible and achievable”.

History of the France-UK Initiative
In January, France and the UK launched their initiative aimed at improving the Council’s approach to mandating and reviewing peacekeeping missions. So far it has focused largely on the Council’s strategic oversight role in various peacekeeping operations.

The effects of this effort can be seen in eight out of the 11 resolutions adopted in 2009 on UN peacekeeping missions.

The resolutions on the missions in Chad and Central African Republic (MINURCAT) and in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) approved benchmarks relating to an exit strategy for the missions. They also requested the “development of a strategic work-plan containing indicative timelines to measure and track progress” on the implementation of the benchmarks.

The resolutions on Sudan, Afghanistan and Guinea-Bissau asked the Secretary-General to develop benchmarks for measuring and tracking progress on their mandates and to assess progress against these benchmarks in his next report. The Council also asked for reports tracking progress in resolutions on Nepal, Cyprus and Timor-Leste.

By contrast, three resolutions, those on Western Sahara, the Golan Heights and Georgia (which was a rollover resolution), did not have references that indicated greater Council oversight of benchmarks.

Further evidence of more intensive Council oversight has been seen in requests for separate informal technical briefings on the military or security situation in the most recent resolutions on:

  • the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC);
  • Côte d’Ivoire; and
  • Chad/Central African Republic (CAR).

Similarly, the growing practice of asking the Secretary-General to report on the updating of the concept of operations and rules of engagement within three months of the adoption of resolutions signals increased Council engagement. This was seen in the most recent resolutions on:

  • Timor-Leste;
  • Chad/CAR; and
  • the DRC.

Impact of Public Council Debates and Working Group Interaction with TCCs/PCCs
The public debates on 23 January and 29 June enabled the Council to hear key stakeholders voice their views on the current state of peacekeeping. In the debate on 29 June under Turkey’s presidency, Le Roy and Malcorra called for a new partnership between the Council, contributing countries and the Secretariat for peacekeeping. The day-long debate, which focused on the relationship with contributing countries, saw thirty TCCs/PCCs as well as financial contributors participating.

The Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, chaired by Japan, has had five meetings this year. In February, the Group decided to focus on the gap between mandates and their implementation and invited relevant TCCs to discuss this issue in the context of specific missions. Its next three meetings involved TCCs and the Secretariat and addressed from a broad perspective the implementation of mandates in Haiti, the DRC, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste. A wrap-up session was held in July. Working Group members are considering issuing a summary of main points from the meetings. (Please see our 24 June Update Report on Peacekeeping for the history of the Working Group.)

Other Initiatives
Outside the Council, Canada is expected to convene the second in its series of seminars on peacekeeping in September. The discussion is expected to focus on mandate design and modalities for implementation. The first seminar was on 26 May and discussed the symptoms and causes of peacekeeping overstretch.

Key Issues
An immediate issue is whether there will be agreement on a presidential statement. A clear statement capturing what has been done and setting the work programme on peacekeeping is seen by many Council members as a useful guide on the tasks ahead.

A related issue is focusing the debate on practical steps that can be achieved rather than on the problems in peacekeeping. Most Council members are keen to see a forward-looking discussion with practical suggestions.

A procedural question is how to capture productive synergies from the different peacekeeping initiatives this year (the Working Group activities, the Canadian seminars, the Secretariat’s “New Horizon” paper and the British-French initiative).

An example of the practical issues which need discussion is how to better use the existing structures such as the Working Group and Military Staff Committee to improve the quality of interaction between TCCs, the Secretariat and Council. (The perfunctory nature of the meetings of TCCs with the Council and Secretariat was clearly illustrated by the 23 July TCC meeting. It was held 45 minutes before the Council adopted the resolution renewing the UNOCI mandate, immediately after which the Council held closed consultations which did not involve the TCCs.)

A related issue—and perhaps the key underlying issue with many of the problems identified—is not so much the need for new generic or thematic decisions and commitments but practical systems to ensure that past decisions are actually implemented by the Council week after week. The fact that Council decisions in 1994 are still relevant, but do not get implemented in practice, underlines the importance of this aspect.

Another related issue is finding a better system for consistently pooling information from TCCs, military experts and key stakeholders in peace processes giving effect to what the “New Horizon” paper calls a “partnership”. This seems likely to require finding practical ways of making the institutional culture of the Council more inclusive and depoliticising the existing structures. To do this the Council would have to work closely in a practical, sustained way with key stakeholders, the TCC/PCCs, the Secretariat and countries involved in peace processes. This would allow the Council to approach mandate creation, reviews and renewals in a new way. But it seems that it would require an informal process, often in private and with participation structured as the Peacebuilding Commission does in “country specific clusters”.

Also an issue is creating an effective process for benchmarking and review so that the Council can be informed on progress at different stages of a mission’s mandate. Currently benchmarks are primarily used when considering a mission’s exit strategy and it is clear that this sometimes contributes to politicising the issues.

A further key issue which comes through in the “New Horizon” paper is the need for better resourcing and strategies that could help build political reconciliation and establish and maintain peace in countries with peacekeeping missions.

A number of related issues surround complex mission mandates including:

  • achieving a balance between civilian and military components;
  • understanding the relationship between peacekeeping and peacebuilding both temporal and political (the Council’s action on 22 July in S/PRST/2009/23 is relevant in this regard ); and
  • addressing the tension involving robust mission mandates and the civilian protection mandate. (In this regard, the upcoming OCHA/DPKO independent study will be an important contribution to further work.)

Another key issue is how to formulate mandates that focus on objectives rather than activities. This could be tested in September and October when the mandates of the UN missions in Liberia and Haiti respectively come up for renewal.

Also an issue is improving the Council’s awareness of financial implications at an early stage. One possibility is to institute regular quarterly briefings by the Secretariat on operational, financial, budgetary and administrative aspects of peacekeeping.

Options available to the Council include:

  • Adopting a presidential statement encapsulating what has been accomplished so far and providing a framework for the next phase of work.
  • Using the debate to capture ideas for tackling practical solutions to issues. (These could be incorporated in a subsequent note by the president:

1. outlining the key points emanating from the debate and thereby setting a framework for the future work programme; and

2. agreeing that senior members of Council delegations will work on these issues intensively with a view to results being published in a note by the president in December.)

  • Resolving the tension between the different streams of work on peacekeeping in the first half of the year by agreeing, as a provisional measure until 31 December and subject to review in light of wider review of the partnership recommendations in the “New Horizon” paper, to request the Working Group on Peacekeeping under Japan’s leadership to build on its recent practice and take the lead, as mandates come up for renewal, in convening country/mission specific meetings with DPKO and requesting DPKO to provide input for:

1. discussion of systematic implementation, as applicable, of past generic Council decisions relating to peacekeeping in the context of specific missions;

2. applying recent Working Group practice with TCCs and inviting them to early and substantive exchanges of information and also inviting other key stakeholders as appropriate; and

3. political military updates and review with DPKO of planning documents and benchmarks.

(This would involve the Working Group gearing up to address seven missions in four months: Sierra Leone and Liberia (September); Haiti (October); and Cyprus, DRC, Burundi and UNDOF (December).)

Council and Wider Dynamics
There is general agreement that the focus this year on peacekeeping is timely. Members seem open to having an outcome document. Some question the value of another debate so soon after the debate under the Turkish presidency on 29 June. However, most members agree that the fact that the full text of the “New Horizon” non-paper is now available means that the debate is likely to add new value.

There is support for greater Council oversight of mission mandates, the need for credible mandates and better interaction with TCCs. Most members are also very keen for the Secretariat’s “New Horizon” document to feed into the next phase of the review process.

The UK and France continue to take the lead on this issue and have been particularly energetic in persuading members to take a more strategic look at mandates this year.

The US appears ready to play an active role. During the June debate the US said that it will contribute more military observers, military staff officers and civilian police and other civilian personnel to peacekeeping operations.

There is support for developing the peacebuilding dimensions so as to more safely accelerate the transfer of responsibility from peacekeepers to host countries. Many also recognise the dangers of drawing down too early.

As chair of the Working Group, Japan has been instrumental in engaging major TCCs. It is willing to continue to provide a forum for TCC interaction but appears to be waiting for further direction from members before deciding on its agenda for the rest of the year.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1876 (26 June 2009) renewed UNOGBIS till 31 December 2009 and requested it be succeeded by a peacebuilding office (UNIOGBIS).
  • S/RES/1873 (29 May 2009) renewed UNFICYP and noted the importance of contingency planning in relation to settlement.
  • S/RES/1870 (20 May 2009) renewed UNMIS till 30 April 2010
  • S/RES/1868 (23 March 2009) renewed UNAMA until 23 March 2010 and included a request to include benchmarks in the next report.
  • S/RES/1867 (26 February 2009) renewed UNMIT until 26 February 2010.
  • S/RES/1865 (27 January 2009) renewed UNOCI until 31 July 2009.
  • S/RES/1864 (23 January 2009) renewed UNMIN till 23 July 2009.
  • S/RES/1861 (14 January 2009) renewed MINURCAT and endorsed the benchmarks towards the exit strategy of MINURCAT in the Secretary-General’s report.
  • S/RES/1856 (22 December 2008) renewed MONUC till 31 December 2009.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2009/23 (22 July 2009) was on post-conflict peacebuilding.
  • S/PRST/2004/16 S/ (17 May 2004) was the presidential statement following the debate on peacekeeping operations, mandates and resources.
  • S/PRST/1994/22 (3 May 1994) addressed issues relating to improving the capacity of the UN for peacekeeping.

Selected Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6153 and resumption 1 (29 June 2009) was the debate on the relationship with TCC/PCCs.
  • S/PV.6075 (23 January 2009) was on UN peacekeeping missions and was part of the UK-France initiative.

Useful Additional Sources