Informal consultations are also likely involving a discussion with the head of the Peacekeeping Department, Alain Le Roy, and the chief of Field Support, Susana Malcorra. France hopes that this process will result in an outcome document to follow-up the 5 August 2009 presidential statement, and take into account aspects of Secretariat’s “New Horizon” non-paper and an upcoming field support strategy report.
France is expected to circulate a concept paper focusing on transition out of peackeeping ahead of the debate.
The fact that the debate precedes that of the session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping (which begins on 22 February) seems to be generating some concern among the wider UN membership and interest in participation in the debate may be strong.
This debate may pick up strands of the Council’s debate on “no exit without strategy” which took place on 15 November 2000. The Secretary-General responded in April 2001 with analysis and recommendations, but Council consideration seemed to lapse.
Key Recent Developments
1. UK- France Initiative
In 2009 the Council embarked on a review, initiated by France and the UK, of some peacekeeping issues. Three debates were held: the first on 23 January 2009 preceded by a seminar, the second on 29 June focused on the relationship with troop and police contributing countries (TCC/PCCs), and the third on 5 August assessed progress and adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2009/4) which documented some improvements in peacekeeping practices in the first half of 2009. The statement identified areas where further consideration was needed:
creating clear, credible and achievable mandates matched by appropriate resources;
improving information sharing particularly on military operational challenges;
increasing interaction with the Secretariat in the early phase of mandate drafting and throughout mission deployment;
engaging with TCC/PCCs earlier and more meaningfully before renewal or modification of mandates;
improving Council awareness of the implications of decisions on resource and field support;
enhancing Council awareness of the strategic challenges across peacekeeping operations;
how to implement a robust approach to peacekeeping and implementing protection of civilians’ mandates; and
coherence and integration of peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development (which was first mentioned in a 22 July presidential statement following a debate on post-conflict peacebuilding).
The Council’s enhanced attention to its practices and working methods on peacekeeping has resulted in a number of practical developments in 2009 including a much more consistent focus on benchmarks and requests for updating concepts of operation and rules of engagement in relevant peacekeeping missions mandates as they came up for renewal. For example:
The 15 September 2009 resolution on Liberia called for the Secretary-General to continue to monitor progress on core benchmarks (first presented in the Secretary-General’s August 2007 report) as well as developing and submitting to the Council a “strategic integrated plan to coordinate activity towards the achievement of benchmarks”. It also recalled the 5 August presidential statement on peacekeeping and requested the Secretary-General, to provide information on progress on achieving a coordinated UN approach in Liberia, particularly on critical gaps in peacebuilding objectives in his next report.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) presidential statement adopted on 23 December 2009 requested the Secretary-General to conduct a strategic review of the situation and the progress made by the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) toward achieving its mandate, and to further develop existing benchmarks. It also asked for the modalities of a reconfigured mission and the critical tasks that need to be completed before thinking about a drawdown.
The AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) resolution adopted on 30 July 2009 asked for the Secretary-General to submit a strategic workplan with benchmarks to measure and track progress made by UNAMID in implementing its mandate and to include an assessment of progress made against these benchmarks in his next report.
2. Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping
Another piece of evidence of practical change in working methods on peacekeeping emerged not only from the UK-France review process but also from the Working Group, under Japan’s leadership. A major improvement has been to address the issue of meetings with TCC/PCCs. A real effort has been made to bring forward the consultations with TCC/PCCs to at least a week before peacekeeping mandate renewals. In the past, consultations tended to take place just before the Council’s adoption of a resolution. There has also been more regular dialogue with the Secretariat and more regular political-military meetings.
The Group’s chair produced a summary on 17 December 2009 of discussions of its four meetings in November and December. Key issues identified were:
improvements in the cooperation mechanism, such as more meaningful consultations between stakeholders;
improvement of implementing mandates in cooperation with TCC/PCCs; and
support to TCC/PCCs.
There seems to be agreement on the need to make best use of existing consultation mechanisms and to implement measures set out in resolution 1353 of 2001 (which contains a statement of cooperation and specified categories of consultation with TCCs). But there was also a strong interest by some in developing or adopting mechanisms such as core groups or groups of friends to address the problems. Participants also identified better coordination with the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, or C34, as a key issue.
In 2010 the Working Group plans to look at closing gaps in capabilities, resources and training and key lessons learned from past and current missions about the successful implementation of transitional strategies.
3. New Horizon and Comprehensive Field Support Reports
Since the July 2009 publication of the non-paper, A New Partnership Agenda: Charting a New Horizon for UN Peacekeeping, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Department of Field Support (DFS) have held consultations with key stakeholders, including the Non-Aligned Movement, the EU and TCC/PCCs. There have been seven informal briefings to members of the C34 since November 2009. Le Roy and Malcorra also made formal presentations to the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly in October 2009.
Four priority areas are being stressed by the Secretariat:
field support strategy; and
planning and oversight.
Activities underway include developing policy guidelines on robust peacekeeping, protection of civilians, linkages between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and developing a new field support strategy to expedite and improve support for field missions while achieving efficiencies and economies of scale.
4. Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34)
The Secretary-General’s 22 December 2009 report A New Partnership Agenda: Charting a New Horizon for UN Peacekeeping for the C34 will be discussed at the session beginning on 22 February. The report addresses the four priority issues for DPKO and DFS identified above.
5. Protection of Civiilans and Peacekeeping Mandates
On 11 November 2009 the Council held an open debate chaired by Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and adopted resolution 1894, which recognised the need for protection early in the formulation of peacekeeping mandates and requested the Secretary-General to develop an operational concept for the protection of civilians in peacekeeping missions, as well as guidance to missions for reporting on protection. It also reaffirmed the importance of clear, credible and achievable mandates and stressed the importance of including progress on protection of civilians when developing benchmarks measuring the progress of implementation of peacekeeping mandates. The cross-cutting impact of this resolution was reflected in resolution 1906 adopted on 23 December 2009, which gave protection of civilians priority in MONUC’s new mandate.
In November 2009 the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and DPKO released an independent study on protection of civilians in peacekeeping operations. The study concluded that pre-mandate planning and assessments do not address well enough the nature of threats to civilians. It also found that the Secretariat and peacekeeping missions often lack clarity from the Council as to its intent regarding mandates for the protection of civilians. It said this ambiguity has created gaps in policy planning in the Secretariat and inevitably hampered implementation of protection mandates by the missions.
6. Initiatives by Other Member States
Continuing its series of peacekeeping panel discussions, Canada held a second discussion on 11 September 2009 which focused on the political dimensions of peacekeeping, and a third on mandates and modalities on 4 December. A fourth on field support strategy is scheduled for 12 February.
Australia and Uruguay organised a workshop on the protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping operations on 19 January where member states discussed the OCHA-DPKO study and looked at next steps for the issue of protection of civilians. This workshop was intended to generate discussion and ideas on an issue of interest to the participants of the 2010 C34 session.
overcoming difficulties in setting up exit strategies from the outset of a mission, including conceptualising the end state which is desired;
finding ways to put in motion a transition strategy during the life of a mission;
Council practices in drafting mandates; and
Council oversight function in peacekeeping.
A second issue is securing consensus on a substantive outcome addressing these issues. Positions on exit strategies tend to be highly politicised and some other permanent members of the Council are traditionally opposed to establishing generic fixed rules on such matters, preferring flexibility to deal with crises individually. These issues could make it difficult to agree on a standard approach to be used in drafting future resolutions.
Another key issue is how to build effectively on the improved partnerships that are beginning to develop between key players in UN peacekeeping. It appears that frequency of communication and coordination between the Secretariat, TCC/PCCs and the Council has improved over the last year. But improving the quality of the substantive interaction still seems to be a challenge.
A related issue is how to better integrate information available to TCC/PCCs, military experts and key stakeholders in Council decisions.
A related issue is the growing recognition of the value of improved interaction between the Working Group on Peacekeeping and the C34 and how to achieve that in an efficient and productive way.
Another issue, given how close the Council peacekeeping debate is being held to the start of the C34 session, is framing the Council debate with sensitivity given past reactions from the C34 to perceived Council encroachment.
Also an issue is ensuring that experts on Council delegations have knowledge of the way mandates are being implemented in the field. A related question is how few, if any, of the experts are ever able to visit key peacekeeping missions.
A large issue which the Council only touched on in its August presidential statement is the overlapping role of peacebuilding and peacekeeping. Clearly this is a critical element for transition and exit of formed military contingents but it may require more intensive preparatory discussion before members can firm up their positions.
Similarly, providing clearer priorities and greater clarity to tasks in mandates, particularly regarding protection of civilians and the associated robust peacekeeping, is critical to getting to desired end states for missions. But again much discussion, including in the C34, seems necessary before firm positions can be developed.
Another option is a more general and incremental presidential statement which would update and enlarge some of the elements in the August presidential statement.
Other options available to the Council include:
requesting DPKO to provide a series of informal monthly briefings to the Council as it develops its strategy on critical early peacebuilding tasks undertaken by peacekeeping;
requesting the Working Group to give priority to its proposed study of past successful transition strategies in peacekeeping; and
approving the guidelines for scheduling meetings with PCC/TCCs provided in the annex of the Working Group’s report and requesting the Secretariat to ensure that there is consistency reflected in future scheduling.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Although most members appear comfortable with the idea of a debate on transition strategies, there is less agreement over the appropriateness of discussing exit strategies. There is concern that a debate on exit strategies in the current climate will be viewed in terms of wanting to shut down a mission because of financial reasons. Some members would prefer to frame the discussion as connected to objectives fulfilled and linked to the benchmarks set. Most agree that deciding whether benchmarks have been met is not easy and is often politically contentious.
Since the review began, France, the UK and the US have actively pushed for peacekeeping mandates to have benchmarks inserted and monitored. There are some differences among them, however, over the question of when transition and exit strategies need to be included in a resolution.
Elected members like Brazil and Nigeria are active contributors to UN peacekeeping and are expected to draw on their practical experience during the discussions. Brazil believes that sustainable peace should be the end goal of a peacekeeping mission and that exit strategy language is unhelpful to a more holistic approach. Nigeria prefers to talk about achieving objectives and meeting benchmarks rather than talking about an exit. Japan, reflecting its role as chair of the Working Group, seems to prefer to highlight some of the key issues raised in the Working Group.
While there is some agreement that the overlap between peacebuilding and peacekeeping is important in terms of transition most members are not sure about the modalities. Some, like Mexico, Turkey and Brazil, would like to see a natural and effective intersection between peacekeeping and peacebuilding at some point in the life of a mission. Others question whether the Council is ready to grapple with such issues.
Selected Security Council Resolutions
Selected Presidential Statements
Selected Meeting Records
Protection of Civilians in the Context of UN Peacekeeping Operations: Successes, Setbacks and Remaining Challenges, Victoria Holt and Glyn Taylor, UN, 2009