September 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 25 August 2010
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High-Level Meeting on International Peace and Security

Expected Council Action
Turkey has indicated that as Council president in September it will call for a formal meeting of the Council on 23 September. It has proposed that this be at the level of heads of state and government. The agenda will be the international security environment and the Council’s role in the maintenance of peace and security. The meeting is expected to be chaired by Turkish President Abdullah Gul. The format is expected to be a debate involving the 15 Council members plus a briefing from the Secretary-General and a formal decision seems likely.

A draft concept paper has been circulated to Council members. At the time of writing a draft outcome document had also been prepared by Turkey for discussions with Council members.

Background to the Meeting
Turkey notes that there have been many significant changes in the global peace and security environment since the Council’s first such head of state and government meeting in January 1992. Turkey therefore feels that it is timely for the Council to review the evolving situation and assess the effectiveness of its core tools for addressing peace and security—preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding—in this new environment. Council members had an initial opportunity to discuss these issues during a preparatory retreat in Istanbul in late June.

The proposal is that the Council focus on two questions:

  • How is the international security environment evolving?
  • What are the implications of these changes for the way the Council fulfils its primary responsibility for peace and security?

Previous Council Debates on the Council’s Role in Maintaining International Peace and Security
At its first Summit meeting on 31 January 1992 the Council discussed its wide responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security. Presidential statement S/23500 following the Summit noted the changed environment following the end of the Cold War and stressed the importance of strengthening and increasing the effectiveness of the UN.

The Secretary-General followed up that meeting with a report in June 1992 known as “An Agenda for Peace”. It provided a framework for analysis of the issues raised by the Council’s first summit meeting. This report also brought into prominence a new idea—peacebuilding.

The only other Summit level meeting which covered a broad overview of peace and security matters was held in 2000. The Millennium Summit Declaration of 7 September 2000 (S/RES/1318) pledged to enhance the effectiveness of the UN in addressing conflict at all stages from prevention to settlement to post-conflict peacebuilding.

Another major milestone in 2000 was the publication of the Report of the Panel on UN Peace Operations, commonly known as the Brahimi Report and named after Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi who chaired the panel. The report made wide ranging proposals on improving the UN systems and processes for the management of peacekeeping operations.

In 2001 the Security Council adopted a significant statement which built on resolution 1318and which pulled together all of the elements which emerged from the “Agenda for Peace” and which still today represents the high-water mark of Council thinking on the inter-linkage between peacemaking, preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Its 20 February 2001 presidential statement (S/PRST/2001/5) said that:

the quest for peace requires a comprehensive, concerted and determined approach that addresses the root causes of conflicts, including their economic and social dimensions” and that “peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building are often closely interrelated”, requiring a “comprehensive approach in order to preserve the results achieved and prevent the recurrence of conflicts.

From late 2001 high-level Council attention appears to have shifted away from big picture peace and security issues. It was replaced by a high-level focus on terrorism. Between 2001 and 2008 there were four ministerial or head-of-state level meetings on terrorism. (Please see our brief on the Meeting on Terrorism in the 2010 September Monthly Forecast for more details.)

In late 2008/early 2009, however, the Council began a series of discussions on a number of the wider issues which have led to a growing recognition of the inter-linkage and overlap between preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, as well as an implicit acknowledgement that there are problems with the way the overall architecture and capacity for peace and security is working.

Readers may like to refer to recent Security Council Report’s publications on these areas:

  • Preventive Diplomacy and Conflict Prevention, Update Report, 14 July 2010
  • Peacebuilding, Monthly Forecast, August 2010
  • Peacebuilding, Update Report, 12 April 2010
  • Peacekeeping , Monthly Forecast, February 2010
  • Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, Monthly Forecast, December 2009
  • Peacebuilding Commission, Monthly Forecast, November 2009
  • Support for AU Peacekeeping, Update Report, 22 October 2009
  • Peacekeeping, Monthly Forecast, August 2009
  • Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, Update Report, 17 July 2009
  • Peacekeeping, Update Report, 24 June 2009
  • Peacekeeping, Update Report, 16 January 2009

The key issue for September is whether Council members will use this opportunity to initiate a process of improvement in the international peace and security architecture or limit their ambition to a statement of the issues and their good intentions.

A related issue is whether there is sufficient political will at this time, bearing in mind the relatively favourable climate that exists, to bring about an improvement in the UN’s peace and security architecture. Factors contributing to a favourable environment include an improved relationship between the US and Russia, an exceptionally strong group of elected Council members in 2011, and strong cohesion among African members on the need for leadership in developing the UN preventive diplomacy response capacity.

Another key issue is the extent to which the Council is ready to move towards implementing in practice the generic statements it has made in various statements of the importance of wider UN participation in its work on specific international peace and security issues, including from the General Assembly, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34), the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and others.

A related issue is whether the UN membership as a whole will react favourably and how this might be encouraged.

Also an issue is whether enough heads of state and government will attend to allow this to be a true summit meeting.

A possible option for the meeting is to agree to launch a process to improve the UN’s performance in maintaining peace and security in the 21st century.

Another option is for the meeting to endorse a set of general principles and look forward to further work allowing the emergence of a process subsequently.

Council Dynamics
Council members seem open to having a high-level debate on this issue even though a few members may not be able to be represented at head of state level.

On substance there is general acceptance that it is too early for major new decisions, given the need for an extensive process of preparation to achieve that. Most members appear to favour deciding on a process which could lead to a real output within the next year or so. However, some P5 members are uncertain whether such a process should be started at a high-level meeting and seem to prefer that the meeting take some decisions in principle and allow a process to emerge subsequently.

Since early 2009 a number of members have actively promoted a series of separate processes to improve its role in international peace and security. The UK and France initiated the ongoing peacekeeping review. Turkey, the US and Japan initiated a focus on peacekeeping and troop contributing countries. Nigeria initiated a focus on preventive diplomacy, followed by Uganda’s promotion in August of discussion within the Council Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa on conflict early warning and preventive diplomacy. China during its presidency in January focused on the involvement of regional organisations in peacekeeping. Japan has been involved in the issue of Council Working Methods.

However, as yet, none of these individual pillars of envisaged improvements have yet taken root as a real change process. This seems to be in part because of a sense of inter-linkage and that change in one area is dependent on change in other areas. It seems that it is recognition of this complexity that has given rise to the Turkish initiative and the sense that a high-level meeting would add real momentum that has been missing in the Council’s pursuit of the range of individually driven pillars of improvement.

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UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1645 (20 December 2005) created the PBC and the Peacebuilding Fund—concurrent with General Assembly resolution A/RES/60/180.
  • S/RES/1625 (14 September 2005) was a declaration on the effectiveness of the Security Council’s role in conflict prevention.
  • S/RES/1353 S(13 June 2001) contained a statement of cooperation and categories of consultation with TCCs.
  • S/RES/1327 (13 November 2000) adopted the decisions and recommendations of the report of the Panel on UN Peace Operations.
  • S/RES/1318 (7 September 2000) was the adoption of the Millennium Summit declaration on maintaining peace and security, especially in Africa.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2010/14 (16 July 2010) requested the Secretary-General to submit within 12 months a report making recommendations on how best to utilise the preventive diplomacy tools within the UN system in cooperation with other actors.
  • S/PRST/2010/2 (12 February 2010) focused on peacekeeping exit and transition strategies and stressed the importance of ensuring coherence between peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding to achieve effective transition strategies.
  • S/PRST/2009/24 (5 August 2009) set out future areas for improvement in peacekeeping.
  • S/PRST/2009/23 (22 July 2009) emphasised the vital role of the UN in post-conflict peacebuilding.
  • S/PRST/2009/8 (21 April 2009) acknowledged the role of mediation in peace processes and requested the Secretary-General to keep the Council informed of action taken in promoting and supporting mediation and pacific settlement of disputes.
  • S/PRST/2001/5 (20 February 2001) reiterated the value of including peacebuilding elements in mandates of peacekeeping operations.
  • S/PRST/1994/22 (3 May 1994) addressed issues relating to improving the capacity of the UN for peacekeeping.
  • S/23500 (31 January 1992) was the presidential statement after the first Council Summit meeting.

Selected Meeting Records

Selected Special Reports

  • A/60/692 (7 March 2006) was the Investing in the United Nations report.
  • A/59/2005 (21 March 2005) was the In Larger Freedom report.
  • A/59/565 (2 December 2004) was the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.
  • A/55/305 (21 August 2000) was the Brahimi Report.
  • A/47/277 – S/24111 (17 June 1992) was the report “Agenda for Peace.”

Full forecast

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