In February members of the Council are expected to continue the cycle of consultations on peacekeeping, with briefings from DPKO and DFS. Most likely the focus will be on the issue of national consent by the host country.
Quarterly peacekeeping consultations appear to have become an established practice following the August 2009 presidential statement, which encouraged regular discussions on peacekeeping with the field support and peacekeeping departments.
In 2010 the Council held four thematic peacekeeping consultations. The format of each one differed slightly. The first was on 17 February, when the head of the Peacekeeping Department, Alain Le Roy, and Chief of Field Support Susana Malcorra briefed Council members following the 12 February peacekeeping debate on transition and exit strategies initiated by France, president of the Council for that month. A wide range of topics was covered at this briefing.
Following requests for a more focused discussion, Council members were asked to provide questions to Le Roy and Malcorra ahead of the next briefing on 27 May 2010 under the Lebanese presidency. The questions covered areas ranging from the extension of peacekeeping missions to capabilities and gaps in peacekeeping.
In August during the Russian presidency, Council members held a debate and a briefing in which they were briefed by Le Roy and the force commanders of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), as well as the chief of staff of the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO).
The final 2010 peacekeeping consultations took place on 24 November under the UK presidency. Council members were again briefed by Le Roy and Malcorra and discussed the overlap between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, as well as how to write better mandates, the need for balance between mandates and resources and how to include peacebuilding tasks in mandates.
In addition on 11 November, Council members convened an informal meeting with troop and police-contributing countries (TCC/PCCs) of UNMIS. The head of UNMIS, Haile Menkerios, and the UNMIS force commander informed TCCs (via video-link) that the UN was seeking agreement from Khartoum to add 2,000 troops to UNMIS and asked TCCs to consider increasing their current troop numbers. TCC/PCCs also had a discussion with Council members about the situation in Sudan leading up to and beyond the January referendum.
Furthermore, on 20 December during the briefing by chairs of Council subsidiary bodies, Japan—chair of the Working Group on Peacekeeping in 2009 and 2010—said that the focus of the working group in those two years had been on how to fill the gaps between Council mandates and actual implementation on the ground. Also highlighted was the important role of the working group in bringing together Council members, TCC/PCCs and the secretariat. The report of the chair of the Working Group on Peacekeeping published in December 2010 contained three suggestions to move this issue forward:
- encourage inclusive dialogue among relevant stakeholders, especially when establishing, renewing or modifying peacekeeping mandates;
- facilitate regular reporting on critical gaps affecting mandate implementation and find ways of addressing them; and
- build common ground on early peacebuilding tasks in a peacekeeping context in order to prepare for transitions and exits.
The Working Group on Peacekeeping is currently reviewing its work programme under its new chair, Nigeria.
The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34) will convene its 2011 session from 22 February to 18 March. Issues of interest are likely to be the peacekeeping-peacebuilding nexus, the global field support strategy and protection of civilians in peacekeeping.
A second key issue is how to use these regular consultations to translate into practice some of the issues that have emerged over the last year related to the Council’s oversight of peacekeeping. A related issue is whether to use these peacekeeping briefings in part to build on conclusions from the Council’s separate work on the links between peacekeeping, peacebuilding and conflict prevention.
On the issue of national consent, a key question is how to establish national consent at the outset of a mission for a period which approximates the expected timeframe for achieving the goal of the mission rather than just for the initial mandate period.
A second related question is whether there might be value in tasking the Working Group on Peacekeeping and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa to follow up the decisions in consultations.
Also an issue, given that the peacekeeping briefing is being held in the same month as the start of the C34 session, is whether, bearing in mind the Council’s commitment in S/PRST/2010/2 to strengthen its partnership with the C3, there is scope during the month to give effect to a better partnership between the Council and the C34.
Other options that could be considered by Council members in informal consultations are:
- requesting the Working Group on Peacekeeping to take up some of the ideas emerging from this discussion as part of its work programme for 2011;
- having the Working Group on Peacekeeping and Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention in Africa work together on the inter-linked areas of conflict prevention and peacekeeping ; and
- discussing ways the Working Group on Peacekeeping can help provide material for the quarterly peacekeeping consultations as well as follow-up on the conclusions.
With these consultations still evolving in both substance and format, the interest of the country that is Council president during the month of the briefing can play a key role. If the quarterly meetings are held on schedule in 2011, the countries that will be president during the months of the briefings will be France (May), India (August) and Portugal (November).
While the two countries, France and the UK, which initiated the Council’s focus on its oversight of peacekeeping in early 2009, continue to be actively interested in this issue, there is likely to be a new dynamic in the Council with its current composition. Having a number of major TCC/PCCs like Nigeria, India, Brazil, and South Africa on the Council in 2011 could lead to a greater focus on issues related to TCC/PCCs.
Many of these members also appear to have a keen interest in peacebuilding issues and may want to pursue the discussion on the inter-linkages between peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
A stronger Non-Aligned Members caucus in the Council may also lead to greater interest in raising issues such as conflict prevention that are also of interest to the General Assembly and the C34.
Nigeria has just taken over the chair of the Working Group on Peacekeeping and is currently working on the programme of the working group for 2011. It is likely to be keen to take up issues that can make an impact within the year, as it will leave the Council at the end of 2011.
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