Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to have a briefing on UN peacekeeping from a number of UN force commanders and the Secretariat in late July. At press time the format and participants had not been decided.
A similar session was held last year when the Council was briefed during an open debate (S/PV.6370) by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy and the Force Commanders of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the UN Organisation 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 Force Commanders shared lessons learned, laid out the challenges ahead and were given a chance to respond to questions raised in members’ statements. Bangladesh, Canada, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea also participated in the debate last year.
The Council has had regular consultations on peacekeeping since its August 2009 presidential statement (S/PRST/2009/24) calling for regular briefings from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support. The statement also called for better information-sharing on military operational challenges and more meaningful engagement with police and troop-contributing countries (TCCs). In 2010 these briefings took place every three months. There seems to have been no recorded decision on reducing the frequency but the briefings now appear to be occurring on a six-monthly cycle in 2011.
Key Recent Developments
The Working Group on Peacekeeping has held four meetings under Nigerian leadership this year. It adopted its programme of work for the first half of 2011 at its first meeting on 18 February. On 7 and 27 April the working group was briefed by DPKO on challenges facing UN missions due to the evolving political situations in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At its fourth meeting, the Working Group discussed peacekeeping transitions and exit strategies.
In the second half of the year, the working group may focus on issues that were raised by the TCCs during the UN’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) 2011 session. It also hopes to provide inputs to the Council ahead of the renewal of peacekeeping mandates and may work with the Secretariat on case studies on UNMIL and MINUSTAH, the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) all of which will have mandates coming up for renewal in the second half of 2011.
On 17 February, Le Roy and Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Susana Malcorra briefed the Council on the issues related to national consent by host countries that have peacekeeping missions. Following the briefing, Council members discussed issues related to managing consent in peacekeeping operations, including the idea of qualified consent and the implications of a more legal contract with host governments.
The C-34 substantive session ran from 22 February to 18 March. However, it took delegates until 9 May to agree on the final report (A/AC.121/2011/L.3) due to significant differences over the issue of troop cost reimbursement.
An issue is whether receiving feedback from the field in this form can be translated into more realistic peacekeeping mandates.
Another issue for the Council is how best to maximise the Working Group’s activities in a way that is useful to the Council, particularly ahead of mandate renewals or setting up new missions.
- listening to the briefings and responding with statements in an open meeting;
- moving into a closed meeting after the Force Commanders brief in order to allow for a more open and interactive discussion; and
- agreeing to more regular briefings of the Council and the working group by relevant Force Commanders as mission mandates come up for renewal.
Most Council members are open to being briefed by the Force Commanders and appear to have found last year’s discussion constructive. Russia, which had initiated last year’s debate, and India appear particularly keen to keep a conversation going with the Force Commanders. There appears to be a slowing of momentum, however, with peacekeeping issues generally. In 2009 the UK and France had been pushing for peacekeeping to be taken up on a regular basis by the Council. But this seems to have waned and may be due to other priorities, such as emerging crisis situations in the Middle East and the pressing need for regular briefings from DPKO on these situations, rather than on peacekeeping as a thematic issue.