Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to have an open debate in late August on peacekeeping. This will be the first thematic peacekeeping debate in 2011. Among the wide range of issues likely to be covered are the relationship between troop and police-contributing (TCCs/PCCs) and UN bodies and the issue of resources for missions.
India, August Council president and one of the leading troop-contributors, is expected to circulate a concept note in early August. A presidential statement is also a possible outcome.
Key Recent Developments
On 27 July the force commanders of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) briefed the Council. The UN Military Adviser, Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, also participated. The force commander from MONUSCO briefed on the impact of “conditionality policy” on operations, the force commander from UNAMID talked about protection of civilians in a non-permissive environment, the force commander from UNIFIL talked about safety concerns in southern Lebanon and its impact on operations, and the force commander from UNMIL briefed on inter-mission cooperation between UNMIL and UNOCI.
The last Council high-level debate on peacekeeping was on 23 September 2010 and it focused on better integrating the Council’s core tools in addressing peace and security—preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. This was the culmination of a process involving a series of discussions that began in early 2009 and led to a growing recognition of the inter-linkage and overlap between preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. (Resolution 1996 establishing UNMISS for South Sudan shows some concrete evidence that some of the lessons learnt from that process are being implemented.)
On 12 February 2010, the Council held a debate on transition and exit strategies for UN peacekeeping operations. It adopted a presidential statement committing itself to ensuring successful transitions by developing clear, credible mandates matched by appropriate resources.
Another significant debate on peacekeeping took place on 5 August 2009 under the UK presidency. During that debate the Council adopted a presidential statement identifying the need for better integrating peacekeeping and peacebuilding and more meaningful engagement with TCCs/PCCs, as well as increased interaction with the Secretariat. (While the latter theme was well followed up in 2010 the TCC/PCC theme was not. And some TCCs are critical of the Council’s failure to implement the good intentions in practice. The crisis in Côte d’Ivoire in early 2011 is cited by some as an example of where the Council could and should have done more to engage with TCCs.) The 2009 presidential statement also led to the establishment of a practice of holding regular thematic peacekeeping briefings in 2010. The first was on 17 February, when Under-Secretary-Generals for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, and Field Support, Susana Malcorra, briefed Council members following the 12 February peacekeeping debate. The next briefing was on 27 May and covered areas ranging from the extension of peacekeeping missions to capabilities and gaps in peacekeeping.
In August, Council members held a debate and were briefed by Le Roy and the force commanders of UNMIL, MONUSCO, 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 on 24 November included a briefing by Le Roy and Malcorra and a discussion of the overlap between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, writing better mandates, balancing mandates with resources and ways to include peacebuilding tasks in mandates.
The one peacekeeping briefing in 2011 to date was by Le Roy and Malcorra in February. It focused on the issue of national consent by the host country.
An issue for the Council is whether to have a more generic presidential statement on peacekeeping or whether to try to focus on taking forward a small number of specific issues which are of concern to some members, such as the TCC/PCC question.
Another issue is whether the significant differences which emerged earlier this year in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34) and the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee over troop cost reimbursement levels will have an impact on this debate. In the current financial climate the costs of peacekeeping are never far from the surface.
One option is a more general presidential statement covering a range of peacekeeping issues and perhaps bringing together the generic peacekeeping concepts that have been discussed over the last few years.
Another option is a presidential statement focused on more specific issues such as the
TCC concerns. One possibility is for the Council to try and negotiate more satisfactory arrangements. However, the summer absences in August might make this difficult. The Council could therefore request the Secretary-General to consult indirectly with all of the key TCCs and each of the Council members, and bearing in mind the experience from Côte d’Ivoire, produce recommendations by the end of the year on how the Council, the TCCs and the Secretariat could interact more effectively and efficiently to ensure that
TCC engagement is enhanced. Other options include:
- requesting the Secretary-General to submit to the Council Working Group on Peacekeeping a lessons-learnt exercise based on the experience of setting up the UN mission in South Sudan; or
- requesting the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to provide regular briefings to the Working Group on Peacekeeping.
With Council members occupied with so many crisis situations in the first six months of the year, capacity for driving Council peacekeeping reforms—even from such members as France and the UK, initiators of the review of the Council’s role in peacekeeping in 2009—has waned significantly. Looking ahead, a number of members including Lebanon (the Council president in September) appear to be keen to pay greater attention to prevention.
However, some situations on the Council’s agenda such as South Sudan have allowed members who have been keen on improving the framework for peacekeeping to put into practice some of the concepts that have been discussed in recent years, including the need to initiate peacebuilding activities in the early stages of planning a peacekeeping mission.
Most permanent members are still driven to a large extent by a desire to keep down the cost of peacekeeping. But the dynamics are also affected by the fact that a number of elected members, including India and Nigeria, are significant contributors of peacekeepers, and remain concerned about improving the framework for peacekeeping rather than trimming it.
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