Cooperation with Regional and Subregional Organisations
Expected Council Action
In August, the Council will hold a high-level open debate on cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina will preside over the meeting, and several other Council members may attend at high-level.
The Secretary-General will brief the Council, as will representatives of the AU, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the League of Arab States and the Union of South American Nations.
A presidential statement is a likely outcome.
The UN Charter establishes the Security Council as the principal organ charged with the maintenance of international peace and security while forseeing a role for “regional arrangements”, especially in regard to the peaceful settlement of disputes. In Chapter VIII, the Charter encourages regional organisations to contribute towards the maintenance of peace and security insofar as such efforts are subordinate to the UN. The Security Council is encouraged to utilise regional arrangements, but the regional arrangements may take enforcement action only under the authorisation of the Security Council.
In addition, Article 54 provides that the Security Council should “at all times be kept fully informed of activities undertaken or in contemplation” by regional organisations for the maintenance of international peace and security.
The relationship with regional organisations is featured in three important reports by the Secretary-General that largely laid down the strategic vision of the organisation.
In his June 1992 report An Agenda for Peace, the Secretary-General highlighted the role that regional organisations could play in preventive diplomacy, early warning systems, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding. This led to a growing focus on the idea of a regional-global security partnership.
In Supplement to an Agenda for Peace in 1995, the Secretary-General outlined modes of cooperation between the UN and regional organisations. These are: consultation; diplomatic support; operational support; co-deployment; and joint operations.
In March 2005 the Secretary-General issued the report In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all, which discussed the “establishment of an interlocking system of peacekeeping capacities” to allow the UN to work with regional organisations in predictable and reliable partnerships.
In initiating the upcoming open debate, Argentina seeks to consider the role of regional and subregional organisations and their experiences in conflict prevention, peaceful settlement of disputes, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding worldwide. It also wants to discuss the strengthening of cooperation with regional organisations on thematic issues, such as women, peace and security, children and armed conflict, counterterrorism and the rule of law and observance of international humanitarian law and human rights law and is further interested in sharing the perspective of Latin American states and the region’s organisations.
Furthermore, Argentina’s goal is to consider cooperation in light of the proliferation of regional and subregional arrangements, all with differing structures, mandates and capacities, and how the Council can effectively interact and cooperate with more regional arrangements than it already does. Another issue Argentina wishes to highlight is that nearly 20 years have passed since the Secretary-General’s Supplement to an Agenda for Peace and whether new approaches should be explored.
Since 2003, the Council has held five debates on strengthening the relationship between the UN and regional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security. The most recent was on 13 January 2010, on the initiative of China (S/PV.6257), at which the Council adopted a presidential statement that underscored the importance of developing effective partnerships with regional organisations and the need for cooperation with such organisations for the effective implementation of its resolutions (S/PRST/2010/1). It also conveyed the Council’s intent to consider further steps to enhance cooperation in the fields of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, while reiterating its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security
The Council has maintained relations with regional organisations through several means and formats. Regional organisations, such as the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, regularly brief the Council.
Of these relationships, the most developed to date is the one with the AU. In April 1998 the Secretary-General issued a report on peace and security in Africa containing recommendations for peacekeeping operations and supporting regional and subregional initiatives. An ad hoc working group was established by the Council to review the report’s recommendations, the work of which led to a number of resolutions and presidential statements addressing the role of regional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security.
Since 2007, members of the Council have held an annual meeting with its AU counterpart, the Peace and Security Council (PSC), alternating between their respective headquarters. The last such meeting was held on 13 June 2012 in New York, at the end of which a communiqué was issued in which the participants agreed to elaborate further ways of strengthening relations between the two Councils, including through more effective annual consultative meetings and the holding of timely consultations and collaborative field missions to formulate cohesive positions and strategies in dealing with conflict situations in Africa. It was further agreed that the next meeting would take place no later than July 2013 in Addis Ababa, but this has yet to happen.
The Council has also held several debates focused on collaboration with the AU, the last of which took place on 12 January 2012 (S/PV.6702 and Resumption 1). The summit-level debate was chaired by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and resulted in the adoption of resolution 2033. The resolution reiterated the importance of establishing a more effective relationship between the Council and the PSC and called for elaboration of further ways of strengthening relations between the two Councils.
The key issue is to examine the full range of Security Council cooperation with regional organisations, and reflect the results in the expected presidential statement.
A further issue is addressing the Council’s relations with regional organisations of varying capacities and character, as has been increasingly the trend recently.
In what way can the Council build on and expand the language of the 2010 presidential statement is a related issue.
The most likely option is the adoption of a presidential statement. In it, the Council may:
- recognise that regional and subregional organisations require a more accentuated approach from the Council in building bilateral relationships;
- stress that its cooperation with regional organisations should develop further; and
- emphasise the importance of the regional organisations promoting the upholding of the rule of law, international humanitarian law and human rights in the maintenance of peace and security.
Council members are generally supportive of the initiative to hold the open debate as three years have passed since the Council last discussed its relationship with regional organisations.
While Council members do not oppose adopting a presidential statement, including elements that go beyond the presidential statement of 13 January 2010 may prove more difficult. During the negotiations over the draft statement that have taken place thus far, some Council members expressed the view that the statement should be as general and concise as the January 2010 statement. Council members also differ on some points of substance. For example, including language on cooperation with regional organisations and international courts—in particular the ICC—on issues relating to accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, may prove to be a point of contention during negotiations.
|Security Council Resolutions|
|12 January 2012 S/RES/2033||This resolution called for elaboration of “further ways of strengthening relations between the two Councils” and asked the Secretary-General in consultation with the AU to conduct a comprehensive analysis of lessons learned from practical cooperation between the UN and the AU.|
|17 October 2005 S/RES/1631||This resolution addressed the issue of cooperation between the UN and regional organisations and stressed the role of regional organisations in addressing the issue of small arms.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|13 January 2010 S/PRST/2010/1||This presidential statement was released following the 13 January meeting “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organisations”.|
|6 November 2007 S/PRST/2007/42||This was a presidential statement on the role of regional and sub-regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security. It noted, in particular, the potential role of regional organisations in addressing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and the need to take into account in the peacekeeping operations’ mandates the regional instruments enabling States to identify and trace illegal small arms and light weapons.|
|30 November 1998 S/PRST/1998/35||This presidential statement reaffirmed the increasingly important role of regional arrangements in maintaining peace and security.|
|Security Council Letters|
|13 June 2012 S/2012/444||This letter was from Ambassador Baso Sangqu (South Africa) containing the joint communiqué issued after the sixth consultative meeting between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council.|
|4 January 2010 S/2010/9||This was a letter from China transmitting the concept paper for the Council debate to be held on 13 January on “Cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations in maintaining international peace and security”.|
|28 July 2006 S/2006/590||This was the Secretary-General’s report “A regional-global security partnership: challenges and opportunities”.|
|21 March 2005 A/59/2005||This was the Secretary-General’s report In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all. It noted climate change as one of the greatest challenges facing the development and consumption of energy in the 21st century.|
|13 April 1998 S/1998/318||This report on the Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa emphasised the importance of DDR in peacekeeping missions, identified the proliferation of small arms as a threat to peace in Africa, and urged the Council to address the issue of illicit arms trade.|
|25 January 1995 S/1995/1||This was the position paper of the Secretary-General on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations.|
|17 June 1992 S/24111||This was the report An Agenda for Peace in which Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali noted that peace-building after civil or international strife must address the serious problem of landmines.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|12 January 2012 S/PV.6702||This was a meeting on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security.|
|12 January 2012 S/PV.6702 (Resumption 1)||This was a resumption of a meeting on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security.|
|13 January 2010 S/PV.6257||This was a thematic debate on cooperation with regional and subregional organisations, presided over by China.|