February 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2014
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SECURITY COUNCIL AND WIDER UN STRUCTURE

UN-EU Cooperation

Expected Council Action

In February, the Council will hold a meeting on cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations, with a focus on strengthening the partnership with the EU. The Council will be briefed by Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. It is possible that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will also brief the Council. 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Linas Linkevičius, will preside over the meeting. 

A presidential statement is expected as an outcome following the meeting.

Background

The UN Charter establishes the Security Council as the principal organ charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. However, Chapter VIII of the Charter also envisions a role for “regional arrangements” in an effort to achieve peaceful settlement of local disputes. Chapter VIII is clear in its encouragement of contributions by regional organisations to the maintenance of peace and security as long as such efforts are subordinate to the Security Council. In addition, Article 54 states that the 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.” 

In her last briefing to the Council, on 13 February 2013 (S/PV.6919), Ashton highlighted different ways in which the EU makes contributions to international peace and security, including:

  • its ability to marshal a wide range of instruments for a comprehensive approach;
  • its direct involvement in international negotiations, including mediation, on behalf of the international community; and
  • its close work with international and regional partners.

Cooperation between the EU and the UN has evolved over the years. Just a decade ago, these two organisations had very limited experience working together. When a Joint Declaration on UN-EU Cooperation in Crisis Management was signed in 2003, the relationship between the EU and the UN started to develop further. Both organisations share a similar or, in many cases, the same agenda with regard to crisis management, conflict prevention, mediation, peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery. Although troop contributions by EU member states to UN peacekeeping operations are relatively low (around 5 percent), the financial contributions of EU member states to UN peacekeeping operations are significantly larger, at approximately 37 percent. 

This will be the fourth Council meeting on cooperation between the UN and the EU with Ashton as the main briefer. In addition to 2013, the previous meetings on this issue took place in 2011 and 2010. As President of the Council in February, Lithuania places very high emphasis on this meeting, in addition to being an EU member it was also its president during the second semester of 2013. By organising this meeting, Lithuania strives to highlight the EU’s role in supporting the efforts of the UN in addressing the issues on the Council’s agenda and to explore ways to make this cooperation more effective.

Key Recent Developments

Ashton’s previous briefings on cooperation between the EU and the UN were structured as updates on the activities of the EU in the maintenance of peace and security. The upcoming briefing in February will most likely follow a similar format. The Council’s agenda is still heavily dominated by African issues, where the EU has been increasingly engaged on its own and in cooperation with the UN. In regard to African issues, Ashton will likely focus on providing updates on the EU’s involvement and cooperation with the UN in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel region and the Central African Republic (CAR). 

In Somalia the EU’s involvement in collaboration with the UN is set out through the Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa. The EU has been making significant contributions, especially in supporting the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by paying the salaries of AMISOM troops. In addition to the EU’s successful efforts in fighting piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa, one of the major developments that marked 2013 was the organisation of a donor conference for Somalia held in Brussels in September. A variety of donors pledged $2.4 billion to address four key priority areas: security, legal reform, public finances and the economic recovery of Somalia.

The EU has also cooperated with the UN as part of the Sahel strategy framework, especially in the case of Mali. Last February, the EU launched the EU Training Mission in Mali with the goal of restoring the national armed forces in order to sustain peace and stability in the country. Aside from Mali, the EU, together with the UN and other regional organisations, has reinforced its commitment to support the foundations of stability and sustainable development in the region.

Following growing instability and a deteriorating humanitarian situation in the CAR, on 20 January the EU decided to approve deployment of up to 1,000 EU troops in an effort to stabilise the country. Deployment of EU troops is expected to relieve the pressure on the existing international troops on the ground, stabilise the country and prevent a further humanitarian crisis. Upon receiving a Council mandate on 28 January (S/RES/2134), this will be one of the most significant EU ground operations. Additionally, the EU and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs organised a donor conference in Brussels on 20 January, during which $500 million was pledged by various donors for humanitarian assistance in the CAR.

The EU’s role in dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue will also most likely be emphasised during Ashton’s briefing. Working together with the P5+1, the EU has taken a lead role in negotiating a potential solution to the  issue, resulting  in a 24 November 2013 joint plan of action, setting out the measures to be undertaken during an initial six-month interim period and the elements for a longstanding, comprehensive solution. After the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran had disabled facilities for uranium enrichment, the EU and the US responded by starting to ease economic sanctions on Iran. Though the deal is in its interim phase, Ashton will likely highlight the progress achieved to date. 

In the Balkan region, the UN has been gradually scaling down its presence while the EU has been increasing its own. The year 2013 was a year of landmark achievements for the EU in mediation efforts in the Balkans. Ashton will likely update Council members on the historic agreement on normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, signed on 19 April 2013 in Brussels. Mediation efforts by the EU, and Ashton in particular, have been of crucial importance for the 19 April agreement as well as its implementation. As a result of the progress achieved, Serbia was granted a start date (21 January) for EU accession negotiations.  

Key Issues

A key issue is to have a productive discussion about the cooperation between the UN and EU and different ways in which this relationship could be strengthened.

Considering that the UN and EU have become more interlinked in recent years, another issue will be how to make this cooperation more efficient, especially since both organisations in many cases operate parallel to each other.

Another issue is how to achieve effective cooperation between the two organisations on common objectives and how this cooperation could be formalised to provide the best results without becoming bureaucratic.  

Council Dynamics

Council members are generally supportive of the briefing on cooperation between the UN and the EU. This will be the first time the Council will be working on adopting a presidential statement following the briefing. The statement will likely contain generally agreed language acknowledging the role of the EU in: the maintenance of international peace and security, cooperation with the UN, and implementing mandates and tasks set by the Council. Taking into account previous presidential statements on cooperation between the UN and regional organisations, it is likely that the Council will be more supportive of the statement if it is general in nature and does not contain language reflecting more specific regional and country specific issues, especially if there is no consensus opinion on those issues by the Council members.

This year the Council has in its ranks four members of the EU (France, Lithuania, Luxembourg and the UK).

UN DOCUMENTS ON UN-EU COOPERATION

Security Council Resolutions
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 Meeting Records
13 February 2013 S/PV.6919 This meeting concerned cooperation between the UN and EU.
8 February 2011 S/PV.6477 At this meeting, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Catherine Ashton briefed on cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union
4 May 2010 S/PV.6306 This meeting was about the cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union.