March 2015 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 February 2015
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EU-UN Cooperation

Expected Council Action

In March the Council is expected to hold a meeting on cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations, focusing on strengthening the partnership with the EU. Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will brief the Council.

No outcome is expected.


The UN Charter establishes the Security Council as the principal organ charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. In addition, Chapter VIII of the Charter also envisions a role for regional organisations in an effort to achieve peaceful settlement of local disputes, as long as such efforts are subordinate to the Security Council. Furthermore, 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”.

On 1 November 2014, Mogherini assumed the position of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, previously held by Catherine Ashton. This will be the first time that Mogherini will brief the Council on EU-UN Cooperation. In the last briefing on this issue, held on 14 February 2014, Ashton reiterated the strong commitment of the EU to supporting effective multilateralism with the goal of achieving lasting solutions to international peace and security challenges, using the EU’s threefold approach:

  • direct involvement in international negotiations on behalf of the international community;
  • ensuring EU’s capacity to implement a comprehensive approach to resolving crises; and
  • a wide range of tools to solve crises and work closely with the EU’s international and regional partners in collective efforts.

This will be the fifth meeting of the Council on cooperation between the UN and the EU. When the last meeting was held during the Lithuanian Council presidency in 2014, the Council adopted its first presidential statement on cooperation between the UN and the EU. The statement emphasised the EU’s cooperation with the UN and its role in the maintenance of international peace and security and in the implementation of Council-mandated tasks.

Key Recent Developments

The last four EU briefings were focused primarily on African issues, which also dominate the Council’s agenda. At the briefing in March, the EU’s response to the crisis in Ukraine will likely rate higher on Mogherini’s agenda. In addition to addressing UN-EU cooperation in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and the Central African Republic (CAR), Mogherini might also discuss the EU’s response to the new aspects of terrorism threats and the Ebola virus.

In Mali, the EU has cooperated with the UN as a part of the Sahel strategy framework. On 19 January, the EU launched the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy mission in Mali (EUCAP) to help Mali ensure constitutional and democratic order. In cooperation with other international partners, EUCAP’s main role is to train and advise internal security forces in Mali. In the wider region, the EU continues its cooperation with the UN and other regional organisations as part of the Sahel strategy framework.

In April 2014, upon receiving a Council mandate (resolutions 2134 and 2181), the EU deployed 1,000 troops in the CAR in an effort to stabilise the country and relieve pressure on the international troops already there. The mission’s mandate is set to expire on 15 March. However, on 19 January the EU decided to establish a new military mission, the EU Military Advisory Mission in CAR, which will provide expert advice on the reform of the security sector, most notably in regards to the management of the CAR armed forces. The CAR is one of the most notable cases of extensive cooperation between the EU and the UN, as well as other regional organisations.

The spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa became another challenging issue for the international community in 2014. The EU has contributed more than $1.2 billion in aid to help contain the Ebola virus. The EU coordinates its assistance to West Africa with the relevant UN agencies as well as other partners, including regional organisations and NGOs.

The UN has been gradually scaling down its presence in the Balkans as the EU has assumed the leading role. The involvement of the EU has been instrumental to the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, in particular the signing of the 19 April 2013 agreement on normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. On 9 February, after a break of more than ten months, Mogherini resumed the high-level talks between Serbia and Kosovo on the implementation of the agreement.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, the EU has been heavily invested in supporting diplomatic efforts aimed at a solution through peaceful means. Mogherini has held numerous meetings with all relevant actors in the crisis, while the EU continued political, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. Most notably, the EU has imposed a wide range of sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian officials over Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. The sanctions were extended throughout the course of 2014 in response to Russia’s role in the conflict in Ukraine. So far the EU has imposed restricted measures (asset freezes and visa bans) on 132 persons and 28 entities deemed directly responsible for actions against Ukraine’s territorial integrity and for providing support for Russian decision-makers. In July and September 2014 the EU adopted a series of economic sanctions targeting the Russian financial, defence and energy sectors. Most recently, on 9 February EU foreign ministers adopted further sanctions targeting Russia and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

While addressing the annual Munich Security Conference on 8 February, Mogherini outlined key priorities for the EU’s foreign security and policy. Besides the aforementioned issues, Mogherini also emphasised the importance of addressing the crises in Libya, Iraq and Syria, especially with the increasing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. In addition, Mogherini addressed the lack of progress on the Iranian nuclear issue and the need to revive the peace process in the Middle East.

Key Issues

The main issue is to have a constructive discussion about the cooperation between the EU and the UN and the ways in which this relationship could be strengthened and more efficient, in particular where there are overlapping agendas.

Council Dynamics

In past years the Council has been generally supportive of the cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations and eager to hold the annual meetings with the EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy chief. This year the Council dynamics with the EU could be affected by the rift between Russia and Western Council members over the crisis in Ukraine. While addressing the situation in Ukraine during last year’s meeting on EU-UN cooperation, Russia stated that the solution to the Ukrainian crisis must be found by Ukrainians themselves “without the threat of sanctions or competition to promote the European values of external actors”. Now that the EU has imposed sanctions on Russia over its role in Ukraine, Russia will likely be considerably critical of the EU role. Russia might voice its concern over EU’s use of sanctions, since it has recently argued that any sanctions other than those imposed by the Council are counterproductive and undermine primacy of the Council. Furthermore, Russia is likely to emphasise the subordinate role of other regional organisations based on the provisions of the UN Charter, in particular Chapter VIII.

There are four members of the EU on the Council this year: France, Lithuania, Spain and the UK.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolution
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 Statement
14 February 2014 S/PRST/2014/4 This was a presidential statement on cooperation between the UN and the EU, highlighting the EU’s comprehensive approach to maintenance of international peace and security.
Security Council Meeting Record
14 February 2014 S/PV.7112 This was a meeting focusing on the Council’s cooperation with the European Union during which EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton briefed.


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