Expected Council Action
In November, Council members will hold three meetings to discuss its work in mandating and overseeing peace operations. These include an open debate on the challenges of asymmetric threats to peace operations; a debate on UN-AU cooperation; and a briefing on UN policing.
Senegal has organised an open debate under the title “Peace operations—facing asymmetric threats”. The meeting is expected to provide an opportunity for the wider membership to discuss one of the key challenges of peace operations. So far in 2016, 30 peacekeepers have been killed in action as a result of “malicious acts”—25 of them having been deployed with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The Secretary-General’s report on the recommendations of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) observed that UN peace operations are not “designed or equipped to impose political solutions through sustained use of force”, and concurred with the HIPPO’s recognition that UN peace operations “are not the appropriate tool for military counter-terrorism operations”. However, they increasingly deploy in violent and asymmetric threat environments and must be capable of operating effectively and as safely as possible therein. The open debate is expected to highlight the challenges of delivering on Council mandates in these contexts as well as addressing how agile field support, deployment of force enablers (such as helicopters and hospitals), intelligence capabilities and use of new technologies can improve the safety and security of peacekeepers facing asymmetric threats. The challenges faced by special political missions deployed in places such as Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan are also expected to feature in the debate, including the obstacles to engagement with communities and to maintaining the political space for UN good offices and mediation tasks in non-permissive environments.
The potential for complementarity between counter-terrorism bodies and peacekeeping operations is also expected to feature in the debate. Following up on a 24 June meeting on that same issue of the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations (chaired by Senegal), the meeting is expected to consider the potential synergies between peacekeeping operations deployed in contexts where violent extremist groups are active, and other tools within the Council’s purview, such as the Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Executive Directorate (CTED). Fragile states hosting peace operations exhibit several risk factors for terrorism. As the CTED’s 18 January global implementation surveys of resolutions 1373 and 1624 highlight, porous borders, weak governance and high poverty levels, limited control over territory, long-standing local disputes, inter-state rivalries and socioeconomic challenges provide terrorist groups with fertile ground upon which to increase their ranks, spread their messages and undermine recognised state authorities.
The debate on UN-AU cooperation organised by Senegal is expected to highlight the key partnership of the AU with the UN on peace and security issues. The establishment of the first AU-UN hybrid operation in Darfur in 2007, the funding for logistical support to the AU Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) through UN assessed contributions and the transitions from AU to UN operations in Mali and the Central African Republic, illustrate the broad range of ad hoc modalities for AU-UN cooperation on peace operations in the last decade.
However, while acknowledging that a pragmatic and case-by-case approach is needed for cooperation with regional organisations, the Secretary-General in his HIPPO implementation report recognised a need to “move away from improvisation in how we work together”, and to build on previous experience to establish standing arrangements and procedures that can be applied flexibly when operations are established.
The debate is expected to focus in particular on the issue of funding of Council-authorised AU peace operations, which has become one of the most contentious aspects of AU-UN cooperation. The lack of flexible, sustainable and predictable funding for AU peacekeeping operations authorised by the Security Council is raised frequently in the Council, mostly by African members. Building on the work of a 2008 joint AU-UN panel, known as the Prodi Report, the HIPPO report recommended the use of UN assessed contributions on a case-by-case basis to support AU peace operations authorised by the Council, including the costs associated with deployed uniformed personnel, to complement African funding. In January 2015, the AU Assembly agreed to contribute up to 25 percent of the cost of AU peace and security efforts, including peace support operations, to be fully achieved by the year 2020, envisaging that the other 75 percent of the cost of such missions would be provided by the UN through assessed contributions. A proposal by Donald Kaberuka, the AU’s High Representative for the Peace Fund, was adopted at the AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda in July to institute a levy of 0.2 percent on eligible imports, in order to fulfill the 2015 commitment of the AU Assembly.
In addition to financing, forging common purpose and coordinating regional and international engagement remain challenges, as well as issues such as ensuring accountability and strengthening civilian capacities (including with respect to the human rights and protection of civilians mandates of the peace operations concerned).
Also in November the Council will receive a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and four police commissioners: Bruce Munyambo (UN Mission in South Sudan), Priscilla Makotose (AU-UN Mission in Darfur), Brigadier General Georges-Pierre Monchotte (UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti) and Issoufou Yacouba (MINUSMA). It is expected that heads of police components will raise a broad range of issues of interest to the Council including on the implementation of protection of civilians’ mandates, the role of police components in developing the capacities of states hosting UN peace operations and issues related to conduct and discipline. Resolution 2185 of 20 November 2014 on UN policing expressed the Council’s intention to consider holding a meeting annually with the heads of police components, and this will be the third consecutive year that such a briefing is held.
The HIPPO report saw a need to review the roles and responsibilities of the police division in order to improve UN police capabilities, including to provide support to building host-state capacity. The Secretary-General in his subsequent report instructed the division to undertake an external review of its functions, structure and capacity, and this was commissioned in January 2016. The review team, co-chaired by Hilde F. Johnson and Ambassador Abdallah Wafy, submitted its report in May. Among other recommendations for member states’ consideration, it supported the implementation of sequenced and prioritised mandates “providing the basis for context-specific and tailor-made mandates in the policing area, preferably refraining from mandating numbers of police officers to be deployed at the outset without an in-depth assessment”. In addition to emphasising the importance of focusing on required capabilities rather than numbers, it called for more clarity on protection and capacity development mandates, and for better engagement of the police division and heads of police components with relevant Council discussions.
Maintaining the momentum for reform and advancing the implementation of recommendations of the peace operations review is an overarching issue.
Monitoring the limitations of field support mechanisms, particularly regarding the provision of key capabilities to missions deployed in environments where asymmetric threats exist, is a key issue for the Council.
A key issue is to ensure that the partnerships are effective at the strategic, operational and tactical level, and for the Council to promote consultative decision-making and appropriate common strategies with the AU based on comparative advantage, including a solution to the issue of sustainable financing of Council-authorised operations.
Ensuring that the Council mandates peace operations in a sequenced and prioritised manner, tailored to the context in which they are going to be deployed, capability-driven and results-oriented (rather than numbers-driven), is a key issue for effective delivery, including of policing mandates.
The discussions that will take place in November constitute an opportunity for the Council to discuss issues that have been difficult for Council members. Both in the General Assembly and the Council, member states continue to diverge on the use of force and posture of UN peace operations. Nevertheless, in June the Council unanimously requested MINUSMA to move to a more proactive and robust posture to carry out its mandate, focusing particularly on delivery of its protection of civilians’ mandate and ensuring the safety and security of peacekeepers.
At their tenth informal consultative meeting in May, Council members were unable to reach agreement with members of the AU Peace and Security Council on a joint communiqué, among other things because of language regarding the funding of AMISOM.
The Council took note of the recommendations of the HIPPO and of the Secretary-General’s report in a 25 November 2015 presidential statement in support of sequenced and prioritised mandates, and the exertion of the Council’s collective leverage. However, those exhortations have arguably not led to new approaches or greater consensus in country-specific situations, as shown by the limitations of the Council’s recent engagement on South Sudan and Burundi.
UN DOCUMENTS ON PEACE OPERATIONS
|Security Council Resolution|
|20 November 2014 S/RES/2185||This was the first standalone resolution on UN policing.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|25 November 2015 S/PRST/2015/22||The Council took note of the recommendations of the HIPPO report and the Secretary-General’s implementation report.|
|2 September 2015 S/2015/682||This was the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations’ recommendations.|
|Security Council Letters|
|17 June 2015 S/2015/446||This was the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.|
|24 December 2008 S/2008/813||This was the letter from the Secretary-General forwarding the AU-UN panel report on how to support AU peacekeeping operations established under UN mandate to the Council president, known as the Prodi Report.|