Expected Council Action
In July, the Council is planning to hold an open debate on “Enhancing African capabilities in the area of peace and security”.
The importance of developing a strategic partnership between the AU and the UN was a key feature of the 2015 peace operations review. Throughout the years, the Security Council and the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC), as well as the UN Secretariat and the AU Commission, have strived to develop more systematic ways of cooperating with each other to overcome the limitations of a relationship that has often resulted in ad hoc arrangements.
In his 13 September 2016 report, the Secretary-General discussed efforts to strengthen AU-UN cooperation on peace and security. These include actions throughout the cycle of conflict: joint analysis, information-sharing and common understanding that would lead to early action, support to peace operations, and increased cooperation on tasks related to sustaining peace and the rule of law. The report underlined the value of the UN Office to the AU and recommended strengthening its capacity to address the multiple aspects of this growing partnership.
Resolution 2320 of 18 November 2016 stressed that the AU-UN partnership should be underpinned by mutual consultations between the Council and the AU PSC “based on respective comparative advantage, burden sharing, consultative decision making, joint analysis and planning missions and assessment visits by the UN and AU, monitoring and evaluation, transparency and accountability”.
On 19 April, Secretary-General António Guterres and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, signed a joint UN-AU framework for enhanced partnership in peace and security. The framework identifies four essential themes of the partnership—preventing and mediating conflict and sustaining peace, responding to conflict, addressing root causes, and continuous partnership review and enhancement—and describes mechanisms to operationalise them.
Even though the Council has often identified the lack of flexible, sustainable and predictable funding for Council-authorised AU peace operations as a challenge, Council members have divergent views on how this should be addressed. In resolution 2320 the Council expressed its readiness to consider the AU proposals for future support by the Council to the AU peace support operations it authorises.
On 15 June, at the initiative of the African members of the Council (A3)—Egypt, Ethiopia and Senegal—Council members discussed the Secretary-General’s 26 May report on options for authorisation and support for AU peace support operations with Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General; the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaïl Chergui; and Donald Kaberuka, AU High Representative for the Peace Fund. They held an informal interactive dialogue after the briefing.
The Secretary-General’s report describes the limitations of the current structures supporting AU peace support operations and identifies four options through which UN assessed contributions could be used to help meet their requirements, noting that no single option is appropriate for all situations:
- subvention in exceptional or emergency circumstances;
- joint financing of a jointly developed budget;
- establishment of a UN support office; and
- joint financing of a hybrid mission.
While the option of a jointly developed budget would require additional work by the Secretariat and the AU Commission before it could be put into practice, the Secretary-General strongly recommends that the Security Council endorse this option in principle. In addition to the issue of financing, the report proposes a decision-making framework aimed at making joint action more effective. Council members also discussed a 1 June report of the chairperson of the AU Commission including, among other issues, an update on the operationalisaton of the AU Peace Fund.
Both the AU report and a 30 May communiqué of the AU PSC stressed the importance of securing a substantive Security Council resolution establishing that UN assessed contributions should, on a case-by-case basis, finance Security Council-mandated AU peace support missions. At the Council briefing, the A3 jointly stated their intention to pursue this initiative. Ambassador Nikki Haley (US) stated that this may be premature in 2017 since “before considering moving forward on any framework resolution with regard to financial support through the United Nations, we will look for implementation and concrete results from the AU’s own benchmarks and timelines.” The upcoming debate is a further opportunity for Council members to continue discussing the contentious issue of financing, as well as other important aspects of the strategic partnership with the AU.
On 21 June, the Council adopted resolution 2359 welcoming the deployment by the Group of Five (G5)—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger—of a joint force in the Sahel. The positions of Council members during the negotiations of the resolution, which had been requested by the PSC, displayed a divergence of views on the Council’s role regarding operations carried out by regional or sub-regional organisations or groupings. While all members agreed on the importance of sending a strong political signal in support of the force, some Council members that are major financial contributors expressed concerns about the prospect of committing UN assessed contributions to fund it.
The tenth annual joint consultative meeting of Council members with members of the AU PSC took place in May 2016. At the time, agreeing to the agenda for the meeting proved challenging as a result of the AU PSC proposal to discuss Western Sahara and Security Council reform in addition to several conflict situations. Furthermore, until March 2017, Council members were unable to reach agreement with members of the AU PSC on a joint communiqué over differences regarding the situations in Somalia and Burundi. The next annual meeting is now planned for September 2017 in Addis Ababa.
In the 2015 communiqué the AU PSC and the Security Council agreed to conduct a joint field mission that year, but this was never carried out. In March 2017, the chair of the AU PSC was invited to participate in the Security Council visiting mission to the Lake Chad Basin but this did not occur.
UN DOCUMENTS ON AU-UN COOPERATION
|Security Council Resolutions|
|18 November 2016 S/RES/2320||This was a resolution which welcomed the AU Assembly decision to fund 25 percent of AU peace support operations, to be phased incrementally over five years. Senegal circulated a concept note ahead of the meeting.|
|26 May 2017 S/2017/454||This report was on options for authorisation and support for AU peace support operations.|
|13 September 2016 S/2016/780||This was the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening the partnership between the UN and the AU on issues of peace and security in Africa.|
|Security Council Letters|
|23 March 2017 S/2017/248||This was the joint communiqué agreed to after the tenth annual joint consultative meeting between members of the Council and the AU PSC.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|15 June 2017 S/PV.7971||This was the discussion of the Secretary-General’s report on AU peace support operations.|