Cooperation between the UN and Regional and Sub-Regional Organisations
Expected Council Action
In December, the Security Council will hold a ministerial-level open debate on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. Secretary-General António Guterres is expected to brief.
Key Recent Developments
In 2018, the Council has continued to engage regularly with regional and sub-regional organisations on peace and security issues. In particular, there have been several meetings this year focusing on the EU-UN and AU-UN relationships.
On 18 May, UN Security Council members held their sixth annual informal meeting with members of the EU Political and Security Committee, composed of the Brussels-based ambassadors of EU member states dealing with the EU’s common foreign, security and defence policy. The meeting focused on the following issues: Syria, Iraq, peacekeeping in Africa, and cooperation on sanctions.
The Council held a briefing on 18 July on the Secretary-General’s annual report on strengthening the partnership between the UN and the AU. The then-Special Representative to the AU and head of the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU) Sahle-Work Zewde and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smaïl Chergui briefed. Zewde noted that the UN Secretary-General and the AU Commission Chairperson continue to emphasise the importance of conflict prevention and that, in this regard, the two organisations need to “conduct more joint analyses and assessments and align…early warning indicators, where appropriate”. Chergui recalled that the AU has consistently advocated for more predictable and sustainable funding for AU peace operations through UN assessed contributions.
On 19 July, members of the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council held their 12th annual joint consultative meeting, at which they discussed a range of matters, including the situations in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The informal consultations preceding the meeting focused on thematic issues concerning the partnership between the two bodies, as well as how their cooperation can be strengthened. A joint communiqué was issued following the meeting, which was held in New York.
The Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations, initiated earlier this year, has been endorsed by 151 member states as at 28 November. In the declaration, member states “commit to enhance collaboration and planning between the UN and relevant international, regional and sub-regional organizations and arrangements, including the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU), which have deployed several mandated operations in the past years”. They further reaffirm the “need to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing for AU-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council”.
On 20 November, the Security Council held an open debate on strengthening peacekeeping operations in Africa. A key theme of the meeting was the strategic partnership between the AU and the UN, particularly on peacekeeping. Guterres and Chergui briefed.
Key Issues and Options
The overarching theme of the debate is how cooperation between the UN and states, regional organisations, and sub-regional organisations can be enhanced with regard to the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.
Issues that may be addressed include:
- how to strengthen coordination and coherence between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations regarding peace and security matters;
- how to develop a joint analysis, planning and decision-making framework to make joint action between the UN and the AU more effective;
- how to work towards securing sustainable and predictable financing for AU peace support operations, including potentially through joint financing of a jointly-developed UN-AU budget; and
- how to strengthen the role of women in peace operations through cooperation among the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations.
One option for the open debate would be to adopt the resolution that was circulated by the African members of the Council in November and that aims to advance the issue of using UN assessed contributions, on a case-by-case basis, to finance Security Council-authorised AU peace support missions.
Over the longer term, another option would be to consider joint fact-finding missions that include members of the Security Council and regional bodies, such as the AU Peace and Security Council and the EU Political and Security Committee, to situations on the UN Security Council’s agenda where the relevant regional organisations have a peace operations presence.
Although there has been increasing appreciation of the importance of working with regional organisations in the area of peace and security, divergent views on specific issues have at times complicated these relationships. Perhaps this tension has been most noticeable in disagreements between some major financial contributors on the Council, especially the US, and African Council members over the issue of financing for AU peace support operations. Of the permanent members, China has been particularly supportive of the need to strengthen the capacity of the AU in peace and security, as evidenced by its decision to host an open debate during its November presidency on strengthening peacekeeping operations in Africa, which explored the AU-UN relationship in this regard.
UN Documents on Cooperation with Regional and Sub-Regional Organisations
|6 July 2018 S/2018/678||This was the Secretary-General’s report on ways to strengthen the partnership between the UN and the AU on peace and security in Africa.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|20 November 2018 S/PV.8407||This was the open debate on strengthening peacekeeping operations in Africa, where Secretary-General António Guterres and Smaïl Chergui, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, briefed the Council.|
|18 July 2018 S/PV.8314||This was a meeting on the Secretary-General’s annual report on ways to strengthen the partnership between the UN and AU on issues of peace and security in Africa. The Council was briefed by Special Representative to the AU and head of UNOAU Sahle-Work Zewde and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smaïl Chergui.|
|19 July 2018 S/2018/736||This was the joint communiqué following the 12th annual joint consultative meeting between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council at which the situations in South Sudan and the DRC were discussed.|