Cooperation between the UN and Regional Organisations
Expected Council Action
In September, the Council is expected to hold a ministerial-level meeting on the cooperation between the UN and Regional Organisations, with a focus on the role of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov will preside. Secretary-General António Guterres may brief the Council. Other briefers may include the Secretaries-General of the CSTO, SCO and CIS.
While the UN Charter established the Council as the principal organ charged with the maintenance of international peace and security, it also envisioned a role for regional organisations in achieving peaceful settlements of local disputes as long as such efforts were subordinate to the Council. Over the years, the meetings on cooperation between the UN and different regional organisations have become a regular feature of the Council’s work. The AU, the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are some of the organisations that have developed more institutionalised relations with the Council.
Russia has sought to promote greater cooperation between the UN and regional organisations operating in the Eurasian region. During its October 2016 presidency of the Council, Russia organised the first meeting on cooperation between the UN and the CSTO, the SCO and the CIS. The objective of the debate was to draw the Council’s attention to the contribution these organisations have made in countering threats to peace and security in the region and to encourage their further cooperation with the UN, including the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA).
The September meeting will focus more specifically on the role of the CSTO, the SCO and the CIS in countering terrorism and extremism. In their work, these organisations place a strong emphasis on regional security issues, among which terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime have been the most prominent. In May 2018, the representatives of the three organisations formalised their cooperation on counter-terrorism when they signed a memorandum of understanding committing them to enhancing their collaboration and information-sharing.
Given their shared objectives in the Central Asian region, these organisations maintain regular contact with the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The situation in Afghanistan, in particular, has been a common concern for them because of the implications for regional security, including terrorism and cross-border drug trafficking.
In June, the SCO held a summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, of leaders of its member states, including President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. The leaders signed a joint declaration stressing the need to improve their cooperation in addressing threats to peace and security in the SCO region. The declaration reiterated their support for the UN and for strengthening the role of the Security Council in its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Among other issues, the declaration also called for international cooperation in combating terrorism and emphasised the importance of implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, which was endorsed by resolution 2231.
Russia has held the view that the CSTO, the SCO and the CIS share similar objectives with the UN and that cooperation between the UN and these organisations should be strengthened further. During the October 2016 meeting, Russia said that there was a lack of general understanding of the activities of these organisations and that some Council members had tried to downplay their role. The P3 members (France, the UK and the US) have been generally critical of these organisations, viewing them as a vehicle for a few of its most dominant members to enhance their influence in the region. The division among Council members in the perception of these organisations has been evident in the context of the Council’s considerations of UNRCCA.
Until early 2015, Council members issued a press statement following each briefing, encouraging increased cooperation and coordination among the Central Asian countries, UNRCCA, and “relevant regional organisations”. In September 2015 Russia, the penholder on UNRCCA, sought to add specific references to CSTO, SCO, CIS in addition to OSCE and EU. The P3 opposed these additions, and no press statements could be agreed upon for more than two years. As a Central Asian state, Kazakhstan tried to overcome those differences during its 2017-2018 term on the Council. Under the Kazakh Council presidency in January 2018, the Council found consensus on a press statement which, among other things, encouraged greater cooperation between UNRCCA and “relevant regional organisations” without making specific references to CSTO, SCO and CIS. No press statements were issued following the meetings on UNRCCA in June 2018 and January and July 2019.
Among current Council members, Russia is a member of all three organisations and China is a member of the SCO.
UN DOCUMENTS ON COOPERATION BETWEEN THE UN AND REGIONAL ORGANISATIONS
|17 August 2018S/2018/592||This was the bi-annual report on cooperation between the UN and regional and other organisations.|
|Security Council Letter|
|14 October 2016S/2016/867||This was a concept note for the debate on cooperation between UN and regional and sub-regional organisations in maintaining international peace and security.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|28 October 2016S/PV.7796||This was the debate on regional cooperation with CSTO, SCO and CIS.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|25 January 2018SC/13179||This was a press statement welcoming further cooperation and coordination between UNRCCA, the Central Asian States, and relevant regional organisations, including those organisations of which the Central Asian States are members.|
|29 August 2019|
|General Assembly Document|
|5 July 2019A/73/941||This a was a letter by Russia on behalf of the members of the SCO addressed to the Secretary-General containing the Bishkek Declaration of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO.|