Expected Council Action
In September, the Security Council will receive a comprehensive briefing on the reform of UN peacekeeping from the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, which will be followed by a debate.
Resolution 2378, adopted on 20 September 2017, requested the Secretary-General to provide a comprehensive annual briefing to the Council on UN peacekeeping reform. The resolution also requested that as part of this briefing, the Council receive updates on the continuing efforts to fill the existing gaps in force generation and capabilities, as well as other needs for peacekeeping to respond effectively and appropriately to peace and security challenges.
Six months after the adoption of resolution 2378, on 28 March 2018, the Netherlands organised an open debate on “Collective action to improve UN peacekeeping operations”. At the meeting, Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the urgent need for “a quantum leap in collective engagement” and announced the launch of “Action for Peacekeeping” (A4P), an initiative aimed at renewing political commitment to peacekeeping operations.
So far, 152 member states and four regional organisations have endorsed the September 2018 Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations, which contains 45 commitments across eight thematic areas:
- advancing lasting political solutions;
- implementing the women, peace and security agenda;
- strengthening the protection provided by peacekeeping operations;
- improving the safety and security of peacekeepers;
- supporting effective performance and accountability;
- strengthening the impact of peacekeeping on sustaining peace;
- improving peacekeeping partnerships; and
- strengthening the conduct of peacekeepers and peacekeeping operations.
Although the declaration included intentionally vague language regarding follow-up of the commitments, Lacroix’s briefing is expected to provide an opportunity to review their implementation, which depends on actions by member states and the Secretariat. The Secretariat, in particular, is expected to describe measures it has taken to implement the declaration both in the field and at headquarters. For those commitments that are not the exclusive responsibility of the Secretariat, some member states have volunteered to become “champions”: to promote progress on particular areas and to convene key stakeholders around shared priorities. On 23 August, the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations held a meeting on the implementation of the commitments ahead of the one-year anniversary of the declaration.
Over the past year, the Council has held several meetings focusing on certain matters covered by the declaration. These have included a debate on peacekeeping reform particularly focused on performance, organised by the US on 12 September 2018, immediately following the first comprehensive briefing; a briefing on UN policing organised by China on 6 November 2018; an open debate on strengthening peacekeeping operations in Africa, also organised by China, on 20 November 2018; a high-level briefing on post-conflict economic recovery organised by Côte d’Ivoire on 5 December 2018; an open debate on performance and capacity-building organised by Indonesia on 7 May; and a debate on improving triangular cooperation among the Council, the Secretariat, and troop- and police-contributing countries organised by Peru on 10 July.
Issues and Options
Council members and the larger UN membership have differing views on several issues related to peacekeeping. Member states were unable to agree on the annual report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) in its last session in February-March as a result of substantive differences, particularly regarding funding modalities of AU peace support operations. The upcoming briefing will be an opportunity to take stock one year after the Declaration of Shared Commitments. Building on the briefing, Council members could identify the areas where more work needs to be done and devise a plan to deliver on the commitments, both at the Council and bilaterally.
Council and Wider Dynamics
With almost universal endorsement and buy-in of the declaration at the highest levels of a broad range of governments, the Secretariat has used it to conceive a fresh basis for a conversation on peacekeeping. However, critical differences persist. While it endorsed the document, Russia expressed reservations about the inclusion of language tying human rights efforts to the protection of civilians and for peacekeepers using for that purpose “all necessary means”, as well as references to engagement with civil society and the local population. Although all its members have endorsed the declaration bilaterally, the Council itself has not done so. A 7 May 2019 presidential statement welcomed “efforts undertaken by the Secretary-General to mobilize all partners and stakeholders in support of more effective United Nations peacekeeping through his initiative ‘Action for Peacekeeping’”. It specified that it recognised the added value brought by the Declaration of Shared Commitments on Peacekeeping Operations to training and capacity building. The polarisation in the Council has also permeated mission-specific discussions on peacekeeping. Of the mandating resolutions adopted in the 12 months since September 2018, six were not adopted unanimously, while this was the case for only 13 resolutions between 2010 and September 2018.
UN DOCUMENTS ON PEACEKEEPING
|Security Council Resolutions|
|13 December 2018S/RES/2447||This was a resolution drafted by the Netherlands and Côte d’Ivoire on “strengthening support to police, justice and corrections areas in peacekeeping operations and special political missions”.|
|21 September 2018S/RES/2436||This was a resolution on peacekeeping performance.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|7 May 2019S/PRST/2019/4||This Presidential Statement was on peacekeeping training and capacity-building.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|10 July 2019S/PV.8570||The Council held a debate on improving triangular cooperation between the Council, the Secretariat, and troop- and police-contributing countries.|
|18 June 2019S/PV.8552||This was a briefing by the heads of two military components.|
|7 May 2019S/PV.8521||This is a meeting record from the open debate on “Investing in peace: improving safety and performance of United Nations peacekeepers”.|
|5 December 2018S/PV.8413||This was a Council debate on “Post-conflict reconstruction and peace, security and stability”.|
|20 November 2018S/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.|
|6 November 2018S/PV.8393||This was a briefing on UN Policing by Alexander Zouev, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the DPKO, civil society briefer Tuesday Reitano, Deputy Director of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime and the heads of police components of three UN peacekeeping operations.|
|12 September 2018S/PV.8349||This was a Council debate on peacekeeping reform.|
|28 March 2018S/PV.8218||The Council held an open debate on peacekeeping, chaired by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte.|
|General Assembly Documents|
|15 March 2018A/72/19||This was the final report of the C34.|