January 2020 Monthly Forecast

SECURITY COUNCIL AND WIDER UN STRUCTURE

Cooperation between the UN and Regional Organisations

Expected Council Action

In January, Council president Viet Nam is expected to convene a briefing on the cooperation between the UN and regional organisations in maintaining international peace and security, with a focus on the relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Viet Nam also assumes the chairmanship of ASEAN at the outset of 2020. The Secretary-General of ASEAN may brief the Council.

Background 

The UN Charter established the Security Council as the principal organ charged with the maintenance of international peace and security while also envisioning a role for regional organisations in the context of local disputes. Chapter VIII of the Charter encourages the resolution of such disputes by regional organisations as long as their efforts are consistent with the principles and purposes of the UN.

Briefings on the relationships with different organisations have become a regular feature of the Council’s programme of work in the post-Cold War era. Council members have held annual joint consultative meetings with members of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) since 2007, and the Council has convened annual briefings on the work of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and on UN-EU cooperation since 2001 and 2010, respectively.

In the course of the last decade, there has been a growing recognition of the opportunities for a productive division of work between the Council and regional organisations. The AU has perhaps the most established relationship with the Security Council, with peacekeeping a principal area of their institutional cooperation. In Europe, regional organisations such as the EU and the OSCE play key roles in conflict and post-conflict environments. For example, the OSCE closely monitors such issues as the situations in Ukraine and Georgia, thus serving as an important source of information for the Council about developments in these areas.

One notable example of cooperation between the Security Council and ASEAN took place during a border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia in the vicinity of the Preah Vihear temple complex in 2011. On 14 February 2011, following exchanges of fire across the Thailand-Cambodia border, the Council held a private meeting on the border situation at the request of Cambodia. At the meeting, the then-chairman of ASEAN, the foreign minister of Indonesia, briefed the Council, and representatives of Cambodia and Thailand made statements. In a press statement issued after the meeting, Council members welcomed ASEAN’s mediation efforts and encouraged the parties to cooperate with the organisation. (For more on this, see What’s In Blue from 9 February 2011.) Tensions around the Preah Vihear temple complex abated following an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in November 2011 ordering both sides to withdraw their troops from the temple’s surroundings. Observers from ASEAN were deployed to monitor the ceasefire agreement. It appears that in this case, rather than taking the lead, members of the Council saw their role as supporting regional efforts.

Key Recent Developments

In 2019, the Council continued to engage regularly with regional and sub-regional organisations on peace and security issues. Cooperation with the AU on peace and security in Africa featured prominently on the Council’s agenda in the past year. The Council held two open debates focused on the AU’s “Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020” initiative, on 27 February and 2 October 2019. At the February debate, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2457, which highlights the Council’s support for African-led initiatives to end conflict on the continent. The October debate focused on the connection between youth empowerment and peacebuilding efforts in Africa.

Apart from the periodic Council briefings on UN-AU and UN-EU partnerships, several meetings were held in the past year on cooperation between the Council and other regional organisations, demonstrating the desire of some Council members for these relationships to develop along similar lines as those with the AU and EU.

On 13 June 2019, Kuwait convened a high-level briefing on cooperation with the League of Arab States (LAS). In a presidential statement adopted following the meeting, the Council encouraged the practice of holding of an annual briefing by the Secretary-General of the LAS as well as of convening an annual informal meeting between Security Council members and the members of the Council of the LAS.

On 25 September 2019, Russia organised a ministerial-level meeting on the work of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Commonwealth of Independent States, with a focus on their role in counter-terrorism efforts. In his briefing to the Council, the Secretary-General mentioned that the UN is strengthening its institutional links with the three organisations. However, P3 representatives and several EU members of the Council expressed doubts about enhancing the cooperation between the Council and these organisations.

UN DOCUMENTS ON COOPERATION BETWEEN THE UN AND REGIONAL ORGANISATIONS

Security Council Presidential Statements
13 June 2019S/PRST/2019/5 This was a presidential statement encouraging the holding of an annual briefing by the Secretary-General of the LAS and the holding of an annual informal meeting between members of the Security Council and the Council of the LAS.
Secretary-General’s Reports
17 August 2018S/2018/592 This was the bi-annual report on cooperation between the UN and regional and other organisations.
Security Council Meeting Records
14 February 2011S/PV.6480 This was the official communiqué of the 6480th (closed) meeting of the Security Council.
Security Council Press Statements
14 February 2011SC/10174 The Council expressed grave concern about the recent armed clashes between Cambodia and Thailand.