Expected Council Action
In October, the Council is expected to hold the annual debate on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations, focusing on the AU. The Gabonese foreign minister, Michael Moussa-Adamo, is expected to chair the meeting. Secretary-General António Guterres and Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat are the anticipated briefers. A presidential statement is a possible outcome.
Background and Key Recent Developments
On 28 October 2021, the Council held its annual debate on UN-AU cooperation via videoconference (VTC). Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya at the time, chaired the meeting. UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and AU High Representative for Financing of the Union and the Peace Fund Donald Kaberuka briefed the Council. The Security Council adopted a presidential statement proposed by Kenya that stressed the need to further develop the UN-AU partnership into a systematic, operational and strategic partnership rooted in shared values and a strong commitment to multilateralism.
During its October Council presidency, Gabon intends to highlight the UN-AU cooperation on peace and security in Africa by focusing the annual debate on the Secretary-General’s report on “Strengthening the partnership between the UN and the AU on issues of peace and security in Africa, including on the work of the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU)”. The latest report, published on 25 August, provided updates on the implementation of the Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. It covered the activities carried out by UNOAU and the UN system since the previous report on 30 August 2021. It also discussed efforts to implement Security Council resolution 2320 of 18 November 2016 on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations, resolution 2378 of 20 September 2017 on peacekeeping reform, and resolution 2457 of 27 February 2019 on silencing the guns in Africa.
Preparations are also underway to hold the 16th annual joint consultative meeting between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) on 14 October. The annual meeting rotates between New York and Addis Ababa, the home of the AU headquarters; the meeting will be held in New York in 2022. The Security Council proposed several agenda items for the meeting, including the situations in West Africa and the Sahel and in the Great Lakes region, as well as the use of sanctions in conflict situations in Africa.
This meeting is expected to be preceded by the ninth informal joint seminar of the Security Council and the AUPSC, which is set to take place on 13 October. The aim of the joint seminar is to exchange views on how to enhance cooperation between the two Councils, including by strengthening UN and AU peace support operations and peacebuilding efforts in Africa. In this regard, issues related to working methods and how the two Councils can work together towards a common agenda in Africa will be discussed. The long-standing issue of securing adequate, predictable and sustainable financing for AU-led peace support operations will also be raised. In recent months, momentum has been building on this issue which was a key theme of the Arria-formula meeting convened by Ghana in July on “Collective security through equitable burden sharing: Strengthening regional arrangements for the maintenance of international peace and security”, and the open debate organised by China on “Peace and security in Africa: Capacity-building for sustaining peace” during its Council presidency in August. In this connection, UN Security Council members expect to receive updates on the implementation of the AU peace fund during the joint seminar.
The agenda items UN Security Council members proposed for the joint consultative meeting and the joint seminar have broad support, and the AUPSC is expected to accept them. The annual consultative meeting between the two Councils has been held via VTC for the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year it will be held in person. In preparation for the meeting, the AU Committee of Experts is expected to hold consultations with its Security Council counterparts in New York from 10 to 12 October and to negotiate the draft outcome document of the 16th joint annual consultative meeting.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue for Council members will be how to enhance cooperation and partnership between the Security Council and the AUPSC across the whole peace continuum, ranging from conflict prevention and peacekeeping to peacebuilding and sustaining peace. In light of some of the conflict situations in Africa, an important issue that has been raised by some Council members is the need for the Security Council to step up when the efforts by the AU and its regional mechanisms appear not to have made the desired progress.
Another major issue is how to address the request for sustainable financing of AU-led peace support operations from UN assessed contributions. Council members will await the Secretary-General’s report, which, in accordance with their 31 August presidential statement, will address this issue and is to be submitted by 30 April 2023.
The utility of sanctions has also become a critical issue. The three African members (A3)—Gabon, Ghana and Kenya—have been pushing strongly for the lifting of arms embargoes imposed by the Security Council on some African countries. They have done so based on the decisions of the AU and some of its regional mechanisms. This has affected recent negotiations on extending sanctions regimes and the mandate renewal of panels of experts assisting sanctions committees. In recent months, the A3 abstained on votes extending the sanctions regimes on the Central African Republic (July) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (June), while two members, Gabon and Kenya, abstained on a resolution renewing sanctions on South Sudan (May).
A possible option for Council members would be to adopt a presidential statement reaffirming the Council’s commitment to further strengthening the cooperation and partnership with the AUPSC in promoting peace and security in Africa.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members are generally supportive of the cooperation and partnership between the UN and the AU in the area of peace and security. The role of the A3 has been vital in this regard. In recent years, the A3 have enhanced their position in the Council through joint statements and coordinated positions advanced in negotiations on various Council products, particularly as they relate to Africa. However, the issue of sanctions has been divisive, with the A3 pushing for the lifting of arms embargoes on some African countries.
The A3 have revived the discussion in the Council on the financing of AU-led peace support operations from UN assessed contributions. The majority of Council members and the wider UN membership have been supportive of this proposal for several years. However, during the Trump administration, the US threatened to veto a draft resolution on the financing issue that was proposed by the A3 in December 2018, and it was never put to a vote. South Africa tried to facilitate progress on this matter in 2019, but the AUPSC called on the African members in the UN Security Council to suspend their efforts until the AU had a common position on outstanding issues. Accordingly, a draft common position paper was discussed by the AUPSC committee of experts. There could be an interest in finalising the document for adoption by the AU policy organs in February 2023, in light of the 31 August Council presidential statement.
That statement, among other things, requested the Secretary-General to provide the Security Council, by 30 April 2023, a report on progress made by the UN and the AU to fulfil the commitments set out in resolution 2320 of 8 November 2016 on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations and resolution 2378 of 20 September 2017 on peacekeeping reform. The report is also expected to include “recommendations on moving forward that reflect good practices and lessons-learned with the view to secure predictable, sustainable and flexible resources”.
It seems the Biden administration is keen to strengthen US relations with Africa, as reflected by the Africa strategy that it announced in August. It has also announced its plans to host the US-Africa Summit in December. In this context, there seems to be a window of opportunity to make progress on the financing issue. In November, during its Security Council presidency, Ghana is likely to organise a signature event to facilitate a discussion of this issue. As the chair of the AUPSC for the month of September, Ghana convened a meeting in Addis Ababa on the implementation of the AU peace fund.
UN DOCUMENTS ON COOPERATION BETWEEN THE UN AND THE AU
|Security Council Resolutions|
|18 November 2016S/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.|
|20 September 2017S/RES/2378||This was a resolution on UN peacekeeping reform.|
|27 February 2019S/RES/2457||This was a resolution adopted during a meeting on “Cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security”.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|31 August 2022S/PRST/2022/6||This was the presidential statement initiated by China on peace and security in Africa.|
|25 August 2022S/2022/643||This a statement on strengthening the partnership between the UN and the AU on issues of peace and security in Africa, including the work of the UNOAU.|
|Security Council Letter|
|11 November 2021S/2021/941||This was a letter that contained the transcript of the VTC debate on “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations: African Union”.|