Expected Council Action
In November, the Security Council will hold a ministerial-level open debate on the theme “Integrating Effective Resilience-Building in Peace Operations for Sustainable Peace”. This is one of the signature events of Ghana’s presidency. Ghanaian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey is expected to chair the meeting. Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs and Peace and Security Bankole Adeoye, Chair of The Elders Mary Robinson, and Security Council Report Executive Director Karin Landgren are the anticipated briefers.
No formal outcome is anticipated.
Background and Key Recent Developments
Ghana would like this month’s open debate to facilitate a discussion on the challenges of peacekeeping in a changing security landscape. It intends to use the meeting to highlight the increasing threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism, as well as other structural factors and drivers of conflict, such as poverty and climate change. Ghana seems to be keen to consider these issues in the context of the political, security and development challenges facing the Sahel and coastal West Africa.
At the 16th annual consultative meeting between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council in New York on 14 October, the situation in the Sahel and West Africa was discussed. In the joint communiqué the two Councils adopted at the end of the meeting, they expressed concern about the growing threat of terrorism and the resurgence of coups d’état plaguing the region. In this regard, they agreed on the need to address the underlying conditions contributing to the spread of terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel and West Africa. The two Councils also “underscored the importance of strengthening the resilience of African States through creating an environment conducive to prosperity for youth and women by facilitating access to economic and social services and employment in addition to supporting deradicalization efforts through education, training, skill development and rehabilitation and reintegration programs”.
In the same spirit, on 25 September, the UN, the AU, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) jointly launched a high-level independent panel under the leadership of the former president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, to undertake a strategic assessment of “the underlying challenges in the Sahel, including the surge in violent extremism, growing fragility of the economies of the region due to the impact of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as complex political transitions”. The panel’s report and findings, due to be submitted in February, are expected to facilitate coordinated regional and international response to the complex political, security and development challenges of the Sahel.
Sustainable funding mechanisms are also foreseen as a topic for the high-level debate. Over the years, the AU has requested adequate, predictable and sustainable financing for its peace support operations from the UN’s assessed contributions. This issue has gained some momentum in the Council over the last couple of months. On 27 July, Ghana convened an Arria-formula meeting on “Collective security through equitable burden sharing: strengthening regional arrangements for the maintenance of international peace and security”, which provided an opportunity for Council members to discuss how financial and logistical support could be provided to regional efforts to address peace and security challenges in Africa.
On 9 August, China convened a Security Council open debate on capacity-building for sustaining peace during which the financing issue was again raised. The outcome of the meeting was a 31 August presidential statement that requested the Secretary-General to submit, 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”.
Key Issues and Options
One of the key issues for Council members is how to enhance the role of UN peace operations to better respond to existing and new challenges to peace and security. A related issue is how to address the underlying causes of conflict and insecurity and build resilient communities. While no formal outcome is anticipated from the meeting, Council members may reflect on how various UN bodies and other relevant stakeholders can create greater synergies and coherence in support of national and regional efforts to tackle the root causes and drivers of conflict.
The other major issue is how to address the long-standing issue of financing AU peace support operations. The Secretary-General’s report, pursuant to the 31 August presidential statement, is due by 30 April 2023. Next year, building on the discussion in the open debate, Ghana may wish to pursue a resolution taking advantage of the renewed momentum on the issue of sustainable financing of AU-led peace support operations through UN assessed contributions.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Ghana is one of the top ten troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations and chairs the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations. It has been active in discussions on peacekeeping and has attached particular importance to the security situation in its own region. Ghana seems keen to mobilise international efforts to respond to the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism and other political, security and development challenges in the Sahel and West Africa through existing UN peace operations and other regional security arrangements.
Council discussions on these issues, however, have been difficult and contentious. Geopolitical dynamics in the region, with the growing influence of Russia and its deployment of the Wagner Group, a Russian private security company, in Mali have also further complicated these discussions.
The Security Council has long discussed the possibility that AU-led peace support operations could be funded through UN assessed contributions. The US, the world body’s largest funder, had opposed this possibility during the Trump Administration. In 2018, it threatened to veto a draft resolution on the financing issue that was proposed by the three African members (A3). However, there seems to be a window of opportunity for progress on this issue because of the Biden administration’s keenness to strengthen US relations with Africa. At the 11 October Security Council debate on UN-AU Cooperation, the US Permanent Representative made clear that “the implementation of [human rights and international humanitarian law] frameworks and other oversight mechanisms…remain key considerations for any discussions about the use of UN assessed contributions”.
Although there is renewed interest in discussing the financing issue, Council members recognise that counter-terrorism operations are not eligible for financial support from UN-assessed contributions because of the basic principles of peacekeeping—consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.
UN DOCUMENTS ON PEACEKEEPING
|Security Council Resolutions|
|20 September 2017S/RES/2378||This was a resolution on UN peacekeeping reform.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|31 August 2022S/PRST/2022/6||This was the presidential statement initiated by China on peace and security in Africa.|
|12 July 2022S/PRST/2022/5||This presidential statement was on strategic communications in peacekeeping.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|6 September 2022S/PV.9123||This was on UN peacekeeping operations.|