Expected Council Action
In September, the Security Council will hold a briefing on peacekeeping reform pursuant to resolution 2378 of 20 September 2017. Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix is the anticipated briefer.
Key Recent Developments
Resolution 2378 requested the Secretary-General to provide a comprehensive briefing to the Security Council on the reform of UN peacekeeping every 12 months, to be followed by a debate. Last year, the Council held the annual meeting on 6 September in a briefing format. Lacroix briefed on progress and challenges in the implementation of the initiatives Action for Peacekeeping (A4P), Action for Peacekeeping Plus (A4P+) (which outlines the eight priorities of peacekeeping reform in 2021 and beyond), and the Secretary-General’s initiative to accelerate peacekeeping reform.
Lacroix highlighted the complex geopolitical environment under which peacekeeping missions are operating and underscored the need to “preserve the space needed for United Nations peacekeeping operations, which continue to visibly manifest a multilateral system in action on the ground”. He drew particular attention to the continuing critical capability gaps in UN peacekeeping missions, particularly the limited number of utility and armed helicopters, and called for the support of Council members to address these gaps. Lacroix expressed concern about the increasing number of fatalities from attacks on peacekeepers, including from explosive ordnance and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and described efforts to address this threat. He set out UN efforts to strengthen strategic communication to counter misinformation and disinformation and enhance better engagement with local communities. Furthermore, he stressed women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in peacekeeping as a key priority, and noted the progress toward achieving the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy 2018-2028 published in 2019, which set targets for the participation of women in uniformed roles.
It has been five years since the Secretary-General launched his A4P initiative, and the third progress report on the implementation of A4P+, released in June, highlighted progress in the seven priority areas—collective coherence behind a political strategy, strategic and operational integration, capabilities and mindsets, accountability to peacekeepers, accountability of peacekeepers, strategic communication, and cooperation with host countries.
On 20 July, the Secretary-General launched the policy brief on A New Agenda for Peace, which recognises the “challenges posed by long-standing and unresolved conflicts, without a peace to keep, by complex domestic, geopolitical and transnational factors” and “the limitations of ambitious mandates without adequate political support”. In this regard, it calls for “a serious and broad-based reflection” on the future of peacekeeping, underscoring the need to move towards “nimble adaptable models with appropriate, forward-looking transition and exit strategies”. The policy brief particularly recommends authorising peace enforcement, counter-terrorism, and counter-insurgency operations by regional and subregional organisations.
In February, the 36th AU summit adopted a Consensus Paper on Predictable, Adequate, and Sustainable Financing for AU Peace and Security Activities. The paper includes a description of progress in enhancing the AU’s Compliance Framework (AUCF), which is one of the benchmarks set out by the Security Council, pursuant to resolution 2320 on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations and resolution 2378 on peacekeeping reform, for advancing the discussion on the financing of AU-led peace support operations (AUPSOs).
The discussion about the financing of AUPSOs from UN-assessed contributions has also been revived in the Council since last year. Pursuant to a 31 August 2022 Security Council presidential statement (S/PRST/2022/6), the Secretary-General presented his report on this issue on 1 May (S/2023/303), building on his previous report on options for authorisation and support for AUPSOs. As stated in the AU Consensus Paper and the Secretary-General’s 1 May report, both the AU and the UN are of the view that two financing options—hybrid missions and a UN support office—are more feasible and can provide predictable and sustainable financing for AUPSOs.
On 12 May, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) requested the three African members of the UN Security Council, known as the A3 (Gabon, Ghana, and Mozambique), to “resume consultations with the relevant stakeholders towards the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on financing AU-led PSOs”. The US, which opposed the 2018 draft resolution on the financing of AUPSOs, now appears more amenable to a serious discussion about the matter. (For more information, see our 26 April research report The Financing of AU Peace Support Operations: Prospects for Progress in the Security Council?)
Key Issues and Options
A key issue for Council members is how to keep UN peace operations fit for purpose considering current geopolitical realities, including strong divisions among the Council’s permanent members—as well as complex operating environments and the erosion of host country consent in several cases. Council members could consider convening a dedicated session to discuss the peacekeeping-related recommendations of the policy brief on A New Agenda for Peace.
Another important issue is how to advance the discussion on the long-standing request for the UN to support AU-led peace support operations through the use of assessed contributions. Ghana is spearheading A3 efforts to propose a draft framework resolution that is expected to be negotiated among Council members over the coming months. The issue could also be discussed during the annual consultation between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), which is expected to take place in October in Addis Ababa.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Peacekeeping remains one of the most important tools at the Security Council’s disposal in discharging its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. However, geopolitical dynamics and the changing nature of conflict have posed serious challenges to peacekeeping operations. The growing frustration among host countries and communities because of the perceived ineffectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations has also complicated the operating environment.
Following Mali’s request for the immediate withdrawal of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the Security Council decided to terminate the mandate of the mission. The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) is currently undergoing transition. Following an anti-MONUSCO protest in July 2022, however, the Congolese government called for a revision of the mission’s transition plan to accelerate its drawdown and exit.
It has been nearly a decade since the Security Council authorised a UN peacekeeping mission. One emerging trend is the apparent desire to enhance the role of special political missions (SPMs), particularly those with a regional mandate, in light of the drawdown and exit of some of the bigger multidimensional peacekeeping operations. In terminating MINUSMA’s mandate, the Security Council referred to the possible role of the UN Office in West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) in support of the Malian peace agreement. The Secretary-General’s report on MONUSCO’s reconfiguration, pursuant to resolution 2666 of 20 December 2022, also proposed an enhanced role for some of the regional SPMs, such as the Office of the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes or the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), to support the efforts of the Congolese government and the UN country team during the transition process and reinforce ongoing regional initiatives to address the situation in eastern DRC.
This trend is likely to continue, depending on how the discussion on the financing of AUPSOs evolves in the Security Council over the coming months, with SPMs assuming a greater role in providing political and logistical support to these operations. There seems to be a desire to agree on a framework resolution on support to AUPSOs through UN-assessed contributions before the end of the year, and Council members are waiting for the A3 to propose a draft. Despite this, issues related to accountability and human rights, burden-sharing, and fiduciary responsibilities are expected to complicate the negotiations.
UN DOCUMENTS ON PEACEKEEPING
|Security Council Resolution|
|20 September 2017S/RES/2378||This was a resolution on UN peacekeeping reform.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|6 September 2022S/PV.9123||This was on UN peacekeeping operations.|