October 2023 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 September 2023
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UN-AU Cooperation

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. Special Representative to the AU and head of the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU) Parfait Onanga-Anyanga is the expected briefer.

Key Recent Developments

On 11 October 2022, the Council held a ministerial-level debate on UN-AU cooperation. Secretary-General António Guterres and AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat briefed the Council. The meeting highlighted the 20th anniversary of the AU. It also drew attention to the issue of climate security in Africa, which was the topic of a signature event by Gabon during its Security Council presidency that month. Following the meeting, Gabon’s proposed draft presidential statement could not be adopted because of the lack of consensus over climate language.

The annual debate usually takes place under an African Security Council presidency, but Mozambique’s presidency in March was the only one for an African member this year. Therefore, the three African members (the A3)—Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique—seem to have reached an understanding with Brazil to consider the Secretary-General’s annual 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)” during its Security Council presidency in October.

The latest Secretary-General’s report, published on 28 August, describes the partnership between the UN and the AU in conflict prevention and peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace support operations, and peacebuilding and the rule of law. It provides updates on the financing of AU peace support operations (AUPSOs) and refers to the Secretary-General’s 1 May report on this issue, which was drafted pursuant to a 31 August 2022 presidential statement. It also mentions the AU consensus paper on predictable, adequate, and sustainable financing for AU peace and security activities adopted at the 36th AU Summit in February. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 24 May.)

During the Brazilian Presidency in October, the 17th annual joint consultative meeting between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) will also be held. The annual meeting rotates between New York and Addis Ababa, the home of the AU headquarters; this year’s meeting will be held in Addis Ababa on 6 October. The AUPSC has proposed several agenda items for the meeting, including the situations in Sudan, the Sahel region, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia and the activities of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

This meeting is expected to be preceded on 5 October by the eighth informal joint seminar of the Security Council and the AUPSC. The aim of the joint seminar is to exchange views on how to enhance cooperation between the two Councils. Working methods will be discussed. The seventh informal joint seminar last year in New York welcomed the monthly meetings of the President of the Security Council and the Chairperson of the AUPSC. Participants also encouraged the UN and the AU to undertake joint assessment missions, as well as greater working-level coordination and consultation ahead of their joint meetings. Furthermore, they supported the regular participation of UN and AU Special Representatives in meetings of the Security Council and the AUPSC in order to provide the AU and UN perspectives on relevant topics related to African issues.

The other agenda item for the informal seminar is the long-standing issue of securing adequate, predictable, and sustainable financing for AUPSOs. This issue has gathered momentum in the Security Council since last year, as the AUPSC requested the A3 in May to “resume consultations with the relevant stakeholders towards the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on financing AU-led PSOs”. (For more information, see our 26 April research report titled The Financing of AU Peace Support Operations: Prospects for Progress in the Security Council?)  On 23 September, the AUPSC held a ministerial-level meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s high-level segment to discuss this issue. In his statement at the meeting, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed the Commission’s readiness to support the A3 in advancing a draft resolution that is expected to be considered by the Security Council in December 2023.

The agenda items the AUPSC proposed for the joint consultative meeting and the joint seminar have broad support, and Council members are expected to accept them. It seems that the A3 have suggested including the youth, peace and security agenda in the joint seminar. Over the last couple of years, the AU Committee of Experts has visited New York ahead of the annual consultations to meet with Security Council counterparts and negotiate the draft outcome document of the meeting. This year, for the first time, Security Council experts are expected to travel to Addis Ababa on 3-4 October in preparation for the annual consultation and will meet with their AUPSC counterparts.

Key Issues and Options

A key issue for Council members will be how to address the most pressing peace and security situations in Africa. Aside from specific conflicts, several thematic issues—including the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism, the resurgence of coups, the increasing role of mercenaries on the continent, and the worsening humanitarian situation with massive human displacement due to ongoing conflicts—may draw the attention of Council members.

Council members could consider conducting visiting missions to some of the conflict situations in Africa. Since late 2019, they have only undertaken two visiting missions: one to the Sahel region in October 2021 and another to the DRC in March. It has been eight years since Council members visited Somalia and four since they visited South Sudan. Apparently, there were discussions among Council members about adding one of these countries to their Addis Ababa trip, but it did not materialise.

Another major issue is how to address the long-standing request for the financing of AUPSOs from UN-assessed contributions. Council members seem to be supportive of adopting a framework resolution on the issue before the end of this year and are awaiting a draft from the A3.

Council Dynamics

Council members are generally supportive of the cooperation and partnership between the UN and the AU on 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.

It remains to be seen, however, how the recent coup in Gabon will affect A3 dynamics over the coming months. At the annual Security Council briefing on peacekeeping held on 8 September, the A3 did not deliver a joint statement. On 31 August, the AUPSC suspended Gabon from all activities of the AU and its organs until the restoration of constitutional order in that country. (Gabon is expected to participate in the 17th annual consultation as a Security Council member.)

The A3 are spearheading efforts to advance a framework resolution on the financing of AUPSOs. They may circulate the draft resolution to Council members after the annual consultation between the two Councils. Although Council members are broadly supportive, issues related to accountability and human rights, burden-sharing, and fiduciary responsibilities are expected to complicate the upcoming negotiations.

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Security Council Resolutions
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”.
20 September 2017S/RES/2378 This was a resolution on UN peacekeeping reform.
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.
Security Council Presidential Statements
31 August 2022S/PRST/2022/6 This was the presidential statement initiated by China on peace and security in Africa.
Secretary-General’s Reports
28 August 2023S/2023/629 The report is on the strengthening the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union on issues of peace and security in
Africa, including the work of the United Nations Office to the African Union
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 Meeting Records
11 October 2022S/PV.9149 This was a debate on “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security”.

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