Research Report

The Financing of AU Peace Support Operations: Prospects for Progress in the Security Council?

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The financing of AU-led peace support operations (AUPSOs) has been an issue in the relationship between the UN and the AU in general, and between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) in particular, since 2007. In this time, the Security Council’s discussion of this issue has evolved, with Council members increasingly recognising the AU’s proactive role on matters of peace and security in Africa, including its enhanced capacity to respond expeditiously to conflict and crises on the continent, particularly through the deployment of AU Peace Support Operations (AUPSOs). Nonetheless, despite advances in recent years, the AU’s Achilles heel remains the lack of adequate resources to support and sustain these operations.  

To address this challenge, the AU has since 2007 been seeking UN-assessed contributions for adequate, sustainable, and predictable funding for AUPSOs. The African members of the UN Security Council (A3) have tried, individually and collectively, to advance the discussion of the financing of AUPSOs through UN-assessed contributions, and the Security Council has adopted several resolutions and presidential statements recognising the need to provide adequate, predictable, and sustainable financing for AUPSOs.  

In 2018, the A3 proposed a draft resolution which sought a clear commitment from the Council to finance AUPSOs from UN-assessed contributions on a case-by-case basis. The draft text placed in blue in December 2018 garnered the support of most Council members, but was never put to a vote because of one permanent member’s strong opposition. In August 2019, as South Africa tried to advance the issue, the AUPSC called on the A3 to suspend their efforts pending the AU’s development of a common position on some of the contentious issues raised during the 2018 negotiations. The AU endorsed a common position in February 2023. 

There has been renewed momentum in the Security Council regarding the discussion of financing AUPSOs since mid-2022. Following a debate on peace and security in Africa during the Chinese presidency in August 2022, the Council adopted a presidential statement. Among other things, the presidential statement 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 fulfill the commitments set out in resolution 2320 of 18 November 2016 on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations, and resolution 2378 of 20 September 2017 on peacekeeping reform.  

The Council asked that the Secretary-General’s April 2023 report include “recommendations on moving forward that reflect good practices and lessons learned with the view to secure predictable, sustainable and flexible resources”. It is likely to stimulate further discussion and can be expected to encourage the A3 to resume negotiating a substantive Council outcome on the financing issue later in 2023.   

In this research report, Security Council Report offers insights into how the Council has dealt with the financing issue by examining past Council meetings and outcomes. It will also reflect on recent efforts to revive the discussion in the Council—in a changed geopolitical context to that of 2018—examine the prospects for progress in this regard and analyse potential Council dynamics on the financing issue in 2023 before offering some concluding observations.