Update Report

Posted 8 January 2010
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Update No. 2: UN Cooperation with Regional and Subregional Organisations in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security

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Expected Council Action
On 13 January the Council will hold a debate at the initiative of China on the relationship between the UN and regional and subregional organisations. In its concept paper China emphasises the pre-eminence of the Security Council in matters pertaining to the maintenance of international peace and security. However, it also highlights the roles of regional organisations and the complementarity with the UN. China also points out the opportunity that exists for further utilisation of the resources and comparative advantage of regional organisations. And it lays particular emphasis on the need to do more in the areas of dispute resolution, conflict mediation and preventive diplomacy.

Representatives from a number of regional organisations will be invited to participate and to share their experiences and propose suggestions for strengthening cooperation and coordination with the UN. These include the AU, EU, NATO, Organization of American States (OAS), League of Arab States (LoAS), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The Secretary-General is also likely to attend and to address the Council. (The debate follows a retreat which the Secretary-General will hold from 11-12 January in Long Island with heads of a number of international and regional organisations. Many participants of the retreat are likely to stay for the debate.)

Council members have been discussing the text of a possible presidential statement for adoption at the time of the debate.

Background
The UN Charter establishes the Security Council as the principal organ charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. It also foresees a role for “regional arrangements”, especially in regard to the pacific settlement of disputes. In Chapter VIII, the Charter encourages regional organisations to contribute towards the maintenance of peace and security. However, it establishes that such efforts are subordinate to the UN. The Security Council is encouraged to utilise regional arrangements but enforcement action may only be taken by them under the authorisation of the Security Council.

In addition, Article 54 provides that the Security Council should at all times be kept fully informed of activities “undertaken or in contemplation” by regional organisations for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Historical Developments
Both historically and in recent times, the practice of both the UN and regional organisations has often been inconsistent in terms of the provisions of Chapter VIII.

In January 1992, however, the Security Council, meeting for the first time at the level of heads of state and government, asked the Secretary-General to recommend ways to strengthen and make the UN more efficient in the areas of preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping. In response to this request, the Secretary-General issued his report, An Agenda for Peace, in June 1992, where he highlighted the role that regional organisations could play in preventive diplomacy, early warning systems, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding. This led to a growing focus on the idea of a regional-global security partnership.

In 1993, the Council invited regional organisations to study possible measures for strengthening their functions in peace and security and improving coordination with the UN.

In 1995, in the Supplement to an Agenda for Peace, the Secretary-General outlined the modes of cooperation between the UN and regional organisations. These are: consultation, diplomatic support, operational support, co-deployment and joint operations.

In April 1998 the Secretary-General issued a report on peace and security in Africa. While the main focus was on Africa, the report’s recommendations for peacekeeping operations and supporting regional and subregional initiatives went beyond and included other regional organisations. An ad hoc working group was established by the Council to review the report’s recommendations. Based on the recommendations of the working group, from September to November 1998, the Council adopted a number of presidential statements and resolutions addressing the role of regional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security.

An open debate on regional organisations was held on 11 April 2003 and was attended by representatives of the AU, ECOWAS, the EU, LoAS, OAS, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The next thematic debate was the open debate of 20 July 2004 on cooperation between the UN and regional organisations in stabilisation processes. Strengthening the relationship between the UN and regional organisations was again a feature of the December 2004 report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.

In March 2005 the Secretary-General issued the report In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all. In the report, the Secretary-General discussed the “establishment of an interlocking system of peacekeeping capacities” to allow the UN to work with regional organisations in predictable and reliable partnerships. Also in 2005, the 17 October debate led to the adoption of resolution 1631, the first resolution on regional organisations.

Several Council members have been active in ensuring that cooperation with regional organisations is highlighted on the Council agenda. For example, both Romania in 2004-2005 and Greece in 2005-2006 sought to emphasise the importance of better coordinating UN activities with regional organisations.

An open debate on cooperation between the UN and international organisations in maintaining international peace and security was held on 20 September 2006.

On 28 March 2007 an open debate focused on Africa, which was presided over by South Africa, resulted in a presidential statement which stressed that collaboration between the UN and regional organisations “should be based on their complimentary [sic] capacities and comparative advantages,” while recognising the “Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) as a forum for coordination between the United Nations system and regional and subregional organizations”.

In 2007 initiatives under the presidencies of both France and South Africa, including a summit-level meeting of the Council on 25 September presided over by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that focused on the need to further mobilise the international community to address the challenges to peace and security confronting Africa and to support AU efforts. Also in 2007 an open debate was held on 28 August during the presidency of Congo (the then Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa), as well as a seminar organised by the Working Group on 3 December. The seminar addressed methods of supporting national actors to enhance their capacity to prevent conflict, regional approaches to cross-border challenges, mediation strategies and ways to mobilise the international community.

Since 2007, members of the Council have held an annual meeting with its AU counterpart, the Peace and Security Council (PSC), with the first such meeting held in Addis Ababa in 2007, the second one in New York in April 2008, and the most recent one again at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa in May 2009. Members of the Council and AU PSC agreed to hold their next consultative meeting in New York in 2010, with its date yet to be determined.

Key Recent Developments
The most recent debate on strengthening the relationship between the UN and regional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security was held on 16 April 2008 and was largely focused on Africa and the relationship with the AU. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe addressed the Council concerning the Secretary-General’s report of 14 January 2008 on conflict prevention, particularly in Africa, as well as the report of 7 April 2008, which describes many facets of UN cooperation with regional organisations in peace and security activities under Chapter VIII. Some of the key recommendations outlined in the report included:

  • The nature of structure and partnership: defining the role regional organisations play in the maintenance of peace and security, in particular the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.
  • Coordination and consultation mechanisms: continuing desk-to-desk dialogues on conflict prevention between the UN and regional organisations on issues of mutual interest and increasing consultations among regional organisations.
  • Capacity building for peacekeeping and peace support: improving and better coordinating African peacekeeping training initiatives, including through the development of regional centres for conflict prevention and peace support and enhancing the capacity of the AU and subregional organisations in financial and administrative management.
  • Disarmament and non-proliferation: The UN and intergovernmental, regional and subregional organisations should intensify coordination and cooperation in strengthening capacities in implementing the global counter-terrorism strategy and encourage regional and subregional organisations to enhance the exchange of information and pursue further joint planning and implementation of initiatives to address issues of small arms and light weapons.
  • Conflict prevention and mediation: strengthening the capacity of the Department of Political Affairs, including the establishment of regional offices, to work closely with regional organisations.
  • Peacebuilding support and post-conflict reconstruction: The UN should establish a collaborative working group to develop an agenda on linking peacebuilding processes and the PBC with the work of regional organisations.

Following the debate, the Council adopted resolution 1809, in which it recognised the problems that some regional organisations confront in maintaining peacekeeping operations. The Council concluded that it was desirable to enhance the “predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing regional organizations” operating under a UN mandate. The resolution welcomed developments regarding cooperation among the AU, EU and UN, including the contribution of the EU to the enhancement of AU capacities and encouraged regional and subregional organisations to strengthen and increase cooperation among themselves, in particularly among ASEAN, the AU, the EU, LoAS and OAS, including efforts to enhance their respective capacities in the maintenance of international peace and security. It also welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish a joint AU-UN panel to consider modalities for UN support for AU peacekeeping operations which became widely known as the “Prodi Panel”, in reference to its chair, former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. That report was released in December 2008; the Council subsequently requested a report from the Secretary-General on modalities for peacekeeping arrangements between the two organisations, discussed that report in October and issued a presidential statement afterwards.

Previous debates and initiatives have often focused on collaboration in the area of peacekeeping and primarily with the AU. (The focus on the AU has in the past been due to the fact that there were so many African issues on the Council’s agenda.)

Key Issues
One important issue for the Council in the upcoming debate is considering the role of regional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security from a slightly broader angle by exploring options for enhancing bilateral relations between the UN and a range of regional bodies.

A second issue is to begin exploring more deeply cooperation in areas other than peacekeeping, especially early warning, conflict prevention, mediation and post-conflict peacebuilding (in effect the range of Chapter VI functions of the Council).

A further issue is whether it is possible to define more clearly both the UN’s and each regional organisation’s comparative advantage in addressing the problems and contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security.

Another practical issue arises at the other end of the peace and security spectrum: i.e. how to better involve regional and subregional organisations in peacebuilding, post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction processes, especially in situations where the PBC is not yet involved.

Finally, given the increasing demand for UN peacekeeping operations, and building upon the achievements of UN-authorised regional peacekeeping missions, determining what additional measures the UN and regional organisations can take to continue to collectively respond to crises will also be an important issue.

Possible Outcome
The debate is expected to result in the adoption of a presidential statement. Options for such a statement might include elements reinforcing:

  • the importance of developing more effective partnerships between the UN and regional organisations in accordance with Chapter VIII;
  • the Council’s lead role under the Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security;
  • the need for more innovative approaches in the areas of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and utilising the capabilities of regional organisations in the areas of dialogue, reconciliation, consultation, negotiation, good offices and mediation;
  • the need for the UN Secretariat and regional and subregional organisations to enhance their relationships and further engage in information-sharing on their respective capabilities and on lessons learned in maintaining international peace and security, particularly concerning mediation, good offices and peacekeeping; and
  • the role that regional and subregional organisations can play in post-conflict peacebuilding, recovery, reconstruction and development and the value of better interaction between these organisations and the Council and its subsidiary bodies.

Council Dynamics
Historically permanent members of the Security Council have been hesitant about the now common practice among elected members of holding thematic debates during their presidencies. The current debate is notable because it marks the first time when China takes the initiative to organise a thematic debate during its presidency (China has previously presided over thematic debates but only when their holding was a result of prior Council decisions). It is significant that now all five of the permanent members have taken the initiative for a thematic debate.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1809 (16 April 2008) encouraged increased engagement between the AU and the UN and established the AU-UN panel to consider modalities of support to AU peacekeeping missions.
  • S/RES/1769 (31 July 2007) established UNAMID.
  • S/RES/1706 (31 August 2006) was on the situation in Sudan mandating UN assistance to AMIS.
  • S/RES/1631 (17 October 2005) was the first resolution adopted by the Security Council on regional organisations.
  • S/RES/1625 (14 September 2005) was a declaration on the effectiveness of the Security Council’s role in conflict prevention, calling for the strengthening of cooperation and communication between the UN and regional and subregional organisations in accordance with Chapter VIII.
  • S/RES/1497 (1 August 2003) recognised the role ECOWAS played in implementing the June 2003 ceasefire in Liberia and cited Chapter VIII.
  • S/RES/1464 (4 February 2003) welcomed the actions of ECOWAS in response to the violence in Côte d’Ivoire in 2002 with reference to Chapter VII and Chapter VIII.
  • S/RES/1318 (7 September 2000) was the adoption of the Millennium Summit declaration on maintaining peace and security, especially in Africa.
  • S/RES/1197 (18 September 1998) was on the need for the UN to provide support to regional and subregional organisations and to strengthen coordination between the UN and those organisations.
  • S/RES/1170 (28 May 1998) established the Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2009/26 (26 October 2009) reiterated the importance of a more effective strategic relationship between the UN and the AU, underlining the importance of expediting the implementation of the UN-AU Ten-Year Capacity-Building Programme.
  • S/PRST/2009/3 (18 March 2009) requested the Secretary-General to submit a report no later than 18 September 2009 on practical ways to provide effective support for the AU when it undertakes UN authorized peacekeeping operations.
  • S/PRST/2007/42 (6 November 2007) was on the role of regional and subregional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • S/PRST/2007/31 (28 August 2007) requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the options for further implementation of resolution 1625.
  • S/PRST/2007/7 (28 March 2007) was on relations between the UN and regional organisations, particularly the AU.
  • S/PRST/2007/1 (8 January 2007) requested the Secretary-General to provide the Council with more regular analytical reporting on regions of potential armed conflict and stressed the importance of establishing comprehensive strategies on conflict prevention.
  • S/PRST/2006/39 (20 September 2006) welcomed the progress made in realising the goals of resolution 1631 and urged contributions to the capacity building of regional organisations and subregional organisations, particularly of the AU and African subregional organisations.
  • S/PRST/2004/44 (19 November 2004) recognised the importance of strengthening cooperation with the AU in order to help build its capacity to deal with collective security challenges.
  • S/PRST/2004/27 (20 July 2004) was the statement after the Council’s debate on cooperation between the UN and regional organisations in stabilisation processes.
  • S/PRST/2002/2 (31 January 2002) made recommendations for achieving conflict prevention and resolution in Africa and noted that the Council would consider establishing a Working Group to monitor these recommendations.
  • S/PRST/1998/35 (30 November 1998) reaffirmed the increasingly important role of regional arrangements in maintaining peace and security.
  • S/PRST/1998/28 (16 September 1998) set general standards for peacekeeping and stressed the need to be fully informed of peacekeeping activities carried out by regional or subregional organisations.
  • S/PRST/1997/46 (25 September 1997) noted that addressing the challenges of conflict in Africa required a comprehensive approach and called on the Secretary-General to produce a report to address the issue.
  • S/PRST/1994/22 (3 May 1994) stated that regional and subregional organisations should be taken into account when setting up new peacekeeping operations.

Selected Letters

  • S/2010/9 (7 January 2010) transmitted the concept paper for the Council debate to be held on 13 January on “Cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations in maintaining international peace and security”.
  • S/2008/813 (24 December 2008) was from the Secretary-General forwarding the AU-UN panel report on how to support AU peacekeeping operations established under UN mandate to the Security Council and General Assembly.
  • S/2008/229 (8 April 2008) was from the Permanent Representative of South Africa forwarding the concept paper on the relationship between the UN and regional organisations, in particular the AU, in the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • S/2007/640 (29 October 2007) was from the Permanent Representative of Indonesia forwarding the concept paper on the relationship between the UN and regional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • S/2007/496 (14 August 2007) was from Congo containing the terms of reference for the open debate on 28 August on conflict prevention and resolution, especially in Africa.
  • S/2007/148 (14 March 2007) was from the Permanent Representative of South Africa forwarding the concept paper on the relationship between the UN and regional organisations, in particular the AU, in the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • S/2005/567 (8 September 2005) transmitted the conclusions of the sixth high-level meeting between the Secretary-General and regional organisations.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2008/186 (7 April 2008) described many facets of UN cooperation with regional organisations in peace and security activities under Chapter VIII.
  • S/2008/18 (14 January 2008) was on conflict prevention, particularly in Africa.
  • S/2006/590 (28 July 2006) was the report A regional-global security partnership: challenges and opportunities.
  • A/59/2005 (21 March 2005) was the report In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all.
  • A/59/565 (2 December 2004) and Corr. 1 (6 December 2004) was the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.
  • S/2000/809 (21 August 2000) was the Brahimi report on peacekeeping.
  • S/1998/318 (13 April 1998) was on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.
  • S/1995/1 (25 January 1995) was the report Supplement to an Agenda for Peace.
  • S/24111 (17 June 1992) was the report An Agenda for Peace.

Selected Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6206 (26 October 2009) was an open debate on the report of the AU-UN panel which covered modalities for support to AU peacekeeping operations.
  • S/PV.6131 (28 May 2009) was the briefing on the Council mission to Africa.
  • S/PV.5868 and resumption 1 (16 April 2008) was the open debate combining the thematic issues of UN cooperation with regional organisations and conflict prevention and resolution, in particular in Africa.
  • S/PV.5649 (25 September 2007) was the summit-level meeting of the council focusing on peace and security in Africa.
  • S/PV.5735 and resumption 1 (28 August 2007) was the discussion on the role of the Security Council in conflict prevention and resolution, in particular in Africa.
  • S/PV.5649 and resumption 1 (28 March 2007) was an open debate on relations between the UN and regional organisations, particularly the AU.
  • S/PV.5529 (20 September 2006) was an open debate on cooperation between the UN and international organisations in maintaining international peace and security.
  • S/PV.5282 and resumption 1 (17 October 2005) were the records of the debate on cooperation with regional organisations and the adoption of resolution 1631.
  • S/PV.5261 (14 September 2005) were the records of the Council summit meeting and the adoption of resolution 1625.
  • S/PV.5007 and resumption 1 (20 July 2004) were the records of the open debate on cooperation between the UN and regional organisations in stabilisation processes.
  • S/PV.4739 and Corr.1 (11 April 2003) were the records of the Council open debate with the AU, ECOWAS, EU, League of Arab States, OSCE and OAS.
  • S/PV.3819 (25 September 1997) was the first ministerial-level debate on the situation in Africa.

Other

  • PSC/PR/BR.2 (CCVI) (15 October 2009) was the press statement by the AU PSC taking note of the report of the Secretary-General on support to AU peacekeeping operations authorised by the UN
  • S/2009/303 (11 June 2009) was the report of the Council mission to the AU, Rwanda, the DRC and Liberia which contained the communiqué of 16 May 2009consultative meeting between the members of the Security Council and the AU.
  • UN/AU Joint Communiqué on the Consultative Meeting between the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council (16 May 2009) committing the two organisations to pursue consultations on strengthening their partnership.
  • S/2006/961 (6 December 2006) contained the 30 November AU Peace and Security Council communiqué on the phased approach towards a hybrid AU-UN force in Darfur.
  • S/2005/828 (22 December 2005) was the report on a seminar held by the Working Group on cooperation between the UN and African regional organisations in the field of peace and security.
  • S/2002/207 (1 March 2002) outlined the terms of reference and mandate for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa.
  • S/25859 (28 May 1993) was the note of the president after a meeting in which the Security Council invited regional organisations to study ways of strengthening their functions in peace and security, and improve coordination with the UN.
  • S/23500 (31 January 1992) was the note of the president following the first meeting at the level of heads of state and government on the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Chapter VIII, of the UN Charter (26 June 1945) established the basis for interaction between the UN and regional organisations.