What's In Blue

Posted Wed 11 Jan 2012

UN-AU Partnerhip Debate and Resolution

The Council appears ready to vote on a resolution on the UN-AU partnership following the high-level debate scheduled for tomorrow morning (12 January). The resolution was put in blue earlier today. The debate will be chaired by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, AU Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra (representing the AU Commission), and Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula (Kenya holds the January presidency of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC)) are likely to brief.

The first draft of the resolution was circulated on 4 January. A series of expert meetings and bilateral consultations followed. Yesterday the text was negotiated at DPR level, after which a revised draft -slightly longer than the original – was put in blue. It seems that for some members it was important that the language in the resolution did not convey a sense of equivalence between the Security Council and the AU PSC. Some members apparently were also keen not to set up rigid organisational structures between the Council and the AU PSC.

On 29 December 2011, the Secretary General’s report on UN-AU cooperation in peace and security was submitted to Council members. (The report was anticipated in a presidential statement issued after the Council’s meeting on 22 October 2010.) The report, which attempts to define the UN Secretariat’s strategic vision for UN-AU cooperation, commits the UN Secretariat to “closer interaction” with the AU Commission in order to “assist the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council in formulating cohesive positions and strategies.”

On 9 January, the AU issued its own report on the partnership, which was commissioned by the 16th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in January 2011. Entitled “Towards Greater Strategic and Political Coherence,” the 36-page report emphasises the deepening of the strategic partnership between the two bodies based on Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, calls for a more structured relationship between the Security Council and the AU PSC, for an enhanced relationship between the Council’s President and the Chair of the AU PSC, and for an increased role for the General Assembly in determining the course of the partnership. The report also emphasises the AU’s priority setting and ownership of issues directly relating to peace and security in Africa, while recognising that the Security Council is the primary body responsible for international peace and security.

The Council’s draft resolution reaffirms this primacy, while recognising that regional organisations like the AU “are well positioned” to understand the causes of armed conflict and that this is useful when trying to influence the prevention or resolution of these conflicts.

The draft resolution also addresses an area of anxiety in the partnership as well as a key issue in the AU report by reiterating “the importance of establishing a more effective relationship” between the Council and the AU PSC in the area of “conflict prevention, resolution and management, and regional conflict prevention offices”.

As a follow-up to the debate, the draft resolution requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the AU, to “conduct a comprehensive analysis of lessons learned” from the joint AU-UN mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the UN-supported AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM). It also calls for the Secretary-General to include assessments of progress in the cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations in his regular reporting to the Council.

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