What's In Blue

Posted Tue 11 Dec 2012

Peacekeeping and Inter-mission Cooperation Briefing

Tomorrow afternoon (12 December), the Under-Secretaries-General for Peacekeeping Operations (Hervé Ladsous) and Field Support (Ameerah Haq) are scheduled to brief the Council on inter-mission cooperation between UN peacekeeping operations. Statements by Council members are expected following the briefings. Although Morocco, who convened the meeting, seemed to have initially suggested a presidential statement be adopted, at press time no outcome was envisaged.

During tomorrow’s meeting, Council members are likely to focus on some of the issues outlined in the concept paper that Morocco circulated last week in preparation for the briefing. The paper discusses the rationale for inter-mission cooperation based on the UN’s experience and provides some concrete examples. It identifies four main areas of cooperation:

(1) filling existing capacity/capability gaps in times of heightened tension or crisis;
(2) providing temporary surge capacity at times of crisis or at mission start-up;
(3) ensuring joint planning, implementation or coordination; and
(4) achieving efficiency gains or savings through the sharing or pooling of logistical, military or other assets.

Council members will likely have taken note of the suggestions in the concept paper as to how inter-mission cooperation can be improved. The paper points out that ongoing work on the standardisation of some functions in peacekeeping would allow contingents (troops or police) to cooperate more closely due to the compatibility of military hardware and software. The paper also notes that cooperation could be expanded to include a wider range of so-called “enablers” (including special forces, hospitals or reserve battalions). The paper further suggests that the standardisation of inter-mission cooperation provisions in the memoranda of understanding with police- and troop-contributing countries (TCCs) be considered, as well as the standardisation of language on inter-mission cooperation in Council mandates.

Some caution is expressed in the concept paper, however, on potential benefits of such cooperation and some of these points may be picked up by Council members tomorrow. For example, the paper notes that inter-mission cooperation can only provide a short-term response to critical capability gaps and should not be seen as a substitute for long-term solutions. It also highlights constraints related to securing timely TCC consent, notes that the actual impact of inter-mission cooperation is often more limited than commonly believed and points out that so far there has been no systematic evaluation of its impact.

It seems that Morocco had initially proposed a presidential statement as an outcome and began consulting bilaterally with other Council members early last week on a possible text. Later in the week, however, Morocco announced that it would no longer seek an outcome, citing the need for further discussions on the issue. It seems that one of the main elements proposed by Morocco was a provision calling for standardisation of inter-mission cooperation language in memoranda of understanding with TCCs and that one Council member had expressed strong reservations about this. (Among other concerns raised, one member had apparently also suggested that since Morocco had already proposed two other presidential statements for December—one on the Sahel and one on post-conflict peacebuilding—it might be an overkill to have another on peacekeeping.)

While views differ on the added value of a presidential statement at this stage, most Council members seem to believe that a further discussion on the issue of inter-mission cooperation could be useful.

Council members were briefed on inter-mission cooperation by the Departments of Field Support and Peacekeeping Operations on 7 December in a meeting of the Working Group. (Apparently the briefings focused mostly on specific examples of cooperation and did not provide any recommendations.) It seems some Council members emphasised in particular the need for TCCs to be consulted and there were also some concerns raised about the financial implications of inter-mission cooperation, command and control issues and whether the UN’s global field support strategy should be part of the discussion.
For further background, see the inter-mission cooperation brief in SCR’s December Forecast.

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