What's In Blue

Posted Mon 5 Aug 2013

Open Debate on Cooperation with Regional Organisations

Tomorrow (6 August, beginning at 9:30 am) the Security Council will hold a high-level open debate on cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations in maintaining international peace and security. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina will preside, while several other Council members will be represented at the level of foreign minister or deputy foreign minister. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will brief, as will high-level officials representing the AU (Tekeda Alemu, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the UN); the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba); the League of Arab States (Mr. Ahmed Fathalla, Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States to the UN) and the Union of South American Nations (Eda Rivas Franchini, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru). Representatives of other regional and subregional organizations and non-Council member states are also expected to participate in the debate along with Council members. A presidential statement will be adopted at the debate.

Council members have been negotiating the statement over the past couple of weeks. It seems that the negotiations on the draft were not particularly difficult. There were two rounds of negotiations and some additional bilateral exchanges before the draft statement was put into silence on Friday (2 August) until 10:00 am this morning. No member broke silence.

The statement builds largely on previously agreed language. It will emphasise the importance of promoting cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations on a wide spectrum of areas, ranging from conflict prevention and peacemaking to peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding. It will encourage the UN Peacebuilding Commission to continue to collaborate with regional and subregional organisations to ensure that peacebuilding and recovery strategies are more integrated. It will also encourage cooperation among regional and sub-regional organisations and UN sanctions committees and Groups of Experts to help these Council-mandated entities to fulfill their responsibilities. The statement will also underscore the vital part that regional and subregional organisations play in counteracting the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons, and note that the Council needs to be mindful in peacekeeping mandates of the regional mechanisms available to track the illicit flow of these weapons. It will likewise highlight the importance of subregional, regional and international cooperation in strengthening the implementation of resolution 1540, which seeks to prevent the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction.

There will be a considerable amount of language on human rights and gender issues in the statement. The statement will encourage the ongoing integration of child protection into the activities of regional and subregional organisations. It will also reaffirm the importance of combating sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings, and highlight efforts by the UN and regional and subregional organisations to include gender perspectives in their work on peace and security issues. Furthermore, the statement will reaffirm the critical part that women play in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebulding.

While the negotiations on the statement were not contentious, there were nonetheless some differences of perspective that required compromise. In one paragraph on the rule of law that underscores the importance of addressing impunity, one member wanted to include mention of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This language was added, but it seems that some members were uncomfortable with the phrasing. Reference to the ICC remained, but it seems that as a compromise, there was a slight alteration to the language, as the ICC is referred to as one of several international legal bodies that regional and subregional bodies can cooperate with, rather than the primary one.

Another issue that was raised in the negotiations was the Secretary-General’s reporting to the Council. It appears that one member wanted to request a report from the Secretary-General on the status of cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations. However, others noted that this additional reporting requirement would be burdensome to the Secretariat, as the Secretary-General already prepares a report on cooperation between the UN and regional and other organisations for the Council and the General Assembly once every two years. It appears that as a compromise the statement will include a request that the next biannual report incorporate recommendations from the Secretary-General on how cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations can be strengthened.

In preparation for tomorrow’s debate, Argentina has circulated a concept paper (S/2013/446) to help orient the discussion. The concept paper notes that the primary goal of the debate is to explore options to enhance relations between the UN and regional and subregional organisations. The concept paper offers some potential topics of discussion, including, inter-alia, how to clarify the comparative advantages of the UN and each regional organisation, how to foster enhanced effectiveness in the relationship between the UN and regional organisations with respect to the logistical and financial aspects of peacekeeping, and more generally, how to strengthen the capacity of regional and subregional organisations in their efforts to maintain international peace and security.

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