UN-AU Partnership: Open Debate and Negotiations on Presidential Statement
Tomorrow (16 December), the Security Council will hold an open debate on “Peace Operations: The UN-AU Partnership and Its Evolution”. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the AU Mission in Mali and the Sahel, Pierre Buyoya, are expected to brief. It was unclear at press time if a presidential statement would be adopted during the debate as planned as negotiations were still ongoing (presidential statements need agreement from all 15 members and one permanent member had concerns about the text.). It seems that getting consensus on the draft text which was circulated by Chad on 7 December was difficult. There were two rounds of negotiations and silence procedure was broken several times.
In a concept note circulated on 8 December, Chad identified some key challenges which it hoped would generate a constructive exchange of views. These include financing AU peace operations, planning for and managing mission transitions; enhancing the prospects for rapid deployment and improving institutional collaboration between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC).
The draft presidential statement acknowledges progress made in the ongoing cooperation between the UN and the AU in peace operations. The draft statement commends the AU’s increased contribution to the maintenance of peace and security including peacekeeping in particular in Sudan (Darfur), Mali, CAR and Somalia, as well as through the AU Regional Task Force. The draft statement also highlights the role of the AU in conflict prevention and stresses the importance of strengthened AU and UN capacities for early warning, conflict analysis, dialogue and mediation and increased collaboration in the area of good offices and between UN-AU Envoys.
As has been the case in the past, it seems the most difficult area during the negotiations was related to the financial aspect of the AU-UN partnership. An earlier version of the draft stressed the need to consider the AU’s request to address in a systematic manner the issue of the funding of AU peace support operations and requested the Secretary-General to provide follow-up to the issue of financing AU operations. Following the opposition of at least two permanent members, these provisions were dropped and the draft statement now stops short of advancing the issue of financing. Instead, using agreed language from resolution 2167, drafted by Rwanda earlier this year on the same topic, the statement only reaffirms previous resolutions and presidential statements regarding the Prodi Panel report (S/2008/813). (The Prodi Panel was a joint AU-UN panel that in 2008 made recommendations related to the financing of AU operations in order to address the limitations due to inadequate equipment and transport, and other operational weaknesses.) In the current draft statement the Council requests the Secretary-General to present an annual report to the Security Council on ways to strengthen the partnership between the UN and the AU without mentioning recurrent financing issues. Also it seems that at least one permanent member did not want the inclusion in the draft of agreed language from resolution 1809 recognising the challenges in accessing UN assessed contributions for funding regional organisations. The language was retained by Chad and at press time it was unclear if this would lead to the presidential statement being taken off the table.
Another issue that showed Council members’ different perspectives was the institutional collaboration between the Security Council and the AU PSC. Language proposed by Chad stressing the need to ensure that AU concerns and positions are adequately taken into account when taking decisions on matters of fundamental interest to Africa did not make it to the final draft following opposition by some Council members. Language in the current draft statement does reiterate the importance of achieving more effective annual consultative meetings, the holding of timely consultations, and collaborative field missions of the two Councils, as appropriate, to formulate cohesive positions and strategies on a case-by-case basis in dealing with conflict situations in Africa. The statement also notes the progress in the level and process of preparation for the most recent, 8th Joint Consultative meeting between the two Councils that took place on 6 June in New York. These included the finalisation in advance of the agenda for the meeting and the holding of a joint press briefing by the Council President and the Chairperson of the AU PSC.
The statement welcomes a number of AU decisions such as the organisation’s 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration by African leaders in May 2013, pledging “to end all wars in Africa by 2020” and “achieve the goal of a conflict-free Africa” and the decision to declare 2014-2024 as the Madiba Nelson Mandela decade of reconciliation in Africa. The statement includes a list of countries where conflicts need to be addressed and resolved as a matter of urgency. Council member, Nigeria, was originally mentioned in the draft but was dropped from the list.
At the request of elected members, language originally not included in the draft statement concerning cross-cutting issues such as accountability; protection of civilians; children in armed conflict; women, peace and security; policing or security sector reform was added to the most recent draft.