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Briefing and Informal Interactive Dialogue on AU-UN Cooperation

Tomorrow (15 June), the Security Council will be briefed on AU-UN cooperation by Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General and the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaïl Chergui via teleconference. There will be an informal interactive dialogue after the meeting with the participation of Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare; Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations El Ghassim Wane, and Samba Sane, Officer in Charge at the Department of Political Affairs’ Africa I Division and Dr. Donald Kaberuka, AU High Representative for the Peace Fund.

The meeting, which was proposed by the three African members in the Council (Egypt, Ethiopia and Senegal or the A3) comes six months after the adoption of resolution 2320 on 18 November 2016. The resolution welcomed the AU Assembly decision in July 2016 to finance 25 per cent of the cost of AU-led peace support operations by 2020. On 19 April Secretary-General António Guterres and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, signed a joint UN-AU framework for enhanced partnership in peace and security to coordinate engagement in a mutually-supportive manner throughout the cycle of conflict. Both organisations reiterated their willingness to consider options to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing for AU-led peace operations.

On 26 May, the Secretary-General circulated to Council members the report requested in resolution 2320 refining options for further cooperation on AU proposals, including joint planning and the process for mandating AU peace support operations, subject to authorisation by the Security Council (S/2014/454). It seems that the intention of the A3 is to use this discussion to assess whether there can be any progress before the end of the year on the long-standing issue of the lack of predictable and sustainable funding for Council-mandated AU operations. Both the AU report and the 30 May Communiqué of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) stress the importance of securing a substantive Security Council resolution establishing that UN assessed contributions should, on a case by case basis, finance Security Council-mandated AU peace support missions.

Viotti is expected to present some of the conclusions of the Secretary-General’s 26 May report regarding the limitations of the current structures in supporting AU peace support operations. In the report, the Secretary-General identifies four options through which UN assessed contributions could be used to help to meet the requirements of AU peace support operations, noting that no single option is appropriate for all situations:
• subvention in exceptional or emergency circumstances;
• joint financing of a jointly developed budget;
• establishment of a UN support office; and
• joint financing of a hybrid mission.

While the option of a jointly developed budget would require additional work by the Secretariat and the AU Commission before it could be put into practice, the Secretary-General strongly recommends that the Security Council endorse this option in principle. In addition to the issue of financing, the report also proposes a decision-making framework aimed at making joint action more effective, which involves further work on the modalities for joint analysis, planning and assessment, as well as reporting to the relevant intergovernmental bodies of each organisation.

Chergui is expected to brief on several issues that resolution 2320 requested an update on and whichwere presented in a 1 June report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission. These include details of the types of operations that the AU is likely to consider, as well as the lessons learned (political, institutional and operational) from prior deployments. He is also expected to brief Council members on progress, benchmarks and timelines for the implementation of the AU Peace Fund. By May, 14 AU countries had made their contribution to the Peace Fund, but these contributions represent only just over 12 per cent of the target amount for 2017 (65 million US dollars). Chergui is also expected to brief Council members on the AU’s progress in developing accountability, transparency and compliance frameworks for its peace support operations.

In resolution 2320 the Security Council expressed its readiness to consider the AU proposals for future support by the Council to AU peace support operations which it authorises. However, several Council members do not support the idea of committing UN assessed contributions to finance AU peace support operations. These divisions are affecting the ongoing negotiations on a draft resolution authorising the Group of Five Sahel (G5)—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger—to establish a regional force to combat terrorism and transnational crime, deployment of which was authorised by the AU PSC on 13 April.

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