What's In Blue

Posted Tue 18 Dec 2018

Vote on Draft Resolution on the Financing of AU Peace Support Operations*

Tomorrow (19 December), the Security Council is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution on the financing of AU peace support operations. An initial draft was circulated by the three African members on the Council (Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea) during the week of 12 November, with the intention of adopting the resolution during Côte d’Ivoire’s presidency this month. Several amendments were made to the initial text in an effort to build consensus. After a second silence period that expired on 8 December, the text was put in blue (S/2018/1093) and a vote was scheduled to take place on 10 December. However, the US expressed reservations over the draft in blue and apparently indicated that it might use its veto. The 10 December vote was postponed to allow for further consultations. No changes were ultimately made to the draft, however, and the same draft in blue will be voted on tomorrow. It appears that the US might still use its veto.

The final draft introduces elements describing how financing of AU-led peace support operations through UN-assessed contributions would be done under specific conditions and with the close oversight of the Council. It indicates that such support is only to future AU-led peace support operations authorised by the Council. References to such support applying to AU-mandated operations were removed, making the language more restrictive than that of the original draft.

The draft in blue recalls resolution 2320 (adopted on 18 November 2016), which stressed “the need to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing for African Union-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council”, and resolution 2378 (adopted 20 September 2017), which expressed the Council’s intention to consider partially funding AU-led peace support operations authorised by the Council through UN-assessed contributions “on a case by case basis”.

At the 20 November open debate on strengthening peacekeeping operations in Africa, held during China’s presidency, the US said it was “premature” to consider using assessed contributions for AU-led operations pending further progress on the demonstrable implementation across AU peace operations and organisations of benchmarks for financial transparency, conduct and discipline, and human rights. It also said that it was unlikely to be able to engage the new US Congress on the issue this year, making it difficult to agree to a new draft resolution until the new year.

Following the 20 November open debate, further negotiations were held, particularly between the US and the three African members of the Council (A3), in an attempt to resolve key differences. A substantially revised draft was placed under silence on 5 December until the morning of 6 December, with the aim of possible adoption at that day’s ministerial-level open debate on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations. This was preceded by a meeting on 3 December at which the A3 briefed the AU Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) on the draft resolution. The members of the AU PSC issued a statement on 3 December requesting the Council to give favourable consideration to the draft resolution and appealing for its adoption in December. On 5 December, the UK broke silence on the draft and further bilateral negotiations took place, including with the US, to resolve remaining differences. (China and France have both been broadly supportive of the A3’s initiative during negotiations.)

The draft in blue states that UN assessed funds will constitute no more than 75 percent of the overall cost of each AU peace support operation receiving such funding. This was proposed by the US and, as a result, all references to AU-led operations being fully funded by assessed contributions were removed from the draft.

Language was also included in the final draft to emphasise that the Security Council will have oversight of and accountability for any AU peace support operation receiving financial support through UN assessed contributions, including planning, development, mandating and reporting.

Several reporting requirements are outlined in the draft in blue which, for example:

“requests the Secretary General, in close consultation with the African Union to provide the Security Council with a detailed report within six months of the adoption of this resolution on its efforts and progress to strengthen financing, human rights protections, accountability, transparency, performance, and conduct and discipline standards, and compliance with applicable international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law, across its peace support operations.”

In addition to this six-monthly reporting, the draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to include an assessment of the same aspects of performance in his regular reporting to the Security Council on future Council-authorised AU peace support operations that receive funds through UN assessed contributions. It also asks him to update the Council on the financing of AU-led peace support operations authorised by the Security Council in his annual report on strengthening the AU-UN partnership.

The draft in blue states that when considering whether to use an AU-led peace support operation partially funded by UN assessed contributions, the Council will request, on a case-by-case basis, a consultative UN-AU planning process. This is expected to include “UN and AU threat assessments and reports of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council.” According to the draft, such peace support operations “will be, at the request of the Security Council, subject to UN and AU assessments to inform potential renewals, as applicable”.

The draft in blue, unlike the original version, affirms that in order to ensure transparency and accountability, budgets for future AU-led peace support operations that receive financial support through UN assessed contributions will be submitted to the General Assembly for approval. Furthermore, it notes that the Council intends to review after three years any decision it makes to provide such financial support.

On the relationship between the UN and AU more broadly, the draft in blue largely retains language from the initial draft stressing the importance of consultations between the Security Council and the AU PSC, taking into account “their respective decision making processes and common strategies for a holistic response to conflict”. It also underscores the importance of the relationship between the UN and regional organisations, in particular the AU. The final draft acknowledges the trend towards joint visits by UN and AU senior officials, as well as joint briefings of the Security Council and the AU PSC by senior officials, special representatives and envoys of the two organisations. In this regard, it recalls the joint communiqué, adopted at the 12th annual consultative meeting of members of the Security Council and the AU PSC held on 19 July, that affirmed their intention to consider joint visits to conflict situations in Africa, the modalities of which will be discussed and agreed on a case-by-case basis by the two Councils (S/2018/736).

On 14 December, the AU PSC held a High-Level Seminar on Peace and Security in Africa at which it issued a press release calling the draft resolution “timely and balanced” and welcoming the steps taken “to table the resolution for a vote immediately”. The press release also called on all AU members states, as well as all AU partners, including the Non-Aligned Movement Caucus, to co-sponsor the draft resolution, adding that “the tabling of this resolution represents a watershed moment and an expression of the international community’s commitment to strengthening the global peace and security architecture and its capacity to address today’s complex security challenges.” At press time some 60 member states had signed on as co-sponsors of the draft.

The A3 believe they have done all they can to bring the US on board and that the draft to be voted on tomorrow has been revised to accommodate almost all of the US’ concerns. A veto on this draft resolution could result in souring relations between the US and the African countries on the Council, particularly on African peacekeeping issues.



Although scheduled for 19 December 2018, a vote on the draft in blue did not take place following a lack of support from the US and the introduction of an alternative text by France. The A3 (Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, and Equatorial Guinea) referred the matter to the AU Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) for its direction. The AU PSC discussed it under “any other business” on 24 December 2018, and requested the AU Commission to submit to it a report, outlining the issues encountered in the negotiation of the resolution.  On 9 January 2019, the AU PSC is scheduled to consider the report. It is expected that the AU PSC will provide guidance on taking the draft resolution forward at the Security Council in 2019.