What's In Blue

Posted Thu 2 May 2019

Security Council Retreat with the Secretary-General

The Security Council will hold its annual retreat with the Secretary-General starting this evening (2 May) and continuing throughout the day tomorrow (3 May) at the Greentree Estate on Long Island. The Secretary-General and senior UN Secretariat staff will meet with senior diplomats of the 15 Council members. The retreat provides an opportunity for Council members to engage in collective brainstorming on specific issues, alongside the Secretariat.

The retreat is expected to focus on two main themes this year. The first theme is how the Council can address the evolving nature of conflicts, including by fostering political solutions to difficult environments. Among the challenges that may be discussed are: the intractable nature of conflict settings in which peace operations are deployed, engaging with non-state armed groups with varying political goals, and the impact of regional engagement on conflict trajectories. To address these challenges, participants could explore how the mandates of peace operations can more effectively deal with the grievances of different conflict parties, how the Council can strengthen its relationship with the Peacebuilding Commission to engage in a more sustainable and constructive way in conflict situations, and how the Council can improve implementation of the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) declaration, including by crafting better mandates and improving cooperation with host countries.

A second theme of the retreat is expected to be mission transitions. During the discussion, participants may discuss transitions underway with regard to the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) and the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  They may focus on the role of the UN Country Teams (UNCTs) in assuming tasks carried out by the missions in both cases, as well as other activities related to longer-term peace and development, and how the UNCTs can best work with the host governments. They may address questions such as the types of analysis and information the Council needs from the Secretariat to inform its decisions on transitions, how missions and UNCTs can collaborate more closely to facilitate staff secondments and the transfer of assets, and how mandates can be prioritised and sequenced with clear goals leading to an envisioned end-state.

The annual retreat is frequently viewed as a chance for senior Secretariat staff and Council diplomats to engage in a discussion of peace and security issues in an informal setting. The frank and open discussion characteristic of the retreat offers a refreshing departure from the prevalence of prepared statements in Council meetings, permitting a deeper and more strategic exchange on the identified topics.

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