What's In Blue

Posted Tue 9 Jul 2019

Peacekeeping: Debate on Triangular Cooperation

Tomorrow (10 July), the Security Council is expected to hold a debate on improving triangular cooperation between the Council, the Secretariat, and troop- and police-contributing countries (TCCs/PCCs). Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix; the Force Commander of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Lieutenant General Dennis Gyllensporre; and Dr. Alexandra Novosseloff, a non-resident Senior Fellow at the International Peace Institute, are the anticipated briefers. A limited number of TCCs/PCCs are expected to participate in the meeting as well. Peru, the organiser of the debate and Council President this month, is expected to prepare a summary after the meeting.

Before most mandate renewals, Council members hold a private meeting of TCCs/ PCCs and the Secretariat. Since this practice began in the 1990s, triangular cooperation has been consolidated both institutionally with the establishment of the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations in 2001, and normatively through several decisions. Chiefly, resolution 1353, adopted on 13 June 2001, contained the recommendations of the working group on this issue and stipulated the formats in which consultations with TCCs would take place.

These meetings have, however, been criticised as lacking in interactivity and advice from TCCs/PCCs not being incorporated into mandates. Some Council members have also criticised the unreadiness of TCCs/PCCs to discuss substantive issues during these meetings. The 2015 report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) noted how the lack of effective triangular consultations had generated frustration on all sides and affected mandate implementation. That same year, to address some of the limitations of the established formats, New Zealand and then France started convening informal meetings of the main TCCs/PCCs, Council members and the Secretariat on some peacekeeping operations, with the objective of enhancing the frankness of discussions with TCCs/PCCs. Although this practice has continued on some files, it is far from systematic and relies on the willingness of the penholder or another particularly engaged elected member to initiate and host these meetings.

According to a concept note circulated by Peru in advance of the meeting, strengthened triangular cooperation would “improve efficiency in mandating peace operations”. The note states that TCCs/PCCs have a strong role to play in providing reliable and relevant information to the Council regarding the realities of implementing and delivering on peacekeeping mandates. It further says that while TCCs and PCCs would like enhanced interaction with the Secretariat and the Council, they have cited “inadequate preparation of the respective stakeholders [and] the irregularity of meetings” as problems.

The concept note encourages discussion during the debate on the following questions, among others:

  • What concrete steps can be taken to systematise triangular consultations, and how can the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations contribute to the goal?
  • How can the priorities articulated by TCCs/PCCs be integrated into conversations regarding the renewal of mandates of peacekeeping operations?
  • What would be the right balance between formal and informal meetings?
  • How far in advance of mandate renewals should these meetings be convened?

Participants have further been encouraged to make proposals and suggestions on how to strengthen triangular cooperation to make it more substantive, more interactive, and more relevant to feed into the decision-making progress. Other issues that may be raised are the level of participation, the timing of these meetings ahead of mandate renewals, and the availability of relevant documents for discussion. In the 2018 session of the General Assembly’s Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations (C34), Pakistan and the UK presented a non-paper on triangular cooperation that highlighted the importance of keeping a mix of formal and informal meetings, and improving existing mechanisms instead of creating new ones.

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