posted on Wed 25 Sep 2019 5:34 PM
Peace and Security in Africa Briefing: Partnership to Strengthen Regional Peace and Security

Tomorrow (26 September), the Security Council will hold a ministerial-level briefing on the topic “Peace and security in Africa: partnership to strengthen regional peace and security”. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Chef de Cabinet of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, are expected to brief.

Russia (Council president in October) and the three African members of the Council (Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa) have circulated a concept note ahead of the briefing (S/2019/743). According to the concept note, the aim of the briefing is “to review the existing mechanisms to effectively support African and regional responses to the current threats to peace and security on the African continent, with a view to enhancing regional and international efforts in addressing these challenges in a strategic, sustained and coordinated manner”. In this regard, the concept note highlights that conflicts in Africa are a substantial part of the Security Council’s agenda and “therefore require a fair share of the UN resources allocated for conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding.” It also states the need for African-led efforts to be better accompanied by actions taken at the international level, including by relevant UN entities or the Security Council, with the issue of financing of AU peace support operations cited as an example.

The concept note poses several questions for consideration for the participants, including:

  • What are the root causes of conflicts in Africa and how do they affect international peace and security?
  • What can be done to better support multidimensional efforts to address them?
  • What is being done by African countries to address the most urgent security issues at the regional and sub-regional levels?
  • How can the international community contribute more effectively to African efforts and what further actions are required to build up the capacity of the continent in the area of international peace and security, including peace support operations?
  • Which forms of existing partnership have proved to be the most effective and efficient and what other ways of creating new synergies might be explored in the future?
  • What can be done to avoid competition among key international players in Africa and prevent interference in the internal affairs of African countries?

Over the past ten months, the Council has held several thematic open debates on different aspects of the issue of peace and security in Africa, namely cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations and strengthening peacekeeping operations in Africa. During its November 2018 presidency, China held an open debate (S/PV.8407) on strengthening peacekeeping operations in Africa. (See our What’s in Blue story of 16 November 2018.) Under the presidency of Côte d’Ivoire, on 6 December 2018, the Council held an open debate (S/PV.8414) on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations, focusing on the role of states, regional arrangements and the UN in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, mainly in Africa. (See our What’s in Blue story of 5 December 2018.) On 27 February, during the presidency of Equatorial Guinea, the Council held an open debate (S/PV.8473) under the agenda item “Cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations: Silencing the Guns in Africa” on how the AU and UN can cooperate to end conflict in Africa. At the debate on 27 February, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2457, which encouraged the UN and AU “to strengthen their efforts to coordinate their engagement”. (See our What’s in Blue story of 26 February.)

A key issue that may be raised by briefers and Council members in tomorrow’s meeting is financing for AU peace support operations. The African members of the Security Council have consistently made clear that pursuing a substantive resolution on UN financing for AU peace support operations is a priority, with the possibility of such a resolution being put forward this year. However, Security Council members have expressed divergent views on the issue in the past. Those who are major financial contributors, the US in particular, have concerns about committing UN assessed contributions to AU peace support operations, and are likely to take a cautious position on anything related to financing. The US has said that it would not consider the use of UN assessed contributions for AU peacekeeping operations without the demonstrable implementation of benchmarks for financial transparency, conduct and discipline, and human rights. In December 2018, following several postponements that month, a vote on a draft resolution circulated by the then-A3 (Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea) spelling out the conditions for financing AU-led peace support operations through UN-assessed contributions was cancelled following US indications that it might veto the resolution. (For more details, see our What’s In Blue story of 18 December 2018.)

Looking ahead to next month, Security Council members will hold their 13th annual consultative meeting with members of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Members of both bodies will also hold informal consultations ahead of this meeting.  When it returns from Addis Ababa, the Security Council will receive a briefing on the Secretary-General’s annual report on ways to strengthen the partnership between the UN and AU on issues of peace and security in Africa, including on the work of the UN Office to the AU.