Enhanced AU-UN collaboration is a non-negotiable.

As the African Union (AU) has become a stronger actor in peace operations, coordination with the United Nations Security Council has risen in importance. Beyond just working together on a case-by-case basis, such as the Somalia hybrid mission, the two organizations are seeking a broader and more complimentary relationship. In the last year, we have witnessed an increasing convergence with the development of the AU Common Position on the Peace Operations Review and Joint UN-AU Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. These were followed by the recommendations stressing the important of partnership with regional organizations from High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) and the Secretary-General’s response to this seminal report. But it is not an easy task for the two organizations to converge. As preparations for a recent high-level meeting showed, there remain some institutional and political challenges that make working together inherently difficult for both organizations. Competing agendas The 10th annual Joint Consultative Meeting between the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) was held in New York on 23-25 May 2016. The meeting’s final agenda was set to discuss the crisis in Burundi and the mandate of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which expires at the end of May. It was dictated by the UNSC, with little compromise over the issues raised by the AU. The initial agenda proposed by the AU PSC members in mid-April included discussions on Western Sahara, South Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, and countering terrorism and violent extremism – all key challenges on the continent with global implications. On 25...

View from the AU: Partnerships and Regional Organizations

This article was part of the Briefing Book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations by IPI and CIC.   The Panel should revisit the provisions of Chapter VIII of the Charter regulating the relations between the UN and regional organizations to strengthen peace operations in the future. This is nowhere more pronounced than in relation to peace operations in Africa, where contributions by African states to both UN and non-UN peace operations have grown dramatically over the course of the past decade. Presently, approximately 70% of the UN’s missions are deployed on the African continent, and African nations contribute approximately 40% of the UN’s uniformed peacekeepers. The growth in contributions from African countries has been dramatic, increasing from little over 10,000 uniformed personnel per annum in 2003 to 35,000 uniformed per annum in 2013. In addition to contributions to UN operations, African countries have also increasingly contributed to peace operations undertaken by the AU or sub-regional organizations. In 2013, for instance, over 40,000 uniformed and civilian personnel were mandated to serve in African peace support operations, excluding the hybrid UNAMID mission. While collaboration between the UN and regional organizations is evolving, focused attention needs to be paid to four particular areas of engagement to attain better outcomes. First, the concept of subsidiarity needs to be expanded on. The UN engages with a wide range of regional and sub-regional organizations, and concepts of authority, channels of communication, and levels of responsibility are not clear to all the actors involved. Second, strengthening joint planning and information-sharing is key. While outcomes cannot be predicted in advance, and responses must...

New Geopolitics of Peace Operations

This article was part of the Briefing Book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations by IPI and CIC.   Some would argue that the shift of influence from established to emerging powers runs the risk of destabilizing contemporary arrangements for international conflict management. For instance, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently stated that the efficacy of the UN Security Council is at stake ‘when there is limited consensus—when our actions come late and address only the lowest common denominator’. Despite such pessimism, the preliminary results from an ongoing SIPRI research project suggest that consensus remains possible in the future peace operations landscape. Contrary to the popular assumption that increasing multi-polarity is detrimental to cooperation and consensus on peace operations, emerging powers have largely expressed a positive sentiment towards peace operations. Traditional and emerging powers have common interests in conflict management in many key regions, particularly in Africa. In the past few years, debates about peace operations have been riddled by misconceptions that have often led to a counter-productive and polluted exchange in policy circles. By focusing the discussion on the exceptional cases, discussions become unnecessarily polarized. In the long run that may lead to throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Many of the current operations require risk-taking, while only a limited number of contingents are able and willing to take these necessary risks. Acknowledging and dealing more openly with the risks that peace operations entail is vital. There is an unbalanced approach to burden sharing in peace operations and an oversimplification of what constitutes an equitable division of labor in the eyes of TCCs....

Regional View: Recommendations Based on South African Experiences

Note that this briefing does not represent by any means an official position of the South African government, and is a sole reflection of observations made by the author in relation to how the engagements of the country can contribute to wider peacekeeping discussions. South Africa has increasingly engaged in supporting peace and security processes in Africa over the last 20 years, through both participation and leadership in peace operations from the United Nations and the African Union. The country has become an active player in global peace operations efforts, placed as the 14th largest contributor of uniformed personnel to the United Nations peacekeeping, by September 2014. While at the forefront of several engagements in Africa, South African experiences can assist in better understanding how to strengthen peace operations responses, particularly through regional approaches. South African positions help in understanding some of the changes at a global level in peace operations, as they have generated the need for the country to better align its policies, practice and objectives. The evolving peace operations environment brought the need for South Africa to better understand its own roles, including, for instance the increasing focus on multidimensional peace operations and the role of regional arrangements. Some of these changes and challenges faced by peace operations are presented below, focusing particularly on the idea of stabilistation, regionalisation and its support mechanisms, development of partnerships and capacity building. South Africa’s Experiences in Peacekeeping Since its process of internal transition in the early 1990s, South Africa has strengthened its roles in peacekeeping operations and engaged in several different peacekeeping operations on the continent. In particular, during...
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