The United Nations must move away from ad hoc arrangements towards a more institutionalized approach for the joint planning, mandating, financing and supporting of African Union peace-support operations, speakers told the Security Council today as it took up proposals in that regard.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on options for authorization and support for African Union peace-support operations (document S/2017/454), submitted pursuant to Council resolution 2320 (2016), Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General, said the United Nations and African Union had been deeply engaged in developing innovative ways of collaborating in response to African crises.
Effective cooperation required not only an engagement between the Secretariat and the Commission of the African Union, but also between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, she said, adding that a common approach amongst Member States was also required to address financial support for African Union operations.
Smaïl Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union, speaking via video teleconference from Addis Ababa, said that organization was conducting peace-support operations in the world’s most challenge situations, yet financing remained ad hoc and highly unpredictable. He noted that 30 per cent of African Union member States had contributed to its recently established Peace Fund which, he emphasized, the Commission of the African Union would manage with transparency and good governance.
Donald Kaberuka, African Union High Representative for the Peace Fund, said a well-funded African peace and security architecture was not simply an African priority, it was also for the global public good. While African Union member States were primarily responsible for financing the Peace Fund, partnerships would continue to play a vital role, he said, adding that forging an effective alliance between the United Nations and the African Union held the greatest strategic importance to collective security.
“There should be no illusion as to the political complexity of this matter,” he said, emphasizing that a shared solution on predictable and sustainable financing for peace operations mandated by the African Union and authorized by the Council was a strategic imperative for both the African Union and the United Nations.
Speaking after the briefings, Ethiopia’s representative — speaking also on behalf of Egypt and Senegal, the two other Council members from Africa — recalled that the Council had often expressed its commitment to a United Nations-African Union alliance amid a growing recognition that a global partnership was increasingly needed to improve global collective security. Proposed financing options were reasonable and should be considered, he said, adding that respect for human rights standards — as well as United Nations support for an African Union compliance and accountability framework — were essential.
The representative of the United States, noting the African Union’s unique capacity for addressing challenges, said the question now was how best to work with it to promote peace and security. Steps going forward should include more information-sharing on missions, she said, adding that any related Council resolution must ensure that human rights were respected.
Japan’s representative said “financing alone cannot solve challenges”, adding that further discussion was needed both within the African Union and the Council on the most effective role for peace-support operations, pointing out that green and blue helmets had different roles.
The representative of Uruguay said any non-United Nations force that operated with Security Council authorization must meet the Organization’s standards for conduct, discipline and accountability.
Her counterpart from Sweden said a forthcoming Council mission in Addis Ababa, where the African Union has its headquarters, would be an opportunity to pursue the topic. In the meantime, the Council must maintain its commitment and political engagement, he said, adding: “Let us build upon the momentum we have.”
Also speaking today were representatives of China, United Kingdom, France, Russian Federation, Italy, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Bolivia.
During their interventions, several representatives expressed condolences to China over a fatal explosion at a kindergarten in the east of that country earlier in the day.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 11:41 a.m.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VOTTI, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on options for authorization and support for African Union peace-support operations (document S/2017/454), saying the United Nations and African Union were deeply engaged in developing innovative, forward-leaning and lasting collaborative systems. Emphasizing that “we must move away from ad-hoc arrangements”, she said the report contained proposals for institutionalized approaches to joint planning and mandating, financing and supporting African Union operations. It also highlighted the importance of compliance and oversight, particularly in the areas of human rights, conduct and discipline, she said, adding that the African Union was working to address those issues, with the United Nations providing technical assistance.
Effective cooperation on peace-support operations required not only an engagement between the Secretariat and the Commission of the African Union, but also between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council in mandating and reporting, she said. A common approach amongst Member States was also needed to address financial support for African Union operations. The General Assembly would play an oversight role in situations where United Nations assessed contributions were authorized.
SMAÏL CHERGUI, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union, speaking via video teleconference, called predictable and sustainable financing for African Union peace-support operations “a fundamental problem”. The African Union had shown political will by deploying peace operations in the most challenging situations — with its troops sometimes paying the ultimate price — but in all cases, financing was ad hoc and highly unpredictable. Describing Council resolution 2320 (2016) — in which the Council welcomed African Union efforts to create a predictable cost-sharing structure for the funding of Council-authorized operations — as a milestone in enhancing United Nations support for African Union operations, he said the most central issue was the need to mobilize resources from African Union member States into the organization’s Peace Fund. So far, almost 30 per cent of those States had contributed to the Fund.
He went on to emphasize the Commission’s unflinching resolve to ensure transparency and good governance in managing the Peace Fund, adding that the African Union was confident that discussions about that fund would consolidate its strategic partnership with the United Nations.
DONALD KABERUKA, African Union High Representative for the Peace Fund, underlined three consistent issues in the consideration of current challenges: a collective response must address the complex nature of current crises; regional organizations brought a comparative advantage; and a need for predictable and sustainable financing mechanisms. On the latter point, he said a well-funded African peace and security architecture was not simply an African priority; it was also for the global public good.
Since the adoption of resolution 2320 (2016), he said, much work had been done, including the consideration of proposed governance arrangements structured around mediation and preventive diplomacy, institutional capacity and peace‑support operations, with the creation of a board of trustees, an independent evaluation group and a fund manager. The adoption of the Peace Fund instrument and nomination of the board of trustees were scheduled to occur in July, after which the Peace Fund secretariat would be established followed by recruiting the Fund manager and nominating the evaluation panel.
He said that as of May, 14 African Union member States had made contributions to the Peace Fund, representing 12 per cent of the $65 million target for 2017. His mandate focused on resource mobilization to ensure that target would be met. While African Union member States were primarily responsible for financing the Peace Fund, partnerships would continue to play a vital role. Forging an effective alliance between the United Nations and the African Union held the greatest strategic importance to collective security. As such, it needed predictable financing and must be based on the two organizations’ respective authorities, competencies and capacities.
“There should be no illusion as to the political complexity of this matter,” he said. “However, to the extent that there is agreement on the urgency of improving the international peace and security architecture to address today’s security challenges, arriving at a shared solution for predictable and sustainable financing for African Union-mandated and authorized peace-support operations authorized by the Security Council is a strategic imperative for both the African Union and the United Nations.”
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), speaking on behalf of the Council’s African Member States — Egypt, Senegal and his country — said new leadership in the African Union and the United Nations underlined a need to strengthen their partnership. The joint United Nations-African Union framework, signed in 2017, was a testament to a new commitment to work together. On numerous occasions, the Council had reiterated its commitment to that alliance amid a growing recognition that a global partnership was increasingly needed to improve the world’s collective security. The Council had also taken steps to enhance those relationships, including with the African Union. The High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations report had put the spotlight on the African Union, and Council resolution 2320 (2016) recognized the importance of such a partnership.
Looking forward to reviews of ongoing efforts, he said proposed financing options were reasonable and should be considered. Respecting human rights standards was essential for the credibility of operations, as was United Nations support of the African Union’s compliance and accountability framework. The Council had expressed its intention to take extra steps with regard to financing. As such, he asked the Council to adopt a resolution that supported financing from the United Nations regular budget.
LIU JIEYI (China) said some parts of Africa were faced with severe challenges, including the presence of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups and the scourge of trans-border organized crime. The international community was looking for ways to address that, including through the Council’s efforts to strengthen partnerships with organizations such as the African Union. As regional organizations were well positioned to properly handle such challenges, African proposals and ideas to tackle problems must be considered. The United Nations and African Union must enhance cooperation and coordination, including in conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction. Concrete capacity-building measures were needed to improve the African Union’s abilities to successfully address pending challenges. For its part, China had proposed a range of peace and security plans, including the provision of resources for rapid-response forces.
NIKKI HALEY (United States), expressing support for the partnership, said the African Union had a unique capacity to address challenges, including by mediating conflicts and deploying police rapidly. The African Union was also partnering with subregional organizations. The question now was how to best work together to promote peace and security. To ensure that the Council responded effectively, steps should include an increased sharing of information on missions from the outset, she said, also expressing support for the African Union’s efforts to build the Peace Fund. Any related Council resolution must ensure respect for human rights, she said, adding that efforts to address those issues should include rigorous screening procedures for troops and police and ensuring accountability.
PETER WILSON (United Kingdom) said the United Nations-African Union partnership must be enhanced with more joint analysis, planning and assessment, taking into consideration the comparative advantages of each organization. More and better funding methods must be found, he said, welcoming the African Union’s commitment to finance 25 per cent of its operations as a step towards greater African ownership of African peace and security. Looking forward to further discussions with the African Union when the Council visited Addis Ababa in September, he said more debate and joint work were required on how best the United Nations could support African Union operations, including joint accountability standards.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said it was a fact that African peace operations had undeniable comparative advantages over United Nations operations. There was an historic opportunity to create a United Nations-African Union framework for cooperation that would be robust, stronger and coherent, and which would make possible tailored responses to each situation. Commending the dynamic work undertaken so far, he said France would play its role in setting up a new coordination mechanism which would be innovative for peace and security.
PETR ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said United Nations-African Union cooperation must be rooted in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, including the alignment of regional initiatives with the purposes and principles of the Charter and Security Council authorization of any coercive measures. Regional players were often better attuned to situations in their purview, but the Council could not opt out fully. Emphasizing the need to further discuss the Secretary-General’s ideas with the Commission of the African Union, he said greater cooperation entailed more regional ownership which African States must be willing to undertake.
CRISTINA CARRIÓN (Uruguay), describing close cooperation between the United Nations and African Union on peace-support mandates as essential, underscored the centrality of the accountability of troop- and police-contributing countries in relation to their actions on the ground. Any non-United Nations force that operated with the Security Council’s nod must meet the Organization’s standards for conduct, discipline and accountability. In that regard, the African Union’s drafting of a framework to ensure its peace-support missions were in line with international standards boded well for further such operations.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) said the recently signed United Nations-African Union framework agreement and other similar actions should mark the start of an increasingly productive relationship, paving the way for African solutions to African problems. Fully in favour of exploring the use of assessed contributions, he said such efforts must hinge on high accountability standards. Cooperation had already been tested, including with the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The recent creation of the Group of 5 Sahel — or G5 Sahel — counter-terrorism force could become a model for future missions. Emphasizing the need to respect human rights in all efforts, he supported United Nations assistance for related initiatives, including training.
CARL SKAU (Sweden), emphasizing that regional actors had a better understanding of situations on the ground and could undertake operations where the United Nations could not, welcomed the current partnership momentum. Concrete proposals now existed, helping efforts to move forward towards more predictable resources and increased accountability. Commending the African Union’s bold decision on financing, he recognized the need for predictable funding. A planned visit to Addis Ababa in September would be an opportunity to further discuss that and related issues. Meanwhile, the Council must maintain its commitment and political engagement, he said, adding “let us build upon the momentum we have”.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said recent joint efforts, including the G5 Sahel counter-terrorism force, reflected the benefits of cooperation. The recent joint United Nations-African Union framework was commendable. Efforts must continue to address shortcomings, including capability gaps in personnel and equipment while ensuring predictable financing. Military counter-terrorism measures were the primary responsibility of national Governments, he said, adding that the United Nations should support States in such efforts. A people-centred approach to peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities must include a civilian protection component.
DIDAR TEMENOV (Kazakhstan) underlined that, despite significant progress, more could be achieved in United Nations-African Union cooperation through well-formulated common strategic objectives and a clear division of responsibilities premised on collective assessments. Lessons learned and best practices should be shared regularly through more frequent secretariat-to-secretariat exchanges to avoid task redundancies and duplication. Regional actors had a deeper understanding of the dynamics and root causes of conflict and could contribute immeasurably to global peace, security and development. However, without sufficient financial and capacity-building support to the African Union the ability to deliver would not match aspirations. Hybrid missions of the United Nations and African Union or local forces had proven to be more effective due to the familiarity of African soldiers with their own terrain, local conditions and tactics of armed groups.
YASHUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said that further discussion was needed both within the African Union and the Council on the most effective role for peace‑support operations, pointing out that green and blue helmets had different roles. It might not be efficient to focus on enabling support operations to replicate multidimensional United Nations tasks. Turning to the matter of financing present in both reports, he called for greater clarity, particularly on joint budgeting and accountability, and said that discussion must not become “overly” centred on financial aspects. “Financing alone cannot solve challenges,” he underscored, stressing that he would like to hear more about ongoing efforts and political commitment to implement the July 2016 decision in Kigali by the Assembly of the African Union regarding the Peace Fund.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity, saying the African Union had responded to new threats to peace and security on the continent, including efforts to combat Boko Haram and other terrorist groups. United Nations-deployed peace operations were a key tool in reaching those objectives. The United Nations and the African Union were committed to working together, he said, hoping that their planned September meeting would advance progress on tackling pressing challenges. The African Union’s proposal for resource mobilization would further bolster such efforts, he said, emphasizing the importance of cooperation between the two organizations and stressing that women should be included in all aspects and activities.