View from the AU: Partnerships and Regional Organizations

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 be tailored to a specific context and capabilities leveraged accordingly in response, the manner in which outcomes are attained can be made more predictable. Understanding how each organization works, sharing the right information at the right time and at the right level, and undertaking joint planning where possible serves to strengthen outcomes. Third, the UN should enter into structured dialogue with regional organizations on the provision of support, be this financial, logistical or other, so that when joint action is required, a shared understanding of what can be expected, and the commensurate responsibilities, already exists between all the relevant actors. Fourth, engagement with TCCs and PCCs should be better structured, especially in instances where these are contributing to both UN and non-UN peace operations. TCCs and PCCs are both a limited and common resource, and in instances where these are deploying to both UN and non-UN operations, or are being re-hatted from one into another, common and clear engagement is of importance, for both political and operational reasons.


Walter Lotze was an Advisor with the Peace Support Operations Division of the African Union Commission