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...

The AU Peace and Security Council on the HIPPO Report

African Union Peace and Security Council The 532nd meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on the Report of the High-Level Independent Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (HIPPO): “Uniting our Strengths for Peace, Politics, Partnerships and People”. Press Release August 10, 2015 The Council welcomed the four strategic shifts proposed by the HIPPO, and expressed support for the principles recommended to underpin a peacekeeping partnership between the UN and the AU. The Council will be working on lessons learned on the transitions from AU to UN peace operations (CAR and Mali), and will seek to develop a set of benchmarks to be used in contexts of transitions. Read...
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