Open Debate: UN-AU Peace and Security Cooperation: Chapter VIII application and the future of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).
24 May, 2016
On Wednesday May 24, 2016, under the Egyptian presidency, the Security Council held an open debate under the theme, "UN-AU Peace and Security Cooperation: Chapter VIII application and the future of APSA." In the beginning of the debate, the presidential statement (S/PRST/2016/8) was presented by the Council welcoming the adoption of the African Peace and Security Architecture Road Map (2016-2020) that will contribute to a stronger, more forward-looking peace and security partnership between the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU). Moreover, the statement suggested that the recent reviews of United Nations peace operations and implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) significantly contribute towards harmonizing the efforts of the two entities in order to achieve a coherent, and coordinated continuum of engagement by preventing conflict while building, keeping and sustaining peace, in accordance with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. Emphasizing the significant progress achieved in the peace and security collaboration between the UN and AU, the major problems were also noted by speakers. The problems include the need to reconsider the existing financing and support schemes for African peace operations, the importance of African ownership, and the need for better and more focused communications between the organizations.
Given the 10th anniversary of a strategic partnership with the African Union Peace and Security Council, the Members of Security Council, along with the representatives of other states, took a strategic look at the UN-AU partnership, as well as how the UN-AU cooperation can be strengthened moving forward. As pointed out by a representative of Portugal, strengthening the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations was crucially important in order to meet that goal, she stated, noting how such cooperation would make a difference in addressing such issues as transnational crime and terrorism. In this vein, the speakers highlighted how the new approach to partnership between the UN and the AU should incorporate the conclusions of the three peace and security reviews mentioned above, particularly with a view to shifting the current paradigm from its focus on conflict management towards a more holistic approach that gives primacy to conflict prevention, political solutions, and sustaining peace. According to the representative of the African Union, this partnership should focus on the means for enabling the AU and sub-regional organisations to step up to the complex peace and security challenges, with a view to achieve burden-sharing and complementarity in accordance with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. Accordingly, the representative of Bangladesh expressed a common opinion that financial burden-sharing is a fundamental concern. Recognising the AU’s challenge in securing “predictable, sustainable and flexible resources,” the Permanent Observer of the African Union suggested that African Union peace operations would be better able to pave the way for those of the United Nations if afforded predictable, sustainable and flexible funding through assessed contributions from Member States, but also through greater mobilization of resources on the continent. Despite the general consensus, some topics were addressed differently. In this regard, the representative of France highlighted the role of the military in the African peace processes emphasizing the French contribution to the training of thousands of military personnel that had been deployed in the Sahel and the Central African Republic. On the other hand, the representative of Italy pointed out the need to find political solutions by involving African partners rather than military interventions.
Out of nearly 45 statements delivered, only fifteen speakers (34%) used a specific gendered language. Stressing the importance of including gender-related issues in all discussions pertaining to peacebuilding, the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission was the first to highlight the role of women in peace processes. Following his statement, inclusive participation in peace processes, including both youth and women, was mentioned by 19 speakers (42%). 11 speakers (25%) explicitly referred to the need of women’s participation. Welcoming the creation of the AU Gender, Peace and Security Programme (2015-2020), the representative of Portugal, for example, stressed the active role of women in conflict prevention of conflict and post-conflict peacebuilding efforts. Noting that the conflicts in Africa could benefit greatly from a holistic, prevention-centred approaches, 31 speakers (69%) talked explicitly about prevention. The majority of them, notably, acknowledged the role of women as important actors in conflict prevention. The representative of Sweden welcomed the advancement of Resolution 1325 (2000), including the incorporation of women and a gender perspective in mediation processes. Further, the advancement of Resolution 1325 (2000) was noted by 8 speakers (17%). The representative of Spain, in this vein, commended the fact that the majority of the National Action Plans on the Implementation of Resolution 1325 (2000) have been developed by the members of the AU. 35 speakers (78%) referred to peacekeeping during the Debate. The representative of Sweden, in this regards, pointed out that the UN-AU partnership should be mutually reinforcing, focusing on preventing conflict and inclusive peacekeeping. Despite that, the role of women in peacekeeping and mainstreaming of peace support operations was barely discussed. Less frequently, Member States referred to issues related to human rights (11%), protection (9%), and sexual and gender-based violence (4.5%). 3 speakers (6.7%) discussed the need to make Africa free from weapons. As pointed out by the representative of Nigeria and Ukraine, small arms and light weapons (SALW) is one of the most serious problems in the continent that seriously threatens peace and security and leads to the spread of terrorism.