The debate will come after two wars that the UN and African Union have had only a limited role in trying to end: the wars in Ethiopia’s Tigray or Oromia regions and the current conflict in Sudan.

African Union peacekeeping forces have played no part in ending either.

The African Standby Force has been ready for action since 2010 – yet was not deployed. One has to ask what it really is for. Nor have these troops been used in the Sahelian conflicts against Islamist forces – while the Russian Wagner Group’s mercenaries are active in a range of countries, from Mozambique to the Central African Republic.

These complex conflicts require new responses, as the UN Secretary General’s report makes clear.

“The changing nature of conflict in Africa has forced the United Nations and the African Union to adapt their operations to respond to new and evolving challenges. Such challenges include rising levels of violence deliberately targeting civilians, the increasing use of asymmetric tactics by violent groups, the entrenchment and increasing sophistication of armed extremism, the deliberate targeting of peacekeepers, the expanding influence of transnational organized crime, the growing use of private military and security companies and the complex interaction of inter-State tensions with non-State armed conflicts.”

What will Russia say about the implied criticism of “private military and security companies” like the Wagner Group?

The Secretary General’s report looks at the role of the African Standby Force, but it is rather thin.

“The African Standby Force provides a platform for the development of a common doctrine, policies and guidelines for African Union peace support operations, including joint training and exercises, joint planning, information-sharing and resource mobilization. Those policies and guidelines have informed the planning for missions such as the African-led International Support Mission in Mali and the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic. In addition, elements of the African Standby Force concept have also been used by regional economic communities and regional mechanisms, which have deployed their regional standby forces – originally intended as first responders under the African Standby Force concept – into conflict areas. Examples include the deployment of the Economic Community of West African States missions in the Gambia and Guinea Bissau, the Southern African Development Community preventative mission in Lesotho and the Southern African Development Community mission in Mozambique.”

The UN and African Union’s successes in Somalia have been real, but there is much still to do. The UN report points to:

  • The lack of consistent funding – the key problem of who is to pay: Africa or the international community?
  • The failure of the African Union to establish “sufficient staffing capacity at headquarters and in the field”

Clearly there is much the UN Security Council needs to consider.

Source: WhatsinBlue

Briefing on Peace and Security in Africa

Tomorrow morning (25 May), the Security Council will hold a briefing on peace and security in Africa. Switzerland, May’s Council President, is convening the meeting at the request of the A3 members (Gabon, Ghana, and Mozambique) to discuss the Secretary-General’s report on the financing of African Union (AU)-led peace support operations (AUPSOs), which was issued on 1 May. The expected briefers are Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo; AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Bankole Adeoye; and Bitania Tadesse, Programme Director at Amani Africa, a think tank based in Addis Ababa that provides research and analysis on the work of the AU and its Peace and Security Council (AUPSC).

Tomorrow’s meeting builds on the momentum in the Security Council since July 2021 around the option of financing AUPSOs from UN assessed contributions. This has been a longstanding issue in the relationship between the UN and the AU in general, and between the UN Security Council and the AUPSC in particular, since 2007. Over the years, Council discussion on the issue has evolved, as Council members have increasingly acknowledged the AU’s proactive role on matters of peace and security in Africa, including its enhanced capacity to respond expeditiously to conflict and crises on the continent. Nonetheless, some Council members have strongly opposed adopting a product that would provide a clear commitment from the Council to finance AUPSOs from UN assessed contributions, as was the case with the draft resolution proposed in 2018 by then-Council members Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, and Equatorial Guinea. Among the complications that underlie AU access to UN assessed contributions are questions relating to the adherence of AUPSOs to accountability and compliance frameworks and to burden-sharing with the AU.

The year 2023 appears to be crucial for advancing the discussion on financing of AUPSOs. In a 12 May communiqué, the AUPSC requested the Security Council’s A3 members to “resume consultations with the relevant stakeholders towards the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution” on financing AUPSOs through UN assessed contributions. The US, which opposed the 2018 draft resolution, now appears more amenable to a serious discussion on the matter. (For more information, see our 26 April research report titled “the Financing of AU Peace Support Operations: Prospects for Progress in the Security Council?”.)

The Secretary-General’s 1 May report was submitted pursuant to a presidential statement (S/PRST/2022/6), adopted by the Security Council following a debate on peace and security in Africa held during China’s August 2022 Council presidency, which requested the Secretary-General to provide the Council, by 30 April 2023, a report on progress made by the UN and the AU to fulfil the commitments set out in resolution 2320 of 18 November 2016 on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations, and resolution 2378 of 20 September 2017 on peacekeeping reform. (For background, see our 30 August 2022 What’s in Blue story.)

At tomorrow’s meeting, DiCarlo is expected to brief on the main findings of the 1 May report, which builds on previous relevant reports submitted by the Secretary-General, particularly his May 2017 report on options for authorisation and support for AUPSOs. She might note that, in line with the commitments outlined in resolutions 2320 and 2378, there has been progress since 2017 in the development of the AU Compliance Framework (AUCF) for AUPSOs, which aims to ensure adherence to international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and UN conduct and discipline standards to prevent and combat impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse. DiCarlo may highlight the support provided by the UN and other partners—such as the EU—in developing the AUCF, while underscoring the need to achieve further progress for the AU to attain the highest standards of compliance.

The Secretary-General’s report also provides updates on progress in the operationalisation of the AU Peace Fund, established in 2002 to finance the AU’s peace and security activities, which by February 2023 had mobilised $337 million. Bankole may explain the AU’s recent decisions to provide support through the AU Peace Fund’s Crisis Reserve Facility (CRF) to the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which is facing a budget shortfall, and the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), which has deployed in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At a 12 May meeting, the AUPSC decided to increase the CRF’s ceiling from $5 million to $10 million to address pressing peace and security issues on the continent.

Bankole may highlight key aspects of the Consensus Paper on Predictable, Adequate, and Sustainable Financing for AU Peace and Security Activities, which was adopted by the 36th AU summit in February. The paper, among other things, expounded on the AU’s 2015 decision to finance 25 percent of its peace support operations budget. This decision created the impression that the organisation is committed to sharing the burden of future AUPSOs that will be mandated and authorised by the Security Council, under the assumption that these operations will be granted access to partial funding from UN assessed contributions. According to the paper, however, that amount represents 25 percent of the AU annual budget to support the organisation’s overall peace and security efforts in Africa, that include, but are not limited to, peace support operations. It seems that the Secretary-General’s report tried to avoid the issue of burden-sharing by arguing that “the option of using United Nations assessed contributions to finance, at least in part, the budget of an African Union managed mission is one that remains largely aspirational given the need for guidance from the General Assembly”.

In its August 2022 presidential statement, the Security Council also requested the Secretary-General to provide recommendations on the financing of AUPSOs that reflect good practices and lessons learned from past experiences. Tomorrow, DiCarlo may refer to the experience gleaned from support provided by the UN to the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) through the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); the experience of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the joint UN-AU review on this unique hybrid mission; and the case of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which transitioned into the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) in 2022, as well as the UN’s provision of a logistical support package through the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) that later transitioned into the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS). DiCarlo may stress the need for the Security Council to take into account the challenges and achievements of these experiences in its future decisions on the financing of AUPSOs.

One of the contentious issues during past discussions on the financing of AUPSOs was the role of regional mechanisms and their eligibility for access to financing from UN assessed contributions. The AU Consensus Paper argues that regional mechanisms, which are viewed as the building blocks of the AU, should benefit from such arrangements as first responders to conflict and crises in their respective regions. This corresponds with the growing calls by African countries and regions for robust regional and international engagement to address the serious security threats posed by terrorists and other armed groups on the continent. In his remarks at the 36th AU Summit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that he “wholeheartedly support[s] the creation of a new generation of robust peace-enforcement missions and counter-terrorist operations, led by the African Union with a Security Council mandate under Chapter VII and with guaranteed, predictable funding, including through assessed contributions”. This is particularly relevant to the West Africa and Sahel region, which has been facing serious security challenges.

In his 1 May report, the Secretary-General presented a refined version of the joint planning and mandating process for authorising AUPSOs, which was originally outlined in his May 2017 report. This process now involves not only the AU but also the regional mechanisms, based on the recognition that some regional forces later transition into an AUPSO and then into a UN peacekeeping operation. The refined process, therefore, intends to give regional mechanisms an entry point in case they eventually seek UN financing when they decide to deploy a force, which means that they will have to notify the Security Council in advance and involve the UN in the planning process from the outset.

The Secretary-General has already outlined in 2017 various options for the financing of AUPSOs, which include a subvention in exceptional emergency situations, joint financing of a jointly developed budget, establishment of a UN support office, or joint financing of a hybrid mission. As stated in the AU Consensus Paper and the Secretary-General’s 1 May report, both the AU and the UN are of the view that two of these options—hybrid missions and a UN support office—are more feasible and provide predictable and sustainable financing for AUPSOs. Lessons learned from the experience of UNAMID indicate that hybrid missions require an alignment of political engagement and a budget that covers the mission’s entire financial requirements. Therefore, the Secretary-General’s report seems to lean towards the UN support office option, which is considered flexible and practical in tailoring support to AUPSOs in accordance with specific needs and circumstances, while emphasising that this option should be implemented as part of a coherent political strategy.