UN Security Council: cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 18 November 2016

Thank you Minister Ndiaye for convening today’s meeting on this most important subject, and I also acknowledge Senegal’s role as one of the most significant contributors to UN peacekeeping.

I thank Assistant-Secretary General Wane, Ambassador Tete Antonio, Special Representative Menkerios and Dr Kaberuka for their briefings which have delivered a clear and consistent set of messages for us to consider.

New Zealand looks forward to the adoption later today, of a resolution which will send a strong signal of the Security Council’s political support and encouragement of the recent work by the African Union to strengthen our partnership.

Mr President,

Over the past two decades, the member states of the African Union have demonstrated their willingness and intent to lead the way in preventing and resolving conflict and securing peace in their region.

Effective cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union is essential for supporting those efforts and maximising their chances of success.

As others have said, it  is therefore critical that the United Nations and African Union take a structured, complementary and integrated approach to tackling peace and security challenges in the continent.

We have seen various models trialled for such cooperation, but with varying degrees of success.

In Somalia we have seen an African-led peace operation, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), operate with support from bilateral donors, backed by a UN Support Office.

In Darfur, we have seen a hybrid AU-UN force achieve some progress, but also encounter serious challenges in implementing its mandate.

These Missions have enjoyed some success, and we pay tribute to those who have contributed to them.

But they have also highlighted some of the ongoing challenges facing UN-AU cooperation, particularly in terms of arrangements for financing, logistical support, and Mission leadership.

Missions initially led by the African Union in Mali and the Central African Republic are also a clear case in point.

Although different in nature, the case of the Multinational Joint Task Forcein the Lake Chad Basin also demonstrated the need for a model that can enable a more robust response to critical security threats such as that posed by Boko Haram to the countries of that region.

In the case of AMISOM, despite the success of theUnited Nations logistical support package, regional Troop Contributing Countries remain frustrated by the lack of predictable financing for troop stipends. 

Such approaches are neither sufficient nor sustainable.

That is why New Zealand welcomes Senegal’s initiative to focus attention on this critical issue in today’s meeting.

We have all paid obeisance for the need for AU and UN cooperation for the last decade.  It is time to move beyond the rhetoric of cooperation to arrangements that will have practical, meaningful application and deliver concrete results.

I want to focus today on three specific areas in which the UN-AU partnership should be further strengthened.

First, we need to foster common analysis and understandings between the United Nations and African Union on security challenges.  

New Zealand shares the view of Special Representative Menkerios that early engagement to build a common analysis and understanding of security challenges and conflict situations provides an essential foundation for effective cooperation.

If UN and the AU, and for that matter the regional economic communities can agree an objective  analyses of the fundamental causes and drivers of conflict, then decisions on possible responses, solutions and respective roles should flow much more naturally. But how can we achieve this? 

Secretariat-to-Secretariat connections are critical The UN Office to the African Union (UNOAU) plays a vital role in the United Nations’ engagement with the African Union, and should be further strengthened. 

Joint assessment missions, information exchanges, training and secondments are also useful tools for building connections, mutual trust and understanding between the two Secretariats.

Enhanced cooperation between the executive bodies of the twoorganisations – the African Union Peace and Security Council and this United Nations Security Council – is also very important.

New Zealand recognises the significance of regular structured, formal exchanges between the Councils, such as their annual joint meeting.

But we believe that it is much more useful to have regular, informal engagement between the two bodies that will deliver greater value. In our experience, such interactions have been most successful when they focus on specific issues, often after field missions where the two bodies can focus on what is being achieved and what are the problems rather than where each of the other believes they are letting the other down.

Greater use of joint visiting missions would be another practical means of enabling the two Councils to gain a shared appreciation of a situation and lend their combined weight to joint political messaging regarding what is required.

We urge the African Union and the Security Council, including next year’s incoming members, to make greater use of joint visiting missions in 2017.

Second, we must work together to help strengthen relevant capacities in the African Union.  

For cooperation to be further deepened, it will be essential that the African Union and United Nations share common standards and approaches with regard to key aspects of their field missions.  

In addition to human rights due diligence requirements with regard to peace operations, we need to think through other challenging and complex issues such as standards for conduct and discipline, financial controls, resource management and environmental standards. 

This will require significant efforts to build relevant capability within the AU.  What the UN will get in return is a strengthened partner that is able to assist in tackling shared challenges, often at a significantly lower cost than the United Nations.

Third, we need to tackle the fundamental issue of financing for African-led peace operations. 

New Zealand recognises the challenges involved in reaching agreement on a new, more sustainable financing model in the current environment of austerity. 

But continuing to rely on ad hoc arrangements each time a new African Union-led mission is deployed is simply not sustainable.

Time and again we have found ourselves reliant on temporary fixes and improvised arrangements in order to mobilise and sustain a response to critical security threats.

This often leads to critical delays in establishing a mission, and ongoing capability gaps and uncertainties around funding. The end result is less effective missions and longer, more costly conflicts. 

Finding a mechanism for providing sustained, predicable financing for African-led peace operations therefore is  an urgent priority. 

That is why we strongly support the proposals put forward by the African Union to address this issue, in particular through the roadmap outlined by Dr Kaberuka under which 25 percent of the cost of African Union-led peace operations would be financed by African states.

We are also supportive of proposals to utilise United Nations assessed contributions to finance African Union-led missions in defined circumstances.  We recognise that these are ambitious proposals. Moreover, we understand what would need to be put in place as preconditions to make this work.

Meeting these challenges will need to be a priority for the new leadership of the United Nations and the African Union, when they assume office next year. 

In the meantime, we UN member states will need to take the difficult decisions necessary to advance the partnership with the African Union in a meaningful way.

I thank you.


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