- The international community must more actively and systematically support the African Union’s (AU) peacekeeping role with enhanced funding and training to bring stability and development to the continent, the United Nations peacekeeping chief said yesterday.
“If the international community requests that the AU bear the brunt of its initial response to a crisis, it has an obligation to support the AU in ensuring that that response is credible,” Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy told the Security Council at the start of a debate on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the issue.
“There is a need to provide resources for peacekeeping in a sustainable and predictable manner without undermining the flexibility required to respond to a crisis quickly. Currently, AU peacekeeping is entirely dependent on the same small pool of donors,” he explained.
Citing UN support for AU missions in Sudan and Somalia, he said the international community must ensure that the most effective mechanism is made available to the AU when the Council authorises it to undertake peacekeeping operations. “Building a resilient and responsive African Union is vital for the establishment of an effective complementary system for global peacekeeping,” he added.
The 15-member Council welcomed the AU’s “continuing important efforts and enhanced peacekeeping role” and recognised the need to “enhance increase the predictability, sustainability and flexibility” of financing regional organisations when they undertake peacekeeping under UN authorisation.
“The Security Council reiterates the importance of establishing a more effective strategic relationship between the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council and between the United Nations Secretariat and the African Union Commission,” it said in a presidential statement read by Ambassador Le Luong Minh of Viet Nam, which holds the presidency for October.
“The Security Council recognises that in deploying peacekeeping operations authorised by the Security Council, the African Union is contributing towards maintenance of international peace and security,” it added, noting that the AU needs to enhance its institutional capacity to effectively plan, manage, and deploy peacekeeping operations.
Mr Le Roy noted that Mr Ban’s report laid out a number of areas for immediate action, including streamlining the UN presence in Addis Ababa, the AU headquarters, and providing additional capacity-building, calling it a further step in a long-term process of UN support to AU peacekeeping.
“Our partnership is strong and recognises that security and the means of providing it is a prerequisite for long-term sustainable development,” he said. “This is particularly true in Africa, where instability and conflict continue to undermine the aspirations of the people in a number of countries.”
He cited cases where the AU has taken on responsibilities in complex situations with the Council’s authorization when conditions have not been conducive to a UN peacekeeping role, and stressed the joint efforts of the two in Darfur (with the force known as UNAMID) and UN support for the AU peacekeeping force in Somalia (known as AMISOM) as examples of the kind of partnerships that can be achieved.
“Serious capacity and resource constraints have, however, hampered the ability to fully realise the potential of this partnership,” he warned.
Mr Ban’s report outlined steps to boost AU capacity in UN-authorized peacekeeping and assessed the recommendations of an AU-UN panel which issued its own report last December, advocating concrete steps to strengthen the mutual relationship. Twenty-two speakers are scheduled to take part in today’s debate.
Mr Le Roy is also scheduled to be in Abuja, Nigeria, today to attend a high-level meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council. He is also scheduled to visit peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where he will assess security in the strife-torn east and discuss the extension of state authority and institution building, and Burundi, where he will see first-hand how the UN integrated mission is working.
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