Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has outlined steps to boost the African Union’s capacity to successfully carry out United Nations-authorized peacekeeping operations, including helping the regional body in the areas of finance, logistics and human resources.
“I am fully committed to supporting the African Union as it fulfils its potential as a partner of the United Nations in pursuit of peace in Africa,” he wrote in a new report to the Security Council, affirming his intent to strengthen the “strategic” partnership between the two bodies in the area of peace and security.
The report includes a detailed assessment of the recommendations of the AU-UN panel set up to consider support to AU peacekeeping operations which issued its own report last December.
The panel recommended, among others, that the UN and the AU take concrete steps to strengthen their mutual relationship and develop a more effective partnership when addressing issues on the joint agenda.
It also suggested the use of UN-assessed funding for AU-led and UN-authorized peacekeeping operations on a case-by-case basis, for up to six months, to be provided mainly in kind and only when there is an intention to transition the mission to a UN peacekeeping operation.
Mr. Ban noted in his report that the AU and its subregional organizations have been able to “deploy quickly, with limited resources and as a first response, when challenging circumstances have required a robust intervention.”
In addition to obtaining predictable and sustained financial resources for its operations, the major challenge for the AU, said the Secretary-General, is the lack of sufficient institutional capacity in key management, support and strategic planning functions. He added that the UN is currently working with the AU Commission on a number of initiatives to build the necessary capacity.
The UN will also undertake a number of initiatives to help the AU address some of its deficiencies in the areas of finance, logistics, human resources and procurement. These include embedding several AU human resources personnel at UN Headquarters to observe the UN system at work, as well as creating senior capacity within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to act as a conduit between the Department of Field Support and the AU to share best practices.
The UN could also provide a ‘standby arrangement’ to assist the AU to deploy a mission consisting of a small team of experienced UN personnel in critical ‘start-up’ functions, such as planning, financial management and procurement, Mr. Ban said.
He also underlined that many of the challenges that apply to the immediate peacekeeping demands of the AU will remain relevant in operationalizing the African Standby Force.
“While the African Standby Force has the potential to make a major contribution to peace and security in Africa, it will require long-term financial, material and logistics commitment from partners and increasingly from the member States of the African Union,” stated Mr. Ban.
He emphasized the requirement for the provision of sustainable and predictable resources to ensure success of AU peacekeeping operations authorized by the UN, while adding that, ultimately, it will be the responsibility of AU member States to provide the necessary resources.
He added that when peacekeeping is determined the best course of action to address a conflict in Africa, it is essential that the two bodies work together to build consensus and support for the operation and to align mandates with objectives and available resources.