AU-UN Partnerships in peace operations

The AU-UN partnership is essential for the delivery of peace operations on the African continent. Yet there is a need for a much better understanding of the political role and ambitions of the AU, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of the AU and the UN. There is scope in these partnerships for greater synergies which focus on complementarity, rather than hierarchy. Key recommendations included:

6. Identify joint approaches for conflict prevention and emerging security situations. The UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council should meet as early as possible when a situation of concern develops to identify options moving forward. To support such engagement, both organs need encourage synergies that foster a better division of labour at strategic and operational levels, including through better harmonisation of agendas, joint analysis and mission design, and implementation of communiques and decisions.

7. Facilitate secondments and training opportunities between both organisations. The UN Secretariat and AU Commission should explore options for joint training, particularly for senior mission leadership. Secondments could ameliorate the differences in capacities between AU Peace and Security Council and UN Security Council and facilitate mutual understanding of how the two institutions work, their roles and comparative advantages. It could also promote shared views and ensure the presence of a counterpart on “each side of the fence” to move cooperation forward.

8. Examine the role of and engagement with the RECs as part of the AU-UN partnership and decision-making processes. While much has been done on the AU-UN partnership, the relationship and decision-making processes between the AU and RECs, and the UN and RECs, has received much less attention. This triangular relationship needs to be enhanced at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. The UN Secretariat, AU Commission and think tanks should facilitate further dialogue and study about the role of the RECs when it comes to the AU-UN partnership and peace operations.

9. Enhance entry points on cross-cutting issues. The AU and UN should identify areas where cooperation and collaboration can be further enhanced on different thematic issues, such as gender, youth, and DDR.

10. Utilise the role of the A3 to advance African common positions in the Security Council. The three African members of the Security Council (A3) have a central role in enhancing the relationship between the AU, RECs and UN. Through greater coordination and engagement, they can serve as an informal and influential bridge between the two Councils.