Insights on the PSC – Briefing on Sustainable financing of African Peace & Security Agenda under the UN Charter 

Date | 19 September, 2019

Tomorrow (19 September 2019) the African  Union  (AU)  Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold a session to consider the draft UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution  initiated  in  August  2019  on  sustainable  financing for African Peace and Security Agenda in the context of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. It is expected that the Committee of Experts, a subsidiary body of the PSC, is expected to present the outcome of its review of the draft resolution to the Council.

In  December  2018,  the  African  three  non‐permanent  members of the UNSC (the A3) presented a draft resolution  on  financing  of  African  Peace  and  Security  Agenda for vote by the UNSC. The draft resolution initiated  by  Cote  d’Ivoire,  Equatorial  Guinea  &  Ethiopia  had gone through rigorous negotiation process with other  members  of  the  United  Nations  (UN)  Security  Council (SC). After negotiations were concluded, the draft was put in blue on 8 December by Cote d’Ivoire, the President  of  the  UNSC  for  December  2018,  on  the  request the A3 and voting was initially scheduled for 10 December.

In  a  press  release  of  14  December  2018,  the  PSC  underlining that ‘the tabling of this resolution represents a  watershed  moment  and  an  expression  of  the  international community’s commitment to strengthening the  global  peace  and  security  architecture  and  its capacity to address today’s complex security challenges’, endorsed  it  as  ‘timely  and  balanced’.  Following  an  apparent indication by the US to veto the draft if the vote went ahead as planned, the 10 December vote was postponed for a week after France requested to engage the US further to avoid the veto and bring the US to the consensus.

In  the  meantime,  the  A3  continued  mobilizing  support  for the resolution. Following a briefing by the A3 on 18 December  and  taking  into  account  the  14  December  press release of the AU PSC, the African Group in New York after deliberation on the draft decided to put its full weight behind the A3 efforts and called on all members of the group to co‐sponsor the draft resolution. Beyond the  Africa  group,  the  draft  also  received  support  from  other members of the UN with a total of 87 UN member states co‐sponsoring it.

The  postponement  of  the  10  December  vote  and  the  engagement with the US did not yield the kind of compromise  that  the  A3  deemed  to  be  consistent  with  the core fundamentals of the draft resolution. Accordingly,  a  vote  on  the  draft  resolution  was  scheduled for 19 December. However, unofficial communications  received  from  the  AU  advised  that  every effort be made to avoid the veto. In the meantime, a  compromise  text  by  France  started  to  circulate.  The  result was that the A3 postponed the vote once again to 21  December.  Two  complicating  factors  also  surfaced.  First, an informal message from the AU advising to accept  the  so‐called  compromise  text  emerged.  It  was  followed by a note verbal from the AU Commission Chairperson holding that ‘the best course of action is to build on the compromise proposals in the past few days,’ hence opting for the compromise text by France instead of the original A3 draft. Second, the cohesion of the A3 suffered  a  blow  when  Cote  d’Ivore  requested  the  UN  Secretariat to put the so‐called compromise proposal in blue for a vote.

In an email it sent out to the UN members co‐sponsored the  original  A3  text,  the  Office  of  the  Permanente  Representative of Ethiopia raised serious reservations on the  ‘compromise  text’.   It  observed  that  ‘the  new  text  introduced significant amendments and new languages in  its  operative  paragraphs  (see  OP9,  OP16,  OP  17,  OP  18, OP 19, OP 26, OP 28 and OP 30) which is fundamentally different from the original A3 text’. It also pointed out that ‘[m]ost of the members of the Security Council had no knowledge of the new resolution. Neither did it pass through any negotiation process nor did it also go through the silence procedure’.

Following  a  meeting  on  21  December  at  the  level  of  Permanent Representatives, the A3 once again decided to  postpone  the  vote  on  the  draft  resolution  pending  a  clear guidance from the AUPSC, which mandated the A3 to  champion  the  common  African  position  on  the  financing issue. The Africa Group also met in an emergency  session  and  endorsed  the  A3  decision.  The  report of the Africa Group meeting was communicated to the AUC.

On  24  December  2018,  the  PSC  discussed  the  matter  under ‘any other business’ and requested the AU Commission to submit to it a report. Although the report was  planned  to  be  presented  to  the  Council  in  early  2019, this did not happen. Yet, at the level of the AU, the call  on  the  UNSC  for  adopting  the  resolution  has  continued. In February 2019 the AU High Representative on  Silencing  the  Guns  by  2020  urged  the  ‘Security  Council to respond positively to the African Union’s long‐standing and legitimate calls for the funding of African peace  support  operations  through  United  Nations  assessed contributions.’

In New York, another effort for following up the process for securing a resolution has been initiated under South Africa,  which  joined  the  A3  in  January 2019  taking  over  from Ethiopia. After consultations with A3 members including Ethiopia, the two drafts that were put in blue in December 2018 were withdrawn. In August 2019, South Africa  in  consultation  with  the  A3  introduced  a  new  draft. While negotiations on this text has started, the draft  was  also  submitted  to  the  PSC  for  its  guidance  in  anticipation of a consensus being achieved on this draft for  its  potential  consideration  for  vote  under  South  Africa’s presidency in October 2019.

It  was  against  the  background  of  the  foregoing  that  tomorrow’s agenda was put in the program of work of the PSC for September. It was not for the first time that the  PSC  would  discuss  this  tomorrow.  On  Monday  16  September, the PSC also discussed this agenda after receiving  a  briefing  from  the  troika  of  the  PSC  (the  previous, the current, and incoming chairs of the PSC) on their videoconference meeting that they had with the A3 the previous week. After the meeting, the PSC tasked the Committee of Experts to review the two draft resolutions that  the  A3  proposed  in  December  2018  and  the  latest  one from August 2019 in order to make proposal to the PSC on the next steps.

The  August  2019  draft  reflected  recent  developments  since the December 2018 Draft. For example, draft preambular  paragraph  17  welcomed  ‘the  joint  Declaration of the Secretary‐General of the United Nations  and  the  Chairperson  of  the  African  Union  Commission of 6th December 2018’ and preambular paragraph 19 and 20 welcoming work undertaken by the UN  Secretariat  and  the  AU  in  developing  and  adopting  relevant compliance standards. In terms of the operative paragraphs, the August 2019 draft no longer contains the text from the compromise draft postponing the adoption of a framework resolution for another time. Yet, despite keeping  the  key  paragraph  ‘deciding  in  principle  that  United Nations assessed contributions can be provided, with decisions to be taken on a case‐by‐case basis … to support  future  African  Union‐led  peace  support  operations’, the August 2019 draft has carried much of the  new  text  that  was  introduced  in  the  compromise  draft that France proposed and the A3 and the Africa Group rejected.

The  Committee  of  Experts  reviewed  the  two  drafts  during their 17th meeting held on 17 September. There is strong view in the PSC that the position of the PSC of 14  December  2018  endorsing  the  A3  draft  needs  to  be  maintained. In this respect, there are concerns that the August  2019  draft  with  the  text  from  the  compromise  draft including that which reduced the role of the AU ‘to operational  details’  would  seriously  undermine  the mandate of the PSC as provided for in the PSC Protocol. In  their  report  to  the  PSC  tomorrow,  the  Committee  of  Experts would also highlight other aspects of the draft that  are  deemed  to  mark  major  departure  from  the  December 2018 draft including the language ‘utilized’, the  reporting  arrangements  and  the  formulation  of  the  reference to AU’s decision committing to raise 25% of funds for peace and security.

It  is  therefore  expected  that  the  Committee  of  Experts  would advise that the draft resolution should not be submitted  to  the  UNSC  for  adoption  in  October  2019.  The Committee is also expected to propose that further negotiations  are  held  on  the  draft  focusing  on  those  aspects of the draft resolution that are feared to curtail the mandate of the PSC provided for in its Protocol and seriously limit the scope  of flexibility  and strategic level  political role of the AU in general.

In  terms  of  taking  this  process  forward,  there  is  a need  for ensuring that the momentum is not lost. Central to keeping the momentum that has been achieved thus far is engaging the US not only with a view to avoid its use of veto  but  also  importantly  achieve,  based  on  further  negotiations on the draft, a new more balanced formulation.  In  this  respect,  consideration  should  be  given to recalibrate the approach utilized thus far. There is  in  particular  a  need  for  elevating  the  engagement  of  the US administration not only at the level of the US Delegation in New York but also at the level of Congress, the  State  Department  and  the  White  House.  The  opportunity that the UN General Assembly (UNGA) presents for engaging the US administration particularly at  most  senior  levels  of  the  State  Department  and  the  White House by the AU PSC ministers and Heads of State and  Government  including  South  Africa’s  President,  as  the incoming president of the UNSC leading on the negotiation in the UNSC on the draft resolution, is worth exploring.  Similarly,  as  part  of  the  preparation  for  the  13th Annual Consultative Meeting of the PSC and the UNSC  scheduled  for  October,  consideration  should  be  given to engage, including based on proposed text jointly formulated by the AU Commission and the UN Office to the  AU  (UNOAU),  the  permanent  five  members  of  the  UNSC in general and the US in particular for avoiding a stalemate in the negotiation process.

While  no  formal  outcome  is  expected  from  tomorrow’s  meeting, depending on the depth of the deliberations and the guidance that the PSC may wish to give on next steps, it may adopt a communique. Such a communique could envisage that the matter is discussed with the A3 both  on  the  side‐lines  of  the  UNGA  and  during  the  upcoming visit of the Committee of Experts to New York to  discuss  preparations  for  the  Annual  Consultative  Meeting. In the light of the existence of major concerns over  the  current  draft,  it  could  also  urge  for  further  negotiations in the interest of keeping the momentum of the  process  with  a  more  sustained  and  elevated  engagement. It could also task as part of the negotiation process  proposed  texts  for  bridging  the  gap  and  achieving a more balanced draft are initiated in consultation  with  the  A3.