On 24 February 2014, the Security Council met to hear Mr. Didier Burkhalter, President of the Swiss Confederation, who is currently holding the Presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Mr. Burkhalter recalled that the spirit of cooperation was at the heart of all OSCE activities. The Organization was also showing cooperation outwards by contributing to the efforts of the United Nations to restore and maintain peace and security. The concept of multidimensional security could inspire other regional actors. It was necessary to intensify OSCE cooperation with other regional organizations and the United Nations, in the framework of Chapter 8 of the United Nations Charter. Mr. Burkhalter also underlined that the agenda of the Swiss Presidency of the OSCE was currently dominated by the current crisis in Ukraine. He proposed to create an International Contact Group to ensure national reconciliation. It was urgent to rebuild trust among all parties concerned and essential to have an assessment mission regarding Human Rights. Mr. Burkhalter then noted the three OSCE major goals. It first was the need to encourage the establishment of peace and security. Secondly, people’s lives had to be improved. Regional organizations had to take a leadership role and implement existing commitments, in particular on torture and terrorism. Finally, OSCE means needed to be improved to act. Many options could be encouraged for stronger cooperation between the Organization and the United Nations.
The Permanent Representative of France welcomed the proposal of mediation in Ukraine. The OSCE could play an important part in accompanying the new developing institutions. France and the European Union would also continue their efforts to resolve the crisis. On the cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE, both organizations had demonstrated their ability to work harmoniously, from Central Asia to Bosnia, through Georgia and Kosovo. Finally, the Permanent Representative recalled that the OSCE covered a large area characterized by the belief that security in the euro-Atlantic and euro-Asiatic area went hand in and with the promotion of Human Rights, of democracy and of the rule of law, values at the heart of the United Nations project. He thus supported the dialogue initiated on the future of the OSCE within the framework of the “Helsinki + 40” process and the Swiss Presidency’s desire to strengthen OSCE mediation capacities in finding sustainable solutions to conflicts. This would enable the Organization to remain a modern and efficient partner to the United Nations.
On 14 February 2014, the Security Council held a public debate on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations. The Secretary-general, Mr Ban Ki-moon, as well as the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs Catherine Ashton, participated to the debate.
Mr Ban reminded that the efficiency of the UN depended on the cooperation with regional organizations. He commended the EU, close partner of the UN, for its constant work towards peace alongside the United Nations. On that subject, he mentioned the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). He commended France for its action in the CAR. He called on the member states to act now in order to avoid an escalation of the crisis.
Mrs Ashton described the international action of the EU. She reminded that this action depended on the support of the UN. She mentioned as an example the encouraging results obtained by Atalanta mission in Somalia, which led to a reduction of piracy. Mrs Ashton also expressed concern about the situation in CAR and called on the international community to act for a durable solution. She commended the fast response from the African Union and France. She proposed the inclusion of a police force within the EUFOR-CAR mission.
The Permanent Representative of France commended the work of the EU in Africa in cooperation with the UN, especially in Mali. He encouraged the future commitment for a European force, EUFOR-CAR, in the Central African Republic for the protection of civilians. Mr Araud called on the EU as well as on the UN to act quickly in the CAR.
At the end of the debate, a presidential statement on the cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security was adopted.
On 28 October 2013, the Security Council held a public debate chaired by Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, in the presence of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General, M. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, OIC Secretary General, and his successor. The meeting focused on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations, particularly the OIC, regarding international peace and security.
During this session, Mr. Ekmeleddin reiterated his commitment to promote an active partnership with the UN in view of developing common strategies. He welcomed the many areas of cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations in order to ensure a more effective peace, justice, respect for human rights and development, recalling that many issues on the agenda of the Security Council concern the Islamic World. He appreciated the crucial role played by OIC on emerging crises and recalled the commitment of its Member States to the UN Charter and its principles of international peace and security. OIC was secking to promote conflict prevention and resolution but also post-conflict recovery, human rights and peacekeeping. One of the major challenges was the radicalization within communities and religious intolerance. He encouraged closer intercultural dialogue among civilizations and said that OCI would make every effort in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
In his statement, the Representative of France reminded the strengthening of the relationship of France with the OIC on subjects such as the Syrian crisis, the Middle East peace process, the Arab Spring, Mal and the fight against international terrorism. Dialogue between the OIC and the United Nations for peacekeeping and peace building on subjects such as conflict prevention, human rights, humanitarian assistance, the fight against terrorism or intercultural dialogue was essential and in this regard, the OIC was an important partner of the United Nations. Following this debate, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement.
On 6 August 2013, the Security Council held a public debate chaired by Ms. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina, and in the presence of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General. This meeting, focused on cooperation between the UN and regional organizations, mobilized several ministers, including Mr. Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba and President of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and Mrs. Eda Franchini Rivas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru and representative of the Union of South American Nations, alongside Mr. Tekeda Alemu, Ethiopian ambassador to the UN who spoke on behalf of the African Union and Mr. Ahmed Fathalla who spoke on behalf of the Arab League.
These speakers called for a reinforcement of the cooperation between the UN and regional organizations to ensure a more sustainable peace and to promote more effective security and improved socio-economic development in areas of conflict. The members of the Security Council stated that regular consultations and coordination between the UN and regional organizations were indispensable, also through planning missions and joint evaluations when relevant.
In his statement, the representative of France welcomed the cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations. He also said that to ensure the coherence of international action, the credibility of the work of the UN and the organization’s principles, the cooperation between the UN and regional organizations should take place in accordance with the principles and relevant provisions of the UN Charter and under the auspices of the Security Council.
Following this debate, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement.
The UN recognizes regional organizations as key stakeholders in international relations. Some of these regional organizations have been granted observer status at the UN General Assembly and have a permanent representation in New York. This is notably the case for:
The African Union
The Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
The Central American Integration System (SICA)
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)
The European Union (EU)
The International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF)
The League of Arab States
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
Several other regional organizations, even if they don’t have a permanent representation in New York, benefit from observer status and actively participate in the UN’s diplomatic activities.
The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States
The Andean Community
The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)
The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
The Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries
The Community of Sahel-Saharan States
The Council of Europe
The East African Community
The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
The Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB).
The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)
The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region
The Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA)
The Latin American Integration Association (ALADI)
The Latin American Parliament
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
The Organization of American States (OAS)
The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
The Pacific Island Forum
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM)
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
The Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Lastly, some regional organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization do not have observer status but are critical UN partners.
Chapter VIII of the UN Charter relating to regional agreements makes provision for the existence of regional entities whose role in the peaceful settlement of conflicts is recognized by the UN.
The Charter enshrines the Security Council’s monopoly on authorizing the use of force, except in self-defense. This authorization may however stipulate that the mandate be executed by a regional organization.
Any intervention by a regional or sub-regional organization involving the use of force therefore requires an explicit Security Council mandate in order to avoid the fragmentation of collective security which is intended to be universal.
United Nations Charter - Chapter VIII (excerpts)
— Article 53: “The Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority. But no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council. […]”
— Article 54: “The Security Council shall at all times be kept fully informed of activities undertaken or in contemplation under regional arrangements or by regional agencies for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
Role of regional and sub-regional organizations in peacekeeping
The role of regional organizations in collective security expanded rapidly in the 1990s. This trend reflects both the institutional strengthening of the regional and sub-regional organizations and the openness showed by the UN Secretary-General from 1992 to 1996, Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in his Agenda for Peace (1992).
The involvement of regional organizations in peacekeeping continued to expand during the first decade of this century. Action by NATO and the EU, as well as the OSCE and the AU, served to make this phenomenon all the more visible. This activity related not just to the peaceful settlement of disputes (good offices, mediation efforts) but also to coercive measures (sanctions and even military operations).
The Security Council and the regional and sub-regional organizations
The Security Council has, in this context, developed cooperation with the regional organizations, while seeking to strengthen and improve the framework of this cooperation.
A variety of arrangements have therefore been implemented, sometimes in the form of support lent by a regional organization to the UN (the European Union’s Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo), but most often in the form of UN support for regional organizations: co-deployment, successive rotations and deployments, operational or budgetary support (AMISOM), exclusive management by the regional organization within the framework of a UN mandate (NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan).
These experiences have posed new challenges for the Security Council with respect to partnership arrangements, as in the case of the AU/UN hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
The involvement of regional organizations in peacekeeping can lead to political difficulties: lack of resources available to the regional organization (troops, equipment, military expertise, budget), pressure to provide predictable and sustainable funding, lack of oversight by the Security Council with respect to the operations that it has authorized, strategic differences between the regional organization and the Security Council, etc.
However, the role of regional organizations in peacekeeping and international security is destined to continue growing with a view toward promoting subsidiarity as well as the accountability of regional actors. France contributes to this through the organizations to which it belongs, as well as through its support for implementing regional security architectures, as for example in Africa in support of the African Union’s efforts.
24 February 2014 - Security Council - OSCE -
14 February 2014 - Security Council - Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations (EU) - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
28 October 2013 - Security Council - Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security : Strengthening the partnership synergy between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
6 August 2013 - Security Council - Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security - Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of France to the United Nations
7 May 2013 – Security Council – OSCE – Statement by Mr Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
13 January 2010 - Security Council - Cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
14 February 2014 - Security Council - Presidential Statement - Cooperation UN/EU
28 October 2013 - Security Council - Presidential Statement
6 August2013 - Security Council - Presidential Statement