The Common African Position on the UN Review of Peace Operations

1 June 2015
African Union
Core CAP document type: 
Development Priorities: 

Article 52(1), Chapter VIII, of the UN Charter provides for the “existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action, provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” The Charter encourages regional institutions to give priority to finding peaceful solutions to conflicts. However, the Charter reserves for the UN Security Council (UNSC) the right to authorize enforcement action. Article 53(1) states that “no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council…” Thus, all enforcement actions by regional organizations require the authorization of the UNSC, but even after such authorization, these organizations are obliged to keep the Council informed of their actions.

The challenge for the AU and the UN is how to apply the spirit of Chapter VIII without prejudice to the role of the UNSC, on one hand, and without undermining or otherwise curtailing the efforts of the AU to develop its own capacity to provide adequate responses to the peace and security challenges in Africa, on the other. What is the appropriate consultative decision-making framework, division of labor and burden-sharing that should be put in place, and how would these impact on peace operations, as undertaken by both the UN and the AU?

At the heart of Chapter VIII is the need to complement the international legitimacy and legality of the UN with the advantages embedded in regionalism. An innovative application of Chapter VIII would help to address the gaps in the international system that was crafted in the immediate post-1945 era, while taking into account the important changes seen since then.

For the African Union, relations with the United Nations in the area of peace and security should be viewed as a strategic partnership, based on: a) consultative decisionmaking; b) division of labor; and c) burden sharing.

Article 17(1) of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council [hereafter the PSC Protocol] cites Chapter VIII as the basis of its relationship with the UN. The PSC Protocol directs the PSC to cooperate with the UNSC, “…which has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.” In a direct reference to burden-sharing, Article 17(2) of the PSC Protocol states that: “Where necessary, recourse will be made to the United Nations to provide the necessary financial, logistical and military support for the African Union’s activities in the promotion and maintenance of peace, security and stability in Africa, in keeping with the provisions of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter”.

The AU has identified a number of principles which it believes should underpin relations with the UN, to ensure that cooperation is not ad hoc but can proceed in a systematic, principled and predictable manner. These principles are:

Extract from the Introduction.