Both the United Nations (UN) Security Council and the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) have a vested interest in conducting more effective peace operations in Africa. Both councils want to build on the various UN-AU peace and security coordination mechanisms that have been established since 2006 and support the implementation of the AU’s principle of “non-indifference.” In many respects, considerable progress has been made with the UN and AU enjoying a deep, multidimensional and maturing relationship. Yet disagreements remain over how best to respond to particular peace and security challenges in Africa, and the AU still suffers from important capability gaps with respect to peace operations.
This paper analyzes the evolution of collaboration between the two councils on peace operations and asks how the institutions can cooperate more effectively in this area. After providing an overview of UN-AU collaboration on peace and security issues in general and peace operations in particular, we analyze the AU Mission in Somalia as a crucial case that exemplifies some of the positive and negative aspects of the UN-AU relationship. The paper then summarizes some of the ongoing challenges that will need to be overcome if the two councils are to optimize their collaboration and deploy legitimate and effective peace operations. It concludes by offering some practical recommendations for enhancing UN-AU relations in this area.
The central challenges blocking more effective AU-UN collaboration on peace operations can be identified across three dimensions: the strategic, political relationship between the two councils; the bureaucratic and organizational interaction between the two councils; and intra-AU dynamics, namely, relations among the AU Commission, the Peace and Security Council, and AU member states.
We offer practical recommendations designed to address each of these dimensions by the following:
-harmonizing the decision-making processes of the two councils;
-filling some of the key capability gaps in the AU’s representation in New York; and
-developing more efficient communication mechanisms between the elected African members of the UN Security Council and the AU’s Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa.