Wednesday, March 18, 2009

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon to submit report by September 18 on ways to support AU peacekeeping operations

AFP report March 18, 2009 -
UN debates bolstering African Union peacekeeping
The UN Security Council on Wednesday debated proposals to bolster the African Union's capacity to conduct peacekeeping operations under UN mandate on its conflict-wracked continent.

The powerful 15-member council weighed a report prepared by a joint UN-African Union panel led by former Italian premier Romano Prodi to mull ways to provide international backing to such AU peacekeeping missions.

The AU has been playing an increasingly assertive role to end conflicts in Africa but has been struggling to carry out peacekeeping missions in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region as well as in Somalia because of lack of funds and adequate equipment.

"Many of the challenges facing the African Union result from the difficulties it faces in securing the necessary resources to support both its deployments and its own long-term development," UN chief Ban Ki-moon told the council during the debate.

"The development of the African peace and security architecture is crucial to an effective long-term approach to conflict prevention and resolution," he added. "This requires the sustained support of the international community, including the European Union and many bilateral partnerships."

The council was expected to adopt a non-binding statement drafted by Libya that would underscore "the importance of supporting and improving, in a sustained way, the capacity of the African Union" and would welcome "recent developments regarding cooperation between the United Nations, the African Union and international partners."

The text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, would direct Ban to submit a report by September 18 "on practical ways to provide effective support for the African Union when it undertakes peacekeeping operations authorized by the United Nations."

It would also ask the UN chief "to take into account in his report the lessons-learned from past and current African Union peacekeeping efforts, in particular the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the efforts to provide a logistical support package for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)."

On the key issue of financing, the Prodi report recommended that "funding mechanism to support capacity-building in the African Union should be focused at the continental level and that the requirements of the sub-regions and member states should be met through bilateral or multilateral arrangements as at present."

It suggested that two new financial mechamisms be set up: one based on voluntary funding and focused on capacity-building, and another based on UN-assessed funding and designed to support specific peacekeeping operations.

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