Press Releases

    Note No. 6032
    19 September 2006

    Note to Correspondents

    Security Council to Hold Ministerial-Level Meeting on 20 September; Seventh High-Level Talks with Regional Bodies Two Days Later

    Discussions Will also Review United Nations Work with Subregional Organizations

    NEW YORK, 18 September (UN Headquarters) -- Strengthening partnerships with regional bodies and other international organizations to better address current and future conflicts will be the common theme of upcoming meetings in New York this week taking advantage of high-level participation by Member States during the general debate of the new, sixty-first session of the General Assembly.  The crisis in Darfur and the recent renewal of fighting in the Middle East are the two most recent conflict situations that will give urgency and a concrete setting for those meetings.

    The Security Council -- on a foreign ministerial level -- will meet on 20 September to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation with regional organizations in meeting peace and security challenges, especially those related to conflict prevention and peacekeeping.  Building also on the outcome of the Security Council debate, two days later, on 22 September, the heads of 23 regional and intergovernmental organizations will meet with United Nations system partners for their seventh high-level meeting as part of an ongoing effort of coordination which began in the mid-1990s.  An additional, working-level meeting is to be held on 21 September of the Standing Committee -- established last year by the high-level meeting process -- to focus on capacity-building for Africa.

    The meetings will focus on reviewing the political and operational capacity of regional actors and United Nations system partners; ways to strengthen capacity, especially for Africa; concluding formal agreements of partnership between the United Nations and regional bodies; expanding cooperation into areas such as counter-terrorism; and collaboration with the newly established Peacebuilding Commission.

    Discussions will build on the call by world leaders at their September 2005 Summit supporting a stronger relationship between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, including a specific reference to the need to expand cooperation through formalized agreements.  The Summit Outcome document also supported the development and implementation of a 10-year capacity-building programme for the African Union.

    Background

    Interactions between the United Nations and regional organizations have become more frequent, more substantial and more meaningful.  Cooperation has improved at striking a better balance between regional organizations' intimate knowledge of a conflict situation and the global authority and legitimacy of the Security Council.

    Recent years have seen numerous examples of the United Nations cooperating with regional and other intergovernmental bodies in peacemaking and peacekeeping around the world.  This includes work with:  the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Somalia and the Sudan; the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Liberia; the African Union on the Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo; the European Union on Kosovo; the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Cambodia and Timor-Leste; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Afghanistan and Kosovo and the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the Balkans and on Georgia; and the Organization of American States (OAS) on Haiti.

    Security Council Thematic Meetings

    The Security Council devoted three thematic debates to the issue of closer cooperation with regional organizations (April 2003, July 2004 and October 2005).  During its last debate in October 2005 the Council adopted its first resolution on working with regional organizations -- 1631 (2005).  That resolution expressed the Council's determination to take appropriate steps to further develop cooperation between the United Nations and regional bodies and invited the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the opportunities and challenges facing this cooperation.

    In his Report to the Security Council, dated 28 July 2006, entitled, A Regional-Global Security Partnership:  Challenges and Opportunities, the Secretary-General notes his conviction that the time is ripe to establish a more effective partnership with regional organizations based on a clear division of labour that reflects the comparative advantages of each organization.

    He draws attention to two main challenges.  The first is that, with the increase of the number of organizations willing to involve themselves in peace and security work, there is a need for greater clarity regarding who is able to do what -- this requires a close look at mandates, also taking into consideration that the scope of cooperative actions may broaden into the economic, social and cultural areas or into new tasks such as countering terrorism.  The second challenge is to review and build political and operational capacity in order to be able to implement an effective partnership.  This is especially true for Africa, where there is the greatest need and the most pressing challenges.

    In order to meet those challenges, the Secretary-General concludes with a number of recommendations for strengthening partnership in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  His initiatives include a closer desk-to-desk cooperation for conflict prevention among the respective organizations; revisions in the stand-by arrangements system for peacekeeping to make better use of the capabilities of regional organizations; close collaboration with the Peacebuilding Commission; and solidifying partnerships through formal agreements.

     High-Level Meetings

    Closer coordination of work between the United Nations system and regional and other intergovernmental organizations began in 1994 with the launch of a series of regular high-level meetings.  Since then, six such meetings were held which have seen a doubling of attendance by regional bodies.  Thematic working groups were established in 2004 to have a more focused approach to coordination in areas such as peacekeeping, civilian protection, human rights, the dialogue among civilizations and disarmament.  Expansion of this work to countering terrorism will also be under discussion.  A Standing Committee was created in 2005 to initiate ideas, mobilize political will and monitor implementation of decisions taken.

    Regional and other intergovernmental organizations invited to the seventh High-Level Meeting:  Association of South-East Asian Nations; African Union; Caribbean Community Secretariat; Commonwealth of Independent States; Council of Europe; Commonwealth Secretariat; Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries; Collective Security Treaty Organization; Economic Community of Central African States; Economic Community of West African States; European Union (represented by the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the Presidency of the Council of the European Union); Intergovernmental Authority for Development; International Criminal Police Organization; League of Arab States; North Atlantic Treaty Organization; Organization of American States; Organization of the Islamic Conference; Organisation internationale de la francophonie; Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; Pacific Islands Forum; Southern Africa Development Community; and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

    For further information, please contact:  Daniel Tuohy, e-mail:  tuohy@un.org , tel.:  212 963 2492; or Nayang Charwath, e-mail:  charwath@un.org , tel.:  917 367 6099 of the Department of Political Affairs.

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