Special Representatives of the Secretary-General are regularly invited to brief the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union, as well as its preparatory bodies (for example the Political and Security Committee). This enables the EU to better coordinate its foreign policy with decision-making in the Security Council, which holds the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
The European Union has also endorsed a document on "Reinforcing the UN-EU Strategic Partnership on peace operations and crisis management: priorities 2019-2021" committing the EU to seek increased EU member state contributions to UN peacekeeping and increase EU-UN cooperation on rapid response to crises, security sector reform, and support to the African Union.
UNLOPS engages with key European actors in all stages of the planning, deployment, and conduct of crisis management missions that operate in conjunction with UN peace operations.
United Nations special political missions and peacekeeping operations are some of the most effective tools to promote and maintain international peace and security. But they are temporary.
The enduring success of the UN to promote sustainable development and peace is impacted considerably by the planning and management of UN transitions involving a significant drawdown or withdrawal of a UN peace operation. If well-timed and managed, a transition plan based on national ownership and leadership ensures that the configuration, priorities and strategies respond to the most pressing needs on the ground, thereby allowing effective support to countries emerging from violent conflict and preventing a vacuum. If precipitous and ill planned, transitions carry the risk of jeopardizing hard-won gains and may result in renewed violence.
Recognizing the high level of strong and mutually supportive cooperation between the EU and the UN, the UN Transitions Project seeks to enhance its partnership with the EU based on joint planning and shared objectives for UN transitions.
The UN-EU partnership can help support the comparative advantages of both organizations, from helping to sustain political engagement to providing the necessary expertise, capacities and resources contributing to sustainable peace and development. Earlier, and more institutionalized engagement between the UN and EU in transition settings could therefore strengthen the normative, political and operational support to assist host nations consolidate peacebuilding gains.
Particularly the impact of COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity, with national authorities shifting their focus to crisis response and making the engagement in transition planning more difficult. Looking ahead, there is a risk that ongoing and upcoming transition processes might lack sufficient national engagement and peacebuilding support, critical to consolidate the gains made. Through proactive and integrated planning, the EU-UN Strategic Partnership can help find ways to maintain momentum for transition planning during the pandemic as well as supporting national ownership and sustain peace beyond the lifespan of a peace operation.
To this end, the UN Transitions Project established a presence at UNLOPS in Brussels in order to take forward this work together with the EU.
The UN Transitions Project
In 2014, UNDP, DPO, and DPPA (complemented by the Development Cooperation Office, DCO in 2020) commenced an innovative partnership to enhance UN transitions. The project is widely recognized as a key mechanism providing thought leadership and system-wide support on UN Transitions. The project has played a catalytic role in influencing various policy streams and strengthening coherence across the development and peace and security pillars (e.g. implementation of the Sustaining Peace agenda, the Action For Peacekeeping, the Secretary-General’s Planning Directive on Transitions, and the review of the Policy on Integrated Assessment and Planning (IAP)). Through the deployment of technical expertise, capacity building, and organizational learning support, the Project has contributed to more proactive, forward-looking, and integrated transition processes in Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Mali and Sudan.