The Procedure of the UN Security Council, 4th Edition is available at Oxford University Press in the UK and USA. 

The Procedure of the UN Security
Council, 4th Edition

ISBN: 978-0-19-968529-5

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Updated on 31 December 2015

Chapter 4:   THE COUNCIL CONVENES

Section 3:   Agenda and Summary statement of matters of which the Security Council is seized

 

Council agenda items relating to peacekeeping and peace operations

 

When the Security Council met on 20 November 2015 to consider the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) and the related report of the Secretary-General, it did so under the agenda item, “‘Maintenance of international peace and security”.  As explained in the book on page 219, this broad “umbrella” agenda item was devised in 2007 as a remedy for the proliferation of thematic agenda items which were not likely to be revisited by the Council very often.  Since 2007, in such instances the normal pattern has been to list the main item as “Maintenance of international peace and security”, followed by one or more sub-items, usually a statement of the actual topic, and/or a concept paper describing the topic.  (At the first thematic debate held under the item “Maintenance of international peace and security” on 25 June 2007, the sub-item was a letter from Belgium indicating that the topic of the debate would be the interrelationship between natural resources and conflict (S/PV.5705).)

 

In the case of the Council’s meeting on 20 November 2015, the main agenda of “Maintenance of international peace and security” was followed by two sub-items:  “Briefing on the Secretary-General’s report:  The future of United Nations peace operations” and “Letter dated 5 November 2015 from the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (S/2015/846)”.  When the Council met five days later to adopt presidential statement S/PRST/2015/22 “on the subject of peace operations”, it did so under the item “Maintenance of international peace and security” without any sub-item (S/PV.7567). 

 

The decision to discuss the two peace operation reports under the agenda item “Maintenance of international peace and security” was notwithstanding the fact that since 1990, the Security Council has had on its Summary statement of matters of which the Security Council is seized the agenda item “United Nations peacekeeping operations”.  That agenda item presently appears as item No. 5 on the Summary statement (see S/2015/10/Add.49).  However, this longstanding agenda item was seen as too narrow for the Council’s consideration of the HIPPO report (S/2015/446) and the Secretary-General’s report (S/2015/682), since in both reports, “peacekeeping operations” are treated as only one category of “peace operations”.  This issue was specifically addressed by the Secretary-General in his report:

 

“To reflect the Panel’s recommendations, and to capture the holistic and tailored way in

which United Nations peace and security tools must be used if we are to achieve better

and more sustained effect, I use the term ‘peace operations’ throughout the present report.  

The term refers to all field-based peace and security operations mandated or endorsed by

the Security Council and/or the General Assembly, including peacekeeping operations and

special political missions, as well as the envoys and regional offices carrying out my good

offices.”

 

Already in 2014, the “United Nations peacekeeping operations” agenda item had in one instance been considered too narrow for the Council’s use.  This situation reflects the point made in another context by the Chair of the Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, the representative of Chad, when he said that “there is a clear gap between the classical doctrine of peacekeeping and the realities of today’s world” (S/PV.7586 of 17 December 2015).  At present, several of the UN forces established by the Security Council have mandates far more robust than those of regular peacekeeping operations, and even some regular peacekeeping operations have more recently been deployed in situations where there has been little “peace to keep”. 

 

Thus it was that on 8 May 2014, when the Council adopted its resolution 2154 (2014) creating “the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage”, it did not do so under the agenda item of “United Nations peacekeeping operations”, but rather under the umbrella item “Maintenance of international peace and security”, without a sub-item.  This was in contrast to the meeting held on 22 July 1997 when the Council adopted resolution 1121 (1997) creating the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal in recognition of those who lost their lives serving in UN peacekeeping operations.  The agenda item for that meeting was “United Nations peacekeeping:  Dag Hammarskjöld Medal” (S/PV.3802).

 

Already in 2014, the Council had met on a matter related to peacekeeping under the umbrella agenda item “Maintenance of international peace and security”, rather than “United Nations peacekeeping operations”.  This was on 8 May 2014, when the Council adopted its resolution 2154 (2014) creating “the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage”.  This was in contrast to the meeting held on 22 July 1997 when the Council adopted resolution 1121 (1997) creating the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal in recognition of those who lost their lives serving in UN peacekeeping operations.  The agenda item for that meeting was “United Nations peacekeeping:  Dag Hammarskjöld Medal” (S/PV.3802).

 

Overall, the Council appears likely to continue to meet under the older agenda item of “United Nations peacekeeping operations” for most matters relating to peace operations.  This agenda item was used, for example, on 13 November 2015, when Council met to consider “The challenges of policing within a protection of civilians mandate” (S/PV.7558).  And it was used again on 31 December 2015, when the Council met to adopt a presidential statement on cooperation among the Council, troop- and police-contributing countries, and the Secretariat (S/PV.7599).