By G.L.J. Jacobs on 2015-05-20 in Papers,
By Prof. Dr. Luk van Langenhove
The OSCE defines itself as a regional security arrangement under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. What does that mean? Could it mean more?
When the UN Charter was being drafted, some favoured a centralized security organization, others preferred a regionalized structure. In the end, when the Charter was finalized in 1945, the universal approach prevailed.
Nonetheless, an entire chapter - Chapter VIII - was devoted to regional arrangements and the terms of their relationship with the UN in the field of peace and security.
Few invocations of Chatper VIII's provisions were made during the COld War period. But when the bipolar world system collapsed and spawned new global security threats, the explosion of local and regional armed conflcits provoked a renewed interest in regional organizations and their role in the maintenance of regional peace and security. The United Nations was forced to acknowledge its inability to solely bear the responsibility for providing peace and security worldwide. It started to contemplate potential opportunities to develop collaborative relations with regional organizations.
United Nations Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali gave the initial impetus, when he spoke to the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1992 of a new era of opportunity for regional arrangements. "Regional action [...] could not only lighten the burder of the (UN Security) Council, but also contribute to a deeper sense of participation, consensus and democratization in international affairs," he said.
Since then, the UN has taken various initiatives to enhance regional and global security partnerships. Secretaries-General have hosted High-Level Meetings and Retreats for regional organizations including the OSCE. The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1631 on the co-operation between the UN and regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security in 2005, after holding several debates on the topic.
These developments lead me to make three observations.
First, despite UN efforts since the COld War to strenghten ties with regional organizations, formalized and systematic co-operation between them remains limited.
Second, progress in increasing co-operation is sporadic. One of the reasons for this is that the preocessss is dirven by the UN Secretaries-General and the UN Security Council. The strategic directions of the latter are heavily affected by its rotating membership, and experience has shown that it is often non-permanent member states who advance the debate.
Third, since regional organizations are very diverse and not all of them are mandated or capable of performing peace-keeping, peace-building or mediation operations, the debate as somewhat shifted from a comprehensive to an ad hoc one.
But while pragmatism can be valuable, the challenge remains how to weave the often disparate purposes and objectives of regional organizations into a global mutilateral governance perspective. The only way forward seems to me to be to create a forum of trust-building between the different regional organizations and the UN at the highest level. This could be done by creating a global mechanism of learning transfer from one organization to antoher or from one case to another. Each regional organization operates in a specific context, but they are all faced with similar challenges and issues. They therefore have an interest in exchanging information and sharing their respective experiences and best practices in implementing their mandate.
The OSCE has already since 1999 its own Platform for Co-operative Security, on the basis of which it offers itself as a co-ordinating framework for organizations working for security in this area.
The Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy, organized by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, an itner-governmental organization of 25 states from every part of the world, offers another, global platform for open exchange among regional organizations, a model that could be expanded to other areas such as conflict management and mediation.
The UN is increasingly working together with regional organizations in their mediation engagmenets. It could continue to strenghten the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution by taking the lead in creating a global inter-regional dialogue on mediation bringing together the UN and regional organizations. This would help to reveal the potentials of regional organizations to help the UN in dealing with the complex security challenges of today's world.
Mediation dialogue: the Chapter VIII ball is rolling
The group of Friends of Mediation was established in 20120 in New York at the initative of the foreign ministers of Finland and Turkey. It played an important role in drawing up the UN Secretary-General's Guidance for Effective mediation. The membership of the Group of Friends includes 34 countries, the UN and regional organizations - the African Union, the Arab League, ASEAN, the EU, the OSCE, the Organization of American States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution A/RES/65/283 (2011) underscored the role of mediation in peaceful settlement of disputes and the importance of international regional and sub-regional partnerships; UNGA Resolution A/RES/66/291 (2012) encouraged the use of the United Nations Guidance for Effective Mediation. Watch for the introduction by the Friends of Mediation of a new draft UNGA Resolution in 2014, focusing on mediation and regional and sub-regional organizations.
In January 2010 the High-Level Retreat with heads of regional organizations hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York provided inspiration fo rmeetings of regional, sub-regional and other international organizations on mediation. The OSCE has co-organized three meetings since then, in December 2010 in Vienna, in April 2012 in Jeddah and in February 2014 in Cairo. Find out more at:www.osce.org/mediation
OSCE Security Days
On 27 May 2014, over 300 practitioners and experts met in Vienna for a Security Day to explore ways for the OSCE to strengthen its co-operation arrangements with the UN and other regional organizations under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, particularly in conflict prevention and resolution.
Read the final report with recommendations that ermerged from the discussion; listen to podcasts by OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Erkki Tuomioja, former President of the Republic of Slovenia Danilo Türk and Executive Director of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue David Harland at: www.osce.org/secdays/chapter8.
Disclaimer and notes:
Prof. Dr. Luk van Langenhove is director of the United Nations University Institute for Comparative Regiona Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) in Bruges. This publication was originally published in 'Security Community' (Issue 2, 2014). This contribution is written in a personal capacity. Security Community' is published by the OSCE Secretariat Press and Public Information Section. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and may not coincide with the official position of the OSCE. OSCE has no official ties with www.warandpeace.nl
Read more: Luk Van Langenhove et al, "The UN and regional organizations for Peace: Tracking a Slippery Partnership" in The United Nations and the Regions (Dordrecht: Springer 2012)
The full text of Chapter VIII: www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter8.shtml
For the new draft UNGA Resolution mentioned in this paper see UNGA Resolution A/RES/68/303 (2014)
For my own ideas on the UN and regional security actors see the short essay "On security council reforms" I wrote for my application to the Honours Programme United Nations and Multilateral Diplomacy in 2014, in the future I would like to expand on the possibility of replacing the permanent actors with regional security actors.