Secretary-General's retreat with heads of regional organizations, May 2015. UN Photo

Regional Organizations

Cooperation with regional organizations has long been a touchstone of the work of the United Nations, as recognized in Chapter VIII of the UN Charter and numerous resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council. In many ways, the United Nations and regional organizations have unique and complementary capacities that, when properly coordinated, can contribute decisively to the prevention and management of armed conflict.

In recent years, these relationships have strengthened and deepened across a wide spectrum of activities, including peacemaking and crisis mediation, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance. In support of this growing cooperation in the field, the Secretary-General, with DPA support, has convened over the years a number of high-level meetings and retreats with the heads of regional organizations to ensure coordination and mutual understanding on operation imperatives as well as broader strategic issues facing the United Nations and its partners.

In its core work in conflict prevention, preventive diplomacy and mediation, DPA is in regular contact with its counterparts in regional organizations to ensure information-sharing and cooperation on regional or country-specific issues of mutual concern. In a growing number of instances in which regional or sub-regional organizations take the leading role in peacemaking or crisis diplomacy in their neighbourhoods, the United Nations is frequently present as a partner, providing support and advice as required.

DPA has also developed with partner organizations a series of regular “desk-to-desk” dialogues designed to improve understanding of how the different institutions work, improve channels of cooperation, and develop recommendations in that regard. "Desk-to-desk" dialogues and regular communication and consultation are on-going with organizations including the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the Organization of American States (OAS). DPA also holds a similar annual staff-level meeting with relevant officers of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

DPA also assists in building regional capacity, either through projects exclusively focused on mediation, or as part of more comprehensive capacity building assistance programmes. Under that Programme, DPA has been working with the African Union to address its needs in the area of political and security affairs, including conflict prevention and mediation support, electoral assistance, and support to AU policy organs. In order to improve knowledge and understanding in the field of conflict prevention and mediation, DPA regularly offers joint training programmes for staff from regional organizations and the United Nations.

A key example of cooperation with regional organizations is the partnership with the African Union. In April 2017, the Secretary-General and Chairperson of the African Union Commission signed the Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, the first agreement of its kind signed at the level of the Secretary-General. This builds on an increasingly close cooperation since the two Organizations signed the Ten-Year Capacity-Building Programme for the African Union in 2006. UN support is organized around numerous thematic areas, with the Department of Political Affairs leading the cooperation in the area of peace and security. The Department works with the African Union in the areas of conflict prevention, mediation, electoral assistance, and assistance to AU policy organs.