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European Union

Secretary-General António Guterres (right) meets with Federica Mogherini, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission.
Secretary-General Meets EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs. UN Photo/Mark Garten

The European Union is a key strategic partner of the United Nations in the areas of peace and security. The Secretary-General has recognised the EU as a pillar of the multilateralism system and as the most successful peacebuilding project following the end of WWII. The Lisbon Treaty provides that "The Union … shall promote multilateral solutions to common problems, in particular in the framework of the United Nations.” The EU Global Strategy on Foreign Policy and Security, unveiled in 2016 by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms. Federica Mogherini, refers to multilateralism as its key principle and the UN as a core partner.

The UN and the EU are both committed to help reduce the rising levels of violent conflict globally.  The increasingly complex causes of crises, and their linkages to regional and international peace and security challenges such as terrorism and organized crime, make partnership between the two organizations not a choice, but an imperative.  Given that the prevention of conflicts saves both lives and resources, the organizations work together to help build effective security and governance institutions over the long term, and engage in preventive diplomacy to address emerging crises. The Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) is in the lead on the dialogue with the EU on political affairs and on conflict prevention, and several mechanisms of dialogue have been taking place for many years, including, the High-Level Political Dialogue, which was initiated in 2012 to promote cooperation on political files.

DPPA also participates in mechanisms led by other Departments, in particular the Steering Committee on Crisis Management, led by DPKO with DPPA chairing sessions on topics under its sphere of competence, such as the UN Special Political Missions in Somalia and Iraq and UN political engagement in the regions of the Sahel and the Western Balkans. The Steering Committee was established by the 2003 UN-EU Joint Declaration on Crisis Management, agreed after the EU launched its Common Security and Defence Policy.  It is further informed by the “2015-2018 Priorities on Strengthening UN-EU Strategic Partnership on peacekeeping and crisis management”, which are coming to an end this year and are currently being reviewed for renewal.

DPPA cooperates closely with the EU to support on-going prevention and conflict resolution processes and build capacities for mediation, including by co-organizing a biannual workshop for mediation support offices from regional and sub-regional organizations.  The EU funds the DPPA Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers. The EU Foreign Policy Instrument (FPI) has indicated that it will provide continued support to the Joint UNDP-DPPA Programme on Building National Capacities for Conflict Prevention. 

In recognition of the need to more systematically develop the UN-EU partnership in the peace and security area, DPPA, DPO and DOS (former DPA, DPKO and DFS)established the joint UN Liaison Office for Peace and Security (UNLOPS) in Brussels in 2011, serving as a true testimony of an enhanced cooperation.  The EU Delegation in NY also enjoys enhanced observer status at the UN, allowing it to present common positions on behalf of the EU member states.