Memorandum of understanding

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A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is an agreement between two parties. In the context of peacekeeping operations, the term generally refers to the agreement between a troop- or police-contributing country and the United Nations with regard to the personnel, major equipment and self-sustainment capability to be deployed as part of a single military or police contingent to a specific peacekeeping mission.

Model memorandum of understanding

MOUs are based on the model MOU agreed by the General Assembly; there are separate MOUs for military contingents and police contingents because of the different legal status of troops and members of formed police units. The text of the model MOU is contained in the COE Manual.

Key elements of the MOU

The MOU sets forth the responsibilities of the United Nations and the contributing country. In addition to addressing contributions of personnel and equipment and the associated reimbursement and support, the MOU also spells out responsibilities related to conduct, discipline, investigations and accountability. These latter elements are relevant in cases of misconduct, such as allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Specific issues relevant to deployment, such as reimbursement rates and standards, as well as copies of relevant policy documents are appended to the MOU in annexes. The annexes currently appended to MOUs (since 1 July 2017) are as follows:

Military annex FPU annex Description Notes
A A Personnel Includes appendix on individual kit of soldiers and FPU members, respectively
B B Major equipment
C C Self-sustainment
D D Principles of verification and performance standards for major equipment
E E Principles of verification and performance standards for self-sustainment
F F Principles of verification and performance standards for medical support
G G Statement of unit requirement Included as an annex based on a recommendation by the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations
H H Definitions
I Guidelines for troop-contributing countries
I Bulletin on observance by United Nations forces of international humanitarian law
J Regulations governing the status, basic rights and duties of officials other than Secretariat officials and experts on mission
K Guidelines for formed police units on assignment with peace operations
L Directives for disciplinary matters involving civilian police officers and military observers Establishes procedures to be followed for breaches of conduct by civilian police officers and military observers
J M We are United Nations peacekeeping personnel Code of conduct for peacekeepers distributed to each soldier and police officer
K N Environmental policy for United Nations field missions

Historical overview

The MOU began as the "Contribution Agreement" setting out the respective responsibilities of the United Nations and a troop-contributing countries. In the 2000s, the MOU underwent significant development following revelations of significant number of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Fourth Committee (through the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations), the Fifth Committee (through the COE Working Group) and the Sixth Committee have all played roles in the development of the MOU as it currently exists today.

Resolution Date C-34 report SG report ACABQ report Notes
51/218E 17 June 1997 A/50/995 A/51/646 SG report contains proposed text of Contribution Agreement
A/51/967, Corr.1 and Corr.2 A/52/410 SG report contains revised model Contribution Agreement, now called the model MOU
57/314 18 June 2003 A/56/939 A/57/772 SG report requests GA approval of model MOU; includes MOU process map
59/300 22 June 2005 A/59/19/Rev.1 C-34: paragraph 39 of part 2
60/263 6 June 2006 A/60/19 C-34: paragraph 74
60/289 8 September 2006 A/60/19/Add.1 C-34: paragraphs 5 and 8
61/29 4 December 2006 Resolution on criminal accountability; took note of recommendation of Group of Legal Experts (A/60/980, para 65) to establish separate MOUs for military and police
61/267B 24 July 2007 A/61/19/Rev.1 A/61/494 Resolution approved amendments to model MOU. A/61/494 is an SG report to C-34

All amendments to the model MOU since 2007 have been done as part of the triennial review of COE standards, policies and rates of reimbursement by the COE Working Group and Fifth Committee, with the resulting revised text of the model MOU reflected in Chapter 9 of the COE Manual.

See also